May 31, 2007
I'm troubled by the absence of Christian voices in the ethics discussions so far. Atheists and agnostics are represented, but I know I have some Christian readers, and they are thus far silent. This project cannot succeed without discussion from all parties - the presence of a Christian perspective is vital. (Ideally, I would also like a Muslim perspective, and other religious perspectives, but these seem harder to come by...)
I am hoping that this silence is simply because the Christians are too busy to comment, or have nothing yet to say, and not that they are too troubled by what is implied by relative ethics to want to air their views. I am not proposing anything that should be a challenge to one's faith - relative ethics does not remove absolutes, it merely contextualises them (and observes that only God is in a position to know the answer to all things). It asks that we respect the God-given right of free will, in the loving manner implied by Jesus' teachings. If you have questions on how to relate anything said to your Christianity, I am happy to discuss it with you - the purpose of the exercise, after all, is communication.
I hope that I am just being paranoid; if you can assuage my concerns, I would be grateful for your comment.
Not sure if I qualify as one of your Christian readers. It is the moral/social framework around which I try (mostly unsuccessfully I fear) to base my life. I have considered comment on occasion but have not, as you suspected, had enough time to read and digest the material presented, much less follow up with cogent commentary of my own.
I also wonder how many others, such as myself, were at least temporarily stymied by your inclusion of hypocrisy (defined by you as a failure to adequately communicate one’s own ethical position) as a marker of unethical behavior. The problem with identifying oneself as Christian is that it comes with, literally, centuries of baggage and a seemingly endless array of interpretations. To simply identify oneself as Christian makes hypocrisy (as defined by you), therefore, a given, as the sheer number of caveats required to clarify what one means by being Christian are staggering. I’m certain that there must be other religions that have similar difficulties, but it seems from my perspective, which is admittedly somewhat narrow, that Christianity has more varieties than other religions. Add to that the fact that most of the varieties are intolerant of each other and that many of which simply do not recognize the validity of the others, and the problem of hypocrisy takes on new proportions.
Therefore, I would argue that being a modern Christian necessarily results in hypocrisy, and that requirement often throws ones credibility into serious question. This is not to say, as I believe you mention in one of your posts somewhere, that fear of accusations of hypocrisy should keep us from engaging in ethical debate. However, it does sometimes make it difficult to know where to begin.
Posted by: TT | May 31, 2007 at 02:38 PM
TT: thanks for the comment! I was afraid I had muddied the water with that particular post. Me and my crazy schemes... *sigh* I'm going to reissue it now with the addendum contained in the comments which reveals my secret intention - and how it blew up in my face completely! Hoist by my own petard, alas.
Posted by: Chris | May 31, 2007 at 03:11 PM
I would say that, as a Christian, I'm not used to being welcome in these sorts of discussions (Except, of course, with other Christians.) This is not the case here, of course, but I still have that reluctance to jump in -- once bitten, twice shy.
I have, however, been quite enjoying this campaign -- I shall certainly make more of an effort to join in, should I have anything useful to add. I have a level 11 Elven dual-classed philosopher/cleric -- is this acceptable or will I need to create a new character?
Posted by: Trevel | May 31, 2007 at 04:58 PM
While I would count myself among your Christian readers, there have been a few things preventing me from voicing anything in your recent ethical discussions. The first would be time, which I seem to be in short supply of lately.
The second is that I am a poor philosopher, and not at all comfortable in the arena of ethics. This is partly due to my age, and that I feel my ethics (and opinions thereof) are still forming, and tend feel unsteady and incomplete. It is not that I have nothing to say, it is more that I don't have the words or ideas to express it yet.
For instance, I feel uneasy about your definition and discussion of hypocrisy. I feel it is somehow incomplete. I said nothing because I am still unable to grasp the whole of what I think about it. (It has something to to with how you defined hypocrisy, how it should be used, and how it is used - both in and out of context - in modern society).
Nevertheless, I am enjoying your posts. If nothing else they are giving me pause to consider my own position, and even realize what that truly is. It has also given me the opportunity to to glimpse other viewpoints in the ethical debate. Thank you, and please continue.
Posted by: Duncan | May 31, 2007 at 10:39 PM
I'm a Christian, and very much used to having these sort of discussions - both with other Christians and with non-Christians - but I'm very sorry to say that I fall in the "too busy to comment" category.
In fact, I only marginally qualify as one of your "readers", since I usually only have time to glance over your posts in my Google Reader account and nod, reflectively, before scrolling on to something else.
Your posts, and the discussions they inspire, are really fascinating things - and I'm thrilled that such a thing as this blog even exists, as it really is one-of-a-kind.
So keep up the good work! I'm sorry that I can't be a more active participant in discussions here, but I'll go ahead and throw in few of my favourite ethics-related quotes, just for the heck of it:
"In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things, charity."
"Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions."
"Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be."
-Thomas a Kempis
Posted by: Alex | May 31, 2007 at 10:55 PM
Many thanks to you all for your comments - it is truly a weight off my mind to know that the reason for the lack of comments is the usual limits on time, and not some secret offense.
Of course, I neither expect nor presume that everyone will attempt to read everything I write here - there is too much, and much of it is too verbose. I aim at brevity, but... :)
A few quick responses...
TT and Duncan: my stance on hypocrisy is doubtless incomplete and contradictory. The view given in the original sketch-pad (Are You Ethical?) is surely a mistake - no-one can elucidate their moral beliefs to all-comers and remain sane! My view in the piece entitled Hypocrisy probably also needs further refinement.
Trevel: it is of course a politeness to keep one's religious views to oneself in mixed company. But since this game invites one to cast aside this usual limitation, I hope people have no such compulsion here. As for your character, I could use a few more philosopher-clerics for certain - although surely there are enough elves. :D
Duncan: if philosophy is useful for anything, it is in providing mental tools. If I am allowing you to explore yourself in this way, then I feel doubly honoured - that I can help in this way, and that you took the time to let me know. Many thanks!
And Alex: thanks for taking the time to comment! I do appreciate it. Your description of how my posts pass through your world echo how other people's blog posts pass through mine - I recognise here the essential nature of the blogging world, and given that, even the merest glance still qualifies you as a reader in my book. ;)
My thanks to you all!
Posted by: Chris | May 31, 2007 at 11:38 PM
I am here too - just haven't had anything in particular to add :)
Although I will say I disagree that to be a Christian is to take on hypocrisy because of the actions of previous generations of Christians - is my wife a hypocrite because she is anti-nazi and her grandfather fought with the Germans in WWI(I)?
Posted by: RodeoClown | June 01, 2007 at 09:11 PM
Thanks for letting me know you're still 'out there', RodeoClown!
The hypocrisy point given by TT relates to my original assertion (now looking increasingly shaky!) that to avoid hypocrisy one has to expound one's ethics. The point being, therefore, that saying one is 'Christian' doesn't give enough of a definition to one's ethics to avoid a claim of hypocrisy by my original criteria.
But this claim is weakening with each successive examination. Clearly no-one can be expected to bear the burden of ethical explanation for everyone they meet. The result does not render us all 'at risk' from hypocrisy so much as it does render the notion of hypocrisy suspect as a criticism.
Posted by: Chris | June 04, 2007 at 12:13 PM