Once upon a time, Barack Obama asked a church audience in South Carolina to help him become “an instrument of God” and join him in creating “a Kingdom right here on Earth.”
I do not like such rhetoric coming from either conservatives or liberals. Think about it: what would you do to achieve heaven on earth, if you really though it possible? With conservatives, it is often a question of personal ethics. With progressives like Obama, it is a question of economics. Do not be mistaken: Obama’s concerns as President were materialistic, not spiritual. We were fortunate he didn’t actually do much during his eight years to try to fulfill that rhetoric. To the extent Obama was a successful President, it’s only because of the extent to which he was a failure at getting his vision enacted.
We have seen many attempts throughout history to make a Kingdom of God here on Earth. If Obama had meant what he said, he would have aligned himself with the likes of Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, and Chavez in their attempts to create a Heaven on Earth. The implications are troubling: each of these men attempted to in a real sense “finish God’s work” which He had poorly done of making the earth and human beings in it. If you are a Christian, Muslim, or Jew especially this should be most troubling. What person has the right to assume that God’s work on earth is incomplete and that they know how to make heaven on Earth? And for an agnostic or atheist, this should sound at best silly, and at worst dangerous.
But there are still those who buy into utopian visions. Impatient for Heaven, people want to create it on Earth. And I would venture to guess that their vision in no way matches that of Heaven itself. No, it rather is a vision of their own making. “If I were God, this is how I would formulate the world.” And indeed, the secular religion of Leftism/Progressivism which defies government now that God is dead are precisely interested in making the world in their own image. And it doesn’t matter how good a person someone is, or how moral or ethical, or how well-intentioned (oh, beware of the well-intentioned!). What is at issue is the disconnect these people have with the world. They abide by Marx’s dictum that “The point is not to understand the world, but to change it.” This is a recipe for disaster. And it has been, repeatedly — some more egregious than others. No, the point is to understand the world before you understand how you can change it to get the actual outcomes you seek. This, of course, assumes that a politician’s intentions are to realize the goals he seeks, and not to merely gain more power for himself.
One last word for those who still think we should try to create Heaven on Earth: we have—as William Blake rightly observes in “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.” And prior to that, he observes that if when the world is cleansed, “the whole creation will be consumed and appear infinite and holy whereas it now appears finite & corrupt.” And there is the point: the world appears to us to be finite and corrupt, when it is in fact infinite and holy. If you cannot understand that the world is in fact and already holy—if you agree that we can and should try to make “Heaven on Earth”—then you need to have your doors of perception cleansed. To paraphrase Heraclitus: “Men have supposed some things to be unjust, others just, while God sees the world as beautiful and good and just.”