overstate the Christian position on this point. The first Christiansrnwere practicing Jews Hving under a law that emphasizedrnGod’s exclusive contract with his chosen people and the inferiorityrnof all other nations. Even the Torah, in forbiddingrnusury, had exempted loans made to foreigners, and among thernworst punishments proclaimed against disobedient Israel wasrnthat the alien would rise above the Jew. The Samaritans, whorndeviated no more from the standard Judaisms than one sect ofrnProtestant does from another, were regarded with contempt.rnHow far are Christians obliged to go in doing their duty?rnThe Apostles, time after time, enjoin loyalty and obediencernfrom wives to husbands, children to parents, slaves to masters,rnsubjects to empire. John the Baptist was content withrntelling the Jews to share their food and clothing with the destitute,rnthe tax collectors not to collect more than was due, andrnthe soldiers not to extort money. Similarly Jesus (Matthewrn19:16-26) told the rich young man that to gain eternal life hernhad only to honor his father and mother and obey the commandments.rnIt was only when pressed that the master added,rn”If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give tornthe poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come andrnfollow me.” The rich, Jesus concluded—and among the richrnhe might have included over half the population of the UnitedrnStates—have as much chance of entering the Kingdom ofrnHeaven as a camel going through the eye of a needle. The heroicrntask of giving one’s goods away to the poor was apparently toornmuch even for the disciples, who wondered, “Who then can bernsaved?” The obvious answer is, in human terms, no one, becausern”with men this is impossible; but with God all things arernpossible.”rnEven the Son of God distinguished between the ordinaryrngoodness of day-to-day moral life and the supererogatory worksrnthat characterized a saint. Throughout most of the first twornChristian millennia, theologians and philosophers continued tornmake these distinctions, and Christian princes, with the blessingsrnof their church, carried out crusades against pagans andrnheretics and waged wars against even Christian enemies. Onlyrnin recent centuries has Christianity been identified as thernphilosophy of timidity and nonjudgmental benevolence thatrnNietzsche derided.rnWithout going deeply into mtellectual history, one can seernthat the universal benevolence of contemporary Christianityrnderives not from the Bible directly but from the attempts ofrnEnlightenment philosophers to purify Scripture of its morern”barbaric” elements and to universalize its teachings. To citernonly one example, the deist Thomas Jefferson prepared his ownrnedition of the Bible, which was expurgated of all Jewish particularitiesrnand theological interpretations. As he explained inrna letter to John Adams (12 October 1815), Jesus’ purpose hadrnbeen the reformation of this “wretched depravity” of peculiarrnduties, and it was Jefferson’s intention “in extracting the purernprinciples which he taught” to “strip off the artificial vestmentsrnin which they have been muffled by priests, who have travestiedrnthem into various forms.” In one way or another, the moralrndoctrines of Voltaire, Kant, and the New England Transeendentalistsrnall derive directly or indirectly from the sort of bowdlerizationrnthat Jefferson undertook. It was during the same periodrn—the 18th century—that Stoic conceptions of universalrnbrotherhood, international law, and world governmentrnreemerged.rnThe doctrines that inspire Christian disobedience are notrnderived from Christianity; they spring from the same pollutedrnsource that has also given the world the pernicious doctrine ofrnuniversal rights that resulted in Roe v. Wade. In murdering arnstranger, Michael Griffin was only carrying the logic of disobediencernto its logical and diabolical conclusion.rnIf Christians wi.sh to take the law into their own hands,rnthen it is not Mr. Griffin they should be imitating but the Californiarnwoman who walked into a courtroom and killed the homosexualrnwho had molested her son. According to press reports,rnthe local response has been strongly in favor of a motherrnwho, despairing of the American system of organized injustice,rnasserted the right to defend and avenge her children. Far fromrnbeing an act of disobedience or a protest against child abuse,rnthis killing was the fulfillment of a primary obligation and anrnexpression of natural justice. Instead of interfering in otherrnpeople’s lives, she attended to her own, and taking care of yourrnown obligations leaves little time to shoulder the burdens ofrnstrangers. “If you’d mind your own business,” Hank Williamsrnonce suggested, “you won’t be minding mine.” – ?rnI lll(-|M>llrnby forge Luis BorgesrnTranslated by Robert MezeyrnI iiat tall North American gentlemanrnC loses his volume of Montaigne at leisurernnd steps outside to taste no less a pleasure,rnI lie richness of the fading afternoon.rn11’Ward the deep departure of the west,rnI’ ward the quarter that the sunset gilds,rn1 le strides along through Concord’s openrnfieldsrn’^ through the mind of the one who’s writingrnthis.rnI Iv; thinks: I read the essential books with carernud made a few to stand the test of time.rn^1 ime god vouchsafed that knowledge shouldrnbe minernI p to the limit that is set us here.rniv name is recognized in every house.rnI haven’t lived. I wish I were someone else.rnJULY 1993/17rnrnrn