Forming my What?

I get a number of emails each day that are sale notices for ebooks. Yesterday I happened to glace at one of the descriptions of a book that read, “…the Church contributes to society by forming the conscience of people.” I almost fell out of my chair! If that’s not a line straight out of medieval theology then I am the Pope. If the Church is going to form the conscience of the people the way she forms the conscience of her clergy, we are all doomed! There are other issues this statement raises that are at least as bad. Are we suggesting that only people who are members of a particular church have a properly functioning conscience, or that only Christians, or religious people, or any specific group are able to have a conscience that works properly?

The truth is that conscience, ethics, morality, and all similar human functions are not in any way dependent on religion, spirituality, or membership in any specific group. There are completely secular people who are quite ethical and very in touch with when they have transgressed their own values. Then there are religious people you wouldn’t want to leave unattended in your home! We need to move beyond the antiquated notion that spending an hour or so in a church building every now and then does anything for us other than perhaps cause callouses to grow on our buttocks. In fact, most churches do a God-awful job of teaching anything that would cause someone to develop a healthy conscience. You would be better to spend your time and money on a good therapist to explore your conscience or lack thereof.

Let’s do away with the notion that being a church member gives you a leg up on anything, any more than joining a golf club makes you a good golfer. In fact, the two are related. You become a better golfer by practicing golf. Your conscience becomes more functional as you practice qualities like empathy, compassion, and generosity. If you don’t put in the work, whether in golf or ethics, you will soon find your balls in a rough patch!

How Can I Cash In?

quote-the-secret-of-being-a-top-notch-con-man-is-being-able-to-know-what-the-mark-wants-and-ken-kesey-36-63-08When confronted with adversity, most of us try to come up with a way to overcome it. Only the most twisted among us look for a way to profit financially from the adversity others experience. Often, but not always, they are politicians. Other times they are little more than small time crooks looking to turn a quick buck. In most every case, they are sociopaths devoid of a conscience, the most severely mentally ill among us. They don’t get the same attention as the pour souls whose illness leads then to more dramatic outward evidence of their illness, and so they operate under the radar.

I once knew someone whose ex-husband was caught on hidden camera by a local news station trying to sell worthless products to the elderly. Most of us would have been humiliated by that experience but, ever the true sociopath, this guy claimed that he was victimized by the television station that caught him, unfairly persecuting him when many others were doing similar things that made his offense seem inconsequential. I ampatriotismlastrefuge quite sure his victims, living on a fixed income and defrauded by him, didn’t find his acts inconsequential at all.

Sociopaths can be quite charming, which makes them ideal politicians. They are more than capable of lying to our faces, saying they have our best interests at heart. They know what our best interests are, they just don’t give a damn. They are incapable of moving beyond their own interest, and for them the rules are something to be bypassed. If you believe you can change them, you are deceiving yourself. The only treatment for the cancer they are is removing them from positions of trust.