Tensions in Progressive Morality

Tensions in Progressive Morality March 29, 2019

Richard Beck writes,

The moral resources needed to navigate the conflict between non-judgmental inclusion and social justice are things like community, confession, humility, truth-telling, forgiveness, reconciliation, patience, and peace-making. To name a few things. These are resources that help us pursue both non-judgmental inclusion and social justice at the same time. These are the moral resources that help hold the paradox together.

Christian progressives have access to these resources in a way secular progressives do not. For the most part, in my estimation, secular progressive morality, at least how it plays out on social media, lacks the moral imagination and resources required to navigate the contradiction at the heart of their vision of a moral world.

Secular progressives can be moral, no doubt about it. They just can’t be moral in a way that makes any sense.

I was all set to defend secular progressives, but I am not sure that Beck is wrong about this.

I do think it needs to be emphasized that the category of people who have the resources to navigate this tension is not “Christian progressives.” I say that because there are plenty of Christians who, at the very least, show that they have not availed themselves of such resources, engaging in mere party politics and tribalism. And I say it because there are humanists, agnostics, atheists, and others whose outlooks as well as actions show them to be “moral in a way that makes sense.”

So in what sense, then, do I think Beck is right or at least has a point? My social media is filled with people whose progressivism looks like Trump-hatred and GOP-bashing rather than an effort to love and defend the victims of racist, sexist, and in other ways discriminatory individuals, whether they be elected officials and lawmakers or just ordinary citizens.

It takes a profoundly spiritual vision to value and defend the oppressed while never losing sight of the humanity of the oppressor, and never ceasing to make the aim their transformation and redemption rather than their destruction.

When I call it spiritual, I am using the term in a way that is entirely compatible with not only humanism but even atheism. “Spirit” has meant different things down the ages and means very different things to different people today. In an era when the idea that it is a separate substance from matter or flesh, connected to them via the pineal gland, language about spirit might simply be discarded. But we lose a lot if we do so. Spirit denotes those aspects of material existence that we value in a way that goes beyond the level of physical description or laboratory analysis. It is where personhood resides, even for a thoughtful materialist.

And it is the failure to cultivate those aspects of ourselves, and to recognize and value those aspects of our political, economic, and moral opponents, that is why I so often see secular progressives behaving in deeply disturbing ways on social media.

Particularly when I see fellow academics who are progressives engaging in expressions that appear to be mere enemy-hatred, I sometimes wonder if they shouldn’t know better. But I think Beck’s point suggests that the answer is no. The issue is not with what they know. It is with whom they value, and how, and why.

It is a spiritual act to value and love enemies. It is a difficult balancing act to actively side with and defend the victims of oppression while not losing sight of the humanity and value of their oppressors. Is Beck right that such an undertaking is by definition not the work of flesh and matter alone, but a work of spirit – however one might define that term?

Before concluding, let me quote a short bit of an article by Simran Jeet Singh, written in the wake of the mosque shooting in New Zealand:

Physical safety is something all parents think about, from rounding table corners when infants learn to walk to teaching young kids about stranger danger and looking both ways before crossing the street.

But how many of us truly think about how we want to protect our children from internalizing the disease of hate? What are we actually doing to preserve the loving innocence of our children so that they never fall prey to hateful ideologies?

Robert Talisse wrote on the subject of bipartisanship in politics:

The problem of polarization thus does not find its solution in measures by which we can enact better politics — the problem is politics itself.  To be sure, the bipartisan civic ethos is an indispensable ingredient of a flourishing democracy.  But it cannot be cultivated under conditions where everything we do is plausibly regarded an expression of our political loyalties.  When politics is all we ever do together, our efforts to repair democracy by means of strategies for enacting better politics are doomed simply to backfire.  What is required instead is the reclaiming of regions of social space for shared activities that are in no way political, occasions for cooperative endeavors in which the participants’ political affiliations are not merely suppressed or bracketed, but irrelevant and out of place.  If you now find yourself wondering whether such collaborations could possibly exist, you have placed your finger firmly on the problem of polarization.  For polarization has led not only to the colonization of our social environments by politics, it also has enabled politics to seize and confine our social imagination.  That we must struggle to conceptualize avenues of social collaboration that are not structured around our political identities is the fullest manifestation of the problem of polarization.  To frame the upshot somewhat paradoxically, if we want to repair our democracy, we need to focus our collective attention elsewhere.

Also related to this subject: Scot McKnight blogged twice about whether there can be a scientific basis for morality. And on the subject of not merely being divided along political divides, Red Letter Christians highlighted the importance of Howard Thurman in relation to this topic; the New York Times had an article on the subject as well; and there’s always more on Richard Beck’s blog.


"Interesting addition of Dr. Polidori as another guest. We don't hear of him being there ..."

Doctor Who: The Haunting of Villa ..."
"Congratulations. Everyone is wrong except you and those who think exactly like you. The fundamentalists ..."

Conservative Christianity Isn’t Christianity
"Re: “ Percy Blythe Shelley“ — his name was Percy Bysshe Shelley."

Doctor Who: The Haunting of Villa ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • John MacDonald

    In public schools, there is an atmosphere of belonging that is fostered by the Tribes Agreements of:

    1 Attentive Listening
    2 Appreciations / No Put Downs
    3 The Right To Pass
    4 Mutual Respect

    It’s amazing what a positive experience it can be when enemies become great friends:


    • John MacDonald

      I think it’s important to have an atmosphere of belonging to build a dialogue on = e.g., let’s have a mutually respectful / attentive listening dialogue about the best way to read this text, so we can let the text speak for itself and decide how and whether it should effect our lives.

  • You wrote another insightful maxim that would go well on one your ethics posters that you sometimes put on your website!

    You said, “It takes a profoundly spiritual vision to value and defend the oppressed while never losing sight of the humanity of the oppressor, and never ceasing to make the aim their transformation and redemption rather than their destruction.’

    I’m putting that on my website and Facebook page in a little bit.

    Thank you very much for many good spiritual-moral articles.

    • Thanks! I’ll make a meme!

    • benjdm

      I think people who have truly embraced naturalism, including the concept that people cannot do otherwise than what they do, will do equally well at not losing sight of the humanity of the oppressor. *shrug*

      • ? If no one has any choice, as Naturalism’s website claims, etc., then of course, we humans can’t do anything, can’t do well, etc. We are but “puppets” of the cosmos.

        And while it is true that a few naturalists such as Sam Harris have compassion, since they have no choice in the matter….

        And there are many naturalist-sort of thinkers, who since they think that all humans have no inherent worth, get rid of their foes and millions of innocent bystanders.

        You sound like you know about naturalism, so I will save space and not quote from various such leaders.

        • benjdm

          “If no one has any choice, as Naturalism’s website claims, etc., then of course, we humans can’t do anything, can’t do well, etc. We are but “puppets” of the cosmos.”

          We are aspects of the cosmos. We are as capable of doing anything as any other part of the cosmos.

          “And there are many naturalist-sort of thinkers, who since they think that all humans have no inherent worth, get rid of their foes and millions of innocent bystanders.”

          Not any that I’m aware of. All the ones who get rid of their foes and millions of innocent bystanders are convinced of their own superiority, not their own equality in being natural parts of the cosmos.

          • Of course, it was determined by the cosmos (or fate, or
            Allah, etc.) that they be convinced of their own superiority.
            Determinism is an endless loop.

          • benjdm

            Which has nothing whatsoever to do with what people who hold naturalistic beliefs do. Nice try at moving the goalposts.

          • ? Your first statement said that “people can’t do otherwise than they do.”
            My understanding was that you were stating hard deteminism as Naturalism states on its website.

          • benjdm


            The blog post was saying that secular morality has more difficulty seeing the humanity of oppressors, seeing them as just as human as their victims. I said that people who have truly embraced naturalism would not have as much difficulty seeing the humanity of oppressors, as the oppressors are people just like the rest of us. Their behavior results from the unavoidable and unchoosable combination of nature and nurture that all of us are subject to.

            Naturalism doesn’t require hard determinism – randomness from quantum indeterminacy would make reality deviate from hard determinism. But randomness doesn’t give you miraculous freedom to choose, it just adds some randomness.

            All of which is entirely beside the point of whether or not naturalism is true.

          • I am a former mental health worker, educator of at-risk students for many years; my wife and I have worked for human rights, freedom of religion, moral responsibility, etc. I do think creativity, the plasticity of the human brain, etc. do enable humans to make decisions (in the common sense of choosing among alternatives). And that it is untrue to state they can’t do otherwise than they do.

            All of those decisions and many years of work are denied by such naturalism.
            Possibly, my view of reality is wrong, possibly none of the teenage patients I worked with , and then students, and myself included had any choice in any action.
            Possibly, there are no human rights, no inherent worth of all humans, no creativity, etc.
            I think that naturalism’s assumptions are wrong and are very harmful to humans and human society.

            I do agree with you that maybe a few humans who believe in naturalism may still, unlike the vast majority of humans in history, experience concern or empathy for their enemies.

            However, in history the vast majority of humans, including naturalists of various sorts didn’t.

            I didn’t mention anything about randomness or quantum indeterminacy.
            I was speaking of human freedom to choose among alternatives in the sense that the astrophysicist George Ellis means.

            Because, of course, in naturalism, enemies can’t make a choice to transform and be changed.

          • benjdm

            “Because, of course, in naturalism, enemies can’t make a choice to transform and be changed.”

            Yes, they can. Why is this so hard for people to understand?

            Human decision making doesn’t become any simpler if it’s natural in nature. The YOU of every instant is slightly different from the YOU of the preceding instant and the YOU of the succeeding instant. No two situations are identical. A person can change greatly over their life.

          • No they can’t, unless they are capable of using their consciousness, reason, etc. to make conscious choices of creativity.

            Look at your words, again:
            “people can’t do otherwise than they do.”

            Yes, they can. I could give you evidence, besides the famous astrophysicist George Ellis who decided to oppose Apartheid in in native South Africa because he thought he was capable of choosing differently.
            I studied naturalism at university where most of our professors were vocal atheists. I took American Intellectual History with a brilliant Jewish agnostic professor, etc.
            instead, I’ll just close with Victor Frankyl, neurologist and psychiatrist, and famous survivor of the German Holocaust, who emphasized that each human can use his consciousness to make different choices!
            No human is stuck with “can’t do otherwise” unless they are brain dead or seriously demented (like my own mother came to be, tragically).

            Victor Frankyl: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
            Between stimulus and response there is a space.
            In that space is our power to choose our response.
            In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

            Then please read James F. McGrath’s keen moral maxim, again, and think about it.

          • benjdm

            “Yes, they can. I could give you evidence, ”

            You cannot possibly give any such evidence. There is only one past time line No one has yet or ever will make 2 different choices in a particular situation. The idea that someone could have chosen differently than they did is a hypothetical counterfsctual. Libertarian free will is an incoherent, self contradicting concept that requires a choice to be not determined by the whole of reality while simultaneously having the choice be determined by an agent – a subset of reality.

            “each human can use his consciousness to make different choices!”

            Gee, that sounds like the particulars of the person’s consciousness at that moment determines their choice. And the person could not have chosen otherwise unless those particulars were different. Sounds pretty consistent with naturalism to me.

            In any case, there is no point in arguing the truth or lack thereof regarding naturalism and libertarian free will here. The point remains that a secular person can achieve the same results regarding defending the victims of oppression while recognizing the humanity and value of the oppressors.

          • Then you disagree with thinkers and scientists such as the astrophysicist George Ellis
            Whether or not humans who oppress, persecute, abuse, etc. Don’t have a choice, I don’t know. I’m not a scientist.

            BUT I’m going to continue to think that we humans are morally responsible, that we can be creative, that existence isn’t absurd.
            I agree, too, with the French philosopher and novelist Albert Camus, that if the world is absurd, we ought to rebel, ought to choose contrary, ought to choose to help.
            I’m done. I spent many years as a Christian opposing Christian determinism.
            I don’t plan on adopting secular determinists, now that I an ex-Christian.
            Instead, I am a humanist.

          • benjdm

            “The secular person can’t achieve anything because he doesn’t have a choice.”

            The secular person has just as much a choice as the religious person. A person’s beliefs do not change underlying reality. If I’m wrong and people have libertarian free will, then I am just wrong. My belief doesn’t change the reality of how I make decisions.

            “Then you disagree with some thinkers and scientists such as the astrophysicist George Ellis
            etc. Such scientists, including Sir Arthur Eddington, do emphasize that we DO have free will, contrary to your statement that
            “Libertarian free will is an incoherent, self contradicting concept.””

            Libertarian free will is very much a minority viewpoint among philosophers.

            “Free will: compatibilism, libertarianism, or no free will?

            Accept or lean toward: compatibilism 550 / 931 (59.1%)
            Other 139 / 931 (14.9%)
            Accept or lean toward: libertarianism 128 / 931 (13.7%)
            Accept or lean toward: no free will 114 / 931 (12.2%)”


    • KontraDiction

      Yes! I love this quote too. It strikes a careful balance of mission: the oppressed get priority, but without introducing hatred of the oppressor. So critical to avoid dehumanizing our opponents, if we are ever to make progress.

  • I highly recommend the ideas of Irshad Manji (and recommend following her on Twitter, @IrshadManji): she says similar things. (Manji is a reformist Muslim of South Asian descent from Uganda; she became a refugee as a child when Idi Amin expelled South Asians; she is also a lesbian. She is a free speech defender, possibly absolutist, and feels that offense is the price of honest diversity and freedom. She is not a fan of identity politics, feeling like a “misfit in every category”, and that it pigeon-holes people.)

  • Beck is drawing on the ideas in a current discussion among what we might call “thinking/learned Christian conservatives” as to what a post-Christian American society looks like; that is, what is the ‘glue’ that holds society together after the truth of Christian faith loses widespread credibility. The general contour of the discussion is that the glue can be replaced by abject nationalism (as in Europe 100 years ago) or by a sort of renewed pre-Christian pax romana secularism, in which no one cares much about your metaphysics so long as you are willing, in effect, to burn incense to the emperor. The price paid in both options is to countenance extremely high levels of cruelty in general, and outright violence toward all who would threaten the established order specifically. Some involved in this discussion (e.g., Ross Douthat) have expressed a lot of sympathy toward the pantheistic spiritualizers of nature (as he refers to them) who understand that human beings as a species cannot live by crass materialistic principles alone and have thus turned (back?) to nature to find the spiritual substance for which we crave. Unfortunately, so goes the argument, the ethics of (rough social justice?) cruelty is finally also what one finds in nature itself. The only sphere from which we can glean the kind of humanistic ethics we prize has to be a ‘transcendent’ sphere of reference, something that genuinely comes from outside the closed system of the natural order. So, the discussion goes, the choice that lies before us is 1) extreme nationalistic revival; 2) learning to live with pax romana levels of everyday cruelty (including perhaps even gladiator games, public executions, etc.); or, what may or may not even be possible once the mystical veil has been removed 3) a mass return to genuine belief in the ultimately transcendent source of our ethics of community, confession, humility, truth-telling, forgiveness, reconciliation, patience, and peace-making. Humanism can only support such ethics so long as the authoritative echo of the prior transcendent belief system still rings – the very definition of religious liberalism. But it cannot support such ethics over generations, and humanism (the better option over revival of extreme nationalism) will eventually evolve into the humanism of the Roman philosophers and lawyers. That is the background to Beck’s suggestion that secular humanism can support the ethics of Christian humanism only inconsistently. I for one am made very uneasy by that assertion, as J.F. McG. seems to be as well. I can’t give a detailed discussion of it here, but I think it is important for us to recognize and situate where that discussion is located.

  • Chuck Johnson

    When I call it spiritual, I am using the term in a way that is entirely compatible with not only humanism but even atheism.

    Don’t call it spiritual.
    I am am atheist. “Spirit” is a weasel-word.
    It has all sorts of supernatural connotations and it has all sorts of non-supernatural connotations.
    Projecting supernatural beliefs onto atheists is not insightful or respectful.

    The English language is full of words without the supernatural implications.

    Many others.
    You are saying that you are inclusive, but now understand inclusion better.

    I will define my atheism simply:
    I understand God to a fictional character and a human invention.

    • Neko

      Come on. There are entire countries that are atheist but spiritual. Plenty of atheists are interested in the transcendent.

      I have no problem whatsoever with McGrath’s sentiment above.

      • Chuck Johnson

        Spirituality usually includes a supernatural belief.
        Saying that atheists are spiritual is disrespectful.

        • If spirituality “usually” includes a supernatural belief, then saying that atheists can be spiritual (see for instance the example of Sam Harris) is only “usually” disrespectful. At least you recognized in your follow-up comment that there are a range of views that you neglected in your first comment – even talking about God as a “character” reflects a tradition of anthropomorphism that is not at all a human universal, even if it is predominant in your own national and cultural context.


          • Chuck Johnson

            It’s disrespectful and it’s a tricky misuse of the English language.
            If you want know just how spiritual or not spiritual an atheist is, then ask them instead of telling them.

            I could go around labeling Christians as agnostics since nobody knows everything.
            But I won’t.
            It would be a tricky and dishonest use of the language.
            It would be better to ask them if they consider themselves to be agnostic.

            People often use words with multiple (but different) meanings in order to deceive.
            Don’t use “spirit” to deceive.

          • I label myself as agnostic about a great many things, as a liberal Christian. The problem seems to be that you think one label must apply to everyone in a particular demographic for it to be appropriate to use it for anyone…

          • Chuck Johnson

            I am telling you to not label people by guesswork or by use of generalities.
            Ask them what they think about themselves., it’s more respectful.

          • I am not labeling anyone by guesswork. I am certainly speaking in generalities, because I am not speaking about your own particular views. If the views I described are not yours, then I am not talking about you. But you seem to object that I am speaking at all, unless your own individual views are allowed to determine how I speak and what I say.

          • Chuck Johnson

            It is a spiritual act to value and love enemies. It is a difficult balancing act to actively side with and defend the victims of oppression while not losing sight of the humanity and value of their oppressors. Is Beck right that such an undertaking is by definition not the work of flesh and matter alone, but a work of spirit – however one might define that term?

            Here is an idea that may have never occurred to you:
            I put all of these ideas (yours and Beck’s) under the heading of “evolutionary biology”.

            To me, spirit does exist under the definition of ideas and emotions.
            Supernatural things exist only in the form of ideas.
            The corresponding gods, devils add ghosts do not exist.
            Only the ideas of these things exist.

            So there are no supernatural things, only ideas about supernatural things.

            And ideas are made up entirely of matter and energy with no supernatural ingredients. Those ingredients are imagined and are not real things.

            I value and I love enemies.
            And I need no magic, voodoo or God-belief to do so.
            The only type of “spirit” that applies to my valuing and loving enemies is “spirit” under the definition of ideas and emotions.

            Within my understanding of science, ideas and emotions are manifestations of matter and energy as physicists examine these phenomena.

            The God that I know of is a fictional character, just a human invention.

            If you want to project all of those various ideas onto me which you call “spiritual ideas” go ahead, but if you do so, do not say “spiritual”.

            Wise, intelligent, inspired, knowledgeable etc. would be the right words to use because I see supernatural things as being ideas only.
            There is no corresponding real thing to a supernatural idea.

            So you are talking about my own particular views, but the “spiritual” label is incorrect.

          • If “spirit” is understood as imherently supernatural then I wouldn’t use it any more than you would. If you are a reductionist and cannot allow room for transcendence and valuing, then we have a fundamental disagreement.

          • Chuck Johnson

            The word is inherently supernatural under some definitions, but mundane and non-supernatural under other definitions.

            That is good reason to not use it when clarity is desired.

          • John MacDonald

            The use of “spirit” as having a non-religious connotation is ripe in ordinary language. For instance, I could say Derrida’s Philosophy really reflects the “spirit” of the May 68 events in France, or that a particular singer really reflects/embodies the “spirit” of the 60’s. Similarly, we could say someone acted out of a “spirit” of charity and good will. I’m not sure what it means to say “spirit” carries a default sense of religiosity. Schelling said that humans differed from animals in that they were “spiritual,” but he basically meant only humans can sink below animals in their depravity.

          • Chuck Johnson

            I’m not sure what it means to say “spirit” carries a default sense of religiosity.


            Spirit and (even more so) spirituality inherently imply religiosity and the supernatural under some definitions.

            Under other definitions, the meaning is not religious.
            Using the word informally may not be a problem, but when precise unambiguous communication is desired, don’t use it.

          • John MacDonald

            So your position is that “spirit” has many different definitions, but we can only mean one (religious spirit) when we desire “precise unambiguous communication?”

          • Chuck Johnson

            Either use a different word or phrase than “spirit”,
            or use “spirit” with additional words to clarify.

            I generally avoid using “spirit” because I want to avoid misunderstandings.

          • John MacDonald

            Chuck said

            Either use a different word or phrase than “spirit”,
            or use “spirit” with additional words to clarify.

            But that’s what Dr. McGrath was doing. He was trying to qualify the sense in which he meant “spirit,” and you were faulting him for using the term “spirit” at all …

          • Chuck Johnson

            “It is a spiritual act to value and love enemies.”

            Is what James said, and I commented on that.
            To satisfy my requirements, that should be changed to:

            “It might be a spiritual act, or it might be an act of insight and wisdom to value and love enemies.”

            With this way of stating it, supernatural and non-supernatural are both being referred to.

          • John MacDonald

            I don’t think you’ve been following the discussion properly. You said the term “spirit” has a default supernatural sense, and I explained how it didn’t.

          • Chuck Johnson

            “Spirit” by default is ambiguous with both supernatural and non-supernatural meanings.

            If there is some confusion, always add extra words to specify which “spirit” meaning you intend to convey.

            Words gain clearer meaning and are understood better when they are seen in context.

          • John MacDonald

            Like the word “spirit,” the word “trunk” has many different definitions. There is the “trunk” of a tree, and an elephant’s “trunk,” and a “trunk” we put clothes in, and the “trunk” of a car. Just as we would not randomly choose one of these and say that is the default understanding of “trunk,” why would we do so in the case of “spirit?”

          • Chuck Johnson

            In casual conversation, being more specific is often not needed.

            But our present conversation is contentious because of words with multiple meanings. In such situations, always provide the extra words that are needed to remove ambiguity.

            Or do not use words with multiple meanings in the first place.

        • Neko

          This atheist says no, it isn’t.

  • Chuck Johnson

    “It is a spiritual act to value and love enemies.”

    Change that to “It is wise and insightful to value and love enemies”.

    I base my morality upon the Darwin-Wallace discovery.
    In this case, it is “survival of the fittest” to value and love enemies.

    Such insightful and competent behavior helps to convert both me and my enemies into the “fittest” to survive.
    This is under the classification of “cultural adaptive evolution”.

    • Nick G

      In this case, it is “survival of the fittest” to value and love enemies.

      On what evidence or reasoning do you base that claim?

      • Chuck Johnson

        Mutual respect and understanding leads to cooperation.
        Mutual hostility, hate and violence leads to harm or death.

        So, by loving enemies I mean converting them to friends and allies.
        That is a survival strategy.

        Loving enemies and having them remain enemies does not really make much sense. The love actually has to be active, wise and insightful to be successful.

        • Nick G

          Unfortunately, the prevalence of selfishness, cruelty and spite in human beings (and other social animals) indicates that while cooperation and altruism can be pro-survival, so can these less admirable qualities. You cannot derive a humanistic ethic from any set of facts about the natural world, including cultural adaptive evolution, although you can show that such an ethic is compatible with those facts.

  • Jon Xavier

    Affirming modern inclusivity as if it were not as ancient and pagan as Greece or Rome is hardly labeled progressive in any proper sense. Moreover, Spirit spelled with a capital S has only orthodox Jewish and Christian roots, historically. And it certainly and always referred to God, not to the human constitution. That’s God with a capital G.

    In fact, it was always understood as Holy Spirit. Spirit in direct opposition to regressive and degenerate sexual activity so that true progressive values could come into being via regeneration.

    So, your article represents nothing either Christian or progressive.

  • Nick G

    It takes a profoundly spiritual vision to value and defend the oppressed
    while never losing sight of the humanity of the oppressor, and never
    ceasing to make the aim their transformation and redemption rather than
    their destruction.

    I don’t like to use the term, but this looks to me very like “virtue signalling” on the part of self-declared “spiritual” progressives. I have some – very limited – resources to oppose what (for example) Donald Trump is intent on doing to his victims and the world. (I’m not, in fact, aiming at his destruction – only at his defeat.) But in what practical way could I possibly aim for his “transformation and redemption”?

    • John MacDonald

      This is interesting: This is page 303 from the postmodern Philosophy book Agape and the Four Loves with Nietzsche, Father, and Q: A Physiology of Reconciliation from the Greeks until today by my recently deceased good friend Postmodern Universalist Catholic Philosopher Dr. David Goicoechea arguing that we need to love and pray for Hitler. See https://books.google.com/books?id=4HZNAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA303&dq=david+goicoechea+pray+for+hitler&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj3x5r7narhAhXyQ98KHZc7D-UQ6AEIKjAA#v=onepage&q=david%20goicoechea%20pray%20for%20hitler&f=false If I remember correctly, Goicoechea made a big deal about Luke 3:6, “And all mankind will see God’s salvation,” but still didn’t think Catholic Priests should marry homosexuals because of the ill effects such a marriage may have on potential children. So, there you go – lol.

      • Bones

        Lol a Catholic espousing Catholic teaching. I’m shocked I tells ya.

    • You could hope that he might repent and be converted (perhaps opting for language without those religious connotations) so that he recognizes the evil of his ways and changes. Whether that is realistic is another question. Whether it should matter if it is realistic is another good question. But the fundamental point is to recognize that any of us could have ended up twisted by racism, misogyny, and/or xenophobia through upbringing and influences, and would want to be reached and have our minds changed rather than killed by someone who rightly judged us to be inflicting damage on other human beings.

      • Nick G

        None of that suggests anything I could actually do in order to promote Trump’s “transformation and redemption”. And the last sentence is just odd, looking like an attempt to reduce morality to a kind of hypothetical self-interest. I really don’t base my moral judgements on what I would hypothetically want if I had become a very different person to what I actually have become. And if I had become that kind of person, I might actually prefer to be killed rather than to be transformed into a “virtue-signalling bleeding-heart do-gooder” or “race traitor” or “beta male”, as that me might judge the me I have actually become.

        • I find your reply odd as well, so perhaps we are misunderstanding one another. Are you suggesting that we should not seek to change the minds of those who hold views that we consider harmful, because they don’t want their minds changed?

          • D.M.S.


  • Bones

    The article alludes to social media and I think the whole polarisation era (for Christians And non-Christians) has come about because of it and will be with us forever.

    I think you’d get the same if 1930s Germany had Facebook or the civil rights movement of the 60s had twitter.

    Could you imagine what the prophets might have tweeted about Ahab or Jesus about the sanhedrin?

    They sure as heck weren’t looking for common ground or examining their oppressors humanity.

  • billwald

    (For old people who understand) When I was a lad , The popular definition of “discrimination” was “making a decision based on evidence and personal experience. Glossy magazine ads included the phrase, “discriminating men wear (whatever).” “Prejudice” was commonly defined as “making a decision based on myth, not data or personal experience.”

    In this century, there is no English word for “making a decision based on the available data or personal experience.”
    The result is a “middle class” race to the bottom of the social/economic food chain with the animals running the zoo. “Average” Americans will always do OK.