Having laid down all the rules for the conduct of the family - hierarchy, the government of the father, the counsel of the mother, the duties proper to each member of the family, the necessity of monogamy and the prohibition against divorce, and so on - God also established rules for the perfection of society: the authority of the government, social hierarchy, the specific honors accorded the functions of every member of society, and so forth. The application of these rules that normally concern the proper function of society are found first, in due proportion, in the family.
God established that Government have authority (or rather keep authority, the first Government was that of Kain, the brotherslayer, in the City of Nod, East of Eden: but King David, Christ conversing with Roman soldiers, St Paul's Letter to the Romans, Chapter 13, the Constantinean peace, several ecclesiastic condemnations of anti-monarchists - at least on RC side, but implicitly on Czarist clergy's position, - therefore of anti-government, all these suggest that God did not finally condemn state authority as such); but He also established limits for it. Seeing Antigone today reminded me that the Heathen knew that too. And that it is honourable to oppose Government when it trespasses beyond those limits. An eventuality not totally far off, as things now are.
God established that faithful obey the successors of the Apostles, and as the faithful man obeys the Church, so also his wife him, their children them, their servants them. But he did not establish that anyone innocent be forced to serve, in the new alliance. Even the thief, who must work to give alms, should possibly prefer a work on his own, which allows him to give alms, to an employer, if that one were to force him to not only forgo almsgiving, but also steal or participate in the spoils of thieves. An eventuality not totally far off, as things now are.
He also established that Government be respected - for the things that enumerate in Romans 13. Not for opposite things. An eventuality not totally far off, as things now are.
He also established at least one good council:
21 Wast thou called, being a bondman? care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. 22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a bondman, is the freeman of the Lord. Likewise he that is called, being free, is the bondman of Christ. 23 You are bought with a price; be not made the bondslaves of men.
(My emphasis added)
This is not a council to take an employer, in case such a one be in one respect or other like a master of bondsmen. An eventuality not totally far off, as things now are. At least to some.
And that means that the things cited as instituted by God by the author, where neither instituted absolutely, nor without limit. Nor without the possibility to oppose a "social order" when it goes beyond the limit.
The context is: the author thinks that sitting on the floor is a bad manner. He has the humility not to impose his view as Church dogma or at least as compulsory for each and every reactionary or counterrevolutionary (in case you did not know, TFP considers itself as opposed to French and similar revolutions - and I do so too) When he says that sitting on chairs is a good manner, I do not disagree. In Antiquity chairs - cathedrae with a back on them - were reserved for priests, royalty, old people in positions like teaching. Ordinary men sat on stools when debating or reading, they lay down on beds to eat. The chair for all has a sence: everyone is majesty, noone is supposed to debauch. Not a very Confucian or authoritarian message, but an egalitarian if you ask me. Like the use of Scythian-style clothing: shirts with sleeves sewed on, sewed trousers - where Roman Heathendom as well as Greek showed the honoured man in drapery he could not work in, and the working man in tunics that did not cover legs and arms. Again the message is: everyone is dignified, noone is supposed to be debauched.
But when sitting on the floor is equated with sitting low on dirty ground; when there is a reference to Genesis and to snakes crawling on the ground, I feel the author goes a bit far. It may come as a surprise to some readers - who clicked the link and read to end - that he had the humility to conclude his essay with a clause about the subject not being anywhere near closed. I will profit from that humility by stating objections. The reader who clicked that link may have already had a surprise before coming to the end: the fact that someone who writes for TFP has actually formed friendships with people who invite him to sit on the floor. I will use the descriptions of the scene and of his feelings to do so.
With somewhat exaggerated smiles, my hosts gesture to the floor while setting the example by squatting down on a rug or carpet that moments before had been the exclusive domain of Fido or Fluffy. Doing my best to hide my culture shock, I am obliged to join my hosts on the floor, not really understanding why I have been banished from the inviting arms of the sofa. My discomfort - physical and psychological - is intensified by my allergy to dogs and cats, which is aggravated by my being reduced to their level.
Let us face it, the floor of a civilized home - unlike that of a jungle hut - was not intended for sitting, especially by adults. Once I broke a child's toy by sitting on it with the full force of my 185 pounds. On another occasion, I leaned back on a coffee table to lessen my discomfort, only to send the tea service flying.
Of course, when one sits on the floor, everything needed at his disposal must follow: the coffee and cake, newspapers or magazines, even paper and pen-the table having been deprived of its long and worthy function.
Our conversations, influenced by the position of our bodies, tended to be less serious. The sensation that we were like children at play became ever stronger. Some people were so uncomfortable sitting on the floor that they would remove their shoes, a practice I succeeded in avoiding. Others would recline somewhat upon the floor, supporting themselves on their elbows, giving the appearance of someone in quest of a bed on which to lie down.
When arguing that the floor is arguably a dirty place, or at least dirtier than a chair, I feel he contradicts the fact that his friends took off shoes while sitting on the floor. To people who - unlike him, alas! - do not suffer from allergia against pets, dog hair is not equated with dirt. And to people who have less than 185 pounds, sitting on the floor is not as uncomfy as all that. Maybe his hosts tried to poke gentle fun at his weight and his allergia, maybe they did not know about the allergia. Getting back to purely hygienic matters, a floor of marble or wood will not transmit Scabies, but a textile mat will. A chair without padding, purely wood, metal or plastic, will not transmit them, but a padded chair will.
But the main objection he gave was that sitting on the floor gives a sensation of children at play. He feels:
Making oneself "comfortable" on the floor perhaps seems favorable at least for dealing with more "relaxed" subjects; but not all subjects are relaxed. It is one thing to talk about the latest baseball game, quite another to deal with the serious problems that often invade our family circles - divorce, abortion, drug use, and so forth. I perceived that the seriousness necessary for dealing with such matters - moral matters - was compromised by the fact that we were sitting on the floor and not on chairs or sofas. Despite the gravity of the conversation, our posture was conducive to greater optimism, so the seriousness proportional to such subjects was soon sacrificed in favor of the idea that all is well.
This makes me get back to C. S. Lewis. "Some people talk as if having a face like bluebooks were a moral disinfectant. I care nothing for moral earnestness, I prefer morality". Quoted from memory, from The Four Loves. In other words: rather laugh like Papageno and be faithful to your wife than be earnest like Tamino, take every test required by an equally earnest Sarastro (free-mason!) and, not really being Tamino, come to an earnest conclusion that marriage is - alas! - impossible or divorce is - alas - inevitable. If the author is 185 pounds since youth, he may be not married. Chesterton had the good fortune to be slender in youth and marry before getting something like that weight. Or the author may be married, but to a wife that thinks - as some women do - that moral earnestness is indispensable to morality.
Parents who drive their 13 year old daughters to abortion by nagging five weeks on a row usually are not optimistic. A parent that would suggest a plan consisting of - A getting married to the father in a state where that is legal - B living on stray jobs, begging in the street (like the father of Sor Eusebia, when out of the seasons that brought him work) and when necessary going on travel with their child (like Holy Family from Bethlehem to Egypt) would not be considered morally earnest by those who care for that quality. Yet such a father or such a mother would be, at once, optimistic and also expressing the usual obligation of reparation for that sin in this here Christendom, throughout the ages.
Hans Georg Mikael Elitzur,
Lundahl by family name
2/15 July 2008