Why Not The Beatitudes?

Why Not The Beatitudes? May 7, 2014

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TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
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  • This is a very good point. I guess it’s because religious rightists are mostly fans of law and order, as exemplified by the strictness of the Commandments, and not vague, untestable, and fuzzy concepts like “mercy”. I also don’t think religious rightists have any solid emotional attachment to peacemakers, the merciful, or the meek. I think religious rightists understand that vague, untestable, and fuzzy concepts do not build a nation, nor can they be unambiguously and literally codified in public policy.

    • arcseconds

      Yes, religious conservatives are well-known for their commitment to testability.

      • I wasn’t sure “untestable” was the right word when I wrote the above. I was using “test” in the sense “to see carried out”. My point about “untestable” was about testability about the implementation of policies, not about testability about the intended effects of policies.

        • arcseconds

          I’m not really sure what you’re talking about.

          What policy are the religious conservatives trying to implement by putting up the Ten Commandments, and how could we tell if it’s been successfully or unsuccesfully implemented?

          I mean, the immediate end is to put up a plaque. There’s no ambiguity as to whether the plaque is there or not, and it doesn’t matter what the plaque actually says, you can still tell whether it’s there or not.

      • D Rizdek

        I noted you wrote religious conservatives instead of religious rightists. Was that intentional?

        “Right-wing politics are political positions or activities that accept or support social hierarchy or social inequality. Those affiliated with the Right consider social hierarchy and social inequality as either inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable typically justifying this position on the basis of natural law or tradition. Within the right-wing spectrum, views differ on whether hierarchy and inequality stem from traditional social differences or from competition in market economies. Manifestations of right-wing politics are affected by cultural norms of societies. In the United States, the political language of the Right includes: anti-statism involving a general mistrust of government, individualism, support of equality of opportunity while rejecting equality of outcome, and populism.”


        while conservative has the connotation of, “holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.”

        I’m an atheist and conservative, but certainly not rightist.

        • arcseconds

          Which of these do you think putting up copies of the 10 commandments in law courts fits into?

          • D Rizdek

            My point was you seemed to want to replace the rightist with conservative. Why did you do it? Do you not see much difference between conservative and rightist?

            I really can’t imagine any value in putting the ten commandments in a law court. First, some of ’em are in direct violation of our freedom of religion. WHY should I not be allowed to have one god ahead of another god…or not god at all? Give me a good reason why a law court should concern themselves with that. Why should I not be allowed to make an image of something and worship it? Does the law court even know what that means…much less care if I do it as long as I break no ordinances or laws? Does a law court care if I remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy? Folks can’t even remember which day IS the Sabbath, much less what it means to keep it holy. My parents thought playing with toys or playing games on Sunday was “not keeping it holy” but they were conservative Christians. Does the law court care about what I do on ANY day of the week…as long as I don’t break any laws doing it? Now, honoring one’s father and mother might have some value, but what does that even entail? And does a law court care if I honor them? That same court might be forced to take custody away from the mother and father because they are abusing or neglecting a child. In that case, they are rightfully honoring the child. What court of law is really into dealing with adultery unless it is accompanying a divorce settlement? Do you know of any criminal cases involving adultery that didn’t also relate to abuse, prostitution, illegal pornography or something ELSE the court did care about? I mean, I am in favor of NOT committing adultery. But I don’t need it posted somewhere to help me remember it is wrong. It would actually have been better to have a commandment against rape and child abuse. At least then Priests could be accused of actually doing something that was wrong, per the Bible. As it is, we have to imagine rules they have broken. The next two are, of course valuable…but why does a law court need such basic admonitions printed on the wall? Does anyone seriously think those two commandments are seriously questioned in ANY civilized country? The last one is about as worthless as they come. What does covet even mean and why would citizens of a free capitalistic society not be allowed to do it as long as they didn’t break any laws?

            I agree with the post. It’d be lots better of Christians would spend their time trying to get the Sermon on the Mount or the Beatitudes printed and posted. But we don’t see ’em doing it. Why do you think that is?

          • arcseconds

            You haven’t answered my question. Instead, you’ve given me a diatribe about what you think about the 10 commandments. 🙂

            The reason I asked the question is that by the definition you’ve quoted, it seems to me that posting the 10 commandments in a law court more clearly falls into your definition of ‘conservative’, not ‘right’. For a start, only the definition of conservative even mentions religion. Posting the 10 Commandments in law courts etc. is hardly an anti-state attitude, in fact quite the reverse, and it’s not clearly about hierarchy and inequality, either.

            (Of course, it may be about hierarchy and inequality, too. There doesn’t seem to be anything by your definitions stopping something being both right and conservative. But it’s being about heirarchy and inequality is far from clear, whereas the connection with traditional values seems very clear)

            Yet rather than agreeing with me that this is an appropriate substitution, you seem to be taking issue with it.

            Consequently, I must have missed something somewhere.

          • D Rizdek

            So you were trying to get me to figure out why you replaced conservative with rightist. Guess I’m not quick enough.
            Ok. so the reason you replaced the word is that you think it is more likely that conservatives would want to do that than rightists? Not because you equate the two. That answers my question. Thanks.

            ps The diatribe was just fun to write.

          • arcseconds

            No, I was trying to work out why you were asking the question to begin with, because you seemed to be taking issue with my use of the word, and I couldn’t (and still can’t) see why, because even by the definition you gave my use is quite defensible.

            I made the substitution because I always call the ‘religious right’ religious conservatives. That seems appropriate because they usually see themselves as trying to assert, defend, or return to traditional values. They’re also theologically conservative, but that’s more a convenience than a reason.

            I don’t tend to use the word ‘right’ very much, because I don’t think it’s a very meaningful term. It’s not meaningful because people use it to mean all sorts of things which are actually quite different from one another. I wasn’t aware of the definition you gave, and it’s quite good, I like it, so thanks for mentioning it. But that doesn’t actually help, as it adds another definition to the ones I knew about already (even if it is somewhat unifying, which is why I like it). The OED identifies it with conservative, and the political compass (which you might want to check out and take the test, it’s quite fun) defines it as economically laissez-faire. The term ‘right’ originates with the National Assembly of 1789 in France, where it referred, I believe, to the nobles and the clergy (the second and first estate), as opposed to the ‘commons’ who were really the bourgeoisie. One might see that as being ‘conservativism’ of a kind, but perhaps ‘feudalism’ would be more accurate.

            So I try to be a bit more meaningful when I talk about specific groups of people. I’ll talk about ‘free market devotees’ or ‘libertarians’ or ‘religious conservatives’ or ‘foreign policy hawks’. ‘Right’ is only really good as an umbrella term for people who support right-wing parties, which because of the dynamics of representative democracy (particuarly with first-past-the-post electoral systems) tend to result in two parties, with the right-wing one nominally trying to support all those different things.

          • D Rizdek

            “So I try to be a bit more meaningful when I talk about specific groups of people. I’ll talk about ‘free market devotees’ or ‘libertarians’ or ‘religious conservatives’ or ‘foreign policy hawks’. ‘Right’ is only really good as an umbrella term for people who support right-wing parties, which because of the dynamics of representative democracy (particuarly with first-past-the-post electoral systems) tend to result in two parties, with the right-wing one nominally trying to support all those different things.”

            Good, that’ll clear up a lot{:

            It really was a simple question. Because I did see a difference between “rightist” as it is being used today in US politics and “conservative” which I think I am. I see rightist as more extreme…wanting to shove THEIR beliefs down other’s throats vs conservatives who might wish other’s had their views, but might use gentler means. Thanks for your views.
            Did you ever see the movie, “Christmas with a Capital C.” It gets into what I kind of see as the difference between the more radical, rightist, views and the conservative views on displaying religious Christmas statues in a public place sponsored by the government. We watch it every year.

          • arcseconds

            Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone gets to claim a simple political term and exclude dangerous ideologues.

            ‘Real’ libertarians often despie Randians, as they reckon the later give the general ideology a bad name. Socialists have to put up with dyed-in-the-wool Marxists who often seem to actually want the most extreme right-wing policies to be implemented, because that will give more incentive for the inevitable general strike and socialist revolution to happen sooner. Environmentalists have to cope with people who a knee-jerkly against genetic engineering for any reason ever and those who seem intent on returning everyone to a substistance farming lifestyle.

            None of the former can really claim the later are not libertarians, socialists, or environmentalists.

            So I think even if people were a lot more careful about their political terminology, you’d still have to just accept that ‘conservative’ is going to label people who you don’t think are reasonable.

          • D Rizdek

            You’re probably right. I do find conservative folks who hold beliefs I don’t think are reasonable AND find some conservative folks I think who are personally unreasonable.

            But that is true of any group. I’m an atheist, but do find atheists who are unreasonable…not in their opinion that there’s not enough evidence to support belief in god(s) but in their coarse manner of arguing.