Daily Archives: April 4, 2016

Power and Folly

ADN-ZB/Archiv Kirchenwahl am 23.7.1933 in Berlin. Wahl in der Marien Kirche am Neuen Markt. Nazistische Wahlpropaganda unter Maske des Christentums.

I have refrained from tackling any politics for over a week now, and that was a good thing. My time of deliberate rest from jumping into any of the major political, judicial, or social controversies the past week has been good. It has allowed me to re-center myself. As I have done so I have taken a step back just to observe, to watch and listen, and to continue to read, study, reflect, and yes, to relax. .

Of course, much of that study and reflection turns back to history. Barbara Tuchman wrote, “Chief among the forces affecting political folly is lust for power, named by Tacitus as “the most flagrant of all passions.” One go a minute without observing this.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian who openly opposed Hitler and his policies in an age when the bulk of German Christians either threw their wholehearted allegiance behind Hitler, or simply did nothing. Bonhoeffer wrote about the violence of Nazi power, and how it, like other brazen displays of power produces outbursts of folly. He noted:

“If we look more closely, we see that any violent display of power, whether political or religious, produces an outburst of folly in a large part of mankind; indeed, this seems actually to be a psychological and sociological law: the power of some needs the folly of others. It is not that certain human capacities, intellectual capacities for instance, become stunted of destroyed, but rather that the upsurge of power makes such an overwhelming impression that men are deprived of their independent judgment, and…give up trying to assess the new state of affairs for themselves.”

It is important for all of us, no matter what our political ideology, or who our chosen candidate is, not to get caught up in the violence of power. We must retain our capacity for independent judgment and never give up our individual and collective responsibility to assess what is going on and make informed judgments.

Unfortunately, that can be quite an undertaking when we are bombarded with an endless assault by politicians, pundits, and preachers, and their media allies and enablers every minute of the day. Even so, we cannot abandon our duty to think and ask the hard questions, even of those we agree with and support.

Anyway, until tomorrow,


Padre Steve+

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