Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Scene from MANALIVE



This is the entire scene - and a very interesting one, funny and scary at the same time. Many of you have seen the trailer. This scene features the best acting by two bloggers ever. It features yours truly as the pessimist professor and Mark Shea as Innocent Smith. Soon to be released at a theater near you!


By the way, friends, this movie, as this scene indicates, will be a powerful salvo against the culture of death and despair.

Monday, May 30, 2011

From the Biography of George Washington


MRS. WASHINGTON: George, did you chop down that cherry tree?

GEORGE: I can not tell a lie. Then again, maybe I can. How authoritative are the teachings in the Catechism? Aren't there conflicting traditions on this? Doesn't Scriptue itself encourage lying? Isn't the whole issue just too much for a common man to grasp? Let me get back to you on that, Mom.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Moral Theology 101

That nasty issue Lying for a Good Cause has reared its ugly head again, thanks largely to a series of editorials in Gilbert Magazine, Janet Smith's attempts to make an apology for lying from a Thomistic perspective, and Brandon Watson's rebuttal to Smith.


And yet, now that we've had a few months off since the last outbreak of pustulence, it has begun to occur to me that Peter Kreeft's "Just Say Know" argument in defense of lying (Just say, "I know this to be right intuitively") appeals to so many people not simply because he argues (quite rightly) for a broader understanding of Reason, nor that he argues (quite rightly) that we have a moral common sense, but really because our moral common sense has not been transformed by Christ. And this is not surprising.


In our everyday moral common sense, we think of things in this way. "Well, I know it's wrong to have sex with my boyfriend even though everybody's doing it. I do feel a little guilty about it and everything, and it would definitely be wrong if it were simply sex, but we love each other! When you love each other, that changes things. And when he told me he loved me in the back seat of his Hyundai, well that changed everything." And so forth.


We assume that our intentions change the nature of our acts. We assume as well that the circumstances in which we find ourselves change the nature of our acts. Our moral common sense tells us this and it is almost always right in telling us so.


However, we do not get it. Our moral common sense is damaged, not only because we are fallen men, but also because we have never read the following, nor have we been taught it:


The morality of human acts depends on:


- the object chosen;


- the end in view or the intention;


- the circumstances of the action.


This is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which goes on to say


1755 A morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end, and of the circumstances together. An evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself (such as praying and fasting "in order to be seen by men").


The object of the choice can by itself vitiate an act in its entirety. There are some concrete acts - such as fornication - that it is always wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil.


1756 It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.


Now setting aside for a moment the question of the authority of the Catechism and how we should use the Catechism, let's take an example or two to illustrate the above.


1. Speeding in a car (the object) is wrong, but if done to get a sick child to a hospital (intent), particularly when there are few cars on the roadway (circumstances), speeding may not be wrong at all; in fact it may be right and necessary.


2. Sexual intercourse (the object) is good, but if done out the desire to satisfy mere lust (intent) or between unmarried people (circumstance), the act becomes wrong.


3. In fact, we can speak of sex between unmarried people as a separate act, fornication. Fornication, the Church tells us (much to our chagrin) is one of those kinds of acts that are intrinsically evil, acts the object of which can never be excused or made good by either intention or circumstance. It doesn't matter if your boyfriend says he loves you (circumstance) or if your intention is to express your love for him (intent).


4. Likewise, abortion enthusiasts argue that while the object of abortion is wrong (killing a baby), the intent or circumstance can excuse this wrong (the mother wants to be happy - her intent; she is poor or single - her circumstance, etc.) But the Church wisely teaches, and holds firm to the teaching despite the vast pressures of society, that abortion is intrinsically evil, that the nature of the act (its object) is wrong always and everywhere.


(We are speaking here only of the objective nature of acts, not of one's subjective culpability in performing an act. One may perform an objective evil and yet not be personally culpable of sin, but that's another issue.)


And the whole crux of the matter regarding our most fond and favorite sin, lying, is that the Church, much to our suprise, tells us that lying is among those acts that are intrinsically evil and may never be done anywhere, even with the best intentions or the most pressing of circumstances. It entails a disorder of the will and is a moral evil.


A good intention (for example, that of helping one’s neighbor) does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means (CCC 1753)


So one reason people get so angry on this issue is they really don't understand the basics of what an act is and what makes it right or wrong. They are not thinking with the mind of the Church, as they have not been taught to think with the mind of the Church.


Now those of us opposing lying are often called Pharisees because people think we are slavisly devoted to the Catechism. And many deconstruct the Catechism in one clever way or other, saying it's not magisterial, it has no bearing on our lives, we shouldn't view it as a playbook that needs to be consulted, etc.


What these critics don't understand is the Catechism is a distillation of the teaching of the magisterium of the Catholic Church on Faith and Morals, and hence a kind of outline on the Mind of the Church, or if you will, the mind of Christ.


Rejecting this teaching when it doesn't suit us or when we don't fully understand it is human nature and quite understandable. But our challenge as Christians is, as St. Paul tells us,


"Be not conformed with this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and appropriate and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2


We are not to conform ourselves to the moral common sense of this world, but we are to be (by God's grace) transformed by the renewing of our minds. May our minds on this issue, and on all things, be renewed in Christ, transforming our very selves.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Emails with an Atheist - Part III

Yes, I do indeed believe that humanity can come to more accurately align our ideas about the world with reality. The scientific method and a skeptical worldview help us do that. Religion doesn’t.


A question: I’m quite impressed to hear that you agree that critical thinking and a scientific worldview can “work wonders” when comes to understanding the universe -- but I was thrown off by you specifically saying that these benefits apply to the “material” universe. Is there some other universe where critical thinking and a scientific worldview cease to be helpful in understanding?


A comment on faith: The word ‘faith’ is complicated; very complicated. It has a dozen different meanings, each one less comprehensible to me than the last. Earlier when I used the word, I meant the idea that it is virtuous to believe in something despite evidence to the contrary, or despite a lack of evidence. That seems to be the point of the Doubting Thomas story in John 20, isn’t it? “Blessed are those who have not seen but believe,” Jesus supposedly said.


Regarding the “secular, everyday” faith that you mentioned, I don’t use the word “faith” in that context. I do live my life by certain paradigms and conceptions, but I don’t think the word “faith” is accurate to describe any of them. I do, however, agree that there is a place for having, as you said, “a persistence of will regarding that which we are fairly certain is true.”


Hell: Regardless of if Hell is mentioned commonly in Catholic sermons, it is an article of the Catholic faith. In fact, the idea is fairly important to the notion of salvation at all; any Catholic who tries to understand salvation would necessarily encounter it and would be told that believe in it is necessary. It is, of course, a reprehensible, embarrassing dogma. The message is that if you disbelieve, there’s a chance you’ll be tortured forever. This teaching certainly does have a psychological effect on the doubter, and that’s shameful.


On to your questions: Sure, I believe in the human emotion called “love.” I’m rather compelled to, aren’t I? I suppose you should be concerned about me if I didn’t. Also, I do indeed enjoy art, music, and beauty generally. It’s in my nature. And of course, the scientific method and rational skepticism doesn’t have much to say about how an artist should paint, or how a musician should compose, or what a particular person should find beautiful.


But emotions and ascetics are in a whole different ballpark than an idea like “God impregnated a virgin with his son, who was also himself,” is it not?


Also, you seem to be using some special definition of Reason-with-a-capitol-’R’ that I’m unfamiliar with. Normally, I’d say that the kind of discourse one engages in when thinking about some objective facts about the universe -- like, say, man-made climate change, or economics, or the existence of God -- is totally different than the kind of discourse we engage in when discussing the ascetic value of a particular movie or piece of music. The first should rely on evidence and careful reasoning and a skeptical worldview, and the second is just, well, completely different. Anyway, I’m interested in hearing your next point on this subject.


Adam


____________


Dear Adam,


1. For your question, "Is there something other than a material universe," how should we attempt to answer that? Should we answer it with a religious prejudice, or should we use reason and examine the evidence?


2. Let's look at the Doubting Thomas passage as a story, without a claim that it's true. Let's suspend the investigation into whether or not it actually happened. The story as a story tells us this: Thomas doubts. He says, "Unless my senses provide me with clear evidence, I will not believe." Jesus appears to him. Thomas uses his senses to examine the facts - nail marks, side wound. He then believes - and rightly so, for within the confines of the story, at least, Jesus has indeed risen from the dead. (Remember, we are suspending all other claims of "religion" on this issue; we're just looking at what the story teaches). Thus, when Jesus says, "Blessed are those who have not seen me, yet believe", He is simply saying, "Thomas, you have discovered via the scientific method what is true. Since this is true, those who believe in this truth without having to test the evidence are blessed." That's the point of the story, and that's the point of faith. But on the contrary, if we have faith in that which is false, we are fooling ourselves. As St. Paul says, "If Christ be not raised, then is our faith in vain ... and we are the most miserable of men." Indeed, if you have faith in a lie you are cursed; if you have faith in the truth you are blessed. Now, granted, this says nothing about whether those who have faith in God are right or wrong - whether their faith is valid or misplaced. But as far as the lesson of the story goes, it is correct. Faith in what is true is a blessing. Faith in what is false is a curse. I think we'd both agree on that. And faith is simply using your will to assent to something you think is true, but that you don't have complete knowledge of (which applies, on a practical level, to almost every single thing in life).


3. Hell. Yes, it's embarrassing and frightening, but is it true? Let's say a group of kids get stranded on an island, sort of like in "Lord of the Flies". They manage to survive and know nothing of the real world. One of the oldest ones says he thinks they will die someday, like the animals around them; he seems to recall his parents telling him something like this before the ship sank and the kids were washed ashore, separated from their families. The other kids say, "What an appalling idea! To think that we will rot and stink and just lie there forever! I object to that idea!" Well, obviously they may object away - and death is indeed objectionable - but is it true? You are correct that hell is part of Catholic teaching, but your objection to it (understandable and healthy as that is) tells us nothing of the truth of the teaching. Certainly, hell may simply be a myth used to bully and intimidate people. I will tell you that I have not seen it used like that once since I converted. I'm sure it has been used like that in the past, and even if true, the teaching is vulnerable to that kind of abuse; but still the question is, "Is this truth claim valid?" Is there a hell?


4. My point about Reason capital-R is that one can discover the truth in ways that are more broad than just via the scientific method. The things that poetry and music and art and love teach us are true things. Certainly, there's an element of subjectivity in assessing them. But the reason there are film critics, let's say, is there is some standard by which a work of art can be judged that is not merely arbitrary and subjective. You've probably seen movies and then said, "Well, it was a good film, but I didn't like it." My point is that our aesthetic sense is not merely a subjective sense, though it has many subjective elements in it. A great work of art is great because it attains some sort of objective beauty that most people can recognize. And this objective achievement can not be measured scientifically. I'm simply saying that scientific reasoning is very valuable and is a subset of Reason with a capital R. Reason includes science and is bigger than science; science is a type of and an example of the use of reason, but is not reason itself. For instance, this whole discussion is not merely scientific, as we're talking about things that science can not measure or address; but we're using our reason to do so. Now, the scientific method and logic will certainly be a part of this discussion - if science manages to prove the existence of God or disprove the existence of God, we have both agreed to accept what science teaches us, for we are both committed to accepting the truth and living by it, even if it hurts. I realize that we could get into a whole discussion about what science can and can not say about God, but I'm simply pointing out that science strictly speaking (measurement, hypothesis, experiment, etc.) is a very sharp tool but one that can't be used for everything. Hammers are great things. But you can't use them to paint a picture, at least not a very good one.


Well, this is all quite interesting. I'm glad that you're a patient and reasonable debater and that you're enjoying this. I hope we can both avoid the shrillness and name calling that sometimes characterize these discussions. So far we have, and that's why this is fun!


I suggest, however, that we focus on one thing at a time. Otherwise our emails will go on forever and I won't get anything else done in my life. Also, since one issue will lead into the next, let's just take our time and follow where each issue leads us, putting some things off for later.

For instance, I think the key question at this point in our debate is the first one. How are we to determine if there exists something other than matter? This is not exactly the same thing as saying, "Is there a realm beyond nature?" It's a similar question, but it's still only a question about the natural world. Is there something other than matter and energy in the natural world, and what are we to use to essay this question? Reason or prejudice? How shall we approach the question of "What is the world made of?" - evidence and experience or unexamined dogma?


Kevin

Emails with an Atheist - Part II

Well, this should be interesting!


First of all, I don't disagree with anything you've said so far. I especially like that you don't want either of us to answer an argument by asking for the other person to read something. That sounds like a great start. Indeed, if we have an argument to make, we ought to simply make it ourselves. I hope you won't mind if I throw out a book name or an article or an author to consider on the off-chance that you've read it. It's not required reading, but could help you understand where I'm coming from on some particular point.


Also, I like where you've started: how we should value truth. You're absolutely correct that I became an atheist not because it was convenient (it decidedly wasn't), but rather because that's where the evidence led me. In fact, lately I've done a great deal of thinking about truth and how humanity can come to know truth. So, that seems like a great place to start.


First, I think it should be mentioned that naturally, human beings are not particularly well-equipped to form accurate beliefs about the world. We naturally see only that which confirms what we already thought was true (cognitive bias), and we tend to irrationally reject evidence when it doesn't conform to our beliefs (Semmelweis reflex). The untrained mind also tends to blindly believe what our family, society, or community believes without objectively considering the reasons for those beliefs (bandwagon effect). And for some, it's the opposite: they reject what their society believes for no reason other than they perceive it as a constraint on their freedom (Reactance).


And so on, and so on. The point is: humans are bad at coming to know things. Our biases cloud our judgment. Thousands of studies have been conducted that explore the uncountable ways our untrained brains form opinions by everything but an objective assessment of the evidence.


Of course, this is why the scientific method exists at all. This is why rational skepticism exists. The point of things like peer review and double-blind trials and experimentation is to circumvent our biases and arrive at an opinion that's a little closer to truth. That's why Carl Sagan titled his great skeptical masterpiece: "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" -- A scientific mind illuminates a world made dark by our own erroneous suppositions and superstitions and biases.


My argument is that religion and religion-mindedness is not only untrue -- it's dreadfully harmful. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that the persistence of an unscientific worldview generally is our greatest challenge as a species. In the midst of grave threats to our planet and species and nation -- and given the fact that we live in a political system that gives a voice to the common person -- the fact that most human beings are unaware of their biases and are, on the whole, uncritical and unskeptical terrifies me. How can we address climate change if we're unwilling or unable to objectively look at the evidence? How can we have an effective public policy conversation if we get distracted by conspiracy theories, or a representative's sex life, or an unwillingness to engage in critical thinking? And so on.


Our churches -- including and especially the Roman Catholic Church -- do humanity a terrible disservice by telling them that they should value "faith" instead of evidence and reason. It's an evil thing that most churches claim that there are demons lurking in the dark, around every corner, just waiting to snatch people up if they ever disbelieve. It's a crime and an injustice to claim that their pastor or their imam or their pope is infallible and not to be challenged. And it's an embarrassment and a shame that they threaten apostates or heretics with eternal torment, or separation from the community or worse if they ever go astray.


I would rather live in a world where no man claims to be infallible. I would rather live in a society where the common man is not afraid of hell, and does not mistake his own doubts as the results of demonic influence. I would much rather be part of a humanity that universally values a scientific worldview; that values skepticism and rationalism and evidence above all other considerations.


As it happens, your church stands in the way of that reality. And for my part, I shall do what I can, one mind at a time, to dismember it.


There you have it, my opening salvo!


A bit more about me: I was an active, committed Catholic from around age 15 through 20. I used to be involved in Catholic youth ministry and devoted something like 4,000 hours to that cause. Also, I lived in a discernment house for a time, but eventually figured out that the life of a priest or religious wasn't for me. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from St. Edward's University. I'm just about 25 now. I'm openly gay, and I stereotypically live in Austin, TX. I do things with computers for a living.


Adam
_______________



Dear Adam,


I only just glanced at your email, but I've seen at least that we agree on the ground rules, so I'm game.


I would like to publish the correspondence on my blog, as perhaps you might be doing on yours. If so, let me know if things such as your final paragraph, which contains your personal background and current status, should or should not be published.


I will read your "opening salvo" and will "return fire" as soon as I can.


Kevin


_____________


I think publishing this debate on your blog sounds like a great idea. And, so far as I know, I don't actually have a blog. I might make one just for this opportunity, however.


You may indeed include those personal details, and anything else in our correspondence.


I look forward to your response!


Adam
____________


Dear Adam,


I readily admit that we humans have trouble getting our beliefs to square with reality. But just because it's difficult doesn't mean we can't come close, correct? I mean, you became an atheist because you believed that belief in no god was a truer belief than belief in a god, right? We may never really know the truth fully (it's pretty obvious we're too limited to do that), but what we both want is to get as close to the truth as we can. Kind of like horse-shoes. That's the reason for this discussion, to try to get closer and closer to the truth, despite our limitations.


I also readily agree that critical thinking skills are sorely lacking in society today and that the scientific method can work wonders when dealing with the material universe.


But you're wrong about the Catholic Church and its position on reason. Blessed John Paul II wrote a famous encyclical, "Faith and Reason", making the case that faith is not and should not be unreasonable. I will even say that if in fact God does not exist, then we should burn down every last church and rid the world of this insipid illusion. I have faith because I have evidence and reason to back it up.


For example: part of what I do in my business is sales. I know that if I call 100 people, I will sell at least one show. We have a close rate that never goes below 1%, on average, over the long haul. It's usually much more than that. Now, there are days when everyone is telling me no on the phones and I just want to give up. But I realize that if I call 100 people this week and make no sales, I might get two or three sales next week. This is a form of faith. It's persistence of will when you have a ground of evidence to know what is true.


Likewise, I know my wife loves me. I have had much evidence over 30 years to that effect. Some days if she's in a bad mood, or I'm traveling and away from her, or depressed or tired, I might have a fleeting doubt - "Does she really love me?" But this doubt is absurd because I know the truth, and when I'm not suffering from a bad mood or passing fancy, I have faith in what is true.


That is the proper exercise of faith, wouldn't you agree? I mean secular, everyday faith - persistence of will regarding that which we are fairly certain is true.


You also mischaracterize the Church's position on infallibility and damnation. The Catholic Church is, if anything, rather soft on "sinners" and I haven't heard the word "damnation" or "hell" from the pulpit but perhaps once in my 11 years as a Catholic. It's true that doubt is not encouraged - but only after one becomes certain enough to profess faith. Now, granted, we are never 100% certain about anything. I am not 100% certain that you exist, for instance. But we live our lives putting our everyday faith in things that are most likely true. Faith in God is similar.


As to your rhetorical flourish at the end of your email, I know of no common man who is afraid of hell. Sad to say. The pope does not claim to be personally infallible. Doubt is a good thing unless it leads you away from the truth.


As to the scientific worldview, bravo. Science is a tremendous tool for discovering and measuring truth.


But let me ask you this, do you believe in "love"? Seriously. Do you believe that one person can love another even to the point of self-sacrifice or death? Do you believe in art or in music and the beauty they convey? Is it reasonable to believe in love or to value art and music? I say yes, it is reasonable because Reason deals with more than logic or the scientific method. It is broader than that. It includes the emotions and the aesthetic sense. These things can also lead to the truth.


Science can measure how you physiologically respond when you're around someone you love; science can measure the pixels in a beautiful picture; science can explain harmony in music, but science can not deal with the wisdom that Reason finds in love, in art, in music. A poem is not scientific, but it is not therefore untrue.


Now, God may or may not exist, but before we even go there we should deal with this: can limited human Reason include an artistic sense, an emotional sense, an intuitive sense? If yes, then science, good as it is, is a fine tool, but a limited one.


Kevin

Emails with an Atheist - Part I

I've been told you're a Christian apologist!


Feel free to try and convince me of anything you like.


My only ground rule is that you allow me to publish our discussion wherever I see fit. Sound like a deal?


Adam


_______________


Adam,


I'm fine with us publishing our correspondence, unless one of us specifically asks that what he writes (at some point) not be published. But I don't know what we'd correspond about. I was an atheist starting at the age of nine, and eventually as an adult became a Catholic. I understand you've gone in the opposite direction, more or less. That's fine as far as it goes. And since there is either a god, many gods, or no god, one of us is obviously wrong; perhaps both - the Hindus may be right.


But unless we both believe in truth and believe that discussion and argument is a way for men to try to align their beliefs with truth, there's no point in talking. Also, if you're confirmed with your atheism and content to remain in that spot, then don't talk to me about it. What I admire most in the good old vigorous atheism of my youth is a solid devotion to living and dying by the truth and the belief that by doing so one asserts and maintains a human dignity, regardless of how pleasing the truth actually is. I have found that many atheists today, however, lack the gonads to go that far. And I will frankly admit most professing Christians are pretty lame as well. We should both share the assumption that there is truth, that finding it and living by it is the highest of goals, whether that truth brings us personal pleasure and conforms to our desires or not. I'm not a Christian because it brings me comfort, and I hope you're not an atheist for the same reason. I'm a Catholic because I believe what the Church claims. You are an atheist because you don't.


At any rate, Christians are bound to proclaim the gospel, to all people; but it's not up to us to "convince" anyone. So I have no desire - or power - to "convince" you.


So if you'd like to correspond - about anything - with the above ground rules, I'm game. If not, "God bless you", as the Christians would say; "whatever" as the atheists would say.


Kevin


P.S. I've noticed on the internet that nobody reads anything. People comment on posts without reading the posts, for crying out loud. If we begin to discuss, then let's simply avoid that trap by not recommending reading material to one another. If we can't argue on our own resources, and on principles of logic and reason, we shouldn't be arguing. If we want to make a case based on something an author wrote, we should quote the salient argument.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Teleprompter-us Rex


Over at Facebook, I was foolish enough to criticize the film The King's Speech, in a post which has attracted 37 comments so far, some from people who take critiques of films they like very personally. So I figured I might as well spread the controversy to the blogosphere.


Here's the deal: this is nothing more than a beautifully filmed and well-acted buddy movie, a kind of lame soap opera fit for PBS, and a movie that deftly affirms our post-modern existentialist sympathies while skirting the more serious issues it brings up. Why is it that Brits are so fond of things they don't believe in anymore, like the monarchy or Christ? Why is this movie so much like the Anglican church itself, an aesthetic exercise in nostalgia?


First of all, I don't deny that the heart of the story is redemptive friendship, and that it does a decent job telling that story. But so do lots of simpler films without the pretense.


Here we are given a story whose setting and plot present us with elements that are not resolved within the tale. Here we have a king who stutters and who needs to learn to speak so that he can lead properly. Why? Because leadership consists in public image, and we've got to assert a confident public image with Hitler lurking in the shadows. Is leadership anything more than good speechifying? Apparently not, for while we are given the foil character of the brother who abdicates, and who has no taste for the kingly burden, nothing is made of this in the film - and how can it be? The film presents us with a king who is politically castrated and who must follow the rules of the Anglican church, rules which prevent kings from marrying divorcees, rules which almost everyone in the West now thinks are ludicrous - and which are ironic given Henry VIII and all that.


The climax of the film is the successful radio speech. Further demands upon the king for leadership are glossed over. He has learned to present himself well, and so he has won. The unorthodox friendship has paid off. The sacrifices of the Britons and the allies who are the ones who will win the real victory are totally ignored. Sacrifice is not the issue; the resolution comes from Image, itself the result of Therapy.


And this is why I say this film fits right into our modern existentialist leanings. Movies have been telling us for decades that we can create our own meaning, and that faith in something is all we need, that confidence will get us through, and that (by extension) a confident bearing is the sum total of the demands of leadership.


Compare this with Shakespeare's notions of royalty. The film alludes to Shakespeare a great deal, but again only for window dressing. Shakespeare's tragedies deal with royal figures because each Christian has inherited the Kingly character of Christ, and must exercise this Kingly authority. What does that mean?


It means nobility. It means self-sacrifice. It means magnanimity. It does not mean self-indulgent hedonism (the movie presents that view of royalty in the character of the abdicating brother, but is afraid to stress the negative qualities of this hedonism, since the producers know the audience thinks the prohibition against divorce and remarriage is absurd). It does not mean learning to talk well.


A Facebook friend responded to this critique by calling me a bigot who has a strange antipathy toward the Anglican church. I assured her that as a former Anglican, I am not bigoted against the Anglican church. I am bigoted against Quakers. Then, on a more serious note, she suggested that public communication is central to leadership, which is why God agreed to let Aaron speak while Moses led.


This, of course, makes my point. Moses was the central leader of the Jewish people before David and before Christ. He led without a microphone, without a teleprompter, and without a PR firm. Aaron took the lesser chore, while Moses did the heavy lifting.


By contrast, The King's Speech ignores completely the deeper implications of kingly leadership, focusing only on the king's public image and his difficulty in maintaining it. The good speech is the climax of the movie and the resolution of the plot. I think that's simplistic and borne of an age that is all about the teleprompter.