March 29, 2008

A Further Thought

Justin Katz

But let's not lose sight of a principle that looms pretty large in conservative philosophy: that social pressure is often the appropriate means of guiding individuals toward behavior that is healthy for society. This concept puts conservatives at the obvious political disadvantage of giving liberals cover to declare that they judge nothing but judgement and untruth (which is a lie), while conservatives must have the courage of their convictions and step forward in the face of error, even when doing so is difficult and involves skirting tricky lines and making one's self a target (which, by the way, arguably reinforces the healthy social pressure on the pressurer).

Popular interpretation of Jesus' admonition about being the first to cast stones has, I think, treated the stones as too broad a metaphor. In specific, they were instruments of execution. To treat them as representative of mere disapproval ignores the fact that Jesus' instruction to the woman was to go forth and sin no more, which required that she knew what was sinful, which required that her culture informed her.

Will it hurt a child, one day, to read judgemental language on the Internet regarding his parents and the circumstances of his childhood? Probably. But much more profound was the harm to the child done by those who determined the circumstances. Worse is the harm to victims of the legitimization of irresponsible behavior.

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Due to the controversy surrounding this post and the commentary which facilitated it I hereby withdraw my vote for Anchor Rising in Rhode Island Monthly's Best Local Web Site catagory and change it to a vote for

I strongly suggest everybody else do the same.

Posted by: michael at March 29, 2008 6:52 PM

Oh Morse, we are sooooo saddened. Just think-you may have a Laffey-Cicciline race in 2010. You union hogs will be pulling your hair out!

Posted by: Mike at March 29, 2008 7:10 PM

Congrats, Justin, for realizing Jesus was a liberal. Let us know how the conversion to fundamentalist Islam goes, mmkay?
Sounds like you want to return us to a world where stoning those you (and whatever majority you can posse up) is permissible. You'll have to make the trip without me, though.

Posted by: rhody at March 30, 2008 11:28 AM

As much as I'd like to assume that you've just got an inadequate facility for reading comprehension, Rhody, I can't help but think that your misunderstanding and consequent contemptible insinuations are deliberate and say something much less attractive about you than that.

Posted by: Justin Katz at March 30, 2008 11:36 AM

Any trip I make will be without you. You stay right where you belong- in the party of Sarault and Williamson, Matty Smith and Murphy, Fay and Celona, Montalbano and Bobby O.

Posted by: Mike at March 30, 2008 11:41 AM

Mike, I don't belong to that party. I'd say that crew has more in common with YOU.
Justin, it must really be a bummer when Jesus doesn't agree with your ideology, eh?

Posted by: rhody at March 30, 2008 3:45 PM

Given your belabored persistence in misunderstanding me, I'm not going to concern myself too much with my impression that you misunderstand Christian scripture.

Posted by: Justin Katz at March 30, 2008 3:54 PM

Like you understand it, Justin. I attended Catholic school for 13 years - I don't consider myself a professional Biblical scholar, but I am just a little more acquainted with scripture than you will allow yourself to believe, mmmkay?
Your playing the Jesus card does not require me (nor anybody else who doesn't see God as a conservative enforcement agent) to bow down and kiss your ring.

Posted by: rhody at March 30, 2008 8:56 PM

Readers taking your comments in series might be excused for pondering the possibility of dementia, Rhody.

1. I introduced Jesus in the context of a scriptural scene that produced a cliché (in a neutral sense) that is relevant to the topic of my post.
2. Without addressing what I'd actually written, you accused me of being inclined to bring back stoning!
3. I pointed out your misreading of my post.
4. You persisted in not addressing what I'd written.
5. I suggested that your failure to do so gave me justification for a lack of concern regarding our apparently different interpretations of scripture.

Where in this did I "play the Jesus card" or demand that you agree with me?

I'd note, by the way, that you could have the entire Bible memorized and still not get it. Certainly we disagree about what the "it" is, but you're the presumed preacher, bub. I'm just a guy trying to think things through.

Posted by: Justin Katz at March 30, 2008 9:07 PM

You pretty much repudiated Jesus' message that he who is without sin cast the first stone. For someone who is not shy about using religion to buttress whatever point you want to make, it seems to offend your tender Christian sensibilities greatly when someone has the temerity to suggest that you are not God's chosen mouthpiece.
I don't pretend to speak for the Almighty. I would ask you to stop pretending you do, but I choose to save my breath.

Posted by: rhody at March 31, 2008 12:27 AM

No, Rhody, I manifestly did not "repudiate Jesus' message that he who is without sin cast the first stone." I pointed out that, in context, throwing a stone was the initiation of execution, and suggested interpreting "throwing stones" so broadly as to include statements of judgment ignores Jesus' subsequent admonition to "go and sin no more."

That overly broad interpretation is of a piece with our culture's tendency not to acknowledge sin as sin. "Don't throw stones, man" has become the adulteress's retort when people point out that she shouldn't be doing what's she's doing.

And again, I'm not "speaking for the Almighty." I'm stating my understanding. Perhaps notions of contemplation and conversation (you know, in which each side states a point of view and moves from there) are concepts with which you ought to familiarize yourself.

Posted by: Justin Katz at March 31, 2008 5:57 AM

Relax, Justin - God watches out for the self-rightuous, too. You have nothing to fear.

Posted by: rhody at March 31, 2008 11:06 AM
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