What Wrong With Discussions of Morality Among Catholics?

What Wrong With Discussions of Morality Among Catholics? May 2, 2014

From discussions of war to capital punishment to torture, Catholic moral discussions are largely divided into two camps: those who ask “How can we keep from harming or killing people unless it is absolutely necessary?” and those who ask “When do we *get* to harm or kill people?”

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  • Dan C

    My suggestion is that our current defective formulations we have for war and justice is based on the fact that the doctors of the Church were pestered exactly with the questions: when do I get to kill? Really…how do you define greed and self-interest? What is torture really? Usury? Is it usury if the Jewish banker does it for me ? And so on.

    • jroberts548

      My suggestion is that you try reading the doctors of the Church on their own terms.

      • Dan C

        I do read theming their own terms. Why would you suggest I do not?

  • Peter Williams

    When it comes to online discussions, people are largely divided into two camps: those who place everyone who disagrees with them into a “camp”, and those who recognize that people of good will can disagree without placing each other into camps or attributing to them uncharitable motives.

    With that out of the way, not sure what the current controversy du jour is. People defending torture again?

    • Dan C

      “When it comes to online discussions, people are largely divided into two camps: those who place everyone who disagrees with them into a “camp”, and those who recognize that people of good will can disagree without placing each other into camps or attributing to them uncharitable motives.”

      What are the limits of this discussion? What topics could place someone into a camp? Any?

      For example, I would like to repeal the Second Amendment. (I actually do.) I think it impedes rationale gun control. (I am not opposed to all guns, though, and suggest that Australia is a decent model.)

      Would this be something putting me into a camp?

      • S. Murphy

        Yep. Gun grabber!

        Other camps:
        -Han Shot First/ No, that would be wrong, and Han was a Good Guy
        -The Prequels sucked/The Pequels were kewl
        -The Sith are kewl/Sith fanboys need a life
        -The Expanded Universe sucketh mightiliy, and besides, why do those hacks get *paid* to write bad fanfiction/Rogue Squadron is Kewl (or the New Jedi Order or …)

        -Amerika is sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic and eeeevil/Get your alternative lifestyle off my lawn

        -I am not free to f* whomever I want unless the Catholic Church subsidizes my pills, shots or devices/Get your Culture of Death lifestyle off my lawn

        -Waterboarding isn’t Torture, and anyway, they had it coming, and anyway, SERE school was worse
        /Torture is bad, including waterboarding, and knowing the SERE instuctors weren’t allowed to kill you made all the difference, never mind that you could tap out



        • Dan C

          Han shot first

          The prequels sucked which by logic smears the Sith

          I hate my lawn, and claim that I am trying to regrow “native plants.” (Really I hate the lawn.)

          • What’s wrong with lawns are the absurd and anti-natural extents to which people go to maintain a perfect Classical Northeast-looking greensward: chemicals, raking up grass-clippings, hating on dandelions, watering. It’s a huge, unnatural waste of time and resources.

            • S. Murphy

              You’re missing the important point. Han shot first.

              But the prequels only sucked if you were naive enough to have ridiculous expectations of them – and you didn’t notice the ewoks.

              • orthros

                Not only did Han shoot first, but he desecrated Greedo’s slimy corpse. True story.

            • Dan C

              Few would ever look at my lawn and accuse me of wasting any time on it.

    • sez

      The media – thriving on controversy, and appealing to the least common denominator – tends to frame much of the news as being from one camp or the other… as if there are only two. This teaches us to think in terms of “us” v. “them”. It sells newspapers/TV ads/online clicks/political parties, but doesn’t adequately serve the people, or the truth.

  • Dave G.

    Because these are complex issues, and some people can’t figure why others don’t see the complexities. Or they are simple issues, and some people can’t figure why everyone else can’t see the simplicity. It goes on everywhere: non-religious, Protestant, Catholic, religious non-Christian. A not uncommon tendency to misrepresent those who disagree. Some question things, others don’t and just say it’s good enough for me. Some see black and white, others live forever in the gray. And as Peter below states, that tendency to divide things into clean divisions when clean divisions (dare I say, tribes) don’t always apply. I’d say these might be some of the reasons. Discussion isn’t always this way, but it is as often as not.

  • tteague

    Rarely do folks argue about the topic at hand, even if all believe that is what they are doing. Rather they are arguing about their presuppositions, which they usually have picked up along the way, often do not fully comprehend their depth and/or complexities, and yet operate within them (us) at the deepest emotional levels. Plus, our presuppositions tend to represent, in some way, how we see ourselves and, more specifically, our precious self images that we fight to the death to protect (usually in blindness of doing so). The topic at hand, then, is often just a foil or excuse to put out there (the process is usually not admitted because it is not seen) one’s presuppositions, in other words to put out there oneself in some way, even though it may appear that the topic at hand is the topic. It becomes life and death, extreme against extreme, brother against brother, and often in the most seemingly inexorable ways.

  • mary martha

    I would say the two camps are those who are willing to discuss these issues with respect towards those with whom they disagree… and those who call everyone who doesn’t agree with them torturers, murderers and warmongers. This of course shuts down the debate and advances the topic not at all.

    • Dave G.

      That’s true. For instance, it’s possible that not all people are saying ‘when do we *get* to kill’ as much as ‘when do we *need* to kill.” A fair question.

      • chezami

        That’s the question asked by the first group.

        • Dave G.

          When I listen to the debates, most of the time it sounds like the question asked by both groups. They just arrive at different conclusions.

  • When it comes to internet conversations, I’m often reminded of a favorite XKCD comic: http://xkcd.com/386/