Justice Versus Justification

I just read Hesiod’s Works and Days, a wonderful little piece where the basic idea is to work, to fill your barns so as to ensure your future (which interestingly differs from the Christian idea that barns full of grain are useless for death may come calling at any time).

However what I want to remark on is that in Hesiod I saw, perhaps not surprisingly, the same basic pattern for divine justice as in the Judeo-Christian tradition, such that justice is when Zeus/the Lord comes and treats the righteous to life and prosperity and the wicked to death and adversity. In both religious traditions justice is getting what you give, so that justice is served when, for example, someone who did not feed is not fed, or when someone who helped is helped.

However divine justice does not come with any necessity. The whole history of the world, whether Greek, Hebrew or Present Day, provides enough evidence to make certain that the wicked often prosper while the righteous face adversity. The truth is divine justice is lacking in the world. Perhaps it’s still to come, in some far future day of judgment, or perhaps more importantly, as I want to propose here, it is missing in us, in the sense we live our lives without divine justification…

To live life with divine justification: this means that in all our dealings we treat others as we would like to be treated should the roles be reversed. If we see an injured person, we must ask ourselves how we would want to be treated if it was us who was injured. Our answer is what we ought to do; or more precisely our actions are divinely justified if we do what we would want done to us.

Thus I want to distinguish between two separate events: divine justice and divine justification. Divine justice is when God’s sense of justice is served, i.e., when an eye is given for an eye. Divine justification is when we justify what we do by God’s rule, the Golden Rule. They are not the same, for if a murderer knocks on my door, divine justice would transpire if I killed them. But if my action is to be divinely justified I must welcome the murderer in.

There is a tension here, and I want to suggest that divine justification is what matters most. But this is not to sweep divine justice under the carpet, for as a standing threat/promise it creates both fear and love of the Lord; fear of punishment and love of reward; which inclines us toward acting in accordance with God’s rule, i.e., toward actions that are divinely justified.

It is the simple thought, before acting, of divine justice being executed against us, that is meant to justify our action, so that if someone says “why did you welcome the murderer in?” our justification is that “we would want to be let in if we were the murdererer”. It is the thought of being turned away or let in, the event of divine justice being carried out against us, that inclines us to act in the divine manner.

Thus divine justice and divine justification are linked, so that without the threat/promise of divine justice who would follow the Golden Rule?

Anyways; these musings aside, I’m curious to know how people justify their actions. Is the justification based in some sense of justice? Do most of us act “without why”? Or is justification a personal affair, perhaps in the sense “might is right”? Or should action be according to some other rule, such as acting for the greater good or something like that?

Thoughts?

I suppose if a person lived in a society where good/justice is practiced by all, then that would be as close to a utopian idea as possible. Set that same person is a situation in the society we all live in now, then virtuous ideology could be swayed. As people live in this present situation in dealing with real world things, justice and justification start to splay into infinite gray areas. Moralities become disected into less painful justifications, thus weakness of character starts to surface in gradual steps.

I guess I’d like religious critics to attack the means of justification advocated by religious traditions, not just their depictions of justice being served, as tends to be the case. To me the latter is not so much a metaphysical certainty, i.e., that the wicked will be punished, but an excercise of the imagination designed to motivate our actions.

To emphasize my point, I’ve been trying to reconcile the creative/destructive aspects of God with, well, the divinely sanctioned rule (or means of justifying what we do) whose result is often contrary to divine action… (i.e., is God a hypocrite?)

I know that the Judeo-Christian God is largely a merging of older God types. At a basic level it seems there are two types making up God: the aloof, impersonal God of the first Creation narrative for example and the direct, personal God of the second (the God who is actually in the garden with Adam). It is the latter of these who executes divine justice, i.e., who punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous. It is the former, I think, where we see the religious means of justifying action in action.

In other words there is Elohim, who is a perfectly implemented, impersonal, abstract rule (i.e., God in the sense of being divinely justified) and there is the Lord, who is the executor of divine justice, and whose actions are, as such, often contrary to Elohim.

I want to resolve this internal tension in God. Maybe God simply is a hypocrite, an easy enough answer, but I can’t accept it. The best I can conjure up is that God follows the Golden Rule perfectly, and uses “the Lord” to inspire similar action in us.

Alyoshka this subject has certainly captured your interest.

— However divine justice does not come with any necessity. The whole history of the world, whether Greek, Hebrew or Present Day, provides enough evidence to make certain that the wicked often prosper while the righteous face adversity. The truth is divine justice is lacking in the world. Perhaps it’s still to come, in some far future day of judgment, or perhaps more importantly, as I want to propose here, it is missing in us, in the sense we live our lives without divine justification…
O- So divine justice is missing in the world, not because of God having it be so but because we lack or live our lives without divine justification. But didn’t you say that divine justice does not come with any necessity? If so how do you know that it is missing or could be found by what we do or how we live our lives? Since there is no necessity, we could all live our lives with divine justification and that would change nothing.

— Thus I want to distinguish between two separate events: divine justice and divine justification. Divine justice is when God’s sense of justice is served, i.e., when an eye is given for an eye. Divine justification is when we justify what we do by God’s rule, the Golden Rule. They are not the same, for if a murderer knocks on my door, divine justice would transpire if I killed them. But if my action is to be divinely justified I must welcome the murderer in.
O- That separation seems unwarranted and here is why: The origin of one is the same as the other and the natures of both are the same in principle. The Golden Rule, from which you devised your “divine justification”, could be and still can be formulated in two ways:
1- Do onto others as others do onto you= “and eye for an eye”.
2- Do onto others as you would have others do onto you= “love thy neighbor as you love yourself”.

One is positive and one negative but both depart from the principle of fair exchange. What made the second version special, even now, is that the first comes from known facts= you know how others have done onto you and so your response is easier to take since you are obligated to them (to pay services rendered). However the second stands as an investment about services not yet rendered. It is speculation about the furture and you put yourself in a vulnerable position, for you may do onto others, but the other may not return the favor. This speculation is important in revising your scenario. No one lets a murderer in. You know that he is a murderer, then you simply do not let him in, just as you would want the other person to block your path if it is you out to kill him. But people ARE nothing but their choices and so a person at your door is a person either good or bad at all times because he can always choose one or the other. So you can open the door to a known murderer who found God and now chooses to kill no more and be safe, while you can also open the door to a christian who has lost his faith and who now chooses to kill without prejudice.
When we open the door as we would have others open doors for us if the roles were reversed, in an investment into an uncertain future event…or even more divine, it is a grant we give without expecting any returns but just because of the soundness of the act as recognized. This is Kant’s position but I am more of a Schopenhauerian on this and do not divorce self interest from the origins of the Golden Rule. Anyway, we cannot be certain of who is at our door nor about who is our neighbor and so it takes greater faith to perform the second than to perform the first but both come from the principle of fair-exchange, for even though we are uncertain, we do as we do because we would LIKE the other to return the favor if and when the roles are reversed, and we expect this. If we knew, for a fact, that the other would not return our sympathy then we would revert to the first instance, and this is why there is no true separation. Now Jesus does say to “love thy enemy”, which is the extreme “other”, but again as a means to a goal, which is that by demonstrating such unbalanced exchange that God will likewise return the favor and judge favourable upon us as we have with our enemy, even though, like our enemy, we do not deserve it. Again, this is the Law of Fair Exchange and again it appeals to our self-interest and not merely to a value in itself of loving an enemy.

— Thus divine justice and divine justification are linked, so that without the threat/promise of divine justice who would follow the Golden Rule?
O- Here is the problem: The Golden Rule is a product, not an origin or cause for fair behaviour or “divine justification”. Human beings are made in a very bad design. A woman by herself could easily die during childbirth. A newborn would die without his mother’s protection and milk. This is true even in the animal kingdom and not unexpectedly, the greater the dependence of the new generation upon their progenitors the greater the level of sociability in the species which it what gives rise to the law of fair exchange, the Golden Rule (at it’s maximum refinement). Without such fairness human beings would die out. Such fairness however stands as a constrast to natural competition as well and so humanity has known about the GR for a millenia but also known war for just as long. Do onto others always comes, then, with the question as to what is the “other” and existence of the question and even the answer accentuate the existence of competition.

— Anyways; these musings aside, I’m curious to know how people justify their actions. Is the justification based in some sense of justice? Do most of us act “without why”? Or is justification a personal affair, perhaps in the sense “might is right”? Or should action be according to some other rule, such as acting for the greater good or something like that?
O- I am not a Nietzschean but I would agree that self-interest guides our behaviour. Why did I do X instead of Y? Because X was good for me and Y was not good for me.

— Again, I see many religious traditions asking us to justify our actions by the Golden Rule, so that our justification is ultimately “that’s how we would want to be treated were the roles reversed”. I think this is a superior form of justification, even though most anti-religionists tend to harp on divine justice (perhaps because they focus on the event of divine justice, when the wicked are actually blotted out for instance, instead of the event of divine justification, which I believe matters most).
O- What others harp about is their business. As I see it, I harp on divine justice in that there is nothing “divine” about it and all of it can be explained by the most rudimentary self-interest or what stands as human, all too human. Secondly, I harp on it in that it is the justification for many cruelties. A person that is a masochist does onto others many painful things which the other does not necessarly appreciate. Thus in the Middle Ages , when men were used to self-flagelation, torturing or burning a person at the stake were in harmony with the principle of the GR.

The last few texts I’ve read, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Hesiod, and Nietzsche’s Anti-Christ, have all reiterated the same basic idea of divine justice. I can’t escape it!

Pardon my clumsiness. I don’t mean to say that if we justified our actions by the Golden Rule that divine justice would obtain. What I mean to say is that the two are contrary to each other. To live by the Golden Rule can mean the prevention of divine justice since the Golden Rule could never sanction punishing someone, no matter how despicable they are.

I don’t see how 1 and 2 could be “the same in principle”, or how both could be the Golden Rule…

To me sympathizing even when we know reciprocation is unlikely is when it matters most. You’re basically saying: Once we know there is nothing in it for us, forget it. Revert to blatant self interest since it’s all self interest anyways. There’s no point serving another if they aren’t going to serve us since this violates self interest.

The Golden Rule, indeed, presupposes self interest, since it says to treat others as you would want to be treated (and nobody would want to be treated contrary to their self interest), but I don’t see it reducing to the above, i.e., abort once there’s nothing in it for the self.

There’s a lot you say that I agree with here, but I can’t accept this. I guess I’m more Kantian on this!

I can’t quite follow this. The Golden Rule is a product of the human imagination, sure. When I suggest it as the cause of fair behaviour I mean that it is the contention of certain religious traditions that this is so. i.e., The Golden Rule is the divine method of justification. There are certainly other methods of justification, like Kant’s categorical imperative for example, or the idea “might is right”, but the Golden Rule, IMO, is the divine method. This isn’t to say it’s better, but that it’s the specific method expounded by various religious traditions…

What is this law of fair exchange you keep mentioning?

It does indeed. That’s why I see the need for divine justice, i.e., to fill us with fear and/or desire and in the process motivate us to live by the Golden Rule. I don’t want to deny self interest; rather I want to affirm the interest of others first. In the process, or at least if this attitude was universalized, self interest would be served as well methinks. But initially the self is harmed, since it must suffer for the good of others. This, I think, is what Nietzsche didn’t like. He didn’t like this nihilistic impulse, perhaps because he didn’t accept the life and prosperity that would follow from its widespread application… Instead he saw only priests and others, perhaps, growing rich and fat on the sacrifices of others.

When I say it is divine, as I said above, it is only because it is the mode of justice and/or justification expressed in the Biblical and other religious traditions. I don’t mean to ascribe it any truth or superiority over other means of justification. I think it is superior, but that’s an unexamined opinion.

I don’t see the Golden Rule justifying any cruelty, but I understand why you do given your many versions of it… As to your masochist example, even a masochist knows that if they were starving, they would want to be treated to food. As such one’s masochism doesn’t mean that, when another is hungry, that they should treat them to pain… Similarly even a masochist knows that if they were dying, they would want to be helped. As such one’s masochism doesn’t mean that, when another is dying, that they should be left to die.

Before any masochistic desire, the masochist wants to live; they want what is in their self interest. If so, any masochist who lives according to the Golden Rule would ensure the life and self interest of others.

Hello Alyoshka:

— I can’t quite follow this.
O- What? This?:
“Such fairness however stands as a constrast to natural competition as well and so humanity has known about the GR for a millenia but also known war for just as long. Do onto others always comes, then, with the question as to what is the “other” and existence of the question and even the answer accentuate the existence of competition.”
Luke 10:25-37 explains my point. No one really is told a new message- the Law is the same. When they ask Jesus about the Commandments, that is “The Law”, Jesus tells them what they always expected to hear. Jesus first and foremost is a Rabbi. When in Luke they ask him how they can inherit eternal life, in fact, how can they earn it, the response is again, right down from jewish dogma- the same answer: Love God above all else and your neighbor as yourself- and the man knows this! In those days jews were not very nice to their neighbors unless they were jews, and even then only a certain pure type of jew. So the man obviously has a hierarchy of humanity where jews stand at the top and so asks the question as to “who’s my neighbor?” because what are non-jews to him? This is all very tribal. But Jesus answers with a story about a beaten man that is ignored by those that should have, out of tribal duty, helped him and is helped instead by what this jew may have considered a “dog”, or not-his-neighbor. Yet by his actions he demonstrates that he is his neighbor, for “our neighbor” is simply the person who has mercy on us, who helps us, who attends to our insterest. The “priest” and the “Levite”, these are not “his neighbors” for they didn’t attend to him, didn’t have mercy on him, didn’t attend or care about his interests. So while Jesus tells us about loving even thy enemies this is not to make all our neighbors, but only those who treat us as we wished to be treated.

— The Golden Rule is a product of the human imagination, sure.
O- No. My point is that the rule can be found even among apes.

— What is this law of fair exchange you keep mentioning?
O- It is the idea or principle imbeded within the Golden Rule, for example or the idea of Karma:“You reap what you sow”, or that you will receive in proportion to your efforts, even that social darwinism that says that only the fittest survive…all of these embrace the idea of fair exchange. I like to use the expression “Fair exchange” because it brings to mind that we all employ the idea as a businessman would or two people making an exchange. Religion can be understood as a “transaction”. We do X or believe X and therefore Y is obtained or expected as a return. Christians love to ask others: “Do you know for sure that you are saved?” They asks this as if they were selling life insurance! Jesus explains the Law in more market terms: “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” In ancient markets stuff was sold by weight very often and very often sellers used fake weights to measure the product being sold. Now, Jesus of course is “dumbing down” the message to reach a simple audience but he could do this simply because of the similarity of his message to the trade of these simple townsfolk, who, while they may not have understood God’s mysterious ways, they did understand the ways of the marketplace and the law (according to me) of fair exchange.

— It does indeed. That’s why I see the need for divine justice, i.e., to fill us with fear and/or desire and in the process motivate us to live by the Golden Rule. I don’t want to deny self interest; rather I want to affirm the interest of others first. In the process, or at least if this attitude was universalized, self interest would be served as well methinks. But initially the self is harmed, since it must suffer for the good of others. This, I think, is what Nietzsche didn’t like. He didn’t like this nihilistic impulse, perhaps because he didn’t accept the life and prosperity that would follow from its widespread application… Instead he saw only priests and others, perhaps, growing rich and fat on the sacrifices of others.
O- Nietzsche, I think, like Luther, wanted to deny the idea of Progress because, I think, perhaps he felt that to dream of utopias was to blaspheme against this life or “life” period. It was to find fault with reality and to “hide” in a “make-believe” reality outside of the senses, be it in a utopian future or be it in Heaven, which was the same thing but in different locations yet in the same time=future. And you cannot have both, by the way. Selflessness out of selfishness is not selflessness at all. But what Nietzsche asked is why not selfishness and the hell with selflessness? If selflessness is only a means to selfishness then take out the middle man and leave selfishness alone as the only thing we humans, and all other animals, really care about.

Simple: I did them, I do them, and I will do them.
For offense, I must have compassion to the offended to require a reason of justice if I have offended. If I do, then I am apologetic; if I do not, then I am not; if there is no offended, then I am the only one to offend. This last is a life-long duality of each man.

Humans are creatures of habit, so we tend to act spontaneously in keeping with our habits. What I mean by that is that people rarely (if ever) consider and weigh their options before acting (indeed, present research suggests that even when we think we are doing that, we aren’t doing it). We just do. So the trick is to cultivate good habits so that when we are ‘just doing’ we do good. There are a variety of ways which people cultivate good habits, amongst them are mantras (such as the various iterations of the golden rule which you mentioned) others are more conscious habits we cultivate like charitable giving. So I don’t worry too much about post hoc justification for action, I am more concerned with rituals that allow us to embody principles which we deem important.

In terms of theodicy, I think inertia and conflicting narratives go a long way towards explaining it. The latter is pretty clear, a capitalist values money for the sake of money so they strive towards accumulating it. That is what they do. If some little people get stepped on along the way, well, that is how the game is played. Most religious traditions have a different set of values, so the actions of the capitalist may seem ‘immoral’ or ‘wrong’ to them, but that is because of how each are defining their goods. This only becomes tricky when people begin employing multiple narratives (which we all do to some extent or another) and fail to properly compartmentalize them. This is made all the more difficult by movements which actually encourage that sort of thinking, such as the Gospel of Wealth in the Christian tradition.

Inertia ties in with this as well. Given enough comfort and familiarity with a system, people become lazy and go into auto-pilot mode. That works quite well, indeed it increases efficiency, provided that steady-state conditions hold. But when something unexpected happens, when the system changes their old actions, which were once ‘good’ are now ‘bad’. It takes a while to notice this, to snap out of auto-pilot mode (and some stubborn people simply don’t snap out), but by then the damage is done. So success becomes failure. But changing conditions may allow for something new, so what would have (and possibly did) fail under the old conditions can now be successful.

My mother always used to harp on Boethii Wheel of Fortune (holy crap, my upbringing was the Confederacy of Dunces . . . but I digress). The trick is to be alert, so when the wheel turns you can be ready for it.

I have no issue with what you say here. As to your more original statement I guess the question ‘what is the “other”’ is irrelevant to me. The rule applies to all, neighbour or not, enemy or not, “other” or not. But as to your next statement,

By your previous logic a neighbor is anyone who attends you. I accept this. But to me, again, Jesus is neighbor to all, in the sense he would attend all, even his enemies, even those who would not act neighborly to him, just as the Samaritan acts neighborly to the ruined man, who in all likelihood would not help him.

However, as is quite clear from his story, Jesus isn’t always attended. So like you say here, indeed, not everyone is our neighbor. We may be neighborly to them but not them to us. I think we need to keep in mind the bi-directionality of neighborliness. Jesus, IMO, is neighborly to all, but not everyone is neighborly to him. I think our respective thinking differs on this point in that Jesus requires neighborliness in return to act neighborly!

Sure. But why stop with apes? I think the “behaviour” of rocks could even be modelled by the Golden Rule. Rocks, for example, graciously hold us up when we need support. They do so without conscious will, but they do so. Mind you they can also fall on our heads and crush us to death.

Here we differ again. Being Christian is doing X, which is always determined by the Golden Rule, but they do so no matter the Y, even if there is no Y, due to the nature of the Golden Rule, which is all that they adhere to. The Golden Rule calls for pure gratuitousness. Imagine the selfish ego, what would it like more than to reap all the benefits and pay none of the cost? This natural principle of the self, when inserted into the Golden Rule, which the Christian follows, means that the Christian is free with their self. They let the other reap all of the benefits without paying any of the cost.

The Christian may desire a return, but they don’t expect it, or care one bit if it doesn’t come. They may indeed obtain a return, but again, they don’t require it. What they do they do for free. It is bestowing blessings and being blessed. It is pure blessedness (see Nietzsche’s Anti-Christ).

Regarding fair exchange: are you Aristotilean? For example, do you believe a fair exchange is when all parties voluntarily accept the terms, and enter into the agreement? Also, do you believe in property? i.e., I believe you can only fairly exchange what is yours to exchange. If I’m right, then a fair exchange can only occur amongst rightful owners. If you agree, what defines ownership in your thinking?

I have no problem with this kind of thinking.

The promise of the Judeo-Christian tradition is that strict adherance to the Golden Rule means a land of plenty. But you must follow the Rule, everyone must, and as such selflessness is a natural component. I’m not denying that there isn’t selfishness involved here, but only that selflessness can’t be cut out.

There are three types of society:

  1. Selfishness rules. There are no rules. No rights. No anything. It would be the Hell described by Jesus, where there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth, a true Gomorrah.

  2. A fair exchange society, perhaps like what you describe. It’d be largely defined by Capitalism. Greed. Situations where, for example, you can only get the health care you need to live by putting up a small fortune.

  3. The free society. Everything is free. Pure blessedness. This isn’t to say there are no problems, for there would still be disease and disaster. But if you needed an operation, the hospitals would open their doors, no matter who you are, no matter what you can give in return.

Maybe it isn’t possible, but I want the third. The only way I think it can work is through the universal and consistent application of the Golden Rule.

And I don’t think we care only about ourselves. If this was true, we wouldn’t worry over the death of others. Or rather, if this was true, we’d only worry because of what the death of others means for ourself. I don’t think this is true. I think we can be genuinely concerned about others. You can’t watch something like scenes from the Holocaust and not feel the concern I’m talking about. But you tell me. All I have is an emotional appeal. No logic.

That’s justification? It sounds more like statement of fact. Are you basically saying: I do because I do? Is this a reference to the name God gives to Moses? If so it seems to excise any decision making from the process of doing. Is this your intent? For all action to be decisionless?

How do you know if you’ve offended though? Sure, being apologetic requires justification, or an explanation for one’s actions, but this is all after the fact. What was the reason for acting in the first place that may or may not be part of some future apology? I want to know: why do you do what you do? I think the answer of the Christian is: because that’s what I’d want done to me.

I have no problem with any of this. Granted I can’t say whether true decision making exists. For all I know my future was laid out an eternity ago. But what you say here begs the question of what habits are good, or how do we go about establishing an answer. I believe it is clear in our hearts but I also think, logically speaking, this question is a can of worms.

Also I’m not so much interested in post hoc justification either. No apologies here! I’m interested in ad hoc justification. Christianity, and all these things you describe, are practices. They are useful rules to follow in the everyday (or perhaps even every day…). The justification I’m after is not so much a matter of explaining yourself, but rather knowing what should be done. Knowing which habits to install so as to ensure we do good… (That damn can of worms again.)

You seem to say everyone is entitled to their own sense of good here. Is that true? If so, I agree. But let’s look at the Capitalist, who charges patients of the hospital he owns for service. Now imagine a family with a sick member who can’t afford the fee. Indeed, someone is stepped on by the Capitalist here. Indeed, there is something not very good going on here, at least in terms of some people’s good.

My point is: If we’re concerned with doing good, then shouldn’t we apply habits that don’t violate the good of others?

I agree wholeheartedly. But where it might be easy to think ‘adaptability’ as the principle virtue for facing changing conditions (I’m not saying this is what you think, btw), I believe there is a single habit that suits all conditions (a habit other than adaptability, which is really to have no habits at all).

Unfortunately, though, this habit I speak of involves throwing our own good out the window and serving the good of others instead. And without any solid logic for it!

“how people justify their actions?”
Justify the actions.

I was being somewhat facetious.
Taking the sentence in a literal turn; the sentence stops with the word, “actions”, and is missing a secondary noun which leaves the sentence asking for a justification for the existence of the actions instead of adding to it something like, “how people justify the effects of their actions?”, or “how people justify what their actions cause?”

To which I responded that the actions existence are justified by the fact that I have done them, I do them, and I will do them.

Freud?

If I don’t know, then it doesn’t matter.

Self interest.
Helping other people is really a self interest act; it makes me happy.
When I’m too tired to care about helping people, then it doesn’t make me happy, so I’m less likely to do it.

Well, there are two things that I think you have backwards in your framework, if I may be so bold. Clarifying them will help untangle some of this mess:

  1. Goods vs. Rights. The liberal tradition holds that rights precede the good, that is, people’s freedoms are respected without paying attention to their ends. This is problematic for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is “my rights begin where your rights end.” That doesn’t work unless autonomous individuals exist, bumbling through existence occasionally glancing on others but never really connecting. This is important when we consider which narratives a person ascribes to. Do we select these narratives like desserts at a restaurant, or do we inherit them from our families, cultures, histories, and localities? If the latter is true, many of the problems start to go away when we consider which narratives are more correct/better than others since ancient narratives display a remarkable degree of similarity. Newer, untested narratives, on the other hand, tend to be wildly divergent.

  2. “Reason is and ought only be a slave of the passions” – Hume. Like most sentimentalists, I think the order goes emotion, then reason. So to try and explain emotions using reasons is doing it in reverse! That doesn’t give us liberty to feel whatever we want, the power of reason as a tool is difficult to overestimate. But it remains a tool, one of many. Our own innate nature is the driving force behind it and while we often cannot reasonably explain why such things are, we ‘know’ them to be. That ‘knowing’ is a mixture of the inherited traditions I spoke of earlier as well as innate moral grammar which we all possess.

Does that help?

Xun…was that in response to me or Aly?

Justice is not an abstract law imposed from the outside. It is an expression of the substance of being which is love. It is an essential law. It is uniting with the self-realization of life.

Are you being less than serious again? Or more precisely, do you put a cap on your Christian spirit and/or think that Christianity involves giving only until giving is no longer in your interest? Is this part of LDS?

I’m being a realist.

I have ideals that I follow because I agree with them; as an extension, because of my practice, I act as it pleases me.
What pleases me are actions likened to my values.

Does that mean that I behave to my values all of the time?
No, I am more dimensional than my religious values, and therefore it pleases me to act not according to strict values all of the time, and this is perfectly fine as well.

I never stand as a direct representation of LDS.
I partake with LDS, but do not ever once judge LDS based on any one person, especially myself; I do not adhere to any dogma. I only agree to partake with a given group adhering to a dogma; if I agree with their ideals in most ways then this is good as well.

I do not set out to find a religion for myself to mold into, I set out to find a religion that is the closest to my current ideals.

I’m suggesting that justice, in various religious traditions, is when your treatment of others is visited upon you. This “visitation”, while it certainly comes from the outside, isn’t necessarily imposed since, well, it doesn’t make much sense to impose a reward (a punishment, yes, but not a reward; and justice involves both). It’s not an abstract law either. It is both very real, since it is a real life visitation, and very un-necessary, contrary to a law (or at least, it doesn’t have the same status as a physical law). In other words it isn’t necessarily the case that your treatment of others will be visited upon you. Many righteous people have faced endless degradation.

As to your positive statements about justice, I’m not quite sure what it means to be “an expression of the substance of being which is love”, or what “uniting with the self-realization of life” involves. Justice is an essential law? What does that mean? That justice is necessarily and universally the case? I don’t think that can be true… But maybe you mean something else by “essential law”. But how can justice be a law at all? Isn’t justice what happens when laws are followed (just as injustice happens when laws are broken)?

Ha. So is what you described before part of LDS?

It sounds like your ideals make you a sort of half-way Christian. You’re Christian until it no longer makes you happy to do so. You’re Christian up until it gets tough… This is no insult, for if anyone surveyed my life they’d come to the same result. (I can be a realist too sometimes.)

Sure; but LDS would have you strive to be happy to serve others well and present yourself respectfully.
LDS doesn’t say, “Act this way”, it says, “Try to find happiness in doing X”.
As I’ve said before, it’s slightly Buddhist of all of the sects of Christianity; not really Buddhist, just more in line with that logic than other forms of Christianity.

By the standards most hold, Jesus would fail to be Christian, even by the accounts in the Bible.

As I put it; in the pursuit to be a Christian, don’t forget to be a human.