Thursday, 11 November 2010

Faith and works in secular modernity

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There is a real problem about goodness in secular modernity - a division between being good and doing good: between motivations and actions.

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What people seek is to perform actions which are self-justifying, which are good in themselves - the justification is (hoped or asserted to be) in the form of the activity, the type of thing it is.

There are many such lists of approved behaviours - different between social groups.

But we also recognize, in our hearts, that 'works' are not justifying, that works are not good in themselves. That supposedly 'good works, can be done with bad motivations.

And that good works may have bad outcomes - or at least mixed outcomes with - apparently - bad predominating.

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Motivations are important,and there is another current of modern thought which is all about intentions, being well-meaning, convincing oneself and others that we want good things.

And indeed insisting (trying to insist) that we are judged by our motivations not outcomes.

Yet we also recognise that this is - of itself - merely a form of self-gratification, of hedonism - feelings - feeling virtuous, feeling more virtuous than others, feeling virtuous despite doing nothing or doing things which are harmful.

Invulnerable self-righteousness...

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Reality is not divided into motivations and actions, faith and works - reality is unified, to divide it is an act of violence, and there is loss - reality is not halved, but each fragment remaining is less than half - something having been destroyed by ripping them apart.

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Instead of pride and hatred the motivation must be humility and love - but not submission to those who hate us, nor love as a species of wishful thinking.

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In order to energize ourselves to do good actions, do good works, we use evil motivations - pride and hatred notably: we stoke-up our own pride, we allow ourselves to hate, indeed whip ourselves into hatred - and we justify this to ourselves by the idea that we will use this energy in a good cause.

This is mainstream.

We invite evil (and we know it to be evil) into our hearts and societies - with the excuse that we will harness the demonic forces for good: like hiring orcs as mercenaries and paying them with human flesh...

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