Trying to Love My Enemies

Just a cautionary note: trying to figure out how to love your enemies is something that can be totally appropriate to do from a long ways away.  If you are ever in severe physical or emotional danger from a person or community, your first priority should be escape.  Self-reflection can wait til you're safe.I'm not calling anyone to martyr themselves by enduring abuse for the sake of converting their tormentors or retaining a sense of righteousness or for almost any other reason.  Without the … [Read more...]

Call him Voldemort!

"Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things.  Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself"  -- Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone  I was dumbfounded by a "On the Square" feature at First Things this week.  Christopher Kaczor gave advice to Christian parents who aren't sure whether to have their children vaccinated against HPV and adopted the tone of someone teetering at the edge of a precipice.  After considering several approaches, Kac … [Read more...]

Sam Harris, Psychopaths, and Moral Culpability

Sam Harris is blogging about morality and free will, and one of his examples puts me in mind of our discussion about culpability, hate, and radical forgiveness.  Harris doesn't think free will is a coherent concept, but he doesn't see that fact as precluding any discussion of culpability.  I want to focus more on the example he provides than his explanation, but, for the sake of completeness, here's what he has to say: What does it really mean to take responsibility for an action? For instance, … [Read more...]

Against Private Dissent

In the comments thread that spun off of the discussion of whether an atheist could serve as godparent to a Catholic child, plenty of people correctly pointed out that, regardless of Church teaching, plenty of nominally Catholic parents select technically unsuitable godparents.  Whether they disobey out of ignorance or intentionally, these actions introduce a certain level of ambiguity about what Catholic traditions look like.  Patrick summed up the situation in a comment I've excerpted b … [Read more...]

No Victimless Sins?

When I wrote about my dilemma on how to deal with an Orthodox Jewish girl trying to keep the Sabbath in "A Duty to Disclose?" earlier this week, I was trying to use the post to build up to a bigger question that I've been wrestling with.  I felt like I had seriously erred when I behaved spitefully, even though the target of my ire was not aware of my nastiness, and I didn't believe she would come to any real harm as the result of my actions.After I wrote a post about the Christian ideal of r … [Read more...]

A Duty to Disclose?

I got into an argument in the comments section of Friendly Atheist's latest installment of Ask Richard (an atheist advice column).  An atheist wrote because his Catholic aunt and uncle had asked him to be the godfather to their child.  The letter writer thought they didn't know he was an atheist and wanted to know if he had an obligation to disclose his beliefs.  Richard advised the author to ask the relatives about what role they wanted him to play as godfather, and explain his atheism if they d … [Read more...]

Yes, I only think in children’s books…

I ended up in a lot of conversations about forgiveness and whether hatred necessarily warps the character of the person doing the hating after I posted about my reaction to Osama bin Laden's death and the celebrations that followed.  I'd like to do a few posts trying to address why I think its necessary try to offer forgiveness and charity to the people we hate, both for their sake and ours, but, today, I just want to link back to two interesting examples of this problem in children's … [Read more...]


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