Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Revisiting Moral Subjectivity and Absolutism

Arguments pertaining to moral subjectivism or absolutism are difficult to navigate.  Both positions have elements of truth weaved throughout to such a degree that is difficult for some to pick one.  Others hold fast to one ideal or the other without ever conceding any validity to the other position. 

Any conceived idea always has an element of truth. Some are closer to what is real than others, but each have a truth mixed into the concept.  Approaching the topic with this in mind one can navigate the waters of moral philosophy with greater ability to perceive a more accurate perspective on the matter. 

The extremes always lend themselves to showing their flaws.  On one extreme is the moral subjectivist who maintains with absolute certainty that morality is one hundred percent subjective. This position is usually maintained by those who believe it is impossible to know anything for certain from any external compass and therefore it is imperative to be certain that we cannot know anything for certain.  The philosophical trappings are apparent. 

Notwithstanding, the tendency to discount the entire proposed philosophy due to this error of extremes does an injustice to the topic.  Many throw out the baby with the bath water and refuse to allow any acceptance of subjective morality. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Love: The Highest Virtue

American culture has a high regard for practicing tolerance.  This shows a shift in culture. In part that shift brings a cultural freedom to allow people to be themselves without fear of being discriminated against.  Of course, we, as a culture, haven’t reached that ideal, but it is rapidly becoming a social norm. 

In the past, people still did the things that were not socially acceptable for whatever reason, but did them in secret.  Somehow we thought this preferable because we can ignore what we didn’t approve of and go on our merry way.  Now a new wave of cultural tolerance continues to take shape.  Enough time has not passed to see what the affects will be on society. 

C.S. Lewis once commented that church attendance at Oxford had been compulsory. He preferred the change of it not being mandatory, because now people could be themselves and not pretend to be something they didn’t want to be because society demanded it.  He said the former was helping no one, and the later created conditions for real change for the right reasons. 

A shift is happening in the Church as well.  Not in all churches, but in the environment of many churches across the nation and globally.  This shift can look like tolerance to the untrained eye, but there is something deeper something more life changing in this shift.  It’s a shift of love and freedom. 

A culture of freedom is being issued forth within some key international ministries.  This freedom is one that wants people to be who they are without fear of punishment, ostracizing, or discrimination. It is a freedom that loves enough to not require people to hide their junk.  This is accomplished through love. 

Perfect love cast out all fear.  Love is a value that is higher than the value of tolerance and requires more of the giver than tolerance.  However, true love is not something you have to work up for people it is something we acquire from experiencing God’s love.  Our heart gets filled up with His supernatural love and it pours out to people.  That love doesn’t expect people to hide their junk.  It also rejoices in the truth.  It doesn’t call bad good to make a person feel better, but it also doesn’t point out the faults of others.  It points out the truth about the real you. 

In contrast, tolerance leaves people in their bondage by celebrating it with them. It says, not only do I have no right to call anything you do wrong, I think it is totally awesome that you do what you do and I hope you keep it up and that you never listen to anyone that says it isn’t right. 

Love says I’ll be your friend no matter what your hang ups are. It quietly waits until the person wants to be free from those hang ups and asks how that could happen.  All the while, love speaks out the truth about that person. Love releases kindness, compassion, and peace to that person. Love builds them up, rather than tearing them down. Love makes their heart fly.  Love gently cuts the ropes that bind them.

It points out how special a person is. How good they are. How delightful they are to the Kingdom of God and how much God loves them.  It doesn’t rejoice in their faults, or tell them all about how much they messed up. It rejoices in who God made them to be and helps by coming along side them and walking out that true life moment by moment. 

There are times when rebukes, justice, punitive actions, have a place, but these would be few and far between in a culture of freedom and love.  These would be akin to the rare times a child would need a spanking rather than the predominate response to the junk in the lives of those living in our community or in relationship with us. 

Tolerance has been a response society has vied for in contrast to the religious legalism that was once predominating in America.  Now such people are looked at as fundamental fanatics are not seen in a good light by most anybody.  This is a good shift. There was an error in the response of the Church to people in and outside of church community that caused society at large to take measures contrary to that sentiment. 

The Church should have been the one to lead this charge of the way of love rather than needing a movement of tolerance.  I apologize on behalf of the Church for the necessity of a tolerance movement.  If we had been practicing love, there would have been no need for this.  I am excited to see and be a part of the shift that is happening in the Church to build a culture of freedom, honor, and love that will not only change churches and ministries across the globe, but the home and marketplace as well.  Great things are coming.  

Friday, October 1, 2010

Back to Basics

I have never paid too much attention to my handwriting. In recent years it is more of a hybrid of cursive and print.  Last night, I was helping my 7 year old niece with her homework.  She had to write two sentences and I was writing down the words for her to copy as she developed the sentences.  She found the formation of my letters to be lacking and proceeded to correct my sentences before copying them onto her page.  Although my “t” was shorter than a capitol letter she demonstrated to me that a lower case “t” should not have the horizontal line at the very top of the vertical line.  I attempted explaining to her that once one had the basics down of writing her letters that there was a creative freedom for developing your own style.  She didn’t buy that. 

My thoughts have returned to last night’s conversation several times this morning.  Handwriting is like riding a bike or driving a car, you don’t think much about it after learning it.  We rarely revisit the basic mechanics of how we do something that we do frequently after it is learned.  Even how we think is often just done, not thought about.

In contrast, my nephew struggles in reading. The school has placed him in summer school for reading, tutoring for reading, and other reading classes without ever going back to the basics. When asked, he tells me the reading teacher reads to him. Or they set up a computer for him that reads to him as he reads along.  Instead of taking him back to start fresh with a foundational course of phonics, he is expected to start reading by being read to.  

I think it is good, every so often, to go back to the basics.  Then we can rebuild on a refreshed foundation.  We can find the simplistic again and reduce the complexity in our lives.  We can also find creative expression by starting fresh.  It’s easier to be creative with a new sketch book and brand new box of crowns than it is trying to find a fresh page and work with dull crowns.

I think this week I will reexamine things that are often second nature and intentionally practice or make note of the simple basics.