Hours after perhaps a thousand Trump supporters misbehaved in the Capitol (while, outside, tens of thousands of Trump supporters were well-behaved), purple rhetoric was the order of the night in the Senate chamber. A lot of verbal striking was going on, but I was particularly struck by these words by Dick Durbin (D-Ill.):
This is a special place. This is a sacred place. But this sacred place was desecrated by a mob today on our watch. This temple to democracy was defiled by thugs, who roamed the halls — sat in that chair, Mr. Vice President — one that you vacated at 2:15 this afternoon.
His talk about sacred places and temples has stirred me to pitch in a few observations:
- Just because it’s a temple doesn’t mean that what goes inside is excusable. Jesus drove moneychangers — those profiting, like parasites, from sacred practices — from the Temple. The Apostle Paul later rebuked a fellow named Simon for bringing money into the spiritual equation, and thus we have the sin of “simony,” whose practitioners can be found, according to Dante’s Inferno, eight floors down in the nine-story basement of hell. Perhaps some of the “priests” Durbin’s political temple should double-check their sacred status in this connection.
- Contemporary observance of Hanukkah and the fielding of quadrennial Maccabiah Games harken back to what many consider Jewish relief from the “abomination of desolation” named prophetically in Daniel 9 and 11. These familiar observances are grounded the second century B.C. response to the acts of the Hellenistic tyrant Antiochus IV (Antiochus Ephiphanes), who, in contempt for the Temple’s founding purpose, sacrificed pigs on its altar. His indifference toward the biblical deliverances of Moses fomented the Maccabean Revolt, which concluded with the restoration of Menorah lighting in the Temple. Now, with many legislative abominations to their credit, the Durbins of that body should exercise some restraint in essentially calling these Trump supporters the Army of Antiochus for their actions last Wednesday. Indeed, what shall we make of those who, rather than sacrifice pork, nurture large herds of gratuitous and offensive pork within that sacred space?
- Beyond the Capitol itself, the preferred and well-regulated voting booth is another “sacred temple to democracy” whose status has been degraded in our day, with no obvious concern from the Durbinites.
- The Bible speaks of the body, too, as a temple, and surely the foundational sacred space is the womb, from which, one by one, the people (as in the demos of “democracy,” the “common people”) emerge. These developing and forthcoming little people are themselves temples wherein the Holy Spirit might reside (1 Corinthians 6:19). What shall we make of the “priests” of democracy’s temple who do everything they can to enable and even encourage the “desecration” of these primal temples of democracy?
- George Washington famously said in his Farewell Address,
[L]et us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
It’s the same theme we find in remarks John Adams made to officers of the 1st Brigade/3rd Division of the Massachusetts militia: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” If that’s the case, then homes and places of worship are “first responder” temples to democracy, for this is where the populace is best prepared to rule. In this connection, Bible study and prayer among parents and children has been called the “family altar.” So beware of politicians who marginalize, minimize, or even stigmatize devotion to the sort of family and church that Washington and Adams had in mind when they said these things. And feel free to ask whose political fortunes feed off the wreckage of church and home.
I live in Nashville, where a replica of the Parthenon stands in Centennial Park. Inside, you find a remarkable statue of a bogus goddess, Athena, holding in her hand the statue of another bogus goddess, Nike. Impressive temple; empty worship. But that’s pretty much all those Athenians had to go on. Same thing with senators who call the Capitol a “sacred temple to democracy” but are impatient with the truth, wisdom, and constraints of the Bible. They make things up in the vanity of your own fevered imaginations and then enforce acquiescence on others. And what better place to do so than in a high temple of civic power?
When I was a kid, our church choir began each service with a call to worship beginning with “The Lord is in His holy temple; Let all the earth keep silence before Him: Keep silence, keep silence, Keep silence before Him.” Now that the Durbins of this world are high priests of the Senate Temple, their acolytes are in a scramble to silence the opposition through big-tech censorship and other means. They seem to be keener on demi-democracy or miso-democracy, with only half the people having anything worthwhile to say.
And so they presume to enter the “sacred temple to democracy” singing, “The Left is in its holy temple; Let all the nation keep silence before them: Keep silence, keep silence before them.”