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Politically Correct – Beyond the definition

Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Pontius Pilate p...

Antonio Ciseri’s depiction of Pontius Pilate presenting a scourged Christ to the people Ecce homo! (Behold the man!) In the New Testament account, that assembly found it acceptable to crucify Jesus instead of Barabbas, a convicted murderer – Image via Wikipedia

politically correct

conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated

political correctness

noun

First Known Use: 1934

“Politically Correct.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 4 Jan. 2018.

Well that’s a dictionary definition, which is a good start. But I think the term “politically correct” demands a little amplification.

From my perspective, “politically correct” describes a belief that the majority (or a highly visible group) at a given moment in history see as true or, if not ultimately true, acceptable or appropriate.

Alexis de Tocqueville, French political thinke...

Alexis de Tocqueville, French political thinker and historian – Image via Wikipedia

When a politically correct idea takes hold, many follow suit and boldly proclaim with an almost religious zealousness a belief or agenda that, in reality, could be an ephemeral, ideological trend.

Along these lines, the classical French sociologist Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) argued that democracy’s emphasis on equality could possibly squelch individuality, leading to a suffocating majority rule marked by total conformity.

In the New Testament narrative, Pontius Pilate voices the philosophical essence of political correctness when he says to Jesus Christ:

What is Truth!  ~ John, 18:38 NASB

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar has Pilate sarcastically ask

But what is truth? Is truth unchanging law? We both have truths. Are mine the same as yours?

The following New Testament passage gives a scathing account of worldly wisdom, which could be seen as a type of political correctness:

What is truth? Deutsch: Was ist Wahrheit? Fran...

What is truth? Christ and Pilate – Image via Wikipedia

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS”; and again, “THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS” ~ I Corinthians 3:18-20 NASB

Okay, so there is a lot of b.s. in the world. I think we all get that. But that doesn’t mean all politically correct ideas are bad or untrue. Many seem to contain virtue.

The key is to avoid blindly accepting majority opinion – and the political correctness that often goes with that – without first researching and thinking for oneself.

 Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017: ‘Feminism’ (bostonherald.com)

 John Legend will play Jesus Christ in NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live (thefader.com)

 Breaking: Mormon Church President Monson dies at 90 (vanguardngr.com)

 Mormon president to be replaced with homophobic elder following death (pinknews.co.uk)

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Church

A Different Church Building

A Different Church Building – justshootingmemories via Flickr

The word “church” has different meanings. Architecturally it refers to a building used for public religious worship.

Church also refers to an entire body of religious believers and usually the hierarchically ordained clergy who guide and instruct that body of worshippers.

Wikipedia tells us:

The Greek term ἐκκλησία, which is transliterated as “ecclesia“, generally meant an “assembly”,[1] but in most English translations of the New Testament is usually translated as “church”.¹

The above meanings may or may not apply to Christian belief. In today’s world, “church” also applies to Buddhism and, in fact, to any government-recognized religious body of believers and their creed.

These assemblies are usually tax exempt so stringent criteria must be met before a public assembly is designated as a church. And follow-up procedures are sometimes necessary to guard against the public being scammed by fraudsters setting up a “church” for the sole purpose of tax evasion.

Most Christian and Buddhist churches have undergone serious divisions, each splinter group claiming they’ve uniquely preserved and, perhaps, elaborated on the true source of their faith.

truth

truth – Erick-Pardus via Flickr

From the perspective of conventional reasoning all of the truth claims arising from the different churches (and their many divisions) cannot be correct. But also from conventional reasoning it doesn’t follow that all of these claims are necessarily incorrect.

It’s conceivable (if improbable) that one church teaches absolute, perfect truth while others contain no or, perhaps, partial truths. It’s also conceivable that one church is truest (but not absolutely true) while others remain somewhat less true.

Other perspectives suggest that all churches and the truths they proclaim are equally valid and true. This is the “anything goes” perspective we sometimes find among New Age enthusiasts. Interestingly, this perspective is allegedly supported by interior visions and other extraordinary experiences. Most mainstream currents of belief also tend to claim some kind of supernatural authority. However, these various ‘authorities’ usually say something entirely unique. It’s a fallacy to say that all religions teach the same thing. They do not—not when each religion is taken on its own terms, at any rate.

Alternately, some maintain that all churches and the truths they proclaim are bogus.

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church


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Faith and Reason

Faith and Reason united, with St Thomas Aquina...

Faith and Reason united, with St Thomas Aquinas teaching in the background. Painting by Ludwig Seitz (1844–1908), Galleria dei Candelabri, Vatican - Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikipedia

Many people see faith and reason as two approaches to life existing at opposite ends of the cognitive spectrum. It could be argued, however, that faith and reason are not always separate and (consciously or unconsciously) work together.

An example of faith and reason unconsciously working together could be found in those who make a god out of reason. These folks still come from a faith position, but their faith is placed in reason instead of God or some divine power.

On this point or, at least, on a similar point, the philosopher David Hume offered a now famous critique of causality.

Hume’s metaphysics, in particular his critique of the belief in cause and effect, remains an important challenge to our conventional way of seeing. All we can be sure of, says Hume, is that certain events occur one after another in a given region and for a certain duration.

In billiards, for instance, the white ball appears to cause the motion of other balls when impacting them on the billiard table. But here’s the radical part. Hume says that all we can truly know is that, in the past, the first ball impacted and the other balls moved. We cannot prove that the first ball’s impact will always be followed by movement of the other balls. And for Hume, there is no rational way to demonstrate a causal connection.¹

In most world religions, faith is said to be primary to reason. In Catholic theology faith is described as a supernatural virtue whereas reason is said to be a natural power. For Catholics or, indeed, anyone, both faith and reason are concerned with truth and need not conflict.

However, it seems that many insecure individuals who have been brainwashed by a cultic or even by some silly religious or scientific teaching desperately cling to a kind of misplaced faith by believing in things that are not true or, perhaps, egregiously facile.

Similarly, we find not a few self-professed thinkers who are hooked on their own faulty logic, colored by unconscious personal biases.

In their best form, faith and reason are potentially harmonious. We can live life by testing our pet hypotheses and by keeping our beliefs and theories open to revision. For many, however,  faith and reason are often imperfect and discordant.

Thinkers like the Hungarian-born Arthur Koestler (1905-83) believed that clunky linkages between our human cognitive faculties (such as faith and reason) result from conflicting evolutionary additions to the human brain, additions that happened by chance instead of through any kind of grand, intelligent design. But this approach is no more subject to empirical verification than one that accepts inconsistency and inner conflict as steps toward integration and its corollary, integrity.

Related Posts » Faith and Action, Faith and Morals

¹ https://earthpages.wordpress.com/2012/01/08/hume-david