Smart people saying smart things

David Brin, interview with Wired magazine

The notion of self-righteous indignation being a drug high seems to develop naturally out of recent scientific results that show that addiction is actually the most natural of human processes. You’ve heard the phrase “addicted to love.” Well, you can deliberately enter less salubrious mental states. You can deliberately go to Las Vegas, and the slot machines are now tuned to track the pattern of your behavior at the slot machine and change their rewards pattern so you start getting more rewards when it calculates that you’re about to stand up and give up and leave. So there’s gambling, thrill addiction. Well, it turns out that there’s substantial evidence that self-righteous indignation is one of these drug highs, and any honest person knows this. We’ve all been in indignant snits, self-righteous furies. You go into the bathroom during one of these snits, and you look in the mirror and you have to admit, this feels great! “I am so much smarter and better than my enemies! And they are so wrong, and I am so right!”

And if we were to recognize that self-righteous indignation is a bona fide drug high, and that yes, just like alcohol, some of us can engage in it on occasion — as a matter of fact, when I engage in it, I get into a real bender — but then say, “Enough.” If we were to acknowledge this as a drug addiction, then it might weaken all the horrible addicts out there who have taken over politics in America, and allow especially conservatism to return to the genteel, calm, intellectual ways of Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley.

Paula Kirby: “How would Jesus vote?

Let us start with the question of wealth. Far from emphasizing the importance of wealth-creation, Jesus repeatedly told his followers to forsake it; that it would get in the way of their relationship with God. His advice to a wealthy would-be disciple? Sell all you have and give it to the poor. And give it to the poor! No sign here that he thought of the poor as being to blame for their own predicament, people to be frowned on, people who did not deserve to have their well-being taken into account. Suppose Jesus really were alive today. Would he despise the poor? Ignore their needs? Begrudge their miserable welfare hand-outs? Cheer at the idea of letting the uninsured die of disease?

When did the Jesus of the Gospels ever proclaim that the poor and sick and unfortunate do not deserve your compassion? That you are not your brother’s keeper? That paying tax is an abomination?

The Gospels show us a man who shunned the respectable, reaching out instead to the poor and weak, seeking out society’s rejects and publicly aligning himself with them. Would the Jesus who healed abundantly have been outraged at the idea of “Obamacare”? At the suggestion that he should put his hand in his pocket to help ensure the poorest in the wealthiest nation on Earth did not have to live in fear of illness?

James Fallows: “The Certainty of Even More Shootings

One person who (unsuccessfully) threatened the lives of his fellow airline passengers ten-and-a-half years ago has changed air travel for every single passenger on every U.S. flight in all the time since then. We responded (and over-responded) to that episode with a “this won’t happen again” determination, like other countries’ response to mass shootings. It is hard to know what kind of mass killing with guns would evoke a similar determination in America. The murder of six people including a federal judge and near-killing of a Congresswoman last year obviously didn’t do it. Nor, in all probability, will these latest two multi-death shootings. In their official statements of condolence yesterday, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney replicated their achievement after the Aurora murders: Neither used the word “gun.”

This will happen again.

 

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  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    It always amuses me when people talk about the highs one gets from emotional states as being like drug highs. To me, it makes more sense the other way around. The reason certain drugs are addictive is that they mimic the highs we get from certain emotional states. Think about it. It makes sense to get high from falling in love or from being prepared for self-defense, because reproduction and self-defense are advantageous in getting and keeping copies of your genes into the gene pool. But what would make us predisposed to reacting to a plant substance in a way that produces an addiction? The only thing I can think of is that the drug takes advantage of neural pathways that are already there for other reasons. The drug high is like the love high or the getting in a snit high, only concentrated (and easier to control).

    But I’m not a neurologist so maybe I’m wrong about that.

  • hidden_urchin

    If I recall my behavioral neuroscience courses correctly, you are right. 

  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    It makes sense to get high from falling in love or from being prepared for self-defense, because reproduction and self-defense are advantageous in getting and keeping copies of your genes into the gene pool. But what would make us predisposed to reacting to a plant substance in a way that produces an addiction?

    It would make sense if large doses of the plant were also protective of life or health, like if the plant had antibiotic properties.  I don’t know if any of the substances people like to smoke have particularly beneficial effects, but I do know that some of the tastiest herbs & spices are good at preserving food or promoting digestion.

  • Lori

     http://www.alternet.org/hot-news-views/scientific-review-there-now-clear-evidence-cannabinoids-are-useful-treatment-various

  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    Reply to Lori’s link on p.1:  Excellent!  I knew some of that stuff about marijuana before, but I tend to forget it all whenever I think about how much I hate the smell of pot smoke and the secondhand munchies I get from it.  Still, if any popular smoked plant matter deserves to be legal, pot’s a better choice than the products of the modern tobacco industry.  (The original tobacco plant wasn’t all that bad, used in moderation.  It’s the cigarettes made from specially-bred high-nicotine tobacco plants plus three thousand carcinogenic and addictive additives that’ll kill you.)

  • PJ Evans

    It’s the cigarettes made from specially-bred high-nicotine tobacco
    plants plus three thousand carcinogenic and addictive additives that’ll
    kill you.

    Plus the various fungi and bacteria that make themselves to home in the leaves while they’re being cured in a warm, dark, damp structure. (There’s a strong suspicion that some of those may be part of the various conditions that smokers are more likely to get.)

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic
  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    I guess my question is; would Jesus suck it up & vote Democrat, or would he be a freewheeling idealist who believed a better world was possible, & vote third party?

  • lokimotive

    I don’t really think he’d vote at all.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    I don’t know, that whole “render unto Caesar” thing makes me think that he’s not above personal political involvement. He might vote!

    I don’t know, it is difficult to reconcile a mythological figure with actual real world issues sometimes.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I don’t know, it is difficult to reconcile a mythological figure with actual real world issues sometimes.

    Sigh. Let’s just imagine we’ve had this argument already. Perhaps because we have.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Alright? I guess you imagine this is somehow antagonistic? I’m just saying that using a biblical and philosophical source to speculate on historical or political issues is going to be difficult. Jesus talks a lot about money, but not a lot about economics. Jesus talks a lot about hypocrites & about love, but not about…how to best negotiate a democratic election. I don’t think that acknowledging the bible as a non-historical document is that controversial around these parts.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I guess my question is; would Jesus suck it up & vote Democrat, or would he be a freewheeling idealist who believed a better world was possible, & vote third party?

    Or would Jesus be struck from the rolls because the legitimacy of his citizenship was uncertain?

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Well then we have to start talking about the Bethlehem story & the lack of historical support; would Jesus have to flee some baby massacre? Oh, wait, abortion is the baby holocaust! I forgot that piece of matching propaganda. Look, we’ve already written a better Rapture story kernel than Left Behind…

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Or would Jesus be struck from the rolls because the legitimacy of his citizenship was uncertain?

    Of course, all of this presumes that Jesus would be wandering around the U.S. at all, rather than Egypt or France or New Zealand or something.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Of course, all of this presumes that Jesus would be wandering around the U.S. at all, rather than Egypt or France or New Zealand or something.

    Well, yeah, I was going to reply to the “Republican or Democrat” comment with a question about why we assume he’s in a country with those options, but thought the internet might be sick of my bitching about US-centricism for now :)

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     (smiles) Glad I could help out.

  • SkyknightXi

    @Coleslaw:disqus : In both cases, the mind becomes entranced with the feeling that was produced, and may well want the feeling back. So, one feels impelled to reproduce the conditions that evoked the high, whether by ingesting a certain plant or fungus, or by repeating an old situation as closely as possible. It’s not the plant per se that one becomes addicted to, so much as the high itself.

    Yet…I wonder how one would go about becoming completely immune to all highs. I know I’ve heard somewhere the idea that happiness itself is a high, and sadness merely its lack. How, then, does one achieve perfect dispassion, neither distracting joy nor devouring sorrow nor irrational wrath nor anything else, just perception and action without distortion? Better truth than happiness, after all…

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Some forms of depression just leave one completely emotionally flat.  No ups.  No downs.  No emotions.  Just a steady state of average.

    I do not recommend this to anyone.

  • PJ Evans

     I don’t recommend any form of depression. From experience.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Yeah, that’s basically my position as well.

  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    I’ve heard somewhere the idea that happiness itself is a high, and sadness merely its lack. How, then, does one achieve perfect dispassion, neither distracting joy nor devouring sorrow nor irrational wrath nor anything else, just perception and action without distortion?

    Well, certain types of brain damage will do the trick.  And as chris the cynic mentioned, some kinds of depression can get you to a state of emotional flatness.  But as it turns out, a life without distracting joy or devouring sorrow or all the rest does not lead to truth or perfect logic or any of those other good things you’d think it might lead to.  When studies are done with people who have reached a dispassionate state (usually through brain damage), time and again the researchers find that people without emotional highs don’t do much of anything or make decisions very well at all.  Humans make very bad Vulcans.  We need emotion as motivation to make good decisions:  without emotion, we don’t even have a sense of self-preservation left.

    The truth is, emotion precedes truth.  The pursuit of happiness may not be the same as the pursuit of truth, but the desire for happiness (or at least the desire to avoid pain) seems to be a prerequisite for any kind of healthy pursuit at all.

  • Ouri Maler

    Well, the way I see it…Emotion isn’t some kind of anti-truth, anti-rationalism force. Emotion is simply what drives us.
    But since strong emotions affect our thought process, often, when we experience them (especially new ones), we become less rational, simply because we aren’t used to thinking under these conditions.

  • Guest

    As someone who has been in a state of emotionally flat depression and recovered from it, I can tell you that emotional flatness doesn’t magically lead to superior reasoning and rationality. I was indifferent and mentally numb most of the time. Coming out of it was uncomfortable because there were all these intense emotions all the time and I was always worried that I would overreact because I had forgotten how to respond to emotions, but I didn’t suddenly become a irrational, illogical person, and I certainly don’t miss the emotional flatness.

    Emotions are around for a reason. If one is motivated by understanding reality and the truth, then a new discovery should make one feel joy and excitement, not indifferent. If one encounters another spreading deliberate lies, one should feel angry, not nothing. If people don’t understand critical thinking and logic, don’t blame emotions. It’s not the fault of emotions they didn’t learn how to do it. If people don’t care about the truth and would rather live in their made-up reality, don’t blame emotions. Blame them.

    It’s like, some man gets angry at another man and beats him with his fists. You don’t wish everyone’s hands would suddenly fall off, because it wasn’t the hands that decided to beat up the other man and when used in healthy ways hands are used for a lot of good and morally neutral things as well. The same goes for emotions.

    (Sorry, pet peeve.)

  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    It’s like, some man gets angry at another man and beats him with his fists. You don’t wish everyone’s hands would suddenly fall off, because it wasn’t the hands that decided to beat up the other man and when used in healthy ways hands are used for a lot of good and morally neutral things as well. The same goes for emotions.

    (Sorry, pet peeve.)

    No need for apologies.  I’m in complete agreement with you.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Dopamine inhibitors? I think it would more likely turn you into a bland, joyless grouch rather than the Buddha, though.

  • Jessica_R

    And in other news the Veep pick is Paul Ryan. I’m impressed they’re making “Fuck The Poor” that loud of an official campaign slogan. 

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    The optimistic way to look at it is that the choice will (hopefully, we’re going for optimism here) be completely clear and Amercians will reject the Romney-Ryan ticket as a result.

    The pessimistic way of looking at things is that they could win.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah. I knew the Repubs were never seriously going to go ‘all in’ with massive cuts to military spending as the price to pay for not working out a tax deal, but for them to so blatantly prove that all they give a shit about is guns, bombs, and rich people is pretty stunning in its magnitude.

    Ryan budget indeed.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke
  • Tybult

    Brin’s blog was one of the first blogs I got into after college. 

    You want to see righteous indignation? Go ask him about his Holocene project. Or, if he’s simmered down about it, read some of his previous rants about it in the archives.

    Other highlights I remember were Brin predicting the billionaires would intervene to save society (this was before October 2008),  and Brin predicting the Civil Service would rise up in protest of Bush’s actions.

    Eventually I realized there were better uses of my time.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    He admits readily to indulging in righteous indignation. I like Brin’s blog, and find the comments as interesting as the main posts. Oddly enough, I’ve followed his blog for years but only recently read any of his books.

  • Nequam

    Aldous Huxley beat Brin to this conclusion 50 years ago, in The Devils of Loudun:

    There are many people for whom hate and rage pay a larger dividend of immediate satisfaction than love. Congenitally aggressive, they soon become adrenalin addicts, deliberately indulging their ugliest passions for the sake of the ‘kick’ they derive from their psychically stimulated endocrines. Knowing that one self-assertion always ends by evoking other and hostile self-assertions, they sedulously cultivate their truculence. And, sure enough, very soon they find themselves in the thick of a fight. But a fight is what they most enjoy; for it is while they are fighting that their blood chemistry makes them feel most intensely themselves. ‘Feeling good,’ they naturally assume that they are good. Adrenalin addiction is rationalized as Righteous Indignation and finally, like the prophet Jonah, they are convinced, unshakably, that they do well to be angry.

    That book needs wider circulation. (So does the movie, but not really for the same reasons.)

  • Dsfa

    Goddamnit, tagfail.

  • Shane

    I find it humorous that the solution to Christianity being perceived as the ecclesial wing of the Republican party is to try and make it the ecclesial wing of the Democratic party.  The arrogance that the teaching, death, and resurrection of Christ are simply means to uphold and sustain liberal modernity is breathtaking (I include modern right-wing politics in the definition of “liberal modernity”, btw).  I would fully expect that suggestion from most atheists (As the author of that piece was), seeing that they don’t believe in the theological and metaphysical premises inherent in Christianity, and so must use the remains to whatever political end they desire.  But it simply amazes me how many believers believe that is the goal of Christianity too.  It baffles me, it simply baffles me.

  • Daughter

    I think you’re overthinking this. I don’t think most liberals want to make Christianity the ecclesial wing of the Democratic party. Instead, they sometimes react to the religious right by making the argument that a lot of what Jesus taught and did has more in common with liberal beliefs than with conservative ones. The purpose is two-fold: 1) to point out right-wing hypocrisy in claiming to be so Christian when often their behavior or beliefs are so different from Jesus’; and 2) to maybe get some right-wingers to rethink some of those beliefs.

    In other words, most liberals (with maybe a few exceptions), aren’t really trying to make Jesus a part of their team, as they are trying to make the point that he’s not really on the conservative team.

  • Shane

    I don’t think you can easily translate Christ into public policy.  I’m not a conservative economically by any means, but there does seem to me a general bias that caring for the poor translates into an expansion of the welfare state (Something which I support); since Jesus asked us to care for the poor, this means the expansion of government programs to accomplish that.  Ergo, conservative Christians who are opposed to these programs do not care for the poor. Simplistic paraphrase, of course, but what I am trying to do is remove Jesus from being a cheerleader.  To be upfront, I’m Catholic; I certainly don’t oppose religiously-formed arguments being heard in the public square.  My Church has a rich tradition of social teaching.  But I am so tired of the religious believers running up to mainstream culture and say “Guys, I have great news: If you read the Gospels correctly, Jesus supports the platform of the Republican/Democratic Parties”.  The religious right had did it for a number of years and now the religious left is finding their voice in doing it too.  The religious right pretty much destroyed Christian social witness in America, while it lined the pockets of the CEO’s of the movement.  It became a very successful, and very immoral business model.  Think a religious Ayn Rand, if that’s possible.  Thank God it’s dying.  Be that as it may,  I do find the religious left version sadder, because there is an almost desperate sense of them trying to shave off as much of the actual religious elements of Christianity and turn it into a socio-political advocacy organization to make it palpable to religions’ “cultured despisers”.  As I peruse the liberal Christianity blogosphere, you would swear that Christianity is a sinking ship, and that the only way to save it is to get rid of damn near every traditional and historic teaching and doctrine, and simply surrender the normative mode of ethics to what the standards of the wider culture are.   I wish Christians would, for at least one election cycle, take a break and say “Is legitimating this social order really the message of Christianity?” 

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    “Is legitimating this social order really the message of Christianity?”

    Word.
    So, out of curiosity: if you were to identify the two or three most important ways in which this social order would have to change in order to become more the sort of thing that the message of Christianity would properly legitimize, what would they be?

  • Shane

     Hm, that “This” really got me.  Let me widen it a bit: I don’t think Christianity should legitimize any social order; support, of course.  But when I say legitimize, I mean the case of “Hm, I am Christian, therefor I support this society”.  Overall point is that allegiance to temporal political orders is always qualified, because the only allegiance that is unqualified for a Christian is to God.  And yet, in so much political discussion, I see it the other way around. 

    So I can’t really answer your question as is.  I can give suggestions on what society could do to bring it up to a more moral standard, but not legitimize it.  That’s not Christianities function.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    when I say legitimize, I mean the case of “Hm, I am Christian, therefore I support this society”

    Ah. OK, then… thanks for clarifying.

  • Lori

     

    Think a religious Ayn Rand, if that’s possible.  Thank God it’s dying.  

    I fear this thanks may be premature since religious Ayn Rand was just chosen to be the vice presidential candidate for the GOP. Paul Ryan is a practicing Catholic who has said that the books that most influenced him are the Bible and Atlas Shrugged. I have no clue how one combines those things with any sort of logical consistency. The Ryan Plan certainly shows a lot more of Rand’s influence than Catholic social teaching.

  • Shane

     I do not like Paul Ryan.  I honestly don’t see how one could raise defense spending while cutting to the bone programs for the poor.  If one is a libertarian, one must be consistent.  Between the Bible and Atlas Shrugged, one has to give to the other, and I am afraid that he made the wrong choice when it came to priorities of policy.   That being said, I’m not prepared to call him disobedient to Catholic teaching.  He hasn’t reached that point yet. I’m very cautious to call out Catholics who advocate specific policy issues (Outside, of course, of those that advocate for intrinsic moral evils and thus cannot be compromised on).   Again, Ryan hasn’t reached that point yet, but he might be getting close.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’m very cautious to call out Catholics who advocate specific policy issues (Outside, of course, of those that advocate for intrinsic moral evils and thus cannot be compromised on).

    As a fellow Catholic, may I suggest that endorsing the idea that the rich and powerful have the right to close their ears to the cries of the poor and powerless is an intrinsic moral evil that cannot be compromised on?

    I mean, look at the prophets tearing their hair out with frustration and rage at the social order of ancient Israel at various points. It’s flat-out labelled as sinful, and they weren’t talking about abortion and homosexuality. The harshest condemnation was reserved for the kings and priests who allowed injustice to flourish.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Oh, also, if moral evils in the form of gross social injustice is difficult because it’s not black and white mumble mumble whatever, we still have a nice, clear-cut, easily defined moral evil in the “sins against life” category that almost always falls off the table:

    Capital punishment. Any politician who supports, let alone implements, capital punishment is in direct contravention of Catholic moral teaching on life issues.

    Which US politicians who have been responsible for executing someone have been denied communion by a bishop? Have been publicly warned about the danger to their immortal soul?

    In fact, in the life issues sphere a politician responsible for an execution would be equivalent to someone who personally secured or performed an abortion. But politicians have been denied communion, publicly admonished and threatened with exclusion from the church for even supporting legal abortion in principle. So has the equivalent happened to people who hold any position on the death penalty other than abolition?

  • Shane

     There can be legitimate disagreement on the moral status of capital punishment within the Catholic Church.  The death penalty is permitted in cases of grave necessity in safeguarding the social order; it is not, everywhere and always wrong.  In both the Catechism and the words of current popes, the option is there.  Avery Cardinal Dulles wrote a essay about this, I’ll see if I can dig it up.  As for the Catechism:


    2265
    Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who
    is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good
    requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For
    this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right
    to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to
    their responsibility.

    2266
    The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to
    people’s rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to
    the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public
    authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to
    the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing
    the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted
    by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then,
    in addition to defending public order and protecting people’s safety,
    has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the
    correction of the guilty party.67

    2267
    Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been
    fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not
    exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way
    of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

    If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect
    people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such
    means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the
    common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

    Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state
    has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed
    an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away
    from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the
    execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if
    not practically nonexistent.”68”

    Pope Benedict, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, said this: 
    “if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application
    of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for
    that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy
    Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not
    war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on
    criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an
    aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a
    legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war
    and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion
    and euthanasia.”

    Please also be aware that while Bishops documents from the country council can be instructive, they do not carry the weight of official teaching from the Magisterium. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

    If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

    Are you aware of the number of people on death row, or, worse, after execution, who have been found, thanks to later evidence, to be innocent?

    How can we know whether nonlethal means are sufficient in a particular case if we skip straight to putting the offender on death row?

    Look up how race plays a role in who gets death row.

    If the Catholic Church wants to look like it’s actually got the moral high ground here, it will advocate complete abolition of the death penalty. Or at the very least, it will advocate being much more confident of a party’s guilt before execution, or, better, before death row, and much more confident that said party will, if placed in maximum security for life, persist in posing a threat to the populace, as well as being much more evenhanded about who gets death row.

    If the Catholic Church wants to look like it’s got the moral high ground here, it will also start supporting methods that actually prevent abortion, namely things that prevent unwanted pregnancy, things that prevent pregnancy (wanted or unwanted) from going wrong in a manner that threatens the woman’s or fetus’s life or health, and things that reduce the various pressures on women to have abortions whether they want a baby or not (to name only one example, the Catholic Church needs to speak loudly and vehemently in favor of that bill our host talked about very recently, the one ensuring that a pregnant woman whose pregnancy prevents her from doing some of her job but not from doing the rest won’t be at risk of losing her job due to not being able to do all of it; a woman faced with a choice between her pregnancy and her job is much more likely to have an abortion than a woman not faced with such a choice). And the Catholic Church will excommunicate whatshisface who got that nine-year-old pregnant, and apologize to (or, better, welcome back with open arms) said nine-year-old and everybody involved in getting her the abortion that prevented her pregnancy from killing her. Also the Catholic Church will stop its nonsense about not letting gay couples adopt, because every pregnancy that thanks to the Catholic Church ends in birth rather than abortion will result in a child that needs parents, and if the biological parents don’t want the kid then it’s adoption or the State, and even if we accept as gospel the assertion that a kid with same-sex parents has a worse life than a kid with mixed-sex parents (which we don’t: gay parents don’t do worse than straight parents and lesbian parents actually do better, and every study so far that says otherwise has been flawed), a kid whose only parents are the State has a much worse life than a kid with actual parental figures, and the older the kid gets and the more brown the kid is, the fewer mixed-sex parents there are, and for any subset of ‘parentless kids’ that isn’t ‘cute white babies’, there aren’t enough mixed-sex parents to go around.

    And if the Catholic Church wants to look like it’s got the moral high ground here, it will do something to alleviate the suffering of every single person who finds life unbearably painful but who, thanks to the Catholic Church, is unable or unwilling to end that suffering.

    Also something about the child-raping priests, but that should go without saying.

  • Shane

     You’re assuming I support the death penalty; I don’t.  It has a terrible racial imbalance, along with an above acceptance chance of executing the innocent. All I was pointing out was that there can be legitimate disagreement on the issue within the Church.  Also, the 9 year old wasn’t excommunicated; her parents were.  To be perfectly honest, that is probably one of the hardest moral decisions I have ever come across, and therefor will withhold my speculation on it.

    The Church won’t view the letting of gay couples adopting children as acceptable; they view homosexual relationships as intrinsically disordered, and therefor improper for the rearing of children. 

    To your notes on euthanasia: plainly put, the Church does not view killing those who suffer as being merciful. 

    But on the wider theme of your post, I most certainly agree; we should work toward a better society that will be properly formed in moral truth, where the single mother does not have to face the difficult prospect of aborting her child, or parents would welcome adopting unwanted children.  We should work towards a society that people would be cared for, nurtured, and loved until they are taken from this world.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m not assuming anything about what you believe. I’m saying that the death penalty is not actually something on which there can be legitimate disagreement unless we put a hell of a lot of effort into eliminating racial disparities and false convictions and ensuring it doesn’t get used on anyone who hasn’t proven that a life sentence can’t hold them. I’m not sure it’s possible to use the death penalty fairly, so I support abolition, and anyone who opposes abolition had damn well better be working to make sure use of the death penalty is fair. Which the Catholic Church is not.

    The Church has choices here, Shane. It can encourage the use of contraception in all cases of het sex that isn’t meant to conceive, or it can accept that it considers abortion less wrong than contraception. It can encourage the adoption of children by same-sex couples, or it can accept that it considers loving parents more hurtful to children than no parents at all. And it can work to reduce or eliminate the pain felt by terminally and/or mentally ill people, or it can accept that it considers suicide not that bad.

  • Shane

     Hence why the Church is orientated towards opposing the death penalty now, even if it allows disagreement on it.

    Uh…why would the Church allow contraception when it goes very much against its teachings on human sexuality?  People can avoid having sex.  Also, the Church could work for the moral formation of couples and marriages who would delight in adopting unwanted children.  The Church could work for the moral formation of a society that would stay, pray, and love those who are terminally ill.

    In short, I reject the choices, because they are built on the premise that the way things are, are the way things have to be.  If those are the conclusions, then I reject the premise.  Change the premise.  The Church thinks, reflects, and makes decisions based on its own premises, not on the wider culture’s.  So my answer to those choices is “No”. 

    This again, goes back to what I was saying about the Church legitimizing the social order.  By confining it’s options to the above choices, it would be admitting that the way the world is structured allows for no other possibilities, that liberal modernity has exhausted the range of human social orders.  No.  The choice isn’t to contracept or abort.  The choice isn’t to kill to relieve suffering.  The choice isn’t to approve of human relationships that fall outside of Church teaching.  The only true choice is whether to be faithful to the Gospel, to be obedient to the Holy Spirit as He guides his Church. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Because telling people not to have sex works so well, and telling people not to be raped works even better. Because compelling gay people who want kids to marry people they aren’t attracted to in order to be allowed to adopt kids works fabulously. And because love and prayer are so effective at curing physical and mental pain.

    The Church has to live in the real world the same as the rest of us.

  • Shane

     Telling people?  Nope, doesn’t work well.  Walking and working with them on their temptations in loving communion?  Works a whole lot better.  To be perfectly frank, when I hear how the Church “needs to live in the real world”, it somewhat amuses me, because it often translates to “Adopt the system of ethics widespread in late modernity”.  The Church doesn’t view the solution to widespread sin being not calling it sin; the solution is forgiveness and guidance. 

    Also, I’m really confused the “tell people not to be raped” thing comes from.

  • Lunch Meat

    Want to know the fastest way to convince me the Church a) doesn’t love me, b) has no idea what the issues I face are and doesn’t care, and c) isn’t the least interested in getting me to convert? Tell me that I should just “avoid” having sex with my husband instead of using contraception (bonus points if you add that I also need to submit to him more often).

    Sexual desire isn’t always a sinful “temptation.” It’s a gift. From God. God created it for us to enjoy, for us to deepen our relationship and become one flesh. I am not interested in having some judgmental people “walk alongside” me, “forgive” me, and “guide” me as to how not to have sex with my husband as often. I am especially not interested in this when the economy means that if we don’t have sex when we can’t afford kids, we may never have it again. That’s just dumb, when the objective is to strengthen the relationship. More than that, it’s repressive and unhealthy.

    You say you want a more communal society, but the Church is not advocating for this, and you are not willing to offer any acceptance of the difficult choices we have to make when there is not a more communal society.

    And the “tell people not to be raped” is because you’re saying that the alternative to contraception is not to have sex. But women who get raped also have the right not to be pregnant because of something they have no choice over, and so they deserve to be offered the morning-after pill if they want it.

  • Shane

     I never said sexual desire is always a sinful temptation; it can be a wonderful thing in the right context.  The key though, is that it is ordered to the right ends.

    I find it peculiar that you seem to predicate the acceptance of the Catholic Church (Which proclaims itself as being the Church instituted by Christ) on whether or not it affirms the views you already hold about sexuality.  That, to me, seems a bit theologically arrogant.

    The Church is not advocating for a more communal society?  Uh, what do you think Catholic social teaching says on such matters?  And no, the Church is prepared to accept the “difficult choices” that people do make.  Understand them, certainly.  Give them theological justification and magisterial weight?  No.  Again, there seems to be the tone that the Church is here to legitimize the present ethical considerations of the wider culture and make one feel comfortable about their life.  That’s not true. 

    Having known, conversed, cried with, spent sleepless nights with victims of rape, the lecture I get here is not appreciated.  It is an extremely sore subject with me, but suffice to say that even in the unimaginable pain of that, the taking of the unborn life is not justified. 

  • Lunch Meat

    I know what Catholic social teaching says. But in public, they are not advocating for or focusing on that. Instead, the things they are known for recently are trying to restrict their employees’ use of birth control, shunning gay people, and scolding their nuns for not doing enough of those things.

    Who are you to say what the right ends of sex are? Why can’t sex just be an expression of love? How does contraception interfere with that? Incidentally, contraception is in no way the taking of an unborn life.

    The Catholic church may be the right church. I’m not saying whether they are or are not the church instituted by Christ. But I think it’s rude and dismissive of my relationship with my husband and our sexual needs to tell us just to “avoid” having sex for no reason that I can see, and judgmental that I need to be forgiven for enjoying our love without getting pregnant. You don’t seem to care what our life is like. Why should I believe you want me to be converted?

  • Shane

    “Who are you to say what the right ends of sex are? Why can’t sex just be an expression of love?”

    You do realize that the “Why can’t sex just be an expression of love” statement directly contradicts your previous statement.  You are just giving a very general notion of the right ends of sex.

    Also, let’s not go to the nun thing.  The main problem that Vatican’s had was the rapidly dying out of the orders due to aging, doctrinal problems that plague the sisters, open dissent from the Church.  That’s my piece, let’s not dwell on it.

    Hm.  You say you know Church teaching, yet you asked me about contraception and became angry when I restated…Church teaching.  I’m curious, how did you expect that to end up? 

    Also, you called me rude and dismissive, and then in the next sentence called me judgmental.   If so, then are we really all that different?  All you are doing is judging under a different rubric.

  • Lunch Meat

    You do realize that the “Why can’t sex just be an expression of love” statement directly contradicts your previous statement.  You are just giving a very general notion of the right ends of sex.

    No. I am saying what I believe an end of sex is. You are the one saying everyone else should be forced to follow your beliefs.

    And I did not “ask” you about your beliefs of contraception. I challenged them. Because I think they’re wrong.

    Not even going to get into your false equivalency that I am as judgmental as you and we’re all the same or whatever.

  • Isabel C.

    I was going to say.

    There are many reasons why I’m uninterested in becoming Catholic. “Sex is bad when it’s not for procreation” is right up there.

    Blather all you want about God’s plan for my plumbing and the sacredness of life and “disordered sexuality”, but when you do that and *then* clutch your pearls about how fewer and fewer people are observant Catholics? I have zero sympathy. I have, in fact, a Nelson-Muntz esque “HA ha” for you.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m not sure what ‘walking and working with [people] on their [sexual] temptations in loving communion’ is supposed to mean if ‘telling people [not to have sex]’ isn’t it. Clarify, please?

    I’d also like an explanation of why we’re supposed to condemn consensual sex between adults unless the participants are a heterosexually married couple and the sex act is penis in vagina with no contraception. In particular, I want to know who is hurt by that sex we’re supposed to condemn and how that sex is hurtful, and why it’s more hurtful to have such sex than to have a sex drive and never be allowed to use it. ‘God’ and ‘the Catholic Church’ are not valid parts of the answer here, because not everyone affected by a blanket condemnation of non-Church-approved sex is a theist, never mind a Catholic.

    Even if every woman everywhere decided she was only going to have sex when she wanted a child, men will still rape women, and therefore women will still get pregnant when they don’t want to be, and therefore women will still get abortions.

  • Shane

    Simple: the predication of why homosexual activity proscribed within the Catholic tradition is not due to physical harm, but the spiritual harm that it represents to those who do it.  The Church does not operate under a utilitarian ethics, and that seems to floor people.

    Saying I can’t use “God” and “The Catholic Church” in my answer doesn’t make sense.  Saying I need to justify the Church’s beliefs under a utilitarian rubric is the same as me seeing you need to justify your beliefs under a Catholic rubric.  It’s silly.  I’ve argued similar positions on this website, but it does seem that most people on this website are Rawlsians in a political science.  I’m not.  We are going to end up speaking two different moral languages here.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Define ‘spiritual harm’ in a way that makes sense to everyone, including people who do not believe there is any such thing as ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’.

  • Lunch Meat

    The Church needs to make a choice between valuing truth over love or vice verse. By that I mean the Church can choose to stand up for absolute morality and no gray areas, to say that abortion and contraception are always wrong no matter the situation, and to proclaim unashamedly what it perceives to be God’s will, no matter what the world is like. Or it can choose to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people who can’t help living in a fallen world. But by choosing truth the church surrenders any opportunity it had to actually, effectively make the world a better place.

    If a woman has a pregnancy that is going to kill both her and the fetus, the church can choose to be obedient to its perception of the Holy Spirit’s teachings and say “No, abortion is always, inherently wrong and you must not have an abortion.” But I refuse to believe that is the most loving choice. And the second greatest command is to love others, not to proclaim truth.

  • Shane

     Truth and love are indistinguishable from each other; God is Truth revealed in Jesus Christ.  God is also love.  I don’t see what the issue is.  Also, Church teaching is that all measures can be taken to save a mother’s life, where the measures can indirectly cause the death of the baby.  They can never DIRECTLY cause the death of the child. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Truth and love are indistinguishable from each other; God is Truth
    revealed in Jesus Christ.  God is also love.  I don’t see what the issue
    is.  Church teaching is that all measures can be taken to save a mother’s
    life, where the measures can indirectly cause the death of the baby. 
    They can never DIRECTLY cause the death of the child.

    This is how we end up with idiocy such as removing a fallopian tube in order to end an ectopic pregnancy, when the truth is that there is a way to end an ectopic pregnancy without threatening the woman’s future fertility, someone who loved the woman would use that way (or at least ask her whether to remove the fallopian tube along with the embryo, making sure she knows that removing the fallopian tube would halve her future chances of getting pregnant, then do as she says), and if God wanted the baby to live then She’d have made sure the embryo implanted in the uterus instead of the fallopian tube to begin with.

    It is in any event not a baby until it’s born.

  • Shane

     I use the term baby as a way to signify that the fetus is a human who is dignified with the notion of personhood. 

    I think the issue we will not be able to overcome is that you and I are arguing from two different premises; so be it. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Let’s assume for a minute that a fetus is a person. What right does that person have to use part of another person’s body without her permission? If the key factor is that the fetus will die if not allowed to use the uterus and is therefore entitled to use of the uterus, is someone suffering liver failure entitled to use of your liver?

  • Shane

    Again, the moral language of utilitarianism strikes again.  It’s peculiar that this argument relies upon a way of viewing the body as a form of property; if ones body is reduced to the notion of property, all that says to me is that capitalism has finally gained the upper hand in moral conversation. 

    Your example of liver failure doesn’t fall under the same rubric.  Giving someone else your liver will make you die, too.  Getting pregnant, even in a nonconsensual way, means one has to carry a baby for 9 months.  Also, abortion is the direct killing of an unborn fetus, where the dying of someone with liver failure is not being directly killed by an outside agent.  Moral culpability is completely different.

  • Lunch Meat

    Your example of liver failure doesn’t fall under the same rubric.  Giving someone else your liver will make you die, too.  Getting pregnant, even in a nonconsensual way, means one has to carry a baby for 9 months.  Also, abortion is the direct killing of an unborn fetus, where the dying of someone with liver failure is not being directly killed by an outside agent.  Moral culpability is completely different.

    So how about kidney failure? The fact is it’s immoral to force a woman to let someone else borrow her body for any reason, without her consent. I take it you wouldn’t be in favor of just inducing labor and letting the fetus die by itself, so killing it is more merciful.

  • Shane

    Not donating a kidney to someone would be letting them die vice actively killing them, which is what abortion is considered.  Abortion would then become tantamount to murder.

    If you accept my premise, do you believe it is justified to kill a baby because it is dependent upon your own body?  If it helps, do picture it as a baby who lives outside the womb. 

  • Lunch Meat

    A baby outside my womb can be given to someone else to nurture. A fetus inside my womb can’t without very difficult, expensive and not-yet-discovered procedures and technology.

  • EllieMurasaki

    A baby, even a baby I have just given birth to and am actively breastfeeding, is not actually dependent upon me. Dependent on someone, but it doesn’t have to be me. It could be another nursing mother, or it could be someone with a canister of formula and a baby bottle. There is never any conflict between what I want with regards to the baby and keeping the baby alive.

    If you can make it so that there is never any conflict between doing what I want with regards to the contents of my uterus and keeping the fetus alive–David Weber’s Honor Harrington books, among others, describe a process of removing the embryo or fetus from the uterus and placing it in an artificial uterine environment where it can grow to maturity equivalent to a newborn while the woman carries on with her non-pregnant life, so she can start taking care of the baby once it’s outgrown the tube or so she can never have to see the baby at all–then on that very day I will begin advocating a ban of all abortion. Until then, it is, it must be, the woman’s choice and no one else’s, and that means abortion has to be safe, legal, and easily accessible.

  • Shane

     Holy crap, we have something in common.  We both read Honor Harrington.  I take it we both like it to, considering that scene doesn’t occur until At All Costs.  I’m just going to be happy we agree on something today.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yay, we have liked books in common. Woohoo. You’re still arguing from the perspective that the Catholic Church has moral credibility. As long as it is protecting child-raping priests and punishing child-rape survivors, rather than the reverse, the Church has nothing even vaguely resembling moral credibility.

  • Beroli

     

    Not donating a kidney to someone would be letting them die vice actively killing them, which is what abortion is considered.

    You’re using passive voice to claim an authority you do not have. (Nor does your church or your political party, don’t try.)
    “Not donating a kidney to someone would be passively killing them as opposed to actively killing them, which is what I, Shane, consider abortion to be.”
    “Not donating a kidney to someone would be passively killing them as
    opposed to actively killing them, which is what the Catholic Church states
    abortion is.”
    “Not donating a kidney to someone would be passively killing them as
    opposed to actively killing them, which is what the common position of the Republican Party states that abortion is.”

    There. You now have three potential versions of a more-honest–if still meaningless–version of that sentence.

     Cancer is not a human. 

    Neither is a newly-conceived embryo.

    Rather than that convincing me of consent’s usefulness, it tells me that something is deeply, deeply wrong.

    Is that a question?

    What is–from your perspective–“deeply, deeply wrong” is that the world is full of people who don’t accept your moral principles. For my part, I gather that your morality states that letting someone die is completely morally different from actively killing them. That doesn’t mean such a distinction logically means anything, but I gather that you believe it does.

    The Church is not advocating for a more communal society?  Uh, what do you think Catholic social teaching says on such matters?

    I don’t know what Catholic social teaching says on such matters. I do know that the causes the Church pushes in the United States indicate a belief that a fetus must not be aborted until it is born, although if it dies because of its host being malnourished or lacking medical treatment she cannot afford that is acceptable, and if it starves or dies very shortly after being born that’s just fine.

    I know that’s not what the Church says. When actions don’t line up with words it’s called hypocrisy, and the actions demonstrate the actual beliefs, not the words. In light of the Church’s actions, what the Church says is relevant only in that it makes the crucial difference between “hypocrite” and “straight-up monster.”

  • Shane

    Actually, you would probably be surprised on my political positions outside of abortion and same-sex marriage.  Suffice to say, I’d probably be welcome at a socialist party rally when it comes to economic beliefs. 

  • Beroli

    Until you started talking about the Church and it became evident that you were the only person in the room who didn’t recognize their fundamental opposition–as a political organization–to everything the rally was about.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So you stand with the Nuns on the Bus against Romney and Ryan, and you support measures that ensure no one is too poor or too unhealthy or too at risk of pregnancy-related job loss to bear and raise a child? Good to know.

  • Shane

    The rest of my post got cut off, sorry.  Is letting someone die when one has no recourse to a fix wrong?  There is simply not other choice in the matter.  I was speaking on the topic of murder; murder being the direct killing of the innocent.  When it comes to letting someone die when there are other options of keeping them alive, then one is obligated to help them.  It’s a passive vs. active proposition, but there is moral responsibility all around. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    When it comes to letting someone die when there are other options of keeping them alive, then one is obligated to help them.

    Everything you have said thus far gives me the impression that if a woman is dying because of her pregnancy, you feel obligated to let the woman die in the attempt to save the fetus, even if the fetus is beyond saving. Is this impression true or false? What moral responsibility do you bear either way?

    What about LGBT youth who commit suicide because they believe they cannot live happy lives in this society? Catholic opposition to letting LGBT people marry whom they please and Catholic opposition to making it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are large parts of that. You are one of the reasons that these teenagers and young adults kill themselves; what moral responsibility do you bear?

  • Shane

     You are now laying the guilt of LGBT suicides at my feet.  How fucking dare you.  As someone who has talked down people, LGBT and straight alike, from suicide, that is a tremendous slap in the face.  As someone who, if not for the courage of an LGBT person, would probably not be here right now, you again make assumptions into someone you do not know.  Stop, kindly.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The only thing I have assumed (if ‘assume’ is the right word given that you’ve said it flat out) is that you oppose LGBT rights on Catholic grounds. That doesn’t make you the whole of the problem, but it certainly makes you part of it.

  • Shane

     No, it doesn’t.  I don’t believe the choice is to legitimize, legally, morally, and theologically, certain romantic engagements or force kids to kill themselves.  So, are those LGBT Catholics who are trying to live their lives in accordance with Church teaching, being an incredible witness for Christ, are they also to blame for the suicides of LGBT youth?  Please, I’ll be happy to pass along that message to the ones I know.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If they are supporting the idea that gay people should not be allowed to have sex with someone they’re attracted to, then yes, they share the blame for the suicide of every person who thinks life is not worth living without being allowed (as straight people are) to have sex with someone they’re attracted to. Ditto if they’re supporting the idea that a gay man cannot be a Catholic priest. That does not mean that gay people who choose to be celibate (whether to follow Catholic teaching or otherwise) are in the wrong; in fact, by being living proof that it’s possible to be both happy and gay, they are doing some good, as long as they don’t say or imply that the choice that is right for them is necessarily the choice that is right for anyone else in their position.

    And nobody gives a damn whether it’s theologically permissible in a church not one’s own to have gay sex. Nor is anyone going to compel a Catholic church to marry a gay couple, any more than anyone has ever compelled a Catholic church to marry a divorcee. If the Catholic Church would stop thinking it’s any of their business whether the application for a marriage license says ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ or ‘spouse 1’ and ‘spouse 2’, most of us would shut up about the Catholic Church’s view of gay folk. Certainly I would.

  • Shane

     Considering I am opposed to “sodomy” laws which ban non-heterosexual conduct and homosexual relations, this is kinda benign.  I am not advocating rounding up all homosexuals (And heterosexuals who have sex before marriage).  In fact, I am supportive of the creation of a special legal class that allows people to designate another person from which they can share power of attorney, medical insurance, death benefits and the like.  It wouldn’t be designed for LGBT people, as it would allow someone to take care of an aging parent, for example.  The specific policy is kinda murky, but its a rough sketch. 

    However, I think it is endemic to our culture where we view sex as being essential to a happy life.  I find it not only terribly misguided, but destructive when it comes to the rise of internet pornography, sexual trafficking, a rape culture, and an unrealistic attitude towards sex within a marriage.  I do think the reclamation of chastity as a life option in wider culture could be corrective of this, but I doubt it will happen.

  • AnonymousSam

    Such a legal class exists in the form of civil unions, but separate is not equal and real life frequently demonstrates this to be the case.

    Reclamation? We’ve never had it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What harm does people having gay sex, or heterosexual oral or anal sex, or penis-in-vagina without wedding rings, or producing or consuming pornography, or buying or selling sex, do to them or to you, provided that everyone who’s having such sex is an adult who knew exactly what they were getting into beforehand and wants to do it and is safe doing it and isn’t being exploited in the process? Spiritual harm only counts if you can prove it happens to the satisfaction of a panel of people who include atheists, agnostics, and a variety of nonChristians as well as Catholics and various flavors of Protestants, specifically including people who consider all sex sacred provided everyone’s a consenting adult. And if no non-spiritual harm is done by such sex, what is objectionable about it?

    Though I do agree with you that people shouldn’t make the assumption that sex is a necessity for everyone. Some people are asexual, others have a low sex drive, still others have other priorities. However, you need to remain aware that many people do consider sex a personal need. Also that you cannot prevent someone from having solo sex or sex with a consenting adult partner, and that it is abhorrent of you to try.

  • AnonymousSam

    For that matter, the people who literally consider sex and sensuality to be sacred, such as (if memory serves) the Hindus? As the third largest religion, I’d say they have significant stock ownership in this market. :p

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t know about Hindus, though given the existence of the Kama Sutra I bet you’re right, but Wiccans for sure.

  • AnonymousSam

    Ah, yes, true of at least some (my experience with Wiccans is a selection sample of exactly one, but it was true of her).

    Mentioning such always brings up the implicit question therein, “Why is X correct, but not Y?” — the arguments for the legitimacy of one religion over the others tend to require recognition of the authority of that religion in order to… recognize the authority of that religion. “The Bible is the word of God because the the Bible says so. The Church is the moral authority because God gave it authority. We know God exists because the Bible and the Church prove God exists using the Bible.”

    Well, my relationship with God is as such that when I ask for enlightenment, I occasionally get it. The last time I spoke to God, I was informed that God is plagued with the difficulty of communicating with humans in such a way as to leave a message of import. Too much gets lost in the foibles of our language, our comprehension and the way we relate stories to one-another.

    (Of course, my version of God comes to me when I’m having hallucinations brought on by sleep deprivation caused by the illness I suffer. That’s not all that far from how people of old used to communicate with the supernatural, though.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    …you’re right, I am accepting the framing that a woman’s uterus is property of the nearest man, rather than part of herself. Shame on me. Clearly the appropriate description isn’t ‘the fetus entitled to use of part of a woman’s body’, it’s ‘the fetus enslaving the woman’. What makes reproductive slavery acceptable?

    Liver donation with a living donor involves a part of the liver, not the whole. Try again.

    Leading cause of death throughout history among women of childbearing age: pregnancy and childbirth. We’ve made significant gains in recent decades, but pregnancy and childbirth remain health risks even under the best of circumstances. What gives you the right to say that your choice to have someone face an avoidable health risk overrides her choice not to face that risk? Keeping in mind, of course, that consent to being pregnant yesterday is not consent to being pregnant tomorrow, consent to having sex is not consent to getting pregnant, and not every sex act is consensual.

    If continuing a pregnancy will kill the woman, and the doctor asked to perform an abortion to save her refuses, is he somehow not responsible for her death?

    If a woman is pregnant with twins and there’s a choice between each fetus having a fifty percent chance of survival (twenty-five percent chance that both survive, twenty-five percent chance that both die, fifty percent chance that only one survives) and aborting one fetus to guarantee the survival of the other, and the woman can’t be asked her opinion (which obviously you as a moral person would abide by) or has said she doesn’t want to decide but will go along with whatever decision is made, what should be done?

  • Lunch Meat

    If the Church accepts causing the death of a living, breathing, thinking, feeling, creative and social individual to protect other humans who are being harmed, why can’t they accept causing the death of a fetus, which neither breathes nor discovers nor learns nor creates nor interacts with its environment in any meaningful way, and really does nothing recognizably human other than look human, if doing so would protect the life or health of another living, breathing, thinking, feeling, creative and social individual? Why isn’t self-defense a legitimate answer when something is literally invading my body, using my organs, and limiting my ability to live and function without my consent?

  • Shane

    First, the moral status of a person is not tied to their abilities or contributions to society.  I find it nearly monstrous that their moral weight would be computed in such a way. 

    Second, the baby has no intention or will to cause harm or endanger others.  It’s morally innocent.  I assume your situation of taking the life of another person in self-defense situations has some form of will or intention of causing harm, even if that will or intention is compromised by mental degeneration or the like. 

    Second, the notion of consent is never absolute.  It’s why we try to stop suicide, don’t allow consensual  cannibalism, or allow a person to consent to their own murder.

  • Lunch Meat

    Your examples of consent being overruled are to protect the person from their own actions. You don’t have the right to overrule someone’s consent to force them to sacrifice and help someone else–unless you are advocating mandatory organ and blood donation.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Cancer is morally innocent. What’s your point?

    No, we try to stop suicide because we’re pretty sure that the pain leading to the decision to suicide is something that can be stopped by some as-yet-untried method short of dying. We don’t allow human cannibalism, consensual or otherwise, because there are nasty diseases that spread through consumption of infected tissue (mad cow disease being a prime example). And how is one joining the armed forces, and not quitting the moment one hears one’s being deployed to a war zone, anything but one consenting to one’s own murder should such occur?

  • Shane

     Cancer is not a human. 

    Ah, so pain qualifies consent.  Consent is not absolute.

    Ah, so the risk of disease qualifies consent.

    See what I am getting at?  You are saying that consent doesn’t represent a supreme ideal. 

    “Keeping in mind, of course, that consent to being pregnant yesterday is
    not consent to being pregnant tomorrow, consent to having sex is not
    consent to getting pregnant, and not every sex act is consensual.”

    I consent to join a group to shoot people.  I did not consent to getting shot back.  Therefor, those who shot me should be charged with attempted murder. 

    Simply put, I would charge that consenting to sex is consenting to the consequences of sex. 

    The biggest problem, in my mind, is the pre-argument logic.  Most of you arguing under a logic that renders the right of an innocent life to be qualified, but consent is not.  I cannot, CANNOT, support such a premise.  I believe the opposite.  You guys are trying to argue with me on a logical ground that I do not support. 

     I cannot stress this enough, this conversation is so sidetracked to me.  Under Catholic teaching, the innocent can never be killed, for any reason, whatsoever.  Any reason. All other social teachings are ordered to that primacy.  Therein lies our problem.  Most of you arguing from a political philosophy wherein consent is the pivot on which social interaction occurs.  In my political theory, thou shalt no murder is the pivot.  We are going to be talking past each other.  I have pointed out what I have believed are logical errors commited in most of these arguments, but I am not tied to the notion of consent as a legitimating political force.  I have said this, one billion times on here, that I am not a utilitarian.  I am not a Rawlsian.  There are more ways to do political theory than from a utilitarian perspective. 

    Simply put, I’m talking from a Hauerwasian, Thomistic, and Macintyrean viewpoint.  You guys are more from the viewpoint of Jeremey Benthem and John Rawls.  It’s going to be like talking French to an American without a translator. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, what I am saying is that the paramount principle is minimize harm. If something is done without the consent of an involved party, it does harm to the nonconsenting party. The inherent harm done to a woman by even the least troubled pregnancy plus the harm inherent in her not consenting to being pregnant equals more harm done by forcing her to continue the pregnancy than by allowing her to end it. Once the baby’s born, the situation is different: if the woman doesn’t consent to parenthood, the baby can be taken away from her. I repeat, if you can ensure that a woman can stop being pregnant without killing the fetus, I’ll be first in line to ban abortion.

    People who commit suicide do not, as I understand it, actually want to die. They want the pain to stop, and the only way they see to accomplish that is to die. We try to stop them from suiciding in order to show them that there are other ways: removing themselves from the situation that’s causing the pain, or using medication to rebalance the brain chemistry that’s causing the pain, or waiting it out. Consent still matters; the problem is that the suicidal person believes the only choices are ‘live with unbearable pain’ and ‘die’, and it’s kind of hard to consent to doing something that one doesn’t know is a possibility.

    Did I say there was anything wrong with consensual cannibalism provided measures are taken to ensure no harm is done? Because I don’t think I said anything of the sort. I also know of no way to ensure no harm is done in such a situation, which trumps.

    Is consent to getting in a car also consent to dying in a car crash?

  • Shane

     Yeah, here’s where we reach an impasse.  I don’t believe THE guiding moral principle is to minimize harm.  Now that we have reached that full definition, the fork splits.  I do not believe that principle is a good or just one for organizing and ordering a moral life and social order.  Goes back to my language analogy.

  • EllieMurasaki

    For what reasons and under what circumstances is it acceptable to do things that do harm, or unacceptable to do things that do no harm? Why is the idea of minimizing harm not the best idea for a person or a society to live by? What would be a better idea for a person to live by? What would be a better idea for a society to live by, given that the rules governing society must be agreed to by people of vastly different opinions on what the rules should be?

  • Shane

     Hm.  So what happens if a vast number of people don’t any longer agree upon consent as the pivotal unifying public morality?  One of the things that got me here is that most of you have done a decent (Though not great) job at justifying the killing of children based upon consent.  Rather than that convincing me of consent’s usefulness, it tells me that something is deeply, deeply wrong.  What would be a better method?  If I had to take a stab at it, a localistic quasi-communitarian community based off an Aristotelian teleology and political philosophy.

    If, for example, the pro-life movement managed to succeed, passing their Life Amendment to the Constitution.  Since those would entail the notion, by your logic, that the harm principle has been bypassed by people of “Vastly different” opinions.  Would the logic that the respect of innocent life is the supreme principle of the land then be valid if it provides the unifying notion that you talk about?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Google ‘rape culture’. Come back when you understand that people who have power (almost always straight cis men) are not thereby entitled to force or coerce people who do not have power (almost always people who are at least one of female, gay, trans, or too young to consent) into being sex objects or (if applicable) into being vats wherein fetuses grow.

    It was not right to enslave black people before the constitutional amendment forbidding enslaving black people, and passing a constitutional amendment permitting the enslavement of pregnancy-capable people won’t make that right either.

  • Shane

     Ah, ok, not killing unborn children is now slavery.  Understood.

    You might say “I do not get it”, but I actually do.  I just orient myself to the notion that this notion of antinomian freedom (Upon which any opposition is termed “slavery”) underwrites the state-sanctioned murder of children. 

    I find it a philosophy that is very useful for those powerful in society, contrary to your claims about mine.  It is a philosophy upon which those who are powerful can justify, in a world of deep injustice, a life of the satisfaction of ones whims.  Their children they can kill for their offense against their sacred body.  Yes, I find this nihilistic.  Yes, I find it destructive. 

    If you call an alternative to a consent based morality a “rape culture”, then I have no qualms calling yours a culture that will either devolve into a totalitarian excess worthy of the great 20th century empires, or a Randian anarchy. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Forcing women to bear unwanted children is enslaving the woman to either the fetus  or the father. I’m not sure which.

    My wanting women not to be raped, my wanting women not to be told that if they are raped it’s because they were drinking or because they were dressed provocatively or because they had sex before, my wanting women to be able to choose whether and when and with whom to have children without that choice necessarily influencing whether, when, or with whom they have sex, my wanting women to have enough support from family, friends, neighbors, and government to ensure that no woman who wants to bear and raise a child is in a situation where such would be difficult or impossible, that makes me Rand or Romney or Mao?

    And you keep ignoring the fact that the Catholic Church from which you draw your moral code has a great many members who rape children and a great many more members who deny that the rapes occurred, who transfer the offenders from parishes where they’re known threats to parishes where they can endanger the community’s children with impunity, who give money to the offenders in the name of Christian charity, who do not cooperate with law enforcement’s efforts to apprehend the offenders, who do everything in their power to silence the survivors who speak out. Until the Catholic Church solves this problem–which will of necessity entail the collective realization that the rapists’ sin was not, or not only, against God, and that the rapists’ sin cannot be washed clean until amends have been made to the survivors–then the Catholic Church has no authority to take a moral stance on anything.

  • Shane

    A priest attempted to rape my mother when she was a little girl.  No one believed her when she tried to report.  I am pretty sure I fucking get it, ok?  Do not think I am blind to such things.  I would say that the story you weave is simplistic, but do not think I am unaware, removed, or ignorant of the rapes. 

    There’s an awful lot of assumptions here about my personal character which I do not appreciate, but the notion that I am “ignoring” the rapes pushes me too far.  Please stop using that as a stick to beat me with. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    I am sorry I upset you and I wish that hadn’t happened to your mother.

    I mentioned the rapes several times and this is the first time you have responded. The conclusion that you were ignoring the situation was a reasonable one to draw. The question, however, remains: why should anyone, especially someone who isn’t Catholic, abide by Catholic ideas of moral behavior, when the Catholic hierarchy so blatantly does not?

  • Shane

     I was also borne out of wedlock to a father who was dying of an incurable disease.  He was separated, but not divorced from his then-wife.   He eventually committed suicide, rather than be infirm in his final days.  I was two when he died. My mother was counseled by her very Catholic family members to abort me. 

    It probably would have served me better to be upfront about these things, as it would have given personal credibility.  I am angry now, because people are saying that I “don’t understand”, or that I advocate a rape culture, or that I am somehow removed from these life events.

    I hope this sketches a slight background of me, because these attacks are getting far too personal regarding a person you don’t know.  Back off. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    What have I, what has anyone, said to attack you personally? I’ve seen and made lots of attacks on the Catholic Church, but unless you’re a bishop or higher, that’s not an attack on you.

    Though I do feel I must note that saying consent is not vitally important, as you have been saying, is the exact same thing as saying that it is (at least sometimes, with at least some people) okay to rape. That is advocating rape culture. If you don’t want to be accused of advocating rape culture, stop saying that consent isn’t always important.

  • Shane

     Rape is always intrinsically evil, the same as abortion.  Rape can never be justified.  Just because I don’t believe in consent as the moral doctrine, doesn’t mean I cannot sort out always wrong actions.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The difference between consensual sex, which is okay, and rape, which is not, is consent. If lack of consent is not the reason rape is wrong, then what is the reason?

  • Shane

     I would add a caveat:  consensual sex within marriage.  But we are in a semantical issue here; non-consensual sex is the definition of rape.  Me not being an advocate of using consent as the guiding of all moral questions does not mean that consent is completely expunged from moral reasoning.  It just means that consent is not absolute in ALL moral decisions, and that it is placed in its context by higher principles ( the highest of which is love). 

  • EllieMurasaki

    If the highest moral principle is love, and consensual sex is only okay within marriage, then why is it not okay for two people who love each other and want to have sex with each other to get married to each other?

    Or the other question: if God doesn’t want gay people to have sex, why did She give gay people sex drives?

  • Shane

    Ah, there’s an assumption that one knows fully what love, in a Catholic sense, is.  I’m not talking about romantic love, though that can be an aspect of it.  I’m talking about love as the essence of God, which allowed Him to, in Christ, die on a Cross for the salvation of man. 

    Furthermore, a Catholic understanding of marriage understands it as a relationship that is fundamentally tied to the raising and nurturing of children.  That’s not all what marriage is, but it is an essential part.  It is ordered to the welcoming of children into this life.  It’s why the Church doesn’t allow contraception, because it severs procreative functions from sexual activity. 

    On the notion of sex drives:  sex drives can be a great force for good if rightly ordered.  With LGBT, the sex drive is ordered wrongly.  Of course, in this society, I’d be willing to say most of ours are (And I am by no means implying that one can “cure” homosexuality). 

  • EllieMurasaki

    I do not want to have the argument that begins ‘why the hell should God torture himself to death in order to take on the punishment God assigned us for breaking rules God made? why didn’t God make different rules or set a less harsh punishment to begin with?’ I have a feeling you don’t want to have that argument either. So how about we not bring the crucifixion into this at all?

    You seem to be saying that the Catholic Church would rather children grow up with no parents than with loving same-sex parents despite the clear negative effect on children of growing up parentless, and would rather a household have several children growing up without enough to go around than a few children growing up with all of their needs and some of their wants met, and should prohibit sterile people from marrying and perhaps also dissolve the marriages of the postmenopausal on the grounds that there’s no reason for people who can’t have kids to be married. And should also prohibit in vitro fertilization, because it severs sexual activity from procreative functions, and also all the spare embryos that won’t ever get implanted. And let’s not even mention the fact that the planet’s already overcrowded.

    You also seem to be saying that God made us wrong. Why give anyone a sex drive that the giver says they’re not allowed to use at all? I can accept–I don’t like, but I can accept–only being allowed to use a thing in certain circumstances; it’s okay to chop vegetables with a knife, it’s not okay to use the same knife to hurt someone. (Unless it’s in a BDSM context, but I don’t actually want to know what the Catholic position on BDSM is.) So I can accept sex only being permissible within marriage, provided the only restrictions on marriage are that one can’t marry a child, a close relation, someone who’s already married to someone else, or someone who doesn’t want to marry one. Saying sex is only permissible within marriage while also saying not everyone can marry the person of their choice is like saying it’s never okay to use that knife: why then do we have it at all?

  • Kiba

    I am gay. I am not a Christian. You do not get to tell me how to life my life. You do not get to force me to follow religious beliefs that I reject. In the U.S that pesky First Amendment guarantees me that (unless things go completely pair shaped and we end up a theocracy). If any church decides that it does not want to allow same-sex marriages that is their right; however, they do not have the right to deny civil marriages to anyone. 

    With LGBT, the sex drive is ordered wrongly.

    Let me say this with the utmost passion and sincerity: Fuck you.   

  • Shane

     This becomes a question of political authority within a pluralistic society that I do not want to get into; suffice to say that there needs to be a public morality that governs the social order.  All the we are differing here is what that morality constitutes, rather than the question of public morality at all. 

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     suffice to say that there needs to be a public morality that governs the social order.

    “…And this morality is ENTIRELY about sex, rather than economics, because SHUT UP.”

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     With LGBT, the sex drive is ordered wrongly.

    9_9

    So, why’d God make them that way? 

  • Beroli

     

    I hope this sketches a slight background of me, because these attacks
    are getting far too personal regarding a person you don’t know.  Back
    off. 

    You get to call abortion “murder” without worrying about who here has had an abortion and state that “With LGBT, the sex drive is ordered wrongly” while knowing multiple people here are QUILTBAG, but no one gets to call you on the consequences of what you advocate, hm?

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    WORD.

  • Shane

     The notion that if I do not affirm the sexual impulse and desires of certain people, then that leads them to suicide is quite a leap.  The irrational hatred of those who are LGBT is a terrible thing, but the main thing here is that I don’t reduce sexual orientation as something fundamental about a person; it is therefor something that doesn’t necessarily require social legitimation.

    The notion that I am supposed to say abortion is not murder because someone might have had one is illogical.  If I recognize abortion as murder, and someone has an abortion and feels troubled by it, I hope that pang of conscience leads them to seek healing.  If they don’t believe abortion is murder and don’t have qualms about having one, then how is what I am saying bothering them?   

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    The notion that if I do not affirm the sexual impulse and desires of
    certain people, then that leads them to suicide is quite a leap.

    (shrug) For my own part, I think the emphasis on queer suicide rates is useful only when dealing with people who don’t care about the suffering caused to queer people by their social stigmatization, but might not be so without empathy as to also not care about their deaths.

    The notion that people whose sexual orientation is socially legitimized
    suffer less than people whose sexual orientation is socially stigmatized
    isn’t much of a leap. And for those who do care about the suffering caused to queer people (even when we don’t kill ourselves), that notion is frequently enough to inspire us to support the social legitimization of queer people.

    Because it alleviates suffering.

    Of course, I do understand that there exist other goods besides the alleviation of suffering in a particular group of people. It’s worth asking whether there are social costs of legitimizing queer sexuality, and if so whether they outweigh the reduced suffering that such legitimization provides.

    If you believe the cost is high enough that it’s worth that increased suffering, then by all means go on opposing such legitimacy.

    I don’t, so I’ll go on supporting it.

  • Beroli

    If they don’t believe abortion is murder and don’t have qualms about
    having one, then how is what I am saying bothering them?   

    If you don’t believe that, by pushing the attitude that procreative sex is the only moral sex and a woman who is pregnant for any reason is obligated to bear the baby to term, you make rape more widely accepted and large numbers of people more likely to commit suicide, why do you whine about other people observing that, in fact, you do? Apparently, even mired in the depths of your delusions, it bothers you when people lay the blame for suicides at your feet. By your own argument, I could argue that you know you’re responsible.

    I’m not going to. Because your argument is absurd. No matter how confidently you know–or “know,” in your case–that you’re not a murderer, being called one by someone on the Internet is hardly a pleasant experience.

    I will, however, observe that your phrasing “do not affirm” is dishonest. “Do not affirm” would involve silence*. You aggressively push your beliefs, stating “With LGBT, the sex drive is ordered wrongly.”

    *And no, I’m not saying you’re obligated to be silent. I am saying you should either be silent, or accept the effects of your words. Since you say, “How fucking dare you,” to someone who points out those effects, you do neither.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     Indeed, why would being told that they way they are is “ordered wrongly” contribute to the emotional states that lead to suicide?

    And why should anyone be bothered by you calling them a murderer?

    /sarcasm

  • EllieMurasaki

    The irrational hatred of those who are LGBT is a terrible thing, but the
    main thing here is that I don’t reduce sexual orientation as something
    fundamental about a person

    There’s this one story I really wish everyone would read. (I haven’t asked the author to file off the Stargate serial numbers in order to publish it professionally, but I think she should.) It’s about John, who’s a straight guy in the US military in an alternate world where the US military is modeled on Sparta’s: team bonding involves a fuckton of gay sex and it’s only very recently that military men have been allowed to marry women or acknowledge having children. If you were John, Shane, if you were heterosexual in a culture that considers heterosexuality an aberration, can you tell me honestly that you wouldn’t consider yourself less than the people around you? Or at least that you would know that they consider you less, and you would give serious thought to the possibility that they’re right?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Second, the notion of consent is never absolute.  It’s why we try to
    stop suicide, don’t allow consensual  cannibalism, or allow a person to
    consent to their own murder.

    These three sound pretty funny coming from someone who is claiming to follow Jesus – I’m pretty sure He got AT LEAST two of three.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     My wife recently went and looked up the actual catholic rules on these things (Because I said something she didn’t like and had to find the evidence to prove me wrong), and as it turns out, the letter of canon law actually does say that if the mother has a grave fear for her life, then having an abortion is not considered a grave sin.

    I’ve never actually heard of a case where the church upheld this, but apparently it’s on the books.

  • EllieMurasaki

    the letter of canon law actually does say that if the mother has a grave
    fear for her life, then having an abortion is not considered a grave
    sin

    That doesn’t make sense. Ectopic pregnancies. Until we learned how to surgically end them, more than one in two women with an ectopic pregnancy died of it. Ectopic pregnancy is still the number one cause of death in women in the first trimester of pregnancy. ‘Ectopic pregnancy’ is synonymous with ‘pregnant woman in grave fear for her life’. And yet Catholic hospitals refuse to use any method of ending an ectopic pregnancy that isn’t removing the whole fallopian tube. No tube connecting ovary to uterus means no way for an egg from that ovary to be fertilized, so removing the fallopian tube halves the woman’s fertility, which one would think Catholics especially would want to preserve. If it’s not sinful in Catholic eyes to use a pharmaceutical method of ending an ectopic pregnancy, or a surgical method that takes out only the relevant bit of the fallopian tube instead of the whole thing, then why do Catholic doctors insist on taking the whole thing?

  • Shane

     I’m trying to find the Canon for it, but abortion is always a grave sin.  If the Canon turns out to be true, it would reduce moral culpability for the mother, not for the physician. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    And yet Catholic hospitals refuse to use any method of ending an ectopic pregnancy that isn’t removing the whole fallopian tube.

    Is that a universal claim, or just something that some Catholic hospitals have been known to do? Cos if the former, then I know a bunch of people working at/treated by Catholic hospitals that are breaking their own rules.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     If you asked my wife, I think the answer woudl be “Those catholic hospitals are misinformed and not abiding by the letter of canon law.” But there is a bit of a loophole I think where *only* the person in grave fear for their life is on the moral high-ground, and any *doctor* who performed the procedure would still be in trouble.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Come to think. What would you–you personally, Shane, though if you want to say you’d follow Church teaching, go ahead, and anybody else who wants to weigh in, feel free–do in the following scenario? (Trigger warning, suicide.)

    You have a female acquaintance. She’s mentally ill; the details are not your concern, beyond the fact that she takes meds to manage it. She prefers het sex to lesbian sex and partnered sex to solo sex; she refuses to go more than a week without sex of some variety. If she has het sex without contraception, she will sooner or later get pregnant. If she gets pregnant, the only way to ensure a healthy birth is to go off her meds for several months. If she goes off her meds for more than a few weeks, she will commit suicide; she knows this because she has gone off her meds and consequently attempted suicide before, and this time she has a better idea of how, when, and where to make the attempt in order to ensure that she dies before she’s caught.

    She is, because of reasons, asking your advice.

    Do you advise her (a) to have only solo and/or lesbian sex (thus ensuring she cannot get pregnant), (b) to have straight sex with use of contraceptives (thus, for our purposes, ensuring she cannot get pregnant), (c) to have straight sex without contraceptives and when she becomes pregnant to get an abortion, or (d) to have straight sex without contraceptives and when she becomes pregnant to go off her meds in an attempt to give birth (knowing full well that without her meds she will kill herself and the fetus)? What is your reasoning?

    For the record, I’m taking this scenario from the actual life of an acquaintance of mine (the major difference being that she didn’t ask anybody’s opinion that I know of), so ‘I decline to answer because this would never happen’ is not an option.

  • Shane

     None of the above.  There’s a really obvious solution to this: If she is asking me this, I’d advise to stop having sex, solo or otherwise.  I’d also advise her to get a spiritual counselor that would help her through the temptations that such a course of action entails. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    I specifically said she is not going to stop having sex. And her religious beliefs are not relevant to this discussion, nor any of your concern. I’m perfectly willing to accept ‘none of the above’ if you can present and defend something I haven’t thought of, but this particular ‘none of the above’ I pointedly ruled out. Try again.

  • Shane

    You’re asking me to evaluate this from a Catholic standpoint, I assume.  When it comes to ethical dilemmas, of course her religious beliefs are relevant.  When one is religious, one generally draws upon that religious tradition for ethical behavior.  If she is an atheist, or has no religious tradition, I’d still give me Catholic answer and advise her to stop engaging in sexual acts. 

    Her refusal to stop having sex is not some immutable law of the universe; it can be something she can be persuaded from, God willing. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Very well then. Her religious beliefs do not forbid sex under any circumstances provided all participants are consenting adults; in fact, given those provisions, sex is encouraged, sex is sacred. Your attempting to enforce your religious beliefs on her will be taken poorly. This is not a Gordian knot and taking a knife to it is not an acceptable solution. Now answer the actual questions. Solo sex, lesbian sex, or straight sex? If straight sex, contraception or not? If not, abortion or suicide?

    I don’t know what you’ll find if you take the time to actually think this through, but I think we’ll both be fascinated by the answer.

  • Shane

     If she refuses my advice on this matter, I would kindly ask her that I cannot counsel her to carry out any of the other decisions.  Simple as that.  I would assume if she asking my advice on this matter, she would have some idea of moral and religious beliefs.  If I gave her my counsel, and she refused it, so be it.

    If she says “Sorry, I won’t consider stopping having sex”, then well, I guess we must part ways on that issue. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    ‘I won’t answer’ is not an answer. Which is least unacceptable to you, solo sex, lesbian sex, straight sex with contraception, straight sex without contraception resulting in a pregnancy ending in abortion, or straight sex without contraception resulting in a pregnancy ending in suicide?

  • Beroli

     

    I would assume if she asking my advice on this matter, she would have some idea of moral and religious beliefs.

    …Are you completely unaware of the existence of non-Catholic morality in the world, Shane?

    Oh. Right. You did claim that someone who showed morality showed allegiance with Church teaching even without believing it. You really are completely unaware of the existence of non-Catholic morality.

  • Shane

    Typo, I forgot to put in the word “my” in there.  My apologies. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Then the church is full of shit.

    [Edit: this is in reply to Shane’s quotation of the catechism. Capital punishment is an intrinsic moral evil, and to say otherwise demonstrates the bastardisation of moral theology dominated for centuries by privileged men.]

  • Shane

     Aren’t you Catholic?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Yes. I can amend my previous statement if you like:

    My church is full of shit.

  • Shane

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/08/catholicism-amp-capital-punishment-21

    That’s Avery Cardinal Dulles piece.  He does a good job at covering the issue from a theological standpoint.

    So, simply put, the Church has, as a fundamental point, an opposition to the death penalty.  But that does not have it rise to an intrinsic evil on the same level as abortion or euthanasia, as Ratzinger indicated.

  • AnonymousSam

    Which US politicians who have been responsible for executing someone have been denied communion by a bishop?

    Not sure if this was rhetorical, but I can name a few politicians who have been denied communion for what would be considered murder by the Catholic church — John Kerry, Douglas Kmiec, Patrick Kennedy (I count this one because “you’re not denied communion, we’d just rather you not receive it” is a meaningless distinction) and the politicians Raymond Burke criticized (along with anyone who voted for them).

    Denying communion has been a thing for awhile, apparently.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    They were politicians who supported abortion laws, though, weren’t they? Not capital punishment?

    Texas executed a man with the mental capacity of a child last week, if anyone cares. Intrinsic moral evil, right there.

  • AnonymousSam

    Aye, they were — but I’m not sure it’d be considered more acceptable in their books. Going by the old argument, an unborn child can’t be anything but innocent, whereas (the assumption is) at least death row prisoners were convicted of a heinous crime. I’m… not actually sure I have a point to this, so feel free to ignore it.

    My own position is that I’m not sure whether capital punishment is more humane or not — torturing someone by locking them in a small box for several decades until they die*, miserable and socially neglected, does not strike me as merciful compared to a (relatively) painless removal from life. The outcome either way is to permanently remove a person from society.

    Not that I’m certain that’s a good thing either. Isn’t the lack of connections to one’s brethren a likely cause of committing such crimes? I know it’s what keeps my impulses in check. It would seem like life imprisonment wouldn’t be necessary if there were a means to impress upon people the meaning of their actions. In theory, a person could eventually be redeemed and brought back into society regardless of their actions.

    Regardless, due to social inequalities, holes in the justice system and it having much the same impact on the rest of us either way, I have to acquiesce to the logic of life sentences over the death penalty. Whether or not the alternative is evil, it’s unnecessary.

    * Someone posted a story a couple days ago in which technological advances had resulted in a person’s lifespan becoming “indefinite” — from the perspective of a man who had “beat the system” and escaped the death penalty, only to spend centuries in prison serving out his life sentence. A life sentence means something else today than it would have a hundred years ago, and I can’t wonder but that it’ll mean something else a hundred years from now. What if, some day in the future, a life sentence really does come to mean eternity behind bars? Would it truly be more merciful then?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Y’see, one is an unrealistic fantasy used by rich white men to justify their privilege and excuse their mistreatment of anyone they’ve got power over. And the other is…

    (Hey folks, cast your vote for what the punchline to this joke should be:
    A) The Bible
    B) Some crappy novel about trains.
    C) Dressage
    )

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Can we not do A, for a change?

  • AnonymousSam

    At what point can you constantly preach “fuck the sick, the poor and those in prison, they don’t make me enough money to give a rat’s ass about them” and still be considered obedient to Christian teachings?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    This quote from comics writer John Rogers seems timely:

    “There
    are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The
    Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that
    often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes,
    leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable
    to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.“

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    “Sell all you have and give it to the poor. ”

    he doesn’t say “I’ll take all you have and give it to the poor. ”  Many christians, conservative and otherwise, tithe. This is money going to poor people, not the Pentagon. Our societydoes  need the former, not the latter, quite a bit more.

    “I write, of course, as an atheist”

    you don’t say

    Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt so they could escape slavery.  Any one who wanted to stay there could have. If they wanted to be fed and cared for and have their lives be determined by the Pharoh’s whims they could do so.

  • Daughter

     Many christians, conservative and otherwise, tithe. This is money going to poor people, not the Pentagon.

    No, tithing money generally doesn’t go to poor people. Some of it does–many churches offer food banks or other services. But most tithe money pays for the operation of the church including buildings, salaries and spiritual programs. That’s not a bad thing, but it shouldn’t be confused with money given to meet the needs of the poor.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Many christians, conservative and otherwise, tithe. This is money going to poor people

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/financial-scandals-the-hidden-wealth-of-the-catholic-church-a-700513.html –it’s really, really not. Well, yes, some of it, but not the bulk of it.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Many christians, conservative and otherwise, tithe. This is money going to poor people, not the Pentagon.

    *cracks up laughing*

    Oh, you were serious?

    The vast majority of tithes goes to building upkeep, pastors’ salaries, and paying for a few hundred people drinking coffee every Sunday. Almost none of it goes towards the poor.

  • AnonymousSam

    “Fed and cared for”? I take it you didn’t read Exodus 1 where the antagonistic relationship is set up between the Egyptians and the slaves.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    the poor need the church too.

    Anyway, I doubt Jesus would vote for anyone. Voting for Obama would also mean voting for drone warfare, corporatism and other evils. The devil told Jesus, follow me and I’ll give you everything you could ever want. Jesus said no. He wasn’t willing to submit to evil in the hopes of doing good.

  • Daughter

     Yes, poor people attend church, too. But a majority of tithes and offerings at poor churches are still paying for the operation of the church.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I take everyones word for it on the tithe thing.

    bottom line though is this: not being selfish is great, the philosphy of collectivism is very problematic and these are two different things.  Lenin wasn’t very much like Jesus.

  • Lunch Meat

    Or to put it another way, if the Church is not going to change its premises to correspond to the reality we have to live in, then it should try to change reality to correspond to its premises. It wants to keep contraception a sin? Then it should make absolutely sure that no pregnant woman will lose her job because of a pregnancy (this is a danger even if we were sure every unwanted child could be adopted), that there is enough prenatal care that no woman will die from a pregnancy, that every family has enough money to feed all of their children. Couples who are married or committed and deeply love each other should be allowed to express their love without the chance of a(nother) child that they aren’t able to support, and if the Church doesn’t want them to prevent themselves from having a child, it should make sure they can support it. This is called “bearing one another’s burdens.” It’s another thing the Church is called to do.

  • Shane

     And I fully agree with this.  A more communal society wherein the burdens of one are shared with one another will have a great effect on such matters. 

  • Lunch Meat

    Trigger warning: childbirth and postnatal medical problems

    Another note is that in some situations with conjoined twins, the doctors and parents have to choose to let one twin die to save the other one. This is a terrible, tragic situation, but it has to happen, whether or not the twin had any intent to endanger their sibling’s life.

  • PJ Evans

    Shane, your arguments, such as they are, are leading me to think that kicking the Vatican out of the Catholic Church might be a good solution to a lot of problems.

  • Lunch Meat

    Furthermore, a Catholic understanding of marriage understands it as a
    relationship that is fundamentally tied to the raising and nurturing of
    children.  That’s not all what marriage is, but it is an essential
    part.  It is ordered to the welcoming of children into this life.  It’s
    why the Church doesn’t allow contraception, because it severs
    procreative functions from sexual activity.

    I don’t believe this is a logically consistent position, but I could be wrong, because I don’t know what being “ordered” is supposed to mean. So I would like to know, simply, clearly, and precisely, what it is that makes married sex with contraception wrong.

    I can think of two possibilities:

    1) The physical act of sex where a result of pregnancy is impossible is immoral. This would mean that it is immoral for infertile/no longer fertile people to have sex. Further, it would mean that I should not have sex with my husband unless I know there is a good chance that I am ovulating.

    I cannot find anyone willing to admit this is the case, mostly because it sounds ridiculous and no one could get away with restricting marriage to fertile people, so the only other possibility I can see is:

    2) The act of sex where there is not the intent or desire for children is immoral. This makes more sense, but I can still see a problem. If it is okay for me to have sex when I know for a fact that I cannot get pregnant (say, for instance, I’m on my period), as long as I intend to have sex and get pregnant next week or something, then why is it not okay to delay or prevent pregnancy when the intent to have children is there? I can think of several reasons why this would be the case:

    a) I am working to put my husband through college so he can support our family. He is taking time-intensive classes and has over a year left to go, and my line of work does not pay enough to support childcare.

    b) I was just in an accident and must take heavy pain-killers for the next six months, which would cause severe birth defects.

    c) I am in therapy to work through issues from a traumatic childhood. I am afraid that I would get angry and hurt my baby if I gave birth before completing my therapy. This is a situation where I think I may not ever be capable of having children, even though I desperately want them.

    d) I have an infection or genetic disorder that I believe would be immoral to pass on to my children. Instead, I intend to adopt.

    I know that you can say, because you have said previously in this thread, that in every case the couple could just choose not to have sex, for a limited time or, in the third or fourth cases, possibly forever. I’m aware of that possibility. But I want to know what, specifically, is wrong about having sex in these cases. Why is it immoral? I know people can choose not to. Why should they have to?

  • Lunch Meat

    I forgot to add, some people would say it’s okay to use the rhythm method to delay pregnancy in cases where they really can’t support a child. But in that case, for the months/years before you start trying to get pregnant, you’re intentionally delaying pregnancy, which means whenever you have sex during that time, you are having it without the intent or desire to get pregnant. How is that more moral than the pill or condom?

  • Kiba

    Again I think the reason why the rhythm method is acceptable is because it doesn’t involve anything man-made (condoms, the pill, etc.). It doesn’t make any sense to me since both end results are the same and both interfere with the whole procreative aspect of sex.  

  • Lunch Meat

    I’ve heard that before, but in that case I’d like to know why using technology to interfere with or affect natural processes is immoral–not just unhealthy or undesirable, but actually immoral. Are other instances of that also immoral? If not, why? For instance, we use electric lights, and in some cases, sleep aids like sleeping pills, to force our bodies to conform to a continuous 8 hour a night sleep cycle instead of a more natural one. That may be unhealthy, but is it actually immoral?

    One counter-argument could be that usually we counteract natural processes in order to improve people’s comfort, health, and pain level, like fighting aging and other diseases. However, sometimes pregnancy can damage people’s health, such as in women who are prone to miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies. And a lot of people think that there are always horrible side effects that come with the pill, and it wreaks havoc with your reproductive cycle, but in fact, taking the pill reduced harmful effects of my periods and made it completely regular, which it never was before.

  • Kiba

    Yeah, I don’t understand it either. According to the Vatican:

    The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).

    Which, again, makes no sense to me. Regulating births is an aspect of responsible parenthood but you can’t use contraception to do it because? 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Again I think the reason why the rhythm method is acceptable is because it doesn’t involve anything man-made (condoms, the pill, etc.). It doesn’t make any sense to me since both end results are the same and both interfere with the whole procreative aspect of sex.
     
    You mean to tell me you’ve never heard the word for people who use the rhythm method? Hint: it ain’t the word for people who reliably use hormonal and/or barrier contraception. Unless those people have kids already and don’t want more, rather than not wanting any to begin with.

  • Kiba

    You mean to tell me you’ve never heard the word for people who use the rhythm method?

    Parents? ‘Cause when my brother and his wife tried it it didn’t work out all that well for them. Prior to that they used condoms (which they bought in an area where they were sure no one they knew would see them) but stopped when they went hyper conservative Catholic. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Exactly. My point being, any method of contraception is anathema, and when they say the rhythm method of contraception is okay, the part they don’t say is that it’s okay because it doesn’t actually prevent conception.

  • Lunch Meat

    In that case it should be okay to use condoms half the time, or just once…but they say using them at all is wrong.

    (I think I have a pretty good argument that this is inconsistent, but as no one has stepped up to actually explain to me what “ordered to the welcoming of children into the world” means, I guess I’ll never know. Sigh.)

  • Kiba

    I wish I could help you with that but, and I’ve read through this stuff many times, I have no idea what they mean either. It’s probably uncharitable of me but what I end up walking away with is basically: Because we say so with some half-assed attempts to justify it with the bible and philosophy. 

  • Kiba

      I don’t believe this is a logically consistent position, but I could be wrong, because I don’t know what being “ordered” is supposed to mean. So I would like to know, simply, clearly, and precisely, what it is that makes married sex with contraception wrong. 

    The Catholic church hand waves away the problem of old or infertile couples having sex by stating that sex in marriage has two functions: procreative and unitive. For them the two functions are tied together and can’t be separated (one of the reasons they say contraception is wrong) yet old or infertile couples are spared a lifetime of celibacy because their infertility is “natural” and not artificially imposed.   

    @de80fe7a1c93e438c90f5400b99d77d1:disqus 

     This becomes a question of political authority within a pluralistic society that I do not want to get into; suffice to say that there needs to be a public morality that governs the social order.

    So basically you want to be able to tell me how to live my life according to your particular religious tenets but not have to justify what gives you that right or what makes your religion so damn special.  Yeah, that doesn’t work. 


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