Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Fatherhood, Filiation, and Fraternity: The Obedience of the Beloved Son and the Restoration of Authority and Brotherhood in Scripture
by David Pence
The primordial fatherhood stories of the ancient classics and the modern scientists are not models of filial piety. The original Greek sky god Uranus buried his children for fear of revolt and was castrated by his Titan son Cronos. To prevent a repeat of such generational conflict, Cronos ate his own children after birth. After five children, his wife grew tired of this parenting style and tricked Cronos with a stone wrapped in swaddling. The rescued son, Zeus, established his reign on Mt. Olympus by overthrowing Cronos and sending all the Titans to the underworld. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was too modern and sophisticated for the shenanigans of Greek gods. But he, too, would rebel against the father. He wrote a devastating tract on Moses and Monotheism debunking the Almighty God of Hebraic scripture. Phillip Rieff has written that before Hitler could kill the Jews, the German intellectual Sigmund Freud had to kill G-d. Freud with the pen of a poet and the reputation of a scientist debunked all of that patriarchal nonsense. He accelerated the modernist atheism of intellectual Jews in the 20th century. His founding story of primate ancestors introduced the first fathers as violent sexual predators holding all the females away from the younger males. Eventually in multiple different settings the coming of age males forged a generational revolt to overthrow the tyrant. Feeling guilty for killing the old man, they remembered him with graveyard services. This collective guilt trip according to Freud led to religions based on a mystification of an all-powerful father god. The Greek play Oedipus was to Freud a literary drama of this historical psychic truth. Christians understand a fundamentally different structure of reality. We do not accept these accounts that Pope Benedict called "an ontology of original violence." Christians tell a different story. We were told by a reliable authority and, like trusting children, we heard and we assented.
Before there was matter, there was Fatherhood and Sonship. Before the angels were created there was a Father and Son. With the Father and the Son was another Spiritual Person who rejoiced in their love and would be the inspiration of that relationship becoming incarnate in creation. This hierarchical communion of persons is the central reality from which comes all of Life and Love.
The drama of Revelation does include a pivotal and powerful rebellious creature. He was not a son, but an angel. That powerful spiritual being rebelled against the plan in which lowly humans would be integrated into the Body of the Beloved Son. A mighty angel like Lucifer was not willing to bow to a baby boy or even more shamefully call a human female "the Queen of Heaven." Satan's envy was an assault on the role of the Beloved Son in the Father's original plan. The Holy Spirit has conspired through all of history to integrate humans in the love of the Son for the Father while the Evil One has committed his reign on earth to despoiling that Plan. Human knowledge of Good and Evil comes from a participative obedience to the Father in reparation for that first great angelic disruption. As attested by the classical Greeks, by the scientist Freud, and by the feminist Eve, this deeper spiritual understanding of Good and Evil cannot be grasped by humans on our own.
God made man in his own protective image, but for some reason Adam left his wife unprotected to encounter the Evil One on her own. Adam then heeded her twisted entreaties instead of the Father's simple commands. This inverted the order of loves that connected him to the Living God and led to the fragmentation of humanity and the ultimate disintegration of death. Adam’s disobedience forfeited his niche in the garden. He lost his authority as a father and was banished to the wilderness. His eldest son Cain killed his brother out of envy that Abel's sacrifice was more pleasing to the Lord than Cain’s. Cain’s murder mimicked Satan’s rebellion. He was driven by envy against the second-born son being treated as the beloved. From the beginning humanity was created to perfect our natures united in mystical union with Christ at the right hand of the Father. We lowly Hobbit humans were destined for sonship, while the mighty angels had their own glorious destinies but not as incorporated beloved sons.
Cain the murderer would be allowed to live with a mark on him. Satan the rampaging rebel was allowed to roam the world seeking the ruin of souls. The perfection of man -- his full maturation -- would come from a contest which he could win only if aligned in filial piety and fraternal communion. His maturation involved both conformity to Christ and wide radius agreements among men cable of binding a whole species as a united social organism. Part of God's reparative justice aimed at Satan was to allow the lower creature man a central role in evicting Satan from the earth. All the biblical second son stories attest to their elected roles in carrying out God's ultimate plan. This is why deep in our nature men love a good fight. The fight we cherish the most is against a foe so terrible that we can only defeat him in communion with our brothers. The Bible is all about love, but it is a love given as a gift and perfected in a contest.
Noah spoke with God like Adam did… but he listened and obeyed. He built his unlikely ark which saved his three sons and their wives to again be fruitful, multiply, and dominate the earth. One of Noah’s sons, Ham, violated the honor of his father. The descendants of Ham’s son Canaan would pay for that disobedience by losing their lands to the beloved son, Israel. After Babel, men would be assigned different languages and would be limited by the boundaries of different peoples that would localize the communal nature of brotherhood. The one species would be manifested as many nations and among the nations there would be a beloved son.
Abraham would be chosen to be the father of many nations. Abraham was ordered on the eighth day after the birth of male children (when boys were named) to mark them with the sacrificial blood of circumcision. The common destiny of men was to be sacrificed for the common identity and survival of the group. "To be a man" is to emerge from the protection and authority of one’s mother in the family to take on the duties of a male social group which protects not only one's wife and mother, but the widows and orphans of the nation as well. Organizing group territorial protection is the high calling of political man -- it is a shared duty of adult men and is the fraternal cement of civic friendship and national patriotism. It is the powerful form of Biblical masculine love that today dares not speak its name. Without the civic fraternity of the nation, each man is a law unto himself and only the strong, the rich, and the well-connected prevail. It was considered an essential part of the Jewish tradition of Noahidic natural law that men understood the communal necessity of establishing law and living under authority in the different tribes and nations. The seventy grandsons of Noah were the prototype nations to which Israel would be a light. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God. The Jews were considered the elect or chosen nation because they were directly given prescribed laws and a particular land. But all men were ordained to live in some kind of defined territorial communities marked by law, boundaries, and authority.
Circumcision was the mark of the Abrahamic Covenant, offering the blood of every male for the Covenant with G-d which shaped the people as a Nation. The covenant would entail a Leader, a Land, and a Law promised by G-d so men could establish a priestly nation to offer praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. Matured masculine groups need a leader to command unity, and borders to define and limit their shared mission. Abraham’s first son Ishmael would be sent out into the wilderness but then rescued. He too would be a father of nations. God would ask Abraham to bind and sacrifice his second son -- the beloved Isaac -- but would save him from his death by the hand of an angel. A ram would die in his place. In the Jewish tradition, Isaac understood the command of God and agreed with his father that he must be sacrificed to obey God. (In Islamic tradition, it is Ishmael who is sacrificed by Abraham. As a devout Muslim, Ishmael was ready to submit to the Will of God as well. He, too, was spared.) Ishmael and Isaac would meet again in peace to bury their common father, Abraham. The willingness of fathers and sons to share the same protective duties toward the group and obey the same Divine Authority even unto sacrificial deaths created a powerful social organism. These cross generational masculine bonds sustained both wide radius communities in space and long-lasting bonds in time. Abraham is the father of the nations because he showed filial piety and obeyed God. His obedience as a son made him the father of nations. Through circumcision he consecrated masculinity to sonship and brotherhood under the one true G-d.
The oldest son of Isaac was Esau, but the beloved son was Jacob who by trickery received the birthright from his father. Jacob fled the wrath of his brother but later in life when they met, Esau did not exact vengeance. They knew the peace of agreed-upon borders, if not the brotherhood of a unified clan. Before Jacob met his brother, he was prepared for the encounter by wrestling with God and received his name Israel. Maturity came from a ritualistic contest simulating the risk of danger and pain necessary to protect one’s group. Twelve sons would constitute the twelve tribes of Israel. The whole nation is often referred to by their father’s name -- Hear O Israel! The older sons betrayed their brother Joseph out of envy. As the son of Rachel, Jacob’s favorite wife, the eleventh son Joseph was his father’s beloved. It’s always dangerous to be so chosen. His brothers almost killed him but then sold him to Ishmaelites who bore him into Egypt. The brother cast into the death of a pit will rise again to provide the food of life for his brothers. He will forgive his brothers fully and this act of fraternal reconciliation will bring Israel and all his sons to the land of Egypt bound together as a reconciled patriarchal fraternity ready to be consecrated as a nation.
The Jewish brotherhood lost its favored position in the land of Egypt and were enslaved. As their population grows in slavery, all the baby males will be slain save one -- Moses -- who is set aside in a little ark of a basket on a river. The Pharaoh’s daughter takes mercy on him and finds a nursing woman (Moses' mother) to nourish him in his foundling. As he reaches manhood, Moses kills an Egyptian abusing a Jewish countryman. He flees to the wilderness where he is confronted by God who orders his return. He is to order Pharaoh to allow God’s beloved son Israel a few days of freedom to properly worship God in the desert. Finally to break the will of Pharaoh, the first born males of Egypt -- animal and human alike -- were slaughtered by the Angel of Death. The beloved sons of the Beloved Son were saved by the blood of lambs. Two brothers from the priestly tribe led the people out. Moses would mediate for the people with God, and received the words in stone that would be their marching orders through the desert to the Promised Land. When he came down from his 40 days on the mountain, he found the people in revelry. He assembled a priesthood under Aaron. Some 3000 kin, neighbors and friends who had celebrated the Golden Calf were slain to reinforce that there would be no bonds of unity among the people that were not grounded in acknowledging God as Sovereign. There was one God and there would be no gods before Him. Moses saw the Promised Land but did not enter. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan in proper priestly order all the males were circumcised under Joshua so they might "fight as one man" to receive the Promised Land by the Hand of God. They had wandered forty years in the desert because ten of their original twelve spies had shrunk like frightened grasshoppers before the great fighting task that God had put before them to retake the Promised Land.
Four centuries later, the youngest son of Jesse from the tribe of Judah was consecrated as King David. His righteousness and consecration won over the son of King Saul to a brotherly bond deeper than kinship. The souls of David and Jonathan were knitted together as one. David sinned against his loyal commander Uriah, who even when he returned to the city from war declined the bed of his wife in solidarity with his men and the ark still in battle. This masculine understanding of the celibacy of men at war will convict the adulterous King and culminate in the visions of the Book of Revelation. David’s son Solomon built the temple but betrayed God. The ten northern tribes, the kingdom of Israel, often called Ephraim, were lost to the Assyrians. The tribes of the fourth son Judah who received Jacob’s birthright and the twelfth son Benjamin, another beloved youngest son, would be the remnant. They would later be captured by the Babylonians but freed by Cyrus to return and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem to enclose and protect the foundation stones of the Second Temple.
Five centuries later, from the House of David came another Joseph, son of Jacob, and unto his virgin wife a King was born. At circumcision He was named Jesus: 'the one who saves.' This was the Beloved Son who God had been promised through the prophets to rule over the nations. The father directly attested to his status at the Baptism and Transfiguration of the Lord. Herod would make a bloody sacrifice of all the baby males of His cohort in pursuit of Him. The earthly father informed by an angel in a dream protected his son. Joseph did not live in time of civic fraternal order. He had to be the prayerful father who maintains his household often in hiding from despotic rulers and chaotic national circumstances. Once again, a Joseph led only by God and his angels escaped murderers by taking refuge in Egypt.
Jesus came from Judea, but He was conceived and lived in the region of Galilee. From that territory of the northern tribes, He called together a new brotherhood of Twelve: "the men of Galilee." They were invited to call God Our Father, and so begin the reconciliation of brothers that would be a light to all the nations. The only apostle not from Galilee would betray the Elder Brother with a kiss. Judas was exorcized from the brotherhood during an authoritative priestly foot-washing ritual performed by Jesus on the night before He died.
The new Eve had not pursued forbidden knowledge, but received the deeper wisdom that comes from a Fiat to the Spirit. The new Adam would obey the Father and build a brotherhood of fathers whose communal unity would expel Satan from earth just as Michael and his angels had expelled him from Heaven. In the great story of salvation and reparation, Eve would be supplanted by the pure unique soul of Mary. Adam’s disobedience that scattered all his descendants would be rectified by the new Adam who would call all men into the brotherhood of a universal Church sent out to baptize the nations. It is the willingness of men to accept the legitimate authority of God our Father that binds us as brothers and allows us to act with authority as fathers, civic rulers, and priests.
The Beloved Son obeyed. This time Adam's story is different and death will be destroyed. The love of the Father for the Son was extended as the love of the Son for his apostles who would serve as the living foundation stones of a new temple. The night before the death of the Beloved Son, the sacred brotherhood drank a blood covenant of loyalty. Ten of them would be martyred for His Holy Name. The apostles were to love one another as Christ loved them and His Father loved Him. The nature of father-son love is fruition and incorporation in the wider group they both love together. The apostolic church became the template for incorporating the human species into the Sonship of Christ under His Father. Even before the early church was referred to as Christians they called themselves by this sealed love among the Apostles- "Brethren". The Beloved Son reversed the disobedience of the first man made in God’s image. His obedient submission to the Father reconciled the alpha male of humanity to our Creator and Father. He had begun his public life by going out with the Spirit to the wilderness desert to confront Satan who had separated the first Adam from the Father. In the Garden, Christ reconciled human nature with the Father by submitting to His Will. He underwent the humiliation of the Cross in obedience to the Father. He was raised from the dead. He dethroned the first Liar and Murderer and repaired the rent in the universe caused long ago by the mighty angels’ terrible rebellion. Christ’s harrowing of hell reunited humanity in one new Body linking Adam and Eve to the Patriarchs, to the Holy Innocents, and the good thief. The Acts testify that Christ's resurrection is when the Psalm was fulfilled, "You are my Son, today I have begotten you." On the night he rose from the dead, He gave His apostles the authority to forgive sins and draw men back into communion. He commissioned them to cast out the demons of the Evil One who were now chained but still capable of great evil. The promise to Isaiah that a son would come from the house of David who would rule over the nations forever was fulfilled. Christ established the kingdom of his Father by establishing a protective communion of fathers to bring humanity back into the household of the Father.
The Apostles were sent to baptize men in the protective communal forms in which they lived -- the nations. Establishing the Kingdom of God provides the best "service" to humanity by establishing authority and protective orders of love which stymie Satan, the murderous Cain, and the treasonous Judas from preying on the sheep of the flock. "Servant leadership" is not an excuse to substitute social work for the authoritative tasks of ruling. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. This is the shared mission of all-male groups from the Catholic priesthood to the Knights of the Round Table to the noble Samurai to the Cristeros to the American state militias. The Christian form of public life is brotherhood because the mission of the Church and the purpose of mankind is to establish a Kingdom on earth. To actually venture to the periphery with authority takes both courage and numbers. The perimeter is not one's personal rabbit hole. It can not be guarded alone. The masculine outer group protects the feminine interior. Outside, the Apostolic Church stands as a wall of living stones. Inside, the Marian Church beats as a mother's heart of mercy.
Forty days after His resurrection from the dead, the Son returned triumphant from His mission to the Father. The Beloved Son returned to sit at the right hand of his Father. He had instituted the collegial body which could receive the Spirit and carry on His mission.
The Spirit had been a co-conspirator with the Son from His conception to the first battle with Satan in the desert to strengthening him during the Agony to their triumphal harrowing of hell the next day. Now He was sent as a fire from Heaven to the apostolic brotherhood and the people of the upper room. The apostles departed from their hidden conclave to open preaching in the streets of Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit infused them with that necessary virtue that invigorates the masculine group-fortitude. Peter as the head of the Twelve spoke to the "Men of Judea" gathering for one of the pilgrimage feasts that drew the Jews each year into a Jerusalem centered formation. There the Spirit through the Men of Galilee won back in the sacred city the 3000 souls slain 1500 years before in the desert.
When men obey the will of the Father and accept that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven --then men are restored in that love of neighbor which finds expression in the protective brotherhoods of the church and nations. Filial piety begets fraternities of love. It will take a fraternity of men to complete the fighting task of Christ in the expulsion of Satan from his dominions. Men who fished with nets seemed to understand the communal nature of battling forces more powerful than any single man alone. This was to be the original fighting mission of Adam and his sons before Adam’s betrayal and Cain’s murder destroyed the first patriarchal fraternity. The Enemy would always be on the lookout for the personalities who could defeat him -- the feminine Virgin Mother and the masculine brotherhoods of faithful sons. The Devil knows in God’s Providence that after the fiat of a virgin mother, the patriarchy of God would be realized through the shared filial piety of men. Filial piety, sacral brotherhood and the virgin-mother were the ordained forms of love from the beginning that would cast him and his legions from the land of the Living.
Who murmurs against the rule of the Father? Who mocks the filial piety which perfects adult sons? Who would disassemble the male brotherhoods that protect our life as nations and the Apostolic priesthood which has authority over demons? It is he who was a Liar and a Murderer from the beginning. It is he who threatened the Queen Mother at the birth of her son in Bethlehem and again in the Book of Revelation. It is he who would replace motherhood with abortion and betray brotherhood with kisses. The Muslims practice an instructive tradition in Mecca where large assemblies of believers enact the stoning of Satan. They remind Christians of our own tradition. In Revelation, the great dragon is defeated by the blood of the Lamb and the 144,000 men who knew not women, but were marked with the name of the obedient Son and the Father on their foreheads. The rule of the Father, the compliance of the Beloved Son, the restoration of a sacred fighting brotherhood in the Church and among the nations. Are these not the forms needed to continue our great mission as the Body of Christ -- to evict the Old Serpent, to protect the Virgin-Mother, and to celebrate the Sovereignty of God?