Practical Notes Quotations

Worship of the State

Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz

He fingered the mound of faggots where the wooden martyr stood. That’s where all of us are standing now, he thought. On the fat kindling of past sins. And some of them are mine. Mine, Adam’s Herod’s, Judas’, Hannegan’s, mine. Everybody’s. Always culminates in the colossus of the State, somehow, drawing about itself the mantle of godhood, being struck down by the wrath of Heaven. Why? We shouted it loudly enough—God’s to be obeyed by nations as by men. Caesar’s to be God’s policeman, not His plenipotentiary successor, nor His heir. To all ages, all peoples—”Whoever exalts a race or a State or a particular form of State or the depositories of power … whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God….” Where had that come from? Eleventh Pius, he though, without certainty—eighteen centuries ago. But when Caesar got the means to destroy the world, wasn’t he already divinized? Only by the consent of the people—same rabble that shouted: “Non habemus regem nisi caesarem,” when confronted by Him—God Incarnate, mocked and spat upon. Same rabble that martyred Leibowitz….
“Caesar’s divinity is showing again.”

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