Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Gramma addresses some textese. [updated link]

She also proposes TIF for That Is Funny, or TIVF for That Is Very Funny, to use when you aren’t really Laughing Out Loud. Because it’s lying to say you are, when you aren’t.

Added: There’s a follow up post at the same blog.

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From Ken Myers, writing at Touchstone:

In June of 1941, C. S. Lewis preached a sermon that has come down to us as one of his most enduring essays: “The Weight of Glory.” Lewis’s sermon was a reflection on the nature of the rewards that await believers, and he began by making the following claim: “If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love.”

Lewis went on to comment that the important difference between these two perspectives is more than the substitution of a negative term for a positive one. It is the claim that the really virtuous act is to forgo pleasures or benefits for the sake of others, “as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point.” Lewis suspected that the modern virtue of Unselfishness had its origins in Stoicism or in the ethics of Kant rather than in Christianity.

More a Strategy Than a Virtue

I thought of Lewis’s comparison of love and unselfishness when rereading A. J. Conyers’s book on the modern preoccupation with tolerance, The Long Truce: How Toleration Made the World Safe for Power and Profit. In the first chapter of the book, Conyers observes that tolerance has—over the course of the past four centuries—assumed a prominent position on the modern list of virtues. But if it is indeed a virtue, it is, he notes, a peculiar one…

Read the whole article.

hat tip: Joe Carter, at Mere Comments

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From Mr. Smith and The Ides of March, by Robinson O’Brien-Bours:

While both Clooney’s and Capra’s films depict a political system rife with corruption, there is a hugely important difference between the two. Clooney’s dark and pessimistic tale brings no closure to it, and no hope; one leaves the theater with a bitter sense of disappointment and cynical contempt for our political process. It is a tragedy where everyone loses, much like the tale of Julius Caesar that the title alludes to.

Mr. Smith, though, has a far different, more lasting, and more important tone. It depicts one decent and determined common man, surrounded by petty bunch of political thugs, who nonetheless makes a difference. This is not to say that its title character, Jefferson Smith, is alone in his feelings–the people support him, and there are even members of the Senate who likely support him as well, but are yet complicit with the villains through their silence. Smith still wins in the end, though.

Perhaps this is too idealistic. Perhaps the cynical transformation of Gosling’s Stephen Myers is closer to the real thing than the determined support for lost causes exhibited by Stewart’s Smith. If that is the case, though, then the fault is not with our system of government, but with us. We are the government.

Many Americans over the past few years seem to see our country through the same jaded vision of The Ides of March, and are tired of it. Perhaps, then, now is the perfect time to revisit the 1939 classic, which came out just in time for Nazis, Soviets, and Fascists to all ban it for its dangerous idea. When Hitler banned American movies in France, one Parisian theater played Mr. Smith nonstop for the month leading up to the ban. Tyrants are threatened by the idea that individuals have power; mortified by the possibility that one single person has the power to change the world. The reason they fear this is because it is true: good men, armed by the truth and common decency, can do more to change the world than all the armies and propaganda of tyranny and corruption in the world combined. It just takes hard determination in face of the harshest adversity.

Read the whole thing.

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It matters what you base your ethics on.

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Today’s Grace Gems devotional (emphasis in original):

Little Sins

(J.R. Miller, “Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ” 1890)

“Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same–will be called least in the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:19

A great many people are careful about breaking large commandments and committing heinous sins–while they commit ‘little sins’ continually and without scruple.

They would not tell a direct lie for the world–but their speech is full of little falsehoods!

They would not steal money from the purse or drawer of another–and yet they continually commit small thefts! For example, by mistake the grocer gives them a penny too much change–and they do not think of returning it. Through the carelessness of a postal worker, the postage stamp on a letter is left uncancelled–and they take it off and use it a second time.

They would not purposely try to blacken a neighbor’s name or destroy his character–and yet they repeat to others the evil whispers about him which they have heard, and thus soil his reputation.

They would not swear or curse in the coarse way of the ungodly–but they are continually using such minced oaths such as, Gosh! Gees! Heck! and other mild, timid substitutes for overt swearing.

They would not do flagrant acts of wickedness to disgrace themselves–but their lives are honeycombed with all kinds of little meannesses, impurities, selfishnesses, and bad tempers.

We need to remember, that little disobediences–harm our witness for the kingdom of Heaven.

Little sins–mar the beauty of our character.

Then, little sins are sure to grow! The trickling leak in the dike–becomes a torrent deluging vast plains!

Ofttimes, too, little sins are infinite in their consequences.

We ought never to indulge even the smallest faults or evil habits–but should aim always at perfection of character, and perfection is made up of ‘littles’.

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This snippet of John Wayne monologue from “The Alamo” has a pointed way of describing what happens to a man when he decides to do wrong.

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The following is a chapter from my book Not Exactly Innocent. It’s a chapter where I detour a bit to have some fun with regional language, and with men sitting around giving each other a hard time – but it’s also one in which I toss some pro-life activism into the mix. I am pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-family, and I hope that comes out in all my books. But in Not Exactly Innocent, much of the book revolves around bioethics, from the questions of the proper boundaries of scientific research, to the dangers of being disabled in a world awash in euthanasia advocates. The book is now available on Kindle. I’m aiming to have a trade paperback edition available soon, after we get some design details worked out.

This is the second book in the MI5 1/2 series, but I wrote it so it should be fine as a stand-alone book. It is crawling with spoilers for Not Exactly Dead, though, just so you know. The third book in the series is Not Exactly Allies.

25 – The Coffee Break

Leandre Durand and Henry Rochester rendezvoused at a coffee shop downtown, if you could call it a coffee shop, to swap notes. You could get coffee there, certainly, and pastries, not to mention cholesterol-drenched sandwiches, but it somehow didn’t seem to rise to the title of coffee shop. By some odd chemistry, it drew almost all men. Being temporary-bachelors-by-assignment, they found it surprisingly comfortable. And since the locals called it a coffee shop, they called it that, too, somewhat against their better judgment.

They didn’t have many notes to swap, unfortunately. Durand’s uncle was not turning up as hoped. Other leads were not panning out. New leads were not coming in at an encouraging rate. The FBI’s Harold MacAvoy still wished that they would go home, and was probably petitioning various governments to that effect. All in all, they’d had better investigations.

But they’d been at the game a long time and had long since learned to relax and stay hopeful. So they ordered coffee plus a cinnamon roll, nearly plate-sized, to split between them, and settled in for some mental gymnastics to keep their minds sharp. Sometimes a little bantering jarred something loose. And if it didn’t, it left a man feeling up to the task ahead of him. That was the theory, anyway. (Or the most believable excuse. (more…)

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Ross McCullough discusses beauty in the sphere of everyday life, well lived.

And he discusses it beautifully, too. Such a deal.

I remember being with a group of ladies once, Christians all, and the discussion turned to what ‘purpose’ God might have in mind for each of us to fulfill. The discussion lines soon were drawn between those who, having misread The Purpose-Driven Life, were wondering about “the purpose” God had put them on Earth for; versus another lady and myself, who argued that there were obviously (obvious to us, at any rate) purposes after purposes, all day long; choices upon choices, decisions upon decisions, a whole life to serve God, in countless little ways.

“Sometimes I think,” my friend said, “that God mostly put me here to smile at clerks at the grocery store.”

I had to laugh, because I have often thought something similar (neither of us meaning solely clerks in grocery stores, by the way). I said so, and at this point Margaret and I had to shift to explaining that while of course we can serve man and God in big ways, or in causes, or in professions, or what have you, it seems a mistake – and also a pity – to think that they replace everyday acts of kindness and love and compassion, or necessarily matter more.

I’m still not sure how well, if at all, our friends understood us, because the arguments from that side were mostly along the lines of ‘of course we should be polite to people, but…’. This indicates to me that they were missing our point, almost entirely.

As it happens, though, I think Mr. McCullough makes our point far better than I ever could. And along the way he makes dead on observations about not only today’s society, but about what it means to be fully alive. And there’s history and philosophy, too, for those of you who like such things.

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… David Bentley Hart makes A Modest Proposal for restoring sanity to our land. You must promise me that you will read all of it if you read any of it.

His colleague at First Things, Hadley Arkes, traces how we got to the present state of insanity, where thugs are protected and decent people are expected to take their blows quietly.

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Hilary White looks at classic literature, moral issues, current events, and contemporary books by bestselling author Dean Koontz. (They do tie together. Really.)

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