Much vague and sentimental journalism has been poured out to the effect that Christianity is akin to democracy, and most of it is scarcely strong or clear enough to refute the fact that the two things have often quarrelled. The real ground upon which Christianity and democracy are one is very much deeper. The one specially and peculiarly un-Christian idea is the idea of Carlyle--the idea that the man should rule who feels that he can rule. Whatever else is Christian, this is heathen.Perhaps the biggest weakness of democracy is elections. because all the wrong people put themselves forward for election. Maybe what we need is for the leaders of a country to be chosen by lot. Let parliament be drafted by ballot. They would be just as representative of the country as elected politicans, and they would be replaced when their term of office ends, so they wouldn't be around long enough to establish a bribe-taking system. If Gerald Ford was as good as they are now saying, this would probably be a better system.
If our faith comments on government at all, its comment must be this -- that the man should rule who does NOT think that he can rule. Carlyle's hero may say, "I will be king"; but the Christian saint must say "Nolo episcopari." If the great paradox of Christianity means anything, it means this -- that we must take the crown in our hands, and go hunting in dry places and dark corners of the earth until we find the one man who feels himself unfit to wear it. Carlyle was quite wrong; we have not got to crown the exceptional man who knows he can rule. Rather we must crown the much more exceptional man who knows he can't.
28 December 2006
Hearing all the eulogies for Gerald Ford, the only unelected president of the USA, reminds me of what G.K. Chesterton said: