Sunday, November 14, 2004

The Religious Left

Social Justice, hypocrisy and Charity You don't hear about them much, but there is such a thing as a religious left, as this critique proves:
... why it is that the current flourishing of religious faith has, for the first time ever, virtually no element of social justice? Why is its public phase so exclusively focused on issues of private and personal behavior?
A like minded writer responds:
In answering, we should distinguish between what may be true of the Christian revival you mention and what is true of the use that is made of it in our current politics. As far as the latter is concerned, it is noteworthy that the appeals to moral values almost never require any sacrifice on the part of those to whom these appeals are addressed. They are invited to feel good about their superiority to gays, righteous about their opposition to abortion, satisfied about their devotion to family and so on.
My response matches this blogger:
I want to address the bolded text, because it is utterly false. The exact opposite is the truth. Whether you look at the broadcasts of James Dobson, or the many family-oriented Christian books, or the Promise-Keepers movement, you'll find the same thing: Moral exhortations addressed to other Christians, preaching to them about the many ways that they likely fall short of being a good parent or spouse, and urging them to put their families ahead of career, friends, etc. Far from "never requir[ing] any sacrifice on the part of those to whom these appeals are addressed," the whole point of these appeals is to hector Christians into sacrificing their own desires, if need be, for the sake of their families.
Sacrificial love is at the very core of Chritianity. One of the ways I look to see if someone who claims to be a Christian is acting like a Christian, is to see if they use their religion merely to talk about "those people," without any mention of the struggles within to be a better person, to understand better, to explain better, to listen better, and to give more, always more. People who talk about 'social justice' are always concerned about social structures, as if they had any clue how they actually work. Social structures are long evolved things that are best left alone. And modern economics backs this up. Planned economies are always a disaster. Sweeping social change is always a disaster. But inward reflection pushes one to make small changes every day, and to evaluate everyday the way we treat one another. Just because there are no outward signs does not mean that the Grace to do better is not being sought. I counter that those crying about social justice are in fact guilty of Pride (we have the answer) and a lack of Charity towards others when they rush in to assume the worst about others' motives. Previous Christian 'awakenings' at least had the excuse of a primitive knowledge of economics. At the beginning of the 21 Century, I no longer think we can claim profound ignorance economic realities into which we are all intertwined. *** This brings me to a slightly different subject. It is very common to call Christians 'hypocrites' for pushing for higher standards in any field, and then failing to meet those standards. But failing to meet high standards is not hypocrisy unless the person calling for higher standards has no intention of meeting those standard themselves. The people charging hypocrisy seldom if ever have access to the thoughts and motives of those they are pointing the finger at. This too is much less than Charitable. Their argument becomes: only those people who have very low standards, or none at all, are free of hypocrisy. And I'm certain not many would agree with that. My point here is that the Red Ensign's Multi Cultural Cop might want to cool his jets re: Elizabeth Nickson being a hypocrite. Unless he's done a Vulcan mind meld on her and neglected to tell us about it.

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