Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Social Sins

My weekly column at Smile Politely was posted yesterday: The More or Less Seven Social Sins.

It's advocates for doing away with personal salvation, but compliments God on being a marketing genius.


brownie said...

You made an erroneous allusion when you described the seven deadly sins as "Chirstian," though you had the answer at your fingertips.

These are Dante's ideas of sin, Dante's idea of Hell, not Christ's.

I might just as easily come up with a list of sins, (Brownie's Downers?) just as easily as Ghandi or the number two guy (I like that!) at the Vatican, but that doesn't mean they take on the authority of Christ, let alone the creator, just because I'm called (from time to time) a Christian.

Maybe the reason that the ideas of personal conduct are stressed is because of the concept of: "If people can be good, then society will be good" (not gonna happen). Kind of a Reagenesque trickle-down morality theory.

Hmmmm. Maybe Reagan needs his own religion now. Not sure.

Dan S said...

Would you extend that theory all the way to Paul? :)

brownie said...


Robert Sievers said...


Do you really believe that social responsability should be the cause of salvation rather than an effect of it?

Dan S said...

Actually, that's my point - the standard personal salvation as believed by fundamentalist Christians does not seem to lead to much social responsibility. In fact, I believe that most people who are socially responsible are not saved by your definition of salvation.

Robert Sievers said...

The question is this. Is it better to do the wrong thing with right motives, or the right thing with wrong motives.

While obvioulsy it is best to be right on both fronts, as we examine the quetion above, I submit that God prefers the former, while pragmatism would prefer the later.

Dan S said...

Wow, something we are in total agreement about - it's better to do the wrong thing for the right motives. This is cause for celebration!

Short lived, of course, because we probably disagree on the following: Being socially responsible for the sake of being socially responsible is a purer motive than being socially responsible in order to get to heaven for it (whether it be personal or collective salvation).

As usual, this conversation is drifting...

Robert Sievers said...

Actually, Dan, we do agree on that point as well. Being socially responsable in order to get personal benefit out of it is impure.

Where we disagree is the how. I think it is just as wrong to force someone like fingtree to listen to a firey baptist sermon as it is for you to force some socially irresponsable person to be robbed of money for your social projects.

Change must come from the heart. Jesus never told us to force others to do the work. He told us to go do it ourselves, and be an example. I know you do that because of many of the choices you make. Where we disagree is that you want to up the ante and remove the choice to do right from others.

Fingtree said...

How ironic Robert Sievers: I was forced as a child and young adult to listen to those fiery (southern) baptist sermons. My Mother was from Mississippi (a good Republican State). For assuming so much, you hit that one on the head, you must be a religious psychic or something?
I had religious training Bob. One learns to live by living and thinking for oneself.

Robert Sievers said...


I did have a hunch. I have seen many people who have been forced to endure learning about God when they didn't want to. They get a bunch of rules without relationship. While I cannot say where you are, the typical result is bitterness toward religion, yet the longing for the true Creator still exists deep down.

Dan S said...

Bob, taxes for social programs do not rob someone of the choice to do good deeds. Social programs merely guarantee of minimum of human dignity. There's still plenty of opportunity to create social good.

I would assume that you are OK with robbing someone of money for defense spending? For educating the populace? Is this removing citizens' choice to do good by providing defense and education?

Robert Sievers said...


Do you really believe the government has a better idea than you or I how to be crusaders for social justice? I don't.

I do, however, believe the government has a better idea than me how to provide for the common defense.

Dan S said...

You are changing the subject Bob. So you do agree that it's OK for the government to "rob people" (tax them) in order to provide for the common good, and that this doesn't prevent citizens from doing good things themselves?

The issue isn't whether the government is smarter than you or I. Obviously that depends on who is in power (such as Bush dragging us into a war that has robbed us of blood, treasure, and values).

Robert Sievers said...


We have gotten to this place several times before. If I want to aid our military, I can't go buy a tank, learn how to use it, get military training, and defend our country.

If I want to build a road, I can't go lay 50 feet of blacktop somewhere, let a million other people do the same, and hope it connects.

I can, however, help kids get educated, provide health care, and job training for people in need. I don't need the government to do that.

And your point about the Iraq war is more poignent than you know. It is just your disagreement about this issue that proves my point. Do you really trust our government to equitabley hand out social welfare more than you trust them to make sound military decisions?

I frankly do not. However, militarily, I have no other option. Social issues I do.

Dan S said...

No, Bob, this is somewhere different, because you keep saying that you are unable to help people if the government helps them and it is wrong to not give people a choice to contribute to the common good.

That's akin to saying that if there is a fire at your neighbors house, you can't help them with it because we have a fire department, or that it is somehow wrong to help solve a crime because of the existence of a police department.

All that said, I don't trust the government nearly as much as you think I do. But I do like your description of trying ot build a part of a highway by yourself and hoping it lines up with other people's efforts. That sounds a lot like social services in this country without the government involved.