We Have No King But Jesus

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battle-of-lexington

Yesterday was the Feast of Christ the King, the end of the liturgical year.

Christ Pantocrator is one of the more popular images by which Christians pictured, after the edict of Milan, Christ, the Lord of all.  This representation ties in nicely with the traditional American cry of “We have no King but Jesus!” which became popular during the American Revolution.  At the battle of Lexington the phrase “We recognize no Sovereign but God and no King but Jesus!”, was flung back at Major Pitcairn after he had ordered the militia to disperse.    Christ the King and We have no King but Jesus remind us that the nations of the world and the manner in which they are ruled, and mis-ruled, while very important to us during our mortal lives, are of little importance in the next.   They also instruct us that the State can never be an ultimate end in itself, can never override our first allegiance and that the rulers of the Earth will be judged as we all will be.  Although my Irish Catholic ancestors will shudder, and my Protestant Irish and Scot ancestors may smile, there is much truth in the inscription supposedly written on the sacophagus, destroyed or lost after the Restoration, of that “bold, bad man”, Oliver Cromwell, “Christ, not Man, is King.”

17 Responses to We Have No King But Jesus

  • It would be nice to see this blog put into practice this insight that we have no king but Jesus. Nice words, but there is little behind them.

  • Not even Thanksgiving is a good enough reason to take a break from unfair generalizations and polemics, eh?

  • Catholic Anarchist you never let any American holiday go by without displaying your hatred of your native land do you? I truly do pity you.

  • The Feast of Christ the King is not an American holiday, Donald.

  • But you showed up and left your comment nearly a week after the Feast of Christ the King, as part of your fuss about people’s Thanksgiving posts.

    I must admit, Michael, I’m never quite clear what it is that you consider putting Christ above king to consist of — other than sharing your personal preferences and prejudices on a range of topics. And yet, I must asume that there are many ways to grant God proper place, respect, and worship in our lives other than being Michael Iafrate.

  • Darwin, that comment made no sense. Rephrase?

  • With less intricate sentence structure:

    You often comment that others put America before Catholicism. Your comment that it would be nice if people here “had no king but Jesus” seems very much along those lines.

    Your use of this accusation often seems to amount to, “You have different opinions about American culture and politics than I do!”

    I’m not clear why differing from your assessment of American culture and politics amounts to putting America before the Church. Surely being Michael Iafrate is not the only correct way to have a correctly ordered relationship to God and Country.

  • I’m not clear why differing from your assessment of American culture and politics amounts to putting America before the Church.

    But clearly I’m not critiquing just any difference of opinion, but the fact that so many bloggers here buy into American civil religion, most especially the pseudo-worship of soldiers. Many of you have more respect for U.S. troops than you do for the U.S. bishops. That’s a problem.

  • Depends on the soldier and the bishop :)

  • Michael,

    Like your open support of pro-abortion Obama than you do for U.S. Bishops?

  • Michael – caricatures and insults are easy – any drunk at a baseball game can do that much. If there is a specific position that I or someone else has taken that you think indicates membership in “American civil religion”, please bring it to our attention. You may be right after all; but sweeping generalizations don’t help anybody.

  • Michael,

    While “guy into American civil religion” is a wonderfully grad-school-ish phrase of derision, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen you convincingly make the case that your opponents participate in it, other than simply making the assertion when people express sentiments you disagree with. Nor does your claim about the “pseudo-worship of soldiers” strike me as particularly sensible. Certainly, a number of us frequently express gratitude for the sacrifices that soldiers make. I’m sure that you would agree it is not easy or pleasant to be deployed in often primitive conditions, away from family, exposed to danger, and under obedience. I think most people recognize this and are thus thankful for the sacrifices which servicemen make on their country’s behalf.

    Many of you have more respect for U.S. troops than you do for the U.S. bishops. That’s a problem.

    Again, I’m not really sure what you mean by this.

    Certainly, there are many here who have criticized the USCCB as a body or bishops individually on various issues. Surely you can hardly criticize this, as you once (to my mind wrongly) accused the entire USCCB with the exception of one eastern rite bishops of lacking male genitals, simply because you thought the bishops should have used rhetoric similar to your own about the Iraq War.

    I would wager that everyone here respects the office of bishop more than the office of soldier. The soldier’s office is to obey and to have courage, willingness to sacrifice and suffer the deprivations of being in danger far from home. The bishop’s office is to be a shepherd to the people of Christ, providing them with both teaching and the sacraments. In that much, much more is expected of an individual bishop than of an individual soldier, it can hardly be surprising that it is easy to criticize bishops for not living up to their duties.

    While people should keep this in mind, and be hesitant to criticize the bishops excessively, I don’t really see how it could even be a reasonable comparison to argue that someone has more respect for soldiers as a group than for bishops as a group. Certainly not unless someone had been so foolish as to actually state the sentiment openly.

    Your making it against people here doesn’t really strike me as any more reasonable than if I were to say that you respected Chomsky more than the bishops.

  • Many of you have more respect for U.S. troops than you do for the U.S. bishops. That’s a problem.

    A phantom one, at best. Showing respect for our troops in no way diminishes our respect for our bishops, whether we blog about it or not. Frankly, I find that our soldiers are in much more need for our prayers and support, given the danger they’re in (not just of imminent death, but psychological trauma, and spiritual decay). But I don’t see how you come off making your accusation. Our soldiers work to gain us temporal good; our bishops work to gain us eternal spiritual good. That the latter is so obviously more valuable should barely warrant comment.

    Buy into American civil religion? How so? I suppose that if you believe people here at A.C. support unjust war and torture and lining the pockets of the rich at the expense of the poor, you have reason to believe we are in error. But maybe you’ll be willing to explain how those are even part of this “American civil religion” you mentioned. And maybe you’ll consider that there’s a difference between the “religion” and the practitioners. The U.S. is against unjust war, against torture, and dedicated to helping the poor and the righting of injustices. Where is that even in conflict with the Catholic Church? I’ll concede that we’ve had people, even presidents, that have not molded well to what America stands for, but then we’re arguing about sinners and application of principles.

    It would be nice to see this blog put into practice this insight that we have no king but Jesus.

    It would be nice to see something more substantive as a comment than just a snide statement. Really, Michael, I’ve read your comments for a while, and they mostly seem to have no point but to deride. Getting more insightful statements from you is like pulling teeth. Granted, I’ll give you that some of us have not been the most charitable towards you, but if you have valid concerns about what we’re doing here at A.C., it would be far more helpful, constructive, and enlightening–both for those of us who contribute directly and those who read here looking for insight–if you took some time not just to point out flaws, but even explain how you even believe we have these flaws, and what you think we should do to fix them.

    But clearly I’m not critiquing just any difference of opinion, but the fact that so many bloggers here buy into American civil religion,

    This is exactly my concern about your comments. You simply make this brash statement with nothing around it make it insightful or helpful. Maybe I’m just dense, but when you say “American civil religion”, what are you even talking about? Such a statement is pretty vacuous because there’s not context behind it. Maybe for you, it should be obvious that it means something like “worshiping G.W. Bush as God”, but for me, when you say “American civil religion” what I think of is the religion of “me before anyone else”, “no one can interfere with my ‘sexual rights’”, “as long as it doesn’t ‘hurt’ anyone else”, and so forth.

    DC tried to involve you into an actual conversation (though arguably not the best way of going about it) of how what we’re doing here places America before Church, and you respond with just another unsubstantiated assertion that we’re, in your opinion, placing America before Church. I know I feel, and probably most others feel, that you’re stating A, and then try to prove A by restating A.

    Moreover, these discussions we could be having are some of the important discussion to have. Yet it feels too much of the time that the conversation just becomes “You’re wrong–nuh uh–yeah huh–nuh uh–yeah huh–nuh uh–yeah huh….”

  • Maybe I’m just dense, but when you say “American civil religion”, what are you even talking about? Such a statement is pretty vacuous because there’s not context behind it.

    Sure there is. “ACR” is a term with a meaning. Perhaps you could look it up instead of saying that my statement has no meaning.

  • Still waiting on an argument or evidence Michael…

  • You’ll be waiting for a long time . . . his sneers aren’t often backed up by any rational thought process.

  • That a term has a meaning does not mean that it can be applied to a person or group without justification. I can thinking of a lot of terms which I might apply to you, which you would no doubt consider to be inaccurate descriptions, despite the fact that the terms do very much have meaning.

    If you’re talking about “American civic religion” in the sense coined by Bellah in the 60s, my recollection is that this was a sociological term used to describe a shared set of ideals, values, holidays and “civic rituals”. It does not necessarily designate, as you seem to imply, worship of the state — or indeed a reverential or religious attitude towards the state at all.

    Given your general attitude towards things American I can see why you would use it as a derogatory label — and perhaps you read people who do. Sociology is not particularly my bag. But even if so, you don’t appear to be making a sociological argument, but rather imagining that you’ve come up with a rather damning indictment of the general tenor here. And at least from a general knowledge of the term, I don’t see how your statement is meaningful.

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