Hours after perhaps a thousand Trump supporters misbehaved in the Capitol (while, outside, tens of thousands of Trump supporters were well-behaved), purple rhetoric was the order of the night in the Senate chamber. A lot of verbal striking was going on, but I was particularly struck by these words by Dick Durbin (D-Ill.):
This is a special place. This is a sacred place. But this sacred place was desecrated by a mob today on our watch. This temple to democracy was defiled by thugs, who roamed the halls — sat in that chair, Mr. Vice President — one that you vacated at 2:15 this afternoon.
His talk about sacred places and temples has stirred me to pitch in a few observations:
[L]et us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
It’s the same theme we find in remarks John Adams made to officers of the 1st Brigade/3rd Division of the Massachusetts militia: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” If that’s the case, then homes and places of worship are “first responder” temples to democracy, for this is where the populace is best prepared to rule. In this connection, Bible study and prayer among parents and children has been called the “family altar.” So beware of politicians who marginalize, minimize, or even stigmatize devotion to the sort of family and church that Washington and Adams had in mind when they said these things. And feel free to ask whose political fortunes feed off the wreckage of church and home.
I live in Nashville, where a replica of the Parthenon stands in Centennial Park. Inside, you find a remarkable statue of a bogus goddess, Athena, holding in her hand the statue of another bogus goddess, Nike. Impressive temple; empty worship. But that’s pretty much all those Athenians had to go on. Same thing with senators who call the Capitol a “sacred temple to democracy” but are impatient with the truth, wisdom, and constraints of the Bible. They make things up in the vanity of your own fevered imaginations and then enforce acquiescence on others. And what better place to do so than in a high temple of civic power?
When I was a kid, our church choir began each service with a call to worship beginning with “The Lord is in His holy temple; Let all the earth keep silence before Him: Keep silence, keep silence, Keep silence before Him.” Now that the Durbins of this world are high priests of the Senate Temple, their acolytes are in a scramble to silence the opposition through big-tech censorship and other means. They seem to be keener on demi-democracy or miso-democracy, with only half the people having anything worthwhile to say.
And so they presume to enter the “sacred temple to democracy” singing, “The Left is in its holy temple; Let all the nation keep silence before them: Keep silence, keep silence before them.”
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