How Corrupt Are You?

by Brad Nelson5/24/15

Mike Konrad has an interesting article today at American Thinker: Why Official Christianity is Dying. The gist of it is contained in this quote:

What separates Christianity from all other religions is a hard truth: Man is intrinsically evil. This flies in the face of hyper-leftist dogma that man is essentially good; all that is necessary is an environmental tune up.

Others have called him out on being too Calvinistic. I think the problem stems from perhaps not distinguishing between the idea of man being inherently capable of evil (inevitably drawn to it) vs. being irredeemably and intrinsically evil. (Calvinists just like to rant…I can appreciate that aspect.) And the backdrop to this should be that man also seems inherently capable of good. So it’s not all one or the other.

That quote (his quote near the beginning of his article) might be a little out of context. Generally I think he’s nailed an important point. And it’s one Dennis Prager states as: “We may be born innocent, but we are not born good. We have to be made good.” That’s a paraphrase from memory, but should be close to what he has said before. Here’s another central quote from the article:

This doctrine is called “Original Sin;” and it has been replaced in our culture by self-esteem.

And the following is something libertarians need to understand. The market is not all we need. Your “non-coercian” ethic is naive and incomplete. And it takes more than “voluntary contract between two consenting people” to make a good society, let alone to have justice:

Good aspects of human nature were not denied, but rather understood as still imperfect, and needing of control. If men did not control themselves according to Christian principle, they would be controlled by tyrants.

This is good as well:

Men need to be told they are depraved, and they need free grace. It is not earned. Our churches do not teach this.  This is why official Christianity in the West is dying. We need a restoration of humility and perspective to define our behavior and to define our goals in society.

If the churches, of whatever denomination, continue to ignore this, let them die out.  What recent surveys show is that Christianity is not shrinking — just the 501(c)3  official corporation churches — but merely retreating to home churches and bible studies, which is how the church started out in the first century.  Despite what clerics think, God does not need clergy.

And this:

Most men do not like to admit they’re are hopelessly rotten.  Certainly not Marxists or Muslims.

The comments section there is pretty active on this one. Yes, my eyes tend to glaze over because everyone has his or her own idea of how this all works theologically…which gives me little confidence that many of them have even the slightest clue. But there are some good comments worth reading. There are some interesting discussion of words-vs-faith. One of my favorite comments was by curtmilr:

Mainstream Christianity is failing their congregations. The Megachurch phenomenon, which is entertainment tied to self-esteem preening, has replaced the Gospel.

Whatever one believes theologically, there is a central point here: Those who think man is basically good are naive. Those who think goodness or salvation comes only from works are prone to spread their unresolved misery and flaws to others. And that’s what we see happening all over the West as “do-gooders” involve themselves in outreach when they should first deal with some stuff inside themselves. Introspection is not a liberal value.


Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.

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26 Responses to How Corrupt Are You?

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    There was a discussion of this on HotAir by a couple of the writers, from both a philosophical and a religious viewpoint. My own response would be that man has a capacity for self-indulgence, which can lead to genuine evil in the sense of being willing to harm others (or at least not care if one’s desires cause them harm). This capacity is what one means (or should mean) by saying that man is evil. Certainly he has no innate impulse for good, which is why some sort of moral education is necessary. And even that doesn’t always work (not to mention not always being present today).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Oh, I think plenty of people are born with an impulse to do good. Theologically, it could be no other way, for it’s generally considered a heresy to think of God’s creation as evil. We certainly have inherent flaws in human nature that require moral training to overcome or lighten. But I’d never go so far to say that we are born bereft of goodness.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        My view is that, in general (and thus subject to the First Law of Generalizations, of course), people want to be good — as long as they benefit from it. “Looking out for #1” usually comes first.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          people want to be good — as long as they benefit from it. “Looking out for #1″ usually comes first.

          I wouldn’t argue at all with self-interest being king. And people have an enormous capacity to rationalize self-interest with what is supposedly good. That’s one reason trusting to feelings alone is a horrible idea.

          And we can certainly grapple with how to define “good.” It’s not, to my mind, totally obvious, nor does one size fit all. Try to come up with a rule (Don’t cause pain in others) and you’ll find a hundred exceptions (Dentists and doctors often have to cause pain in order to do good, etc.). So much of it is about applying the rule…thus we run into the inherent relationship of wisdom to good.

          Good intentions obviously aren’t enough, but meaning to do well is perhaps where it all starts. But then actions must be measured against results or else it’s obvious that narcissism or some other motive is behind the “good intentions”.

          I do believe there are people who are “born again,” get hit by the Jesus stick, or however you want to define it. There can be entire changes in world views, of how life (and good) is measured. And, generally speaking, concentrated self-interest is one of the first things to go in those who actually do get hit by the Jesus stick. The lose their life in order to find it.

          Libertarians would run screaming from this notion, for them any kind of slacking of self-interest is, to their mind, a fast track to tyranny. It’s a goofy and destructive ideology, and one I’ll never let up on…and for good reason.

          I don’t think any of these traits alone defines good. Not going beyond self-interest (for one might be giving oneself over to an evil cause). But I think if one combines the will to do and be good with a deep change of heart (getting hit by the Jesus stick) with wisdom and with a lessoning of narrow self-interest, one is probably on the right path.

          And certainly inherent to wisdom is at least a cursory understanding of the limits and faults of human nature. This is why the Left can never be wise and is almost certainly why they must rely on large outward works of supposed “good intentions.” It’s superficial, but it kinda-sorta looks a bit like what Mother Teresa did.

  2. Tim Jones says:

    I love your quote about ‘looking out for #1 usually comes first’ … there is always that intrinsic ambiguity about whether altruism is being done out of genuine unselfishness or just to make one feel better about oneself … and I think it’s that ambiguity that the left exploits for political purposes because so many don’t realize the difference … as for the last part of your comment, it reminded me of the old saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” … that could very well be the unspoken motto for the Democrat Party and in many ways the Republican as well … both parties’ #1 priority and loyalty is to the institutions of government while their rhetoric professes to be the improvement in the lives of their constituents.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      there is always that intrinsic ambiguity about whether altruism is being done out of genuine unselfishness or just to make one feel better about oneself … and I think it’s that ambiguity that the left exploits for political purposes because so many don’t realize the difference

      Good points, Tim. My thoughts on this are that good works needn’t necessarily be painful. It’s okay to do good and feel good . . . just don’t get addicted to “feelgoodism” and do understand that true good works almost always include a large amount of toil, especially today. In fact, because the populace is so expectant of receiving “free stuff,” it’s a serious question as to whether even genuine “good works” are good works. We’ve got a monster of a beast out there and it demands to be fed.

      It is spiritually poverty, not material poverty, that I believe the good and wise Christian/conservative must address.

      both parties’ #1 priority and loyalty is to the institutions of government while their rhetoric professes to be the improvement in the lives of their constituents.

      Unfortunately that is likely true. The integrity of men and government in the best of times is suspect. But these are not the best of times.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        The notion that doing good for the purposes of feeling good about oneself isn’t altruistic at all, and thus doesn’t count for salvation purposes, is one of the interesting points made in Bedazzled (at the end).

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Well, the alternative then is to say that one must necessarily feel bad for altruism to be genuine. And I don’t think that’s a tenable proposition. There’s no reason on earth why helping people can’t also be a joyful thing. There can be even a deep joy felt underneath the toil and suffering one accepts on the surface. I don’t think altruism is amenable to simple binary rules. Certainly Ayn Rand made a joke of it with her barely sophomore-level philosophy on the subject.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            No, I don’t think it’s that altruism doesn’t count if you don’t feel some sort of loss. Rather, it’s that feeling good about it can’t be the reason. So much for liberals, who act solely on that basis (and thus don’t care if their pseudo-altruism actually helps anyone).

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Obviously, this is a complicated subject, but I will go ahead and throw in my two-cents worth.

            I think goodness is most often connected to kindness. My Compact Oxford Dictionary defines the adjective “kind” as: 1. considerate and generous. 2. archaic, affectionate; loving.

            The archaic claim not withstanding, I believe goodness has its seed in love and a certain “disinterestedness” as the term was used in the nineteenth century. I also think goodness is something which exists on an individual level. I often tell people not to go to large organizations if one is looking for moral behavior.

            A good act is not done with the intent of reward for the actor, other than the reward of knowing one has done what is right. And who can deny the feeling of happiness experienced after helping a child with skinned knees dust himself off so he can go on to conquer the world?

            My favorite saying is, “no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” Good to contemplate and act out.

            “Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud.

            Never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly notice when others do it wrong.

            It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. ”

            If one acts within those guidelines I believe one is good. And one’s actions will generally be good.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Mr. Kung, I really can’t disagree with anything that you’ve said.

              One of the truisms is that mankind will easily live down to lowered expectations. See Ferguson, Baltimore, the “Life at the Bottom” in Britain written about by Dalrymple (white thugs in this case), or any class of 8-year-olds when the teacher leaves the room momentarily, etc.

              We can quibble over what is good or not good and whether it is love, kindness, selflessness, niceness, or whatever which is the driving force. But I have little doubt that there is a difference between thugs and saints. Dennis Prager, for instance (perhaps paraphrasing or reiterating Dietrich Bonhoeffer) says that there are two type of people in the world: the decent and the indecent. (Or something like that.)

              Personally, I think life is a bit more complex than that. We all have our good days and our bad days, our seasons of narrow-minded selfishness and (perhaps) our seasons of broadening our scope. And I think it is this broadened scope that is part and parcel of what we might call goodness as evinced in human character when it goes that way and is predominantly that way.

              There are a lot of fancy, new-age, goofy, and even conceited words that can be used to decribe this. Some have a “Buddha consciousness” or a “Christ consciousness.” I don’t say that such things don’t exist, just that I’ve too often seen such things donned as affectations — very similar to the “social justice” malarkey that is aped so that one can be *seen* to be good and compassionate. You know that kind of BS.

              But I do believe when goodness strikes at a deep and lasting level, there is a change of consciousness in terms of how one views the world. I don’t mean people going off on feel-good vibes as if on a drug and always floating on cloud 9. I mean a real change of heart and perspective. And we all know such changes are real and somewhat inevitable. Any parent who has moved from the narcissistic, self-centered teenage years to the time of parenthood understands how radically the world can change (and, of course, it doesn’t change for some which is one reason there are children running amok and parents who never do actually play the role of parent…they never grow up).

              There are, I believe, equivalent or analogous stages beyond even parenthood/marriage which is a time where obviously one does not live just for oneself. That doesn’t mean one must be an absolute saint to do good. But the kind of good we’re talking about (beyond holding doors open for people, etc.) is I think sourced from a different place other than just politeness or lubricating the normal social interactions.

              And it doesn’t look like Obama. And, frankly, it doesn’t look like Pope Francis either. But it does exist.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I suspect we generally hear little about the really good people. They are not out trying to monetize their actions or turn them into power of some sort. They carry on doing what they do without calling attention to themselves.

                That being said, I fully agree that most humans are capable of acts of goodness, in spite of themselves. And I am convinced the majority of people, even the brain dead libertarians, truly understand the difference between what is “good” and what not. They just like to find ways to rationalize their own actions, whatever these may be.

                As you know, I have read that about 1% of humans would be classified as psychopaths and another 2-3% are sociopaths, i.e. total 3-4% rotters. It would not surprise me if the percentage of truly good people at the other end of the spectrum is a similar number.

  3. Tim Jones says:

    I’ve read that happiness can’t be obtained by purposely seeking it but can only be experienced as a derivative of performing acts of kindness and charity, and have come to believe that for the most part. As Timothy Lane says, “feeling good about it can’t be the reason,” and that’s why I’m a cynic when it comes to secular humanists. I know many of them and they all are good at heart but I always have this nagging sense they perform acts of goodwill out of need to feel good about themselves.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I’ve read that happiness can’t be obtained by purposely seeking it but can only be experienced as a derivative of performing acts of kindness and charity, and have come to believe that for the most part.

      Tim, I’m a bit of an apostate when it comes to the whole “happiness” shtick as the supposed pinnacle of life which is so widespread in society. Who wants to be unhappy? And yet I think happiness is one notch away from “self-esteem” and narcissism as a pursuit for the good life. One might be useful, contented, at peace, living deep meaning, or a number of things. “Happiness” is just one state of mind, usually fleeting.

      I personally think happiness is way over-rated. To me it’s similar to what I think is the artificial and inappropriate elevation of “love” as the highest end. But love, strictly speaking, is value-neutral. Hitler likely loved his dog, or his Third Reich. You get the point. An emotion isn’t necessarily much to hang your hat on.

      And that’s how I feel about happiness. I think it’s self-destructively foolish to pursue happiness as a goal. This is one of the reasons I think our society is coming apart. There is an expectation of happiness. And when people don’t find it they are prone to doing all kinds of destructive things. We’re forgetting how to deal with reality. And much of reality involves boring tasks and large amounts of time when there isn’t much going on.

      I’m a cynic when it comes to secular humanists

      You should be very cynical when it comes to secular humanists. It’s a foolish and naive doctrine.

  4. Tim Jones says:

    agreed

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Mr. Kung said:

    I suspect we generally hear little about the really good people. They are not out trying to monetize their actions or turn them into power of some sort. They carry on doing what they do without calling attention to themselves.

    That and I think goodness is obscure because it is hardly in the mainstream these days. We have a president and media who lie as a matter of course. And we have Progressives at every turn re-defining everything which has left many people in a state of confusion about the small things, let alone what is good.

    I think that has left us with a situation where people don’t know what to do with goodness when they see it. It’s often distrusted. Christopher Hitchens referred to Mother Teresa as a “whore,” for example. When one thinks one is the paragon of good, of reason, and of justice, there is little left to do but to denigrate the good.

    And the media itself doesn’t know what to do with good. Because most of these people already think they are God’s gift (or Marx’s gift) to “social justice,” all that’s left is to ridicule to the good, which is often what happens.

    Good is outside of the day-to-day context of most people. That doesn’t mean most people are bad. It’s just that our lives, media, institutions, politics, and entertainment are not centered around good, so few people perhaps know what it is or would know what to do with it if they saw it. Good tends to make morally dubious or mediocre people uncomfortable.

    Many people do respond positively to kind acts. But there is a large group out there who have more or less lost much of their humanity and have little left but cynicism. Many are unable to parse generosity as good because anything given to them is considered expected. As Mark Steyn notes, socialism isn’t bad merely because we can’t afford it but because of what it does to people’s characters. One wonders if St. Francis could gain traction in today’s climate. He probably could, but many of the “poor” are now sharks. Arguably in another age one could have said that “the rich” tended to be the morally dubious people. I don’t think is so anymore. So maybe today’s St. Francis would have to take a different approach.

    There are even some hilarious passages in the Bible about Jesus having to move on to another region or city because the people who were surrounding him where he was were simply there for “free stuff,” and he recognized this. I’ll leave it for the more Biblical literal to cite that passage, but I’m sure it’s there.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One reason we don’t hear so much about the actions of good people is that those who act out of genuine goodness don’t advertise their actions, since that isn’t the point. Notice how reluctant Mitt Romney was to brag about his kind deeds in 2012, even though it makes a nice contrast with Obama (who has nothing of the sort to brag about, which he certainly would do if he had any). Similarly, who knew that the favorite charity of Bush 41 was the United Negro College Fund? (This was a good reminder that neither was a natural politician, which may be why no liberal ever seems to suffer from this problem.)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        One reason we don’t hear so much about the actions of good people is that those who act out of genuine goodness don’t advertise their actions, since that isn’t the point.

        I think that’s very true, Timothy. And I think it’s a sign that such people are measuring by a different standard. The standard certainly is not gaining applause for good works. As it says in Matthew 6:3, But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. That’s a great line.

  6. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    What separates Christianity from all other religions is a hard truth: Man is intrinsically evil.

    I think the author misses the point of Christianity. Judaism also sees man as fallen. Even Buddhism and Taoism don’t see man as basically good.

    What separates Christianity is the belief that even though man is fallen, he has been given the chance to redeem this condition through Jesus Christ. And this raises the level of humanity’s value as God sacrificed himself for humanity and to believe in Christ and emulate him lifts humanity from the depths of depravity.

    With Buddhism it is the individual’s actions which might lead to nirvana, with Christianity, it is belief in Christ which causes salvation. And it is the realization that the most sincere way to show gratitude to God is to try to life a Christ-like life, even though that is impossible. Christianity stresses the need for us to be better not for ourselves, but for God. This takes the Christian outside himself. There is something larger and more important than self.

    Buddhism stresses the desire to be better simply for oneself. I find it very egocentric.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I think the author misses the point of Christianity.

      Agreed, at least to some extent. As some of the commenters pointed out, he’s a bit Calvinistic. And he tends to shrug off the restrictions offered as moral remedies by religion. Okay, maybe abstaining from alcohol isn’t a must. But why not? It surely is a moral imperative for some people. And unless one believes that everything should be allowed then there are some things that ought not to be allowed or that we ought to be taught (by religious authorities) not to do.

      Perhaps this is a quibble. I thought he wrote a good article. Nobody’s perfect nor can anyone encapsulate morality in a thousand words. The author’s main point was that grace could not be earned but was a gift and that we have need for this gift. And part of the entire process is to recognize we are not complete unto ourselves. We can’t fix everything ourselves. Life is not about a series of specific things one must do in order to get one’s Salvation card punched. And I think he states this aspect well.

      Buddhism is a bit of a mess. It’s basically the “Don’t worry, be happy” religion. No wonder it’s often so popular with the Hollywood nuts and flakes. One writer I read recently said that Buddhism is basically reformed Hinduism. There could be some truth to that. I’ve done some elementary reading in Buddhism and one of the notable points about the religion is that nobody can really say what it is. And thus (as I believe is rampant) you have a lot of Buddhist and Buddhist priests walking around giving Buddhist-speak. Because it’s so fundamentally obscure of an idea, what’s left to do but ape a culture of Buddhism.

      I don’t know that I’d necessarily call Buddhism inherently narcissistic (but many others have). But it is sort of a rejection of reality. As some author I read recently noted, Buddhism is a negation of life. The point of Buddhism is to sort of blot it all out as mattering. It’s “acceptance” of things is also a morally dubious proposition.

      After all the books I’ve read on Buddhism — and I’ve read more than a few — what struck me most about it (somewhat in retrospect) is how powerfully it is a kind of running postmodern gobbledygook. And I don’t mean to be unkind. But that’s my fair impression of it.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        After all the books I’ve read on Buddhism — and I’ve read more than a few — what struck me most about it (somewhat in retrospect) is how powerfully it is a kind of running postmodern gobbledygook. And I don’t mean to be unkind. But that’s my fair impression of it.

        I truly believe one strain of that which would be called post-modernism stems from the disdain Western elites have for Christianity. Yet they find alien religions such as Buddhism more acceptable. Of course, I believe that for many of these people, the rejection of Christianity is more sincere than the acceptance of Buddhism or what other creed they may espouse.

        This goes back to, at least, Schopenhauer.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          One thing to note, Mr. Kung, is that nobody yet has actually answered the question in the headline: How Corrupt Are You?

          Of course, everyone knows I’m a smart aleck headline writer, so I doubt I’m taken seriously. (Hopefully humorously.) But it’s usually the other guy who is full of Original Sin, who is a scoundrel, who is a liar and a cheat, who is a Democrat. (Slight redundancy there.)

          No, it’s not time for true confessions. But perhaps what sets conservatives and Christians apart is that our identities are not based on various conceits, whether conceits to ego, conceits to power, conceits to superiority, or even conceits to compassion. A good Christian or conservative knows he is prone to bad behavior and realizes this is just the way things are. A magnet draws us there unless there is a well-organized, thoughtful, reasonable, and Good counter-force. (Libertarians need not apply.) No fancy-pants rationalizations of being better-than-thou, “saving the planet,” or such stupid baloney.

          And by lancing that boil of supposed better-than-thou, one does actually have the chance of being quite less of a rat bastard.

          Yet they find alien religions such as Buddhism more acceptable.

          I would guess the common denominator there is the self-hate combined with love-of-foreigner which is thick as pea soup in the dogma of multiculturalism and the various Marxist Heresies of Western Civilization. Believe me (as I’m sure you do), there are many people, not particularly beholden to or friendly to the Left, who reflexively love Islam while despising Christianity. This reflex is so prominent, it amuses me that these supposed “enlightened” secular types (which they typically are) can’t smell their own farts, so to speak.

          Buddhism works well with the amoral “pacifist” bent of many liberals. There are actually several attributes of Buddhism that work well with Christianity. But as a whole, it’s a bit of a wasteland intellectually, morally, and I would say culturally as well. I think it’s likely the Buddha was a great guy. But, well, much of Buddhism in the West is little different from Judaism in the West: the core values (such as they are) have been mostly replaced by various Marxist Heresies (called “social justice” and so many other things). It’s a way to put a religious veneer over liberalism.

          To the extent that Buddhism is the religion/philosophy of peace and compassion, more power to it. But I, for one, have actually read much of the drivel that has been written by the Dalai Lama. Not a stone’s throw away from the drivel of Pope Francis.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            As for personal corruption, I concluded long ago that the sins (of the 7 Deadly Sins) that I’m most inclined toward are sloth, anger, and gluttony. The one I’m least inclined toward is probably envy. (I use the listing from Bedazzled, of course.)

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Timothy said:

    As for personal corruption, I concluded long ago that the sins (of the 7 Deadly Sins) that I’m most inclined toward are sloth, anger, and gluttony.

    In this age of passive entertainment (and I don’t include books which are quite *active* in terms of the mind), I’ve been guilty of lots and lots of sloth. Anger? Check. Not without some reason, but we all have to deal.

    Gluttony? Not so much. Envy? Oh, god yes. That commandment was written for me. A Catholic friend of mine used to say something like, “The first error in measuring yourself against others is picking up the yard stick in the first place.”

    But we’re all human. It’s inevitable. But that leads me to a thought I was thinking earlier: In any age worth its salt there has been the question: How do I lead a noble and worthwhile life? That question is particularly pertinent in this age swamped with facile forms of entertainment. It’s difficult not to degrade oneself and one’s mind just by standing in this culture.

    So, yeah, this site feeds off of that to some extent. Much like the show, “Cheers,” it’s a place where “everybody knows you’re sane.” We don’t all think alike. But I’d like to think that we all recognize complete and utter BS when we see it. And I think we do. And in this world right now, that counts for much.

    Like I’ve said before, I probably in another time would have prospered as a monk living a secluded life, gardening, making wine, reading and copying books, and generally thinking and writing philosophical thoughts. Well, welcome to the internet age where we can save the cost of the brick and mortar and do this virtually.

    Man is corrupt. Why? I don’t know. Part of it is that indeed “Survival of the fittest” is a primary concern. Micro evolution may not be everything, but it’s a lot. And it is obviously advantageous to lie, cheat, steal, etc. Not always. But enough of the time to make it worthwhile. This is why I’m not so friendly with the idea of “Original Sin” because I think built right into the architecture of the world is conflict or corruption, or at least parameters that make corruption almost a guarantee.

    Whatever the case may be, at some point many people (consciously or unconsciously) decide whether they want to advance beyond the animal. And don’t get me wrong. I’m not naive. I understand that man, as an animal, can have a lot of fun. Sex, power, ego, conquest…you name it. The animal may be ugly, obscene, vulgar, and violent. But there is a lot of life in the animal. I don’t say that I wish to advance beyond the animal because I think being an animal is boring or not rewarding. Good god, we all know it is indeed.

    But aesthetically, philosophically, emotionally, spiritually, and in probably a few other ways, I think many people thirst for something beyond the relative crude vulgarity of the animal. We hunger for Bach more than Bacchanals. And I think this is right and proper. And this is an aspect almost totally missing in our society (aside from architecture) due to so many art forms (and other ennobling aspects of culture) having been degraded by the Left.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I believe I may have mentioned this here before, but I regard morality as long-term pragmatism. Lying, for example, can be very beneficial immediately, which is why people do so much of it. But sooner or later you get exposed as a liar, at which point people stop trusting you — even when you tell the truth. (That basically is the point of “the boy who cried wolf”, after all.) Of course, if those people have some reason for wanting to believe the lie themselves, the situation gets messier. (See “politics”, especially “liberalism”.)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        In theory, if you are caught in a lie, people don’t trust you. The reality is that there are lots and lots of people who willfully believe lies (see: Obama). And there might be even more people who shade the truth in ways that can’t be called a lie, but isn’t exactly true either.

        In business, if I lie or cheat and get caught, that could end a business relationship. And although positive word-of-mouth is important in gaining new clients, they say (and I believe) that it’s the negative word-of-mouth that does the most damage. People might tell one or two people of a good experience they’ve had somewhere but they’ll tell ten if it was a rotten one.

        And yet fudging, over-promising, or otherwise fooling people regarding products and services is widespread and, one could say, a successful business strategy.

        Regarding sex and love, lies are repeatedly ignored or forgiven. There are often games within games where the lie isn’t the thing, per se, because each party has other or higher priorities.

        Lies (or half truths) are very effective in shaping people’s opinions, covering errors, or attacking enemies. A good liar can often deflect culpability for the lies with other lies and half-truths.

        And as much as we here might emphasize (or over-emphasize) logic and reason, these traits are not quite so dear our there in the general arena of life. A lie isn’t a deal-breaker in many situations. Sometimes I wonder if it is even on some people’s radar to not only detect a lie, but to care that they have been lied to.

        I would make a horrible politician. And not because I can’t lie. Who hasn’t? But because I couldn’t make lying a day-to-day thing as so many (of either and all political parties) so easily do.

        We all have our secrets. And it’s not a lie to have a private life or to keep quiet about past transgressions. No one’s life need be an open book. Certainly “honesty” does not require that. But being fundamentally dishonest in day-to-day dealings with friends, clients, family, or whomever is not something I could ever live with. But many do and they profit marvelously from it.

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