Monday, April 04, 2005

Judeo-Christian Morality in an Ethically Pluralistic Society

Joe Carter has more grist for the mill: an EO symposium on the aobve topic.

The hard thing is how you define it. And how you live it.

Some rabbi somewhere commented on Sripture to the effect of "Love God above all else. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the rest is just commentary."

Korean Zen master Seung Sahn reportedly had this exchange with a student:

Student: What is love?
Seung Sahn: I ask you, what is love?
(Student was silent)
Seung Sahn: I ask you. You ask me. That is love.

Assuming both the rabbi and Seung Sahn were on to something, at least among Buddhism and Judaism and Christianity there should be no contradiction, at least in practice. Sure we Buddhists don't do the "Love God above all else" part in a way that's recognizable to many Christians, perhaps, but in practice many other Christians would not see a problem here. That gets towards a whole discussion of the god-concept in Buddhism, which is the subject for another post. Suffice it to say here that this god-concept in Buddhism (or lack thereof- Shaku Soen through D.T. Suzuki wrote on this, and not all Buddhists would agree with him), while radically different from a Christian deity, functionally call one to a moral life (and better in my opinion, even if I disagree a bit with Suzuki's rendering of Shaku Soen on specifics.)

The problem is this practice of love is hard work. And we'd rather therefore try to make "public policy" or "argue for it in the public square" when really love requires 10,000 purely pedestrian actions, which if performed, and if coupled with wisdom, is more eloquent than anything we could say about public policy or how to argue for it in the public square.

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