Saturday, March 16, 2019

The President: A Tyrant Discovers the Kingdom of God

Religion and political power can be dangerous if combined and aimed at people deemed to be apostate or heretical. In calling for the Crusades, our Roman Catholic popes put their political power behind the theocratic and political goal of taking back Jerusalem and Constantinople/Istanbul “for Christ.” Those popes and the kings and soldiers who went to war with the Muslims there wittingly or unwittingly violated Jesus’s preachment to love rather than fight enemies. Christianity and political power have not mixed well, historically. The U.S. Constitution forbids the federal government and, presumably, the states, to establish or sponsor a religion or even favor one. Theocracies, such as those in the Calvinist colonies in New England (except for Rhode Island, which allowed freedom of religion), would be excluded as a political form for the Union as well as its member-states. Rather than meaning “sub-unit” or “province” as in Normandy in the E.U. state of France, the American Continental Congress has applied “state” in the generic sense of a polity with a yet-to-be-determined political system. Hence while the Articles of Confederation were in force, before the U.S. Constitution, the states could legally form theocracies. The film, The President (2014), is fictional, but this doesn’t stop its portrayal of a toppled president in hiding from looking realistic, given the cases of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The character arc of the president while he is in hiding, or “on the run,” captures a generally unknown way in which Jesus’ preaching on how to enter the unknown Kingdom of God can apply to political power in a good way. This is not to advocate theocracy, however. Rather, individuals who wield power, whether in government or business, can come to see the very nature of power differently and gain new insight into the Kingdom of God preached by Jesus.

The full essay is at "The President."