Sunday, June 07, 2009

Does Our Future Hold More Like Obama?

I spent a good deal of time criticizing President Obama's 20 year relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. I never considered Wright to have a pulpit worthy of spiritual teaching and that voluntarily sitting under that teaching says that one's character is sorely lacking. The assumption being that 'birds of a feather flock together.'

When Wright made the claim from that pulpit that 9/11 was just an example that America's chickens are coming home to roost, I was not altogether in disagreement. This nation has been involved in a good number of evils, but not so much in the ways that Wright stressed. God often uses people more evil as tools to discipline and give warning to others. I could have agreed with the reverend had he also said that his own church deserved to have one of the planes crashing there as much as the Twin Towers.

America's relationships and actions toward other nations or groups would be subject to much debate in regard to the amount of evil performed. Doubtless much was, but it is just as certain that lots of good was also done. I happen to believe that the United States has done far more good in the world than evil. But this is not a reason that I would have any agreement with Wright's statement.

I would more tend to suspect that harsh discipline would be deserved from internal American beliefs and modes of action. Treatment of minorities? Maybe, but the suffering and death via the Civil War could be considered discipline for that. Treatment of the poor? We have spent trillions on the 'War on Poverty.'

Legalized abortion? Now we're getting somewhere. Yet this is just a symptom. It is a symptom in a society that willingly and officially attempts to separate God and his absolutes from governmental or personal action. In this circumstance the government becomes the default absolute authority and arbiter of all right and wrong, public and private.

What could the government use as a template for decisions? The Constitution? For quite a long time that document could be considered one of two synonymous phrases; a living document or a dead letter. What has replaced the Constitution and rule of law? Feelings, rationalizations, manipulations, and power. When God, his authority, and his absolutes are rejected, a Constitution is just a piece of paper. Anything could be rationalized... for the children, for the planet.

Katherine Kersten logs a commentary on that does a nice rehash of some of the issues of our culture these days:
As a society, we tolerate pastors, priests, rabbis and other religious folks, so long as they confine their message to a vanilla "God is love" theme and bless babies, brides and caskets.

But when religious leaders speak out on the issues of the day...
We are threatened with instant transmogrification to the Dark Ages. The alternative?
...the idea that the universe is a random accident, that transcendent truth is a myth, and that man's life has no inherent purpose or meaning....

Human beings are prone to selfishness, lust, vindictiveness and cruelty. Once we cease to believe that the moral rules constraining us are rooted in transcendent truth, they become mere preferences -- a matter of personal taste, and so expendable.

Theologian David Bentley Hart, a critic of the New Atheists, puts it this way: "How long can our gentler ethical prejudices ... persist once the faith that gave them their rationale and meaning has withered away?"

The historical record here should give us pause. The French Revolution, Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union -- all sought to replace Judeo-Christian ethics with reason, and ended in massive bloodletting.

Nor does science offer moral guidance. That way lies Social Darwinism -- the notion of the survival of the fittest. Unless scientific ambition is constrained by religion, it can come to see humanity as just another form of technology, to be tinkered with and perfected with utility in mind.
If this trend continues, what chickens are expected to come home to roost? Obama is one of those chickens, and it could get worse.


ReasonableCitizen said...

In countries that are not Christian, to what do you attribute their morality?
You live in a country established with European and Judeo-Christian values and you say this is the source of morality. Please let me know where the Japanese morality comes from or the Chinese or the east Indian? Or the African morality in small poverty stricken villages in Niger?
Morality is everywhere and more pervasive than immorality.
I also note that you think the Constitution is a template for making decisions.It is not about that at all. It is the document that sets the contract between government and its citizens. It is not about morality and does not purport to codify personal actions or moral issues. It does not say that stealing is wrong, it does not support the truth over the lie, and it does not tell anyone to show respect for anyone else.
Morality is everywhere. Fidelity, truthfulness,respect,and honor are not unique to Chistians.

Steve Burri said...

Thanks for stopping by and responding, R.C.

Your comment makes some good points, but veers off the subject matter a good deal.

Atheists have a level of morality as well, often quite high. I do not think that it is consistent with or derived from a materialist worldview, however. It is borrowed from a nonmaterial source.

The Japanese, Chinese, and the other cultures that you mentioned have a religious basis for their morals. Spend a generation or two submarining those foundations with heavy doses of materialism and the culture would change as well.

I agree that the Constitution could be considered the founding contract more than 'template', but nonetheless, "Endowed by their Creator..." from the Declaration played a heavy hand in its creation.

Morality is ubiquitous. It comes from Man being created in the image of God.

R.C., do you believe 'the universe is a random accident, that transcendent truth is a myth, and that man's life has no inherent purpose or meaning...?'

Sorry this is so short and incomplete. I have to get to work and will be putting in 14 sixteen hour days. I'll add more as I get the opportunity.

ReasonableCitizen said...

I believe in a Creator and I am always surprised to find Christians who think that Judeo-Christian values are the epitome of morality. I am particularly displeased by those who say that the Christian values are responsible for the greatest country on the face of the earth. Rome, Eqypt,the Persian Empire, the Greeks, and the Chinese dynasties are all examples of countries that basked in wealth, education, strong morality, and world presence without Christianity.
Religions are the repository of generational 'Good' and, to my way of thinking, Thank God for that.

As for Obama, I did not vote for him but I am glad that he is President. I have several bones to gnaw upon about some policies (and some decisions) but I am pleased to see that we have a functional adult in the White House again.
I hope there are more like him in our future.
Having said that,I want less federal government, more focus on citizen's rights,and I want to see more state sovereignty. We are in danger of having the federal government become a social class of people ala the medieval european era.
I do not agree that science should be constrained by religion. I believe that science is God's tool to help us understand the miracle that surrounds us. I think God wants us to discover how He made the universe and Life. We were made in His image on purpose. We are to share in the glories of the universe He created.How could it be otherwise?
To be ignorant of God's creationary devices is to disrespect His Creation.
Thanks for allowing me to comment.