Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Insights from Democracy in America

Thanks mostly to Kyle's prodding, I have been reading Alexis de Tocqueville's classic Democracy in America. While I am not far along in the book, I came across an interesting passage this morning and thought it might provide some thought-fodder for the day. This section also refers to a topic that has been on my mind for the past week and a half: the proper interaction between the religious and the political. This topic can be viewed from the perspective of the Christian's interaction with the state and the state's acceptance/rejection of religious influences. Anyway, I hope to post on the issue as soon as figure out what I want to say about it. Back to Tocqueville; he writes some valuable observations about religion and the political development of democratic procedures and a democratic culture in pre-revolution New England. The Puritan religion and democratic politics go together, he says, even though the seem to be in conflict (the strict legal code of the Puritans enforced by the state going along with the civil liberity of democratic procedures). Liberty and religion are mutually enforcing, says Tocqueville, because:

"Religion perceives that civil liberty affords a noble exercise to the faculties of man and that the political world is a field prepared by the Creator for the efforts of mind. Free and powerful in its own sphere, satisfied with the place reserved for it, religion never more surely establishes its empire than when it reigns in the hearts of men unsupported by aught beside its native strength.

"Liberty regards religion as its companion in all its battles and its triumphs, as the cradle of its infancy and the divine source of its claims. It considers religion as the safeguard of morality, and morality as the best security of law and the surest pledge of the duration of freedom" (Everyman's Library, Alfred A. Knopf published version, p. 44).


Anonymous Jason said...

I'm looking forward to more posts on the issue.

2:49 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Hey buddy I hope that all is well! I am also trying to push through Democracy in America. Also thanks to a suggestion from Kyle. I am really looking forward to getting both of your thoughts.

8:34 PM  

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