Thursday, March 29, 2007

Democracy in action again

On reflection, perhaps parts of my previous post were a little cryptic. When I mentioned Daniel 7, I was referring to the famous vision in which four fantastic and fearsome beasts arise from the sea, only to be condemned by an Ancient of Days, who gives the positive verdict to 'one like a son of man' (i.e. a human). As the vision is explained in the second half of the chapter, these beasts are pictures of four kingdoms that arise against Israel, but the narrative promises that God will remove their beastly political authority and give it to his people. Jesus takes this famous narrative of vindication for Israel, and seems to turn it on its head, claiming that he (not Israel) is the Son of Man,* and implying that those who oppose him (the Jewish leadership) are thus one of the beasts, who will face their day in court with God! This is how I read the 'mini-apocalypse' in Luke 21.5-38 (with parallels in Mark and Matthew, though I've been focussing on Luke lately).
*Or perhaps that he is Israel.

It then seems to me that the various trials in Luke 22 & 23 all illustrate the brutal failure of all other human political authorities (both Roman and Jewish) in the face of the true king, whose rule is genuinely humane.

Of course, the 'democracy' evident in the near-riot in front of Pilate is a far cry from modern liberal representative democracies. Representative democracies are not intended to reflect the views of the majority in any straightforward way. We do not elect politicians who are then to act as conduits of our opinions, or whom we expect to mirror the views of their constituency. We elect representatives, whom we entrust with the task of making judgements on our behalf, even where these may not be the judgements we would make in the same circumstances. That is why poll-driven politics puts the cart before the horse. It is also why a member of a different party to the one I like may still legitimately represent me. The representation does not depend on the coincidence of our views. Furthermore, modern liberal democracies limit the power of these representatives constitutionally in order to attempt to preserve certain basic standards and ensure minorities are not arbitrarily sacrificed on the altar of the majority.

Despite these differences, I still think that Luke 22-23 makes a deeper point about the failure of human authority than justifying certain political reforms.
See here for why elections don't really matter.
Twelve points each for naming the leader who authorised dedicated this monument and the leader whom it celebrates.

12 comments:

Peter said...

leader who authorised the monument - I guess as it was commissioned in 1880, the leader must have been King Umberto I.

leader whom it celebrates - Vittorio Emanuele II first king of the unified Italy.

Peter J back on top.

Drew said...

Is there a correlation between those winning the points race and those who have physically visited the site of the photograph's... ?

byron said...

It is indeed in honour of Vittorio Emanuele II. Twelve points. Unfortunately, I'm not persuaded by your other answer. To clarify, I'm looking for either of the two leaders to dedicate it. I guess 'authorise' wasn't very clear.

byron said...

Also, unfortunately, Anthony and Michael continue to accrue points and you have moved into third place.

byron said...

Drew - I wonder that myself... I'll try to keep varying the locations. However, my policy of mainly using photos I've taken personally does limit the scope a little...

Anthony said...

Well, Mussolini was in the hot seat when it was finished, and living across the road, so he's gotta be a good shot at being one of the two. I presume the other would have been the king in 1911 when they got underway, Victor Emmanuel 3.

Anthony said...

Oh, and it's not so necessary to have been to these places as it is to know where Byron's camera might have visited!

byron said...

Oh, and it's not so necessary to have been to these places as it is to know where Byron's camera might have visited!
Now you've given away your biggest advantage (shared with Pete, though not with Michael, whose achievement is thus all the more impressive)!

byron said...

Yes, well done Anthony, you got both. Though I'm only awarding the promised twelve points, since I said 'either' and since you're now so far in the lead. At best, you stopped someone else from also claiming twelve points.

Drew said...

*sigh*

Another misplaced apostrophe. Perhaps I should start offering points on my blog for picking those up.

's not as fun as pics tho. Such a very good idea.

byron said...

I wasn't going to point it out to a publisher... :-)

Drew said...

at least I'm not an editor!