By Nathan Barton
Can government preserve itself in space? Can the “new frontier” be more reliably controlled than the frontier of the Old West or the Seven Seas for centuries?
Among other things, it is a matter of scope. Which is one reason that liberty, freedom, survived as long as it did in the American West and a few other places (like the Gobi and Sahara and the Outback and Amazonia). (Open space is not an absolute guarantee of freedom, as Siberia and the Northwest Territories demonstrates, but that is another discussion.) The vastness of space even just here in the Solar System is a daunting challenge to government control. (You might not be able to hide in space, but it can be pretty hard to get to you.)
Indeed, governments have always had a difficult time keeping control of wilderness and frontier areas – with or without technology. For millennia, governments could not “keep the peace” even a few miles out to sea. You could see the ships of smugglers, pirates, rebels, and just ordinary folks for leagues and leagues, but… Catching them was a very different matter.
In a similar way, mountains have, from time immemorial, been much harder for kings and princes and tyrannical parliaments to boss around. They’ve been the breeding grounds for rebellions and revolutions time and again. The history is long. Nepalese mountaineers, Tibetans, Southeast Asian Montagnards, Appalachian mountain folk (who even rebelled against the Rebels back in the 1860s!), Scots Highlanders, Welsh Cymru, and so on right back to the dwellers in the mountains of Ararat whom Nimrod and his consort Semiramis could not bend to their will, from their capital on the plains of Shinar.
(Its not an unbroken record: the Feds broke both the gold and silver miners of the Sierra Nevada and the Rockies, as well as the Saints in Utah, to their yoke. Tibet fell under Peking’s rule, and the proud clans were crushed by the British (English and Lowlander) forces culminating in the ’45. But still…)
It isn’t just a matter of physics and geometry and geography. It is also a matter of attitude and the psychology of wide open spaces and skies, whether we are talking the Alps of the Swiss, the Big Sky of Montana, the vast expanses of open sea, or the infinitely vaster reaches of space.
It is that infinity that will, by God’s grace, defeat the states, the governments, once and for all. But it will not be easy. I think it not at all unreasonable for so many science fiction authors to speculate so much about rebellion and lawlessness and resistance – yes, and liberty! in space. From The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to Rebel Moon and Red Thunder and Weber and White’s Insurrection (Starfire) series, we see freedom and liberty hunted down like dirty dogs, but victorious. Open space “warps” the minds of humans to love liberty, to crave freedom, and to reject even (or especially) petty tyranny and artificial restraints on choices and deeds.
But the fighting will NOT stop. For every generation that gains or regains its freedom, there will be a new generation which is made up of those who forget the past, and those who crave domination over their fellow men and women. And once more, there will be war.
I agree with Heinlein, not the do-gooders, and with Jesus, that most gentle and meek of men, who said, “Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) Even (or especially) the Prince of Peace realized that liberty has a cost, and that cost is often a lack of peace. War DOES settle things, at least for a time and in a place.
Dear Dave and Mama:
I was on the road and preparing for (and at) worship and doing family things all weekend and finally came to a temporary pause about 3 AM this morning. So I read the email postings on my phone but didn’t have any way to really join in the conversation. (Most of Wyoming and NW Colorado and SW Utah don’t have good enough cellular signals to go on-line easily and my schedule was horribly tight anyway.)
So I’ll add my two cents to the conversation today.
I think that it is good that the comments I made are getting some interest and feedback. And I’ll try to better explain my reasoning.
First off, Mama is correct. I was NOT saying or implying that Jesus was advocating war. But He WAS, I believe, telling us that war is inevitable. That there have been few if any times in human history that wars are not being fought somewhere by somebody, and that situation will not change – at least not until the end of time and His return. But stating that wars and rumors of wars (Matthew chapter 24) will continue is NOT the same as advocating them – any more than warning His disciples that persecutions will continue is advocating for persecution.
Second (and sorry, Dave) I DO believe that Jesus, in Matthew 10, was speaking of literal swords. Actually, both literal and figurative swords. When reading the context (just the 10th chapter itself if you wish), Note particularly verses 21 and 22. This is NOT figurative language. He is foretelling exactly what DID happen and what continues to happen nearly 2,000 years later: those who follow Him will be attacked and killed by the sword (and other weapons) because of their faith. And some of those who attack and kill them WILL be their family members. Not just governments. And as history has shown (starting from the deaths of Stephen and James), many of those will CLAIM to be doing it in the name of God.
But Mama is right, that in this passage/discussion, Jesus did NOT tell His followers to take up the sword to go and convert the world, or to force their family members to follow Him. Indeed, He tells them to take up, not a sword but a cross (verse 38) – THEIR cross and not a cross on which to put their enemies. (And this was well before He died on a cross – when a cross was nothing more than a commonly known instrument of torture and shameful death for criminals and rebels.) In verses 35-36, Jesus is quoting from the Tanakh (Old Testament) book of Micah, in fact. The OT and history from the time of Jesus on has shown that wars DO “resolve” things – and not often in a good way. So war is sometimes essential; defensive war, understandably.
We are to be prepared for war, whether as followers of Christ Jesus or as lovers of liberty: not because we are to START those wars or to use war to “further our objectives” but because we must defend ourselves against those who would use violence (war) to take away our faith, our freedom, and our lives (and the same things from those we love). In space, as here on earth, there will be those who use violence and war to attempt to control us, our families, our lives and our property – either to take them from us outright or prevent us from using those things to further THEIR objectives.
I believe that ultimately, those governments, those business entities, even those religions, who try to force us by violence and threat of violence will fail. But that failure will not be the result of abject surrender to the aggressors, or by becoming aggressors ourselves. As it always has, it will require us to defend ourselves, both literally and figuratively, with words and deeds, but especially with a clear moral compass – a clear understanding and application of what is right and wrong, good and evil.
Did not mean to upset you again Mama. But I am getting used to it.
There have been more books written about Jesus as a religious and historical figure than probably anyone of that time period. The Gospel Books were not written thousands of years after Christ as you seem to infer. Most scholars believe the Gospel of Matthew was written between 70AD and 110AD making it very probably that the author had a personal connection to Jesus. The Book of Mark was actually written a little earlier. As such the authors were as reliable a source as any biographer or historian of any time period.
The books were written in the common Greek, the language of the day. The scribes that rewrote and copied these manuscripts were trained such that even a drop of ink in the wrong place on the page meant the entire manuscript had to be destroyed. To my knowledge, no author of any time period ever suggested that Jesus said to take up the sword to follow him.
You say you get very frustrated by people who assume they know what someone said 2000 years ago. I get very frustrated when people assume they know me. You have to walk a mile in my shoes Mama before you can assume you know me.
Dave, you believe what you wish, of course. I don’t assume to know you at all, but I personally studied religion, and comparative religion for nearly fifty years. I was seriously involved in one church most of my adult life. I finally had to accept the fact that the more I studied and looked at the whole picture, the less I believed any of it. I could say a great deal more about it, but there is no point. I have no anger or even disdain for those who believe. It is a personal decision, of course. But those who assume they can speak for and interpret the meaning for someone who supposedly lived 2,000 years ago seem seriously misguided as far as I’m concerned, and all of the writings of the “scribes” and so forth don’t prove anything to me. They were all human beings, with their own foibles and agendas. Any “god” that human beings could understand and speak for seems far too small to be the creator of the universe. But I don’t insist that anyone else go along with that idea, just hope you understand why I don’t accept any such writing as “proof.” Peace to you and yours.
Mama, you say you have studied religion and comparative religion for 50 years. During all those studies did you ever find an author who believed that Jesus said to take up the sword and follow him? That was the point of my first comment and my follow up comment to you when you responded.
The sword question is immaterial to me, actually. Your insistence on a strange, unsupported interpretation was the only thing I was responding to. But to be specific, I remember that the bible (any version I have read – and I have at least ten of them) recounts that Jesus said to his disciples to sell their cloak and buy a sword – but that two were “enough.” No indication at all what he might have meant by any of that. No indication in any version I know of that having a sword (or not having one) had anything to do with following him. That’s something people decide for themselves, based on anything they want. 🙂
My only point in both of my comments being that Jesus never said to take up a sword and follow him, then what strange, unsupported interpretation am I insisting on? Which one of your ten Bibles says anything different?
Good grief. None of them, of course. Who proposed that taking up a sword had anything to do with following Jesus or that this was proposed in the bible? Where did that come from, and why does it matter?
I think we both got lost in the shuffle. 🙂
My initial comment was in response to Nathan’s last paragraph in More War and Space where he quotes Matthew 10:34. And somehow that got you to suggest that my comments were a strange and unsubstantiated interpretation.
“I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) Even (or especially) the Prince of Peace realized that liberty has a cost, and that cost is often a lack of peace. ”
Went back to read it. Has zero to do with any idea that a sword is required (or not) to follow Jesus. The strange interpretation would be thinking that the bible writing Nathan mentioned was even related… so I guess I still don’t really know what you are talking about.
And my initial comment was purely based on your claim to “KNOW” what Jesus said and meant – not contest the meaning you gave it. But I should not get into these conversations with strangers, at any rate. I’m sorry I said anything.
Let’s just call it a misunderstanding and leave it there.
After Nathan’s Biblical reference to Jesus not bringing peace but a sword, his comment was, “Even (or especially) the Prince of Peace realized that liberty has a cost, and that cost is often a lack of peace. War DOES settle things, at least for a time and in a place.” I took that to mean he believes that Jesus (even the Prince of Peace) advocated war in Matthew 10:34. I do not believe any commentary I have ever seen or author I have ever read thought that is what Jesus meant. Hence my first comment that Jesus was not talking about a literal sword.
I did not claim to “know” anything. I only relayed what I thought based on what I have read and heard.
That is what I am talking about.
OK, Dave. I don’t think that’s what Nathan meant, nor Jesus… For whatever that’s worth. 🙂 Not sure why Nathan didn’t comment, but it has been interesting. SOOO much easier to talk face to face, of course. Easy to misunderstand.
There is war because people are greedy, people want to shove their opinions and standards down someone gut, people have something that other people want and are not willing to talk about it. I think most wars are based on lies, half truths. The only need for war is someone or some country attacks you or your country. Do not get me started about Sept 11, 2001
Hmmm… Darkwing. Tell me what part of 9-11-01 was not based on lies, half truths, false “news?” Sorry, but I’d like to “get you started.” 🙂
All of the phony “wars” that followed were not actually connected in any way to that mass murder. 9-11 was merely the excuse for all of the aggression and lies perpetrated by the US government since then – invading other countries and killing the people there. Ordinary people, “greedy” or not, do not start these wars. The politicians who WANT these “wars” don’t fight them either. Ordinary people are killed, maimed and their lives destroyed in order for those politicians to posture and preen — oh, and somehow tighten their control of all our lives and property as well.
Even the “war of 1812” was a political fiasco, but it at least began as a defensive situation. There have been no “wars” since with the honest purpose of defending America from any real threat.
MAMA: All the MSM and Bush 2 yelled was “we were attacked” that is the issue. That issue was used and the sheeple fell for it. Just like the fire in Germany in the 30’s, Pearl Harbor, the USS Maine; “We were attacked”
Indeed, all of the lies and false belief in government “authority.” What I said. 🙂 There will be false wars as long as people believe the lies.
Jesus was not talking about a literal sword in Matthew. He was talking about the trouble between family members caused by following His teachings – I.e. between father and son and mother and daughter, etc. He never advocated taking up the sword for His cause.
How do you know, Dave? I get pretty frustrated when people assume they “know” what someone said or thought 2,000 years ago. Jesus didn’t leave any recordings, and those who wrote down what THEY thought he said, did so hundreds or thousands of years later. They didn’t actually even speak the same language by then. So, what he may or may not have said or meant is not relevant to the natural and imperative fact of individual rights: to defend their lives and property – in any manner necessary without aggression. That is the only thing that is germane. And that natural right to self defense, seems to me, has been part of human existence from the beginning… whenever and however that was.