Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Problem of Cheap Grace and the Duggar Defenders

Religion as a form of moral instruction has been a regular irritation of mine. I've written about the apologists who defended the Catholic Church in the face of the claims of widespread sexual abuse of children. In my mind, religion isn't worth a straw if, instead of relieving human misery, which we have enough of as limited and mortal beings with the ability to hurt ourselves and one another, it becomes an engine of human misery, driving people to be more inclined to wronging and harming others.

The defenders of Josh Duggar seem to me to be in the same vein. When confronted with the staggeringly wrong idea that if evolution is true, then somehow molesting one's sisters is ok, it's kind of hard to accept that people "guided" by religion have any idea what morality is at all. I am a product of evolution, and I would certainly not find that my being molested would be acceptable to me--and I would therefore not find it acceptable for others to be molested. The idea of reciprocity in this manner is called "the Golden Rule". Most major spiritual moral systems came up with something very like it. I find it hard to believe that a person supposedly educated in theology is unaware of this concept.  But I can easily find that someone who just has an economic axe to grind against evolution will bullshit on the subject. Because why worry about bearing false witness when mad creationist park scrilla is on the line? Eric Hovind is a little G in his world. He figures that the Big G in the sky will have his back.

So take the screed of Michael Seewald, the father-in-law of one of Josh Duggar's sisters, for what it is in invoking "grace". 

So, what is the ultimate answer? The answer is what Josh found and millions like him. He found forgiveness and cleansing from Jesus Christ. There are many of you that are reading these words right now having had thoughts and deeds no better than what Josh had and did. You are a sinner. You are a sinner by birth and choice. It is because of that corruption that is common to all that you have violated God’s holy commandments.

I have a younger brother and he's precious to me--I wouldn't have touched him against his will for the world. It wouldn't cross my mind to.  I might be a sinner in the eyes of Seewald's church because I am attracted to women and I think the Bible is just a just-so story, but let's talk about choices--I choose to believe that I don't have an imaginary friend who wipes my slate clean. I'm a person, which means I have preferences. But I choose whether I do the right thing on the basis of whether other people are harmed by what I do. And I don't think I can say I prayed on something and now it's all good. It isn't--because life.

When does one ever confront the consequences of one's actions with this brand of grace?  I killed this SOB, but I repented. I stole like millions of old ladies' pension checks--but it funded my ministry.  And we might even do something good with that money eventually. After I put in the food court, the stage for my praise band, and the heliport. I might have cheated on my spouse with a same-sex partner after being a virulent homophobe for years, but you know. It was the meth talking. I staged a reality show pretending my family was a good example for others, but we have serious problems I would rather not deal with.

It's cheap grace--cheap because making things up is free. The Duggar defenders use grace as an excuse for things but also seem to imply this is how it goes in their family, also. And some of what I read about the Duggars makes me really concerned about how things truly are in their family, for real.

The dynamics of homeschooling and the avoidance of allowing outside intervention seems like independence, but in a lot of ways, it looks like great ways for abusers to hide their abuse. The adherence to the teachings of Gothard and Pearl really indicate that child abuse is normal for families in the Quiverfull movement. The Pearl bullshit advocates beating infants.

There is no godless doctrine that equals that kind of full throated endorsement of child abuse. I look at the Duggar defenders, and wonder just how common child abuse--even sexual abuse--really is.

They can take their version of grace and shove it.


Formerly Amherst said...

Hi Vixen, I sympathize with your views about the Duggars. I can't tell you how shocked I was when I heard about the pedophile scandals in the Catholic Church. When I was young, I had a couple of friends who were Catholic priests even though I have never been a Catholic. They were tremendously honorable men, and so when the pedophile scandals came to light I think I was more shocked than most Catholics.

Religion covers a lot of territory. There's a lot to be praised, and a lot to be incriminated. You may recall that I once said I occasionally ask people to name the 10 largest religions in the world, and people are rarely able to come up with 5. Many religions have different points of view.

In the world of Religion, the debate between creationists and evolutionists is pretty small beer. In fact, it is a provincial debate between two competing groups of fundamentalists. This debate not only does not apply to the wider world of Religion, but it doesn't even really apply to the wider world of Christianity.

You know, when you move into Hinduism and Buddhism, evolution is actually a tenet of their faith and widely accepted throughout their cultures. Transmigration of souls even postulates the idea that consciousness moves through primitive, transitional forms until it evolves into human incarnation, and then reincarnation takes place until evolution is fulfilled and one no longer requires a physical form. Very Darwinian.

Even views that exempt transmigration of souls still regard reincarnation as an evolutionary progress to Nirvana or Satori or various states of Samadhi, at which time physical forms are no longer required for evolution to continue. Even here, evolution continues at times in the non-physical, celestial universe.

The Qaballah has a different view of evolution and reincarnation. For example, the mind of Einstein could incarnate in some human independent of other Einstein characteristics. (I am intentionally avoiding Qaballistic terms here.)

Early Christianity regarded reincarnation, but this was eliminated in some of the church councils very possibly as one of the safeguards against certain schools of Gnosticism.

Should one conclude that evolution is a fact, that would by no means exclude a spiritual teleology casting off transitional forms as consciousness evolved. If one concluded that there was no evolution, that would by no means eliminate the possibility of Intelligence operating in the universe. Neither proposition is a basis from which to assert that decisions about divine life are now concluded. Frankly, I grow weary of all these simplistic notions represented in the public sphere as if they meant something.

The historic chain of experience, cognition, and conclusions for thousands of years by theologians, philosophers, and intelligent participants and observers is simply not affected one way or another by a simplistic conclusion about evolution.

Vixen Strangely said...

In the world of Religion, the debate between creationists and evolutionists is pretty small beer. In fact, it is a provincial debate between two competing groups of fundamentalists. This debate not only does not apply to the wider world of Religion, but it doesn't even really apply to the wider world of Christianity.

I know, right? In terms of actual effect on people's lives, the "belief" in evolution seems to be really more of a political thing, and probably more so in the US than elsewhere. (I believe I've seen a chart where among "developed nations", while most of Europe was pro-evolution, the US was about equivalent with Turkey in terms of evolution:creation ratios. In part, I think it's one of those things where a lot of people have their political exercise at the local level, so generally, concerned (and weird) folks start with PTA and school board meetings. And if they're convinced they can't get prayer into the schools, they will by God do something about that evolution! I think it's indispensable to understanding life sciences and a necessary part of a well-rounded science curriculum, but have wondered if the religious folks could just submit a note for their kids for that part of the lesson the way they can for the sex ed part of Health class.

I've never exactly understood why the method of biological diversity occurring on our planet or the planet's age were assumed to have anything to do with the general argument that there was or was not a Higher Power. Once you've decided that the Son of God actually died in a painful tortured way to buy you out of Hell, does it really matter that there's no freaking way Noah had pandas, polar bears, and koalas all on his ark? The claims of the Gospels don't strike me as intersecting with Darwin in any meaningful or disqualifying way. Although it's tough luck if you want to believe creationism and go on to actually do science.

This is why I find things like Graham Hancock's and others' research into ancient cultures sort of interesting. I think we've only really scratched the surface in understanding ancient cultures, but they may very well have been more advanced than we give them credit for. It boasts for an even older view of earth civilization than young earthers claim.