Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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Tribal power draws on parental power, often poorly defined, and sometimes even arbitrary. It is the oldest form of aggregate spiritual power, however, and has accumulated a great deal more power over the centuries which is disputed because it was almost never negotiated. Most religions have different spiritual boundaries, having much to do with the American concept of "Freedom of Religion" since the American founding fathers had other priorities. The founders were emphasizing unity rather than diversity, and neither wished to confront differences nor to stir up controversies for others to quarrel about. Their intentional ambiguity seems justified by the subsequent decline of religious controversies without the same quarrels. However, this feature still retains some rough edges, which blur the distinction between spiritual and legal power to command obedience.


Originally published: Tuesday, May 14, 2019; most-recently modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2019