I had a thought I’d be interested in your reaction to. It comes from having read social psychologist, Johathan Haidt’s new book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. He says that research has shown that Western and Educated people from Industrialized, Rich, Democratic countries (or WEIRD people) who self-identify as “progressive” (socially) use, almost exclusively two moral “foundations” as criteria for making moral judgments: Harm/care and Fairness/reciprocity. We progressive WEIRD people do not use the remaining 3 foundations: Ingroup/loyalty, Authority/respect, or Purity/sanctity – the 3 that conservatives do use, in addition to, and in a higher priority manner than Harm and Fairness.
But progressives then have a problem with the God of most traditional and especially Christian formulations – especially with retribution, punishments, curses, condemnations, as well as problems with the unfairness of the treatment of women, slaves, and other outsiders. This gives us a huge problem with the bible and the god it describes, which forces us to re-think everything. Thus our problem speaking much, or coherently about God. Where do we go for information? Obviously from the comments I’ve read, anywhere available to our tastes. I think this also maps up to your work on the non-violent atonement – same issues. (Haidt sums it up (briefly) in his TED talk and at several conference lectures available online.)
So, where do Christian progressives go for moral authority?
The way this works is that you weigh in now, and I propose an answer on Friday. You can read past questions and answers in the series here.