The basic proposition in this section is that the values claimed by liberal/progressives today are largely indistinguishable from those claimed by Christians - that, in other words, the apparent socialism in almost everything Pope Francis says and does simply reflects his most basic Christian values. As such this discussion is part of the larger argument in this book that socialism and Christianity were different aspects of the same processes in human social evolution until the early 19th century -after which the world's socialist progressives continued their allegiance to basic Christian values, but started to act in direct opposition to them.
Making the argument that Christian and claimed socialist values are broadly consistent should be easy - Wikipedia's page (as of May 27/14) on "Christian values" illustrates, for example, the left's unselfconscious arrogation of Christian values to itself:
The biblical teachings of Jesus include:
- Love of God: "You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." (an excerpt from the Shema), -Matthew 22:37
- Fidelity in marriage: "Whom God has joined together let no man put asunder"
- Renunciation of worldly goods: "Gather not your riches up upon this earth, for there your heart will be also",
- Renunciation of violence: "If a man strikes you on one cheek, turn the other cheek",
- Forgiveness of sins: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us",
- Unconditional love: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you".
Modern use in worldwide right-wing politics
In the 21st century United States, Australia, UK and other countries, the phrases "Christian values" and "family values" are used by conservative political groups to describe some or all of the following political stances:
- censorship of sexual content, especially in movies and on television.
- the desirability of laws against induced abortion
- sexual abstinence outside of marriage and abstinence-only education
- the promotion of intelligent design to be taught in public schools and colleges as an alternative to evolution.
- the desirability of laws against same-sex marriage
- support for laws against the acceptance of homosexuality into mainstream society
- the desirability of organized prayer in public schools
Modern use in worldwide liberal politics
In the 21st century United States, Australia, UK and other countries, the phrases "Christian values" and "family values" are used by Liberal political groups to describe some or all of the following political stances:
- support for a culture of empathy and compassion, seen as central to Christianity among a diverse range of religions and world views; favoring individuals, families (of all compositions) and small communities' interests over the interests of large corporations and the powerful;
- protection of the environment as the product of a deep reverence for God's creation;
- the undesirability of war other than as a last resort, and a respect for diplomacy;
- a living wage for all, seen as a mark of concern for the physical welfare of "the least among us"
- a high, progressive income tax to promote greater income equality in keeping with Jesus' words in support of the poor and against excessive riches;
- promoting separation of church and state and religious tolerance, consistent with the concept of Christ's kingdom not being "of this world" and warnings against the hunger for potentially corrupting temporal power throughout the Bible.
Notice that the page authors are quite clear on who's good, and who's bad: good aligns with the teachings of Jesus, bad with those who oppose liberalism - their statement might amount to a QED on the claim that socialist values align closely with Christian values except that the authors list imagined actions and platform promises derived from values, not the values themselves.
This matters because other essays in this book argue the second half of my thesis: that socialist action tends to contradict socialist values, and confusing actions with values here, or deriving values from actions, would tend to beg the question.
Consider, in this context, the so called chicken and egg problem: although often posited as insoluble, it is in fact obvious that genetic change expresses in the egg - and therefore that the birds whose mating produced the fertilized egg from which the first chicken hatched weren't true chickens. That logic applies here too: among sane people values give rise to actions - actions do not give rise to values; although, of course, after the fact rationalizations can, and often do, masquerade as values.
For example, socialist dogma agrees with Christian belief that all physically normal humans are born equal - that it's morally wrong, for example, to believe that whites are naturally superior to blacks or that Hamish is necessarily a better person than Alina because his family happens to be the rich inheritors of some European title.
It should be obvious, however, that if you and I are equal, then we have the same rights, and face the same obligations, in making moral choices. Christians take this seriously in recognizing that each person must be held uniquely responsible for his or her moral choices and, correspondingly, cannot delegate that responsibility to another. Progressives, however, trumpet the value, but demand that the vast majority of their fellow humans cede all moral responsibility to them. What you see in real life, therefore, is Christians abandoning their professions or closing their businesses rather than perform abortions or support gay marriage while progressives are almost uniformly unable to see anything wrong about following orders to silence the critic, perform abortions, or force enemies of the state into concentration camps.
Notice that the progressive's willingness to follow orders regardless of their moral implications implements something that looks like a progressive value: "power uber alles", but in accepting that we're deducing a value from an action and so putting the chicken before the egg: in reality this type of action contradicts core liberal values because there is no logical route from a claimed belief in the equality of man and the moral responsibility of the individual, to actions based on "might makes right."
But, note that "Stockholm syndrome" nicely labels the special kind of insanity needed to find real fulfillment in hurting, jailing, or killing those who not accept or believe in coercive causes the person committing the harm knows are evil or unjust.
The other big difficulty is that progressives pretty much dominate values discussions in the media, in politics, and in academia - and their tendency, as illustrated by the Wikipedia page shown above, to differentiate correct values from Christian ones by presenting minority Christian positions as determinative and then discussing those only in terms of opposition to progressive shibboleths makes it all but impossible to discuss values through reference to widely accepted thinkers without going back to writers from well before the modern era.
After Hegel's death in 1831 a dispute arose between multiple groups claiming to be his students and/or disciples. At the extremes, one group claimed that Hegel's values and writings were clearly Christian, Catholic, and Democratic while the other argued that he advocated against Christian values and for what became, about 60 years later, menshevik national socialism. Today the "Christian values" side has been largely silenced, while the action groups have adapted both language and heros to suit the times; but nowhere in a brief foray into the miasmic narcissism of "Hegelian" interpretive writings did I find the slightest indication that any major players ever considered the patently obvious: that both sides were right.
In response to these issues I've adopted the simplest values listing I could find. Several of the hits found by a google search for "Christian values" reference the same source documents - among them, this, from answers .yahoo.com
What are "Christian values"?
I see people from time to time refer to "Christian values" or "Christian morals", and I was wondering what people mean when they say that. What are these values? What sets them apart from the values of other people?
dmbarry777 answered 4 years ago
Here is a list of ten values or principles for living that are emphasized most strongly in the Bible:
1. Worship only God [Note: in the original each item in the list is followed by multiple biblical references; these have been omitted here.]
2. Respect all people
3. Be humble
4. Be honest
5. Live a moral life
6. Be generous with time and money
7. Practice what you preach; don't be a hypocrite
8. Don't be self-righteous
9. Don't hold a grudge
10. Forgive others
John Locke would have agreed that all ten injunctions point to behavior validating the major Christian values - and, if you omitted the references to Christianity, your local socialist candidate would agree with numbers two through ten too. Basically, the application of these values to ordinary people was considered radical in Roman culture around the time Jesus was born, but their restatements are considered pretty much unexceptional goody-two-shoes platitudes in western culture today - found as often in the teachings of Judaism as in those of Christ, and loudly espoused by liberal/progressives everywhere.
It's the first one, "Worship only God", that triggers conflict because no good progressive admits of a God - however, these are value statements disguised as directives, and this one illustrates the maxim that only atheists take the bible literally, because it doesn't mean what progressives think it does.
In the old testament (translated from Hebrew or Aramaic) to love or worship God, means to obey God. In the new (after multi-lingual translations heavily influenced from Latin), it means to behave as someone whose actions bear witness to Christian values. In an old testament religion, if God needs your oldest son to be a suicide bomber, you send him along, pronto - but in Christianity you worship God best by valuing yourself and your son enough to refuse.
The stories in the bible, old and new, were written down by people using words reflecting the realities of their time. In a time of Kings, Jesus is king; but in the United States of the 1950s and 60s there were no kings, and so for some monotheism's transcendent God became his own pagan ancestor: a general force for good reflected in, and made up from, the good in each and every individual. In this context the injunction "Worship only God" is nothing more than a warning against the dark side of the force - or, to quote the leftist Wikipedia authors again, merely one of many biblical "warnings against the hunger for potentially corrupting temporal power."
Yahoo offers eight other answers -the oldest of which is intended to attack Christian values and Christian beliefs, but actually shows that progressive values almost perfectly mirror Christian ones:
Other Answers (8)
Bertrand Russell answered 4 years ago
The more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs. In the so-called ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion. You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward the better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.
Mr. Russell died in 1970 and was apparently somewhat diminished in the process because forty some years later his ghost no longer understood that the essay this is taken from is about religious institutions, not religious values.
Here's the extract in a bit more context:
"That is the idea -- that we should all be wicked if we did not hold to the Christian religion. It seems to me that the people who have held to it have been for the most part extremely wicked. You find this curious fact, that the more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs. In the so-called ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with all its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion.
You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.
You may think that I am going too far when I say that that is still so. I do not think that I am. Take one fact. You will bear with me if I mention it. It is not a pleasant fact, but the churches compel one to mention facts that are not pleasant. Supposing that in this world that we live in today an inexperienced girl is married to a syphilitic man; in that case the Catholic Church says, 'This is an indissoluble sacrament. You must endure celibacy or stay together. And if you stay together, you must not use birth control to prevent the birth of syphilitic children.' Nobody whose natural sympathies have not been warped by dogma, or whose moral nature was not absolutely dead to all sense of suffering, could maintain that it is right and proper that that state of things should continue.
That is only an example. There are a great many ways in which, at the present moment, the church, by its insistence upon what it chooses to call morality, inflicts upon all sorts of people undeserved and unnecessary suffering. And of course, as we know, it is in its major part an opponent still of progress and improvement in all the ways that diminish suffering in the world, because it has chosen to label as morality a certain narrow set of rules of conduct which have nothing to do with human happiness; and when you say that this or that ought to be done because it would make for human happiness, they think that has nothing to do with the matter at all. 'What has human happiness to do with morals? The object of morals is not to make people happy."
- Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
There are errors of fact, context, and exaggeration here - Russell was never a man to let logic, reality, or linguistic precision get in the way of a good anti-establishmentarian rant - but recognizing that what he says here, and how he says it, has powerful emotional appeal should trigger something more: recognition that this isn't about Christian values at all, it's about abuses of those values by people running Christian institutions.
Politically Russell played the field, identifying himself at various times as a lifelong communist, socialist, progressive, libertarian - just about everything western except conservative and Christian - but every abuse, every hypocrisy, every action he condemns here is considered wicked or evil or immoral precisely and only because it offends against one or more of dmbarry77s 10 core Christian values.
Bottom line: the real Russell, and world socialism, share exactly the Christian values his rather distanced amanuensis thought he was attacking.
All of which brings us back to the fundamental contradiction in world socialism today: asserting moral and intellectual superiority by claiming some unique allegiance to, or insight into, widely accepted and really rather traditional Judeo-Christian cultural values, while working against those values at every opportunity - a contradiction caught perfectly in a 2008 politico story about then candidate Obama:
Barack Obama went to New York on Thursday and blamed lobbyists, greedy businessmen and complacent Washington politicians for creating "an ethic of greed" that led to today's foreclosure crisis.
Not long after he left the stage, the Democratic presidential hopeful attended a fund raiser held by his campaign in a room in the Manhattan headquarters of Credit Suisse, one of the major investment companies caught up in the sub prime lending mess.
And, of course, one of Mr. Obama's first acts on taking power was a doubly ironic echo of Hitler's commitment to what became Volkswagen because his justification for handing GM, Chrysler, and related non TARP lender assets to supporters (finalization conditions based on the achievement of impossible unit volumes for "green" cars like Fiat's 50s revivalist 500) set in place the apriori conditions needed to trigger the next sub-prime crisis - probably just before the 2020 presidential contest.