Thursday, August 5, 2010

Was New Zealand Founded as a "Christian Nation?"

Or as a "secular state?" Heh heh. It never ends.

By Simon Collins
New Zealand Herald


The Human Rights Commission has bowed to Catholic Church objections to a statement that New Zealand was a secular state and that religion was only for the "private sphere".

The statement, contained in a draft update of the commission's 2004 report on Human Rights in New Zealand Today, drew fire this week from the country's Catholic bishops.

"To suggest that matters of religion and belief belong only in the private sphere undermines the right of churches to seek to influence public opinion and political decision making," the bishops said. The evangelical Vision Network agreed, saying "no major religion sees itself as a privatised matter".

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said yesterday that the offending words would be rewritten.

"We'll look to rephrase that to say the right to belief is a personal matter," he said.

"There wasn't any intention to limit or to privatise religious belief. It's more about the fact that it's a matter of personal choice and not of state direction, and that there is a strong tradition of religious diversity in New Zealand going right back to the so-called fourth article of the Treaty [of Waitangi]."

Bishop [Brian] Tamaki said Christianity underpinned New Zealand institutions.

Despite this protest, the commission's new draft statement initially repeated lines from the 2004 document that "New Zealand is a secular state with no state religion", and that "matters of religion and belief are deemed to be a matter for the private, rather than public, sphere".

The Catholic bishops and Vision Network director Glyn Carpenter still object to the claim that New Zealand is a "secular state".

"This is contradicted by official statistics which show that a majority of New Zealanders described themselves as having a religion in the 2006 census," the bishops said.


Full story here
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65 comments:

Pinky said...

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No kidding! That's the oldest problem there is and we've always had it with organized religion.
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Give 'em an inch...
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And they wonder why we just don't get down on our knees to them.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

Or the oldest problem was the state taking over religion. Think about it.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Yep, the tension between Church and State is the tension that we MUST maintain, if we don't want to discriminate against religion, and yet, not promote a particular religious conviction, either. How do we do that, esp. with the government taking over more and more of our lives? The only way to maintain personal choice is to limit government and allow religious tolerance. And base policy on what has worked, not changing for the "sake of change", but carefully, questioning the reason why change or law is necessary and give rational and reasonable explainations for the change or legislation. This means that politicians cease politicizing issues and start evaluating what is the best way forward....not toeing the party platform or line...neccessarily. And that public servants see themselves as public servants, and not as "Kings"...

I think Lindsay Graham has done a great job with his rational of changing the 14th Ammendment and immigration policy on illegal immigrants and thier children's citizenship, but I question whether the judge that circumvented Proposition 8 on gay marriage had as reasonable an argument on using the 14th Ammendment.

The real question is how do we tolerate the intolerant, and maintain social order, without being intolerant ourselves? This is where we have to maintain our religious distinction, as predominately a Prostestant "Christian nation", as well as maintain our borders, as a separate nation that demands respect for its boundaries. A "Chrisitan nation" does not mean that we subscribe to the "dot and tittle" when it comes to government institutions and laws. We are not to re-formulate the "Puritan commonwealth", as a nation.

Such are the concerns that face our nation today with immigration policy, gay rights, and the Muslim mosque debate in NYC.

Unfortunately, Christian fundamentalism has had a wide impact on American understanding of faith and has propitiated a radicalization of faith commitments, such that everything be damned, if their view is not upheld.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The real question is how to promote a liberal society, while not undermining what is necessary for societal flourishing...And what is societial flourishing? What is human flourishing?

Institutions are necessary for social functioning. So when change is necessary in these institutions, then we must not change the institution itself, such as with our form of government. There is a need to maintain the separation and balance of power, always and forever...because humans will always be limited, fallable, and self-interested...

jimmiraybob said...

Just think, in a few centuries the culture wars can start to unravel colonization of the moon and planets.

I'll prognosticate that Mars was not founded as a Christian planet. :)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

jimmyraybob, "Christian nation" is a "mis-nomer, as really "Christian" is about the minority position and it being served, a representative Republic. But, isn't this a problem today?

"Minority rights" have led us down a road where there is no rationale that unites us...the liberal positiion tends to undermine our unity, while the conservative position tends to bring intolerant attitudes toward those that differ from them...and it is based on an "infallibe, inerrant text" of understanding faith.

Experience is really the only commonality of man. How man interprets his experiences will differ vastly for different reasons, at least in liberal societies...Reason, while common to man is developed differently, depending on man's interests, aptitude, and focus.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The question is one of practicality or idealism. Was slavery to be forbidden as a universal, or was it the way that slaves were to be treated as "equal parties" under law?

The practical matter of slavery is whether the Southern States had a right of economic viability. Abraham Lincoln used the idealization of human rights to centralize government. Government was never intended to be expanded in such a way of protecting minority rights...

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The social contract is furthered when it is validated by the business contract, where parties are treated as equal parties...and it is private business, and not government, that has an interest in furthering their purposes by promoting ethical behavior toward its employees...

Angie Van De Merwe said...

jimmyraybob, Do you believe in nation-building, as in promoting Constitutional government? Some do not, as they do not believe that a liberal democracy is necessarily the best form of government for everyone. These believe that the human aspects of 'personhood' is formed in such a way that subverting their way of life is doing injustice to these people.. What do you think?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Government should not promote minority rights, but it should protect minority rights...

I said it wrong, in my prior post...

Angie Van De Merwe said...

When government gets involved in business dealing, then we are headed down a path that promotes corruption, because as government grows because of private businesses having an interests in government "bids" then, it is easier for private business to take advantage of government because those in government maintain their contracts without the competiton from the "market" and protection from legislatures because of lobbyists that promote special interests....and for government employees to take advantage of their priviledged position to further their special interests...it is the good ole boy system...and those that might have better ideas, or promote a leaner government beauracracy have little ability to break into the 'system"...the 'system" has a lot to loose....and it would be the American people who would win!

bpabbott said...

Re: "Government should not promote minority rights, but it should protect minority rights."

Thanks for clarifying ... your earlier words didn't sound right :-)

I agree that our Nation is often paralyzed by an unhealthy tension between promotion vs suppression of various ideals. For example, protecting of minority rights by suppressing intolerance of minorities. Which may also be described as promoting minority rights at the expense of cultural tradition / ethos.

If I understand you correctly, I agree, we'd be better off protecting the rights of the minority from misplaced concerns of the majority, but also tolerate those of the majority who express their concerns.

Pinky said...

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I just read Angie's first post here.
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I've been thinking about this New Zealand think this morning. The more I consider it, the more incensed I get.
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Angie, you're as wrong as you can be.
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At least, you're wrong from a structuralist point of view. You are taking the post modernist view of blaming the government.
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When we consider American society from a structuralist perspective, we see that there are certain "institutions" that make up our communities. Each of those institutions, in order for society to run smoothly and effectively, has equal standing with each of the others.
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In a pure perspective, American Society is made up of five institutions: 1. Familial; 2. Religious; 3. Economical; 4. Educational; and, 5. Governmental.
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Each institution has its own foundational value--each is founded for a specific reason. Each has its own subsets; its own rules and standards; each represents a pillar on which society stands in total. Think about it without any prejudice and you see how that is the way it is--at least theoretically. It is modernity; but, it is not post modern which is post structuralist. Society, community, runs smoothly when each has equal standing with each other. Society goes out of balance when one or more gains more standing (power) than another.
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Our society is out of balance!!
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Why is that so? What has caused the imbalance?
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Of course, this is a subject all its own; but, it is at the root of the problem the New Zealand situation presents to us.
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I can go into great detail to show how the economical and the religious as organized institutions are opposed to the governmental institution. Figure this one out, Angie, and don't just rush to judgment without due consideration.
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I read a book along time ago, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Freedom_and_Catholic_Power. Check it out.
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Government is NOT organized to overcome the economical or the religious; but, those two are organized against the government--for damned sure and you know it!! It's all over the place.
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And, who is it that we call the government in America if it isn't We the People.
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The religious and the economical institutions give support to each other and they both want power over you!
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Don't let yourself be bamboozled by political bull shit.
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Pinky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angie Van De Merwe said...

Thanks, bpabbott. Minority rights have protections only in regards to our form or standards of behavior.

Gay rights do have a right to civil unions and protection under the law. Protection of two equal parties in any endeavor, whether business or social, is what our liberal democracy is about. The question is not about whether one is changing the institution of marriage, as that is not being changed. Two parties are still agreeing to a union.

What is being changed is the reason for marriage. Is marriage a social contract? OR is it something more. Those that believe that it is more can get married in their chosen church to sanction their legal contract.

The situation concerning the mosque is another issue that needs to be addressed. Cultural mores and norms are what constitute religious traditions. This is a tenuous position, but as we are understood to be a Christian nation, we cannot tolerate a tradition that fundamentally subverts our culture and tradition.

The Protestant work ethic was what brought about our prosperous nation. And this ethic promotes capitalistic endeavors and the free market. Muslim culture does not condone the material to be of ultimate concern. Only the spiritual. The material is all we have to make our judgments on in a real world. But, equality cannot mandated in outcomes, but only in opportunity, which is a role for law, but not for government interference or control...as to outcome. The individual must choose that outcome...

As far as immigration policy, we must uphold the standards of assimilation. English should be expected to be our language, as otherwise, we expend energies and monies in trying to meet out all of our diverse languages, in the name of tolerance. And education, budgets and tolerance becomes stretched beyond reasonability. And this is reverse discrimination.

The liberal policies are based on equality, human rights and diversity, but these policies are not practical in implementation. Always the liberal agenda ends up discriminating on the basis of those in government. Liberals must understand that one must discriminate to be rational or functional society.

Conservatives, on the other hand, recognize that government must be limited if society is to remain free. Liberty is the experience of an individual in a liberal democracy, not a "form" of legislative policy.

But, while liberty is most important aspect to conservative values, laws must be affirmed which protect the rights of those that do not transcribe to their form of life.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Thanks, bpabbott.

Liberals whose primary concern is equality must learn to discriminate, because it is impractical to base society on liberal policies, where diversity allows no room for definition.

Immigration policy and religious tolerance is two of our problems, which are exasperated by liberality.

Immigrants should speak our language, as otherwise, budgets and education are stretched beyond limitations. Tolerance in this sense is irrational, because it demoralizes those that have to learn their language to benefit those that have choosen to be a part of our nation. If they choose to be a part, then they must learn.

Muslim values are in opposition to our values. Our nation values the Protestant work ethic, which is based in capitalism and a free market. Muslims value the spiritual at the costs of the material. And these values are not based on reason. So, we tolerate those traditions that are intolerant to our demise.

Liberals cannot mandate equality of outcome, without growing governemnt and giving those in government primacy, which inevitably corrupts liberty, demoralizing the populace, and enslaving and ultimately, destroying the middle class.

Conservatives value liberty, but must understand that liberty stops at the door of another's right. Therefore, laws protect another's life and property.

Gay rights to civil unions must be protected. The institution of marriage is not being re-defined, but the reason for marriage is. Two equal parties, whether business or social, are still recognized as equal parties in the social contract. But, how the contract is worked out in the specificities in roles and functions differ to the parties involved. If those that believe that marriage is more than a social contract want to sanction their marriage in the church, then they can.

Discrimination is of necessity if there is to be rationality. And we all do discriminate, just on different basises...

Pinky said...

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In a strict structuralist perspective, marriage is not an institution of society; but, a subset within the Familial Institution. As such, marriage is the legitimation of the union between a father(male) and a mother(female) within a family.
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In a post structuralist (post modern) perspective, anything goes. It's all up for grabs and expresses a problem that comes with liberal democracy.
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Too bad our Constitution doesn't define what it takes for something to be called the American Family. That would solve the problem with no further ado.
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As it is, homosexual marriage is as Constitutional as the First Amendment. Like it or not.
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Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,

While I might not agree with or even understand gay marriage, that is a right under our Constitution. And science must help us understand whether the family should be defined by a specifically male and female model. Is the the ONLY model that helps form the children? What is of value in forming children? Is it character (commitment, loyalty, civility, etc.), or is it some tradition's "form of understanding" the family?

I agree that stretching one's boundaries is sometimes uncomfortable, but what protects and what inhibits the ideals of our government? This is what we should be focused on. That does't mean we de-value any structure per se. But, it does mean we question as society's needs, or science's discovery's change...

Pinky said...

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My problem, Angie, is NOT with the definition of marriage; but, of family.
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Two different; but, equal things in today's world. Marriage does not fall under the aegis of family; but, of the law.
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If the American family were Constitutionally defined as a mother(female) and father(male) with children, then, a family headed with a homosexual marriage could not legally exist.
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But, liberal democracy will work this problem out "for better or for worse". Time will tell.
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Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
Government is necessary to protect its citizens from terrorists. Terrorist who do not appreciate the rule of law, in regards to Constitutional government, which treats it citizens as equal. Terrorists' understanding is based on "God". And 'God' justifies any means to the end of glorifying "Allah". This cannot be tolerated.

The family is made of a marriage with or without children. Children do not make a family, unless you want to mandate 'filling the earth' which was the RC view of bringing in the "kingdom of God".

Families are defined so diversely in free or liberal societies that there ceases to be a "form". So, one should ask, instead, what is the reason for the family in the first place? The kingdom of God? NO, the Family is for companionship, and other human needs for maintaining emotional health.

Families support and encourage. And families are formed from unions, commitments of trust, if you will. And trust is the basis and foundation of all relationships, which must be based on honesty and trustworthiness...and that has nothing to do with gender issues. It has to do with character issues.

The question is whether homosexuality is a choice or not and whether that choice is to be toward commitment to one other person or whether that choice should be "self-control" as to self-expression and union with "like kind"...

Biblicists would not adhere to such a standard. Their understanding is literalizing and historicizing the text, which undercuts and sub-verts unity in diversity.

Martin Luther King said that one should be known by his character, and not the color of his skin. Shouldn't that be in today's rendering, "one should not be known by race or gender, but by their character"?

Character judgment is based on what is needed by specific community, or purpose. And those communities judgments and purposes may or may not be just.

bpabbott said...

Re: "Liberals cannot mandate equality of outcome cannot mandate equality of outcome."

Unfortunately, mandating outcomes is an error made across the entire political spectrum.

The invisible hand isn't so easily restrained.

Tom Van Dyke said...

In a pure perspective, American Society is made up of five institutions: 1. Familial; 2. Religious; 3. Economical; 4. Educational; and, 5. Governmental.

I think there's something to this hermeneutic.

However, I would argue that the family is pre-political, and religion, economics, and education are on a sliding scale toward the political, the #5, government.

The question is how far back #5 should reach. At the present time, government Leviathan has pretty much taken over #4, has its hands in deep into economics, is seeking to make #2 irrelevant, and in the gay marriage thing, is knocking on the door of #1.

The pre-political and the notion of "society" are erased. All becomes government. Leviathan. Thank you, Thomas Hobbes. [Although Hobbes thought that was a good thing.]

Tom Van Dyke said...

Which may also be described as promoting minority rights at the expense of cultural tradition / ethos.

This part jumped out at me, ben. Not sure about how you got there or where you go from there.

jimmiraybob said...

Angie,

I'll try to answer your questions today but more likely this weekend. The work load is heavy and I barely have time to read comments much less think about them.

I just didn't want you to think that I'm ignoring you.

bpabbott said...

Re: "If the American family were Constitutionally defined as a mother(female) and father(male) with children [...]"

For those who haven't read the court's finding on Prop 8, I recommend it. It touches on Phil's comment above.

Tom Van Dyke said...

What touches on Phil's comment above is when the Constitution is silent, it is silent. The question is what a judge should do when it's silent, leave it to legislation [or the states and the people respectively], or fill in the blanks himself.

The Constitution often permits both y and not-y, and demands neither.

Pinky said...

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It is so damned difficult to discuss anything with an absolutist.
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They know the absolute truth and that's all there is to it.
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I guess, in a liberal democracy, we'll just have to wait and see how things get worked out.
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Other than that, there's a lot of political b.s.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

What's impossible is to discuss anything with a relativist or a nihilist. Their minds are so open they're empty of content.

Pinky said...

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Yes, you are correct, Tom. Family is pre-societal.
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But, humans enter into society bringing family and other things with us. And society, in order for there to be balance must come to some agreement on the importance of the various interests involved.
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Pinky said...

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Relativists and absolutists end up both being absolutists.
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According to Leo Strauss, that is.
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I guess I agree with him.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

OK, I'll buy that. Strauss starts with Socrates' "All I know is that I do not know." This is the proper philosophical stance, and why Strauss says you can't be a philosopher and a theologian at the same time. The theologian knows God exists.

But of course Aquinas thinks there can be such knowledge of some things, hence his logical "proofs" of God. Also what Richard Hooker means by saying some things must be "self-evident," a starting place, or else we have nothing to build on, and can have no knowledge [Latin: scientia].

And indeed, Plato says that there can be some "scientia." It's not as if Socrates knows nothing, it's that he doesn't know everything. Socrates knows some things, although non-philosophers do not---the opposite of knowledge is opinion, and EVERYBODY has opinions.

So if Strauss were to argue that relativists are in the nend absolutelists, it's only in their absolute insistence that nothing can be known, that all is opinion. This is not open-mindedness, it's empty-headedness, anti-philosophical, and---what I think Strauss is saying here---not only ironic in its unintentional hypocrisy [condemning absolutism by being absolutist yourself], but illogical and absurd.

But I don't think Strauss would say absolutism and relativism are the same thing. Classical philosophy believes "What is good" is not a matter of opinion.
______________

As for your "5 Institutions," so far it looks like a sound structure to build a discussion on. First of all, it recognizes that "society" and government are two different things, overlapping spheres, yes, but where government has only laws, "society" has a culture. And as society is organic rather than artificial, one can change the culture from within, where all you can do with laws is obey them or break them.

Pinky said...

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On society's institutions, you can check out Talcott Parsons who is sometimes called the father of modern sociology.
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Here's a link that deals with him and institutions: http://ssr1.uchicago.edu/PRELIMS/Theory/parsons.html
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I have great respect for Parsons.
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bpabbott said...

Re: " Not sure about how you got there or where you go from there."

Just an attempt to look at it from a "Tea Party" perspective ;-)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

bpabbott,
I noticed the wink of tolerance...

Tom Van Dyke said...

Probably not Parsons' fault, Pinky, but it was so full of Sociology Dept. jargon that it was unreadable by a normal person. [It wasn't written by Parsons himself, it was an academician's recap.] What I could pick out seemed OK.

I want to recommend to everybody this speech/essay by Jonathan Haidt ---very up-to-date, the new studies of human psychology [which philosophy seeks to call "human nature].

No Aquinas or Strauss, promise. ;-)

Readable by normal human beings too. Left, right, classical, modern, even Christian [!]---whatever your POV, this is the coolest thing I've read all year.

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/morality10/morality.haidt.html

As the pal who recommended it to my Strauss list said,

"I'm more interested in being told 'what to read next' than being told
I'm right or wrong."

Open-mindedness, not empty-headedness. So let it be written, so let it be done.

Pinky said...

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You probably put your finger on my problem. I think that sociology jargon is so easy to grasp.
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heh heh
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jimmiraybob said...

Angie - jimmyraybob, "Christian nation" is a "mis-nomer, as really "Christian" is about the minority position and it being served, a representative Republic. But, isn't this a problem today?

"Minority rights" have led us down a road where there is no rationale that unites us...the liberal positiion tends to undermine our unity, while the conservative position tends to bring intolerant attitudes toward those that differ from them...and it is based on an "infallibe, inerrant text" of understanding faith.

Experience is really the only commonality of man. How man interprets his experiences will differ vastly for different reasons, at least in liberal societies...Reason, while common to man is developed differently, depending on man's interests, aptitude, and focus.


Angie,

I’m not sure that I grasp what you’re saying. Do you mean that constituencies that are vying for recognition and representation in our system of governance is a bad thing? When you say that “there is no rationale that unites us” I think that you are surely wrong. Freedom, a right of individual conscience, the lofty rights enumerated in the Constitution, and opportunity are rationales that I think most would find good unifying principles. Now, we may argue and tussle over how to interpret and practice these things but I don’t think that the liberal position is any more a threat to unity than conservatism or libertarianism or rooting for the Yankees - until taken to extremes. These distinctions are manifestations of the human condition.

I think a greater threat to unity than having a liberal or conservative view is ignorance and authoritarianism. When people are ignorant of the facts they are much more prone to mischievous manipulation. When people are prone to blindly yielding to authority they are much more prone to mischievous manipulation by authoritarian leaders/pseudo leaders.

I have friends that are more conservative on this or that than I am and vice versa. This makes for a much more interesting dynamic and this core group of friends have been united for some number of decades. The commonality amongst the group is a respect for facts, a healthy dose of skepticism, and a general belief in the worth and dignity of humanity (). Only occasionally does someone wander into this universe that attempts to argue from certainty and/or based on a perceived authority figure.

Trying to define and defend rights, especially for the minority who generally are the most dispossessed and disenfranchised at the time, may be messy but what’s the alternative?

jimmiraybob said...

Angie - jimmyraybob, Do you believe in nation-building, as in promoting Constitutional government? Some do not, as they do not believe that a liberal democracy is necessarily the best form of government for everyone. These believe that the human aspects of 'personhood' is formed in such a way that subverting their way of life is doing injustice to these people.. What do you think?

Angie,

Nation building and promoting a particular style of government aren’t necessarily the same thing. I don’t think that one country has the right to forcefully violate the sovereignty of another in order to build a nation in its own image. However, I see nothing wrong with promoting/advocating a constitutional, democratic system that is protective of human rights, including enfranchisement and opportunity for its citizens(we still struggle with this). More liberal nations do this through diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. Jack Kennedy did this with the Peace Corps.

As for me, I approve of the lead-by-example approach and don't spare the diplomatic and humanitarian efforts.

Pinky said...

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Angie fingers a problem.
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Some of us believe that as every culture has its own values we should respect each as though it is absolute in its own right. All truth is relative.
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Others believe there is but one set of values that is universally true to all people.
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I think fundamentalism presents us with the latter picture no matter the form in which it exists; Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. Each provides its followers with the idea that it--alone--provides absolute truth.
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Of course, they cannot all be correct. Two of them have to be wrong depending on which one to which you are subscribed--if any.
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So, Angie's posts beg the question, "Who will build the nation?".
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That's the problem that Neo-Conservatives expect they will solve with "The New World Order".
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Do you think?
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In fact, this is where a good understanding of why the Nazi ideology was so attractive to men like Heidegger comes in handy.
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Existentialism is in there someplace.
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Pinky said...

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And, it is key to understanding why fascists and multinational economists join hands to prevail over all else.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I do not believe that all governments are equal. Representative Republics seek to uphold the value of the 'rule of law' and value of individual liberty.

Our laws protect the rights of individual liberty such that the individual is valued and has the right to "own his own life" and choose where and how he will prioritize his values. This is nothing other than "human rights".

I do not believe in multiculturalism, because it has set us up to tolerate what cannot be tolerated, unless we do so at our own demise. We must discriminate against radicals of any kind, because they seek to undermine the very stability of our culture and change our society so that our values are changed.

We cannot change our values to be a Religious State, otherwise we will be oppressed by some form of religious tradition and its understanding of law, which does not allow individual liberty of choice and value.This is what Shairia does wherever it is implemented.

We cannot change our values where the STate becomes "god", either, because otherwise, we will serve social interests at the costs of individual liberty and value. And Tom is right, Leviathan is what we will get...

I am afraid for our future if those that have the power to speak and do something to protect our nation, do not do so. At least the "Tea Parties" care to speak about abuses of power.

jimmiraybob said...

Angie,

Is a third or fourth generation American that converts to Islam, Hinduism or Mormonism a threat to society? Did the gradual inclusion on a national level of Catholics or Jews or the Irish sink the Union?

Has the inclusion of blacks and women and Latinos destroyed a common national bond?

When you say that it was the Puritan work ethic that made the country prosperous you are only recognizing a fraction of the story. Great nations and societies have managed to emerge before the Puritans - we could speak of the Roman work ethic. As to America, it didn't hurt the bottom line that we built a great deal of prosperity on the backs of free/cheap labor (slaves/children) with very little to no protections and in the forceful acquisition of abundant land wealth from the indiginous inhabitants.

Looking at the history of the nation at the larger scale I have a hard time seeing anything but multiculturalism and a continuing struggle to define national identity.

jimmiraybob said...

As to the state becoming god, we are where we are beacause the national government has stepped in to attempt to erradicate human/civil rights abuses and diseases and to provide equal protections for citizens and uniform education of its citizens.

It is largely due to the ability of government to step up to provide for the equitable distribution of citizen's rights and to protect eqaul access to opportunity and to act against abuse that we have developed a national ethos as opposed to a multitude of minor competing and warring principalities.

So it's not perfect. What would be?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Tom,
I read the article by Haidt on social psychology....and moral psychology.

I understand the "tastes" of morality, as a social norm of group behavior...and that behavior being experienced as a "taste".(and yes, Pinky, any old "dog" or commoner, can understand such a subject!)...

Group behavior is tribalistic, in that it has "guards at the door" to maintain its definitions, and distinctions. This is what happened to Spinoza in his Jewish community or happens all the time to those that DARE to question, resist or re-evaluate their group's understanding of 'life".

Religious communities are guarded doored, or walled communities, which bring a "bad taste" in my mouth. And I believe it has impacted my brain, literally! Maybe it is similar to Post Traumatic Stress syndrome...Haidt used Asperger's syndrome and Autism as "one type of brain", the utilillitarian, or deontological...the emotive brain is a 'religious brain"? And what does that mean, but "virtue ethics"?

If brains can change due to experiences, then how do we know whether one is pre-disposed or genetically inclined in a given area, or not? Or if their brains have been "programmed" by the many experiences that happed in a person's life? There are so many varibles to consider...

Systems and emergent properties sounds like a theory based on biological science to unify the science/religion debate...

Does education change the brain? Not if we believe in confirmation bias...But, what about those who leave the religious/emotive arena? What brought about the desire of Hirshi Ayaan Ali to pursue escape from Somalia and pursue an education in the West, at great costs and sacrifice?

Humans in Haidt's view "live" within a certain paradigm, which it true, but don't all people? This is how they interpret their life. Ph.D.'s "live" in their bias, or chosen field, and argue over the specificities in their fields. Has anyone thought about how complex the "human" is when one looks at the interdisciplinary areas that touch upon the "human"...?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Maybe it is similar to Post Traumatic Stress syndrome

Yes, we see that a lot around here. And I don't mean to be glib; it's just that some of the anger is clearly more than just disagreements about religion and the Founding.

When ben wrote Which may also be described as promoting minority rights at the expense of cultural tradition / ethos.

I suppose wryly or even snarkily, the fact remains that there are many [to my mind sensible] Jews and Muslims and agnostics who are quite happy that this country has some level of Christian ethos. It's safer than the persecution and murder they or their ancestors fled from in their home countries, and if Christians want to believe liberty is God-given and all men have rights, all the better for minorities like themselves.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Tom,
Do minority rights go back to the liberal position of not defining society by the law...minority rights means that the minority view is to represented as well as the majority...which is what the ACLU stands for, right?

I fear that Shairia law will be that minority "right", where it concerns Islam's "cultural norm".... We can't stand for those norms, and stand for human rights, as well...

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Our national identity is based on Constitutional government which garuantees the individual right to expression, etc...this is not a right that cultural traditions necessarily embrace.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

and how in the world did the research determine that brains differ as to philosophical pre-dispositions?

Utility is economic and deontology is a reasoned universal...and the "virtue" are those that are "useful" for utility's end's of the "universal"...how then, can the "reasoned universalist" stand back and watch the utility of "ends" justify the usefulness of virtue...the person, being a means... to the ends of virtue and not an end in himself?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

This is where "God' is useful to justify such a position of virtuous "ends' with humans being the means to that end...

Tom Van Dyke said...

Do minority rights go back to the liberal position of not defining society by the law?

Is that the liberal view? It's certainly not Leviathan's, anyway: there is no difference between law and society.

As for the other issues you're touching on, they're in some of the other current discussions about Strauss, Tom West vs. Zuckert on Locke, etc. If you could grab onto the framework of such discussions, many of your comments would be more intelligible to the common reader.

bpabbott said...

Re: "Is that the liberal view?"

Maybe the view of a few, but I don't recognize it as representative of any particular ideological viewpoint.

King of Ireland said...

"Nation building and promoting a particular style of government aren’t necessarily the same thing. I don’t think that one country has the right to forcefully violate the sovereignty of another in order to build a nation in its own image. However, I see nothing wrong with promoting/advocating a constitutional, democratic system that is protective of human rights, including enfranchisement and opportunity for its citizens(we still struggle with this). "

What does "opportunities" for its citizens mean? I used to tell my students that there biggest problem is, and I still believe this, that they think that an education is a right not a priviledge.

Those that see it as a right tend to demand everything from the system and require little of themselves. It breeds and entitlement mentality that becomes dependent on government.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The problem I have with minority rights, is; these rights are still based on group boundaries. And while groups define society, the nation-state should not be about protecting tribal identities, but individual liberties, if that nation-state believes in the human being, as "the end" or universal. And I think that whenever groups are granted power under law, then it undermines individual liberty, as well as individual responsibility.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

This is why I think that religious culture should not define the nation-state.

Pinky said...

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I recommend a reading of what Strauss has to say on relativism.
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And all this talk about nation building, etc., could be left in the dust.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?

Tom Van Dyke said...

From my pal David Gordon, 2003:

"Though he opposed Strauss, [Murray] Rothbard paid generous tribute to his insights: Strauss’s "virtue is that he is in the forefront of the fight to restore and resurrect political philosophy from the interment given it by modern positivists and adherents of scientism – in short, that he wants to restore values and political ethics to the study of politics."(All quotations are from unpublished letters by Rothbard, written in 1960.)

Rothbard found Strauss effective in his criticism of assorted relativists and historicists: "Strauss begins [an essay on relativism] with the almost incredibly confused and overrated Isaiah Berlin, and has no trouble demolishing Berlin and exposing his confusions – Berlin trying to be at the same time an exponent of ‘positive freedom’, ‘negative freedom’, absolutism and relativism." Strauss shows that, "in denying the possibility of rational ends [as relativists do] rational means are not on a very secure basis either."

Strauss has demolished relativism; but what does he propose to put in its place? The version of natural law that Strauss supports fails to extricate us fully from relativism. "Strauss, while favoring what he considers to be the classical and Christian concepts of natural law, is bitterly opposed to the 17th–18th Century conceptions of Locke and the rationalists, particularly to their ‘abstract’, ‘deductive’ championing of the rights of the individual: liberty, property, etc." Strauss’s own arguments against the relativists show that we must have an ethics based on reason, but the version of natural law he favors does not meet this requirement.

As Strauss sees matters, classical and Christian natural law did not impose strict and absolute limits on state power; instead, all is left to the prudential judgment of the wise statesman. From this contention, Rothbard vigorously dissents. "In this [Straussian] reading, Hobbes and Locke are the great villains in the alleged perversion of natural law. To my mind, the ‘perversion’ was a healthy sharpening and development of the concept." In Rothbard’s view, medieval natural law thinkers fully recognized that individuals have rights. Incidentally, the foremost work of contemporary scholarship on this issue, Brian Tierney’s The Idea of Natural Rights, vindicates Rothbard’s side of the dispute."

Pinky said...

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Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?
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Now, there's a can of worms if I ever saw one.
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What liberties?
What nation?
What God?
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Pinky said...

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Admitedly, I haven't read a great amount of Strauss.
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Maybe a few hundred pages of his writings.
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But, I've read that over and over to get it to soak into my pea brain.
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As far as I have seen, I haven't noticed Strauss taking a stand on any thing other than his scholarship. He thinks he is a real scholar. I think I agree that he is that.
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I see his writing as being more expository than opinion.
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Now, the various Straussians? That's a different story.
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Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
On multiculturalism, some believe that the mind-set of Islam is such that humans that experience what we would consider human rights violations, do not experience the se actions nor do they define them as abusive. Who are we, then, to define them as wrong?

I have a friend who lives in Africa, and she says that America's "nation-building" is misunderstood by tribalists mentalities. And that such nation-building is an imperialistic mentality on America's part.

There has been research done on human development that suggests that these countries function at a lower level of morality, but of course, that is according to our definitions of morality. Peaceful co-existance is not a reality in such environments, nor is it expected.

The recent deaths of the 10 medical aid workers leads me to question whether there should be any involvment with such societies. Of course, these people were doing what they thought was important and of worth and value in their minds (and I don't want to belittle that). It just seems the loss is useless, esp. when news reports state that such "acts of mercy" will change the resistance of the Taliban...etc. Islam has been a sore adversary for many years, why do we think that change is going to come to them, when their religion is so politicized?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

But, of course, other religions politicize their convictions, too...

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
In fact, everything is about the political, isn't it? Power is where the "action is". And those in power who are not able to define themselves apart from such power are not to be entrusted with it. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, except in the case of one-self...

You mentioned alturism before, and the science/religion debate has much "discussion" and questions on what leads to selfless service. I tend to think that this is what Christianity want to believe because it furthers their interests, not the individual's.

As we are all self-interested, why not admit the obvious and go from there in building our worlds? Negotiation is the best way to come to terms with reality. And absolute religios claims cannot be negotiated on such a basis, because their world is to be entered into by everyone.

The philosopher king are the social constructors of the political realm. This is where the classical/ancient intersect.

Pinky said...

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I'm having some difficulty trying to understand what you're meaning to put over here, Angie.
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The idea of nation building seems ludicrous to me when we are so confused about who we are as a nation.

Building nations for whom?
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Someone mentioned setting examples. I think that makes sense.
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Pinky said...

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Pinky,
In fact, everything is about the political, isn't it? Power is where the "action is". And those in power who are not able to define themselves apart from such power are not to be entrusted with it. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, except in the case of one-self...

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It looks to me as though we are on the way back to an economy based on some super definition of piracy. The multi-nationals want to sail the high seas of trade with no regard for the laws of any nation.
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When I consider the dilema of "nation building" it looks like someone just wants to take advantage of some potential market where their products can either be sold or manufactured for the lowest cost possible.
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It's all b.s., Angie. It's all b.s..
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Angie Van De Merwe said...

Pinky,
It is all B.S. when it comes to ulterior motives, IF one is focused on the material alone. But, it isn't if it is aethestics. I'm reading a book on Vision and Art. Utility can never describe the creative because they are not producing their "art" (scientific or aesthetic) because of the utility of it, but because of the joy of producing the "art", "itself".....


Technology, Statism, scientism, or religion does not allow the "creative spirit", which man desires to express.....