Tuesday, 1 June 2010

what makes a gold star human being?

the essay in the weekend paper was an excerpt from "On Evil" by Terry Eagleton and recently released by Yale press.
far be it from me to try to summarise the essay but there were a couple of bits i thought might make conversation:

"when did evil start to look so alluring? .....when goodness began to look boring. We can blame this on the puritanical middle classes. It is they who redefined virtue as thrift, prudence meekness, abstinence, chastity and industriousness"

Eagleton goes on to talk about virtue, defined by Aristotle as excelling at being human. He also refers to the abundant life as promised to Jesus' followers in the New Testament.

so i was wondering, what do you think is involved in abundant life?
how do we excell at being human?
what is the definition of being human?
does goodness appear boring to you?
when you fit some definition of goodness do you get bored?
is "badness" (evil is a strong word) attractive in any concrete way?

i'll be back with the next quote in my next post........


  1. Terry Eagleton makes a good point about the puritanical definition of goodness. What that amounts to I think is goodness as something very controlling, strait-laced, inhibited. But real goodness is surely the opposite of that, something giving, open and generous - you actively use whatever talents and abilities you have to enrich everyone's lives, including your own. In which case goodness isn't at all boring but very exciting.

    Nelson Mandela is the sort of person I'm thinking of.

  2. I suppose the answer to the first three of your questions :
    - what do you think is involved in abundant life?
    - how do we excell at being human?
    - what is the definition of being human?
    is to be found in the very process of asking the questions in the first place. To always seek knowledge by asking questions we do not know the answers to.

  3. hi bob,
    you must have opinions?

    i like your definition and nelson rocks!
    mother theresa could fit the same category. i have to say though, mother theresa was sooo giving, sooo unusual, that i find her difficult to see as human (if you know what i mean)

    thats a great answer, too (you didnt know i was grading you, did ya?) :)

  4. Wow- very probing questions.

    I definitely think that 'badness' is attractive- because it represents excitement, danger, thrill, gratification and independence.

    'Goodness' seems unattractive and boring because it often does not encompass the things above. It is often seen as living to Victorian morals and codes in terms of roles, responsibilities and dress codes etc. It promotes conformity and a herdlike mentalilty.

    I think that to live life abundantly we should be able to express our individuality fully; this should allow us to experience excitement, danger, thrill, gratification and independence as well as being mindful of our responsibilites to others and the planet.

    I like Aristotle's definition of virtue. To try to excell in every area of our lives. I think Jesus also knew what it was to live life to the full.

    Too often we settle for less, and make the 'appearance of goodness' an excuse for complacency.

    Too many thoughts going on in my head- i havn't expressed them very well, and gotta go for a run now...but will be back to read other comments!

  5. cinnamon,
    i think you expressed well but i know that, for me at least,expression of ideas gets better as the ideas get tossed backwards and forwards, so i look forward to that

    and you go girl!

  6. i think innocent flirting is not evil, but i do feel a dishonest person is not so good>>>i believe in repenting and felling bad for badness>>>s friend of mine sayss he repents so fast and so often god cannot even keep up wit him>>.that is the way i feel<>>always trying to get out of santin's clutches, but still like to kid around with sin>>.as long as i am in charge, even when it just seems i am in charge>>that is why i is a putz>>i admit it and my blog is about humanism, the human in all of usd>>so precher dave has been at your doorstep>>did i entertain any???cause that is my aim

  7. Mae West is my favorite philosopher. What's that you say? Well, no, you're right that she's not usually thought of as a philosopher, but neither was Jesus, and George W. Bush said he was his favorite philosopher, so if he can choose Jesus, I can choose Mae West. Anyway, here's some relevant thoughts she had on some subject, though maybe not this one.

    A hard man is good to find.

    An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away.

    Give a man a free hand and he'll run it all over you.

    His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.

    I consider sex a misdemeanor; the more I miss, de meaner I get.

    I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.

    I wrote the story myself. It's about a girl who lost her reputation and never missed it.

    Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache.

    Sex is like bridge; if you don't have a good partner, you better have a good hand.

    Sex with love is the greatest thing in life. But sex without love— that's not so bad either.

    She's the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong.

    Too much of a good thing can be simply wonderful.

  8. putzy,
    you make some good points, for a putz :)

    mae west could possibly be my favourite philosopher, too ;)

    and snow....
    i think you are uniquely qualified to make serious comment on this subject so if you feel like saying something i'd love to hear it

  9. the problem with my philosophy and this is also to snowdrift is that i feel bad an awfully lot and that comes from my god pricking my conscience even at the best times of my life>>i have never ever been good enough, and have always had bishops telling me tat is the case, and of course i never have been a bishop so that would tell you also that i have never made the grade>>but i continue on below my potential for good and still being too open for my own good, but maybe that others can learn, also for you snow and of course for kilie who i think probably has it all together

  10. putz,
    i suddenly remembered your name is dave, isnt it? now i undersand the preacher dave line! duh kylie!

    who said you dont have it together? and who said bishops do? and what is wrong with being open?

    i am far from having it all together but constantly feeling guilty or bad is not life in all it's fullness so i try to loosen the reins a bit. when you are really doing a bad thing God will surely give an enormous WHOA!

    not sure of the theology in that but i am sure of the kylie-ology
    thanks for commenting preacher dave

  11. The best person I know is so quiet about his goodness that it took me a long long time to realize its incredible depth.

    and not even he realizes the extent of it.

    he's not obviously "good" and in fact seems like a bit of a bad boy. But under that is beautiful, shining goodness.

    when I was first getting to know him, I was attracted to the rather aloof self-confidence and rakishness. Then I saw him perform an act so kind when he thought no one was looking, that the crush turned to love.

    For me it's all about the un-self-consciousness, the natural inclination, not caring whether anyone sees you being good or not.

    And all that said, I do not think I am especially good, but simply, I suppose, good enough. Which may be good enough.

    What a great post and great comments, Kylie.

  12. And I suppose I got carried away there, but in answer to at least a couple of the questions you raise, no, I don't think good need be boring...

  13. p.s. an abundant life includes treats.

  14. leah,
    i've been thinking about a similar thing: goodness is all in the intent, i know people who follow the road rules and work hard (for instance) but they follow the road rules so they dont give a police officer the opportunity to catch them and they work hard for their own sense of self righteousness. that is not goodness in my book.

    i think it's so wonderful that you are so obviously still so crazy about sarge. and all the sose were intentional


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