One of the skills that I believe is important to teach in schools is the ability to develop and apply moral values to everyday life. In the past, this sort of thing was done by integrating religion into school. Children would be taught Christian moral values and principles, and they learned to apply them. Once schools became more secularized, this religious moral education was removed. And don’t get me wrong—I believe that is a good thing. However, no system of moral values was put in its place. Instead of embracing the moral values of secular society, schools opted toward a “no-values” approach that removed as much value-judgment as possible. The emphasis shifted to facts and analysis of facts instead of values and value judgments.Continue Reading
Reposted from Mar. 22, 2011.
During my own investigations into economic and political systems, I came across the idea of worker co-operatives. These are businesses which are collectively owned by their workers and democratically managed. When I first learned about these, I was stunned at how brilliant of an idea it seemed to be. It was something of a hybrid between a corporation and a partnership. As I investigated other issues, I kept coming back time and time again to this alluring concept that had never been taught to me in my classes on business or economics. It seemed to be an excellent idea, worthy of my support. And in the end, I based some of my own ideas on politics and economics around this concept. So in order to do what I can to support these co-ops, I want to spend a little bit of time talking about the benefits this form of business can have. I’ve divided the benefits into three main areas (though there is some overlap): economic, personal/social, and ethical. But first, let me describe in a little more detail what a worker co-op is.Continue Reading
The past couple weeks have brought a lot of discussion about the role of Western society in helping African nations. While I found the recent “Kony 2012″ campaign problematic and misguided right from the get-go, one positive aspect is that it has sparked some discussion (though never enough) about the “White man’s burden” and the “White Savior Industrial Complex.” This issue, as with others, has raised once again the question of what part the Western world should play in these issues. Should we step into a conflict that does not affect us, merely because it offends our moral senses? Should we give our money to the first organization that puts forward a simple, clear plan of action, regardless of our own knowledge of the situation? Should we let the people of Uganda (and the neighbouring countries) fix their own problems?Continue Reading
A few days ago, I was part of an infuriating argument on Facebook about abortion. It started out with much civility: a pro-life person asking nicely for people’s views, and people responding with their own views. But it was largely men who responded (myself included), and when a couple women chimed in to point out the gender disparity, the response ended up being something like, “So you’re saying I can’t have an opinion because I don’t have a uterus?” The conversation only continued to plummet further downhill.
But at some point early on in the discussion, one of the commenters asked the question, “But what about rape?” It’s a common question when discussing abortion. In fact, it has come up quite early on in almost every discussion I’ve ever had about abortion. What do pro-life people think about situations where a woman is raped and now is pregnant with her attacker’s child? It is a question, however, of which I’ve grown tired. It generally does not progress the discussion, and I think it holds the potential to be hurtful. So I’d like to ask people to stop asking that question, and talk about the reasons why they should stop.Continue Reading
The orthodox Christian position on the Old Testament is complicated at best. The standard narrative is that Jesus’ death on the cross freed us from a life under “the Law” and ushered in an era of grace. As Paul states, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast…. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups [Jews and Gentiles] to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it” (Ephesians 2:8-9,15-16).
As a result of verses like these and the teachings of various denominations, most Christians today do not believe that they are obligated to obey the laws as laid out in the Old Testament. However, this causes some problems, which I would like to explore briefly. In short, I think that this view is inherently inconsistent.Continue Reading
I have fairly idiosyncratic views about morality. I’ve written about them (in fairly brief terms) before. But more recently, I’ve had to refine my ideas about what morality is. I’m not sure that I believe in an objective standard for morality any longer. And this was due, at least in part, to my reflections on the ethics of vegetarianism. If that seems strange, let me explain.Continue Reading
Every week during the school year, I get a newsletter from my former high school. It’s a Christian school, with a conservative Baptist principal, so the content is almost always something with which I now disagree. I generally skim through it to see what diatribe he’s on this week (it’s virtually always about the importance of Christian education…how unexpected!). But the newsletter from a couple weeks ago (Sept. 30) was about bullying in particular. The topic was sparked as a result of the recent tragic news of the suicide of an 11-year-old boy. But instead of pointing the blame at the bullies themselves, possible neglectful attitudes of school teachers and staff, or the social stigma surrounding persons with disabilities (the boy had muscular dystrophy), my former principal decided to pinpoint a different cause. I’ll let him explain:Continue Reading