06 Jun 2008

It’s Enough To Make Anyone Rend His Garments

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Today’s news featured a demand from an international agency for large-scale sacrifice.


The world needs to invest $45 trillion in energy in coming decades, build some 1,400 nuclear power plants and vastly expand wind power in order to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to an energy study released Friday.

The report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency envisions a “energy revolution” that would greatly reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels while maintaining steady economic growth.


That headline reminded me of a passage in the New Testament, used a subject for a painting by Raphael.

The painting by Raphael, titled The Sacrifice at Lystra, was done 1515-1516, and is part of the Royal Collection in the Victoria & Albert Museum.

It depicts an incident described in the Acts of the Apostles 14:8-18.

And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked:

The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,

Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.

And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.

Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.

Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,

And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:

Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.

Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.


Modern liberals, like those Lystrians, have a habit of confusing men with gods.

Though in the modern case, that confusion always involves the first person. Contemporary scientists who cannot reliably predict the weather more than a week or so in advance, and who do not in fact understand the causes or normal patterns of the planet’s periodic cycles of warming and cooling, pretend to able to predict imminent catastrophe related to human activity. Political pundits and economists, who cannot reliably predict high or low prices or good times and bad, and who actually produce nothing but merely manipulate words and ideas, claim they can revolutionize available forms of energy.

Today’s sophisters, calculators, and economists pretend to knowledge they do not possess, based on data outside human reach, and by so pretending to possess superhuman powers, they are really pretending that they are gods. Member of the modern intellectual clerisy habitually think themselves the gods Jupiter and Mercurius. But the sacrifices they propose, of course, are considerably greater than a single ox.

Just like the Lystrians, their demand is for sacrifices to an idol, the idol of Leviathan the State. “Progressives” have really gone far backward, into a barbarous and pagan past, one preceding both the Enlightenment and Christian Europe, whose faith rested upon a newer kind of thinking which respects the freedom and dignity of the human individual, which values spontaneous order and the voluntary interactions of human beings, and which does not view man and Nature as separate, distinct, and intrinsically at war.


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