One of those things that you run into in religious dialogue is the subject of reincarnation or, to use the fancy term, transmigration of souls. There were even those who thought that that John the Baptist was Elijah reincarnated:
“When the Jews sent some Priests and Levites to John from Jerusalem, to ask–“Who are you?”, his statement was this: He confessed and did not deny it, he confessed–“I am not the Christ.” “What then?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” “No,” he said, “I am not.” “Are you ‘the Prophet’?” He answered, “No.” “Who then are you?” they continued; “tell us, that we may have some answer to give to those who have sent us. What do you say about yourself?” “I,” he answered, “am–‘The voice of one crying aloud in the Wilderness–“straighten the way of the Lord”’, as the Prophet Isaiah said.”” John 1:19-23, TCNT.
John the Baptist was not Elijah incarnated; he was however moved by the same Spirit and had the same idea. We’re seeing this play out at another level, this one political.
For those of us who are familiar with British history, we’re getting a bad case of “déja vu all over again.” I’ve discussed the similarities between the auto bailout and British Leyland (it will be interesting to see if the Obama Administration heads off a GM Chapter 11.) But the sweeping changes in the social contract afoot in this country remind one of those which took place at the end of World War II in the UK. Most people associate those with the Labour government of Clement Atlee, but before Atlee there was William Beveridge and his report.
Beveridge was a British economist who headed up a commission to chart the course of British social services after World War II. His core thesis was to attack what he called the five “Great Evils:”
His idea was that, not only would we have a “better” society by establishing an extensive social safety net, but also a more productive one. His ideas were sweeping, but his report included a statement that could have come from David Axelrod (yes, we know who wrote Obama’s best speeches):
…(a) revolutionary moment in the world’s history is a time for revolutions, not for patching.
And this gem also sounds like another of Obama’s pronouncements, although we would say it today in a more gender-inclusive format:
…(the state) should not stifle incentive, opportunity, responsibility; in establishing a national minimum, it should leave room and encouragement for voluntary action by each individual to provide more than that minimum for himself and his family.”
Sure enough, Atlee’s government enacted most of his report’s recommendations. And, sure enough, Britain went into an extended post-war decline, experiencing stagnation until the government of “Sunny Jim” Callaghan was replaced by that of Margaret Thatcher. (Her coming to 10 Downing Street also took the need for gender-inclusive language to a new level!)
The core problem is that elitist snobs always underestimate the desire of people to go on the dole when the opportunity presents itself, either full-time or (if they join up with the right trade union) at the workplace. The snobs on this side of the Atlantic are about to get a rude awakening in that regard but, as Virgil used to say, the descent to Avernus is easy.