Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Choices And Orderings

This article reminded me of a question I've had floating around in my head for a while. It's related to another, more commonly-asked question, which simply put goes: "Which bits of the Bible are actually right?"

For a Christian, and I would imagine for many other religions too, there are two basic choices. You either work under the assumption that the entirety of your religious tome is literally true (or at the very least everything in there is unambiguously correct in its message), or you have to consciously or subconsciously cherry-pick what you do and don't believe (or do and don't follow). There are a lot of interesting questions to be asked about the specific methodology people use to do that, but that's away from my main point.

What I'm wondering about is: once you've put together your own personalised list of Right and Wrong, according to the particular verses from the Bible that you agree with, how do you then take that list and organise them in order of preference?

Because that's the obvious question raised be what this Reverend is saying. Having first concluded abortion is wrong (which, yes, is official Catholic policy, but that in itself doesn't make it an article of faith for all Catholics, and potentially even for all Catholic ministers), Rev. Illo has apparently made a further leap and decided that abortion is so wrong that voting for someone who doesn't want to ban it is a mortal sin. Apparently voting for McCain is fine, even though the man's policies and rhetoric made it very clear that there could well be more wars under his watch; most plausibly with Iran but even potentially (God forbid) armed skirmishes with Russia. Either of those outcomes would lead to a healthy body count of American soldiers and foreign civilians, but apparently someone not trying to stop that particular tragedy is perfectly OK.

Attaturk over at Rising Hegemon, from where I found the article above, describes this approach to abortion as "a one track mind". I see where he's coming from, but I would phrase it differently. To me, this kind of behaviour is proof that certain people have a very odd and enormously top-heavy priority list. Murdering foreign civilians? Meh, it happens. "Murdering" the unborn? Anyone allowing it, or voting for those that allow it, are sinning. Since objections to both must surely come under the 5th Commandment, I don't see where the differential is, other than a potential difference in numbers, which would be the first time I've seen religious molarity bend to statistics.

I understand that religious leaders are charged with, well, leading. It still baffles me though how anyone can be sure that their own personal hierarchy of what is more and less important can be projected onto anyone else. Between the choice of what to take from the Bible, and the choice of what order to place everything is, it just feels like there's too much uncertainty around everything to be so heavy-handed in condemning a political choice, or pretty much any choice, for that matter.


Gooder said...

This happens with everyone not just the religious and to some extent it's a case of dealing with what's happening in your community, on your front door.

It much easier for people to engage/deal with things that are happening in thier 'world'. The problem with innocents caught in wars abroad is people can't realte to them (in terms of numbers or an individual level because they are removed from what you know).

Like animal rights activists for example, will fight tooth an nail for some bunnies but aren't really motivated / interested in things like Darfur.

SpaceSquid said...

Well first of all, "everyone" is an exaggeration. Secondly, whilst I agree entirely that part of this is a problem of people just concentrating on the areas close to home, it's the added crazy of "God agrees with me, and will punish you if you don't go along with it" that baffles me. It's assigning the same petty local human concerns to an almighty being, and that fries my brain to some extent.