Saturday, March 29, 2014

Why Morality for God is like Money for Shareholders

A morality based on pleasing God is like money made for pleasing corporate Shareholders.  In both situations morality and money shift from being the means of achieving a civil, prosperous human society, to being the ends, that society must serve no matter the human costs.  The morality of God requires human sacrifice, so the Christian would have us believe, and shareholders require ever more money, even if they have to sacrifice their own children to get it. Both obsessions see human beings as simply the means of serving deities with appetites that are equally infinite.

Shareholders are obviously an amoral group, for their sole focus is one thing and one thing only – increasing share price. They are generally unconcerned with the costs to human life in the process, unless those costs negatively impact their share price through bad publicity. The point of a company is not to foster security or a sense of community, after all, but to make a lean, mean, economic machine that chews up people and spits out profit in service of the holiest of corporate holies, the almighty shareholder.

A God based morality is not so different. A morality based on keeping the holiest of Holies happy is one that ultimately detaches itself from serving humanities sense of right and wrong, and instead seeks to serve ideas of right and wrong that are not only above what mere human reason can understand, but forever beyond what human beings can ever achieve.  This is how Kierkegaard rationalizes God’s command to Abraham to slaughter his own son Isaac, and how countless numbers of Christians equally rationalize the story of Noah and the flood.  Even the saints could not agree about what such a morality required, with St. Jerome disagreeing with St. Augustine almost as much as he detested St. Ambrose.

Indeed, an unachievable morality based on God even contributed to The Great Schism of 1054 because of disagreements between the Western and the Eastern Orthodox Church over questions of iconoclasm, differences in liturgical practices, clerical celibacy, and whether the sign of the cross should be made with two fingers or three.  These were no small matters, of course, since even the smallest error in service to God could be enough to cast into hell the souls of all those the church was charged with shepherding to salvation.   Likewise, a terrorist who flies a plane into a building is not engaged in an act of immorality, as he sees it, but is instead serving a God whose morality far exceeds the limits of human empathy or understanding.

 In either situation, whether serving God's morality or increasing shareholder earnings, human beings are divested of the power of taking responsibility for their actions and become mere pawns in a game that serves an unseen master. Such a master cares first and foremost about our service to their agenda, and only incidentally about how we treat each other in the process. Whether we are securing a paycheck or a place in heaven, people have demonstrated all too often a willingness to do whatever is necessary to survive.  And God knows that morality and money are little more than the means of doing just that. In fact, whenever money or morality become instruments that serve themselves, the rest of us become expendable as a result.

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