Caesar’s New ‘Census’


The emerging story out of Washington, about the government’s warrantless gathering and mining of data about American citizens, has me thinking hard about my presence on social media, the content of my emails, the terms of my searches, and the nature of my cell-phone calls. Will I be flagged in some way, because my views are Catholic or because I spend a fair amount of time scouring the web for a particular firearm (or any available ammunition)?

On bad days, I weigh seriously whether I should pull the plug and go completely off the grid (not practical, given my work and other responsibilities). On good days, I think of St. Joseph.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. — Luke 2:1-5

In those days, no good could come from Caesar counting his subjects or recording their roots. I suspect that then, as now, the only certainties for Jews under Roman rule were death and taxes. Yet Joseph set out on a perilous journey with his young bride, heavy with child, not knowing what tomorrow held but firm in his faith that the Lord would watch over him.

Christ said the faithful would be persecuted, and blessed to be. So while a remote hermitage somewhere in the Northwoods has its appeal, in the end, I think we live our lives, on- and off-line, and let that be our statement. Let Caesar count us as faithful Catholic Americans.*

*This post was essentially an excuse to share Australian political cartoonist David Pope’s excellent Surveillance State cartoon. Magnificently creepy.

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