Church and State

in #state2 years ago

The state is the ‘state of affairs’, the way things are. It is the situation in we live. It is this arrangement and the attitudes and institutions that secure it. It is this arrangement we have grown up with, that perhaps seems natural or at least too obvious to need our attention and perhaps also inevitable. It is our understanding of this situation in which we live. It is how this particular generation sees itself and insists that its life must be seen. The state is simply a phenomenon that emerges as a society deals with itself. It intends to make everything easy for us so that we all feel at home – and yet it makes us all utterly not-at-home. It is the home which turns us all against one another and makes each of us an alien to all others. It is barren and sterile. And the state is accompanied by the media that tells us that the state is normal, and this state-of-affairs is normal. The media are the prophets. When Christian Scripture calls these ‘hypocrites’ it means that they are using two standards – one for themselves, our rulers, and another for us who are ruled by them. The purpose of their state is that things remain the way they are. Their mission is that this state-of-affairs remains the same, and they try to ensure this by creating the impression of ceaseless change and constant improving and upgrading. They want us to understand that this is natural and inevitable and even desirable and, in any case, it is not for us to concern ourselves with. These rulers are united by the conviction that the running of the state is their business, not ours. The point of the state is that things remain stationary and static.

The government can only ever attempt to secure what is there, so secure it against the change that comes with time, and so in some way sees time as its enemy. And so it sets out to secure itself against time by doing what it can to stop the arrival of another generation.

And what is the Church in this? The Church is not the state. It is that which does not let itself become included and comprehended in this state-and-state-of-affairs. It stands apart from it and sees this state as a dispensation – one possible dispensation and so one possible way of being together. So the Church holds itself aloof from this state and must reserve its judgment on it.

But those who seemed to be its leaders have created a ‘Church’ that the state did not have to listen to. Under their leadership the Church only tells the state only what it already knew, so that the state could continue to listen only to itself, and so become its own voice monologuing into its own ear and never be obliged to fall silent and wait humbly to hear what only that other voice could tell it. So the state became its own church. The Church lost its voice and in numbers it withered away. It might have thought that the state would be content with that, but no, the insecurity of the state made it fear even the shrivelled figure of the church with its near voiceless whisper, and so it determined to silence this entirely. The state can never be secure while it intends to make itself secure, but it is able to destroy an entire society and even itself in the attempt to do so.