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Archive for March 1st, 2010

King of Kings, Duke of Dukes

Posted by scott on March 1st, 2010

Dukey.jpgPro-Am pundit and habitual ratiocinator Selwyn Duke is over at American Thinker today, squeezing the Air Jordan-style pump in his chin and inflating his cranium to 34 psi. Today’s big thoughts are being thunk on the subject of how Moral Relativists have apparently rid the world of sin — which is great for Mankind, but leaves Selwyn feeling a bit like a Irish herpetologist.

I stumbled across [an article] about Tiger Woods, his Buddhism, and his reaction to Brit Hume’s January recommendation that he explore Christianity to remedy his woes. It was penned by David Gibson, a “religion” writer who says that he is, as I am, a convert to Catholicism. If I seem suspicious of his Catholicity — of, in fact, his religiosity — it’s because I am.

Selwyn then goes on to list a couple of professional awards Gibson has won, and while you can’t actually hear his fingers stabbing out each letter as though he was Freddie Kruger and the keyboard was a slumbering ingenue, it does seem to gall him. But for all I know Selwyn has won some writing awards himself, and was simply too modest to list them in his bio. In fact, he’s so self-effacing he no longer offers a bio, not even on his personal website; but then, he’s a man who needs no introduction, so why waste the electrons?

His biography states, “Gibson won the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year Award, the top honor for journalists covering religion in the secular press. In November he will receive the top prize for opinion writing from the American Academy of Religion.” Both are quite fitting. His writing seems more secular than religious and reduces Truth to opinion.

That is to say, Gibson seems to embrace the relativism that defines our age. I have read two articles he has written on the Hume/Woods story, and in neither one does he exhibit the slightest understanding of the concept of Absolute Truth.

Any religion beat reporter who can go two whole columns without reminding his readers that every faith besides Christianity, and every denomination besides Roman Catholicism, is bullshit, is clearly in the wrong business.

I’ll explain.

Oh, that’s what that high-pitched screeching sound is. I thought it was the ambassador’s phone melting.

I know a man who is an orthodox Jew. He walks the walk, following all of the 613 Judaic laws he must and praying at the appointed times of the day, regardless of where he finds himself. Now, because he is authentic, he believes that his religion contains the full deposit of faith.

Insured FDIC.

Of course, a corollary of this is that he believes that mine does not.

Does this bother me? Not really. In fact, while I disagree with his ultimate conclusion, I expect nothing less than his absolutism. Why sacrifice for a faith — constraining your impulses based on its teachings — if you think it’s just a flavor of the day? Heck, if I thought religion was just a fancy name for opinion, I’d become a hedonist — or at least a Unitarian.

And which flavor of the day were you selling as Absolute Truth before you converted to Catholicism? Because this is kind of like getting a lecture on the One True Faith from Methodist/Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox stalwart Rod Dreher.

In contrast, in Gibson’s commentary, there is never an acknowledgment that Hume is behaving in precisely the way a true man of faith would expect a true man of faith to behave.


Instead, it smacks of secularism.

Hardly the sort of thing you’d expect from a reporter who won “the top honor for journalists covering religion in the secular press.”

Gibson acts as if Hume seeks to impose a taste, as if he has had the temerity to ask someone with a distinctively different palate to adopt his favorite flavor of ice cream.

Isabella and Ferdinand didn’t want to issue the Alhambra Degree, but their hand was forced when the Spanish Jews refused to even try Benedict & Jerry’s Pistachio Pope.

Yet this piece isn’t about Hume or Woods; in fact, it’s not even about Gibson.

Thanks for wasting eight paragraphs.

I’ve long understood that moral relativism is the characteristic spiritual disease of our time (and the worst of all time).

Who can forget when the Massacre of Vassy sparked the French Wars of Relativism?

I’ve also long known that this portends rapid moral collapse, and then the civilizational variety by consequence.

And it’s not doing much for your fallen arches.

But right now I’ll limit my commentary mostly to the impossible marriage between Christianity and relativism. (Non-Christians will find plenty here for them as well, however, so read on.)

SPOILER ALERT for non-Christians: What you’ll find here is the Universal Truth that you’re WRONG! Wrong about EVERYTHING! On the bright side, there’ll be plenty of it.

Let us be blunt: It is simply not possible to espouse relativism — which holds that right and wrong are opinion — and be a true Christian.

Right and wrong about what, Selwyn? Transubstantiation? Married clergy? Justification? Or does Universal Truth allow you a bit of a fudge factor when the secular are watching?

There are many doctrinal differences among the denominations, and good people could debate them ad nauseam and still not settle every one. Yet if anything is central to Christianity, it’s the belief that Truth is spelled with a capital “T” — that it is absolute, universal, and eternal.

So Jesus came to Jerusalem to sing patter songs and sell band instruments?

And also central is a corollary of this belief: that there is an absolute, universal, and eternal answer to every moral question; that right and wrong are not a matter of opinion, and that they don’t change from time to time and place to place

Hammurabi said it, I believe it, and that’s that.

(although the perception of them certainly can. Ergo, swords lopping off heads.).

Therefore, swords lopping off heads?

In fact, understand that moral relativism does nothing less than render the foundational act of Christianity, the sacrifice on the cross, incomprehensible. Why? Simply because Jesus died for our sins, and this presupposes that sin exists.

And that Jesus did.

However, if what we call morality is simply opinion, then there can be no such thing as sin.

In other words, if we don’t punish masturbators, we’d be hypocrites to punish murderers.

For who is to say?

Bronze Age goat herds, apparently.

“Hey, I have my truth, you have your truth. Don’t impose your values on me!” protests the relativist. And if there is no such thing as sin, then there was no reason for Jesus to sacrifice himself.

Really? Crap. Should we tell Him? I don’t think we should tell Him…

After all, what does anyone need to be forgiven for if there is no sin?

I think the real question is, why do Tiger Woods’ sins need to be forgiven by Brit Hume?

Now we come to why this piece isn’t just for Christians.

Well, it is, actually. But it it’s not just for breakfast anymore!

The concept of Absolute Truth lies at the heart of Judaism, Islam, and, in fact, philosophy itself. Why philosophy?

Because it’s not subject to the Scientific Method, so you can just make shit up?

Because, properly defined, philosophy is the search for Truth. Now, some — including many philosophy professors — would dispute this, but they not only are babies in philosophy, but they also have adopted the endeavor of a madman: searching while claiming there is nothing to find.

I would have paid good money to see Selwyn debating at the Oxford Union. “Sir, you state that moral distinctions stand upon the shifting sands of culture and intellectual fashion, rather than the sturdy bedrock of objective and universal standards of virtue. Ergo, you’re a kindergarten baby, you wash your face in gravy. You wrap it up in bubble gum and send it to the Navy.”

If there is no Truth and only opinion, then there are no answers to be found.

Well, not at American Thinker, anyway.

Of course, it’s tempting to embrace religious-equivalency doctrine in a multi-religious society because it’s thought that it enables us to get along. Like two little boys in a schoolyard who each agree to relinquish any claim that his daddy can beat up the other’s, we make the following unwritten pact: “I won’t say my faith is better than yours if you don’t say your faith is better than mine. Deal?” And it does work. Only then there is not only no reason to fight about religion, there is no reason to even discuss it. There is, in fact, no reason to even adopt it. That is, unless it somehow makes you feel good. But adherence to the principle “Do whatever feels good” is a pathway to something. It’s called sin.

So by agreeing to forgo arguments about just exactly who’s god is Top God, and avoiding bloodshed at recess, we’re a bunch of godless hippies who live by the maxim, “if it feels good, do it.” But what about those martyrs who experienced transcendent joy and ecstasy in faith when they were tortured, mutilated, and often killed for their devotion to a certain, relatively large, but nonetheless abridged part of their team’s doctrine. I mean, how do you even score that?

Through his embrace of relativism, modern man has made Christianity incomprehensible.

Just try explaining the Holy Ghost.

He has made philosophy incomprehensible. He has, in fact, made civilization itself incomprehensible.

This column? Totally incomprehensible. Thanks, Relativists!