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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Public and Private

In politics, I often think about the difference between our public and private lives. For example, eating is a part of private life, while selling food is a part of public life. As a liberal, I want there to be almost no restriction on my eating, but as much as is helpful restriction on selling. Clearly, these are not independent activities, and there are exceptions and extremes, but this is my general political understanding.

When I think about the teachings of Jesus, I see a similar trend. Jesus urges living a very strict private life. No fornication, nor fantasizing of fornication. [1] No murdering, nor being angry. [2] No revenge, but generosity. [3]

But caring for the poor, as also required by Jesus, see e.g. [5],[6],[7]; compare judging, seems to necessarily be a public requirement. Obviously, by public I don't mean open and ostentatious. Jesus doesn't call for public displays of charity. I just mean, charity necessarily involves policies toward others while not hating is all about you--like selling food versus eating food.

I wonder if it is helpful to think about public and private action in our spiritual development.

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