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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Master Mentor #2...

For an explanation of what this post is, click HERE.

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Thursday – January 24, 2008
Today I read the first chapter of Mere Christianity. In this chapter, CS discusses the “law of nature.” And he makes two points at the end of the first chapter. First, that everyone believes in the law of nature… or a universal standard of Right and Wrong. Second, that no one really behaves that way (pg 21).
He’s exactly right. We believe the first part only in such that it benefits us. We like it when we can say “we were wronged” or “someone stole from me.” There is exactly that standard there when someone does us wrong. But when we do someone else wrong, as CS states in this chapter, there is some excuse for it. We blame someone or something else. (I was tired… It’s been a long day… That was close (running the red light…)… etc… etc).
He said something a page earlier that struck me as well. He says that only do we have this standard, but he says “we have failed to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people” (pg 20). And I did exactly what he said I would do. As I was reading that earlier that we have all failed at keeping the standard of Right and Wrong, I put a little “star” beside it. Mostly because I wanted to come back and argue with that statement. I want to say to CS that “I’m not like that… I keep the standard… and only in extreme circumstances do I not live up to the “standard” of Right and Wrong.” Only the standard is set and maintained by me. Which allows me to bend it and shape it in the direction that seems to suit me at the moment. But often, I don’t practice the kind of behavior to others that I would expect to me.
It’s interesting that in the relative culture that we live in (where everything, every decision is neither “right” or “wrong” but only in your own perception), that will still have this overarching standard. Even if we don’t listen to it or pay attention to it.
I was surprised. We tend to have a fairly vocal group of students. When they don’t like something, they tend to share it. A couple of weeks ago, we started a series called “Wisdom On.” We’ve been looking at some of the passages from the book of Proverbs and talking about making wise decisions. I’ve stated from the get-go that wisdom is making Right decisions… not good decisions. That statement is true. But I was curious to see if any of the students would challenge me on it. At this point, roughly 40 students haven’t. Or at least, if they have, they have done it privately or at least behind my back. But I would say that’s more because we still have, down deep inside of us, the notion that there really is a Right and Wrong… even if we don’t pay attention to it all the time.

Jim

1 comment:

  1. Deconstruction in a Nutshell

    I don't know if Jacques Derrida's take on the question of justice and law, but it seems to resonate with your discussion of Lewis. I think he adds an element when he says that justice is the impulse that makes us reform/deconstruct the law. That way not only wrongs against the law but also wrongs sanctioned or even initiated by the law can fall into Lewis's discussion of justice and injustice. The best bit of the excerpt is at the bottom of page 16 and the top of 17 in the link, and the whole book is a worthwhile little exploration if you'd like to see what the "conservative Derrida" (whom I call Derrida the person) has to say about his own reputation. For Derrida, it's quite readable.

    Incidentally, I was digging about in the clearance bin at a local Christian bookstore and found a "What Would Jacques Do" bracelet. Or at least it said WWJD... ;)

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