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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Ethics and Virtue

I'm tying a few scattered thoughts into a thesis so stay with me as I connect the dots.
Point 1:
I recently received a newsletter from Logsdon Theological Seminary tied in with Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene Texas. It was two lectures on T. B. Maston the best know ethics professor in the last century among Southern Baptists. You can listen to the lectures here. The first lecture was a biography and the second on his thoughts. I was very impressed with the summation of Maston's thoughts and will share a few, which I wholeheartedly agree with concerning Christian Ethics.
So what is ethics: the term 'ethics' is singular. Second, ethics has to do with oughtness-with what a person or a group of persons ought to do, with what is right.
Okay, so what should a Christian "ought" to do?
The basic characteristic of the cross-kind-of-life is self-denial or servanthood. Maston wrote: "The first or basic law of life is not self preservation but self-denial and self-sacrifice. This is the 'way of the cross. " He emphasized that the cross involves the crucifixion of self with selfish ambition and purpose because Jesus made clear that the cross calls for selfdenial in the life of the Christian. Maston often quoted Jesus' statement recorded in Matthew 16:24: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me." The first followers of Jesus knew the cross not as jewelry or architectural symbol but as an instrument of suffering and death. They clearly understood Jesus to be calling them to a life of sacrifice and servanthood. (bold emphasis mine). Let me be clear here. This applies to Christians only. I am in no way saying that everyone in the U.S. or the world for that matter should apply their ethics by this standard. However since so much of the Republican party and the Moral Mafia do feel this way, and that they call themselves Christians I feel this should be a standard applied to their thoughts and actions over the last thirty years when they first got in bed with a major political party.

Point 2. Read Paul Krugman today. He had an article concerning people who concider him (Krugman) to be hypocritical because he makes lots of money, but advocates for higher taxes on the rich and a strong social safety net. He ties in Mel Gibson's movie The Patriot and another person's critique of how patriotism wasn't a virtue of the film because the film's hero didn't fight for his country, but only out of revenge for the British attack on his house and family.

So to say what should be obvious but apparently isn’t: supporting policies that are to your personal financial disadvantage isn’t hypocrisy — it’s civic virtue!
But, say the wingnuts, you say that rich people are evil. Actually, no — that’s a right-wing fantasy about what liberals believe. I don’t want to punish the rich, I just want them to pay more taxes. You can favor redistribution without indulging in class hatred; it’s only the defenders of privilege who try to claim otherwise.
Lind’s essay about Mel Gibson ended with concerns that we may have lost the sense of what citizenship and its duties mean. Indeed. If people can’t comprehend what it means to work for larger goals than their own interest, if they actually consider any deviation from self-service somehow a sign of phoniness, we, as a nation, are lost.

Point 3: Cognitive dissonance is believing two diametrically opposed ideas at the same time, and that is what is happening in the Republican party. It's a coalition of different types of conservatives. Social conservatives such as the moral mafia that fight against abortion, same sex marriage, dancing, drinking, breathing, etc. and Physcal conservatives or financial conservatives that are against regulations on big business, taxes and are for wars because they're good for business and deplete the surplus population. The bible for the business crowd is Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.
Ayn Rand's philosophy is 180 degrees opposite of Maston's Ethic.
Atlas Shrugged page 953-4 (paperback 35th anniversary edition)
"'Sacrifice' does not mean the rejection of the worthless, but of the precious. 'Sacrifice does not mean the rejection of evil for the sake of the good, but the good for the sake of  the evil. 'Sacrifice' is the surrender of that which you value for that which you don't...
"If you want to save the last of your dignity, do not call your best actions 'sacrifice' that term brands you as immoral."
Rand has John Galt end her doctoral disseertation on economics by saying page 993:
"You will win when you are ready to pronounce the oath I have taken at the start of my battle...
I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."
If those in business want to live amorally, fine. The only beef I have with them is using pennies out of their pockets to buy congress critters to legislate them Billions of taxpayer money when they don't chip in and help out and get us into needless wars for their profits. That's an economic and political difference.
I have nothing but scorn for the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention and the others of the moral mafia who have sold their souls to the crooks for lip service on their pet issues. The physcal conserevatives have stacked the Supreme Court and got what they wanted: Corporations have human rights. Roe v. Wade hasn't been overturned yet, nor will it because the crooks know that once the moral mafia gets what it wants their votes will melt away.
Christians and patriots know that giving is better for those around us and even for our own sense of self-worth. It's what makes us human. Sociopaths are only in it for themselves. Too bad so many of those who claim to be Christians are really sociopaths only interested in the money and power.



Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Well said. The GOP is in a mess right now. The only thing saving them is that the Democrats are also.

The corporations having the same rights of people thing has gone too far. I don't think that corporations are evil its just that given an advantage they will maximize it. It is not going anywhere good.

I was a follower of Aynn Rand when I was about 15 or so, then I grew up.

P M Prescott said...

The biggest problems with philosophers like her is that half of what they say makes sense, just enough to get you to drink the kool-aid.

Unknown said...

I remember reading Atlas Shrugged in junior high school and thought it was way over our heads. It felt devoid of a soul, although I've heard Rand interviewed and that too carried a strange feeling for me. I'm just not into the political idiocy of any party. Each makes a point, then the other side uncovers a "skeleton in their closet". This is not what public service means to me. There is no heart to it. In others words, it's heartless where it should be the other way around. Interesting post!