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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"What is truth? Is truth unchanging law? / We both have truths. Are mine the same as yours?"

~ "Trial Before Pilate", from Jesus Christ Superstar, the rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and interestingly also quoted by a name-calling pro-choice person on message boards.

A "timely, clear-eyed book"

Richard N. Ostling, of The Associated Press, reviewed this book, The Truth About Tolerance: Pluralism, Diversity and the Culture Wars, by Conti and Stetson.

I didn't learn until I went online looking for a copy to excerpt from that Ostling is AP's Religion Writer. My local paper left that off the byline.

Be that as it may, the article had some interesting remarks pertinently coinciding with some of the claims about "tolerance" made by Ashli's most recent debater.

This reminds me of one of Emily's earliest posts about "moral positivism" and the tie-in between moral relativism vs. moral truth:
[Moral positivism] is the idea that there are and can be no standards for morality outside of, beyond, or transcending the law. If something is legally permissible, then it is morally permissible, and there is nothing more anyone can say about it.
The whole post is better said than I could and well worth the revisit, folks.

And lest anyone dismiss the above book authors as "evangelicals", they apparently both hold "doctorates in social ethics from the University of Southern California."
[These are the] popular definitions of truth...:

• Truth is whatever I want it to be.

• Truth is what I feel.

• Truth is what works — or what works for me.

...the "contemporary reduction of truth to personal preference" restricts toleration and is narrow-minded rather than liberating.

Contrary to what many people think, "tolerance needs truth."

The authors are big believers in tolerance, which they regard as essential for freedom, including religious freedom, democratic self-government and defeat of tyranny. But they insist there's no conflict between tolerance and "personal and political commitments to truth."

On the contrary, they say, truth is necessary for "genuine tolerance" and no commonwealth can endure if it insists on the "cultural confusion of associating truth with intolerance" because all successful societies need shared moral principles.

Secular liberalism cannot provide convincing support for tolerance or any other principles it favors, the book argues, because it makes everything a matter of personal preference or social construction without substance or validity.

They acknowledge that intolerant Christians employed forced conversion in centuries past but say Jesus' biblical example forbids compelled belief...

Actually, secular liberalism also affirms "the unconditional truth of its preferred moral judgments," [note: this is not exactly a compliment, read on...] for instance on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, and embraces relativism only when it's needed to oppose traditional Jewish and Christian moral teachings. Two absolutes and two worldviews are clashing and everyone is an absolutist on one side or the other...
It's like:

• Truth is whatever I want it to be. And it's whatever you want it to be, as long as you don't stop me from having my truth be what I want it to be.

• Truth is what I feel. And it's whatever you feel, as long as you don't get in my way of feeling what I want to feel.

• Truth is what works — or what works for me. And it's whatever works for you, as long as you don't stop mine from working for me.

"I'll tolerate you if you tolerate me." To tolerate also means "to endure," as in a hardship. What a great thing to strive for: enduring each other as mutual hardships. That's what we've come to, as a country, and perhaps as a world.

Anyone hear "I am a rock/ I am an island" playing in the background? (except for the "Hiding in my room, safe within my womb" part)

Food for thought, anyway.

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