Stay in the conversation!

Just found out that an old mentor of mine, who has taken a hard swerve to the Alt-Right, has blocked me on Facebook. I thought they had left FB, but a mutual friend said they are still on FB posting Alt-Right memes daily. It saddens me that political propaganda can make us so brittle, and our relationships so fragile, that we retreat into our safe spaces of only people who hold to the same dogmas we hold.

Now I have blocked people on FB too, but I think I have only blocked people who (a) were super-argumentative but not my friend in real life, and/or (b) were verbally abusive to me personally, and/or (c) advocated violence against persons they despise or disagree with. But as long as someone doesn't cross these boundaries, I stay in the conversation, even if I find most of their posts to be complete bovine excrement.

So, it saddens me when someone exiles themselves from relationships so their ideology will remain unchallenged. It can even mean a loss of memories and experiences that were only shared with that person. So, as I have said many times: Stay in the conversation, and learn how to debate using evidence and reason, instead of memes and insults.


Do Moral Values change over time?

It is often claimed that moral values change greatly over time as societies “advance”. For instance, it is often claimed that modern societies are morally superior for not killing witches or shunning homosexuals. But perhaps what this apparent progress actually shows is that while we are scientifically superior, we may actually be morally similar, to ancient societies. Surprisingly similar moral values often underlie very different historical manifestations of morality. How can this be so? It seems to me that when we combine traditional moral values with increasing scientific knowledge, we actually get changes in cultural practices that are more just and compassionate. Let me unpack this with some thought experiments:

What counts as "Christian"?

Recently I was in an online discussion about whether a group of people and the ideas they represent are "Christian". My initial response was that if they have been baptized into Christ, and they do not renounce that baptism, then they are Christians. They may be faithless Christians, bad Christians, hypocritical Christians, uninformed Christians, unjust Christians, but they are still Christians.

Two Forms of Imperial Christianity

I am teaching a course on Religion and Politics in American culture. And the truth is, there has never been a time when Christianity was not used, in some sense, to validate the legitimacy of the United States Government. There has always been some large faction in American Politics which equated being American with being Christian in some sense. And on occasion, we have wrapped the American Flag quite tightly around the cross to validate the righteousness of our cause over and against that of some other nation or faction, whether in the Revolution, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Cold War conflicts, or the never ending "War on Terror". What is relatively new this political season is that, in the absence of a war or clear external threat to our country, we have major preachers such as Pat Robertson and others, declaring that our sitting President is God's anointed leader and savior of the Country, and that disagreeing with him is "revolting against God". This is an interesting twist, and harkens back to versions of Imperial Christianity in the middle ages which stressed the "Divine Right of Kings" to rule as God's chosen instruments. And it brings to mind the Imperial Christianity of 1930's Germany that also anointed Adolf Hitler as Germany's savior.


Hate is a Policy, not a Feeling

We tend to think of things like hate and love as feelings: They happen when we "feel" them, or experience them inside ourselves, even if unexpressed in outward action. But it seems to me that they rather are motivations that lead to concrete actions. Hate is not so much judged by a Likert Scale of 0 (no feeling of hate) to 5 (strong feeling of hate). Hate is judged by the outward actions and attitudes it manifests in social interactions. 



Wondervoyage: The Antidote to Affluenza

As a host of media pundits and cultural critics have noted over the past several years, many of today’s young adults suffer from a debilitating illness that can cause severe apathy, lethargy, and short-sightedness, along with a profound feeling that the entire world is actually orbiting around them. What is this dread malady? Affluenza. This disease can afflict many who have grown up with access to quality education, convenience, and comfort, but have been relatively insulated from people of other viewpoints, cultures, and socio-economic backgrounds.
This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.