CS Lewis (Was: Favourite books)
margaret at onr.com
Thu Dec 30 01:02:25 EST 2004
>But sometimes I worry about what it actually means. It sounds good to
>say "it isn't what you *say* you are worshipping but whether you
>behave in good ways in the process", but what are "good ways"?
>Consider the Aztec priest, busily cutting a man's beating heart out
>with a big knife because he genuinely believes that that's what God
>wants him to do - is he covered, even though his actions are
>reprehensible from a Christian viewpoint?
I've always assumed he was covered, but you raise a good point.
To bring it closer to the modern world: what about the anti-abortionist
who burns an abortion clinic or shoots a doctor. Is he covered? Is he ok
if he truly believes abortion is murder, but on the shit list if he has
a sneaky underlying desire to kill someone and get notoriety and has
latched onto this "cause" as an excuse?
What about the Moslem who killed a Dutch filmmaker recently because he
didn't like what his films said about the treatment of women under Islam?
>would Lewis say that I'm working from a false premise, and that no
>man could *really* believe that God actually wants him to do a thing
Presumably God knows what he *really* believes. We don't have to make
An associated point that worries me, though, is: at what point are you
obliged to interfere with another culture's practices?
Two cases in point.
A lot of Africans eat by dipping their fingers into a mass of fufu or
rice or posho or whatever the carbohydrate of the region is, pulling out
a ball of the sticky stuff, swishing it through whatever sauce or soup
they have managed and then eating it. All this from a communal plate.
This horrified my father when I came home from Africa and absentmindedly
started to eat a curry and rice with my fingers this way, even though I
was being perfectly polite by African standards (didn't use my left
hand). Now, we wouldn't send missionaries into Africa preaching the
gospel of knife and fork. I don't think.
But - a lot of Africans also practice clitoridectomy. Do we stand aside
there and say, "Oh, that's their culture, I mustn't interfere?" or do we
yell, "It's wrong to mutilate young girls!"
Is there some kind of absolute moral standard we can all hold to? Like:
It's not nice to cut out people's hearts, or their clitorises, or to get
blind drunk and drive a heavy, dangerous machine at high speeds? And
who's going to define the absolute moral standard? Probably an
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