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Biggest moral problem?

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Saint Gasoline

Re: Biggest moral problem?

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Quote:I've made the arguement before -- and I won't press it here, I'm just tossing it out for the newer people to consider -- that nearly all current moralities are the vestiges of religious morality.I don't really agree with this. I may agree with it in a qualified form--if you said that most moral codes about sexual conduct are the vestiges of religious morality, for instance.However, I think that the best explanation for the origin of morality is ultimately an evolutionary one. (Naturally, I think that the origin of religion can also possibly be explained in this way, so perhaps our views aren't incompatible.) Before we had religions featuring divine judges in the skies, I'm sure human societies, groups, or family units practiced the basic acts of care that allowed us to survive and thrive. Examples of social groupings with certain rules and laws abound in the animal kingdom. Wolf packs, bee hives, and ant colonies all have distinct classes and, in a way, rules for how these classes must behave. With insects in particular, the slave and warrior classes will give their lives defending their queen--if we didn't know enough about their physiology, this act could fool us into thinking they possessed a primitive sort of morality, that they were choosing, out of loyalty, to defend their queen and to die as heroes. Given that we can see this kind of social interaction in organisms as simple as insects, it makes sense that more complex organisms will develop more complex social behaviours, especially concerning the well-being of others and of their leaders.
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Dissident Heart

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Kosher, Kashrut, and defining the Sacred and the Profane

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frederika: my experience with many christian groups has left me with the impression that they are not searching within for moral reasoning; they are reading the text and (through their own lenses of course) trying their best to understand clearly every single command that god has for them.You would consider this approach (seeking exact commands from God) to be an immoral way to read the Bible? I think this helps us make some useful distinctions between an accurate reading of the text and the moral impulse that guides the reading process. I tend to think the two are never really separate...but, then again, I think we are always travelling in a moral universe no matter our strategic, short term, pragmatic, utilitarian goals.In other words, a moral impulse is pushing our attention towards the text: we should read it, ought to, and have a duty of some sort...and we ought to read it in a certain kind of way. The Christian literalist you challenge is seeking absolute directives from God because they are following a moral guideline that requires definitive authorative status: no doubts, no challenge, no critique. Perhaps I have the tail wagging the dog here, but maybe we can sort that out. What is/are the moral impulse/s you follow when approaching the text?MA: The best way to see those laws, I think, are within the social context they were written.This is generally the approach I take as well. In the case of Ancient Israel, the laws of kosher/kashrut, female menstruation, leprosy, patriarchical domination, defining idols and idolatry...all of these were given birth in a particular setting, surrounded by external forces of domination and immersed within internal struggles of emancipation...keeping the borders secure of outside impurities was essential. The individual body as well as a the body politic: boundaries to define what was sacred and what was profane were developed in historically unique circumstances, not easily translated or transposed across millenia and languages.Still, I think the thing that does translate and transpose is the work of defining boundaries and patrolling borders. We all work to define what is pure and what is trash: we let in the one and throw out the other. And, I also think there are examples of ancient Hebrew codes of justice that are worthy of translation and trasposition, and would do us well to learn from.
Federika22

Re: Kosher, Kashrut, and defining the Sacred and the Profane

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Quote:You would consider this approach (seeking exact commands from God) to be an immoral way to read the Bible?Dissident Heart- No, not necessarily. Only that the literalist fundementalists I observed did not seem to be searching within for moral reasoning. One of the men even explained that humans are not to be trusted with moral reasoning, as they have evil hearts at the core. The only way to do right is to follow God's laws exactly, first out of obedience, and eventually out of love for God and his righteousness. I understand what you said about the literalist's type of moral reasoning. As to my own moral impulse in regard to the bible...I find that hard to pin down. I will think about this. Why do you think we are always traveling in a moral universe...?
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Re: Kosher, Kashrut, and defining the Sacred and the Profane

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Frederika: One of the men even explained that humans are not to be trusted with moral reasoning, as they have evil hearts at the core. The only way to do right is to follow God's laws exactly, first out of obedience, and eventually out of love for God and his righteousness.I think this fellow neglected to address a crucial component: grace. As I understand the text, if exact obedience and perfect adherence were required, none of us would measure up. I think the text offers multiple examples where our flawed, imperfect, brokenness is a given and to expect anything more (outside of the transformative power of grace) would be dangerous idolatry. This doesn't mean simply submit to our vices and wallow in our brokenness: it means (to echo Micha once again) seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God....as you judge, so also will you be judged...forgive as you have been forgiven. Frederika: Why do you think we are always traveling in a moral universe...?As a Christian, our primary goal is to seek communion with God, our neighbor, and all of Creation (at least as I see it). That means every action, plan, agenda, platform, etc. must be placed under that rubric. This communion is an issue of justice seeking, peace making, mercy loving and forgiveness toward new life. I think this is something all of us are immersed within (even if some don't utilize the narrative, symbols, and rituals that Christianity provides).
Federika22

Re: Kosher, Kashrut, and defining the Sacred and the Profane

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Quote:As I understand the text, if exact obedience and perfect adherence were required, none of us would measure up.I too, thought this was one of the major points of Christianity, as explained to me by many Christians. I had the understanding that one of the reasons for the detailed nature of the Old Testament laws was to show people how much people fall short of god's righteousness on their own.But...then I met someone (same guy that made the evil-hearted comment in my last post on this thread) who argued that ALL the Old Testament laws can be followed and upheld. In the first part of Luke's gospel there is a description of Zacharias and Elizabeth that says: And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. This man did talk about grace, but thought many Christian's overused that term as a way to get out of following god's commandments. Quote:....as you judge, so also will you be judged...forgive as you have been forgiven. These are things that are countered by other commandments and examples by god in the bible, including in the New Testament, making the bible an interesting but almost comical read to me. I understand your projection onto the bible text is one of healing, hope, and love for humanity, and that you do not take the bible to be inerrant, but I still am confused as to how you have come to relate the text to a real god...Rika
Federika22

Re: Kosher, Kashrut, and defining the Sacred and the Profane

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DH- I just saw your recent post on "The Dignity of Atheism" thread, which addresses my but I still am confused as to how you have come to relate the text to a real god... comment.
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Re: Kosher, Kashrut, and defining the Sacred and the Profane

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Frederika,It's clear you can find a whole legion of Christian intepretations that will support a reprehensible and wretched appraoch to religion, bible and contemporary politics. I'm offering an alternative perspective that draws different conclusions from the Bible, tradition, and the history of the Christianity.Perhaps, in relation to the original post of this thread, one of today's most pressing moral issues involves moral lessons drawn from ancient sources (specifially Religious Scriptures)...the attitudes brought to these texts and the conclusions drawn from them.I think there is a constant dynamic between individual, community, tradition, and text...and this dynamic is more complex than plucking verses that support my pet projections. And, I don't think projections are always and necessarily negative things. Just like our desires are sometimes tied to necessary and good things...also are our projections.Frederika: still am confused as to how you have come to relate the text to a real godI think the text and the tradition speak often and constantly about God, so I'm not sure why you should be surprised to find God in my conclusions. I am not as certain as you regarding the nature of human imagination and hope, simply reducing them to personal notions and nothing more. I am not exactly sure what we mean by "person" either. I have discovered that exploring the experiences of many others who pray and meditate, contemplate and reflect on these issues while accepting somehow that God is real and more than just a notion in my head...and including my own time in prayer, meditation, contemplation, worship...these is something larger at work here than just my own desires and projections, and I am not convinced it simply delusion or fear of facing reality.
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back to the problem at hand

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In relation to a lot of what's been written in this thread recently, I want to throw out another suggestion as to what the biggest moral problem may be. If this all seems somewhat familiar, it's because it isn't terribly different from what some of you have said; you can think of it as a slight adjustment, perhaps.It strikes me as a major moral problem that so many people have pushed particular moral views as a way of pushing their own amoral agendas. Morality has turned into a kind of political tool, such that we may be right in assuming that some people oppose, say, gay marriage as a way of ensuring that social custom works in their favor. I think that also plays into what DH is talking about -- calling on Biblical texts as a moral precedent is often a way of using traditional authority to maintain the status quo, so long as the status quo gets you what you want.That's a pretty subtle inversion, actually, because, while we usually conceive of morality as a measure to keep the empowered from steamrolling over the unfortunate, this appropriation of morality turns it into something self-centered. Morality can actually be made immoral, and that's a huge moral problem. And there are subsidiary problems: for example, once we see the political agenda between one avowed moral concern, we may be more inclined to distrust legitimate moral concern.
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Re: back to the problem at hand

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MA: It strikes me as a major moral problem that so many people have pushed particular moral views as a way of pushing their own amoral agendas.I think the appropriation of moral power for immoral ends is an excellent topic. Some questions:1. What is it about morality that provides political power to those pursuing amoral agendas? 2. Is it possible to pursue an amoral agenda in the political sphere? I mean, it seems an immoral pursuit in politics is possible...but amoral?3. Can two moral agendas be oppositional without one being deemed immoral, or amoral? Can two moral agendas be oppositional with one another?4. Is it immoral to pursue amoral agendas with moral claims?
Ruinean

Re: Biggest moral problem?

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To my mind it is without a doubt greed. Greed so malicious that it is threatening capitalism itself by over-concentration of wealth. I cannot think of a single other "moral" ill that does not have it's roots in the current fever of greed. More than 40,000 people die from it every day. Those that starve, or die from lack of clean water, or happen to be born in the path of rapacious oil monoliths, that waste and die so that MegaPharma can maximize profits on AIDS drugs, and lack of basic education that permits the spread of superstition and fundamentalism that teaches hate and death. All of it is preventable by even a small sharing of the wealth we have made and been exploited for. We in America are given just enough trinkets to forget that freedom and life has a price in generosity.
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