Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."



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Comments

Jeffrey Boser

I put my money on the whiners. Whatever else they may be, massive consumers of sex/entertainment/food, are also *producers*. They have a vested interest in their economy, and are *selfish*. In other words, capitalists.

The other society, who's sole aspect is fanaticism, can not compete. At most, it can self-sacrifice itself to destruction. If it were not so, kamikazi pilots would have won Japan a war.

I'd take self-interest over 'loyalty' any day.

Steve Nicoloso

And what Jeffrey do we (i.e., Americans) in fact produce? Our federal government is now over $9 trillion in debt and our annual trade imbalance is about 1/2 $trillion. Yet we as American's refuse to elect anyone who either a) raise our taxes, b) cut out gov't goodies, or c) do both. (Another interesting and I think natural result of liberal democracy.) Any true productivity in the US is today completely overwhelmed by the spending of our grandchildren's inheritance. We're eating at a 5-star restaurant, calling it "productive" due to our weight gain, and sticking our granchildren with the check.

wj

Actually, Steve, we produce a great deal. (Bad as our balance of trade is in absolute terms, as a percentage of our GNP it is pretty small.) But the critical thing that we produce, more so than the goods that we manufacture, is new ideas. To toss up just one example: All those chips, made in multi-billion dollar factories in China and elsewhere -- technology developed here (just down the road from me, actually).

Now you can argue that we are doing less of that than a few decades ago. And you would be perhaps half right. Native-born Americans may be contributing less of that (although some of us remember the furor in the late 1950s over the relative state of American education. That was the education system which produced both the mainframe computer and the PC, and transformed the world.). But people from elsewhere keep coming here precisely because they can try out new ideas -- held back only by some major stupidity in our immigration laws.

But do people from elsewhere move here for the decadance? Nope, mostly they import it to wherever they are. If they feel compelled to move to were decadance is, there are lots of more attractive places.

All of which is not to disagree for an instant with your final point. Living on borrowed money is never a long-term solution, whether for a individual, a family, or a nation. And for us as a nation, the only alternatives I see to a major attack of good sense, at both the governmental and individual levels, (which don't either look likely any time soon) are: 1) a substantial devaluation of the currency, or 2) a major depression. The fact that the government is seriously in debt means that the solution is likely to be one which rescues individual debtors as a side effect, i.e. major inflation. Sigh.

Tom Strong

cross-posting from the last thread -

Steve,

Marriage is not a civil right! Instead it is a pledge to the community that you'll do your part in helping to ensure it future.

False dichotomy. Freedom of speech is a right; in a liberal democracy it is also an obligation, to participate and take your part in the governance of society.

Some gay people and their allies are primarily concerned with the rights of marriage (visitation, economic partnership under the law, etc.) But many are more concerned with creating a means for gays to enter the social obligations of marriage, as part and parcel of their inalienable right to pursue happiness.

I don't seek equality under the law as a member of the class of men who prefer doggy style, or as a member of the class of men who dig small-breasted Asians.

Nonsense - you seek exactly that. The only reason it seems like you don't is because you already have it. Men who prefer it doggy-style, or who prefer small-breasted Asian women, are not discriminated against by civic society, either in terms of rights or social participation. Gay people are.

Tom Strong

I'd be remiss in not noting that the ages-long bigotry leveled against gay people deepens the experience of being gay, in a way that makes it quite incomparable to the sort of sexual fetishes you're describing. But of course, as long as you continue to argue against straw men, you'll probably try and claim otherwise.

Irving Karchmar

Between 5% and 10% of the WORLD population is gay, in every country, and in every social class.
That's roughly between 350 million and 700 million men and women. This is not a mutation, it is a part of Nature. The sexual immaturity of the human race in this matter constantly astounds me, especially the conservative stance. That they want to be treated equally under the law and are vocal about it is a good sign for Western civilization, which, by the way, is based on Greek philosophy, mostly of Socrates and Plato, both gay men. So, put 100 people in a room picked at random and at least 5 will turn out to be gay. Do the same with 100 conservative Republicans, and 5 will also be gay, but in the closet.
May God bless you and forgive me.

michael reynolds

Marriage is a pledge to the community? Say what? All this grand pontificating about the purpose of marriage sounds awfully jejeune to someone who has been married for 27 years. The community has dick all to do with my marriage. Although, yes, the marriage of Michael Jackson to Lisa Marie Presley was absolutely a pledge to the community to . . . whatever.

Marriage is two people. Whatever grandiose nonsense people tell themselves before they get married, it's two people. Two. Not society. Not the community. Not Jesus. Trust me, two a.m., sick with worry over one thing or another, mad over something stupid, fearful, exhausted, feeling trapped or betrayed, it's just the two of you. No "community." I've been there a thousand times and never saw anyone else in the room. No one there on the far more numerous good nights, either.

michael reynolds

And actually, I want to add to the above: not only is a marriage not a pledge to the whole world, it is a pledge to one person, to love only that one person, to put that person's interest ahead of anyone else, reason be damned, proportion be damned, morality be damned, and all of society be damned.

Put the whole of society on one side and put my wife on the other and guess what? My wife wins. That's the deal you make when you get married. You are forming a little diamond so hard and so tight and so unified that no outside force can break it. And the only people who will ever trump your wife in your affections or your loyalties are the kids you have with your wife. That's marriage.

And it doesn't matter even slightly whether the person you love that way is of a different gender or the same.

It ain't sociology. It's love.

amba

Michael, you're a good and lucky man. Maybe you made your own luck, or maybe you were just good enough to recognize it.

Irving, hello and welcome!

Steve Nicoloso

Michael I'm sorry to hear that you don't feel a part of a community, that you've had to make up your Definitive Values all on your own, and that all you have to offer for any would-be community is the Middle Digit. This is quite sad, but alas all too common. It speaks to the atomization so rampant of western society--something I believe to be a natural outgrowth of social contract theory (more on that below).

Irving, queer theorists disagree with you, in that they argue sexual preference is entirely socially constructed. I would not go so far, but it is utterly inconceivable that something so complex and varied as sexual preference is entirely genetic. Tho' it has yet to be identified (AFAIK), it seems certain that scientists will eventually discover a gene complex more common in gay men than in straight men. Now of the straight men who have this gene complex, one might easily suspect that they are closeted or even in denial. But what of the gay men who don't have it? Are they really "gay"? Ergo, queer theory: Most simply, what you do is what you do, what you prefer is what you prefer. What you do and what you prefer is not you, i.e., is not your essence.

Tom, it is this very dubious basis of liberal democracy with which I take issue, the fanciful theory that we are endowed by some higher power with inalienable rights, among these life, liberty, and (most especially) the pursuit of happiness. Even if I grant to be true this highly speculative theory, which by comparison makes natural law look like hard scientific materialism, is it not patently obvious that these supposed inalienable rights are in fact limited and may explicitly be denied under certain circumstances? The best of societies would only do so in the rarest of circumstances and out of necessity. But for a society to never check the unbounded liberty of an individual or his unbounded pursuit of happiness, the society itself would be undermining its own existence. Gay "marriage" is, I believe, one of these exigencies. Even more so is no fault divorce. Even more so is the plight of single parent households, and the various social pathologies that make them possible. And ultimately more so, the incidence of abortion. These are all really of a single piece: private autonomy going against the long term good (Definitive Values if you will) of community.

A few comments from "controversial" (heh!) French author Michel Houellebecq seem appropriate here:

In an economic system where unfair dismissal is prohibited, every person more or less manages to find their place. In a sexual system where adultery is prohibited, every person more or less manages to find their bed mate. In a totally liberal economic system certain people accumulate considerable fortunes; others stagnate in unemployment and misery. In a totally liberal sexual system certain people have a varied and exciting erotic life; others are reduced to masturbation and solitude. Economic liberalism is an extension of the domain of the struggle, its extension to all ages and levels of society. Sexual liberalism is likewise an extension of the domain of the struggle, its extension to all ages and all classes of society.

Please note what Houellebecq calls "economic liberalism" has of late strangely become attached to what most people (wrongly) call the "right", but the shoe still fits. Liberalism, i.e., unfettered (unfetterable?) freedom, is, I argue, the great enemy of civilization on both economic and social fronts. And if we want true and lasting freedom as a people, we need to be prepared paradoxically to give up some of it for the greater good of the people... unless, as Michael seems to argue, we are no people at all, and instead a more or less random collection of autonomous social agents with loyalty only to the best (social) "deal" we can make.

Cheers!

amba

Steve --

Gay "marriage" doesn't fit into your "set." (You know those tests where there are four pieces of furniture and a fox, and you're supposed to say which one doesn't belong there? Or do they all have four legs?) It would be socially stabilizing and preventive of disruption.

amba

(cont'd) This is the "set" I'm referring to:

But for a society to never check the unbounded liberty of an individual or his unbounded pursuit of happiness, the society itself would be undermining its own existence. Gay "marriage" is, I believe, one of these exigencies. Even more so is no fault divorce. Even more so is the plight of single parent households, and the various social pathologies that ma ke them possible. And ultimately more so, the incidence of abortion. These are all really of a single piece: private autonomy going against the long term good (Definitive Values if you will) of community.

Marriage, commitment, precisely bounds the pursuit of happiness, channels it. It doesn't forbid it. Forbidding it just drives it underground. Channeling it makes it creative -- not always or only of children, also of community and family structure. Anyone who has gay couples among their family or friends knows that they participate in and contribute to this kind of ordered, communal pursuit of happiness.

Steve Nicoloso

It fits in the same way that easy divorce does, i.e., that it asks society for an indulgence: define marriage in a way that pleases me. If gay marriage advocates were simultaneously trying to bring back laws against adultery and to make divorce much more difficult, then there might be something to talk about, perhaps a compromise could be reached. But they're not (AFAIK). It's just one more corrosive, the continued push for privatization (atomization, contractualization) of public life. What people do behind closed doors is, in fact, rightly and naturally private. Marriage is not, otherwise this debate would not be happening.

amba

Steve, you're right that we've gone way too far in an individual "pursuit of happiness" direction, in that people who don't have much internal control are "free" to rampage around, driven by appetite or addiction, destroying the people and families they've half-created. But people who do have internal control are at their most creative when not crushed by either political or religious regimentation. Michael talks like a monad and a misanthrope, but he contributes probably more than most to the community -- by his work ethic, loyalty to his family, unheralded generosity, and no doubt even @#@$@@% taxes. Freedom frees some people to do the right thing in their own way, and that's what makes America so dynamic. A certain amount of disorder is the price of that freedom, so what's the balance? Where's the tipping point?

amba

It's just one more corrosive, the continued push for privatization (atomization, contractualization) of public life. What people do behind closed doors is, in fact, rightly and naturally private. Marriage is not, otherwise this debate would not be happening.

So why are so many "Christians" trying to ban civil unions as well? Or are you not one of them?

Steve Nicoloso

Amba, I simply don't believe the state (community, society, whatever) has any interest in "blessing" unions that are scandalous (i.e., we don't want our children to "turn out that way") and unproductive (in the sense of future generations), and if productive (by miracle, lotsa money, or past relationship) still fail to provide any children with two parents of the opposite sex. I'm not aware of any substantive difference between civil unions and civil marriage (i.e., a marriage license given by the state vis-a-vis sacramental marriage). I would agree that "monogamous" gay relationships are a zillion times less harmful (both to the society AND the individuals involved) than the cruising lifestyle of far too many (but, yes, far from all) gays. But "marriage" is not prerequisite to this particular societal... hrm... lesser evil. Gay folks can be monogamous, tender and caring to each other, just like the millions of cohabiting heteros are. And of course, "marriage" these day still means very little in terms of actual commitment. There's no longer any legal pressure to stay married, and little or no societal pressure to do so. Like I said, I might be open to gay "marriage" if at the same time we put laws prohibiting easy divorce and adultery back on the books.

Where's the tipping point, i.e., between good order and individual freedom? Hmmm... Well, it's whatever maintains good order. :-) That is to say, there needs to be a consensus in the community for things to be the way they are or else to change them to the way things "ought" to be... it really is as simple as that for me: A community has to be able to agree on the question, What is Good? If we can agree on that, then politics becomes simply a negotiation of how best to pursue that ideal, i.e., the Good. If we cannot arrive at a consensus on matters of public policy, then we are not a real community. Conservatism is not an ideology (tho' it's hard to tell this by listening to the loudest and/or best-placed so-called "conseratives" these days). It is instead simply an impulse to conserve. And in my view the most important thing to conserve is the natural family. Sustainable, clean and walkable communities, sustainable and honest business practices, and the environment are other things that need conserving... not least because those are things that help to preserve the natural family for future generations.

eusto

A multi-part comment to Mr. Nicoloso.

Note: I have just picked up the tail whiff of this controversy and hope I am not being overly redundant.

First, I agree with many of the theorists of liberal democracy such as Montesquieu that democracy requires virtue to survive. The question becomes, How best to foster virtue? In my view, the best way to do so is to show people that virtue produces joy and that vice brings pain. IOW, to resurrect the classical notion that virtue is the health of the soul and to appeal to the self-interest of the populace. Conjoined with this, I favor a solid moral education that will nurture and bring out the innate virtue of each individual.

I think something has gone deeply wrong with Steve's analysis when he seems so willing to resort to force to bring out virtue -- i.e. put the gun to the back of the youth's head, hang the traitor (the spiritual nomad -- from an earlier discussion), and subordinate the individual to the tribe. Jesus came, purportedly, so that "they may have life, and that abundantly" NOT to "force those miserable sinners to behave properly."

Obviously, force is sometimes required in the case of theft, rape, murder, etc. But Steve's love of imposition of power seems deeply wrong.

However, I am sympathetic to laws that encourage but do not force good behavior. I am not intrinsically opposed to re-strengthening divorce and adultery laws -- though the devil is in the details. IOW, the state will give you certain benefits but you agree that you too have a certain responsibility in entering a marriage contract.

****

Now, on the subject of gay marriage, I have no problem with the Catholic Church maintaining its policies. In fact, I might even advise it -- not because I believe their policies on women, contraception, and gay marriage are right, far from it -- but they would risk angering their base and losing their niche. At the same, however, those who are Catholics should keep the pressure on for change, and within say fifty years, I am confident that Vatican Three will usher in more socially liberal positions on these issues, for by that time gay marriage will be a commonplace and much of the culture war furor will have lessened. (well, at least that's what I would bet on)

As for the broader public policy, I favor gay marriage precisely because I think it will strengthen and not erode marriage and because I think its fair. And this is where the crux of the issue lies. Amba and Tom and Michael and I do not feel that negative results will arise from gay marriage. Steve and presumably Funky do. This is an empirical question and we will find out soon enough.

****

Finally, a note on Steve's favoring of the tribe over the individual. This is an incoherent notion in several ways. First off, the first Christians were "traitors" to the either the Roman Empire or to Judaism, and it can be argued that Christianity contributed to the collapse of the Roman Empire by its destruction of the old ways. Remember that Christians were considered atheists by the Romans. Is Steve condemning the first Christians?

Second, we belong to many tribes and Steve belongs both to the American tribe (i.e. the philosophy of the constituion and declaration places a high premium on Enlightenment values and individual rights) and the Catholic tribe. Some of the comments he's made about individual rights and the Enlightenment make me wonder just how loyal he is to the Enlightenment/American (in the dec. and the const.) tradition?

I think it should be clear that freedom begins with individual freedom, freedom of speech, religion, and that our society is based on that freedom. If you strip away those individual rights, and subordinate the individual to the collective you have a form of totalitarianism whether of the fascist, marxist, or medieval Catholic variety.

At base, while I too am very concerned about the state of marriage in our culture and about our culture's selfishness, I think Steve has made an error in lumping gay marriage in with other developments and that he goes way too far in the coercive direction. So I actually agree with many of his criticisms of our nation's moral character, but I disagree with his methods.

Steve Nicoloso

Eusto, it sounds like you've got me figured about right. I don't disagree with much of what you say... but with:

the best way to do so is to show people that virtue produces joy and that vice brings pain. IOW, to resurrect the classical notion that virtue is the health of the soul and to appeal to the self-interest of the populace. Conjoined with this, I favor a solid moral education that will nurture and bring out the innate virtue of each individual.

I think virtue does not always bring joy, and vice does not always bring pain. This is pretty much what Nietzsche taught to the world. The Psalmist wonders how long the righteous will suffer, while the wicked prosper. The tacit answer: a long, long time. So we're rather hamstrung in trying to sell virtue as an effective dentrifice proven to fight misery, because the cleverest will realize it's all a pack of lies (at least as far as this life goes). Virtue must be pursued because it is right, even when it hurts, as is often the case. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for an education that maximizes virtue. Where do I sign up?!! But pluralistic societies (like ours) have a very hard time defining virtue (save for telling us to be nice and always share). Doesn't this beg the whole question of what is that Transcendant Good that society as whole pursues? Our solution: We homeschool.

Remember that Christians were considered atheists by the Romans. Is Steve condemning the first Christians?

Very astute of you to notice sources of potential incoherence. No I don't condemn the first Christians. But this situation was not the individual with his private fetish going up against the "good" of the Roman Empire, but instead a clash of Empires: God's vs. Caesar's. The early Christians were (as all who've followed must be) a people of dual allegiences, neither of which was to the autonomous self. It's true tho' that sometimes you have to choose between allegiances and serve one community and despise the other.

This was spot on:

Some of the comments he's made about individual rights and the Enlightenment make me wonder just how loyal he is to the Enlightenment/American (in the dec. and the const.) tradition?

You have every right to wonder. I have no loyalty whatsoever to the enlightenment... and to the extent that it is aligned fundamentally with the American "value system" (of which I have some doubt), I probably not real gung-ho on America. I do appreciate, however, modern dental hygeine... which is my way of saying sometimes you simply make the best of the situation you're in. I think that liberal democracy worked for as long as it did in America because we were (typically) a very devout people, who were also presented with enormous spaces to spread out and form stable communities, when necessary apart from other communities who didn't share our particular notions. There must be some explanation why the French Revolution didn't happen here.

America is an empire, a big one, and one a bit too big for me to really grasp hold of as a "community". I think it is natural to grasp hold and love smaller, more human sized things, like family, friends, neighborhoods, towns, and cities. So if the Emperor declares war for conquest in a far away land, I'll likely be disinclined to support it. But if my town or a local farm is under seige by say... developers, that's when I'll be motivated join the militia.

As to the carrot versus stick question, all I can say is that it's probably wise to keep both well in hand. The lash doesn't make us moral, but we won't be moral without it.

Cheers!

amba

Often life itself applies the lash.

eusto

I think virtue does not always bring joy, and vice does not always bring pain. This is pretty much what Nietzsche taught to the world. The Psalmist wonders how long the righteous will suffer, while the wicked prosper. The tacit answer: a long, long time. So we're rather hamstrung in trying to sell virtue as an effective dentrifice proven to fight misery, because the cleverest will realize it's all a pack of lies (at least as far as this life goes).

I'm not referring to external consequences of virtue -- the righteous suffer while the wicked prosper -- but rather internal.

(Though, I think effective government regulation can help make the practice of virtue more easy. Make illegal those practices (say business) that require everyone else to be just as cutthroat or perish. Create laws that encourage marriage, etc.)

The notion that one winds up just miserable and exhausted by being a slave to money, sex, or fame; and the notion that one can experience great joy in making a positive impact on society. That it is far more pleasurable to self-actualize (I know you hate the notion) than to become a slave to one's desires. That's my fundamental point. If you serve money or fame or pleasure, you're not in control of your life. Those are tyrannical masters that suck you in and then ruin you.

People wind up serving something and might as well choose to serve something that is truly rewarding -- that will exalt rather than debase. What doth it profit if a man gains the whole world, but loses his life? That is the message. To me, I just couldn't stand living a life of "sin." I would just hate it. I would be utterly miserable. Not only do the pleasures themselves become enervating, you're living a pointless life.

I guess I'm certain because I tried it for a brief period -- I even stumbled upon Rimbaud as a prelude! (Finding a copy of Rimbaud was even the impetus for my self-learning of French.) And then I switched to a far more exuberant neo-platonist style philosophy where I found amazing and lasting joy. So my conviction arises from personal experience.

I draw my moral sense from the ancient philosophers, especially the Stoics and Aristotle. For instruction in virtue, I have in mind the reading of classic texts that embrace a deeply moral perspective. I feel universities have an obligation for moral instruction and this might be a good setting for experimental projects. For an example of a mini-curriculum see practical philosophy that is taught by Luke Timothy Johnson, a leading (Catholic!) scholar and former Benedictine monk. (btw, all those courses go on sale periodically [70%!] so usually then it's 35$ to put them on an ipod.

BTW, I really don't think we're too pluralistic a society to have a common morality. For instance, you and I can agree on a lot of basic principles, even though many of our particular views are mutually morally repugnant. I'm actually a very strong supporter of the Enlightenment, both of the European and Eastern variety. I think liberal democracy just kicks butt! Even so, I believe in universal moral principles. I believe in the importance of self-control and self-discipline and in the importance of cultivating a sense of responsibility that extends to as many as possible.

In fact, my former high school's superintendent actually sat down with a group of atheists, Christians, etc. and was able to formulate a moral curriculum that all could agree on. I think part of the West's problem is that it has too closely associated religion with ethics, and with the decline of religion went ethics. The ancient Greeks didn't see it that way and didn't tie their ethics to their religion.

IMO, society needs a secular resurrection of classical ethics -- one not based on the precariousness of ancient (and dubitable) religious doctrines. We could also stand for a mandatory year of service either in the Armed Forces or something like Teach for America, as has been proposed by several.

See, Steve, I love liberal democracy and want to make it work; you, eh, I'm not so sure. I don't think we should turn back the clock, I just think we need a synthesis that as amba put it way back when (in horrifically inelegant paraphrase) "the best of the 50's and 60's."

***

And I can't believe that you're putting your faith, to an extent, in the other side of the WOT. I could just as easily say who will win the side with huge wealth, a powerful military, and an educated population or a poor, weak, and illiterate population. Now, we could -- and have -- screwed up, but as Michael always says -- remember who has the most nukes.

***

One more point. Coercion often fails, especially in the long run. Which is the more secular society, Iran or the US? And as a conservative Catholic do not turn a blind eye to the abject failure of Catholicism in Ireland. Didn't they have the kind of society you wanted? A strong Catholic church, tough divorce, birth control, and abortion laws and the whole lot. If Ireland failed and is now far less religious than the US, what exactly is your plan here?

To get anything done you need the consent of the people. People will rebel furiously against restraints, you really have to convince them that it's in their best interest to control themselves. That is unless you're planning totalitarianism which definitely will not fly in the US of NRA ;)

And that's my major critique of the Catholic position on homosexuality. If indeed homosexuality is a disorder, if indeed it is akin to alcoholism, the "sufferer" should be able to recognize that "whoa, this is really messing me up and is ruining my life." The fact that so many Catholic homosexuals -- people who believe in sin -- don't ultimately agree with your assessment is damning IMO. I think if something is truly a sin, it should be messing up someone's life. What seems to messing up many homosexuals lives is pretending to be strait. If you can't convince gay Catholics, then again, imho, you're screwed.

amba

The ancient Greeks didn't see it that way and didn't tie their ethics to their religion.

A good thing too, since the Greek gods behaved quite unethically!

amba

Splendid stuff, eusto!

eusto

A good thing too, since the Greek gods behaved quite unethically!

Yahweh also is known to have proposed a few "sketchy" ideas. Oh course it is difficult to commit adultery with oneself.

Splendid stuff, eusto!

As I always tell my mother, don't be surprised, I do know everything after all! ;)

But more seriously, I really do think gay Catholics are in a privileged position to determine whether homosexuality is a sin or not. Only they can examine their conscience and determine whether it's an offense or block to God and whether or not it's voluntary.

And seriously, virtue has suffered a horrific PR wound due to Christianity. Who wants to join the club of self-flaggelation? I think it is best to define virtue as that character trait that when exercised produces benefits to both oneself and one's neighbor. And that one refrains from vicious deeds not because God "forbids" them, but because they cause harm to self or others. It's perverse to define virtue as that thing which is good for others but bad for oneself. You're a person too. Don't you count?

I've just recently finished a series of lectures on C.S. Lewis. He too chastised Christianity for its perverse and puritanical view of virtue. Love is more rewarding than lust, etc. (He's actually a pretty cool guy. I would put on him on my virtue reading lists. The problem with him is that Narnia is cooler than Christendom. It also becomes clear that to be a Christian one has to engage in a suspension of disbelief just as one does when reading the Chronicles of Narnia. It's a beautiful story (Christianity) until you step back and realize -- Jesus! -- if this were all true, scary stuff would indeed follow.)

eusto

And out of a sense of moral duty, I think we have to realize that for the WOT we are NOT two peoples fighting against each other. Most of the Iraqi, Afghan and Iranian populations are not opposed to Western values -- individual rights, capitalism, democracy, etc. -- at least to an extent. It is a clash of ideologies, of which radical jihadism is a minority position. We're seeking converts not dead bodies.

amba

It's perverse to define virtue as that thing which is good for others but bad for oneself. You're a person too. Don't you count?

Do note that Jesus said "Love thy neighbor as thyself," not "instead of thyself."

Moshe Feldenkrais said it's also important for the overscrupulous and overconscientious among us to remember to "love thyself as thy neighbor."

Steve Nicoloso

And I can't believe that you're putting your faith, to an extent, in the other side of the WOT.

I assume by WOT, Eusto, you mean War on Terror... took me a while. Umm... I don't see how I'm putting faith in any "other side"... if there even is one. The reason there even is a WoT, is because of centuries of attempted Western hegemony, in pursuit of transparent economic interests, in regions of the world where such intervention is unwelcome. I stand against American Empire building, and put my "faith" (as it were) in what I hope is not yet completely degraded ability to find a sustainable, and thereby more peaceful, way of life without "foreign entanglements".

I think it is best to define virtue as that character trait that when exercised produces benefits to both oneself and one's neighbor. And that one refrains from vicious deeds not because God "forbids" them, but because they cause harm to self or others. It's perverse to define virtue as that thing which is good for others but bad for oneself. You're a person too. Don't you count?

With this you're simply putting words in my mouth. I've never defined virtue as that which is good for others and bad for oneself. I simply pointed out the virtue is not always good for oneself, and on that basis it becomes a difficult sell in a reductionistic, rationalistic, and materialistic landscape. The rational social bargain hunter would never be fooled into thinking that signing up for the marine assault at Normandy would somehow be good for him. So we're back to Neitzsche, it's "good" to be a manipulator of weak-willed souls, who are willing to fight battles and risk death and dismemberment for my interests and not necessarily their own. I agree that sin is usually bad for the sinner, and virtue is usually good for the saint. But I cannot see how these can be made absolute, and further cannot see how one would sell such notions in a culture dominated by autonomous choice. People choose everyday to make themselves fat by eating too much, and make themselves slovenly by watching too much TV. Are you willing to say that not one such person is truly happy? Sure, you would not be happy living this way... and neither would I. But how can we turn our shared personal experiences and reflections into public policy?

It [the WoT] is a clash of ideologies, of which radical jihadism is a minority position. We're seeking converts not dead bodies.

You're right it is a clash of ideologies... which is why the true conservative (being essentially anti-ideological) doesn't really have a horse in that race. We ought seek neither converts nor dead bodies.

To get anything done you need the consent of the people. People will rebel furiously against restraints, you really have to convince them that it's in their best interest to control themselves. That is unless you're planning totalitarianism which definitely will not fly in the US of NRA

You misunderstand my prescription: Questions of restraint should simply be decided by communities' own standards of decency and normalcy, and not in some far off capital of the Empire. I, the Catholic, am grieved by the community standards of San Francisco. I, the conservative, couldn't care less what happens there in that far away land.

Getting back to the more central part of the argument...

And that's my major critique of the Catholic position on homosexuality. If indeed homosexuality is a disorder, if indeed it is akin to alcoholism, the "sufferer" should be able to recognize that "whoa, this is really messing me up and is ruining my life." The fact that so many Catholic homosexuals -- people who believe in sin -- don't ultimately agree with your assessment is damning IMO. I think if something is truly a sin, it should be messing up someone's life. What seems to messing up many homosexuals lives is pretending to be strait. If you can't convince gay Catholics, then again, imho, you're screwed.

This is where we simply disagree, Eusto. You're definition of sin seems entirely circular: sin is something that in some way (eventually) messes up the the offender. If no evidence exists that an person is in any way "messed up" by a particular habit or way of life, it is by this very fact not sinful. It takes a lot faith to believe this... and I don't have that much. Does sin cause misery for the offender? Sure, sometimes, but not always. I think there are many who you and I would agree to be sinners (perpetrators of genocide come quickly to mind, spammers are another :-) who'll not receive their comeupance (whether legal or emotional) in this life... that's why we have (and need) a Doctrine of Hell.

And I don't think the existence of gay Catholics says anything more about the moral theology of the Catholic Church, than the existence of gay Republicans says about the Republican Party. There have always been those who believe parts of what the Church definitively teaches and not other parts, and the situation has only become more rampant under the regnant Culture of Choice. This says more about the individual "choosers" than it does about the objective body of doctrine. In Catholic theology, homosexual behavior is "disordered" for the same reason contraceptive heterosex is disordered. It has nothing to do with a class of persons, and everything to do with objective behaviors. There are lots of things, which the church condemns as objectively immoral, I might want to do, that I think might make me happy, and that (perhaps for a very long time) might in fact make me happy. The difference between the (practicing) gay Catholic and the faithful Catholic is not that one is gay and the other not. The difference is that the faithful choose to say (and believe) the Church is right on a particular subject, and even tho' I cannot see it now or may not understand it now, I am wrong.

You gotta serve somebody... and if that somebody is yourself, well then we know whose side you're on.

amba

The Vatican is not "some far off capital of the [spiritual] Empire"?

Just playing D.A. (devil's advocate).

Steve Nicoloso

Actually... it is. The loyalty of the ordinary Catholic extends in ordinary circumstances to his Bishop, who (whether a dunce (like Mahoney) or not) is invested with the authority of an Apostle, and who is supposed to be in objective (visible) confessional unity in all essential (i.e., definitive) matters with the Bishop of Rome. Modern technology in concert with literacy (double-edged of swords, both) has simply allowed the humble lay Catholic in the pew unprecedented capabilities to evaluate the quality of that supposed unity.

peterhoh

Steve wrote: I might be open to gay "marriage" if at the same time we put laws prohibiting easy divorce and adultery back on the books.

My own take on this, which I admit is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, is related (perhaps inversely) to Steve's comment.

I think same-sex marriage advocates should simply ask for the same marriage rights currently enjoyed by affair partners who have divorced their respective spouses.

Funky Dung
"I would agree that 'monogamous' gay relationships are a zillion times less harmful (both to the society AND the individuals involved) than the cruising lifestyle of far too many (but, yes, far from all) gays. But 'marriage' is not prerequisite to this particular societal... hrm... lesser evil."

Without the option of marriage/union, or more generally without relative permanence assured by contractual obligation and/or legal consequence, why would an active homosexual want to be monogamous? Would heterosexuals be monogamous without the relative (and sadly declining) permanence of marriage with its economic perks? Without the difficulties associated with divorce (Oops, where'd they go?) Like you said elsewhere, carrots and sticks are both needed to motivate people. We really ought to be motivated to find - and earn - our own carrots, which are bigger and tastier, but that takes too much work for most of us. Work and struggle are no longer considered virtuous by most people. Thus, they are to be avoided. "Take up your cross and follow me," He says? Ha! As if an of us lazy turds really have the gumption and wearwithall to do that. Getting back on point, legal contractual union might be the best carrot society has for leading gays to monogamy.

Steve Nicoloso

Geez, Eric, you seem to be playing for the "other side" here. "Legal contractual unions" are the whole goddamm problem in the first place. "Legal contractual unions" are only binding while the contractees deem them to be binding, i.e., to serve their own (private) interests ("pursuit of happiness"). Our society already, almost entirely, sees "marriage" as nothing but a legal contractual union and therefore has no rational basis to deny gays marriage to each other. IOW, marriages already are equivalent to civil unions. And not surprisingly, as a direct result, the number of divorces is about 1/2 the number of marriages nowadays, a statistic which goes directly against the idea that saddling folks with a "legal contractual union" has any strength to make people behave better. As I see it, extending civil unions to gays is tantamount to extending "marriage" (as it is generally understood) to them... We shouldn't be pushing to extend the franchise of degenerated marriage (under either name) to any group, but instead push to take back marriage itself as a binding, inviolable commitment to the community to order family life in pursuit of the community's interests and preservation and in keeping with its general standards of decency.

Funky Dung
"And not surprisingly, as a direct result, the number of divorces is about 1/2 the number of marriages nowadays, a statistic which goes directly against the idea that saddling folks with a "legal contractual union" has any strength to make people behave better."

That's where the stick comes in - difficulty in procuring divorces. I think no-fault divorce has done way more damage to the institution of marriage than gay marriage ever could.

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