Keep your bad advice to yourself

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On Feb. 21,  I read Eric Alcock’s letter to the editor (“Population strategy advice for the premier”), and I wonder where does he and his church get the moral authority to advise Premier Kathy Dunderdale on population strategy for Newfoundland and Labrador?

We live in the modern era where people are capable of deciding best family planning for themselves based on careers, medical or financial limitations.

The same church that has murdered thousands in its history has no right to judge women who had abortions for their own reasons. It’s hypocritical for his church to condemn sexual perversions when it abused innocent young boys under its care and ruined their lives.

My strategy advice for Eric Alcock’s church: don’t advise the premier on sensible morality when your own morality is lacking, because no one likes moral hypocrites.

Helen Webster

St. John’s

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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  • Colin Burke
    February 28, 2013 - 15:50

    Wondering, it can be misleading to agree that the rich "often buy justice." What they buy, I believe, are injustices in their favour, especially when justice itself is denied the poor, or denied even those who are less rich.I strongly suspect justice has seemed to many not to be real, largely because Calvinism led much of the West to feel for a long time that it did not matter: John Calvin's doctrine was that nothing we might do could ever affect our eternal destiny; we are all equally depraved and damnable but God chooses some for salvation directly despite that, just because he can. (If no one can do justice, then apparently there isn't any.) And God spiritually informs those who are chosen that indeed they are chosen and so need not worry. Does it sound to you as if Mr. Morrison might possibly be a little bit partial to Calvinism? I wouldn't know, of course. Now, about justice being real or not. I do seem to see -- though I may incur more irenic irrelevant ridicule from Mr. Ed for repeating it yet again -- that "people deserve the effects of what they do." (It might not need such repetition if our courts or lawmakers mentioned it officially once every ten years or so.) That is not an opinion; that is to say, "not even an opinon"; opinions are supported by at least slight evidence, and there is none for this; it is simply a perception, whether true or illusory. If anyone wants me to disabuse me of it, let him establish by rational argument that it is false or point to some actual truth in the light of which I can simply perceive myself to have been deluded. As things are, I am "morally certain" my perception in this case is valid: that is, it would warrant acting upon what one seems thus to see, if one should choose so to act. Thank you for prompting me to this much clarity; I'm afraid I found Mr. Power's confusion somewhat contagious.

  • Wondering
    February 26, 2013 - 23:39

    Colin, justice is not real. Justice is a human concept. It is subject to opinion. Justice is human justice. What you call justice , another will say is injustice. And justice is relative. Justice follows laws, and laws are varied and manipulated, they are not absolute, and some get preferencial treatment, which makes justice injustice. Justice is often bought by the rich and so denied to the poor. You cannot apply reason to say justice is real. Did Jesus get justice? Did the chief Rabi plan justice for Jesus? Will Herb get justice if Saint Peter says his faith or good works is insufficient? Now that is devine justice, it may be real , but we cannot prove it to be real. If we cannot prove it to be real, we cannot truthfully say divine justice is real. One may state an opinion that it is. One may have faith that it is. But that is not proof.

  • Wondering
    February 26, 2013 - 23:08

    Herb, I agree you cannot buy your way into heaven, but it is hard for a rich man to get to heaven, did not Jesus teach that? So good works are essential, once you have the faith. Agreed? Yet many do good works without the faith. Does not "the faith" require one to follow "all" the teachings of Christ? Does not even the Pope possibly fall short, as did he do enough to protect victims of sexual assault by priests? And if the Pope is subject to judgement , yet you feel you will not be judged, as your faith is strong and sufficient. By this reasoning, do you not judge yourself?

  • Colin Burke
    February 26, 2013 - 15:13

    Mr. Morrison, my superior command of the English language enables me to recognize that an opinion is indeed an opinion and that it is in most cases the opinion of the person who stated it -- unless that person is a politician -- without requiring him to tell me those highly relevant facts every single time. For instance, I am inclined to believe I have ascertained your opinion of myself without really needing you to state explicitly that it is indeed your opinion, whether or not it is "only yours" or "only an opinion" of quite a considerable number of irascible persons -- an over-inflated ego keeps me from much caring which..

  • Herb Morrison
    February 26, 2013 - 12:51

    Mr. Burke.Try this on for size. The use of contraceptives is wrong.(Which you once stated in an earlier post) VS In your opinion the use of contraception is wrong. (Pity that, as your earlier post indicates, you can't see the difference. I suggest you consider practicing what you preach before beginning to pontificate to others concerning what you believe to be the "error of their ways." Furthermore, when it comes to matters of morality,utilizing your extensive volcabulary in a futile attempt to refute a valid argument, while it may leave you glowing with feelings of self-satisfaction, feeling quite pleased with yourself, such behaviour really doesn't impress people like myself who are in a position to know better.

  • Colin Burke
    February 26, 2013 - 07:29

    Wondering, "circular reasoning" means assuming to begin with that what you are attempting to prove, is already true, or arguing from two premises which are essentially the same one. If you think the assumptions that "justice is real" and "justice deserves to be real" (there ought to be a standard called justice) are essentially the same proposition, then I ask you to consider whether assumptions parallel to these are the same assumption. For instance, "Poor old bloody Burke exists, unfortunately" and "Unfortunately, poor old bloody Burke deserves to exist (God save the mark!)" Or how about, "Bloody Burke is intolerant" and "Bloody Burke ought to be intolerant"? You see the distinction now, I hope? You were confused, I think, by the fact that the two perceptions of justice from which I had argued are equally self-evident and also closely related in any sound moral insight.

  • Herb Morrison
    February 25, 2013 - 20:24

    Wondering. What I said was that it is by God's grace, because of my faith in God and in Christ as Saviour and Lord, that my Spiritual life is assured, following my physical death. I did not cllaim that my spirit is superior to anyone elses. eternal spiritual salvation is granted by God to anyone who believes in God and as Christ as Saviour. My spirit is not superior to anyone elses. Furthermore, I, as a Christian am commissioned to do good works to the glory of God. However, my doing good deeds will not buy me my way into Heaven. You obviously misunderstood what I said in my post.

  • Wondering
    February 25, 2013 - 18:07

    Herb, last week you stated that your faith alone gives you certainity of spiritual superiority, you see little if any need for good works to be a good Christain. But now you say no one's conduct is above reproach. I assume this applies to you, and ask whether, at the end of life , your conduct is not subject to judgement, including an evaluation of your good works? And Colin, last week, a posting by another, effectively showed you make straw arguments and use circular reasoning to try to impress readers of your high intellect. You are too clever by half. You would have failed if your were a student of Aristotle. You can fool some of the people some of the time..... but those you fool have little ability to reason for themselves, and are impressed with your manipulation of poor arguments as sound reason. Is this not so?

  • Sick to death of religious zealots.
    February 25, 2013 - 15:29

    Mr. Burke's views remind me of some of the views of the Taliban, the Islamic Fundamentalist Group. How frightening!

  • Ed Power
    February 25, 2013 - 11:42

    I see, Mr. Burke, that you offer another well-reasoned rebuttal of my points, and provide practical solutions of your own to the problems facing the world today. Bravo, sir. I will counter with "Modern economic efficiency means that the business of the village theist and the business of the village idiot are often conducted equally well by the same village priest". Now, exactly how many lambs should we burn on our altars to achieve these goals....?

  • Doug Smith
    February 25, 2013 - 09:38

    Ms. Webster, excellent comments. Your statements regarding the Catholic Church were right on. I just happened to notice that the hypocritical behaviour of the church continues. I see that top British Cardinal Keith O’Brien has just resigned because of sexual misconduct. That Roger Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles will be helping to pick a new pope even though it has been revealed he plotted to conceal child molestation by priests. That the top U S Catholic, Cardinal Dolan of New York is being questioned about hiding $100 million so that the church would not have to pay victims of child sexual abuse by priests when he was archbishop of Milwaukee. That a Vatican report by 3 cardinals detailing sexual misconduct and stealing within the Vatican will be dealt with by the new pope. Now how is that for setting a good example of moral behaviour? Doug Smith, GFW

  • Speaking of hypocrisy
    February 25, 2013 - 07:21

    If, as Ms Webster states, ''We live in the modern era where people are capable of deciding best family planning for themselves'' then why do we need a Deputy Minister (or a premier) developing a strategy for us?

  • Colin Burke
    February 24, 2013 - 19:37

    Ah yes, the benefits of modern life and innovative social agencies: "Modern economic efficiency means that the business of the village atheist and the business of the village idiot are often conducted equally well by the same dedicated public servant."

  • Ed Power
    February 24, 2013 - 10:37

    You do have a point Mr. Morrison. It would indeed be helpful if the people making such moral pronouncements (Mr. Alcock and friends) provided some useful advice, or offered practical solutions from the reality-based world, not something from the world of religious mythology. Solutions like education, poverty reduction, jobs, adequate health care and family planning services. The drop in the birthrate in the Western world over the past six or seven decades did not come because people turned away from God, fell into sin or because we are living in the End Times. It is the result of a number of social and economic factors. The revolution in agriculture means that we can produce greater amounts of food with much less labour. Families don't need 7 children (my grandfather) or 11 children (my wife's grandfather) to run a farm. Medical discoveries and expanded health care mean that families - read women - don't have to birth 8 (my aunt), 10 (my aunt),12 (a neighbour's mother) or 16 (another neighbour's mother) children to ensure that 4 or 5 of them will survive the influenza, polio, smallpox, whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, TB and other diseases that killed many children before the age of 5. Large scale warfare has also been been absent from recent decades, so women aren't being coerced into producing cannon fodder for the next war. The employment of women in industry during WWII showed them that there was more to life than dinners and diapers. Expanded educational services in the post-war years provided more employment opportunities for women. No longer relegated to clerical jobs and selling ladies undies, women could use the brains that evolution has given them. Women now make up more than 50% of the students in science, engineering and legal programs at many universities. Take a stroll through the MUN campus and you will see this for yourself. This is a relatively recent development. I will close with a personal anecdote. Back in the Dark Ages of my childhood in the early 1960s, Grade 2 or 3, perhaps, a delegation of educators from the RC School Board came to my school for Vocation Day. At the close of their presentation to my class, they asked each student what they wanted to be when they grew up. The boys were all going to be mechanics, doctors, lawyers, engineers, carpenters, police officers and "army men". The girls? Nurses, teachers, nuns (which set our Sister beaming in joy) and housewives. Not an engineer, lawyer, doctor or scientist amongst them. What do you think the answer to that question would be in any Grade 2 or 3 class today, do you think? There is a demographic crisis coming, as Mr. Mr. Alcock posits, , but the answer is not for the West to turn the clock back to the Dark Ages. A solution is required that will give women in the developing world social equality, the freedom to choose the number of children they want to have and the creation of a fair, equitable and sustainable economic system for this planet so that we survive into the next century. You won't find that in a 4000 year-old book of religious mythology.

  • Colin Burke
    February 23, 2013 - 16:47

    Ms. Webster, I'd like to refer you to a comment of mine, on this website, under the column by Brian Jones which is headlined "Apologizing popes." In that comment, I warn of a more recent danger, perhaps greater even than is posed by the Catholic clergy, that innocent young lives may be ruined by perversion. It is a longish posting and I am lazy, so I would prefer not to copy it back in longhand and type it again here with suitable alteration, but I think you may find it relevant to a genuine concern for the innocence of children.

  • Herb Morrison
    February 23, 2013 - 13:53

    Ms. Webster. I too stand in opposition to what Mr. Alcock said in his recent submission,. However, if, as you suggest in your post, that anyone who comments on matters of morality must be always be morally upright in all respects before thay can comment on matters pertaining to morality, in other words must be Divine not human, than that would mean that no mere mortal could pass an opinion on the state of the moral fiber of either themselves or anybody else. Not, I suggest, a very practical or realistic approach, given that no mortal's conduct, in my opinion, is always above reproach.

  • carogers
    February 23, 2013 - 08:27

    Ms. Webster, I tip my hat to you.