Print Story the road to exactly where is is paved with good intentions?
By lm (Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 08:15:41 AM EST) (all tags)
Speaking of pioneering televangelist Billy Graham, Richard Cohen opined the following.
His lasting damage, I offer as an aside, was to persuade the young George W. Bush to abandon his wastrel ways, at which he excelled, and instead seek the path that has led him to where he is now, a calamity for the nation and the world.
Ouch. I'd certainly not want to be the president used as an example of why sometimes it's best for everyone involved if a drunkard stays a drunkard to the end of his life.

Odds and ends of no real significance follow.

I think James Dobson must be on crack. Let's summarize the exchange.

Most theologians agree that the Old Testament contains quite a few exhortations that can safely be ignored such as proscribing the eating of shell fish and wearing red dresses. And if we applied the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount to public policy, governance of any country would be untenable.

Obama is misrepresenting what the Bible has to say and bringing up Old Testament passages with no relevance to the Gospel.


Obama is a liar.

Alrighty, then.

Another interesting bit about the speech in question is that Obama touched on a topic I think is interesting, ``Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal rather than religion-specific values; it requires their proposals be subject to argument and amenable to reason.'' I wish I had the ability to state ideas with such clarity. I spent quite a few more words than Obama arguing the same position and didn't manage to make my point as clear.

Which is one of the things I'm finding to be intriguing about Obama. On quite a few subjects he is giving voice to ideas that have been bouncing around my head for quite some time, for example,  his recent speech on patriotism. I don't know that thinking the same way that I think on many topics is a qualification for the presidency. It's just odd as on any given issue, I'm usually either in the minority or think both sides are wrong.

With the wee little tykes up at their grandparents' house, I'm luxuriating in the silence at home. I believe that tomorrow is the day that they're scheduled to come back. There will be much rejoicing but less silence.

After dinner yesterday, I finished taking the screws out of the floor in the upstairs kitchen, swept, mopped once with warm water and once with an ammonia solution, and took measurements of the floor. Tonight will be a trip out to the store to get some floor leveler and some vinyl flooring to lay down before the new cabinetry goes in. I don't think I'll start putting the new floor down yet. I'm thinking painting would be good to do before putting down the floor.

After working on the upstairs for about an hour and half, I went running. I've lost quite a bit of stamina after I've slacked off running for while. I spent three weeks with a cold that made it impossible for me to run. Then once I was better, I let days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months without getting back into the groove. It's time to fix that. This time, however, instead of going for distance, I'm going for speed. Rather than jogging along at a pace I can keep up for miles, I'm trying to run as far as I can just short of a sprint. Presently, I cover a 3 mile circuit. I run the first quarter mile or so. After that, I run two blocks and walk every third. Hopefully after a week or so of this, I can increase that to running three blocks and walking the fourth. Anyway, I end up running about 2 miles, just not contiguously.

Which got me thinking about lying by telling the truth. It is technically correct to say that I ran two miles last night. I did go running. The distance I covered while running was two miles. But the way I ran was far different from running straight for two miles. Most people who heard me claim that I ran two miles would think that I ran for two contiguous miles. And while there are some contexts in which my statement about running two miles would not be misleading, in most contexts it would be. And if my intent were to deceive, then even though I would be telling the truth, I would be lying.

But some people don't see it that way. Some would argue that so long as my words were correct at some level, that I wasn't lying. An example of this is a story told about Saint Athanasius the Great. (At least I think it was him.) One of the times he was on the bad side of the emperor and was being hunted down in order to be killed or imprisoned, he was out rowing boat with imperial soldiers in hot pursuit. They stopped him and, not  realizing who he was, asked him if he'd seen that impious heretic Athanasius. Saint Athanasius replied, `yes, he's quite close at hand.' I've seen this story used to show how one can get out of a sticky situation without lying. But I think it is clearly a case of a lie, a justified lie, perhaps, but still a lie.

After running, I was watching a bit of TV to unwind. I caught the very end of The Daily Show and the leader for The Colbert Report mentioned that Steven was going to interview Anglican bishop NT Wright. I tried to stay up to watch. Once again, the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. I fell asleep.

< ugh | Dum dwee! Dum dum dum dwee dow! >
the road to exactly where is is paved with good intentions? | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
I don't have the time to parse the NT for anti-gay by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #1 Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 08:21:30 AM EST
statements, it would be interesting to correlate the evangelical anti-gay stance with the NT.

Slate had some articles on Graham and Bush, implying Bush cynically took up being a born again.

Here you go. by Beechwood 45789 (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 08:41:51 AM EST
Depending on just what "natural affection" was meant to mean . . .

Romans 1:26-27 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Romans 1:31-32 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Timothy 1:10-11 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for  menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

2 Timothy 3:3-5 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

[ Parent ]
Thanks by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 08:43:45 AM EST

[ Parent ]
incontinent by garlic (2.00 / 0) #10 Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 12:03:16 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Lacking self-control. by Beechwood 45789 (2.00 / 0) #11 Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 12:21:35 PM EST
Though, that's just my take. I didn't write the book.

Perhaps it's one of those cases where we're to understand that Jesus believes the inability to hold our own fecal matter in means we won't fully actualize as a child of God. Because we'll have poopy pants. And it is really hard to actualize yourself when your pants are full of poop.

I don't know. Maybe St. Anawannamucka of Euphemackago County or somebody has written on the importance of clean knickers. I'm not that well read in theology.

It might be is a metaphor: "God likes people who keep their shit private." (After all, the thrust of lm's response below is that "worthy of death" should be read as concern about fulfilling one's spiritual growth. These Biblical metaphors are literary Silly-Putty: they're almost infinitely tractable and they pick up the image of whatever you press them up against.) Still, that means this blogging thing is bad news.

Either way, I'd work more cheese into your diet just in case.

[ Parent ]
eh, no by lm (2.00 / 0) #12 Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 03:28:25 PM EST
Not `spiritual growth' except inasmuch as `spiritual growth' in included in growth in general where growth is qualified as healthy growth where healthy means in line with what we ought to be as composite spiritual and material creatures fashioned after the image and likeness of God.

But in this passage, continence should almost be certainly read as `sexual continence', i.e. control over one's own bodily urges so that they are only expressed in an appropriate manner at an appropriate time.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Um, hardly. by Beechwood 45789 (2.00 / 0) #14 Wed Jul 02, 2008 at 01:42:30 AM EST
"Should almost be certainly read as 'sexual continence'"?

I don't see that at all. It is sandwiched between the sins of bearing false witness and being "fierce." In fact, in that list, only the dubious "without natural affection" might directly apply to sexuality. And even that is questionable as many translators believe that simply refers to callousness. The rest seem to be injunctions against generally anti-social behavior and disbelief.

In the original, it comes from the Greek "akrates," derived from placing a negative article on "kratos", meaning power. It means, literally, "powerless" and is often translated to mean intemperance, lack of self-control. There's no necessary sexual connotation. Aristotle uses the term in the Nicomachean Ethics to describe somebody who lets temper cloud their judgement. Presumably sexual desire could work that way, but it is far from the only strong emotion that can prevent people from making rational choices. In Neoclassical and Rational Choice Theory, the word pops up again in the "problem of akrasia," or the problem of decisions one makes even though you regret them while making them.

Far from being certain, I'd say that you would have to make a special case that runs counter to the original text to claim that "incontinence" as it is used in Timothy is a reference to sexually inappropriate behavior. It is, I think, more likely that Paul was saying people should be temperate in their emotions.

I think both conservative and liberal Christians have made sexuality the be-all and end-all of morality in the Bible as it basically allows both sides to take the debate to a fairly small and inconsequential moral realm. Both sides can ignore uncomfortable moral imperatives (such as the extreme charity one is supposed to practice or the radical non-violence Jesus proposes) and instead spend time debating the sexual behavior of others. It's a way you can be a "good Christian" without actually having to sacrifice for it.

More important, I'd still get more cheese in your diet. It is tasty and, with a little red wine, might be good for you.

[ Parent ]
Well, I've certainly been put into my place by lm (2.00 / 0) #15 Wed Jul 02, 2008 at 05:24:41 AM EST
You'll have no more argument from me on this particular matter.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Oops by lm (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 09:07:02 AM EST
response down here

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Depends on what you mean by anti-gay by lm (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 09:06:03 AM EST
Making an argument from the New Testament with regards to the possibility of homosexual acts being sinful is fairly easy. One can even do it just from the Gospel as there is a passage where Jesus is speaking where he implicitly subsumes the traditional Christian anthropology where it takes man to complete woman and vice versa.

That said, making an argument from the New Testament that justifies `God hates fags' is quite a bit harder. Other sins such as adultery and divorce are much more explicitly condemned and yet Jesus explicitly welcomed both divorcees, adulterers and adulteresses into his kingdom.

It seems to me that most people make essentially the same error. If the Gospels say that action X diminishes the extent to which a person actualizes his or her potentiality as a child of God, then the Gospels are anti-Xers. Rabid Christians take this to mean that those who do X are irredeemable. Practicioners of X take this to mean that the Gospels are unwilling to accept them on their own terms. I think both are excluding a vast gray area of possibility. If only perfectly actualized beings were permitted into heaven, heaven would have a population of 1.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
you know by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 09:49:00 AM EST
the phrase, "a person actualizes his or her potentiality as a child of God," I think deserves a lot of derision. Even though I understand what you're trying to say, the word choice is just, icky.

[ Parent ]
deride me all you want by lm (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 09:51:59 AM EST
I can't, at present, think of other words that would as accurately say what I mean.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
actualizing your potential by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 10:32:50 AM EST
C'mon, LM, you've got a better vocab than that. It makes you sound like some dippy-hippy, like some NLP gobbledygook spewing new-ager.

[ Parent ]
I'll grant that much by lm (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 10:45:43 AM EST
But it isn't my fault that the new age folks co-opted so much of the vocabulary of Aristotle.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
"alleging that the Koran preaches violence by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #13 Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 10:58:29 PM EST
I thought it did.  The bits about smiting the infidel that denies Allah, for example.  And the bits about being able to beat your wife, as long as you do it without leaving permanent marks.

Then again I don't think the Bible is any better, what with pillars of salt for looking over your shoulder, eyes for eyes and so on.

What really fucks me off about religion is that almost all of the holy texts are "open to interpretation".  To my mind, it's either true or false.  Either take the not eating shellfish doctrine, or shun it and consider the truth of "in the beginning there was God"... 

the road to exactly where is is paved with good intentions? | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback