Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Revelation & Morals


I apologize for the flippant shallowness of this blog, well, except for the posts about NWO shills like Piers Morgan, the Government (please stay shutdown), occasional UFOs and the usual "God, Guns, Church and Country Life" bit. All that's fine, but here's something serious to make up for the rest; it's from a talk given by a church member who argues for ethics based on the revealed word and holiness of God. A bit long, for this sound-bite of a site, but have a read:

"On the biblical view, a durable account of 'rights' requires something more than is provided by Thomas Paine or Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Succinctly, pace their successors, including John Rawls, a transcendent authority is necessary, an eternally dependable Giver of moral law, not least because merely human authority cannot provide the security of right relationship except in shifting, transient terms. The answer that Israel’s Revelation gives to questions about how to achieve a flourishing life is not merely, 'God said it,' but rather, if I may paraphrase, that God has disclosed something profound about his own nature in the Torah, namely that he is Holy, and he wills our participation in his health. His call to us to imitate him is detailed as it is because holiness of life – as distinct from knowledge of a right or definition of meaningful agency – must be a matter of sustained living practice. Moreover, and for the entire Judeo-Christian tradition this cannot be stressed too strongly, the commandment to be holy applies not just to individuals, but to communities. Biblical revelation offers no blueprint for political order, but something without which no political structure can be sustained, namely the moral authority of a higher ideal. It has thus political implications, and this is precisely the point in contention for successors of Paine and Rousseau, who wish to substitute another source of absolute obligation, namely government.

Thomas Paine

"Construing the goal of ethical standards as nothing more than an adequation of normative behavior, a kind of hyper-Baconianism, has become de facto the reflex of our current legal as well as political culture. If Hollywood is what most people appear to want, the Court will ensure that’s what all will get. If insufficient numbers want it, we will be scolded. Ironically, we have created thus a new absolute authority, effective not least because daily proclaimed by its own prophets, the media and entertainment industry. This oracular voice from the sky includes of course the “news,” which we consult each morning in order to learn what we are supposed to think. And do. And then encourage others to do. Nor is that enough; we are prompted almost daily to join in an obligatory chorus, celebrating those as courageous, even 'heroic' who invent a new, perhaps previously unthinkable 'norm.' Defense of notorious in-your-face performance vulgarities by third-wave feminists as 'body-positive' exemplify increasing pressures to approve public behaviors such as might repel a hog in rut. Other, less vulgar displays attempt to seduce by behavior re-enforcement into private imitations of the unholy, ad nauseum et ad infinitum. But can we ignore the enormous costs that have accrued to this sorry substitute for civic idealism?

Go Miley! 3rd Wave Feminism?

"Whether we consider the disappearance of moral authority as Hannah Arendt construed it, or believe the issue of moral authority to be inherently problematic, we cannot evade the evidence that consequences attend not only upon ideas, but follow in real time from actual moral choices made by cultures as well as individuals. 

"It would seem that 'breaking bad' implies the possibility of the good, of a return to health, even of “breaking good.” And something else, perhaps: unacknowledged exhaustion with the ‘conceptual morass’ of an ethic whose highest principle is ‘thou shalt not criticize thy neighbor.’ What if a gesture of fraternal correction might be the only life-line we have to offer our neighbor in the hope he or she may avoid self-destruction? Keep your opinion to yourself, say the courts and the media. In this paralyzing context, the ideal of holiness – namely that the most whole and healthy way of life available to us is by way of imitation of something far higher than ourselves – merits at least a review. Perhaps we might include the texts of ancient Israel in our humanities curriculum, with thoughtful attention to the relation between holiness and moral order as there articulated, not least in relation to the inevitability of consequences. If, as George Weigel says, we are now in a widespread civil war over the very meaning of the human person, then perhaps any hope for a restorative resolution of our crisis of cultural authority must come, as he says, 'from a reformed culture in which Jerusalem is once again linked to Athens and Rome in the foundation of the West.'

East Side Detroit, Shape of Things to Come?

"Reason without Revelation hasn’t been working all that well for us. Perhaps those of us who continue to value reason ought to move beyond serial post-mortem analyses of our cultural demise to a fresh consideration of the legacies and ideals of Revelation that have formed and sustained us in healthier times. We might begin by acknowledging that no higher ideal for moral order exists than that which asks us to regard self and neighbor as made in the image of God."

I like that and will link to the whole thing when it's published.



LL said...

A nation can only be great when it's righteous. We are not a righteous nation -- and we've seen the selection that the nation has made in its role models and its leadership.

Mitt Romney lost the last presidential election because women feared that he would work to change the law of the land, which allows them to kill their own children in utero.

When the heart of a beast replaces the heart of a man in a people, the results are evident in who leads us.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that a modified version of this argument is that used by Islamic Fundamentalists the world over. Banning alcohol is good for you, forcing women into Burka's is good for you, growing a beard is good for you and the morality police are good for you. It is all for your good and if you complain you are rebelling against God's Laws and will suffer medieval punishment as a result.

LSP said...

"When the heart of a beast..." I like that line, LL. It would apply, apparently, to Wendy Davis, who wants to rule us from Austin. I thought we were sending that to San Francisco...

LSP said...

Good point, Anonymous. Just because something's "revealed" doesn't necessarily make it right. But of course abuse of a thing doesn't mean the thing itself has to be bad.

Third News said...

Why has there been, and still is -the motatory from the past continues- an evanition of Judeo-Christian values? Is the defect is in ethical interpretation, or in the 'it takes a village to raise a child' community ideal?

Unfortunately for the child raised by the Disney village, her hog repellent behavior has its own consequences -notwithstanding, the fraternal cheering

LSP said...

Thanks for that, 3rd News. Good question, why the evanition? perhaps we have to return to holiness?

" her hog repellent behavior has its own consequences -notwithstanding, the fraternal cheering"

I love that.