jimmywatch

Whenever I am tempted to sneer at religion and to think of it in terms of the Pat Robertsons and Fred Niles, it does me good to read something by or about ex-POTUS and tireless champion of the poor Jimmy Carter; but even he can piss me off sometimes:

I personally, in my Sunday-school lessons, don

17 thoughts on “jimmywatch

  1. Perhaps I’m coming at this from my perspective (liberal, but still churchy male), but my reading of Mr. Carter’s words were that he:

    1. Indeed supports civil unions for both the straights and the gays with equal access to all of the legal benefits (and obligations) that they provide (while not obligating, but of course permitting churches to perform wedding ceremonies to gay couples), and
    2. He hopes that future circumstances will make it possible for fewer abortions to take place, because there would be better access to preventative measures, better support for folks who have children, etc., but that the right to have an abortion ought not be abrogated

    I don’t think that this reading is inconsistent with either his past words or actions, but I may be reading with my own particular set of lenses.

  2. I pretty much respect his stand. He has one standard for civic life, and one for personal religious morality, and he doesn’t confuse the two. When they bump up against each other unavoidably, he finds a compromise that might not make either side totally happy, but pretty much works. If all American Christians were that thoughtful about these things, we wouldn’t have the sort of problems we do with them.

  3. Baal’s bollocks, man! What part of “my body, my business” does your invisible friend not understand?
    ….
    legislation that would take away a woman’s control over her own body.
    I strongly support liberal abortion rights, but I can’t agree with the idea you seem to be expressing that there is a clear and obvious line on where the woman ends and the baby begins. Dismissing the existence of the fetus by talking about a woman’s control over her “own body” isn’t really being honest about the moral dilemma of abortion.

  4. My favorite story from the Old Testament is when Solomon settles the dispute between two women over whose child an infant really is. By offering to cut it in half.
    And giving it to the woman who breaks down and is willing to surrrender her claimto it, to keep the child whole.
    Abortion arguments, either side of the grisly debate, attempt to fit a miracle into a flat colorless box.
    Here’s a woman, here’s a pregnant woman, here’s a woman and a child.
    Somewhere in there a miracle happens.
    It is a woman’s decision, I believe this adamantly, as I believe the so-called “Christian” position is hogwash and social control dressed up as compassion, but it is not a woman deciding what to do with her body.
    Neither side, of the two most common taken, has anything real or true to say. Just struggle for power.
    The Christian side masks its heartless arrogance as pro-life but its collaboration with the abandonment of the elderly in favor of the precious infant gives the lie to that.
    And the feminist argument is equally specious, though I think much closer to a moral truth.
    Abortion is a serious thing, not a cosmetic correction of some behavioral flaw.
    But the idea that God hates abortion is absurd, given the rate of natural miscarriage in otherwise healthy women.

  5. Dave: what line? I don’t understand what you think I am saying. As for dishonesty, attempts to control a woman’s body by appeal to the “rights of the foetus” set something of a gold standard for disingenuous sophistry, IMO.
    Avo: I think you are right; I must get around to reading some of Mr Carter’s own writing, in which he surely sets both records straight.

  6. Dave: what line? I don’t understand what you think I am saying.
    The line between the woman and the fetus. The pro-choice argument staked on women having the right to control their body, or “my body my business” ignores that there is another entity living in the woman’s body when she is pregnant.
    As for dishonesty, attempts to control a woman’s body by appeal to the “rights of the foetus” set something of a gold standard for disingenuous sophistry
    The fetus is a separate being from the mother. Abortion is about more than the woman’s body. The question should be, at what point does the fetus’s/zygote’s/embryo’s rights trump the mother’s? I think that’s where the real disagreement is, but most arguments I see don’t address that issue.

  7. But the idea that God hates abortion is absurd, given the rate of natural miscarriage in otherwise healthy women.
    I think that this is really part of a much larger debate about the role of “evil” in the world, and whether said evil is, in and of itself, a contradiction to the assertion that God is a just and loving creator is something that we can spend many, many pixels discussing (how ’bout it, Senn-Dogg?).
    In any case, if you take the point of view that Carter does (as do I) that God is love manifested, and that life in all of its forms is a necessary outcome of love, that abortion is a negation of said love. However, one (such as myself) can also argue that coercive laws that infringe on the right of a woman to make such a choice are also not life-giving (this is also my argument against those that say that gay marriages are not part of God’s plan, since they are as capable of bringing love and life to the world as straight marriages). In any case, the best of all possible worlds is one where abortion rights would be protected, but would not need to be exercised (as much, or at all).

  8. The fetus is a separate being from the mother.
    If so, it’s an obligate parasite.
    The question should be, at what point does the fetus’s/zygote’s/embryo’s rights trump the mother’s?
    Never. Persons have rights to the extent that they are part of society, since all rights are social constructs. I don’t see how the potential rights of a potential person can trump the extant rights of an actual person.
    Alternatively: you tell me when you think the woman’s rights are subordinate to those you would grant the foetus.

  9. a much larger debate about the role of “evil” in the world, and whether said evil is, in and of itself, a contradiction to the assertion that God is a just and loving creator
    Isn’t “free will” the widely accepted answer to that one?
    abortion is a negation of said love
    But then what about cases where carrying the baby to term will endanger the mother’s life?
    the best of all possible worlds is one where abortion rights would be protected, but would not need to be exercised (as much, or at all)
    I think it would be possible to dramatically reduce the number of abortions performed by providing support for the mothers, both during and after pregnancy. As I said above, I could probably even get behind some form of state support for such a program. If the “pro-life” lobby (a misnomer if ever there were one) were serious, they would be funding such support already.
    Extending that thought a little: in every case in which one persuades or forces a woman not to have an abortion, perhaps one assumes a proportion of the responsibility for raising the resulting baby?

  10. Isn’t “free will” the widely accepted answer to that one?
    Yes and no. When you talk about natural miscarriage, I’m not sure where free will enters into the equation. This also presupposes that natural miscarriage is an evil, and if you accept that, then you have to accept birth defects, the presence of the mentally handicapped, etc. as being “evils”, which I’m not willing to do.
    But then what about cases where carrying the baby to term will endanger the mother’s life?
    Well, yes, since there the mother’s life is at stake here, I don’t see the contradiction to the statement that I had made. I suppose that I could become more specific with regard to various situations, but I hope you know where I am coming from.
    I think it would be possible to dramatically reduce the number of abortions performed by providing support for the mothers, both during and after pregnancy. As I said above, I could probably even get behind some form of state support for such a program. If the “pro-life” lobby (a misnomer if ever there were one) were serious, they would be funding such support already.
    Agreed, agreed, and agreed, and I think that this is Carter’s position as well.

  11. I don’t like the idea that miscarriage’s existence implies God’s acceptance of abortion. SIDS exists. Is God then okay with infanticide?

    The question should be, at what point does the fetus’s/zygote’s/embryo’s rights trump the mother’s?

    Never. Persons have rights to the extent that they are part of society, since all rights are social constructs. I don’t see how the potential rights of a potential person can trump the extant rights of an actual person.
    It has to happen at some point. What’s your line between “potential” and “actual” persons? Is it when the child is born? Does viability enter into the equation? Are three-month-olds members of society in any meaningful sense? They are essentially parasites on the willing hosts that are their parents. They can’t interact in any meaningful way with the world or other humans. Are they actual persons?
    Jimmy Carter and pro-life advocates probably don’t agree with you about where that line is. This is my point, I think: To anti-abortionists, the six-month fetus is an actual person, and the mother has as much an obligation to it as the mother of a six-month-old infant.
    Alternatively: you tell me when you think the woman’s rights are subordinate to those you would grant the foetus.
    I don’t have a good answer to that. Which is why I support abortion rights. But I am intensely sympathetic with the pro-life viewpoint–at least the idea that the physical distinction between infant and fetus has nothing to do with the child itself, and that I can’t justify why a viable fetus has less value morally than a three-month old infant. At the same time, it seems thoughtlessly obvious to me that a mass of undifferentiated cells that form an embryo have no moral value at all. Where’s my own line? I have no idea.

  12. “But the idea that God hates abortion is absurd, given the rate of natural miscarriage in otherwise healthy women.” – msg (in comments)
    A healthy woman doesn’t automatically guarantee a healthy child. The cell-division growth process is rather fragile, despite it happening successfully all around us. It fails a lot more often than it works.
    The argument is probably more that God hates abortion when mother and child are both naturally healthy.
    It’s interesting to also think of the parallels to recreational drug use.

  13. These questions get framed with intent. Miscarriage and abortion being different only in the intent to abort.
    We have, except in the case of some Buddhist strains, a universally emphasized moral determinant based on intent – civil and religious codes all emphasize that.
    So that a tree falling on your father while he’s walking through the park is not an evil thing. Whereas someone beating him to death with a baseball bat for thrills is evil in extreme.
    He’s dead either version.
    Evil comes with the intent, with the addition of purpose.
    We get that as toddlers, and we get it confirmed as children.You break the living room window by accident while out in the yard playing or you break the living room window because your mom just yelled at you in front of your sister and you threw your geometry book at it. Two different scenarios, punished in most families in two very different ways. The window’s broken just the same in either case.
    The family’s more important than the window, the architecture of your intent, and the shaping of it, is more important than the resources consumed by the replacement of the window.
    In the real world it isn’t like that.
    The climber slips and craters.
    The suicide leaps from the bridge.
    The stool pigeon’s flung from a cliff.
    A stick figure dives from a burning tower.
    Within the family one morality pertains, within the society a *combination* of the family’s care and the real world’s dispassion pertains. It’s a three stage thing. The missing part is the heartless natural world’s indifference. We’ve been fighting that indifference since way back, so desperately we’ve buried it. We won. Sort of. Just like we won against all the predators that once drove us screaming through the savannah. We killed them, broke them, put them in cages for our children to laugh and throw things at.
    We did that so succesfully now there’s room for sentimentality and regret.
    Human attacked by predator is now so rare it’s front-page news.
    Bears were evil once. Wolves too.
    It’s why so many people fear the wilderness, and why the wilderness is dying. Because people hate what they fear.
    We live so deeply in the artificial world of society we’re losing the sense of that higher unfeeling order. It’s scary to contemplate – a mosquito can kill you without ever even knowing what you are.
    We dress fate up in a god’s robes and say it matters what happens to us, that it matters to something completely outside what we are.
    And some of our better minds spin around uselessly looking for a simple reconciliation between the dream of a moral universe and the nightmare of an amoral one.
    We make that moral distinction real, with the insistence of our own being.
    We carry it.
    The lie is that it’s coming from outside us.
    That doesn’t make it untrue, only fragile.

  14. If you’re looking at it from a postmodernist perspective where everything is not defined in itself but through the viewpoint of the observer, and if the viewpoint of observers is assumed to be one of boolean judgement, then that’s probably quite true, yes.
    R

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