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We used to live in societies in which the presence of God was unavoidable; authority itself was bound up with the divine, and various invocations of God were inseparable from public life.
But there was more than one form of this in our past.
This presence of God in the cosmos is matched by another idea: His presence in the polity. The divine isn’t there in a King who straddles the planes.
But it can be present to the extent that we build a society which plainly follows God’s design.
This is evident in its Design, its beauty, its regularity, but also in its having evidently been shaped to conduce to the welfare of His creatures, particularly of ourselves, the superior creatures who cap it all off.Ernst Kantorowicz tells us that one of the first uses of the term `mystical body’ in European history referred to the French kingdom. The king himself could be one of the links between the planes, represented respectively by the king’s mortal and undying bodies.Or to talk a slightly different language, in these earlier societies, the kingdom existed not only in ordinary, secular time, in which a strong transitivity rule held, but also existed in higher times.The fundamental idea, that America had a vocation to carry our God’s purposes, which alone makes sense of the passages Bellah quotes, for instance, from Kennedy’s Inaugural address, and even more from Lincoln’s second Inaugural, and which can seem strange and threatening to many unbelievers in America today, has to be understood in relation to this conception of order of free, rights-bearing individuals.This was what was invoked in the Declaration of Independence, which appealed to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”.