The ‘I’m a Good Person’ People

 

How do you know you’re living in a post-Christian, neo-pagan society? How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m a good person,” or even, “He’s a good person?” This is essentially a judgment about the state of someone’s soul, which we Christians believe is only discernable by One Judge, and He ain’t you or me.

The “I’m a good person” people are mainly, although not always, on the secular Left. Their piety is put into practice with woke-ism rather than Protestantism or Catholicism, for example, although sometimes Christians stray so far left, you’ll hear the same self-assessment coming from them. Secularists on the Right who say such things are generally people who assess themselves good because they’ve mainly avoided disordered behaviors (in religious terms, “sins”) they’re not terribly attracted to, while carrying on with the ones they prefer, guilt-free. These are the “I may regularly sodomize the person I ‘love,’ but I believe in your right to your freedom of religion and free speech and, oh, incidentally, I haven’t murdered anyone” people.  Let’s just say the standards they set for themselves could be a little higher, even if they go unmet, like in the case of, oh, 100% of Christians.

Faithful Christians, while recognizing the value of every human life made in the image and likeness of God and made to be good (made to share in the Beatific Vision), will address each other as “my fellow sinner” as Bishop Barron does in his sermon on the Prodigal Son. We know we’re falling short of the good God intends for us.

These thoughts on “good person” people, neo-paganism, and ancient paganism contra Christianity come from the appended videos, which I think you’ll find worth your time, wherever you are on the religious-pagan spectrum. The Joe Heschmeyer clip includes an amusing reflection on the title of this post*. Namely, if you ask an “I’m a good person” person if he deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom or the Nobel Prize, he’ll say, “obviously not.” But, if you then ask him if he’s going to heaven because he’s a “good person,” he’s pretty comfortable answering “yes,” with no sense of irony that he believes himself deserving of nothing less than eternal bliss! Oh, really? Huh.

Gary Michuta’s book Revolt Against Reality sounds like another one I’ll have to buy and be too distracted to finish (squirrel!), but it addresses the ethical hinge of history that was the Incarnation. In his conversation with Cy Kellett, he starts by saying the effects can reveal the cause. How did the world change by the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? The ramifications are too many and too profound to cover in a reasonable length post, but start with how women and children were viewed with the advent of Christianity. Rather than being property of men, as pagans believed, women and children became valued as other children of God, with all the inherent dignity that entails. Christians (especially Catholics) are accused of oppressing women and wanting to keep us “barefoot and pregnant.” The opposite is true, and in the case of Catholics, it’s most evident in the devotion to the Blessed Mother. Women were elevated by the Incarnation, not diminished.

Take also, science. Science developed in the Christian West because of the belief that God is coherent and consistent within Himself — and that He made the world intelligible. Why bother to try to understand it otherwise? This realization was one of the prime motivating factors for my reversion to the faith of my fathers.

No examples that could be given of the radical change in ethics with Christianity will be exempt from Christians acting badly (we’re all sinners). As apologist Joe Heschmeyer says, the sins of individual Catholics are not the result of them acting “too” Catholic, but rather not Catholic enough!

*Joe has some profound thoughts on the built-in need for humans to make sacrifices that still pertain to the secular Left today (pssst — human nature is unchanging, pass it on). Their sacrifices just take the form of recycling or putting a COEXIST sticker on their bumper.

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  1. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    Similarly, when we judge various actions as good or bad, we lack omniscience regarding the consequences of these actions.

    Then don’t judge.

    Nope. If I see my neighbor to my left petting his dog and I see my neighbor to my right beating his dog, I am going to judge both actions even as I acknowledge that I lack omniscience.

    You lack far more than that.

    Have you ever noticed that you primarily comment on posts with a religious bent? Why do you suppose that is?

    Have you ever noticed that invariably those comments consist of constructing imaginary moral situations so that you can bloviate on concepts such as good and bad? That in so doing, you judge those whom you think are judgmental? Do you detect an inherent inconsistency in that?

    And that HW feels particularly morally superior to Thomas Aquinas? LOL. 

    • #31
  2. HeavyWater Reagan
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    Similarly, when we judge various actions as good or bad, we lack omniscience regarding the consequences of these actions.

    Then don’t judge.

    Nope. If I see my neighbor to my left petting his dog and I see my neighbor to my right beating his dog, I am going to judge both actions even as I acknowledge that I lack omniscience.

    You lack far more than that.

    Have you ever noticed that you primarily comment on posts with a religious bent? Why do you suppose that is?

    Have you ever noticed that invariably those comments consist of constructing imaginary moral situations so that you can bloviate on concepts such as good and bad? That in so doing, you judge those whom you think are judgmental? Do you detect an inherent inconsistency in that?

    And that HW feels particularly morally superior to Thomas Aquinas? LOL.

    And the Taliban.  LOL !

    • #32
  3. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    Similarly, when we judge various actions as good or bad, we lack omniscience regarding the consequences of these actions.

    Then don’t judge.

    Nope. If I see my neighbor to my left petting his dog and I see my neighbor to my right beating his dog, I am going to judge both actions even as I acknowledge that I lack omniscience.

    You lack far more than that.

    Have you ever noticed that you primarily comment on posts with a religious bent? Why do you suppose that is?

    Have you ever noticed that invariably those comments consist of constructing imaginary moral situations so that you can bloviate on concepts such as good and bad? That in so doing, you judge those whom you think are judgmental? Do you detect an inherent inconsistency in that?

    And that HW feels particularly morally superior to Thomas Aquinas? LOL.

    I read a little over half of Summa Theologica, realized I’d never return to it and threw the books in the recycle bin. No, I don’t feel superior in any way to Aquinas. I did not understand why he thought that those in Heaven would be able to witness the suffering of those in Hell, or why he thought that was a good thing. There were other things he wrote that seemed ridiculous to me, but I don’t sweat it. I just ignore those things and him. Maybe HW has the same attitude? 

    • #33
  4. HeavyWater Reagan
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Django (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    Similarly, when we judge various actions as good or bad, we lack omniscience regarding the consequences of these actions.

    Then don’t judge.

    Nope. If I see my neighbor to my left petting his dog and I see my neighbor to my right beating his dog, I am going to judge both actions even as I acknowledge that I lack omniscience.

    You lack far more than that.

    Have you ever noticed that you primarily comment on posts with a religious bent? Why do you suppose that is?

    Have you ever noticed that invariably those comments consist of constructing imaginary moral situations so that you can bloviate on concepts such as good and bad? That in so doing, you judge those whom you think are judgmental? Do you detect an inherent inconsistency in that?

    And that HW feels particularly morally superior to Thomas Aquinas? LOL.

    I read a little over half of Summa Theologica, realized I’d never return to it and threw the books in the recycle bin. No, I don’t feel superior in any way to Aquinas. I did not understand why he thought that those in Heaven would be able to witness the suffering of those in Hell, or why he thought that was a good thing. There were other things he wrote that seemed ridiculous to me, but I don’t sweat it. I just ignore those things and him. Maybe HW has the same attitude?

    Yes, I think we can disagree with many things St. Thomas Aquinas wrote.  We don’t have to focus entirely on the Catholic church either.  

    One could be critical of the prophet Mohammed for marrying very young girls and having sex with them.  

    But many Muslims think it’s wrong to be in any way critical of Mohammed and perhaps there are lots of Catholics who avoid being critical of St. Thomas Aquinas.  

    • #34
  5. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    Similarly, when we judge various actions as good or bad, we lack omniscience regarding the consequences of these actions.

    Then don’t judge.

    Nope. If I see my neighbor to my left petting his dog and I see my neighbor to my right beating his dog, I am going to judge both actions even as I acknowledge that I lack omniscience.

    You lack far more than that.

    Have you ever noticed that you primarily comment on posts with a religious bent? Why do you suppose that is?

    Have you ever noticed that invariably those comments consist of constructing imaginary moral situations so that you can bloviate on concepts such as good and bad? That in so doing, you judge those whom you think are judgmental? Do you detect an inherent inconsistency in that?

    And that HW feels particularly morally superior to Thomas Aquinas? LOL.

    I read a little over half of Summa Theologica, realized I’d never return to it and threw the books in the recycle bin. No, I don’t feel superior in any way to Aquinas. I did not understand why he thought that those in Heaven would be able to witness the suffering of those in Hell, or why he thought that was a good thing. There were other things he wrote that seemed ridiculous to me, but I don’t sweat it. I just ignore those things and him. Maybe HW has the same attitude?

    Yes, I think we can disagree with many things St. Thomas Aquinas wrote. We don’t have to focus entirely on the Catholic church either.

    One could be critical of the prophet Mohammed for marrying very young girls and having sex with them.

    But many Muslims think it’s wrong to be in any way critical of Mohammed and perhaps there are lots of Catholics who avoid being critical of St. Thomas Aquinas.

    It’s not a burning issue for me in any case. I had a shelf of Catholic apologetics — if that is the right word — and studied them for years. Finally realized that I had little or no faith and didn’t care and got on with my life. 

    • #35
  6. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    But many Muslims think it’s wrong to be in any way critical of Mohammed and perhaps there are lots of Catholics who avoid being critical of St. Thomas Aquinas.  

    Nonsense. We simply don’t have the expectation of impeccability (even among our saints) that you seem to hold to. I detect a note (symphony?) of the “enlightenment” bigotry that faith and reason are opposed. If anyone refutes that, it’s Thomas Aquinas.

    • #36
  7. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):
    Similarly, when we judge various actions as good or bad, we lack omniscience regarding the consequences of these actions.

    Then don’t judge.

    Nope. If I see my neighbor to my left petting his dog and I see my neighbor to my right beating his dog, I am going to judge both actions even as I acknowledge that I lack omniscience.

    You lack far more than that.

    Have you ever noticed that you primarily comment on posts with a religious bent? Why do you suppose that is?

    Have you ever noticed that invariably those comments consist of constructing imaginary moral situations so that you can bloviate on concepts such as good and bad? That in so doing, you judge those whom you think are judgmental? Do you detect an inherent inconsistency in that?

    And that HW feels particularly morally superior to Thomas Aquinas? LOL.

    And the Taliban. LOL !

    Yeah, putting Thomas Aquinas and the Taliban in the same bucket is more than a little repulsive. But, as the kids say, you do you.

    • #37
  8. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Hi Western Chuvinist – if asked (not that anybody is) I would say that I think you’re a good person. Which means that you try to be as good as you can.

    Does that make me a bad person? I don’t try to be as bad as I can – though it’s sometimes tempting.

    (Full disclosure: I didn’t watch the clips.)

    Oh, do watch the first one, @zafar. It’s fairly short and done in good humor. 

    You definitely have a kindness about you, which is a grace for which we can all be thankful (you too), and, frankly, kind of a rarity on the secular Left. But even you need a savior, whether you know it or not. 

     

    • #38
  9. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I don’t think the point is so much what we say and think about other people. I know lots of “good” people, many of whom are not Christian. The point is, what do people say and think about themselves and their need for a Redeemer? People who think they’re just fine, without need for growth or reform, are tempted to self-deification — “you will be as gods.” And that’s how we end up under the tyranny of relativism. There’s no external Yardstick for many people in secular society.

    Would you say that religious believers have an external yardstick to measure how they’re doing while irreligious people do not have that? Would that make it a matter of the religious/irreligious individual rather than a religious/irreligious society?

    Yes, but societies are made up of individuals and ours is increasingly irreligious. The fastest growing religious affiliation is None. 

    • #39
  10. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I don’t think the point is so much what we say and think about other people. I know lots of “good” people, many of whom are not Christian. The point is, what do people say and think about themselves and their need for a Redeemer? People who think they’re just fine, without need for growth or reform, are tempted to self-deification — “you will be as gods.” And that’s how we end up under the tyranny of relativism. There’s no external Yardstick for many people in secular society.

    Would you say that religious believers have an external yardstick to measure how they’re doing while irreligious people do not have that? Would that make it a matter of the religious/irreligious individual rather than a religious/irreligious society?

    Yes, but societies are made up of individuals and ours is increasingly irreligious. The fastest growing religious affiliation is None.

    Would you say the West is becoming increasingly unkind in its intentions?  Or just increasingly unrealistic in its thinking?

    • #40
  11. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I don’t think the point is so much what we say and think about other people. I know lots of “good” people, many of whom are not Christian. The point is, what do people say and think about themselves and their need for a Redeemer? People who think they’re just fine, without need for growth or reform, are tempted to self-deification — “you will be as gods.” And that’s how we end up under the tyranny of relativism. There’s no external Yardstick for many people in secular society.

    Would you say that religious believers have an external yardstick to measure how they’re doing while irreligious people do not have that? Would that make it a matter of the religious/irreligious individual rather than a religious/irreligious society?

    Yes, but societies are made up of individuals and ours is increasingly irreligious. The fastest growing religious affiliation is None.

    Would you say the West is becoming increasingly unkind in its intentions? Or just increasingly unrealistic in its thinking?

    I would say the West is definitely in a “revolt against reality” (Gary Michuta’s book, which he discusses in the second video). It does not bode well that a Supreme Court justice can’t say what a woman is because she’s not a biologist, although she’s a woman herself. . .

    But, I would also say people of a certain mindset place too much emphasis on good intentions. I once shocked a church group I participated in (admittedly to make sure the conservative/orthodox side of the discussion was represented) by saying “I don’t care about people’s good intentions. I only care about the fruits they produce.” It’s very important to some people that their and others’ intentions are good even if the effects of their choices/behaviors are disastrous for other people. This is why it’s so important to be well-formed in the faith and one of the ways the Church needs drastic improvement since Vatican II.

    BTW, this is also why Thomas Aquinas advocated executing heretics — he truly believed that people teaching heresy to others might lead to their eternal damnation. We have a softer, therapeutic view of God now that dismisses such concerns and I do believe in God’s ocean of mercy, but I still want to avoid believing in heresy and teaching it to others.

    • #41
  12. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Would you say the West is becoming increasingly unkind in its intentions?  Or just increasingly unrealistic in its thinking?

    I think being unrealistic comes with its own kind of cruelty.

    • #42
  13. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Stina (View Comment):

    Would you say the West is becoming increasingly unkind in its intentions? Or just increasingly unrealistic in its thinking?

    I think being unrealistic comes with its own kind of cruelty.

    Because – among other things – it doesn’t perceive people or systems or motivations as they really are.  So it comes down to what is reality and what isn’t. :-(

    • #43
  14. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Would you say the West is becoming increasingly unkind in its intentions? Or just increasingly unrealistic in its thinking?

    I think being unrealistic comes with its own kind of cruelty.

    Because – among other things – it doesn’t perceive people or systems or motivations as they really are. So it comes down to what is reality and what isn’t. :-(

    Last, west, north, south, enlightenment or no enlightenment, all humanity suffers from same failings.

    • #44
  15. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    I was thinking about this topic in general most recently because of a family member that passed, and just the general state of the world as it becomes more and more secular (really atheistic).  I think about it because of how the Bible describes in eerily exact terms (both Old and New Testaments) what is happening in our world (and this new dis-information and control).  Our US Constitution is faith-based, although not touting a specific religion, so it works for everyone. Yet we are seeing it ignored and subverted.

    I’m reminded that even the devil is a believer…….

    Free will has brought us to this place and our free will will determine where we go from there, including the afterlife….

    • #45
  16. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Oh, wow. I fell asleep before I could share this last night, but Jordan Peterson gets at it quite admirably (starting near minute 22):

     

    • #46
  17. J Climacus Member
    J Climacus
    @JClimacus

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

     

    Yes, I think we can disagree with many things St. Thomas Aquinas wrote. We don’t have to focus entirely on the Catholic church either.

    One could be critical of the prophet Mohammed for marrying very young girls and having sex with them.

    But many Muslims think it’s wrong to be in any way critical of Mohammed and perhaps there are lots of Catholics who avoid being critical of St. Thomas Aquinas.

    There is a difference between criticism of Thomas Aquinas from a sincere undertaking to understand him as a thinker, and criticism that doesn’t amount to much more than “drive by” potshots based on knowledge of a couple of passages that are sure to trigger a modern reader.  

    The distinction isn’t just true for Aquinas, but for all the major thinkers in the history of philosophy, including secular ones. There is a reason Plato, Aquinas, Locke, Hume, Kant, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche have been read for centuries – it’s because readers have perennially found them profound and challenging, philosophers from whom one can learn a great deal even if one fundamentally disagrees with them. I profoundly disagree with Kant, but it wasn’t until I made the effort to read and understand his Critique of Pure Reason that I really began to understand what was going on in modern thinking.  Many modern secular thinkers still haven’t come to terms with Kant and his insights and what they mean for the modern world.

    Of course, some Christians dismiss Kant without understanding him after reading an unfriendly summary, getting from it a few “proof texts” they can throw out as justification for never reading him. Atheists do the same thing with Aquinas, the death-to-heretics passage being by far the most popular. In both cases, the question is never asked why anyone reads them anymore if they are so easily dismissed. 

    More than that, it’s just depressing. The great philosophers, secular and religious, are treasures from whom we have much to learn, but in our arrogance we think we have moved beyond them. We don’t engage in genuine criticism anymore (of which Aquinas, by the way, was a master), which involves the hard work of actually understanding what a profound thinker is saying, and instead make it easy on ourselves by grabbing at whatever is handy to dismiss them. 

     

    • #47
  18. J Climacus Member
    J Climacus
    @JClimacus

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    BTW, this is also why Thomas Aquinas advocated executing heretics — he truly believed that people teaching heresy to others might lead to their eternal damnation. We have a softer, therapeutic view of God now that dismisses such concerns and I do believe in God’s ocean of mercy, but I still want to avoid believing in heresy and teaching it to others.

    The reason moderns find Aquinas’s view shocking is that they don’t take God or our eternal destinies to be serious subjects. On the subjects they do take seriously -racism and LQBTQ+ rights, for example – their views of punishment are less forgiving than Aquinas’s.  Heresy was punishable by death only after public and persistent obstinacy. Moreover, if the heretic was repentant, the sin was forgiven and the heretic restored to good standing in the community. In today’s cancel culture, a single instance of heresy (for example, having worn blackface) is enough to be cancelled, even if it happened many years in the past and the individual has repented of it. There is no possibility of forgiveness.

    Also, in the middle ages, heresy didn’t just have implications for personal religion, but profound social consequences, as the political and social structures were wrapped up in religious institutions as well. We can debate whether that was good or bad, but a heretic in those times was necessarily subversive of the public order in his heresy (that’s why public heresy was the problem, not private).  Similarly, racist views invite such a harsh response today because we not only find them morally reprehensible, but because they also undermine the social order.

    • #48
  19. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Percival (View Comment):

    Have you ever noticed that invariably those comments consist of constructing imaginary moral situations so that you can bloviate on concepts such as good and bad? That in so doing, you judge those whom you think are judgmental? Do you detect an inherent inconsistency in that?

    “Bloviate”? Do we need the edge there? All Ricochetti are entitled to our obsessions, pet notions, hobby horses etc as long as we pursue them respectfully. We are not required to be original or interesting. We can even be repetitive. If you find something tiresome, kick the dust from your sandals and let the thread die.

    • #49
  20. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge
    Chris Hutchinson
    @chrishutch13

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    My lefty Catholic friends love to tout socialist solutions. I respond that wouldn’t it be great if there were some global movement and organization dedicated to the spiritual and material well-being of all mankind from within which efforts could be made to help and serve?

    That comment slides by almost unnoticed?

    No. They notice. I don’t think Jesus advised his disciples to urge Caesar to expand welfare so they would not have to be bothered by the poor –then expect moral credit for doing so.

    I like the question you pose to your friends and most definitely agree with you on the whole, but I cannot lie, I struggle with verses like Acts 4:32-37. I live in Poland and know better than most Americans exactly what socialism/communism does to a society but I also wonder how many Christians are actually living and loving our neighbors in the way Jesus wanted us to do. 

    • #50
  21. HeavyWater Reagan
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    J Climacus (View Comment):

    The reason moderns find Aquinas’s view shocking is that they don’t take God or our eternal destinies to be serious subjects.

    I think our eternal destinies are serious subjects.  However, I doubt that many Catholics would supporting having someone put to death for publicly professing that Islam is a false religion, despite the fact that many Muslims believe that to state such a thing results in eternal damnation.

    The lack of consensus regarding the nature of heaven and hell, what types of people ascend to heaven and what types of people descend to hell and other related issues is, perhaps, why moderns find Aquinas’s view shocking.

    In modern times, each person is allowed to subscribe to whatever religious beliefs they want.  Even heretics enjoy basic human rights, including the right not to be burned at the stake by someone claiming to be a defender of the one true faith.

    So, the member of the Church of Latter Day Saints in 2022 is not subject to the same level of persecution that Unitarian Michael Servetus was subjected to.

    • #51
  22. J Climacus Member
    J Climacus
    @JClimacus

    Chris Hutchinson (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    My lefty Catholic friends love to tout socialist solutions. I respond that wouldn’t it be great if there were some global movement and organization dedicated to the spiritual and material well-being of all mankind from within which efforts could be made to help and serve?

    That comment slides by almost unnoticed?

    No. They notice. I don’t think Jesus advised his disciples to urge Caesar to expand welfare so they would not have to be bothered by the poor –then expect moral credit for doing so.

    I like the question you pose to your friends and most definitely agree with you on the whole, but I cannot lie, I struggle with verses like Acts 4:32-37. I live in Poland and know better than most Americans exactly what socialism/communism does to a society but I also wonder how many Christians are actually living and loving our neighbors in the way Jesus wanted us to do.

    What’s described in this passage is fulfilled in the historic Christian institution of the monastery. The Christian community is a voluntary organization, not coterminous with the state, but existing within the society protected by the state.  The better parishes approximate it as well, with wealthier parishioners supporting the poorer ones.

    • #52
  23. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    as long as we pursue them respectfully.

    Indeed.

    • #53
  24. J Climacus Member
    J Climacus
    @JClimacus

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    J Climacus (View Comment):

    The reason moderns find Aquinas’s view shocking is that they don’t take God or our eternal destinies to be serious subjects.

    I think our eternal destinies are serious subjects. However, I doubt that many Catholics would supporting having someone put to death for publicly professing that Islam is a false religion, despite the fact that many Muslims believe that to state such a thing results in eternal damnation.

    The lack of consensus regarding the nature of heaven and hell, what types of people ascend to heaven and what types of people descend to hell and other related issues is, perhaps, why moderns find Aquinas’s view shocking.

    Actually there is strong consensus on which type of people should be damned – racists are at the top of the list. 

    In modern times, each person is allowed to subscribe to whatever religious beliefs they want. Even heretics enjoy basic human rights, including the right not to be burned at the stake by someone claiming to be a defender of the one true faith.

    Not really. People are allowed religious belief as long as it does not challenge the dominant secular culture. In other words, as long as it is private heresy and not public heresy, just like was allowed in the Middle Ages.  Go to Church all you want, but thinking religious sisters should be exempt from paying for abortions and contraception is forbidden public heresy.

     

    • #54
  25. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge
    Chris Hutchinson
    @chrishutch13

    J Climacus (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    BTW, this is also why Thomas Aquinas advocated executing heretics — he truly believed that people teaching heresy to others might lead to their eternal damnation. We have a softer, therapeutic view of God now that dismisses such concerns and I do believe in God’s ocean of mercy, but I still want to avoid believing in heresy and teaching it to others.

    The reason moderns find Aquinas’s view shocking is that they don’t take God or our eternal destinies to be serious subjects. On the subjects they do take seriously -racism and LQBTQ+ rights, for example – their views of punishment are less forgiving than Aquinas’s. Heresy was punishable by death only after public and persistent obstinacy. Moreover, if the heretic was repentant, the sin was forgiven and the heretic restored to good standing in the community. In today’s cancel culture, a single instance of heresy (for example, having worn blackface) is enough to be cancelled, even if it happened many years in the past and the individual has repented of it. There is no possibility of forgiveness.

    Also, in the middle ages, heresy didn’t just have implications for personal religion, but profound social consequences, as the political and social structures were wrapped up in religious institutions as well. We can debate whether that was good or bad, but a heretic in those times was necessarily subversive of the public order in his heresy (that’s why public heresy was the problem, not private). Similarly, racist views invite such a harsh response today because we not only find them morally reprehensible, but because they also undermine the social order.

    Very thought-provoking comment here.

    • #55
  26. HeavyWater Reagan
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Chris Hutchinson (View Comment):

    Also, in the middle ages, heresy didn’t just have implications for personal religion, but profound social consequences, as the political and social structures were wrapped up in religious institutions as well. We can debate whether that was good or bad, but a heretic in those times was necessarily subversive of the public order in his heresy (that’s why public heresy was the problem, not private). Similarly, racist views invite such a harsh response today because we not only find them morally reprehensible, but because they also undermine the social order.

    Very thought-provoking comment here.

    We could take a look around the globe and try to find a country, any country, that operates the way the society operated in 13th Century Europe.  

    The closest society one is likely to find is a Muslim majority country.  But that’s not going to be very congenial to admirers of St. Thomas Aquinas.  There just aren’t very many countries where Catholics are the majority of the population.  Ancestrally Catholic countries like Ireland have secularized and have adopted the values that have become dominant in most of Europe.  

    • #56
  27. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge
    Chris Hutchinson
    @chrishutch13

    EHerring (View Comment):

    Great read and introduced me to a few people I wasn’t very familiar with, e.g. Orestes Brownson, Vladimir Soloviev. Yes, it definitely lays out a compelling argument, in my opinion, of the dangers of being an “I’m a good person” person absent of God.

    • #57
  28. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge
    Chris Hutchinson
    @chrishutch13

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    There’s much to like about this post but let me just quibble with one point. I don’t think the divide on “I’m a good person” mentality is a conservative/liberal divide. I think there are plenty of conservatives that have the same mentality. We live in a therapeutic age. We all console ourselves with our apparent self worth. We all pat ourselves on the back for having the “right” opinions. I would say I know religious people – yes devout Christians – who would have this view of themselves. I would say that I find this view in myself! It’s a result of pride. I think if you look closely you will find we all think of ourselves as a good person.

    Sometimes yes and sometimes no. If you’re examining your conscience semi-regularly, you might struggle a bit with self acceptance. Some Christians even fall into spiritual dryness at times (ahem, reluctantly raises hand) or scrupulosity. It never seems to fail that when I’m feeling pretty good about myself, something happens to bring me back down to earth (humus being the root of the word “humility”).

    I’ve come to believe I have the right (political) opinions mostly because I’ve changed my mind about almost everything over time. And if I find out I have the wrong opinion about something, I change my mind again. This is a question I’d like to ask lefties: “have you changed your mind about anything significant in the last 10 years? 5 years? 2 years?” I changed my mind about Donald Trump when presented with new evidence, for example.

    But, the deeper into faith I go, the more I see my own flaws and weaknesses and sometimes even cruelty. As Bishop (then Father) Barron said, when you’re looking at Perfect Love through glass, you can’t help but see the spots and smears of your own sinfulness. I’m thoroughly convinced I need a savior, and I think that’s the main distinction between the “I’m a good person” people and faithful Christians.

    And, btw, a brother of mine is so convinced of God’s love for him that he almost never, that I can recall, expresses self-doubt, but fairly exudes the joy of Christ in him. That’s the kind of Christian I want to grow up to be.

    I enjoyed you and Manny’s exchange. Thank you.

    • #58
  29. HeavyWater Reagan
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    I just did a quick search of countries with large Catholic populations. 

    Brazil and Mexico top the list with over 100 million Catholics in each country, followed by the Philippines, the United States (although proportionately, only 23 percent of the US population is Catholic), Italy, France, Columbia, Spain, Poland and Argentina.  

    That’s the top 10.  

    11 through 15 are: Democratic Republic of Congo, Peru, Germany, Venezuela and Nigeria.  

    • #59
  30. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Have you ever noticed that invariably those comments consist of constructing imaginary moral situations so that you can bloviate on concepts such as good and bad? That in so doing, you judge those whom you think are judgmental? Do you detect an inherent inconsistency in that?

    “Bloviate”? Do we need the edge there? All Ricochetti are entitled to our obsessions, pet notions, hobby horses etc as long as we pursue them respectfully. We are not required to be original or interesting. We can even be repetitive. If you find something tiresome, kick the dust from your sandals and let the thread die.

    This is an ongoing problem on R> that I’ve complained about. People can stay within the CoC while indulging their obsession, pet notions, and hobby horses while trashing other people’s willingness to participate in a thread, thereby killing the thread. The spirit of the CoC encourages a good faith (see what I did there?), serious, respectful discussion and even disagreement, but only the letter is enforced. I find Zafar to be good at staying within the letter and the spirit of the Coc, and I say it not just because he likes me ;-). I know I’ve bowed out of more than one thread where HW rides his anti-religious hobby horse. It’s boring and leads nowhere because he’s not open to being wrong — to arguing in good faith.

    So far, J Climacus and others have saved the day on this thread. Thank you!

     

    • #60
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