Category : Ethics / Moral Theology

(CEN) Zambian churches in call for peace and justice amid violence

The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), have said that despite the public pronouncements that Zambia is a peaceful country, ‘the reality on the ground is different due to many acts of injustice, a growing culture of corruption, incidences of violence and utterances out of deep-seated hatred’.

They have appealed to the region’s political leaders ‘to stop insulting each other or anyone who does not agree with their political opinion’ and to ‘start genuinely to respect fellow political players as legitimate opponents with their constitutional right to hold their political opinion and to propagate it among the general public’.

“It demands that all political party leaders declare and enforce zero tolerance for political violence and to bring culprits to book by handing them over to law enforcement institutions,” they said.

“It means that all political leaders must give the planned for ‘national dialogue’ a chance to succeed by committing themselves to dialogue without preconditions with a view to levelling the playing field.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence, Zambia

(WSJ) Peggy Noonan: America Needs More Gentlemen–The age of social media has worked against the ideas of decorum, dignity and self-control

A gentleman is good to women because he has his own dignity and sees theirs. He takes opportunities to show them respect. He is not pushy, manipulative, belittling. He stands with them not because they are weak but because they deserve friendship. Once at a gathering of women in media, I spoke of a columnist who years before had given me helpful critiques of my work and urged me on. “A gentleman is an encourager of women.”

It goes deeper than memorizing and repeating certain behaviors, such as standing when a woman or an older person enters the room. That is a physical expression of inner regard. Being a gentleman involves not only manners but morals. The 19th-century theologian John Henry Newman —an Anglican priest who became a Catholic cardinal—said a gentleman tries not to inflict pain. He tries to remove the obstacles “which hinder the free and unembarrassed action of those about him.” He is “tender toward the bashful, gentle toward the distant, and merciful toward the absurd. . . . He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage.”

David Gandy, a fashion model, wrote a few years ago in London’s Telegraph that his work had taught him “being a gentleman isn’t about what you do or what you wear, it’s about how you behave and who you are.” A gentleman “holds chivalry and politeness in great regard. He holds the door for people; he gives up his seat; he takes off his coat to a lady on a cold evening.” These are old-fashioned actions, but a gentleman still holds to them “even though the world has changed.”

Yes, a gentleman does.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Men

Michael Plato–The Immortality Machine: Transhumanism and the race to beat death

Of the many ideologies and isms to emerge in recent years, transhumanism, which promotes striving for immortality through technology, has to be one of the quirkiest. But its advocates are dead serious. Silicon Valley tech magnates Peter Thiel, Larry Ellison, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Bill Maris have already poured hundreds of millions of dollars into research dedicated to slowing or even stopping the aging process. And the Trans­humanist Party’s presidential candidate, Zoltan Istvan, who recently crisscrossed the nation in a coffin-shaped RV called the Immortality Bus, claims that death itself can be eradicated in “eight to twelve years, with enough funding.”

Beyond Silicon Valley, transhumanism is extending its reach into intellectual and spiritual realms. Though still largely rejected by the mainstream academy, transhumanism has found support in surprising places, for example at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute. Transhumanism’s movers and shakers, made up predominantly of tech entrepreneurs and independent “visionaries,” have held conferences, published widely, and funded research, much of it via a think tank called Humanity Plus.

The transhumanist movement seeks to improve human intelligence, physical strength, and the five senses by technological means. Transhumanists are often also interested in the idea of “technological singularity,” a hypothesized moment in the development of computing power when a true artificial intelligence emerges. This would, its adherents believe, spark an explosion of technological growth, leading to unimaginable, but positive, changes in human society. In certain versions of this scenario, humans and computers would merge, and humanity as a whole would be brought to a new stage of development that would transcend biology.

Above all, transhumanists seek to extend life, even to the point of eliminating death altogether.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology

(1st Things) Richard John Neuhaus: on behalf of the unborn, We shall not Weary, We shall not rest

The following address, described by Robert P. George as “the greatest pro-life speech ever given,” was delivered by Richard John Neuhaus at the close of the 2008 convention of the National Right to Life Committee. —[1st Things] Ed.

We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until every unborn child is protected in law and welcomed in life. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until all the elderly who have run life’s course are protected against despair and abandonment, protected by the rule of law and the bonds of love. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until every young woman is given the help she needs to recognize the problem of pregnancy as the gift of life. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, as we stand guard at the entrance gates and the exit gates of life, and at every step along the way of life, bearing witness in word and deed to the dignity of the human person—of every human person.

Against the encroaching shadows of the culture of death, against forces commanding immense power and wealth, against the perverse doctrine that a woman’s dignity depends upon her right to destroy her child, against what St. Paul calls the principalities and powers of the present time, this convention renews our resolve that we shall not weary, we shall not rest, until the culture of life is reflected in the rule of law and lived in the law of love.

It has been a long journey, and there are still miles and miles to go. Some say it started with the notorious Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 when, by what Justice Byron White called an act of raw judicial power, the Supreme Court wiped from the books of all fifty states every law protecting the unborn child. But it goes back long before that. Some say it started with the agitation for “liberalized abortion law” in the 1960s when the novel doctrine was proposed that a woman cannot be fulfilled unless she has the right to destroy her child. But it goes back long before that. It goes back to the movements for eugenics and racial and ideological cleansing of the last century.

Whether led by enlightened liberals, such as Margaret Sanger, or brutal totalitarians, whose names live in infamy, the doctrine and the practice was that some people stood in the way of progress and were therefore non-persons, living, as it was said, “lives unworthy of life.” But it goes back even before that. It goes back to the institution of slavery in which human beings were declared to be chattel property to be bought and sold and used and discarded at the whim of their masters. It goes way on back.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

(Christian Today) Bishop Peter Hancock, the CofE’s lead Safeguarding bishop, responds to comments on the George Bell case

Lord Carlile’s review looked at our processes (as set out in the terms of reference) and concluded they were deficient in a number of respects. We have apologised for this. The Church’s National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) accepted the main thrust of his recommendations but differed on the issue of confidentiality as the review stated that ‘where as in this case the settlement is without admission of liability, the settlement generally should be with a confidentiality provision’. We would look at each case on its merits but generally would seek to avoid confidentiality clauses.

In respect of the allegations against George Bell, had we imposed a confidentiality clause we would at some stage be facing the accusation that we had kept a survivor/complainant quiet to protect the reputation of one of our bishops. The review was about our processes; Lord Carlile states he has no doubt the Church acted in good faith.

Together with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Chichester, we have accepted the criticisms in Lord Carlile’s report that our processes were deficient in a number of respects. But while accepting the main thrust of almost all his recommendations we have respectfully differed on this one around confidentiality.

Bishop Bell remains a man who did great things in his life but we should remember, not only Bishop Bell, but also Carol who emerges from this report as a person of dignity and integrity, and her welfare must continue to be fully respected.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(ABC Nightline) Workshops help parents have ‘the talk’ with kids on what it means to be black in the US

Winston Harris remembers watching the video of Philando Castile after he was shot by Officer Jeronimo Yanez of Minnesota’s St. Anthony Police Department back in 2016.

“You know those seven shots … the video hit me so hard and so deep,” Harris, 19, told ABC News’ “Nightline.” “As each shot rang out I could feel it. Not like actually, but, like, I could feel it, like, each time, like, bang, bang, bang, like I could just feel it. Like in my chest like seven beats.”

In Castile’s face, the Philadelphia native said he saw his own.

“A video like that can have [an effect] on the person, you know, especially if he’s the same skin color,” Harris said.

Read it all (video highly recommended).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Uncategorized, Violence

(NPR) The U.K. Now Has A Minister For Loneliness

The U.K. has appointed a minister of loneliness to tackle what Prime Minister Theresa May calls a “sad reality of modern life” for many U.K. citizens.

May announced the position Wednesday, appointing current Minister for Sport and Civil Society Tracey Crouch.

“I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones — people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with,” said May.

According to government figures, more than 9 million people in the U.K. “always or often feel lonely” and “around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology

(US News) Clayton Rose–Colleges Make America Stronger–Selective universities aren’t too elite, they are the key to career preparation

Yet, there is growing skepticism about the value of this model here at home. The recent tax reform bill was a wake-up call that our strongest colleges and universities are under assault by some in government. The initial proposals would have made education unaffordable for many by taxing tuition waivers for graduate students and ending deductions for student loan interest. Thankfully, these provisions were ultimately stripped from the bill, but lawmakers let stand a new excise tax on the investment income of a select group of colleges and universities. None of these provisions were designed to raise much revenue. They were intended to make a statement.

While these attacks are motivated by misguided ideas, those of us in higher education need to do a much better job of explaining why these claims are not true and why what we do is valuable to our students and society. We cannot take for granted that any of this is obvious.

The data are clear: a liberal arts education is great career preparation, both for excellent lifetime earnings and for satisfaction with the work. George Anders, business author, former Wall Street Journal feature writer, and contributing editor at Forbes, and Randall Stross, a professor at San Jose State University’s School of Management who has written extensively about technology businesses and Silicon Valley for this publication, The New York Times, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal, among others, both have new books that underscore these points. This education develops the skills of critical thinking, rigorous analysis of data and facts, communicating with the written and spoken word, understanding of cultural differences and issues, and the ability to keep learning. The fact is that liberal arts graduates do extremely well in every imaginable field, and I know this from personal experience. Before entering higher education, I was a senior executive in the private sector; I saw that this education provides skills and knowledge that are in high demand, and I know how well it prepares students for long-term professional success.

On the issue of free speech, without question there have been incidents on campuses where speakers were impeded or prevented from delivering their views, or worse. I have consistently made the point that the ability to express and engage all manner of ideas, even offensive ones, is central to our mission, and I find these incidents deeply troubling. But they are the exception.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Taxes, Theology, Young Adults

Andrew Wilson–Inequality, Privilege, and the Upper Middle Class

Inequality is one of the most entrenched, persistent and socially divisive problems in the modern West. Yet most of us misdiagnose the problem. We imagine that the issue lies with those much better off than us—the 1%, the super-rich, or whatever we call them—rather than with people like us. (More than a third of the Occupy demonstrators in 2011 had annual earnings of over $100k.) Richard Reeves sees things differently. In his Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That is a Problem, and What To Do About It, he argues that the top 20%, rather than the top 1%, is the real problem, and he admits that this puts both him and the vast majority of his readers in the firing line. “We have seen the enemy, and he is us.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Books, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Theology

Dorothy Sayers: Why Work?

I have already, on a previous occasion, spoken at some length on the subject of Work and Vocation. What I urged then was a thoroughgoing revolution in our whole attitude to
work. I asked that it should be looked upon, not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should
find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God. That it should, in fact, be thought of as a creative activity undertaken for the love of the work itself; andthat man, made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing.

It may well seem to you – as it does to some of my acquaintances – that I have a sort of obsession about this business of the right attitude to work. But I do insist upon it, because
it seems to me that what becomes of civilization after this war is going to depend enormously on our being able to effect this revolution in our ideas about work. Unless we
do change our whole way of thought about work, I do not think we shall ever escape from the appalling squirrel cage of economic confusion in which we have been madly turning
for the last three centuries or so, the cage in which we landed ourselves by acquiescing in a social system based upon Envy and Avarice.

A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste, and such a society is a house built upon sand….

Read it all (hat tip: St. Mary of Bethany Parish, Nashville, Tennessee)

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology

Archbishop Peter Jensen–How important is Sex?

To say that we need to stop talking about sex and start talking about Jesus makes two big errors.

First, it undervalues the power of sexual transgression to damage us as human beings and to damage our relationship with God. Our sexual instincts are so powerful and so central to our lives that they are integral to our personal identity. When we misuse our body by abandoning God’s instructions, it helps corrupt our self-understanding. It is actually cruel.

Furthermore, when we turn away from the living God, we replace him by the worship of idols. Again, this worship is often expressed and accompanied by sexual licence. Indeed we are living at a time when sexual permissiveness is the norm and there is no fear of God.

Second, it means that we cannot adequately summons people to repentance. Without the call to repentance there is no gospel. The great sin from which we need to repent is pride – lives directed by ourselves. But this great sin exhibits itself in idolatry, and idolatry often expresses itself in sexual sin as well as the horrors of greed and injustice and lack of love.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

(NR) David French–The Dangerous Supreme Court Case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, nobody Is Talking About

The NIFLA case, however, is unquestionably about compelled speech. The state of California has enacted a law, the so-called FACT Act, that requires pro-life crisis-pregnancy centers to prominently place a notice informing clients that California offers low-cost and even free abortions to women who qualify and providing them a phone number that grants quick access to abortion clinics.

In other words, California is requiring pro-life professionals — people who’ve dedicated their lives to protecting the unborn by offering pregnant mothers alternatives to abortion — to advertise state-sponsored abortions. California is making this demand even though it has ample opportunity to advertise state services without forcing pro-life citizens to do so. The state can rent billboard space on the very streets where crisis-pregnancy centers are located. It can hand out leaflets on the sidewalk. It can advertise on television and the radio. It can advertise on the Internet or social media. But rather than using its own voice, it is co-opting the voices of its pro-life citizens, forcing them to join its pro-abortion crusade.

And the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the FACT Act is constitutional. To validate California’s oppressive act, its decision carved out a dangerous First Amendment exception for what it deemed “professional speech” — “speech that occurs between professionals and their clients in the context of their professional relationship” — and ruled that the state had much greater leeway in regulating, for example, doctor/patient communication.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(CT) Austin Channing–Stop Asking ‘What Would MLK Do?’

Whatever wisdom we think MLK would bring to this moment seems to often discount that he was assassinated on a balcony, taken from his wife, his children, his friends. Why do we think MLK would say anything other than an indicting statement of fact: “You killed me.”

It’s so much easier to think of King’s death as inevitable, as that of a martyr, a heroic end to a life of public service. We’d rather not consider the bullet that ripped through his face, entered his neck, and severed his spinal cord, causing a quick, bloody death on that concrete balcony. We like our pictures in black and white.

To feel what his wife felt; to feel what his children felt; to feel what his friends felt; to feel what his supporters felt is to invite pain over celebration, rage over rousing speeches, devastating loss over convenient platitudes.

Rather than think of King as a person, a husband, and a father, we like to think of him as the stone statue in DC—large, strong, unmovable. King’s legacy may be all those things, but he was human. He read lots of books, listened to lots of preachers, worked on the craft of writing and speaking. He was a human who laughed and cried, knew joy and pain.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(ABC Aus.) Stanley Hauerwas–The Only Road to Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nonviolence

Of all the silly claims sometimes made by atheists these days, surely one of the silliest is that Christianity was in no way determinative of the politics of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Just take Christopher Hitchens’s claim that, on account of King’s commitment to nonviolence, in “no real as opposed to nominal sense … was he a Christian.” Wherever King got his understanding of nonviolence from, argues Hitchens, it simply could not have been from Christianity because Christianity is inherently violent.

The best response that I can give to such claims is turn to that wonderfully candid account of the diverse influences that shaped King’s understanding of nonviolence in his Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, and then demonstrate how his Christianity gave these influences in peculiarly Christ-like form.

King reports as a college student he was moved when he read Thoreau’s Essay on Civil Disobedience. Thoreau convinced him that anyone who passively accepts evil, even oppressed people who cooperate with an evil system, are as implicated with evil as those who perpetrate it. Accordingly, if we are to be true to our conscience and true to God, a righteous man has no alternative but to refuse to cooperate with an evil system.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Atheism, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

(Washington Post) Why so many white churches resisted Martin Luther King Jr.’s call

To King and many other Christians, racial justice was core to the biblical message. Racial segregation and the other ills it created — like the wealth gap, unemployment and under-education — were an affront to the image of God in all people. Christians had an obligation to transform the systems and laws that allowed racial inequality to persist.

Many white evangelicals agreed with King’s affirmation of racial equality. They may have believed all people should be treated fairly. They objected to the notion that the government should play a role in bringing about equality and that Christians should concern themselves with material issues rather than simply focusing on conversion.

This difference in approach continues to the present day. In “Divided by Faith,” sociologists Michael Emerson and Christian Smith describe how many white evangelicals emphasize personal salvation and tend to view themselves as individuals rather than members of a race, which affects their view of racial issues overall.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture