Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Origins Of Authority

Father Stephen has a good post up about speaking with authority:

There is an authority that has an “official” capacity. On paper you have all the authority you imagine. But the real thing comes from somewhere other than the paper. I believe that the authority of the priesthood is given in ordination – but the authority of the priesthood is nothing like what a young man imagines. The authority of the priesthood comes only from the Cross and anyone who would take a share in that authority must do so only at the cost of his life.

Father Stephen's reflection on religious authority reminded me of what I have noticed in the so-called secular realm. There seem to be two general areas of authority in human affairs. One is the ability to judge well between men who have differences significant enough to seek out arbitration. The other stems from good property management- are you a good steward of what you own?

Currently, of course, private property is much maligned, and judgements are usually made with a view to redistributivist aims rather than justice or restitution, so now we have a new authority, that of 'expert' and 'leader'. These are really people trained to be assertive (in some cases downright aggresive), with a misguided view that the intitiator of whatever plan or endeavor is somehow the authority.

Fathers just so happen to own the family property and have a responsibility to make good decisions about the property. Fathers also have to deal with the various issues that arise among family members. We can see the steward and the judge as a formalized and specialized form of the skills we come to value within a family.

Thus it becomes rather obvious that current notions of authority are imbued with rebellion, since we insist on having authority figures who have the attributes of children rather than fathers.

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