Independence Weekend Reading: On the Pledge

Some time ago, two years or so, I wrote a column for the Huntington University paper (called The Huntingtonian) that picked up a little interest. Turns out my thoughts on the US Pledge of Allegiance are not too common, and stirred up some discussion.

But I love that, don’t I?

Continue reading

Bible Stories for Children

Ashley pointed me to an interesting article in the USA Today this morning that discusses different stances and approaches to telling Biblical stories in the form of children’s books. The article was pretty well balanced (surprisingly) and I thought I would distill what was said and offer a view that wasn’t presented, that is, not to tell children these stories when they are small.

Continue reading

Boyd at Mars and A New Tour

Thought it would be worth mentioning that Greg Boyd will be speaking at Mars Hill on the 29th of this month.

Worth going. Definitely worth going.

There is also a new tour planned, called Calling All Peacemakers. Check out its website. Unfortunately it only seems to be a european tour. The tour seems to be based off of a series of messages Bell preached at Mars in December. If you didn’t catch the podcast, let me know and I will totally send you a copy. It’s well worth it.

Nooma – Myspace Page Release

In the past I have had a strong distaste for Myspace (and still do), often offering free blog designs to my friends for promising to stay off Myspace / delete their current page. Yeah, I guess you could consider mine strong feelings.

So my friends might be surprised to hear that I actually had a tab containing (nay, restraining) Myspace today. I was taking a look at the recently published Nooma page on Myspace.
Continue reading

Sexually Active Churches

FOXNews posted a news brief today that highlights a church in Detroit called Epic Church which is currently running a series on sexuality. This idea isn’t really brand new stuff as far as church news goes, but the interesting part is that the church is affiliated with The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod– for those that don’t have experience with that group, this is a pretty big step out there.
Continue reading

Moral Relativity

Cover of The Moral Life (Amazon)For Ethics, PL260, I am reading selections from a book called The Moral Life: an introductory reader in ethics and literature.

Tonight’s essay was Ruth Benedict’s The Case for Moral Relativism. In it she argues for (duh) moral relativism, which is defined, by the book’s editor Louis P. Pojman, as:

…the theory that the validity of moral principles is dependant on cultural or subjective acceptance.

Louis P. Pojman, p. 151

Benedict in particular defends the idea that morals are determined by social systems and relies on what she calls “normal-abnormal categories” to do it. Normal categories would be the These are the distinctions made by societies that determine whether or not something is acceptable. Abnormal categories are the opposite.

In how far are such categories culturally determined, or in how far can we with assurance regard them as absolute? In how far can we regard inability to function socially as diagnostic of abnormality, or in how far is it necessary to regard this as a function of the culture?

Ruth Benedict, p. 152

This brings up the issue of absolute v. relative moral systems. I’m not yet convinced that these are the only two options.

No one civilization can possible utilize in its mores the whole potential range of human behavior. Just as there are great numbers of possible phonetic articulations, and the possibility of language depends on a selection and standardization of a few of those in order that speech communication may be possible at all, so the possibility of organized behavior of every sort…depends upon a similar selection among the possible behavior traits.

Ruth Benedict, p. 156

Obviously moral relativism throws a wrench into many modern interpretations of Christianity – or so they think. Most Christians don’t realize that their own faith is based on moral relativism, in essence. Think about it. What is right and wrong is not based on any absolute moral truth, but on whatever God says. That’s relativism.

Wild, right?

The very eyes with which we see the problem [of morality] are conditioned by the long traditional habits of our own society…

We recognize that morality differs in every society, and is a convenient term for socially approved habits. Mankind has always preferred to say, “It is morally good,” rather than “It is habitual,” and the fact of this preference is matter enough for a critical science of ethics. But historically the two phrases are synonymous.

Ruth Benedict, p. 157

Benedict shook me with that last line. Historically speaking, it probably is true. At the very least it rings true, in some sense. Doesn’t it?

Ruth Benedict was an American anthropologist who taught at Columbia University. She is best known for her book Patterns of Culture.