December 21, 2009
Thou Shalt Not...
This struck me -- an agnostic not-yet-believer -- as rather... odd:
A clergyman has been criticised as 'highly irresponsible' after advising his congregation to shoplift following his Nativity sermon.
Father Tim Jones, 41, broke off from his traditional annual sermon yesterday to tell his flock that stealing from large chains is sometimes the best option for vulnerable people.
It is far better for people desperate during the recession to shoplift than turn to 'prostitution, mugging or burglary', he said.
Evidently, he believes that poor people are criminal by their very natures. Well, in a sense I agree, though I think he has it backwards: Thieves are in general poor -- because of their very criminal natures.
As an irreligious person myself, it seems to me that a more effective sermon would be to instruct his congregation to develop the workplace and interpersonal skills necessary to hold down a job and earn a living. They're easily learnt, and we all had to do it; nobody is born knowing how to be a good employee, employer, or independent contractor. We all had to be taught how to act "appropriately" at work.
I refer to virtues such as:
- Getting to work on time and staying until quitting time, if your job is time-based;
- Finishing the projects you undertake;
- Working diligently, rather than goofing off with your friends or sneaking off to the beach;
- Attention to detail -- useful in virtually every endeavor including politics, where you really need the ability to keep track of which donors paid how much in bribes in exchange for what government goodies;
- Understanding that other people exist; you are not the center of the universe;
- Respect for other peoples opinions (and their space);
- A sense of decorum;
- Brevity (I need to work on this one myself);
- Thrift (the last government needed remedial instruction in this virtue; the current one is irremedial and should be sacked).
Again, seems to me that if Daddy-Guy Jones were to help his flock attain more of these kinds of virtues, they wouldn't even need to shoplift, let alone mug. Too bad he's uninterested in teaching them. (Or perhaps he never learnt them himself.)
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 21, 2009, at the time of 11:22 PM
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The following hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel
There is a Jewish concept that translates as "point of choice". The concept is that even though everyone has free will, there are some things that a person would not even think of doing and others that he just cannot resist. The actual free will is for something that one is tempted to do, but can resist.
Thus, you would not even be tempted to go rob a bank to get the money for presents. Perhaps, the people that the clergyman was talking to are such that shoplifting instead of armed robbery is actually a step up on the moral scale for them. We have seen with the current Senate that many of the senators are not yet at the point where they would be ashamed of offering or taking bribes. Perhaps we should work on at least getting them to acknowledge that bribery is wrong. Then we can work on getting them to be able to resist the bribe.
The above hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel at December 22, 2009 6:43 AM
The following hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel
FYI, the concept I wrote about is explained by Rabbi E. E. Dessler.
The above hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel at December 22, 2009 8:46 AM
The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh
There's another concept that applies here: The fallacy of false dilemma -- a.k.a. the "either-or" fallacy.
One of the most sacred duties of any clergyman, whether priest, minister, imam, or rabbi, is to show people that they have moral choice: They are not "fated" to commit crimes, with the only option being to commit a lesser crime vice a greater.
We're not talking about people imprisoned in a Siberian slave-labor camp; we're talking about ordinary Brits in jolly olde York, England. The dire circumstances his congregation faces, which puts them (he believes) in the either-or dilemma of committing burglary, armed robbery, or prostitution on the one hand... or merely shoplifting on the only other hand, is that welfare programs aren't as extensive as Father Jones wishes they were.
'The observation that shoplifting is the best option that some people are left with is a grim indictment of who we are.
'Rather, this is a call for our society no longer to treat its most vulnerable people with indifference and contempt.
'When people are released from prison, or find themselves suddenly without work or family support, then to leave them for weeks with inadequate or clumsy social support is monumental, catastrophic folly.
'We create a situation which leaves some people little option but crime.'
This is the thoroughly discredited "poverty causes crime" socioeconomic fallacy at its most inglorious: People are out of work, and Britain's monumental welfare state isn't quite as luxurious as it would be were I in charge... so what choice has the flock do but to shoplift from the local chain supermarket?
In fact, I suspect his entire sermon is political grandstanding: Look what this pittance of public support made me do: It made me tell my flock to go forth and help themselves to a five-finger discount. Vote Labour!
As Jerry Pournelle says, ye flipping gods.
The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh at December 22, 2009 11:29 AM
The following hissed in response by: GW
The British Anglican clergy, with but a few exceptions of note, such as the Bishop of Rochester, are mad. They regularly make statements on a variety of topics that seem wholly at odds with Christianity. You have the Archbishop of Canterbury actively agitating for imposing Sharia law in Britian and treating Salafi Islam as a moral equal under the doctrine of multiculturalism. The trick to understanding the British Anglicans is to note that they are full socialists wearing the garb of clergyman. Thus, everything you can expect to come out of the mouth of an European elite, from whitewashing of Islam to pinning the problems of the world on the U.S. to apologetics for Christianity, you can expect to hear from British Anglican clergy. One wonders if any of them - and especially the one you cite to above - have ever even studied the bible. I don't recall anything like the above speech appearing in the Sermon on the Mount.
The above hissed in response by: GW at December 22, 2009 7:10 PM
The following hissed in response by: cdor
If they are strong enough to walk into a store and shoplift, they are NOT the weakest and neediest amongst us. Get a job. Even the highway exit and street corner folks with signs are at least honestly asking for money and actually working hard to get it (I wouldn't want to stand all day in terrible weather holding a sign).
This minister dude has less integrity than Obama's Rev Jeremiah Wright. But as was pointed out earlier by GW, who, like Dafydd, is an excellent writer of his own accord, lack of integrity and self esteem as well as a twisted sense of moral values seems to be the norm from the Anglican church nowadays.
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