Comment: "It has been my experience that people who consider ethics frequently come to very similar conclusions"
Yesterday I shared my observations in "Comparing Jehova’s Witness and Islamic Info Brochures." A reader, Robert Maefs, is a practicing Jehova's Witness and shared his perspective. I thought there were a couple really good observations in here, and thought it deserved more notice -
As a practicing Jehovah’s Witness I appreciate the time you took to look at the brochures and actually think about them. It’s nice to see them get in the hands of someone who considers them thoughtfully rather than immediately throwing them in the trash.
I can offer a little insight into your implied question. The brochures and the tracts are intended to be “conversation starters”. The goal is for us to learn about the things that perplex or distress you individually. Then we try to use a personal individual study of the Bible to explain the questions and concerns in the context of those things that you noticed we highlight in the publications: God’s Kingdom, His purpose for the world, and your relationship with other people.
“Requirements” and “Discipline” and all those things highlighted in the Muslim brochure are extraordinarily important to practicing our faith as well. In fact, they’re so important that I often appreciate your similar viewpoints about them that you express in your blog.
We may disagree about the origin, center, direction and circumstance of morality and ethics but it has been my experience that people who who thoughtfully consider ethics frequently come to very similar effective conclusions. Such things have been noted for millennia, and are even pointed out in the Bible itself.
Without getting too long winded, we believe the force of scripture is best expressed in the form of general principles that we individually need to act on. The Bible study I mentioned is the start to learning what those principles are and (hopefully) persuading the student to reconsider how he lives his life and treats those around him.
Whereas many try to enforce morality externally upon others through laws, force, coercion, bribery, or guilt, we believe that the only way to spread good is by individually teaching each person to be a force for good. In that way, even if every law were repealed, every punishment withheld, and all consequences averted we as a group would still try to lead upright, moral lives that demonstrate love for God and neighbor.
So although you’re not likely interested in becoming a Jehovah’s Witness, the short, thoughtful Bible study is a worthwhile endeavor that you’ll find is different from most other theological studies you’ve likely been exposed to. Don’t be afraid to consider it. Given your blog content, you will at least give my brother an extraordinary challenge!
I frequently enjoy reading your blog. It’s very interesting to see how people perceive ethics and try to make practical changes in their lives apart from religious indoctrination or vapid mysticism. Thanks for being an enjoyable spot on the internet to read good conversations.
My favorite line in there is, "We may disagree about the origin, center, direction and circumstance of morality and ethics but it has been my experience that people who who thoughtfully consider ethics frequently come to very similar effective conclusions."
I've found the same thing. I find almost anyone with a cohesive, well-thought ethical structure to be good company. That could be someone with no religion, but who has put a lot of thought and study into how to live a meaningful and good life.
And indeed, I tend to find active religious people to be quite good company, hospitable, kind, and decent. Yes, there's idiots and jerks anywhere, but on the whole, the religious people I meet have always been quite cool and good. There's this horrible stereotype that all religious people are intolerant and oppressive, and honestly, it just doesn't match my experience at all. I tend to get along with anyone who has put some thought into how to live, and tries to strive to live a good life, whether they're a member of an organized religion or not.
Cheers for the good comment, Robert, and best wishes for the new year.