For whose sake does New York City exist?: Contra Quirk (with reference to a debate occasioned by Hannon/George)


Yesterday evening as I was trying to get off the internet, after a couple of (possibly misspent, lost-weekend style) hours trying to trace the debate in Public Discourse between Michael Hannon and Robert P. George about the question of the nature of the good of political communities,  Jack Quirk made the claim that New York City existed for my sake.  I called him a heretic and repudiated his idolatry; if he repenteth not I will tell the consistory on him.  He then claimed that there was no specific church teaching that said that New York City did NOT exist for my sake, but by that time I had had my dinner (an elaborate arrangement of salad and goat cheese and so forth, plus some cheap bourbon) so I just went to bed.

Today I am employing some of the copious free time I don’t have to elaborately refute Quirk’s position, and possibly talk a little bit about the tension between the equality of all things relative to their Creator and the fact humans are also appropriately subregents over that creation, and that if we are in Christ we are co-heirs to that creation and in some sense share in His authority.

Claim: New York City exists for the sake of Jesus Christ, not for the sake of Susannah Black.

Proof: Colossians 1:16-20:

16 For by him [Christ] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Reflecting on this, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (not an authoritative document for me, but, I believe, authoritative for Jack) notes this as an occasion to reflect on God’s supremacy and on the equality/solidarity of all His creatures.  All have the same Creator, and all are “ordered to His glory:”

339 Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection. For each one of the works of the “six days” it is said: “and God saw that it was good.” “By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws.”  Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness…

340 God wills the interdependence of creatures. the sun and the moon, the cedar and the little flower, the eagle and the sparrow: the spectacle of their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature is self-sufficient. Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other.

344 There is a solidarity among all creatures arising from the fact that all have the same Creator and are all ordered to his glory:

May you be praised, O Lord, in all your creatures, especially brother sun, by whom you give us light for the day; he is beautiful, radiating great splendour, and offering us a symbol of you, the Most High. . .

May you be praised, my Lord, for sister water, who is very useful and humble, precious and chaste.

May you be praised, my Lord, for sister earth, our mother, who bears and feeds us, and produces the variety of fruits and dappled flowers and grasses. . .

Praise and bless my Lord, give thanks and serve him in all humility.

[that last bit is, I think, from St. Francis.]

Conclusion: New York City, then, as one of the things in creation, like fruits and grasses and water and humans, exists to glorify God, and is one of the things “on earth or in heaven” which Christ died to reconcile to God.  It does not, therefore, exist primarily for my sake.

I therefore call on Jack to apologize to God and accept His forgiveness.

However, it is also true that aspects of the created order exist for humans: if the former truth is the basis of solidarity, this truth is the basis of subsidiarity.  There is a hierarchy of being, and the relationships within that hierarchy are themselves part of creation and themselves exist to glorify God and publicize things about Him.

But if I get into that I’ll never get my other work done today, especially since I was just distracted by an absurdly long conversation with a pantheist in this coffeehouse where I am typing, a conversation which began because I overheard him talking about Mondragon and which passed through a discussion of bitcoins, the theories of Jane Jacobs, and the nature of history.  And which ended with me agreeing to try to meditate for ten minutes every day this week (after praying that God would make that meditation about Him,) if the pantheist would, every day, ask God, in whom he does not really believe, whether Jesus is actually God.  A good bargain, I think.

6 responses to “For whose sake does New York City exist?: Contra Quirk (with reference to a debate occasioned by Hannon/George)

  1. Was NYC built to glorify God or for Susannah Black. Glorify God? Are you kidding? Have you been to the village lately? Wall Street? Scores? On the other hand, New York City being created for Susannah Black would explain a lot..

  2. Wow. Gonna go ahead and assume you didn’t mean that the way it sounded, Rick, cause otherwise… ouch.

  3. I should clarify my comments. While I think the seedier side of NY precludes the interpretation that the city was built to glorify God, I don’t mean to say that you are in any way part of that seedieness. Rather I was thinking that while a rough and tumble city doesn’t fill God with Glory, it does provide inspiration and oppertunities for a great writer, such as yourself. Kids to educate, yep, great for Susannah. Lots of waterways, check, a thousand stories in the naked city, check. People who need a shining light to preach to them…well ok that would glorify God AND Susannah, On balance though I go with the built to give Susannah oppertunities and not so much to glorify God.
    I do appologie for inadvertantly implying you would be at home in an unwholesome city because you belonged there. That is most enfatically NOT what I meant.

  4. Ever read Saying 12 of the Gospel of Thomas?
    Once a descendant of James The Just is found, that Heir is going to make Donald Trump,as well as a few others, weep as he justifiably reaps his inheritance.

  5. Rick, you DO know, don’t you, that the New Jerusalem is going to be MORE interesting, with MORE things to be done MORE intensely, than New York? Not… less? I mean, you don’t have “sitting around on clouds playing harps” ideas about “heaven,” do you?

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