January 23, 2013

Anti-abortion man, who yelled from a tree at the Inauguration, is charged with a crime.

Rives Miller Grogan was charged "with violating a previous order to stay away from the U.S. Capitol, and with violating laws that require authorities to 'preserve the peace and secure the Capitol from defacement,' and with 'preventing any portion of the Capitol Grounds and terraces to used [sic] as playgrounds ... to protect the public property, turf and grass from destruction.'
He had just been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct last week, after police said he shouted from the gallery of the U.S. Senate. He’s been convicted five times in the District since 2009, mostly on charges of disorderly conduct and disobeying police....

Police said Grogan once dropped to the ground in the Capitol Rotunda while clutching a doll and screamed in front of 60 visitors. Another time, police said, he paced the Capitol steps holding a bible and shouting, “Stop killing the babies.”....

Officer Shennell S. Antrobus, a U.S. Capitol Police spokesman, said officials decided to leave Grogan in the tree until after the swearing in to avoid disruptions. Police said he came down on his own after five hours.
Some of this reminds me of our tenacious Wisconsin protesters, whose deep convictions and emotive righteousness have led them to specialize in loud annoyingness and innumerable petty violations. Grogan is different from them too. He's driven by religious fervor, and he's not on the left.

What are the limits of protest?

ADDED: This story reminds me of an old Sunday School song:



I remember singing that as a child and feeling embarrassed by how cute the adults found it whenever a child did the spoken-word part, "Zacchaeus, you come down." Are children's songs written to amuse children or to lure children into performances that will amuse adults? If the latter, is it wrong?

Here's the Bible story, in chapter 19 of Luke:
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
Jesus looked with favor on the tax collector, it was his method to conspicuously reach out to those who seemed conspicuously to be sinners when there was a more subtle point that all are sinners and he is reaching out to all of us.
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Lefties and righties can argue about what (if anything) Jesus meant to say about taxation. One might say, as I suggested above, that Zacchaeus was chosen because the people had a stereotype equating tax collection with sin, so he easily became The Sinner, for Jesus to bounce his lesson off of. But you might say that Zacchaeus's conversion shows the importance of taxation when it is used to take accumulated wealth from the rich and to distribute it to the poor. That's not the way the taxation of the time was used, and Zacchaeus had become wealthy through his tax collection work. So he's more like a typical rich man, and he is declared saved because he instantly gave half his possessions to the poor, without regard to whether that wealth was ill-gotten. Zacchaeus makes a second promise, to give quadruple restitution of any ill-gotten gains.

What is the proper tax rate for the rich? The Bible implies that it's 50% and that the spending should go toward alleviating poverty. And that's not a 50% income tax, by the way, Mr. Buffet. That's a wealth tax. You should cough up about $15 billion to get right with God.

97 comments:

Richard said...

I pretty much find all "loud annoyingness" disorderly, but hey, the guy spent five hours up a tree. That should be worth something.

jaynie said...

This guy hasn't hurt anyone. It seems as if he is within the limits of free speech.

And the analogy with the passions of the Wisconsin protestors has limits. The first difference I come to is motivation. The pro-union protests were motivated by self-interest and money. This guy is on a mission to, he believes, try to save lives.

Saint Croix said...

a judge has ordered him to stay away not only from Capitol building but from the District entirely.

That would seem rather broad.

Be kinda funny if we did that to Pelosi. She's kinda annoying. And often up a tree.

Paco Wové said...

Maybe he can share a cell with that Nakoula guy.

Nathan Alexander said...

Now compare this to David Gregory's violation of the law that was overlooked by reason of "in the service of free speech".

I guess some speech is more free than others.

Pogo said...

You or I can be found guilty of something, anything, every day. And prosecution is solely political.

The old dead Constitution allowed such protest. The new living one does not.

Cedarford said...

Paco -
Unlike Nakoula, this guy is not a convicted felon and a parole violator.
But I am still in favor of throwing this guy, Code Pink jerks, the Phelps coven in jail if they employ Brownshirt tactics to disrupt peaceful, organized assemblages of others.
There is no absolute 1st Amendment Right.
Other rights include the right of others to conduct their business without undue harassment and disruption. And the right of others to peacefully asemble under their right to their own free speech and civil discourse in debate - with the "domestic tranquility" the Preamble discusses.

Toleration of the tactics of the Jewish Bolsheviks, the Nazis in shutting down discourse they disagreed with led to even worse things.

sparrow said...

He was no harm to anyone. If he fought with police, or crossed a police line it would different.

lemondog said...

What are the limits of protest?

Depends whether I'm for it or agin' it.

But I kid.

a judge has ordered him to stay away not only from Capitol building but from the District entirely.

That would seem rather broad.


Instapundit: Ham Sandwich Nation: Due Process When Everything is a Crime

Renee said...

The people who are disruptive, I wonder if they've every been to a peaceful organized assembly?

Abortion upsets me, probably more then this guy, but someone needs to pull the guy to the side.

The pro-life organization at the state level is using Faneuil Hall this weekend in Boston, sure can there be silent counter protest but for those few hours the pro-life argument will be heard from the stage and no one should disrupt them.

At times public spaces like Faneuil Hall or the steps of the Capitol are for visitors. Stop harassing them.

MadisonMan said...

If he requests a jury trial and I'm on the jury, he's not guilty. I'm sure he was annoying to the people around him. Being annoying should not be a crime.

I do like the law he broke, the one that requires authorities to 'preserve the peace and secure the Capitol from defacement.' Could they write that a little more broadly? (And if the authorities are required to do this, and they didn't, shouldn't they be arrested?)

Erika said...

Oh Althouse, I guess you were too cool for school even as a little kid, but I assure you that my preschoolers* LOVE the participatory songs, and that All The Latest Research tells us how important engagement is and how valuable music is to early childhood education.

They also love I'm in the Lord's Army, which is even more cringe-worthy! I don't make my kids sing it because it's so entertaining for me, but because they enjoy it.

*with a couple of exceptions. I have one or two independent thinker Future Althouses who are a bit snooty about the random things that annoy them.

Astro said...

Well there goes another one, disappearing into the U.S. Gulag Archipelago.

lemondog said...

If he was protesting FOR a gun ban would he have been arrested and ordered to stay away not only from Capitol building but from the District entirely?

Old RPM Daddy said...

"What is the proper tax rate for the rich? The Bible implies that it's 50% and that the spending should go toward alleviating poverty."

Not really seeing it that way. From what one of our preachers told us, tax collectors in the Roman Empire were responsible not only for meeting their tax quotas, but for providing for themselves out of the taxes they collected. The opportunity for extravagant corruption is obvious, and that is the sin for which Zacchaeus was atoning.

What is the proper tax rate for the rich? Maybe it's 50%, maybe it's not, but the Bible's guidance is more on individual conduct than national economic policy.

Paul said...

There are limits to non-violent protest if you are Obama.

After all, one cannot criticize a perfect person, right?

Just not done.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

What is the proper tax rate for the rich? The Bible implies that it's 50% and that the spending should go toward alleviating poverty.

Voluntary charity != taxation.

Inga said...

Good grief, I didn't know the Lord needed an Army, he is perfectly capable of smiting humanity all on his own.

SeanF said...

Dang, Old RPM Daddy and Ignorance is Bliss beat me to it. The Bible verse you quoted, Ann, implies that the wealthy should give half their wealth to the needy. It most certainly does not imply that the government (or anybody else, for that matter) is entitled to take half (or indeed any) of their wealth.

In fact, I would think that it doesn't help you to meet God's expectations of you if somebody else has to do it for you.

EDH said...

"Anti-abortion man, who yelled from a tree at the Inauguration, is charged with a crime."

I wonder if as a defense he can claim he was lip syncing?

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Stupid bitch!

"Blighmey, this wealth redistribution is trickier than I thought."

Darrell said...

The fact that this man is not being besieged by pro-bono lawyers tell us that the Constitution is dead. And that the Left is just as much a bag of shit as we always suspected.

Marshal said...

Inga said...
Good grief, I didn't know the Lord needed an Army, he is perfectly capable of smiting humanity all on his own.


It's always an attack with Inga. If she can't dispute the merits she finds something tangential to criticize.

Seeing Red said...

Inga attacks, return the favor, she cries victim.

Marshal said...

Nathan Alexander said...
Now compare this to David Gregory's violation of the law that was overlooked by reason of "in the service of free speech".

I guess some speech is more free than others.

1/23/13, 6:31 AM



Pogo said...
You or I can be found guilty of something, anything, every day. And prosecution is solely political.

The old dead Constitution allowed such protest. The new living one does not.


Back to back posts identify the process and then demonstrate how it works. I'm sure it's mere coincidence the discrepancies run in favor of the left. It couldn't be that leftists control the institutions responsible for making the decisions.

DOJ Lawyer

tim maguire said...

Maybe this should get an Aaron Swartz tag for the piling on of charges after the fact. Dress up an insignificant transgression to make it sound scary.

If you can face that lst of charges for sitting in a tree and shouting...land of the rree, indeed.

Peter said...

"What is the proper tax rate for the rich? The Bible implies that it's 50% and that the spending should go toward alleviating poverty."

Surely you're missing the point that the tax collector voluntarily gave away half his wealth. It's well established that when government funds something, voluntary donations to that something tend to dry up.

Government funding can provide a guaranteed revenue stream, but it cannot guarantee that the funds will be used effectively. Whereas private donors are likely to redirect their donations if they do not think they are being used wisely.

For example, consider the difference between public and private homeless shelters: the government ones try to offer a bed, but they are often dangerous. Private ones enforce standards of behavior, which makes them safer- and the required behaviors are often a first step toward rehabilitation.

In any case, there's ample evidence that taxation in the later Western Empire was so high as to suppress economic activity (that is, producers did not have adequate incentive to produce as so much was taken away) and also that much effort that could have gone toward productivity was diverted to tax avoidance.

Harrison said...

In Jesus' time the tax collectors were not paid by the government. They earned their living by adding a fee to the amount of taxes owed. Today you might equate it with owing 30% of your salary in taxes and still having to pay a fee to an attorney or tax preparer to comply with IRS paperwork.

Triangle Man said...

I view him as just another scofflaw. A serial jaywalker who shouts anti-abortion or pro-union slogans while jaywalking is still just another jaywalker.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Using the Zacchaeus story to claim the Bible endorses a 50% tax rate for the rich is not very good exegesis.

You work your side of the street, Madam Law Professor, and I'll work mine.

Tobias said...

Are children's songs written to amuse children or to lure children into performances that will amuse adults?

Why not both?

Or are they mutually exclusive?

TMink said...

He was saved because he believed in Christ, the charity was just an outpouring of his belief.

Trey

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

The man in the tree story reminds me of the guy on the roof story that got the Galilean Prophet in big trouble with the guys from Jerusalem early on.

When his friends opened up the roof and let the paralyzed man down on a stretcher in front of Jesus , Jesus did more than heal him.

Jesus said that because of his friends great faith that, "your sins are forgiven."

The Jerusalem Temple guys instantly reacted to Jesus' claim to forgive a sinner's sins sins that was not being administered by the fee based Temple guys Mosaic Sacrificial System.

Follow the money remains the best analysis for understanding Capitol City authorities.

edutcher said...

I can see busting him for violating a restraining order, but, if it's on the basis of those 2 laws, it's a crock.

The Lefties have not only gone all Commie all the time, they've also gone Royalist.

No mean feat.

Darrell said...

The fact that this man is not being besieged by pro-bono lawyers tell us that the Constitution is dead.

Silly, all the pro bono lawyers are Lefties.

That's why they only listen to U2.

bagoh20 said...

I'm just as uneducated about Christianity as I am everything else, so did these apostles have jobs or were they just a band of hippies? Were they more Tea Party or Occupy?

Freeman Hunt said...

Zacchaeus didn't say he was giving it to the Romans to give to the poor, and nowhere does Jesus advocate giving to the Romans so that the Roman government may help the poor. Taxation isn't charitable giving.

Now if you're arguing that Christian doctrine requires an extreme percentage of charitable giving, I would agree with that.

bagoh20 said...

Whatever the tax rate was, it wasn't enough as evidenced by the fact that Rome is gone and Israel is not. The Romans were such softies.

bagoh20 said...

So by Biblical standards only the rich are truly paying their fair share today, and some more than that. I wonder what Lucifer would propose?

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

The Professor is going easy on us. She could have quoted the Ananias and Sapphira story, which is Obama's favorite one.

bagoh20 said...

So if my neighbor is gonna give me half his crop at harvest time, I think I'm going to Alexandria for a little vacation, maybe do some reading by the Nile. I'll see ya in October. This is a great way to do things by the way. Hey maybe my neighbor in Egypt will have even more stuff to give away. Regardless, save that 50% for me, I'll be back for it.

Hey Jesus, you da man.

n.n said...

jaynie:

Exactly. There is no moral or practical equivalence between people protesting for others to pay more taxes and a man who protests elective abortion of a developing human life from conception to birth. One is analogous to an appeal to a mafia demanding protection money from family and neighbors, and the other is analogous to the purported mandate of mainstream human and civil rights businesses, and our reelected president.

In fact, the people who want government to redistribute other people's wealth by force, should consider that a larger population represents a potentially larger revenue stream and democratic leverage to be exploited for political, economic, and social advantage.

Can they have redistributive change and elective abortion, too? I suppose with around one million aliens illegally entering our nation annually, and legal immigration exceeding the rate of assimilation, they may very well break the paradox of their greed, but not without consequences. Carpe diem, I suppose.

Inga said...

Marshal, as Althouse says, "Put on your humor glasses". It was a joke, it simply struck my funny bone to think of those cute kids helping God smite humanity :)

lemondog said...

I wonder what Lucifer would propose?

Flat tax, no deductions.

Phaedrus said...

Fred Phelps was in DC for the Inaugural?

Fred and his cult can harrass me going to church every Sunday and can harass others at high profile funerals but this guy can't climb a tree and do the same thing? What's the difference, oh it's Obama getting the treatment, I understand.

Saint Croix said...

did these apostles have jobs or were they just a band of hippies?

Jesus was a carpenter.

Saint Croix said...

So if my neighbor is gonna give me half his crop at harvest time

Think "spiritual lessons," not "tax codes for the state."

bagoh20 said...

"I wonder what Lucifer would propose?

Sin taxes are definitely out.

bagoh20 said...

As far as I can tell evidence of Jesus as a carpenter is pretty thin.

Only Matthew 13:55 "Is this not the carpenter's son?".

Baron Zemo said...

Another free speech assault by the Obama administration.

You can expect nothing less from these people.

bagoh20 said...

Believe it or not, my inquiry about the apostles is serious. Were these men who were likely to pay charity or receive it. It makes a huge difference when you are making proposals about what charity (or taxes) should be.

Darrell said...

Fred Phelps was in DC for the Inaugural?

Look at the long history of the Phelps family's association with the Democrat Party and you will see that they were there to celebrate.

And thanks, eductcher, I would have never known about those pro-bono lawyers being Lefties. And hypocrites. Who knew?

bagoh20 said...

"...former Australian Catholic Priest... bit off fellow clergyman's ear..."

That's 50%

Saint Croix said...

Were these men who were likely to pay charity or receive it.

Ugh.

It makes a huge difference when you are making proposals about what charity (or taxes) should be.

Ugh ugh ugh.

bagoh20 said...

C'mon Saint Croix. I'm trying to learn here. "Ugh" may signal your superiority, but it don't help the lesser of us.

Basta! said...

Tax farming was a way for Rome to get a guaranteed stream of revenue without having to set up a large bureaucracy. Every couple of years they would estimate the tax due from a particular region or product, and then auction off the right to collect it. Whoever won had to pay the estimated tax to Rome immediately, up front, which means of course that only people who were already wealthy could bid to be tax farmers. The winner then took on the risk of collecting enough money from tax-payers to cover their up-front expenditure. But once in the provinces, there was no oversight, Rome didn't care, since it had already been paid the tax. So the tax farmers were free to overcollect and keep the difference, becoming even wealthier. A lot of provincials paid their taxes in goods, and one of the tax farmers favorite moves was to undervalue the worth of the goods collected, then turn around and sell the goods themselves at their true (higher) market value.

Provincial tax collectors were men who were already rich, who used this position to extract more in taxes than were actually due to Rome. They were greedy thieves, and everyone hated their guts. With Zacchaeus, Jesus was reaching out to a social pariah, the most loathed guy in town. What Zacchaeus was offering to give away or pay back was wealth that he had used his position to extort, over and above the tax due. This episode isn't saying anything about taxes per se, or a just tax rate, or what the wealthy in general "owe" the poor. It's about one particular serial thief who, under Jesus' influence, agreed to desist from his evil behavior and to make reparations.

Saint Croix said...

"Ugh" may signal your superiority, but it don't help the lesser of us.

You're right, I was bragging, sorry. Certainly haven't earned the right to brag.

You will see plenty of Biblical passages where Jesus turns water into wine, or shows a fisherman where the fish are. He understands our concerns for material things. But nothing he says is really about that.

Ann Althouse said...

I realize it takes an interpretive step to get from charity in Roman times to a theory of taxation in a modern republic. Once the people are participating and processes are regular and fair, how much Christian virtue should be incorporated into the role of government? What would Jesus say?

Ann Althouse said...

That's why I said the Bible "implies."

If you want to resist the implication and stress that it's not explicit, I question whether you are close to the spirit of the lesson taught.

I do understand the emphasis righties place on voluntary charity, but I'm not sold on that, because it is so focused on the giver's feeling of doing good. Shouldn't the focus be on alleviating suffering?

Saint Croix said...

C.S. Lewis was an atheist who had an intellectual conversion to Christianity. Converted Christians tend to be the strongest Christians, in my experience.

My favorite Lewis book, by far, is this one.

What that book captures is the dynamic between the material world and the spiritual world. So, for instance, when Jesus asks people to be charitable, he's not worried about food or shelter for the poor. It's not a plan or scheme or proposal for the material world. It's not an economic theory at all. It's a concern about spiritual matters. When he asks for charity, his concern is actually on behalf of the people who are spiritually deprived.

gregq said...

Basta! said...

Exactly what I wanted to say. Nicely said, and a good explanation of why Ann is totally off base on this one.

SJ said...

@bagoh20,

Jesus was an itinerant Rabbi. He and his disciples had some revenue stream, though there is almost no mention of it. I suspect that they ate with generous locals when they traveled, and received donations.

Judas Iscariot was treasurer for the group. There is a hint somewhere in the story of Judas turning Jesus over to the Temple Police that Judas may have stole from the ministry funds.

About the disciples: Peter was apparently operator of a fishing boat. Possibly owner/operator. Anyway, a private businessman; but not a wealthy man.

However, there is no detail on whether Peter let others operate the business for him while he was traveling with Jesus. I also can't remember whether Jesus&Disciples ran a seasonal ministry, or a year-round ministry.

I doubt that they can be classified as either Tea Party or Occupy. Jesus did talk about the Kingdom, but described the Kingdom of Heaven as not being a kingdom of the world.

bagoh20 said...

Thanks, Saint Croix.


Althouse: "I do understand the emphasis righties place on voluntary charity, but I'm not sold on that, because it is so focused on the giver's feeling of doing good. Shouldn't the focus be on alleviating suffering?"

There is pressure either way. People don't only give to feel good, but that is an incredibly powerful part.

But more importantly is that "righties" believe voluntary giving aleviates the suffering better not for the giver only but for the needy. With state forced charity (taxation) the negative side effects ruin it. For example:

2) Forced charity robs the giver of much of the satisfaction of giving and the giver can come to resent the recipient for being forced, which makes them work to avoid giving and threatens the survival of the system.

3) Forced charity involves third parties that can be disinterested in the needs of both the giver and the recipient which besides making for an inefficient and unmotivated system, leads invariably to waste and corruption, which soon dwarfs the suffering alleviated.

4) The recipient never has to face the fact that someone is giving up something for them, and they don't experience gratitude, or when they do, don't connect it with the true source, True gratitude has a powerful effect of making a recipient want to become a giver themselves, and in my experience is the basis of happiness.

This all separates us from each other, takes the human and love right out of it, and replaces that with resentment, anger, bureaucracy, and coldness.

This is all in addition to the distortion it causes to the political system which morphs into total attention to wealth transfer at the expense of everything else.

bagoh20 said...

And thanks SJ. I didn't know any of that.

Saint Croix said...

how much Christian virtue should be incorporated into the role of government?

I have a theory that Christian societies cannot function in our world. For instance, Christianity calls on us to love our enemies, and not to kill anyone.

So how do you reconcile that with an army, for instance?

And the answer is that we cheat. Right-wing Christians join the army in order to shoot bad guys. But Christianity specifically says not to kill, and to love our enemies.

On the other hand, a liberal Christian like Michael Moore has disdain for the military, for the police, and for guns in general.

Yet he has these opinions while relying on the police and the military to protect his safety.

So he's a hypocrite, too.

If you follow Jesus all the way, you will end up a Christian martyr. And most of us shy off that path, either by arming ourselves or avoiding conflict with armed people altogether.

What would Jesus say?

I think his sympathy is with the guy in the tree.

bagoh20 said...

"you will end up a Christian martyr"

Yea, he didn't make it easy.

Like they say: "If it was easy, everyone would do it."

Although, I love them, this is why I'm not a Christian. It's too hard.

slarrow said...

Once the people are participating and processes are regular and fair, how much Christian virtue should be incorporated into the role of government? What would Jesus say?

Well, probably what he did say: "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's", and "my kingdom is not of this world." Paul would have said that it's a matter of individual conscience (and did in fact say so in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7.)

Truth is, Jesus wasn't about changing or reforming the temporal government, else he would have kicked Pilate to the curb for killing an innocent man in response to political pressure. Plus, I have an obligation to give due to my Christian worldview. If you're going to try to drag my obligation into public life while making my worldview stay private, I'm going to cry foul. That's like cutting a flower and sticking it in the ground you like and expecting it to flourish (props to Leo Tolstoy for that thought.)

Finally, we actually do have a percentage on what you should give in terms of obligation to the government: 10%. God established that when He set up His own theocratic society. But it's 10% of the best, not the rest.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"I have a theory that Christian societies cannot function in our world. For instance, Christianity calls on us to love our enemies, and not to kill anyone.

So how do you reconcile that with an army, for instance?

And the answer is that we cheat. Right-wing Christians join the army in order to shoot bad guys. But Christianity specifically says not to kill, and to love our enemies."

Seriously, do you think in 2000 years that no thought was given to this question. Heck, I took the "Christians should be pacifists" side of a debate in Sunday school because nobody else would even though I don't believe that. (Cribbed most of my stuff from Tolstoy.)

First of all, the Bible does not say don't kill, it says don't murder. No extra-judicial killing. And why the Bible does say to love your enemies, it also informs us that the state is ordained by God and we are to conform to its authority, at least so far as earthly concerns (paying our taxes for example.)

So, if the state is legitimate, then it follows that the police and army it provides are also legitimate in that they are necessary for the state to survive and perform its God ordained function (provide order until the Kingdom of God is established on earth.)

Therefore, Christians can join the army and police force and use force to defend themselves and others.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TMink said...

Israel asked for a king when Samuel's sons became corrupt and abandoned godly behavior (honesty, fairness, etc) for political behavior (taking bribes, favoring the powerful over justice, etc.)As Samuel's family broke down and abandoned God, the people cried out for a strong, centralized government in the form of a king. God opposed this, but told Samuel to allow them their folly.

Samuel gave them this warning: "“This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”

They chose a king, and he took all God said he would take and more. God preferred that they rule themselves by following His commandments.

But then the Bible is an out of touch book written by uneducated commoners centuries ago. Nothing like this would EVER happen today, we are so educated, so progressive, so civilized.

OK, sorry for the sarcasm, but Truth is timeless and that pretty much sums up our current mess. The family structure in America's cities has been destroyed and those who suffer from that destruction look to a powerful central government for salvation rather than obedience to God's law.

The more things change . . .

Selah.

Trey

here is a nice commentary on the situation in Israel: http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/0908.htm

TMink said...

Ralph, scholars translate that commandment as "Do not murder" which is quite different from do not kill.

Trey

slarrow said...

That's why I said the Bible "implies."

If you want to resist the implication and stress that it's not explicit, I question whether you are close to the spirit of the lesson taught.


The Bible implies no such thing, although you infer it, given your mindset (which, while excellently analytical, seems deficient in theological background.) Given passages like this, the story of the rich young ruler, and the behavior of the early church, the lesson is less "what do you owe God" (let alone "what do you owe the government") and more "don't rely on things to save you when only God can." (The "lilies of the field" passage comes to mind there.)

And it's not about feeling good--it's a demonstration of love and an obligation, a "feed my sheep" activity. Alleviating suffering is a means, not an end--take a look at the miracles of Jesus and see how they are explicitly designed to testify to His power and authority.

The point of Christian charity isn't to strut around saying "look at me, I'm so great" (although that is always a danger, don't get me wrong), and it's not even "I'm glad you have a full belly now". It's to say, "I give you this because God has given me so much more, and I want to share that with you." It's a marvelous and hard message. But it really doesn't translate all that well into governmental policy...unless you replace God with government. But that's another story.

n.n said...

Ann Althouse:

That perspective implies a presumption of guilt (i.e. judge a person by their skin color rather than the content of their character). Only God is omniscient, and presumably still defers to individual conscience in life and the post-mortem. Mortal beings, with constrained insight, practice risk management in order to preserve individual dignity.

Voluntary exploitation, including charity, free from bilateral fraud, serves the interests of both the provider and receiver.

It is in the interest of society to help individuals who momentarily falter, or who are mental and physically incapable of productive contribution. It is also in the interest of society to control progressive corruption through dissociation of risk. A central, physically and morally isolated governing model does not engender accountability and does promote corruption.

Entitlements should be contributory. Welfare should be reformed to focus on rehabilitation. The exception given to individuals who are both physically and mentally incapable of productive contribution to society or family. Involuntary exploitation, including taxation, should be limited with a focus on promoting the general Welfare. It should be neither regressive nor progressive. It may be recharacterized to be comprehensive, but not to the extent it provides disincentive to productive enterprise, and incentive to corruption.

The reality is that resources, both natural and human, are finitely available and accessible. We must acknowledge this inherent limitation.

That dissociation of risk causes corruption. That dreams of instant (or immediate) gratification motivates its progress. We must acknowledge this inherent limitation.

That the goal, for many or most of us, is to reconcile our principles with the limitations that reality imposes upon us.

We cannot reject our principles (e.g. individual dignity, sanctity of human life), distort reality through manipulation of perception, and still hope to realize positive progress.

Ralph Hyatt said...

TMink - that is what I said. The first part of the post is a quote from further up the thread.

Saint Croix said...

it also informs us that the state is ordained by God

What?

Saint Croix said...

First of all, the Bible does not say don't kill, it says don't murder. No extra-judicial killing.

On that theory we can kill babies, own slaves, and exterminate the Jews. As long as the state says it's okay, we're good to go?

Saint Croix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saint Croix said...

this is why I'm not a Christian. It's too hard.

Wimp!

Ralph Hyatt said...

Romans 13:1-7 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

As a liberal, I would think you would like that passage.

And nope, doesn't mean we can do immoral things just cause the state says it is legal. For instance Christians should not have abortions (that is kill babies.)

Christian thinking on the issue is that Christians are obligated to obey lawful authority as long as the law does not require they do things contrary to natural law or scripture, for instance being forced to fund abortions via a health insurance law.

And yes, Christians can and do disagree about the details concerning just what natural law and scripture requires from them.

Saint Croix said...

The movie Witness is a really beautiful film about this conflict. Wounded policeman with a gun hides out among the Amish, and the bad guys come looking for him.

His name is John Book, by the way. I love that name, it's awesome.

Saint Croix said...

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Ralph, that is not the same thing as "ordained by God." Is it?

Pretty nice discussion here.

Saint Croix said...

I have always had issues with authority so these are some of the toughest parts of the Bible for me.

SJ said...

@bagoh20,

you can learn a lot about Jesus and the disciples by reading the Gospel according to Matthew. (Or Mark. Or Luke. Maybe even John.) It's not a hard read, though there is a lot of interpretation that is inferred from the tradition of Christianity and from historical research.

As a note: Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs during one phase of his ministry. In those instructions, he told them to depend on the generosity of the leading person in each town.

@Saint Croix,
I have a theory that Christian societies cannot function in our world. For instance, Christianity calls on us to love our enemies, and not to kill anyone.

So how do you reconcile that with an army, for instance?


You might want to begin reading the letters and writings of the church leaders from the generation following the Apostles.

For example, one of those men did some commentary on whether Christians could morally be members of the Roman Army. He noted that John the Baptist's teaching was the opening of the Gospel, and that this teaching did not encourage soldiers to leave the Roman Army. Instead, John encouraged them to do their jobs fairly, and not use their position of power to cheat or abuse others.

Similarly, Jesus had several good things to say about the Centurion who came to him requesting healing for a child. Jesus didn't say anything about the moral position of people whose profession was military.

SeanF said...

Ann Althouse: I do understand the emphasis righties place on voluntary charity, but I'm not sold on that, because it is so focused on the giver's feeling of doing good. Shouldn't the focus be on alleviating suffering?

Yes, that should be the focus, and charity* alleviates suffering better than redistribution precisely because of what it does with the giver's feelings.

*"voluntary charity" is redundant - it's not charity if it's involuntary

Ralph Hyatt said...

That is a good discussion, like I said earlier I took the Christian pacifist position on the matter in a Sunday school debate using Tolstoy's arguments.

I would never argue that we have to support a war simply because the government has declared a war.

And I'm not arguing that God has ordained any particular state or government.

What I am arguing is that the concept of government itself comes from God.

God does not want humanity to live in a state of anarchy.

Given that, then the use of force to maintain order is permissible.

To me, the real issue is just how much force and for what ends is permissible.

The answer to that question, to me, is the least amount of force possible to enforce the smallest number of rules needed to enable society to function.

And yep, that last paragraph allows for lots of personal interpretation.

Saint Croix said...

Jesus always seems to me to be anti-authoritarian in spirit. He was in constant conflict with the authorities, until he was executed.

Honestly, I prefer the Gospels to the rest of the Bible, by far. Just way more interesting and provocative.

Saint Croix said...

Jesus didn't say anything about the moral position of people whose profession was military.

That's true, but Jesus didn't say anything about the moral position of slave-owners, either. You can't take his lack of comment about the political structures of his day (or our day!) as tacit approval of them. His agenda is not a political agenda, but a spiritual one.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Professor:

To give a more serious response to you...

There are passages in the Old Testament that would bear more directly on the question of taxation--the sections about tithes, extra tithes, and helping the poor--but they aren't entirely helpful, because they pertain to a society in which our distinctions between "secular" and "religious" would not make sense. But even then, the Mosaic covenant could not be stretched to say a 50% tax.

Also, as someone noted, you can see the sermon of Samuel, to the people of Israel, when they ask for a king "like all the other nations have" (note: this is a key line to understanding this whole issue), as a warning against out-of-control government. However, that wasn't it's primary purpose.

Samuel's warning serves as a prophecy of the disaster that would envelop God's People by seeking a king--to be like all the other nations. God's People had been called to be something very different from all the other nations--that's a theme that runs from the call of Abraham right through the entire Old Testament, into the New.

So as much as small-government types might like Samuel's warning, he wasn't trying to be a Ron Paul of his time.

The New Testament takes a different tack--very little in the New Testament even addresses the subject of government policy. Our Lord simply didn't concern himself with it. "My kingdom is not of this world." If the Romans took 100%, it's not that Jesus would have said that was good; I rather doubt he would. But what he did say was, leave it all behind. Or, as that great theologian Janis Joplin said, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."

Now, some people emphasize a "low Christology"--meaning they emphasize the Lord's humanity, and the limits that go with that--while others take a "high" Christology and emphasize his divinity.

For those in the latter camp, we would say that our Lord knew well how legal and political theory would develop out of the spread of the Faith and the emergence of Christian society. That's not to say he intended everything that resulted--just that he was leaving some of these questions for later. They weren't the things he wanted to emphasize.

Does the passage in question intend to show that Zacchaeus's response is a generous one--or simply a just one?

I think you will find scholars argue over that one. But one of the points people will make is that Zacchaeus' response is rather extravagant, in terms of putting things right. He seems to go beyond what the demands of the Law would ask him to do--at least, depending on which OT passage you look to, regarding restitution. On this one, I'd want to dig a lot deeper into rabbinic commentary before I said more on that.

But the image of a seemingly "worst" sinner actually showing himself to be an exemplary convert is a frequent one in the Gospels, so it wouldn't surprise me if that's what Matthew is trying to do with Zacchaeus here.

But that doesn't work if the point isn't that Zacchaeus was extravagant in his response--but merely paying his due.

So, in short, I'd say no, the Gospel passage you cite does not imply anything about an appropriate level of taxation for anyone.

Fr Martin Fox said...

I meant to say--regarding Samuel's prophecy--that if you trace the history of the kings of Israel and Judah, they do end up being mostly a bad lot, and both kingdoms are destroyed. So what Samuel warns, early on, proves to be exactly right. Quite a lot of the Bible explores this very theme. Even the books of Maccabees (which Protestant groups generally don't treat as Biblical) support this.

And this, of course, fits nicely with our Lord saying, "My kingdom is not of this world."

bagoh20 said...

I've been wealthy and I've been dirt poor. I don't see them as so different that one be treated as noble and the other as wanting, yet it seems culture, including the bible really make a big deal of it. I suspect that is partly due to the fact that people in past rarely moved from one to the other, and thus seemed to be very different people than they are in an upwardly mobile society.

The rich may not want for material things, but in other areas they are just as lacking, and wealth is of little help.

Freeman Hunt said...

I do understand the emphasis righties place on voluntary charity, but I'm not sold on that, because it is so focused on the giver's feeling of doing good. Shouldn't the focus be on alleviating suffering?

The focus should be on doing the will of God. As I understand it, that is for us to love God and love one another. One expression of that is to alleviate suffering. A more basic expression is to love your neighbor, to reach out to him, to get to know what he needs. That is, I think, why some people like outsourcing helping to the government. It sanitizes the whole thing. A person then thinks he can say, "Sure, I care about the poor," without actually knowing any poor people. And he, of course, ignores the fact that he causes so many of his brothers to stumble by encouraging them to lie or to give up to get on the dole. He apes loving rather than doing it.

Freeman Hunt said...

If a man has a servant, and he tells his servant, "Go into town and give money to this widow," and the servant does it, why should the servant boast? Christian charity is not rightly based on feeling good about oneself.

Ann Althouse said...

"But more importantly is that "righties" believe voluntary giving aleviates the suffering better not for the giver only but for the needy. With state forced charity (taxation) the negative side effects ruin it. For example..."

But leaving it to private giving results in lots of contributions to helping animals and blind people... too much skewed sentimentality. I would prefer rational taxing and spending. That's an ideal. How close to it can we get?

Ann Althouse said...

And it's about having an appropriate safety net that isn't too comfy. Needs to be rational.

TMink said...

Agreed. The current safety net is a hammock that holds the frail less comfortably than it holds the lazy.

"People who truly care about the poor should help them to feel discomfort in their poverty." Benjamin Franklin

Trey

Gene said...

Althouse: What is the proper tax rate for the rich?

That's a question the current administration can never answer. All it knows is, regardless of the current rate, it should be "more."

Chris Smith said...

it's so obvious now that the “conversation about abortion” in our country has evolved into something like George Orwell's book “1984” and the “doublespeak” thing... where the meaning of words or phrases are completely turned upside-down... the real “war on women” in this country is being waged by the abortion industry: http://www.know7things.com/sin.html