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Friday, January 25, 2008

Quote of the Day

"The State which controls men's actions and educates their intellects, which, in a word, enforces the knowledge of truth and compels obedience to it, is actually freeing its citizens by that process...I am more free to exercise my powers and use the forces of the world in which I live, and not less free, when I have submitted my intellect to facts."

Robert Hugh Benson, Paradoxes of Catholicism


Anonymous Elffriend Starbrow said...

That is a very thoughtful quote, though one which certainly chafes against the shallow and misguided understanding of freedom that is so prevalent today--something a kin freedom as a state of being where there are no moral expectations whatsoever. Especially those ideas like control, enforcement, and compulsion. But we need them don't we? Left to our own devices--what with darkened minds, disordered appetites, and weakened wills--we will happily go on mistaking our bondage for freedom. Yet I think to successfully overcome the kind of shock and resistance that arises when the prison bars--which a man has come to "love"--are being forcibly removed, the man doing the forcing must be kind but also firm, approachable but also reverent, and joyful but also sober-minded. Sort of like Gandalf, who is so adept at calling others out of the smaller stories in which they are living into something much larger--where they are "more free to exercise their powers and use the forces of the world". In short, if a free man is to control, enforce, and compel the obedience of the man enslaved, he must offer something which sufficiently captures the heart of one in prison. Much like the Bishop Monsignor Bienvenu does with the convict Jean Valjean.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Raindear said...

Good point! Truth and virtue take hold of the heart more quickly when one not only studies them in books or learns of them through rules, but observes them nobly at work as well. It would be very untrue to say, however, that the rules entirely lose their value when the ruler fails to follow them. The human intellect may, albeit with difficulty, see beyond human frailty to ontological basis for the law.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too think it's a very good quote. It reminds me of what an annoying blogger asked me yesterday: how can one support the restoration of Catholic monarchies and be a libertarian? Besides that he was wrong in assuming that I am a doctrinaire libertarian [I am not an ideologue], he seemed to have missed the point: western governments today forbid innocuous things to us (smoking in restaurants, trans fats [thank you very much, MAYOR BLOOMBERG], and even soda [San Francisco's proposed soda tax]), while forcing errors like evolution, Modernism, and relativism in public schools, allow us to destroy our souls with pornography, and allow publishers and Hollywood to libel the Catholic Church.

I am curious, though: to what extent does Benson believe the State should intervene on the behalf of the Church? Is this mostly intended for education, or for a continued censorship like the Empress Maria Theresa instituted? While states of the past, like the Spanish Empire for instance, their downfalls seemed sharper and their reputations more damaged than some of the more "liberal" states. Meanwhile, the strategy the secularists in our own Nation use to ensure continued worship of the First Amendment [it is worship, for I have so often heard my more liberal compatriots in the Faith cite the 1st in theological arguments] is uncritically acclaiming "freedom of speeech" and "a wall of separation between Church and State", and then rely on the ignorant public to keep these beliefs their whole lives, even though they have the freedom to embrace the idea of the Social Kingship of Christ. Whenever we cry "brainwashing", they retort, "we have freedom of speech".

This strategy seems to have worked invariably well for the secularists (except with Muslim immigrants). In addition, my favorite country, Malta (nearly the world's last Catholic country) has Catholicism as the official religion, and teaches said religion in the public school- my program exactly- and they have "freedom of speech". Although the Malta Times, from what I've seen, usually takes the side of the Church, I have never heard any liberal attacks for censorship. That may be the most effective model of State support for the Church to try in the USA. Even if we eventually hope to keep a stronger hand on the forces of evil, there would be too strong of a reaction against any sort of Inquisition or closer controls, so this would likely be a good model for any transition from secular to holy by the American State.


Were you at the March for Life this year? I know that you have some connections to Christendom College, and I looked around for you near their banner last Tuesday, but you either weren't there, or I couldn't recognize you from the adorable picture of you with the miniature tea cup. [You don't know how happy I was to finally see Ron Paul speak!]

9:48 PM  
Blogger Raindear said...


I am curious to read more from Benson too. Honestly, I would need that to say for sure, but his language is pretty strong and I feel confident that he was advocating some degree of censorship and moral regulation. The real question at stake here is the purpose of government. Is it to preserve order in society so that men can achieve and enjoy economic prosperity, or does it have a purpose more fundamentally related to the telos of man? Ought it to help men be good, and therefore prosperous in a richer sense? In this quote, Benson basically echoes the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, who said that true freedom is in conformity with goodness. But you cannot understand human freedom properly without understanding human happiness. By enshrining the right of the individual to determine what constitutes happiness, the American tradition actually presents a philosophical statement about human nature which falls woefully short of the Christian understanding.


I was at the March for Life and though I met up with many Christendom alumni/students there, I traveled(and marched) separately. Unfortunately, I walked up just as Ron Paul finished speaking. I was pleased that he spoke all the same.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heartily agree; thank you for the response.

11:45 PM  

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