Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On moral codes

It must be my day to take on the right wing since this morning I had a little go-round about Jonah Goldberg and now I have a few things to say about Erick Erickson's latest.

As I've talked about here before, I've had to make peace with my fundamentalist christian past and - as much as possible - with my family members who still hold those beliefs. I don't feel the need to change them or judge them. If they are unhappy (and believe me...they are), it is their job - just as it was mine - to find their own resolution.

And so I resent it all to hell when Erickson says stuff like this.
The secularists of this world, I believe, can embrace fully contradictory things like support for gay rights and the advance of Islam into the Western World, because those things come from this world, not from Christ. The left is perfectly capable of contradiction and hypocrisy because they believe in nothing so much as themselves and the things of this world. Therefore, to them, there can be no contradiction and no hypocrisy in their world unless it comes from those who fail to meet the standards set by the faith of so many Christians.

There is no difference between the believer and the atheist “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. It’s just that only the believer is held, in the secular world, to account because only the believer embraces the standards of the faith.
Essentially what he's saying is that - as a secularist - I don't have moral standards because I don't embrace his religion. In other words, his religion is the sole arbiter of morality. If we could get to the place where we both recognize that we each have a moral code that sometimes overlaps and sometimes doesn't, we could talk. But that's now how Erickson sees the world.
Even now in the 21st century after the birth of Christ, there is still true Good and there is still true Evil and there is still true Truth.
In that formulation, he embraces true Good and true Truth and what I believe is cast as true Evil.

What I also resent in all this is his rather narrow definition of morality. In Erickson's world view that word is reserved for those who are against abortion, marriage equality and any role for government in addressing the ravages of capitalism. There is never any mention of the things that are primary in my moral code: compassion, empathy, justice, equality, forgiveness, humility, generosity, kindness, gratitude.

Finally, if I did define myself as a christian, I would take great offense at Erickson's description of Jesus.
These secularists have made a concerted effort to turn the world hostile to that faith and belief and have allied themselves with weak theologians to turn young Christians into more worldly, secularly focused milquetoast weepers worshiping an effeminate Christ who only hugs kids and cries, but does not fight, does not take sides, and is accommodationist to the world and its amorality and increasing immorality because, dude, he hung out with prostitutes and cried about another dude dying. They want to define the Christ they prefer to believe in, rather than believe the Christ that is.
Excuse me for a minute while I put my feminist hat on. But since when does "effeminate" equate with not fighting and not taking sides? Puhleeze brother!!!!!

Then lets talk for a minute about the one time when Christ chose to fight. It was when he lost his temper over the greed of the money changers exploiting people who came to worship at the temple. When is the last time you heard any of these fundamentalist moralizers fighting the exploitation of people by the greedy money changers? Not so much. So who is it that is defining the Christ they prefer to believe in, rather than believe the Christ that is?

I truly am sick and tired of folks like Erickson being given the platform as the moral arbiters in our discourse. As a secular leftist, I have morals too. Folks like me tend to not put them front and center because we don't want to shove our moral code down the throats of others. But it is a grave mistake to take that silence for vacuity.  


  1. Religion is an OBSTACLE to morality.

    Morality comes from having the cognitive ability to understand the impact of one's actions on others and possessing the empathy to care. It comes from laying in bed at night considering the impact that one has had on others and knowing whether those actions and their impact are consistent with those of a good person.

    If a person can absolve their self from taking responsibility for those actions and their impacts on others by chalking it up to obedience to their imaginary friend's 2000 year old demands based on the arbitrary and ignorant perceptions and opinions of bronze age goat herders then actual consideration based on situations and modern understanding of the world are eschewed. In this way, religion PREVENTS morality.

    What Erik son of Erik fails to grasp is that the hypocrisy has nothing to do with faith or the believer's imaginary son/self alter ego. It comes from attempting to tell others that they must live in compliance with a set of rules with which they themselves can't be bothered to comply. It can also be found in that they have not volunteered to be legislated into compliance with religious beliefs other than their own, but think it ok to do this to others.

    1. What you're describing was certainly my experience with religion.

      But I try my best to not assume it is true of everyone with religious beliefs because I know people who avoid using their religion as a rule-making machine to which they own only obedience.

  2. Not to mention that there are many on the left who regard themselves as Christian or otherwise religious, not secular humanists...Erickson has simply set up for himself a straw man, one easier than most to knock down.

    1. Erickson only deals with straw men. I've never seen him present a counter-argument that someone actually made. His description of secularists resembles no secularist I actually know.

      SP--why do you do this to yourself?

  3. Fundamentalists aren't the most thoughtful bunch in the world. What really hurts is that they're closed to different ideas. All that's of the devil. That's what Texas' government issue with critical thinking is about. Don't want to take chances with an informed citizenry.


  4. Nothing Erick Erickson says or does surprises me. He's from the same city where I live. He was on the city council until he decided not to run for re-election in 2010. Democrats, independents, and republicans were glad to get rid of him because he sows divisiveness wherever he goes. He enjoys throwing red meat out for the Neanderthals to consume. He writes at least one op-ed each week that appears in the local paper, and none of them call for uniting the country. They're all filled with lies and conspiracy theories and represent the views of the extremists in the GOP. Erickson is a deacon at one of our local churches, but based on the things he does/says, I don't think he knows much about the teachings of Christ if one looks and listens to the things he says/does. When I meet a Christian like EE, the first things I think of are who made him/her God, and who told him he could speak for God?

  5. These right-wing political/religious Christians say some bizarre-sounding things.

    I am a Christian. AND I vote for Democrats. AND I know and love (completely and without reservation) non-believers and people of other faiths, most of whom I would trust with my life. The stuff this Erickson person says doesn't sound ANYthing like the faith I practice. ("Effeminate" and "accommodationist" Christ? Interesting. Perhaps Erickson would be well-served by working through some things in private with a therapist.)

    For what it's worth, the Christians I am in fellowship with don't seem to be at cross purposes with non-believers or people of other faiths. At my church, we've gotten requests from non-believers to participate in some of our outreach projects, and we've been thrilled to have them join us. We don't proselytize and we respect them completely and sincerely and we're grateful for their fellowship.

    I don't know if this is particularly interesting to any of you -- I just wanted to say that the stuff Erickson says doesn't resemble anything I've experienced as a Christian. There are a lot of us who aren't out in public saying a lot of obnoxious things because we prefer to keep our mouths shut and let our deeds demonstrate our faith.