The Theocracy of Monotheism Would Enslave Us All
As I watch Pence and the other envangelico-republicans operating in lockstep and ironically saying they’ve prayed about their decisions and gotten the answers from “God” and are acting accordingly, I can’t help but contrast that with my people’s tradition. Simply put, asking Our Lord what we should do in every situation (should I buy a roomba; should my couch be blue or some other color; should I vote for Hillary or Donald) isn’t Orthodox. For these reasons:
1) We have incredible free will, and subordinating that at a granular level—not just aligning it in principle—effectively neutralizes it. It debases and reduces the man. It denies the fullness of our anthropological existence.
2) It implies there’s only one right answer to any given issue.
3) It implies there’s a perfect 1:1 way to implement “divine will” in a political atmosphere — that it’s possible to reproduce Heaven, the divine, or the divine Kingdom through constructed political infrastructure.
4) It’s not our tradition. It is not the tradition reflected in the life of our community, the writings of our fathers, or in our scriptures. We may sow each handful of seed in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, but we do not ask before each handful of seed whether God wants us to sow it. We may launch a project (e.g. a new farm) saying, “if God wills, it will succeed”, but we do not ask God for permission to launch the project. To point #1, freedom is useless if not used.
Items 2 and 3 stand out in particular because, in effect, Orthodoxy insists that faith correspond to reality. So much so that it may be said, if you wonder what is Orthodox, ask what corresponds to reality. And those 2 points — “only one right answer” and “the efficacy of a theocracy” do not correspond to reality. They’re not true, they are not livable or implementable, and they are not rationally supportable, so they cannot be principles of Orthodox faith.
This is not merely a theoretical issue. If a chunk of our compatriots in the US are living in unreality, implementing that unreality with the force of law, and effectively legislating a single right answer they insist is backed by (effectively) divine right — the consent and demand of an irrefutable being, we are effectively at odds (if not at war) with their “god”. Their theocratic aims and their theocracy in intent and principle hinge on this imaginary being — this figment of distorted imagination — that aims to enslave us to other people’s mediation of his supposed will and vision for society.
It is effectively an existential battle over whether human freedom is intrinsic—whether freedom is intrinsic to human existence, anthropology, being. And it’s a battle to preserve the right/freedom for ALL of us NOT to bow, even were their idol the “one true God” as, along with their counterparts in fundamentalist Islam, they proclaim.
One could argue it’s essentially a battle to resist the “people of the book” — a battle against monotheism. It bears reminding people that Orthodox Christians are:
- Not “people of the book” (we wrote those books and others as an expression of the faith we already had — we haven’t invented a faith forensically reconstructed or recovered from books).
- Nor are we monotheists (A god that is ‘countable’ is not God. “God is not one in number, but one in nature,” to quote our Fathers). In fact, monotheism is a confusion of God with the universe. The universe is one in number (uni=one) but not one in nature; it is diverse. God is one in nature, not in number. Confusing God with the universe, whether one is a monotheist or a pagan (both more in alignment than it may seem), risks a tyranny which is antithetical to the full freedom with which we were created.
I would argue that this battle of resistance against monotheism (for shorthand) is equally shared by the atheist and people of authentic Faith. We cannot and will not bow. The evangelico-Republicans are trying to subordinate us to an idol—like the snake god in Conan the Barbarian. And we must be Conan and cut the head off the snake wherever possible, and try to free others when they ask.