Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/1/2018: The Easter-April Fools Edition [UPDATED]

Happy Easter, or April Fools Day,

…whichever you chose, or both.

[My family celebrated Greek Easter (next Sunday, this year), or not, depending on how Greek my mother was feeling. The whole thing left me thoroughly confused. And why no Greek April Fool’s?]

1 Hey, it’s only the Pope carelessly allowing centuries of Catholic teachings to be declared, if informally, null and void. What’s everyone so upset about? Recipe for a fiasco:

  • The Pope inexplicably has a meeting with a 93-year-old atheist reporter, Eugenio Scalfari, who has reported on the alleged contents of their private meetings before.
  • Scalfari has admitted “on more than one occasion” that he doesn’t take notes or record his conversations with the Pope.
  • The Pope either opines, or doesn’t, or sort of does depending on your interpretation, and if you are an atheist confirmation bias comes into play, opine that Hell doesn’t exist, saying, according to his pal, “Hell does not exist…The disappearance of sinful souls exists.”
  • Scalfari, presumably without permission or consent, but he’s a journalist, so he’s going to report the news, and the Pope saying that all that stuff in the Bible about Satan is a lot of hooey is, you have to admit, news (although who knows if Matt Pearce would report it as news; I guess it would depend on whether he wanted the public to know there was no Hell, right?), naturally lets the world know that the Pope doesn’t believe what his predecessors and follower have been using to scare the Hell out of sinners all this time.
  • The Vatican issued a statement saying:

“What is reported by the author in today’s article is the fruit of his reconstruction, in which the precise words uttered by the Pope are not cited. No quotations in the aforementioned article, then, should be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”

That’s called “spin.” Why do we trust these people?

2. Why is NPR taxpayer-funded again? This “correction” actually appeared in the NPR story about the Pope’s Hell problems:

Correction March 30, 2018: An earlier version of this post incorrectly described Easter as “the day celebrating the idea that Jesus did not die and go to hell or purgatory or anywhere at all, but rather arose into heaven.”

Competence? Editors? Basic education? Respect for people’s faith? Knowing something about the predominant religion ins the nation you are reporting on? Hello?

3. From the Ethics Alarms cognitive dissonance files. “Another internet challenge has some parents on alert and just about everyone’s eyebrows standing straight up. Viral video on YouTube has been circulating and shared thousands of times, showing teenagers and young adults snorting condoms.

Yet we are supposed to accept that this same age range has unique insight into national policy and how individual rights should be limited by government fiat, as well as be immune from having their maturity and judgment challenged. Interesting…

4. Poll: Which of these varieties of teach conduct should mandate firing for cause? In Georgia, seventh-grade teacher Corey Sanders told  his students to write letters “to pressure lawmakers to have stricter gun laws in the United States.” Fortunately, the kids were too busy snorting condoms to pay attention. Kidding!

The assignment had not been approved by the school district, which said in a statement: “The lesson topic was not a part of an approved curriculum. … We would never approve of a politically biased assignment or directive given by a teacher. … We do not condone the actions that transpired. It has been handled appropriately with the teacher to ensure they know this is not acceptable and won’t happen again.”

My view: political indoctrination should be as much a firing offense as teacher sexual misconduct. Both are unforgivable abuses of power and trust. Speaking of sexual misconduct..Perrysburg (Ohio) high school teacher Jeff Hauge was allowed to resign rather than be fired after repeated instances of sexual comments to students and former students. Because it is a resignation, he will collect his entire salary: the resignation won’t be official until the end of the school year. In the meantime, he’s on administrative leave. This will also make it easier for him to be hired by another school, since no disciplinary process was completed.

Sweet.

 

 

 

51 Comments

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51 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/1/2018: The Easter-April Fools Edition [UPDATED]

  1. “political indoctrination should be as much a firing offense as teacher sexual misconduct”

    Political indoctrination is part of the purpose of public education. We call it things like “inculcating American values” or “giving them the skills to participate in society as a full citizen,” but deciding exactly what those phrases should mean is inherently controversial and therefore political. You see this a lot in areas like history or the environment, Exactly what we mean by skills, values, and participation is kind of a foggy issue, and talking about the problems that America faces is hardly out of bounds for students, even if not everybody agrees on what those problems are.

    Where the teacher crossed the line, however, is in using his authority to coerce his students to advocate his personal position on the matter. It’s one thing to tell them what he thinks. It’s another thing to force them to preach what he thinks.

  2. You likely have no good reason to care much, and less interest in having any sort of charitable attitude toward the Church, and likely no interest in getting informed about things that don’t interest you, but the Church is in a very significant crisis, perhaps one of the most severe crises of its history. It has to do, of course, with views and ideas about ‘reality’ of the modern strain that have very intensely affected how people structure ‘belief’. To gain a sense of the crisis at the metaphysical level the reference would be Pascendi dominici gregis (‘Feeding the Lord’s Flock’) is a Papal encyclical letter promulgated by Pope Pius X on 8 September 1907.

    Essentially, and on some level unavoidably, modern belief fights against those in the Church who hold to the ‘old metaphysics’ of traditional Catholicism. There is — indeed there is! — people in the Church now who quite literally do not believe in the traditional beliefs of the Church. I won’t bore you with the metaphysical details.These are the ‘modernists’ and they are quite powerful. There is going on right now a definite struggle and even battle between the modernists and the traditionalists. If you read the traditionalist material (websites, blogs, periodicals) you would quickly get a sense that the traditional practitioners are completely at a loss as to how to deal with this ‘modernist’ movement and they all the time are fretting as they see the beautiful and also profound foundations of the Church undermined. Unless one had some reason to be informed about all this, one would only receive limited information, and most of the time inaccurate. The people in general, the uncomprehending public, and also people who have the general set of ideas that you have (more or less atheist) celebrate the destruction of the traditions of the Church and revel in its pains and tribulations. Wim Wenders is making a film about Pope Francis that is celebratory of his ‘modernisms’. Makes good sense because Frances is just one more agent of destruction.

    The sexual crisis in the Church — as you quite justifiably are disgusted by — came about between roughly the 50s and the 70s when many homosexual priests were allowed into the Church. Also, the Church — like secular society — was hit with a devastating wave of sexual sickness which is part-and-parcel of the so-called ‘liberation’ movements of the Sixties. And the Church, like society generally, also succumbed to the seductions. Sexual confusion, out of control lust, confusing messages from the culture at large. The Sixties and the Seventies was devastating in this sense.

    All that combined with a general loss of traditional faith (and a grasp of the metaphysics that underlie it), and loss of confidence and trust in the Church, and also in combination with deliberate undermining of the Church by American intelligence agencies for political reasons and reasons of social control and ‘engineering’ (see: E. Michael Jones ‘The Slaughter of Cities’, numerous interviews on the book available on YouTube), and then of course the sex-scandals, have undermined the Church very significantly.

    To ask: Why should we trust these people? is really a fair question, in my opinion. But the Church, like the culture that houses it, has always been rife with corruption and yet it knows this. The core of the entire Christian concept, and certainly the daily office of the Mass, recognizes man’s tendency to sin and to violation of ethics and morality.

    Nevertheless, if one studies traditional Catholicism, and the traditional liturgy, its beauty and its high morality and the moral demands it makes on people are almost unreal and quite amazing. Read for example the text in the traditional Missal for ‘Holy Saturday’ (that day was celebrated yesterday) and it is (IMO) stunning and very pure. That we lose connection with that ‘upper dimension’ is where the tragedy lies, and that people cease to understand what is at stake in that loss.

  3. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_shhU_H5Z0]

    • Andrew Wakeling

      The ‘sounds’ are wonderful but what relevance does any of this have to our various ethical struggles? The Church has always distracted us with smells, fine sounds, wonderful words, and awe inspiring architecture. Much easier and more comfortable to wallow in 90 minutes of an incomprehensible Gregorian chant than to try to fix up the ‘poor’ and the ‘sick’. So I enjoyed it. Thanks.

      • Andrew writes: The ‘sounds’ are wonderful but what relevance does any of this have to our various ethical struggles? The Church has always distracted us with smells, fine sounds, wonderful words, and awe inspiring architecture. Much easier and more comfortable to wallow in 90 minutes of an incomprehensible Gregorian chant than to try to fix up the ‘poor’ and the ‘sick’. So I enjoyed it. Thanks.

        Truth, Beauty and Goodness

        The transcendentals (Latin: transcendentalia) are the properties of being that correspond to three aspects of the human field of interest and are their ideals: science (truth), the arts (beauty) and religion (goodness). The philosophical disciplines that study them are logis, aesthetics and ethics.

        When you mention smells, sounds, words and architecture you must also mention and be aware of the entire idea of ‘meaning’ which stand behind them. I submit that what happens to a person — I speak of some average person, the average person — when that person has had their relationship to this ‘transcendental’ cut off is that that person (to borrow your word) wallows in a largely meaningless world.

        The way I approach an answer to your ‘question’ is to think about the work of a man like Shakespeare. In fact that is where my own investigations began. The question is What made such a man? What made such art? What allowed a being to sense, to feel, to capture such profound meaning? The answer: it came out of a transcendental perception and a transcendental relationship. And without that relationship, it dies.

        But the truth in this is even more horrid: When a person loses their transcendental function and capacity of perception, it will eventually happen that he or she will no longer be able to *see* Shakespeare nor be ably to understand and appreciate beuaty (or goodness and truth). If you actually think these things through, and think about Occidental categories, and our own ‘selves’, you will quickly see that what we are and what we are capable of perceiving (of truth, beauty and goodness) comes to us through our higher self and our higher functions.

        The ‘transcendental function’ (I think CG Jung coined that rather dry term) is a higher capability within human being that must be understood and cultivated. And I can guarantee you, with a certain absoluteness, that were you to more profoundly understand the Greco-Christian traditions (European paideia) you would never have had to pose that ‘question’.

        In my own view — though I admit to only beginning to develop my views and the way to express them — what is going on, chiefly, in our world is a slow descent from the heights as it were into the ‘wallow’ of non-comprehendingness. What is horrifying in that statement is that in order to understand the *meaning* in it, one has to be able to *see* into transcendentals. So, the first oder of business (in a darkening world mind you) is to somehow destroy a person’s capacity to perceive at that level. Then, all the attention is drawn down into materialism, sensation, physical and emotional needs, and satisfactions within the mutability of the contingent and the ‘becoming’.

        I know, I know, what I am saying here is ridiculous and I am a ridiculous person to insist on these things when so few can even understand what is being talked about. But it is my *duty*. It is also my *fate*. My whole purpose has become to try to get people to remember things that are on the verge of being forgotten. ‘Memory’ is part of ‘intellectus’ and altogether these ideas have to do with restoration and renovation of the person at the most basic level. That is what spirituality and religion is really about. And as I have said my *project* is one of European restoration.

        Finally, were you to study original and traditional Catholicism, you would possibly come to the conclusion I have: it is amazingly relevant, unbelievably beautiful, and dramatically pure. Really! Not making this up! And Christianity is only about the rebirth and growth of the soul. It began in that way and has not changed ‘one iota’.

        Next question? 🙂

        • Andrew Wakeling

          So Alizia you want to ‘restore Europe’. Back to what I wonder? When has there ever been a better time to be here in Munich, a wonderful civilised city with such an awful and bloody past? If I shared your nostalgia (I don’t) then Dachau would cure me. Turning back would be crazy. The best days are ‘now’ and there should be even better days ahead.

          • There is a problem here: you do not have any way to receive the ideas that I present. I could write 10 words or 10,000 words and it would mean nothing to you. It is an issue that hinges in ‘interpretation of the world’ and ‘interpretation of the present’. The structures of thinking that inform us are different, incommensurate I gather.

            There is a wide range of philosophers, most all of them European, who are concerned with ‘Europe’ in exactly the senses I mean. If you wished to, or felt the need, you could read them. But you won’t.

            What seems to result here is fairly typical. The reference to Dachau! This is, I gather all that you can ‘hear’ of what I mean when I write. But that has to do with your interpretive structure, not with what I say, recommend, or desire.

            I do not necessarily, and never really did, expect a different result (evidence that I am not crazy!) I knew that here, on this blog, I would largely deal with people who did not, could not, would not, will not, see what I see (and what others like me see). But because I knew that I decided, and still decide, to take opposition as an opportunity to clarify my own thinking and discourse.

  4. Chris

    I voted both.

    A fellow teacher assigned her students to write letters to congressmen about what they think should be done about mass shootings; while she is more free with her opinion in class then I am, I know she does not pressure her students to conform to her opinion. Telling kids to write letters advocating a specific position crosses the line.

    3. From the Ethics Alarms cognitive dissonance files. “Another internet challenge has some parents on alert and just about everyone’s eyebrows standing straight up. Viral video on YouTube has been circulating and shared thousands of times, showing teenagers and young adults snorting condoms.”

    Yet we are supposed to accept that this same age range has unique insight into national policy and how individual rights should be limited by government fiat, as well as be immune from having their maturity and judgment challenged. Interesting…

    This is just bigotry, stereotyping, and giving in to this week’s moral panic. This, like the Tide Pod challenge, “rainbow parties,” and satanic rituals involving Dungeons and Dragons, is confined to a very small minority of youths that the media likes to hype in order to draw ratings and scare parents. It says nothing about the judgment of most teenagers. It is fair to argue that we shouldn’t give as much weight to the opinions of teenagers as we do to adults due to their limited experience and brain development, but it is not fair to use instances like this that very few teenagers engage in in order to smear the entire group.

    • But Chris, the fact is that NO adults have snorted condoms or eaten Tide pods. Saying that children are not mature, do immature things, and cannot be trusted as a group with adult tasks and responsibilities is no more stereotyping than saying old people are less physically able than younger adults.

      • Chris

        But Chris, the fact is that NO adults have snorted condoms or eaten Tide pods.

        You can’t know that. I’d wager if I were so inclined, I could find adults on YouTube doing either. These two people were adults.

        https://ethicsalarms.com/2017/06/29/and-the-william-f-burroughs-memorial-award-for-fatal-stupidity-goes-to/

        Saying that children are not mature, do immature things, and cannot be trusted as a group with adult tasks and responsibilities is no more stereotyping than saying old people are less physically able than younger adults.

        Both statements are true. Using the condom-snorting kids as proof of the former is no more fair than using a paraplegic old person with advanced dementia as proof of the latter.

        • It is res ipsa loquitur proof, and good luck finding an adult not being paid or otherwise under duress who is videoed eating a TidePod. You end up cornered in the argument, because it ends with you claiming that children have no worse judgment than adults, a contention disproved by research, biology and observation.

          • Chris

            I’ve already established that that is not my claim, and nothing about my argument implies that claim.

          • Chris

            And a tiny minority of a subgroup engaging in destructive behavior is not res ipsa loquitor proof of anything about the subgroup as a whole. Believing that it is is why so many people believe they have a firm basis for racism.

            • It’s not the only evidence, Chris. Babies stick their hands into fire, adults don’t. The fact that they do, however, is consistent with what is known about their maturity.

              • Chris

                “Babies stick their hands into fire” is a much more well-supported generalization than “Teenagers snort condoms and eat Tide Pods.” Again, you are giving in to this week’s moral panic.

  5. To deny Hell is an extremist position far from the mainstream.

    Not even the Westboro Baptist Church denies the existence of Hell.

    It takes a lot of work to be more extreme than the Westboro Baptist Church.

    • Chris

      That’s ridiculous.

      • How so?

        Denying the existence of Hell is far from the mainstream in Christian theology.

        The Westboro Baptist Church does not deny the existence of Hell.

        The corollary is that denying the existence of Hell is even more extreme than the Westboro Baptist Church.

        • Chris

          Believing that all non-Christians will be tortured for all eternity after they die is an extremist position in mainstream society. If it is not an extremist position within Christianity, then that reflects terribly on Christianity.

          If this is a more extreme position within Christianity than the position that terror attacks and hurricanes are God’s punishment on the U.S. for not executing gay people, then that reflects even worse on Christianity.

          Regardless of which position is considered more extreme within Christianity, I don’t understand what your point is. Your comment seems to be making an ethical value judgment on the Pope v. the Westboro Baptist Church simply based on whether their respective positions are “extreme” within Christianity. The Pope’s position is obviously more ethical than the WBC’s. Disagree?

      • Not ridiculous from the standpoint that a whack-job group of religious extremists that are open about their extremism have no additional obligation to the millions of people around the world, and that, as far as integrity goes, they have been completely consistent in their craziness. The Pope, in contrast, has a much greater responsibility to a much larger constituency, the world of Catholicism. His carelessness, or flip-flopping, or whatever it was, does far more damage to the institution he is chraged with overseeing than anything the Phelpsians do or could do.

        • Chris

          It seems like it would be tough to make the case that abandoning the cruel and psychologically damaging doctrine of Hell for non-believers “damages” the Church is any way.

          • If it damages their faith and belief in the Church, there cannot be greater harm, from the perspective of a Catholic. Courts have found the loss of faith to be a significant harm, justifying significant monetary damages…in part because the Church can’t afford to argue that it doesn’t make an real difference if one believes or not.

            • Chris

              Yikes. “We can’t have the Pope question the existence of an eternal torturescape for non-believers because we might lose believers and money” strikes me as a pretty unethical stance.

              • You are arguing from ignorance, Chris. Look up the duties and authority of the Pope. If a leader is not committed to uphold the beliefs and mission of the organization he leads, then he should step down as leader.

                • Chris

                  Haven’t many Popes used their authority to revise Church doctrine?

                  The Catholic Church has been taking small steps to distance itself from the doctrine of Hell for decades. Here’s an article from 1999:

                  This one’s from 2011:

                  https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/eco-catholic/debunking-myth-hell

                  It is not unethical for leaders of institutions to reform parts of institutions that are obviously wrong, as the doctrine of Hell clearly is. One might even argue they have an ethical obligation to do so.

                  • Have a Catholic explain all this to you, Chris. I’m the worst possible teacher on this topic.

                    • The curious thing about doing away with a Hell-realm is that it also entails (or has entailed) doing away with a concept of a Heaven-realm.

                      What we end up with is: a mono-plane of terrestrial existence, physical and biological with some ‘epiphenomena’ of consciousness no one knows what to do with, and a ‘soul’ that simply dissolves away. (I don’t think John Lennon quite put it like that however).

                      From the Times article:

                      “By their account, hell is best understood as the condition of total alienation from all that is good, hopeful and loving in the world. What’s more, this condition is chosen by the damned themselves, the ultimate exercise of free will, not a punishment engineered by God.”

                      This is basically a restatement of Thomist belief (the Medieval scholastic idea). Scholastic metaphysics defines itself, and its ‘rightness’, through a specific and rigid intellectual logic. The world operates through a strict and rational logic, which is to say non-emotionally, and so it is in this sense (according to the theologians I have read and that’s not so many) that the soul has also rationally chosen its fate.

                      ”After the council, fire and brimstone preaching declined as a new emphasis was placed on God’s love rather than God’s wrath, said Sister Elizabeth Johnson, a professor of theology at Fordham.”

                      Well, that fits. Scholasticism and the hard-edged theology of days-gone-by could only be understood, and accepted, through a rigorous intellectual assent (in fact Cardinal Newman wrote a book “The Grammar of Assent” which develops, in rigorous detail, the intellectual structure of understanding which leads to ‘assent’ and ‘belief’), but as rigorous intellectualism is undermined — and remember that intellectual and ‘intellectus’ have special and distinct meanings in Scholasticism — it is the ‘emotive’ and desire-self which supplants, as it were, strict and hard definitions and understandings.

                      Appetite, desire, will: these are aspects of ‘lower man’ and under their influence man turns away from hard, sheer logic. The emotive, sensuous man and woman do not wish to hear about ‘hard laws of logic’ and they wish to understand things, and moral and ethical choice, through their ‘emotional center’ which they call ‘the heart’.

                      The emotions and the sentiments and the romantic desire of the heart subverts the hard edge of ‘truth’ and at that point people believe whatever the heck they desire to believe, and they dislike, often extremely, anyone who tells them differently. It is of course the whole idea of ‘rebellion’ and ‘rebelliousness’ which is a constant theme in Biblical scripture.

                      The idea lf Christianity is a linking of the will and the desires and the intellect to an extra-mundane intelligence which becomes the guide through a fallen world filled with dangers. The whole notion of ‘the Devil’s Kingdom’ is a mixture of different concepts, not the least being the Platonic idea of a fallen and tarnished ‘sublunary world’. Even that description requires unpacking as ‘the world under the moon’ is actually a metaphysical statement and presupposes there are higher, purer ‘worlds’.

                      To understand ‘the Earth’ in scholastic terms one has to have direct recourse to the olde descriptions of ‘The Great Chain of Being’. It is our former, yet still shadowingly present, metaphysic that still haunts our perceptions, our projections, our subconscious and our dreams. The Earth, as the location under the sublunary, was a sort of cesspool of the universe: a place of dense condensations. And yet within the Earth there were ‘reflections’ or ‘signs’ perhaps is the right word of the Upper World. So there was sulphurous miasma and dank caves and secretions, but there was also ‘the diamond’ and precious stones and precious sentiments and ideas which were correspondences to the Higher World.

                      The lower world, the Hell-Realm, was simply the natural tendency of uninstructed and ‘lost’ being (souls) within a dangerous world of earthly mutability and all manner of strange conscious forces (demons) which in this realm had a certain amount of power and freedom.

                      The revelation of Christ was understood (through Mediaval eues) as a supreme gift — pure Grace, no more, no less — and not to be squandered because it represents the exact opposite of ‘death’ in mutability and unconsciousness and new life into spirtual freedom.

                      You can find shades and glimmers of the same (or similar) metaphysics in the Eastern teachings (it is nicely laid out in the Bhagavad Gita). It is really a symbolic ‘language’ and a way to communicate complex ideas through visualizable symbols. The idea is not the symbol though, the symbol contains an idea.

                      Well, if I can help with anything else just mention Catholicism again. Surely I will pop up again … 🙂

                    • Chris wrote: ”It is not unethical for leaders of institutions to reform parts of institutions that are obviously wrong, as the doctrine of Hell clearly is. One might even argue they have an ethical obligation to do so.”

                      You have made a rather funny statement! Because when you mention ‘reform’ what you really mean is to see life and reality in strict accord with a modern scientistic description. In that ‘world’ there is only matter and striving biological entity. There is no ‘meaning’ in any part of it, and there is no plan or design except in random movements which are only part-and-parcel of survival mechanisms.

                      So when you say ‘reform’ you can only mean (though you are unconcious of yourself as an ‘actor’ and you are not really acting consciously but are just stating which way the current is carrying you …) you can only mean the total undermining of the metaphysics which inform the Christian philosophy.

                      If you could visualize the continuance of the very world that you live in (this was Nietzsche’s mediation with his musings on ‘the Eternal Return’), and that it goes on existing as it does, with beings consuming beings in biological fury and on and on for all eternity (as is the scientistic view), then it is not that hard to imagine an anti-world of unending continuation in a far more difficult existence that is painfully hellish.

                      I find it somewhat easy to understand the soul’s existence as eternal, and I can rather easily imagine non-physical and non-fleshy otherworlds in any number and any variety. I must admit that eternal hell is hard, emotionally, to handle. One would imagine there would be an escape-valve, some sort of reprieve (as there is said to be in Purgatory). But the way the scholastics explain it, Hell corrsponds to Heaven in the sense that one’s choices correspond to consequences. It is as simple as that.

                      I do admit to believing that between one’s last breath and whatever consequences await one that any number of different things can happen in that infinitesimal and yet infinite space before the Final Choice is made.

                      The divinity that made this world, and all possible worlds, and which is by definition infinite, eternal and timeless, must be given the last word, no?

                    • Chris

                      OK, Jack. Here’s what one of my devout Catholic friends wrote when I messaged him asking for his opinion. He’s a conservative politically–voted for Romney in ’12 and Gary Johnson in ’16–but would probably be considered a liberal Catholic. He knows his theology, though. He’s given me permission to share his message:

                      From a theological standpoint, it’s no further from the catechism than saying hell is filled with fire and cloven footed imps. All the hooplah about how this is a revolutionary new Catholicism is pretty ignorant of Christian philosophy over the past millenia and a half. From a personal standpoint, I’m stoked that the pope is standing up to fire and brimstone conservatives and challenging them to consider the Christian theology with more effort than reciting a nursery rhyme.

                      My best friend is also Catholic (she’s going to be “best man” at my wedding) and we’ve discussed the problem of Hell plenty of times–she believes it might exist for the worst of the worst, and that’s about it. She’s liberal on just about everything but abortion.

                    • Did your friend explain to you that unless the Pope issues an official statement as God’s spokesman, he might as well be predicting who wins the AL East? Or that he hasn’t said anything except according to second hand reports by a 90 year old atheist, who has an agenda?

                      And what does the fact that he’s conservative have to do with anything?

                    • Chris

                      Alizia: The curious thing about doing away with a Hell-realm is that it also entails (or has entailed) doing away with a concept of a Heaven-realm

                      It really doesn’t.

                    • In the ‘Oxford Encyclopedia of Christian Thought’ (an excellent resource) at the end of the short essay on hell, it reads:

                      “Yet, as truth and goodness are synomymous with being, their final rejection may rather signify a return to non-existence. In the light of divine goodness, is it plausible to think that God could allow anyone an eternity of misery on account of decisions taken in one brief life? It is sad that the symbols of NT teaching were used through an over-rationalized theology to make God appear a cruel tyrant and so justify comparatively cruel punishments on earth. Indeed, it was often argued that the doctrine of hell was needed to restrain the wicked and ensure civil order. Nevertheless, the fading of hell strains traditional eschatology to an extent seldom admitted.”

                      It is true, as you seem to notice, that in the liberalized theological definitions the duration and intensity of hell is diminished in favor of the glorious possibility of a heavenly afterworld. And it is also true that differences of opinion and interpretation are as old as Christianity. Origen had a difficult time imagining an eternal hell and thought it must come to an end at some point.

                      Similarly, “Any attempt to mitigate the grave and terrible implications of the reality of hell … is bound to fail in view of the absolute clarity of scripture on this subject.” (Johann Michl). As for example:

                      “Depart from me, you curse, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”.

                      In a way the view that you are more partial to — that some heavenly afterworld can exist without there being, in reality, a hellish counter-realm — is simply a perspective shift. It seems to entail a few different things. One is that this earth-realm has no lower dimension and thus is, in its way, both Earth and Hell. And in that realm men or circumstances create ‘hells’ and inhabit them. But if there is a heaven-realm that is an afterworld, then one leaves behind in a sense the earth-hell for a better life in some other mode of existence.

                      Nevertheless, you are still, more or less, within a similar structure of view and interpretation, having only done away with a hellish vision that is displeasing, or frightening, or seemingly unjust.

                      I admit to being influenced by the Bhagavad-Gita in my concepts about these ideas. Hindu metaphysics corresponds, oddly enough, to Christian metaphysics in that they are both medieval idea-structures. The relevant chapter is Chapter 16: The Divine and Demoniac Natures.

                      “Those who possess demoniac qualities and who live whimsically, without following the regulations of scripture, attain lower births and further material bondage. But those who possess divine qualities and live regulated lives gradually attain spiritual perfection.”

                      ‘Whimsically’ is here meant ‘according to one’s own sense of things, arbitrarily’. The idea is still that in our world there are absolute laws. One either follows them, and rises toward the angelical, or one does not and sinks into the ‘cesspool of the cosmos’. The further one sinks in that cesspool-life, the less one has ‘intellectus’ and also ‘memory’. Nescience is therefor a fatal condition and, withouth intervention, one just keeps sinking. To pull oneself out of that quagmire requires a) insight and also b) the influence of an Avatar (one who descends into the mire with ‘liberating news’). One either recognizes the ‘medicine’ and follows the higher influence, or one rejects it in favor of more immediate desires or pleasures or simply self-will.

                    • In a way the view that you are more partial to — that some heavenly afterworld can exist without there being, in reality, a hellish counter-realm — is simply a perspective shift.

                      What? When have I ever suggested such a thing? I have no dog in this hunt at ALL: my commentary regarded the duty of competent and responsible leadership, and the beliefs involved are incidental. My opinion of the Catholic Church and Popes generally couldn’t be lower, and both Heaven and Hell are filed in my personal files with Oz and the Good Ship Lollipop

                    • The post you read was in response to Chris:

                      Alizia: The curious thing about doing away with a Hell-realm is that it also entails (or has entailed) doing away with a concept of a Heaven-realm

                      Chris: It really doesn’t.

                    • I am also aware that you do not — indeed cannot have — understandings and beliefs that would allow the ‘existence of the soul’ or afterlife and any of the old assumptions that are part of the ‘old metaphysics’.

                      You are attempting to construct a morality out of a rationalized ethics and you represent a specific strain within a certain branch of American pragmatism. That is why I have said that you cannot be a ‘conservative’ and that you are in this sense an ‘American radical’.

                      I respect all that of course. I guess I use these perspectives as springboards in establishing my own definitions. It is all quite interesting really.

                    • I am not constructing morality at all. See: Ethics Alarms terms.

                    • Modes of conduct that are taught and accepted as embodying principles of right and good.

                      MORALITY: A system of determining right and wrong that is usually established by some authority, such as a church, an organization, a society, a deity, or a government.
                      _____________________

                      In my way of seeing things, which is a way of seeing things that you can’t adopt (your understanding of things does not allow it), the morality that you refer to has to do with ‘revelation’ and that would place it under ‘deity’ and ‘church’ in the list above.

                      In the absence of the deity that provides the revelation, and the ‘church’ that interprets it, and the theologians who codify it, and the authorities that hold to it (as a value-system), one is left with an ethical system that is defined through ‘cobbling together’ (my term) any number of different ethical standards, assumptions or determinations of right and wrong, philsophical understandings, or also simply ‘social conventions’. This is arbitrary in its own way.

                      This structure of beliefs, understandings, decisions, conventions and perhaps habits is then the base of the ethical system and this ethical system then becomes the base of morality. I do not see a way around it. I guess you would argue that, no, it still depends on rational decison at every point (and what is ‘utilitarian’ in the sense of if it serves some notion of ‘good’ and ‘progress’. (This is how you have defined your evaluation system).

                      Instead of assuming a morality as an antecedent you have it reversed. Ethics (and all the thinking about it) is worked out and this provides the base for moralism.

                      In case there is any miscommunication on my part, my effort is to understand how this all works and what its ramifications are for the present. I find all this very interesting and as having a radical bearing on what is going on in the present. I am just doing my best to understand it all…

                    • Chris

                      Did your friend explain to you that unless the Pope issues an official statement as God’s spokesman, he might as well be predicting who wins the AL East? Or that he hasn’t said anything except according to second hand reports by a 90 year old atheist, who has an agenda?

                      This directly contradicts your earlier argument about the Pope’s responsibility and failure of leadership. Either his reported comments matter or they do not; you can’t have it both ways.

                      And what does the fact that he’s conservative have to do with anything?

                      You often immediately dismiss the opinions of liberals without much consideration; pointing out he is conservative was meant to buy credibility.

                    • The absurd dichotomy between the Pope as semi-divine whatever he is representative of Christ on Earth and just another Catholic official is too complicated for me to comprehend, much less the average Catholic. The Pope knows that he speaks for God (when the right seal is on the document, or something) and thus a responsible leader doesn’t confuse people by shooting from the hip, or meeting with someone prone to misquote him. The result is exactly what we are seeing: diminishment of trust, faith, and confusion. Jon Stewart’s “clown nose on, clown nose off” was bad enough; God on, God off is unconscionable.

          • Abandoning that doctrine is abandoning the Word of HaShem.

            Not even the Westboro Baptist Church goes that far.

            • Chris

              Pretty sure they’ve abandoned that whole “Love thy neighbor” bit. But you’re free to decide which parts of Christianity are most important to you.

            • Chris

              Thinking on it further, you really are misusing the word “extreme.” A religious person who doesn’t believe anyone not in their religion is going to burn for all eternity is not an “extremist,” they are a moderate. Westboro Baptist Church members are extremists; the Pope is a moderate. If you’re reversing those two facts in your mind then you are rendering the word “extreme” meaningless.

  6. Chris Marschner

    I chose both in the poll but I wanted to add a caveat. There is a fine line between political indoctrination and being passionate about one’s own ideology. As a former lecturer for a community college I taught principles of Micro and Macroeconomics; the latter is often intertwined with current political events. As a champion of market capitalism I would develop lesson plans with a bias toward capitalism. Nonetheless I always explained economic systems were on a continuum that ranged from centralized to decentralized decision making.

    Economics as a decision science is inextricably linked to complex political issues. Anyone who claims to be absolutely objective is deluding themselves. One can be objective with data but valuation is subjective and inherently biased from the value estimator’s perspective. Some people find great value in avoiding risk while others embrace it with open arms. Educators that require students demonstrate their agreement with their ideology through political activism are seeking reinforcement of their own partisan beliefs.

    I see no issue with faculty imparting their views in the classroom so long as the student’s grade is not contingent on such agreement

    Where I drew the line was downgrading a paper that was contrary to my ideology on issues simply because it was contrary. I would never use students to advance my partisan beliefs in an attempt to change policy.

  7. And why no Greek April Fool’s?]

    Aha, but there is: Kali protaprilia or “Καλή Πρωταπριλιά”

    “In 1995 the Greek Ministry of Culture said it found the tomb of Socrates, the old philosopher who is buried in an unknown place. It was said the tomb was found near the base of the Acropolis during excavation for the Athens metro system. A vase containing traces of hemlock was reportedly in the tomb, too. The French news wire Agence France-Presse reported the prank first.”

    The question becomes: why did YOUR family not celebrate it? 🙂

  8. All right, fess up: Who voted “neither’????

  9. Paul W. Schlecht

    You’d think that rather than an indeterminate concept, “Hell” (or ‘counter-realm’) would a destination type of thingey.

    I suspect this based this on the high number of times it’s been recommended (at times more strongly than others) that I go there, and is often accompanied by explicit directions and suggestions on what I might do upon my arrival.

    A state of mind? Heck, it may just be a State.

    Little Bill (Gene Hackman in “The Unforgiven”): “Hell, I even thought I was dead, till I found out that It was just that I was in Nebraska

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