Monday, July 19, 2010

ZenTiger A Poison Tree

The separation of Church and State is one of the principles contained in the American Constitution that modern secular society admires.

The wall of separation is often seen by atheists as every reason for the religious elements to stay out of political affairs. Equally however, it is clear that the argument cuts both ways, with secular government constrained from interfering in the affairs of conscience and man's individual religious beliefs.

In the case of the American Constitution, it is also clear that Christianity was both protected from the State, and yet enjoyed preferred cooperation with the State. The Bill of Rights is the name by which the first 10 Amendments are known. The First Amendment states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Other countries, and other times have not been so tolerant, and a more negative (atheistic) view can be found in those places, where religion is constrained to "the privacy of one's home", and implicitly, hidden from public view.

The history around the separation of Church and State is a big topic, with interesting ramifications, and one I intend to explore bit by bit over the coming months as time permits.

In the meantime, here is a poem by William Blake, that is very much a part of this discussion. It is a magnificent poem, and even if the political message to the Church of England is not detected, the lesson in succumbing to the sin of wrath is clear.

It's a lesson that the modern secularists would best heed, as history has a strange way of repeating itself even as the actors change and the roles reverse.

I give you "A Poison Tree", by William Blake.

A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

2 comment(s):

I.M Fletcher said...

Great poem. There's also a really great article HERE that explains how "separation of Church and State" means almost exactly the opposite of what it originally meant. Well worth taking the time to read.

ZenTiger said...

Thanks Fletcher. That religion is meant to be protected from the state is certainly clear in the case of the United States and the thinking of her founding fathers.

The origin of the concept goes back to Locke, and I will certainly cover this aspect when I get around to it.

Further back than that though, are the times when Church and State were intertwined and when kings used "Divine Right" to justify their rule, there naturally had to be a close relationship with the Church, and the Church could act as a counter force to the power of the State (providing it wasn't corrupt) and we see those forces at play in different ways. I have been musing about that recently, but I'm always too busy to spend much time on them.

Oh well, some-one else somewhere must have already said these things, so links may be the way to go!

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