Monday, July 30, 2007
Mosaic Stone of Contention
20 September 2003 The Mosaic Stone of Contention
Let us now reflect a bit on the passing of summer 2003 in Alabama. One point I come again and again to, is that, there is no vacuum; so one matter interplays with another in confluence and in correlation -- the process of constructing metaphors mentally illuminates us toward greater understanding of the world. Politically and in the eye of the media's attention we have discovered Roy's Rock. The Chief Justice of his state, Roy Moore, was forced to allow the removal, under great protest, a five thousand pound plus granite representation of the mosaic law from the Montgomery judicial rotunda, which he had placed there formerly. The final destination of this legal icon is yet to be determined. Moore may wish to further grandstand, but to what effect ?
Now, there has often in the past been placed visual representations of historic law codes in the courthouses of America. The statutes in statuary have included: Gregory's decretals, the codes of Hammurabi, Justinian and Napoleon, the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact and, yes, Moses' Decalogue dyptyche. This has been done without particular attention until now. The ten commandments are beginning to join the nativity manger in a governmental ban to make naked the public square. The annoyed and aggressive atheists and their fellow travelers are getting their political platform enacted, in order, to divorce government from religion and the natural law from the statute law, first in the public mind and ultimately in the private heart.
In America, it has long been lauded to be 'progressive'. Reform is progressive. Successful protest is progressive. Failed protest is conservative reaction. In the reformer Martin Luther we have the first protestant and a lauded iconoclast and, for many, a hero for public and private intellectual freedom. His story has recently been filmed again and the fictitious cathedral posting of his theses may be portrayed again. Of Moses he had to say: "Moses must ever be looked upon with suspicion, even as upon a heretic, excommunicated, damned, worse than the Pope and the devil." "I will not have Moses with his Law, for he is the enemy of the Lord Christ." "If Moses should attempt to intimidate you with his stupid Ten Commandments, tell him right out: chase yourself to the Jews." Now tone down the invective and change the object of some of the clauses and we are here. So in our successful common culture we have inherited this antipathy to ancient conservative foundations of society. The kernel was there, what shall be harvested?
George Wallace had been a judge before he became the governor. He was bested on one try and vowed to be an extremist on the race issue, for he had been too soft or too fair and lost on account of it. So by quirk of fate he made an iconic stand for photographers and the public imagination and will be remembered for standing at the door of Foster Auditorium, Tuscaloosa. 'Segregation forever' was the litany that he declaimed. That was forty summers past. He stood aside as he privately preferred to do. He knew that battle was lost and used it for personal political gain.
Also in this season Governor Bob Riley placed a tax referendum before the state. The press and America should have focused on this conspicuous anomaly more than they have. A Republican advocating tax increases. An individual who can actually make the term, compassionate conservative, something other than an oxymoron that has been more akin to another invented verbal absurdity, such as fascist humanism than any phenomenon in reality.
Currently, in Alabama, a family having less than five thousand dollars per annum can be taxed upon it. Now the governor being a christian saw this as an inequity; the poor are taxed beyond their ability, leaving the richer, some very richer, under taxed in comparison. More than twice as many voters decided to render unto Caesar's treasury the widow's mite before the magnate's largess. The particulars of the tax proposal may not have solved all problems, but a call to the christian conscience in a christian state to bear the crux of tax burden and reform was answered with a very loud, "No."
We sit in wait to see who will govern Alabama (and America) next and what principles will be the overriding ones. Ethics, self-interest and will are realities of our social and political lives. As has been said, one can not have two masters. One will be sacrificed so that the other will win out.