Monday, December 21, 2015

Fear vs Cowardice

The rising fear and hatred of Muslims now in progress in the United States has made me think more about this lately.

The Bible certainly expects us to be fearful of many things.  For one thing, we ought to be afraid to do wrong.  But it's also expected that we should be afraid of much else from time to time, and that is not necessarily a problem.

When does it get to be a problem?  Clearly, when it becomes cowardice, which is indulging our fears so far as to do evil. 

I have concluded that, unpleasant as it is, fear is a craving we love to indulge, like gluttony or sexual immorality, and cowardice is indulging and taking pleasure in that fear.  I have to treat it the same way, with mixed results.  I'd give myself a C-, to tell the truth, and I don't know how people handle it who don't know God, although many evidently do.

We all know that advertisers have known forever that sex sells - cars, beer, toothpaste, vacation packages, pretty much anything they want to sell us. But we haven't laid to heart that fear sells just as effectively, and so they use it the same way.

The nice thing about fear is that you can sell ugly politicians with fear, where sex might not work so well.  Fear really works for Donald Trump - fear of Muslims, fear of Mexican rapists, fear of black people - and legitimate fears, too, such as the fear of people's jobs being exported for the convenience of the corporations that own the other Republicans and Hillary Clinton.  But using sex to sell the Trumpster - I'm not a woman, so maybe I'm not fit to judge, but I don't think so.    

I think that most Christians know that letting advertisers stroke our sexual lust is not good for us.  It really is pornography, and it must lead to trouble, besides corrupting our judgment so as to make us buy crap we would otherwise leave alone, just as the advertisers intend.  I wonder why Christians don't realize that indulging fear in the same way is similarly corrupting.  It's actually a lot worse, because sex is a lot more normal and right than fear is.  Perverting sex in this way encourages sexual immorality and disrupts family relationships, but perverting fear in this manner entices us to every sort of cruelty, up to murder, against the innocent.

C. S. Lewis was right about a lot of things, but he was wrong when he had Screwtape write to his young disciple Wormwood that the demons had managed to glamorize every sin but cowardice.  That one, too, they've succeeded at.  Cowardice is successfully  sold as prudence, security, self-defense - even courage to go out and kill people.  It has often been said that US society is obsessed with sex, and the popularity of pornography makes that point.  But, much more, US society is obsessed with fear, and enjoys it in the same way - although like all other lusts of this kind, it's insatiable, and therefore painful without end.  If Christians, especially, don't thoroughly repent of this depravity, it will end very badly - fascism being only one possibility.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not believe in taking unneccessary risks myself. But just how is unneccessary defined? Right now there are millions of displaced people struggling to survive in the middle east and in parts of Africa. Neighboring countries such as Turkey and Iran have been become a refuge for many displaced people. More recently millions have been walking to central Europe.
Many European politicians have been calling for placing an upper limit on how many people should be accepted as refugees. At first that does not seem like such an unreasonable demand. If the native Americans along the east coast would have placed a limit on European immigration they might have managed to stick around in much larger numbers than they have today.
Yet Europeans are dying off not becasue of any outside pressure. They are dying off out of choice due to a low birth rate, a process that I support. If a policy of a low birth rate is continued long enough it will certianly solve all human problems.
But, I digress.
If an upper limit is going to be placed on how many refugees will be accepted how the enforcement of this policy is going to be carried out should be clear and ethical. I have not heard any concrete proposals yet on how such a limit would be achieved.
What I have read is a plan to pay billions of Euros to Turkey to look after the refugees there. That does not seem to unreasonable. Turkey being a lower cost country than Germany or France or England would make feeding and housing the refugees less costly for central Europe. But what if the plan does not work?
The Turks might not like millions of Arabs and Afghans and Iranians and Africans staying in Turkey any more than than many Americans want a few thousand people from those countries staying in the USA. The refugees might not want to stay in Turkey anyways if they do not believe that it is a place that they will be able to build a sustainable future.
One thing that could be tried would be paying billions of dollars to Romania and Bulgaria and Greece to settle a large number of refugees in those countries. These refugees would then get special passports that would prevent them from going further until they have met litmus tests. Of course those EU countries might not like that plan any better than the Turks.
The arrival of millions of refugees in Germany could be a blessing for Germany in the long run. But only an idiot would not recognize that in the short run it is clearly a burden. The leaders of Germany nor the people of Germany volunteered for taking this risk of accepting a million plus refugees. It was a risk thrust upon them when the refugees started knocking on the door.
The attitude of most Germans is to try to make the best of a bad situation. Americans, especially American leaders claim to be friends of Germany and the people that live there. Yet I wonder what this claimed friendship means.
The United States is far more capable of absorbing 5 million refugees than Germany is capable of absorbing 1 million refugees. Yet it is my understanding that the USA has only offered to take 10,000 refugees.
It is not neccessary for the USA to take even one refugee if neccessary is defined as promoting your own welfare. But I have to wonder if it is neccessary for Americans to define neccessary more broadly? Was it neccessary for Germans to define neccessary more broadly when millions of refugees were sitting stranded in Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, and North Africa?
If Germans were to treat refugees more like the USA does, allow them to work a less than minimúm wage and pay taxes and not get any benifits would everyone be happier? Would refugees be intergrated faster in to German society? Would low wage German workers be undercut by new compition or would they benifit by getting to exploit someone even worse of than they are?

12/22/2015 4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Revisiting Hell
A few days ago a TV program was telling the story of a woman who was forced to do bad things by people who were holding her daughter hostage. This program led me to ask some questions that I found very troubling.
Does anyone remember the TV series The Killing. In that series a teenage girl working at a Native American Indian casino goes in to a unfinished area that she should not go in to with a couple of other young people so that she can enjoy some of life's natural pleasures. The teenage girl lingers in this area a bit longer. As a result she is still there when a group of corrupt politicians use this area to discuss an ongoing criminal conspiracy which she over hears. Her presence is discovered. I am sure you get the idea of what happens next.
So with this scenario in mind I get to my first question of a series of questions.
If you were to have overheard the plans to bomb a cruise ship in the middle of the pacific ocean with 10,000 people on board with a nuclear bomb that had been smuggled on board by some of the crew members and you learned the exact location of the bomb on the ship and when it was set to go off was and what the code was to stop the detonation but passing on that information to someone who could do something about it would beyond any shadow of a doubt result in your death with in 5 seconds after passing on the information would you do it? I would like to believe that I would certianly do such a thing. I am not a Christian but I do think that to value my life as being worth more than 10,000 strangers I would be acting in a quite shameful way. Even if no one would know that I had failed to act I think that I would have trouble forgiving myself if I failed to act.
But what if the number of lives at stake was only 1,000 and not 10,000? I then become less certian about what I would do. What if the number of lives was only 100? I doubt that I would risk certian death to save 100 strangers. If we were only talking about the lives of 10 strangers then I am sure that I would not risk my life.
Sadly in real life this scenario is much more complicated. On one hand this scenario can be modified so that the chance of death goes down and the chance of getting away with out a scratch goes up. Or, the scenario could be modified that the chance of death goes down but the chance that you would be slowly tortured to death over weeks, months or even years would go up. I do not know about you but I would not risk suffering that kind of fate to save 10 million people. In the eyes of some that might make me a coward but I would say that such people have no idea what kind of barbaric tortures human beings have inflicted on other humans in the course of the 20th century let alone in the course of history.
By combining all of these scenarios one would end up with one in which there were varing numbers of people whos lives were held in the balance and varing chances that you get away Scott Free or be killed or suffer a fate even worse that death. After that scenario could be enlarged to include the chances of close family members suffing these fates depending on what you do or fail to do.
These are questions that people are actually forced to answer here on planet earth in the 20th and 21st centuries, especially in 3rd world countries. The numbers of lives at stakes may not be in the 10s of thousands very often but the number of lives at stake between 10 and 100 is probably a daily occurance somewhere one planet earth.
Many people on earth especially in the industrialized world claim to be Christians.
The communtiy of people claiming to be Christians is a very diverse group. One was to divide this group is between those who think that being a Christian means following the teachings and the example set by Jesus Christ which REPLACE the teaching of the old testement and those that believe that the teachings and example of Jesus Christ must FULLFILL the teachings of the old testement.

1/06/2016 4:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the USA those claiming to be Christian who believe that the teachings and example of Jesus must fullfill the teaching of the old testement are in such a large majority that there may be many who demand footnotes to back up my assertion that there are people claiming to be Christians who believe that the teaching and exmaple of Jesus replace the old testement. My response to that is that if I have to tell somewhere where they could find such Christians then I would be obligated to kill the doubters.
I myself do not concern myself with such obsurd theological disputes because I think both groups need to grow up. If a person actually tried to live the life of turning the other cheek, and loving ones enemies as Christ taught then when faced with a situation in which you could save the lives of just two strangers by sacrificing your own life you should not hesitate to do so. It should not even matter if the two strangers where in the business of kidnapping young women and forcing them in to a life of prositution because Christ taught us to love our enemies too.
The vast majority of those who try to see the teachings of Jesus as a justification of the old testement rather than a break with the old testement have even far more absurd ethical positions. There is no need to bring up Islam or Judaism at this point.
Whether or not a person is a Christian there should be at least one point of universal agreement. That is that it would be a sin (unethical) to do things or support policies that would lead to a refugee crisis. Of course Americans would agree to that and they would deny that they have any responsibity at all for the violence in the middle east or latin america that is forcing so many people to flee for thier lives.

1/06/2016 4:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

History is rapidly moving in a direction that is going to force both Christians and Non Christians in the industrialized world to adopt policies that are either extremely evil or extraordinarily evil. Those who survive will likely be faced with making the choice between extremely evil and extra ordinarily evil all over again.
This is where I let the blade drop. Under such conditions the responsible humane thing to do would not only be to fight to keep abortion legal but to actually encourage women to have abortions. Those who oppose abortions need to grow up. They go on and on about how cruel an abortion is to a human being. Well if a child is born in to this world you so called pro lifers are sentencing those little children to an unfair pain filled life until it ends with a painful death. It would actually be much more merciful to prevent the unfair pain filled life from occuring in the first place. The death that the pre birth "human being" suffers in the womb will be much less traumatic than the one that awaits most of them after birth.
I fully understand that saying such a thing will make me as popular and as well known as Thomas Paine,in the eyes of Americans. I might be even better understood than Thomas Paine. Am I a prophet or just pathetic?

1/06/2016 4:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i forgot to include some important points in my comments above. First of all someone in the scenario presented above would also make judgements about what their chances of success were if they were in a situation in which they could help others but only at risk to themselves. Any normal person who deems the chance of successfully doing what should be done is not likely to try to carry out the activity being considered.
Second of all for someone to even be able to reach a point that they might even consider doing something risky for the benifit of others they have to be capable of understanding what it is that they might be able to do.
When we as sitizens consider all of the obsticals to carrying out policies that are benificial to society it is not hard to understand why things go wrong much more often than they go right.
That things ever go right at all can perhaps be attributed to the motivations of those who take risks. It should come as no surprise that they have motivations in addition to doing the right thing, such as lust, (make a good impression on a beautiful/handsome person who will be thankful for your contribution in hopes of getting special conderation) or greed, (reward money, the opportunity to sell a book), or revenge. Some Christian liberals preach against revenge. I say that with out revenge there is no accountability. They reply that accountability is up to God. My reply is a Lutheran Motto. Gods work our hands.
I would like to add a very special link for the dectives in the Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Newport News Police Departments. Will they ever see my link?

1/06/2016 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course I agree that some people would get some extra motivation by a desire to go to heaven.
I do wonder why no one else has the diesire to make comments on the subjects that Peter brings up here. I make almost all the comments. Some people could get the impression tht this is actually my web site. That would make Peter only the front man. That would be a very serious but I think at this point an understandable misunderstanding.
I have had my own website since 2009 if I remember correctly. It has almost 100 visits since then. Most of those visits have been by me actually. It has had a dozen visits or so though from other people in the last year. NO nothing going on there.

1/06/2016 3:25 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

> Cowardice is successfully sold as prudence, security, self-defense - even courage to go out and kill people<
It is astonishing. Good words, helpful words.

So glad your still writing.

1/07/2016 9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An unfortunate typo in my comments at 9:23pm. It should have read, any normal person who deems that the chance of successfully doing what needs to be done is very small is unlikely to try to carry out the activity being considered.
For example a General says something that is accepted by many, that nuclear weapons are neccessary for the defence of the USA. A person working for the Stars and Stripes knows that such a comment is so absurd that a second grader could disprove it. Yet the party line must be dissemenated and any attempt to sabotage such dissemenation will be futile with very negative consequences for anyone who would dare to try to stop such drivil from being dissemenated by people who should know better.
In fact it seems that such paraniod delusions might very well be uttered and dissmenated just to make sure that the machinery of decite is firing on all cylinders.
In a real universe any General who would say something so stupid would be immediately court marshalled and reduced to the grade of E1 and then stripped of their citizenship. Sadly we live in a simulated universe in which evil and stupidity becomes public policy for either the entertainment or the education of those outside of the simulation. No such a statement is not exactly scientific.
I say that it is more scientific than scientists will be comfortable in addmitting however.
From a scientific point of view cognitive dissonance can be explained by the factors of cultural conditioning and dishonety motivated by a desire to achieve an advantage. CD = CC + D. Yet, and here is the magical part that is totally unsupported by logic but is none the less true. When cognotive dissonance reaches a level that can be described as the level of humidity in the Amazon rainforest it becomes evidence not only of CC + D but evidence of a manipulated simulated environment. Not absolute proof of course, but evidence, cold foggy evidence.
I digress I guess.

1/08/2016 8:05 AM  

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