May 17, 2010

A two edged sword

"Those who benefit from social injustice are naturally less capable of understanding its real character than those who suffer from it."

Theologian Reinhold Niebuhur's Moral Man and Immoral Society is basically a deconstruction of political utopianism. His main point is that social life will always be an arena of struggle given that fact that groups amplify all the flaws of human nature.

He is skeptical of many things that people of various times and places hoped would remedy social ills--including religion. In the past, it wasn't uncommon for people to believe that the civilizing influence of religion would gradually lead to a just and good society.

To some degree it has. The influence of Buddhism seemed to mellow out peoples such as the Mongols and Tibetans. The early Christian church, once it emerged from illegal status, put an end to the practice of crucifixion and gladiatorial spectacles (although it didn't take too many centuries before the church outdid even these with inquisitions and witch burning).

But he viewed religion historically is a two-edged sword. It can lead to greater social justice, but it can also justify injustice with other-worldliness or sanctify cruelty with the belief that God is on one's side. Without engaging in religion bashing, it's hard to deny that there's plenty of that to go around these days.

WHACKADOODLISM. Paul Krugman's latest op-ed is on the growth of right wing extremism in the wake of the recession.

LICENSCE REVOKED. I was stunned to learn recently that the clerical license of my friend the Rev. Jim Lewis has revoked by the Episcopal bishop of WV. Here's an op-ed questioning that decision.

TEACHERS AS TARGETS. It kind of looks like teachers are the scapegoats for all that is wrong in El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia these days.

HAST ANY PHILOSOPHY IN THEE, SHEPHERD? A new online series tackles the subject.

THE EARLY BIRD probably didn't fly too well.


1 comment:

Hollowdweller said...

Now you won't ever hear somebody say that a coal miner, even one that works on a strip job and isn't really even in a dangerous job and has an 8th grade education doesn't deserve his salary.

You won't hear anybody condemn him because he fouled their stream or ruined their well.

If you hear any complaint about the bad effects of mining it will be directed at the company not the workers who make the pollution possible.

But you will hear teachers, not the school management, not the curriculum, and not the students themselves or the parents blamed.

Teachers are the whipping boys(and girls) because sad to say WV'ians are mostly hostile to education and suspicious of educated people.

Sad but true.