Friday, August 28, 2015

Losing our moral direction?


Four events over the past week have made me think long and hard about the moral mess in which we find ourselves in this country.

First, there was the Hugo Awards debacle, in which two sides with widely differing opinions, having harangued each other for months, finally had at it in a no-holds-barred award ceremony that left one side triumphant - and the other infuriated and energized to come back at them even harder next year.  There were, ultimately, no winners in the fight;  only the guarantee that the Hugo Awards themselves would be the ultimate losers.  Civility and common decency seemed to have vanished.

Second, there was the frantic effort to repair the damage done to Planned Parenthood's image over the recent undercover video scandal.  The organization hastily commissioned its own investigation into the videos, which concluded - surprise, surprise! - that they'd been heavily edited and were unusable as evidence.  As The Nation was quick to point out, "The forensic analysis should clarify that the scandal is not Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation for medical research. It’s the surreptitious campaign undertaken by CMP to attack the healthcare provider, possibly in collusion with some members of Congress."  Nice to have no conscience in matters like this.  Clearly, the dismemberment of just-aborted but still living children for their organs, for profit, is nothing to worry about.

Third, country musician Charlie Daniels wrote an open letter to the US Congress.  Here's an excerpt.

Your ratings are in the single digits; your morals are in the gutter; your minds are on self-preservation; and somewhere along the way, you’ve traded your honor for political expediency.

You've violated your oaths; you've betrayed your country; you've feathered your nests; and you've sat on your hands while an imperial president has rubbed your noses in the dirt time after time.

You're no longer men. You're puppets, caricatures, jokes, a gaggle of fading prostitutes for sale to anybody who can do you a political favor.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

There's more at the link.  It's worth reading it all.

Finally, following the tragic murder of a television journalist and cameraman in Virginia, Matt Walsh lays it on the line.

We look at the darkest, most disturbing actions carried out by the most hateful people, and rather than face the terrifying reality that, in fact, rational people choose to do evil, we retreat back into the comfortable fantasy that only crazy people do bad things.

We want to reduce everything to chemicals and neurology and synapses, but we leave no room for a man’s soul, his will, his desire, his choice. And what has that achieved? I suppose it’s achieved quite a bit, financially, for the pharmaceutical industry, yet the rest of us are still left to grapple with the hatred and despair they told us the pills would cure.

Of course, I don’t discount mental illness completely, nor do I suppose Flanagan would have checked all the boxes on a “mental health” checklist. Obviously, the man had “issues,” as they say. But my radical theory is that his deepest issues were spiritual. And the same could be said for all of us.

Flanagan grabbed that camera and that gun and shot two people in the head because he was consumed by his sin, and he was consumed by his sin because he chose to follow his bitterness, loathing, and contempt all the way down into the darkness, away from the light, away from God, away from Truth. He pushed God out and let evil in, and this is the result.

And there is something even beyond Flanagan and his individual choices. There isn’t any one person who caused this attack more directly than Flanagan himself, but our whole country, our culture, is in a desperate spiritual state. Spiritual health, not mental health, is the real crisis of our time.

We have rejected God as a country, and I believe we are seeing, every day, the hideous fruits of our godless civilization.

. . .

Once you take the first step — rejecting God, embracing evil — there is simply no telling what you’ll do next. That’s the horrifying truth. Time to face it.

Again, there's more at the link, and I recommend you read the entire article.

I entirely agree with Matt Walsh.  What's more, I think you could apply his thesis to every single one of the four cases I've mentioned above.  At the root of all of them is a turning away from any moral lodestone, any objective yardstick against which to measure our conduct as human beings.  Once we remove that authority, that reference point - whether you wish to call it/him/her God or something else - we become anchorless, drifting at the mercy of the wind and the tide . . . neither of which is either moral or ethical.

I'm a man of faith.  To me, the moral lodestone is God and His revealed will for us.  Others of different faiths may disagree on precisely what that will might be;  but there's a surprising amount of agreement between the great faiths on what constitutes moral conduct, so much so that all major religious and philosophical systems of thought more or less agree on the existence of the Golden Rule.  The problem today is that many people are no longer exposed to these systems of thought, and/or are used to seeing them denigrated and 'dumbed down' in popular culture, to the point that they are no longer afforded any higher authority at all.  They're just another human viewpoint.  If that's the case, then they have no more validity than one's personal opinion - so why pay any attention to them?

The Bible tells us that God made us in His own image.  Today, far too many of us have chosen to see God as no more than another human being.  In so many words, we've reinvented Him in our image.  Many people of (alleged) faith now honor the Ten Commandments and the Great Commandment more in the breach than in the observance.  That failure compromises the moral authority of the Christian message as a whole.  If people see Christians failing to practice the morality they preach, why should they pay any attention to the preachers?

For those who acknowledge no God, I'd like to suggest that religion nevertheless served at least some historical purpose by providing the moral framework for our system of laws.  Now that the historical framework has broken down, what's to replace it?  We still need a moral and ethical lodestone to guide our decision-making.  If that's not of divine origin, what is it?  I can't answer that question, so I'll leave it up to you.

Whatever the truth of the matter, I submit that the root of all the problems outlined above is that we've arrogated to ourselves, as individuals and as a society, the right to do as we please, without let or hindrance from any form of higher authority or ethical or moral norm.  I believe that only when we turn away from that, and admit that such norms are, in fact, a necessity rather than an imposition, can we find ways to solve these problems and others.  If we don't do that, the situation can only get worse.

What say you, dear readers?  Let's hear from you in Comments.

Peter

14 comments:

raven said...

Not too long ago, I read an excerpt on some blog or another- can't remember who it was that was quoted, but the gist went something like this- I am sure some of your readers can clue me in on the author.
After people turn away from God and religion, even though the worship is gone , they adhere to the framework of morality that remains , for a few generations, more or less out of habit and tradition. But after a while, even the echos of that moral framework fade away and they drift back to barbarism.

I think that is where we are now.

Matt said...

Corpses don't stink mediately in many cases. This country died when it tossed God out if its collective heart. The stench is awful now.

Loyd Jenkins said...

To call evil, evil is recognition of the truth. We are as much spiritual as physical, probably more. We should be more aware of the condition of our heart. Thank you for being willing to bring it out in the open.

Paul said...

the devil believes in God, Why can't we?

Bob said...

We are all witnessing the fall of this nation, a collapse brought about by decades of effort by every amoral and Godless group imaginable: Communists, Socialists, feminists, the disgusting collection of LGBT adherents, unsane college professors, greedy politicians... the list is long, and they have worked tirelessly for decades to see their goals achieved.

With the election of Obama, the last nail was hammered into the coffin of America's ideals as enshrined in our Constitution.

Good grief, some nutcase professor just announced at the University of Tennessee that definitions like "He", "She", "his, "her" are all now unacceptable, and it has gone unchallenged.

We are witnessing the fall. We will soon be experiencing the results.

Remember what weatherman bomber Lou Ayers wife Bernadine Dohrn said:

"It may be necessary to kill as many as 25 million of them to achieve our goals".

Keep in mind this lunatic in not in prison, she is an Clinical Associate Professor of Law and has been poisoning young minds for decades.

People go on about how Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot killed millions of their own citizens who happened to disagree with them.

It's going to happen here - the same forces are in motion - and there is no one to stop them.

freddie_mac said...

I remember reading a few years back about how a Japanese medical school treated their cadavers, and I was astonished and delighted. The med students were required to learn about the people who had donated their bodies, and ended up doing presentations for the relatives, celebrating the donors' lives as well as what the students had learned from their bodies. Such a program (IMHO) helped the students maintain respect for their donors and (hopefully) helped them treat their future patients with dignity ... a program like this should be required, not an exception.

Joseph S. Ramirez said...

Yup, America is dark, and has been for some time. As a young guy in my twenties, as part of my day job I talk to Americans in their eighties and nineties every day, and it's like they are immigrants from a different country. Probably because they are - in a metaphorical sense, anyway. I don't remember a country where things weren't dark, and my children will not even be able to fathom it.

I like what you said, Peter, about the Ten and the Great commandments. In my church we have a teaching that goes like this: "Commandments from God are invitations to blessings." Many, many people have turned down the invitations, and many, many more were never given the invitation because their parents turned it down before it could reach their children. And... we see the results.

There is still light, though, and as America (and the rest of the world) gets darker, even small lights can shine brighter, and the ones who never got the invitation can still find those lights, those invitations, if we keep them held high and burning bright. People can change. Many will not, but some can, and thus, there is still hope.

Eric Wilner said...

I see much of this as reflecting an outbreak of narrow tribalism... which has been developing for decades, really got rolling in November 2000, and is rapidly escalating in some highly-visible areas.
It doesn't help that one collection of factions pursues a collectivist ideology (or an assortment of such), with any deviation from the dogma of the day punishable by shaming or summary banishment. All must agree on everything!
The puppy kickers? Tribalism.
Defending live delivery and dismemberment as a legitimate medical procedure and the sine qua non of women's health? C'mon, no one could say that with a straight face except as a desperate attempt to preserve tribal solidarity.
Congresscritters going along with the crooked Establishment? But they have to do that, or they wouldn't be allowed to sit at the Cool Kids' Table!
No, I don't see this as a religious thing, per se, except so far as people without religion (even if they go to church) often end up worshiping tribal leaders - we've seen a lot of that the past few years, haven't we?
Humans are predisposed to believe in things. Those without knowledge and understanding will believe any "facts" they read on the Internet. Those with uncalibrated moral compasses will pick any large magnet and declare it to be "north." Chesterton is reputed (probably incorrectly) to have remarked on this.
And, of course, we're predisposed to form tribes. Demagogues can take advantage of this to carve out followings for themselves, and set their followers against selected out-groups.
Our enlightened leaders want us to be more like Europe, but if we examine the history of Europe outside the Pax Americana, this maybe doesn't sound like such a good thing?

Anonymous said...

I agree. Please note the connection some of our Founding Fathers saw between freedom/liberty and "religion" which to them meant "Christianity".

Here's the one I was looking for. John Adams, in a speech to the military in 1798, warned his fellow countrymen stating, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

This and others like it found at the URL below.

http://www.free2pray.info/5founderquotes.html

Waidmann

Anonymous said...

A sobering thought: If each of the three people shot by the scumbag in VA had been packing heat .... wouldn't have helped them one bit. They never had a chance.

I like what Mr. Ramirez wrote, gives me hope.

Will said...

@3:59,

not necessarily true. When you carry a gun, you tend to pay more attention to your surroundings. Better situational awareness, in other words.
However, in their case, according to people who do that job, the focus is so acute, that it can be difficult to notice people around you.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter,

I remember a line from Babylon 5 from the movie "In the Beginning" and the older space faring race called the "Mimbari" were debating the existence of the "evil ones" called the "Shadows" and one of the representative from the side of light commented after a member of the warrior caste commented about such things don't exist if you can't touch it. the character that represented the Rangers from the side of light replied " You no longer believe, for you have fallen from Grace." It is a bit long winded reply for what I was going to say but when ever I see something like what you have written...I see this scene flow through my mind " you have fallen from Grace". And that is in a nutshell..."we as a nation has fallen from Grace."

Zach said...

I need to pay more attention to my RSS feed.

Matthew 24 says that "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." As we get further from God, the love, appreciation, tolerance and civility that we sort of expect because it's been at least a small part of our culture for so long, starts to naturally go away. As we become less willing to follow the commandments, we begin to lose the love, understanding, and appreciation that people should have for one another.

It feels like we're being pushed to extremes. Either you go light - and hold on and push for light and life and love, or you go dark - really dark - and you begin to push for darkness and death. We will not be able to stand between two opinions, people are going to have to choose.

JohninMd.(HELP?!??) said...

Was listening to Glenn Beck today, (9/3) he was expressing outrage over a Green Beret who was being dishonorably discharged, for striking anAfgan police chief. It seems the head cop had kidnapped a 15,year old.boy, RAPED HIM FOR SIX DAYS, then beat the boy's mother when she appealed to the S.F. detachment for help. The troop who found and freed the boy had to punch out the PD commander they'd been sent to train, to do so. HE IS BEING CASHIERED FOR HAVING HONOR, BY HIGHER COMMAND. HELL, YES we are losing the Mandate of Heaven I believe we've had since the Revolution.
God, help us all.