Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Diversity in Unity: Two Millennia and Counting

The idea that people could be part of something bigger than a nation isn't particularly new.

Tennyson wrote that he was "representing young life, its good side, its deficiences [!] and its yearnings" in "Locksley Hall." The year was 1842:
"...For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;


"Till the war-drum throbbed no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

"There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law....
("Locksley Hall," Tennyson (1842, rev. 1865) via
That's not the whole thing, of course. Like most 19th century English literature, "Locksley Hall" is not terse. I've mentioned "the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world" before.1 On the whole I like the youthful idealism in that poem better than another example of youth's yearnings, written a bit over a century later:
"...Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace....
John Lennon, "Imagine" (1971)
(posted (March 12, 2011)
I don't see religion as a barrier to peace, but I think I see how folks can get that idea. A particularly virulent sort of Christianity was endemic to the area I grew up in. I've discussed that sort of malignant virtue before.

My parents went to a nice, normal, mainstream Protestant church, so I knew there was more to Christianity than Bible trivia, numerology, and hating commies. But I think I can understand why some folks see religion as a psychiatric condition.

I don't see reality that way: but then, I decided to become a Catholic. And that's another topic.

"...From Every Nation, Race, People, and Tongue..."

For the last two millennia, the Catholic Church has been operating on orders outlined in Matthew 28:18-20. We're marching through time, toward a city that isn't there yet. Meanwhile, the Church has been passing along what we got from the Jesus:Our goal is unity on a global scale: at least. We've gotten glimpses of that goal, now and then:
"After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches 6 in their hands.

"They cried out in a loud voice: 'Salvation comes from 7 our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.' "
(The Apocalypse, or Revelation to John 7:9-10)
"11 Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

"Go, therefore, 12 and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,

"teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. 13 And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.' "
(Matthew 28:18-20)
"All the nations you have made shall come to bow before you, Lord, and give honor to your name.

"For you are great and do wondrous deeds; and you alone are God."
(Psalms 86:9-10)
"When Abram prostrated himself, God continued to speak to him:

" 'My covenant with you is this: you are to become the father of a host of nations.

"No longer shall you be called Abram; your name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations.

"I will render you exceedingly fertile; I will make nations of you; kings shall stem from you.

"I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

"I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land in which you are now staying, the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession; and I will be their God.' "
(Genesis 17:3-8)
By the way: The Apocalypse, or Revelation to John, wasn't written by an American. I strongly suggest reading the New American Bible's introduction to that book.

What's Abram Got to Do With This?

I think that excerpt from Genesis belongs with other references to 'all nations,' since one of Abram / Abraham's descendants made an extravagant claim:
"...'Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.' "
(John 8:57-John 8:58)
Saying, in effect, 'I am God' wasn't what impresses me about Jesus. Any lunatic or charlatan could say something like that. What's impressive about Jesus is what He did after saying "...before Abraham came to be, I AM." I've been over this before:

"Unity...Without Excluding the Rich Variety of Persons, Cultures, and Peoples"

Here's what got me started:
"Because of its common origin the human race forms a unity, for 'from one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth':226
"O wondrous vision, which makes us contemplate the human race in the unity of its origin in God . . . in the unity of its nature, composed equally in all men of a material body and a spiritual soul; in the unity of its immediate end and its mission in the world; in the unity of its dwelling, the earth, whose benefits all men, by right of nature, may use to sustain and develop life; in the unity of its supernatural end: God himself, to whom all ought to tend; in the unity of the means for attaining this end; . . . in the unity of the redemption wrought by Christ for all.227
" 'This law of human solidarity and charity,'228 without excluding the rich variety of persons, cultures, and peoples, assures us that all men are truly brethren."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 360, 361)
Not everybody seems to like the idea of diversity in unity: and that's yet another topic. Topics.

Sort-of-related posts:

1 Eventually we may have a "the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world." Meanwhile, we'll have to work with what we've got:

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