September 15, 2019

Our Moral Impulses — And Appreciating Our Neighbors’

    Peaceable Kingdom (1846) Hicks

Note from CM: Sorry folks, but I see I’ve lost the battle today. I feel like the substitute teacher who has no hope of bringing order to the class. Please, either start responding to the points the post makes, or I will close comments for today.

Here’s my summary of what the post is about.

First, I am responding to Stephen’s comment yesterday about sympathizing with his conservative family members.

Second, I am trying to encourage loving our conservative neighbors by better understanding how they respond to the world in certain ways because of their moral instincts.

Third, In order to give us a template for thinking about those moral instincts, I appeal to Jonathan Haidt’s chart of five basic moral impulses, stating it and then restating it so as to give a picture of how, as Stephen said, “They feel lost and are daily confronted with a larger culture they feel alienated from.”

These are the points I had hoped we would discuss more fully today, but we’re chasing rabbits down a hundred other paths instead.

* * *

In his book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, Jonathan Haidt sets forth five foundations for the moral ways people think. He calls them the “taste buds” or receptors of the righteous mind.

I will call them “impulses” here to reflect Haidt’s point that these are fundamentally intuitive, “gut” instincts by which people respond to moral situations and questions. Reasoning comes later, both justifying and refining our moral viewpoints.

The Care vs. Harm Impulse
This impulse is sensitive to signs of suffering and need. It reacts against cruelty and sympathizes with those who are hurting, wanting to relieve their suffering.

The Fairness vs. Cheating Impulse
This impulse is sensitive to perceptions of fair treatment vs. the sense that someone is being taking advantage of or cheated.

The Loyalty vs. Betrayal Impulse
This is the tribal impulse. It is sensitive to signs that another person is (or is not) a team player. It trusts and rewards such people, and it wants to hurt, ostracize, or even kill those who betray the group.

The Authority vs. Subversion Impulse
This impulse finds security in order and in structures that assign people certain roles to fulfill. Respect for rank and status is to be rewarded, while disrespect and disloyalty must not be tolerated.

The Sanctity vs. Degradation Impulse
This impulse responds to things as clean vs. unclean, sacred vs. profane, virtuous vs. disgusting. As Haidt puts it, “people feel that some things, actions, and people are noble, pure, and elevated; others are base, polluted, and degraded.”

One of the ways Jonathan Haidt applies this understanding of our moral impulses is by looking at how, in general, people and groups who are “liberal” differ from those who are “conservative.” In his work he found that:

  • those who identify as liberal tend to emphasize the first two moral impulses,
  • whereas conservatives tend to emphasize the last three while redefining the first two.

So then, more “liberal”-minded people care most about care and fairness. They define care primarily in terms of protecting and advancing those who are suffering or have been marginalized — the weak, the poor, the forgotten, the invisible of the world. They define fairness in terms of equality.

The more “conservative”-minded people care also care about care and fairness. But they define care primarily in terms of worthiness — they long that honor be given to those who have proven themselves loyal to the group. And in terms of fairness, they define it not as equality but as proportionality — each getting what is deserved.

“Conservatives” exhibit the last three impulses most strongly. They value loyalty highly, find security in order and defined roles, and view things in terms of the sacred vs. the profane.

In other words, in the culture wars, we have (generally speaking) two opposing tribes, both with “righteous minds” (thinking they are right and their opponents wrong), who are speaking very different moral languages, misunderstanding each other because each can’t translate the moral impulses that drive the other.

This, I think, describes a key element in Stephen’s comment yesterday:

It’s easy to be dismissive and more than a little angry at them but I still feel a great deal of sympathy for the Trump Evangelicals. Perhaps because this group includes some of my own family. They feel lost and are daily confronted with a larger culture they feel alienated from. They can’t rely on the privileges enjoyed by their own parents. They listen to folks they shouldn’t listen to, who assure them there’s an easy way to solve all their problems. When Trump is gone they’ll be even more alienated from the political process than they are now. This is dangerous because frightened people are capable of doing foolish things.

Stephen is describing conservative people here.

  • People who have lived their whole lives feeling that certain things are sacred and certain other things are out of bounds, unclean, harmful to those who participate in them, and offensive to God and/or inherent laws of morality.
  • People who value and find security in stability, order, and clearly defined roles, and who struggle with changes that upset the balance and make them uncomfortable because they no longer know what to expect or how to speak and act.
  • People who want to stay loyal to the institutions and principles that they feel have provided security and well being, and who distrust and fear those who show disrespect or disdain for such loyalties.
  • People who value responsibility and wish to see it rewarded while irresponsibility is challenged and not rewarded.
  • People who are sensitive to the sacrifices of those who have built and maintained the world they love and wish that our society would prioritize making sure they are recompensed before taking on other care projects.

These are the conservative instincts that move many people to decide and act as they do, in their lives and in their political choices and loyalties. As supportive as I am of other, more progressive instincts to expand opportunity and limit discrimination, to provide care for all our neighbors and not just those who are like us, and to recognize and limit the powers of other corporate, institutional, and systemic threats to liberty besides that of “the government,” I want to make sure that I listen well and understand where my conservative neighbors are coming from too. And to recognize that I have a lot in common with them, and actually appreciate many of their impulses.

Frankly, I still don’t understand (and probably never will) how their “conservative” ethos ever led them to support the current regime in the White House. That choice seems to me to represent the very opposite of everything truly conservative-minded people stand for. That was a crap shoot, one of the riskiest shots in the dark ever fired in American politics. And then for their support to continue unabated while almost every traditional conservative doctrine has been abandoned….

Well, like I said, it’s beyond me.

The only thing I can figure is that “conservative” and “liberal” have taken on a revised meaning in our day. These labels have become mostly tribal designations, signifying more about whose side I’m on rather than describing what I actually think and feel.

Perhaps there was also a sense of desperation (that I admit I have difficulty understanding) about losing their world, that the appeal of a “strong man” presenting himself as their protector and the restorer of greatness was worth the risk.

At any rate, Jonathan Haidt wrote his book to help warring tribes learn to understand each other. To keep from talking past each other ad infinitum. To begin to appreciate the different impulses we think, speak, and live by. To recognize that the “other side” is not evil, but moved by different values, and that the fundamental impulses of others may be just as legitimate as my own and worthy of consideration.

Lion, meet lamb. Lamb, meet lion. Whaddya say we sit down together and talk about it?

Bring your swords too, maybe we can do a little pounding on them together.

Comments

  1. “Lion, meet lamb. Lamb, meet lion. Whaddya say we sit down together and talk about it?”

    I love this idea, but only as an ideal. For instance, my close friend in the (Episcopal) Church is a fervent supporter of DT, and she meets all the criteria that Haidt lists in his last three options. I (a fairly flaming liberal) love her and I have every evidence she feels the same way about me, but we definitely DO NOT discuss politics. Sitting down together and talking about it would be the end of a beautiful friendship. For both of us, I suspect, the issues on each side are too close, too dear to our hearts.

    As a liberal, a (retired) professional, and an educated person, I have always thought that talking it over was the best way for opposing sides to come to agreement. In my last years, I have found that that ideal runs right up hard against the brick wall of reality.

    • Same here. There are people at my mainline church who, though I don’t necessarily have “beautiful friendships” with, I genuinely like and trust, but they voted for DT, and I know that means we cannot discuss current events or politics in any way, shape, or form, or anything that touches on them. This leaves a lot that has to be carefully avoided to continue association, and one day the bottom may drop out.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > This leaves a lot that has to be carefully avoided to continue association,
        > and one day the bottom may drop out

        There is a lot of criticism coursing through the zeitgeist about self-sorting and silos, etc.. Most of it is unfair, IMNSHO.

        I am too old and too worn to want to bother with ‘friends’ in whose company I have to carefully edit by feelings, beliefs, fears, and goals. I have a reptilian skin in terms of cool|civil disagreement. But if someone is hair-trigger to high-voltage about something I feel or believe – – – there’s a door.

      • Actually Robert, you describe many of my liberal friends, who shriek and talk over anything political. Though not all (I have some liberal friends who I have great conversations with) there are many who instantly get mad and there is no exchange of ideas. They are not interested in a discussion, rather they just want to have someone there to rant at… not appealing at all. My personality is such that I actually enjoy listening to other ideas, even if I don’t agree, because there may be something that I can learn.

        • –> “Actually… you describe many of my liberal friends, who shriek and talk over anything political.”

          Yep. The right doesn’t have a monopoly on the vitriol.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      I once had a relationship like that with my pastor. We disagreed on pretty much everything even remotely political, but had other interests in common and simply enjoyed one another’s company. People are complicated.

  2. Chaplin Mike, In your mind what do you think true conservative people stand for? In 2016 the voters in America had a choice between a liberal for sure and a person that was not a liberal and certainly not a conservative or the traditional neo con or establishment Republican. In the spirit of Haidt I am trying to understand why people who are not conservative are surprised that those who are not liberal voted for Trump? Haidt seems to believe that it is good that morality is based on the cultural norms of that society instead of a higher power but I have not read the book, just going by your article. It is my short coming but I do not think I grasp what Haidt is proposing other than more communication and open minded approach. I will say this , I have listened to the Democrat debates and am so far from the positions of the candidates that I cannot understand their underlying core values other than a utopian dream. I am struggling with this article but that is good for me. Thanks

    • I get the dilemma. I couldn’t vote for either candidate in the last presidential election. But the takeover of the GOP by DT and the enthusiasm for him by conservative people is still to me one of the greatest sell outs of true conservatism ever. And that’s why many principled conservatives remain never-Trump to this day,

      • Richard Hershberger says

        I am curious why couldn’t you vote for Clinton? She had, at that point, but subject to a quarter century of slander. This affected how everyone perceived her, including people who voted for her. I can think of unrelated objections to her, but they come more from the left than the right.

        • a boat load of slander came from the Russians as Putin despised Hilary

          and the far-right fell for Putin’s ploy

          • Actually if your conspiracy theory is correct a lot more than just the far right fell for it… so did moderate and blue dog democrat types…..

        • Chaplain Mike can answer for himself. For me it was strictly policy, with words I heard coming out of Clinton’s mouth and actions I saw her take. 1) She is a hawk. We’re already involved in several conflicts; we don’t need any more. I have a child in the military, and at the time of the election, so was that child’s spouse. 2) For all her talk about her humble origins, she has been very cozy with Wall Street financiers and their money, and hasn’t had a clue about what actual working class people think. 3) She considered those who don’t agree with her “deplorable”. That’s an unconscionable statement for a presidential candidate to make.

          Dana

          • I wrote in the name of a serious contender in the “president” slot on the ballot.

            D.

        • First of all, because it wouldn’t have mattered. I live one one of the reddest states. I had been hoping for John Kasich, so I voted for him — a real Republican, a moderate Republican.

    • I echo what randy is saying here, that Trump is not a true conservative, but was able to convey some things that were important to me. Also agree that the Dem candidates aside from Biden are very far away from what is important to the average American.

      • It’s pretty much going to come down to, “Okay, America… pick your poison!” (As I felt it was last election.)

        I’m beginning to get a sense God is pretty much done with the nation of ‘Murica.

  3. I am neither dem nor republican but independent. The reason Trump won was that people saw the wolf in sheep’s clothing that Hillary Clinton was. Trump will win by a landslide. The Dems have quite a cast of characters and have pushed all moderate Dems to the club except Biden who can’t remember what day it is. I didn’t vote for Trump last time but I will this time. I don’t agree with his immigration actions which are the same actions as Obama. I also fault the Dems for not bringing any meaningful discussions and solutions to the situation. When the truth of the Russia hoax and the actions of individuals from Obama to Clinton come to light you will understand real collusion. Stay tuned.

    • When the truth of the Russia hoax and the actions of individuals from Obama to Clinton come to light you will understand real collusion. Stay tuned.

      Will I need a tinfoil hat?

    • You claim to not be a Republican… yet parrot the full-on Republican spin. If you are neither Republican nor Democrat, as you claim, then it follows that there are things you disagree with with BOTH parties, and quite possibly things with BOTH parties you might agree with. Care to elaborate on those?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > You claim to not be a Republican . . .

        Most “independents” are nothing of the sort; that is well established. It means Officially Unaffiliated, not that one is not Operationally Affiliated.

        The “I am an independent” meme is both trending and tiresome.

        • Sorry you find it so tiresome. By independent I only mean I am not a republican or a Democrat.

          • Why not?

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            You are Operationally, one or the other, the moment you vote. Sorry.

            • And you folks here go after any who do not fall into progressive ideas. If the Democrats could put up someone who is more moderate and is not espousing far left ideas, folks like Stbndct might be singing a different tune. Heck, I might be doing the same. But right now the cast of characters are as much of a joke as Trump.

              And unfortunately I don’t believe Biden is really up for it … 10 years ago maybe…..

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                Unfortunately, we are living in an Age of Extremes.

                (I wonder if this is an artifact of the Strauss-Howe Cycle, what happens when an Idealist Generation hits Hardening of the Attitudes age and things just trickle down.)

              • Adam Tauno Williams says

                > And you folks here go after any who do not fall into progressive ideas.

                Where did I go after anyone or choose a “side”? I critiqued the faux-no-sideism.

            • –> “You are Operationally, one or the other, the moment you vote. Sorry.”

              I’ll call foul on that statement. I’ve heard that over and over and over through the years, always from people whose only motive is to shame me into voting for THEIR candidate.

              No, a vote NOT for one candidate is NOT a vote for the other candidate. Sorry. So stop perpetuating that thought-shame.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                No matter what that statement meant when it originated, it has been Weaponized over the years.

    • The last sentence of your comment sounds like something straight from a follower of QAnon.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Set the sides aside – – – I believe this illustrates the disconnect in Haidt’s conjecture about how people think about values, etc…

        The objections so far in the comments do not reason using something like Haidt’s proposed construct. And as someone swimming in the soup, I very nearly never hear a Haidt like deconstruction. What is heard is people painting visions, visions either admired or contemptible. That is how I believe it works: people don’t have values, they have visions, and they work backward from those visions to their actions. Those visions of how the World-Is or how they would like the World-To-Be. Most of it clearly orbits around Contempt and Disgust and/or Affection.

        I’m afraid it is all far less Thinky and far more Feely than we of the bookish sort would prefer.

        That makes peace must harder. It requires more Art, and less Argument.

        Very daunting.

        Disclaimer: i have moved a l-o-n-g ways due to swimming in the soup; I am radicalized even, maybe?. I no longer believe Values are even a thing, as in, nope, people don’t actually have them. Values are in the same category as leprechauns. Spend much time listening to people talk about their Values and try to align that with their preferred candidates, preferred policies, reactions to events – – – there is no apparent connection what-so-ever. Ask them to describe their situation, or of their neighborhood if they happen to be rooted, in 5 – 10 years, expected outcome and preferred outcome. Ask them to paint a picture. And I will tell you their operational political|civic affiliation. That picture is there, floating in their mind, comforting them, or terrifying them.

        • Iain Lovejoy says

          Surely all “values” means is what people value? All the “impulses” above are of this sort, at bottom: valuing happy people over suffering, whatever is perceived as a fair outcome over an unfair, wanting that the group should be working together united rather than against each other and fighting, that all should be ordered and in place rather than in chaos and flux, and that their should be no more unclean, profane or disgusting things.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > Surely all “values” means is what people value?

            But it isn’t that specific. I do not believe people can articulate “Values” that are predictive of their actions; or very very few people can. Or maybe better stated, they cannot describe, predicatively, things in a “Values” (Freedom, Family, yada yada) frame.

            If it is a struggle to make a framing predictive, one should be open to the notion that the framing is bogus. However well we are accustomed to it.

            Specifically, I would push back on a statement like “wanting that the group should be working together united rather than against each other and fighting” having any meaning at all. That is a “Value” I hear all the time in my quasi-progressive circle. And I do not believe it means anything. It is really that they are uncomfortable with open conflict. Which is not predictive of any outcome other than that they will argue passive aggressively and play mary hop with Moving-Fence-Posts.

            > all should be ordered and in place rather than in chaos and flux

            And I do not believe this means anything. What should be ordered? Ok, lets change the rules – around Land Use (Zoning) for example – to be clear and the outcomes predictable given quantitatively defined criteria. You said Order and Fairness (Equity?) was a value. Oh, not in this case? You prefer a process that can be arbitrarily influenced? Ok. Why is that? insert-crickets-sound-here . . . because the manifestation of those Values do not contribute to the Vision they want to either maintain or create, due to a squishy blob of feelings, attached to narratives, about various actors and groups.

            Over and over and over, nearly every d___ time when it comes down to the particulars [aka: real life] the Values framing evaporates.

            So I am willing to toss it; just skip over all that stuff; I will read a magazine until the Values part of the conversation is over. As long as the beer is good, I’m cool.

            • Iain Lovejoy says

              You seem happy to talk about people having visions of how they want the world to be, yet apparently refuse to accept that people could possibly have any criteria by which they might judge whether any such potential future reality is in fact good or bad. This is completely self-contradictory.
              The argument that because no-one wants to see the 100% maximising of any one particular valued good to the complete exclusion of every other consideration (including all other things they also value) means no-one values anything at all is like saying I have no preferred foods at all because although I say I like e.g. peaches I really don’t because I wouldn’t want to spend my entire time 24/7 just eating peaches to the exclusion of all other activities. This is, as an argument, as far as I can see, just silly.
              (If all you are trying to say is that you can’t construct a morality by defining one particular value as an abstract absolute and trying to use that as a rule to mechanistically determine each decision without any reference to context or consequence, then I agree with you, but you seem to be going way further than this in saying there is no such thing as “value” at all, which, as I say, has to be completely daft.)

        • ATW, but Haidt’s very point — and mine —is that our moral values spring more from intuitive, “feely” places within us than from rational analysis.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            We agree on that.

            I am skeptical that the intellectual synthesis of those feely places takes us anywhere nearer to anywhere. 🙂

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            More like it begins with the Feely Place and then grabs for intellectual arguments to rationalize the Feelies and make them more Respectable.

            And such arguments and rationalizations make a lot of sense at the time, but do not age well. (Fridge Logic.)

          • Of course you’re correct, CM: “Haidt’s point [is] that these are fundamentally intuitive, “gut” instincts by which people respond to moral situations and questions. Reasoning comes later, both justifying and refining our moral viewpoints.”

            I certainly believe this to be true as far as my own response to moral concerns. When I read about the horrible suffering inflicted upon brown kids at the border, I feel angry and distressed and want to change it NOW. I’m sure that when my Trump-supporting friend reads about or sees very large displays of patriotism, such as at rallies and football games, she is filled with joy and pride; when she hears of a policeman wounded or killed in the line of duty, she feels distress and anger and wants others to share it.

            I think flag-waving displays are fine for those who enjoy them, and I hate when policemen are injured or killed. But my instinctive, strong, emotional response is to the suffering kids. That’s just her, and that’s just me. Are either of us wrong?

            As far as reasoning and rationalizing our viewpoints, I’m sure we can both do it well, but what’s the point?

            I will add something that may be contentious: I think Instinct and Emotion are viewed by our society as inferior to Reason and Logic. Especially by men. (Men are “allowed” only one emotion:anger.) Therefore, very few men will admit to responding to any situation out of emotion; in our society that would be considered weak and “girly.” Men will almost always insist that their take on a situation is “logical.” Logic is respected. “Logic” got us into the Iraq “war,” into the housing bubble and the tech bubble, and who knows where else it will lead us? But “logic” is always considered morally superior to “the feels,” in the minds of most, starting with the ancient Greeks, for whom the word for “womb” is the root of our word “hysterical.”

    • What? You’re going to have to give us a heads up here on a source for this, or you are (at best) a conspiracy theorist who enjoys tapping their nose & making themselves look important.

      • Speaking of Conspiracy theories … these can happen on both sides of the aisle. I was on vacation in Myrtle Beach last week. My wife and I like to go to daily Mass early morning as an “our time” moment. The priest had mentioned something about the area Bishop that I didn’t quite catch so after Mass as people were mulling around I asked an older gentleman who looked like an usher if he had heard the comment. He went on to say that he had not but he was damn tired of these communists running the country. I believe he was a transplant from Long Island. I stood there looking attentive as he painted the picture that the Russians, through a few influential Republicans, had a backdoor switch that would instantly turn votes from Democrat to Republican in the last presidential election. I acknowledged that I was listening but inside was pretty amused by the story. I didn’t dispute or encourage but thanked him for the information… it was enjoyable talk between my wife and I on our ride home.

    • Stbdct, please don’t subject us to your vitriol and conspiratorial thinking today. That’s the very opposite of what this post was meant to provoke. Haidt and my reflections on his thoughts today were designed to make us all more sympathetic to what many of the good conservative folks of this country feel and why they hold the opinions they do. And then you come along and act all attacked. Just stop, please.

      • Mike, I will stop and leave this blog behind. You do nothing to sensor those who think like you. I am not the only one who has discussed Trump on this blog. You do nothing to moderate their words. If I had said I would not vote for Trump and why you would have never responded. But I must have hit a nerve which you clearly don’t like. Good luck to you and for the rest please don’t say anything except the progressive line. You and the others single out people who don’t believe what you do while allowing others plenary of rope to respond. How many times have you wrote a piece on any topic where Trump does not come in. But you are silent then because it fits with your narrative. At least be honest in how you tell people this is out of bounds and that is out of bounds. All replies to this will come from the liberals. How often do you tell Christiane to not talk about immigrants even though it has nothing to do with the post ? Good luck

        • You are wrong. I just rebuked the whole community and told them to get back on track. Some days I just don’t have the time or energy to keep up with every comment. I have a life. If this were my full time job, believe me, it would be moderated differently. Your contribution is valued. I just want it to be on topic.

          • I am not wrong. You publicly rebuked everyone 3 hours after you singled me out. Even you talked politics and who you could not vote for. Sometimes honesty goes along way.

            • I posted a comment at 7:45 am thanking people for finally responding directly to the post.

              And I let your comments stand for quite awhile too. Why? Because I worked today and only had a chance to quickly check things every now and then. That’s the reality. And it wasn’t your support of Trump that tipped the balance — it was your wild and unsubstantiated conspiracy theorizing. That doesn’t and can’t contribute in any way to a good conversation. It’s a discussion stopper, only encouraging people to continue off the rails.

              • — it was your wild and unsubstantiated conspiracy theorizing

                But you have allowed for over the last two years the Russian conspiracy to go on and on and now we know Mueller found no collusion. I guess conspiracy is in the eyes of the beholder.

                • I have allowed the Russian conspiracy to go on? That’s not been a big emphasis of mine or the blog. That’s never been something I’ve focused on, and I really don’t want to argue about that. It’s beside the point.

                  I’ve been appalled and turned off by Donald Trump since the 1980s. Whether or not he committed any crimes or impeachable offenses is really not the issue for me; I was opposed to him long before he was elected. And most of it is because, at heart, I am a conservative person, who believes a vacuous and capricious man like this threatens the security and well being of the country I love. If I’m angry at anyone about this, it is the GOP party that allowed him and his minions to take them over.

                  And that is one of the points of the post. Truly conservative people betrayed conservative principles in giving him the presidency. I can only assume they did so out of a sense of desperation and complete disdain for the alternative.

        • I will have to agree with Stbndct here. I don’t contribute often but there are times when any topic can turn into a trump/conservative bashing (they are NOT exclusively linked I might add). Stbndct comments have been pretty tame in comparison to others I have read recently. I am hoping this person sticks around, like Mule did when he put up with a lot of bashing a few years back, because this blog needs diverse voices. An all-progressive blog ends up with everyone singing the same song and that means no growth.

          I have noticed that Johnbarry no longer contributes…..

          • John Barry got fed up the ungraciousness toward his conservative views and posted a while back that he was leaving.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              John Barry also had this bizarre parody-style of commenting.
              I never could figure out what his point was.

              • It could be a little off-putting, yes, but I don’t think people were ungracious to his style, moreso his content.

              • Christiane says

                I miss him.
                He had ‘style’.

                didn’t agree with him much, but it didn’t matter,

                he is missed

              • He was trying to be punny, HUG… Living with a second-generation inveterate punster for 41 years, I could see what he was up to. And it was humorous much of the time.

                D.

  4. All I can say is… By these definitions, Jesus was NOT conservative.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      I doubt that an intellectual equivalent to Liberal or Conservative existed in 20AD. 🙂

      And I’ll admit that in 2019 I have no idea what “Conservative” means – other than not-“Liberal” – and not-“Conservative” is all “Liberal” has meant for ~20 years anyway.

      It is exhausting.

      • I believe there is too much blurring of conservative and Trump follower. Trump is not a true conservative, more a Capitalist than anything else but he has done some things that are in agreement with conservative thought. He has also done some things that go against this same Ideology including tariffs and lots of government spending.

        In retrospect the second term Bill Clinton was more conservative like than Trump is today. I am not really sure why some here look at conservativism in an evil way…. conservativism in its extreme can look like capitalism and lead to greed, yet liberalism, while in its pure form can be a very caring ideology, can also lead to laziness because the masses rely on/expect the government to take care of everything.

        Some say they have things to fear about conservatism – nationalism, white supremacy etc. but conservatives could also express the same fear about socialistic tendencies, introduction of Chaos like Antifa etc. As with both fears we tend to give too much credence to the exception rather than the rule. And I tend to believe that most Americans just want the basics – whether conservatives or liberals.

        I have a friend 20 years my senior, fiercely liberal but with much common sense. We talk about once a week at the gym and I always give him some air time, as he does me, because I know the guy is smart, wise, and has a good heart. We both agree that at times the other is mis-guided… but in the end we part having known he and I just fixed the problems of the world from different view points.

        Lastly – Trump is an individual with many flaws. So was Bill Clinton. and as time has moved forward I would actually sit down and have a beer with Bill if given the chance. Maybe Donald’s Narcissism would prevent me from doing the same with him… don’t know. But I think we all need to remember that the Founding Fathers put forth a process of change every four years… and we should use it. Democrats – please bring forward candidates that are palatable to the rest of the country, not just the urban city dweller. If that can be accomplished you may get what you are wishing for.

    • Christiane says

      Eeyore, I think also ‘by these definitions’ we can’t place Our Lord into the ‘conservative’ group. My reason for saying this is that He leads us out of our fears into a place of peace, and you can’t have something like trumpism unless the ‘base’ is very, very frightened and defensive and angry. But in being that way, they are also pitiful.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        …and you can’t have something like trumpism unless the ‘base’ is very, very frightened and defensive and angry.

        Which has been American Evangelical Christianity for the past 50 years.

        Remember the IMonk posting “Bob is Angry on Election Day”?
        (Search for it sometime.)

        What we are seeing with Trumpism is just that hitting critical mass after growing five decades under the careful nurture of Culture War Activist Christian Leaders(TM).

    • Eeyore,

      Jesus is like the Catholic Church – neither conservative nor liberal – and yet both. The Church from my view is conservative on moral issues and liberal on social issues.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Again, that Rabbi from Nazareth stayed deliberately hard to pin down.
      Expect the Unexpected.

  5. Adam Tauno Williams says

    “””That choice seems to me to represent the very opposite of everything truly conservative-minded people stand for.”””

    If I play devils advocate I believe all these can support the ‘conservative’ outcome:
    – The Loyalty vs. Betrayal Impulse : in an interesting fashion. The current outcome is the result of a sub-100K vote margin, resulting from ~1.2M fewer votes than 2012. Someone felt betrayed?
    – The Authority vs. Subversion Impulse : the vision of Authority matters. If Authority = masculine bravado and courageously stating beliefs regardless of their ‘popular’ perception — that is the current Administration, clearly.
    – The Sanctity vs. Degradation : if the maintenance of the current privileged class, however ephemeral that privilege is at this point, is Sacred, then . . . vs. being subjugated to the will of the inferior [see Authority].

    That is the problem with defining “Conservatism” – what is it conserving?

    • Christiane says

      not our Constitution as trumpism does not work for a ‘balance of powers’ to keep one branch of gov’t from becoming too powerful . . . . sad that the Repub Senate caved, but there it is: the end of what might have put the healthy Constituional breaks on the Putin-puppet in the White House

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > Constitution as trumpism does not work for a ‘balance of powers’

        Oh, that’s a whole different conversation. What the “balance of powers” is actually DOING in the Constitution.

  6. Iain Lovejoy says

    I think it unfair to say conservatives *necessarily* redefine the first two impulses. It would probably be fairer to say that some conservatives may redefine the first two impulses to avoid conflict with the first three, or, more cynically, their own self interest. I often find the kind of conservative who talks about “looking after our own first” or criticising spending on assistance for the poor generally when e.g. veterans are unprovided for does not in fact advocate for or do a thing about their “own” or help for veterans etc either – it is simply an excuse not to do anything for anyone else.
    Likewise, I don’t think conservatives *redefine* fairness as such – liberals are also concerned about who deserves what. The difference is more as to what they think people actually deserve.
    What I think is true is that liberals very much value the first two impulses over the last three, whilst conservatives do not. The problem is that it is easy with the last three impulses, if already a member of a privileged “in group” to align them to one’s own self interest and yet still call it “moral”, something which conservative politicians and leaders ruthlessly exploit, using tropes such as lazy welfare cheats etc and claims of “deserved” wealth to wave away moral claims from the first two impulses.
    (Liberal politicians also of course can and do exploit the first two principles to obtain the self-interested votes of those who are in fact in need and / or feel they have economically and socially drawn the short straw – I am not necessarily in principle assigning them any greater virtue.)
    The problem conservatism can encounter is that, having been led to identify what is good as being what is good for the conservative in-group itself, the moral impulse becomes more and more indistinguishable from naked self interest, and all morality starts to be undermined. That is not to say that all conservatives are immoral, far from it, but the rot starts from the head down, and as obedience to one’s leaders and authorities is a conservative fundamental, once the head is rotten, the rest tend to accept whatever lies and rationales their leaders produce to justify their own selfishness, cruelty and immorality, and follow the same path, and the entire edifice is doomed.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      “””The problem conservatism can encounter is that, having been led to identify what is good as being what is good for the conservative in-group itself, the moral impulse becomes more and more indistinguishable from naked self interest, and all morality starts to be undermined. “””

      Well put; that is an excellent synopsis.

  7. “People who want to stay loyal to the institutions and principles that they feel have provided security and well being, and who distrust and fear those who show disrespect or disdain for such loyalties.”
    Case in point. I was on vacation with my wife, her sister and sister’s husband Bob. They are extreme right as is much of my wife’s family. The four of us were in San Antonio for the weekend. Over lunch we got into a conversation about gun control. Bob is a member of the NRA. I pressed incessantly on a question I was genuinely wanting some kind of answer for: Does the NRA ever establish a limit, of any kind, on what weaponry should be available? Would they be willing to verbalize or put in print that, let’s say, bazookas, rocket propelled grenades or nuclear suitcase bombs should be restricted? Or was it a slippery slope from those to assault weapons which seemed to fit more closely into that category than the sort of weapons the founding fathers suggested we should have access to? Now I have known my brother in law for 20 years and we have been nothing but buddies but he felt so attacked by my questioning that he pushed his seat back and stood to leave, telling his wife to join him. Only then did he remember that we were on vacation and all using the same car. That was 2 years ago and we are still pals but quietly working through the awkwardness. He has worked to ‘forgive’ me because we are all family. Today’s post helps me to give me an inkling of what it is I’m being forgiven for.

    • The last few comments have finally begun to respond to the content of the post itself. Thank you.

    • I think it also comes down to common sense. Its like a republican so fervently republican that he is willing to look the other way at bad behavior if it achieves the desired outcome (the same for a democrat). I have always had an issue with that thinking as there is an ethical compass inside me admittedly.

      • There was a post yesterday in which I responded with the comment (paraphrasing), “As long as the Prez isn’t hurting me, I’m good!”

        That’s about as un-Christian as you can get.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Its like a republican so fervently republican that he is willing to look the other way at bad behavior if it achieves the desired outcome (the same for a democrat).

        Both are paint-over-the-labels applications of “The Party Can Do No Wrong, Comrades.”

        To True Believers, the end ALWAYS justifies the means.
        “FOR THE CAUSE!”

  8. One thing is for sure, reading the comments, and the article for that matter, doesn’t lend any hope that liberals will start to understand conservatives anytime soon. If you think conservatives don’t care about fairness, if you think liberals haven’t become uber tribal ( and obsessed with labeling people into different tribes), or that liberals don’t have their own set of sacred -vs- profane ideas, then you aren’t paying attention or you can’t see reality.
    If you want to know why DT got elected and might again, look at the other side. There are still a lot of people who would be glad for someone else to be president, but the alternatives we are provided with are only worse than DT. Give the people a true moderate who will focus on the economy, border security while sympathetically dealing with illegal immigrants, and try to appeal to the whole country rather than push identity politics, and you could win in a landslide. Sadly, that is not happening.

    • Jon, you’ve misread the post. Haidt was a liberal who came to appreciate why conservatives have the moral values they do and became, himself, much more conservative.

      And the point of his book is that all humans are self-righteous, judgmental, and tribal — conservatives and liberals alike.

      • I appreciate what Haidt is saying. What *I* am saying is that to understand is one thing, but that understanding cannot and must not lead to condoning. “Conservative” impulses are not to merely be understood – they are to be *repented of*. Conservatism, as it is constituted in our culture today, is SIN.

        There. I said it.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          The SIN of WITCHCRAFT!!!!!

        • Funny – and very narrow minded….

          • I apologize for the tone, I wrote in anger. But I do think that there is much more to worry about in modern conservatism than to empathize with.

            • One thing conservatives held in high regard was fiscal responsibility at a government level. Not sure that’s held as highly anymore. The shift toward other issues has been dramatic.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              There’s ‘much more to worry about” in True Believers in general, and things have been distilling down to True Believer-ism across the board.

      • CM – agreed

  9. Burro (Mule) says

    The impulse to address every societal wrong with legislation and coercion, is it liberal or conservative? The Civil Rights Act over which Eeyore and I had a dust-up yesterday, is a case in point. To go to a conservative issue, I very much believe abortion is wrong, but what I want is not to put abortionists in prison but that women (and their partners) should not want to abort, should abstain from those behaviors that would make abortion an alternative, and that the abhorrence of such practices would be wider and deeper than such attitudes are currently held.

    It’s like we have no way of controlling anybody’s behavior other than the threat of prison or confiscation.

    • Christiane says

      the problem with controlling ‘abortion’ by government edict is this:

      once we allow gov’t to tell a woman what she must do with her body, it sets a precedent that may go ‘the other way’ like in China when they had the ‘one baby’ law and those who became pregnant with a second child were forced into terminating the pregnancy

      gov’t that takes away a human person’s autonomy in very personal and private ways can backfire on those whose agendas may be ‘well-meaning’ . . . . power once given can be mis-used

      the Church needs to find another way to change minds and hearts than relying on the ‘quick fix’ of a man-made gov’t banning abortions under pain of punishment . . . women will STILL get abortions after such a ban, especially in a country where children are treated poorly and there is no ‘welcoming’ of new life where new parents are given paid leave to care for their newborn

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        gov’t that takes away a human person’s autonomy in very personal and private ways can backfire on those whose agendas may be ‘well-meaning’ . . . . power once given can be mis-used

        “But it will NEVER be mis-used as long as The Right People (Guess Who?) WILL Be In Charge!”

        • HUG,

          That goes both ways… Roe versus Wade was about the exception… those who became pregnant because of rape or incest or those whose pregnancy put the life of the mother at risk…. these days those situations are less than 1% of the total….. “But it will NEVER be mis-used as long as The Right People (Guess Who?) WILL Be In Charge!”

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Did I indicate any direction in my comment?

            A lot of the behavior and attitude of the More-Woke-than-Thou outside the Christianese bubble is identical to the Holier-than-Thou within; they just have a different object of worship. Cults and Cultic behavior don’t need to be based on a religion per se; any belief system will do as long as it’s “deified” into Cosmic Importance. Activists gonna Activate.

    • ‘It’s like we have no way of controlling anybody’s behavior other than the threat of prison or confiscation.”

      Because that’s what governments do. Government is not the church. Government is a tool, and admittedly a dangerous one. But sometimes the problems at hand require that toolset. The ultimate question is, what problems *do* require it? And there our true disagreement lies.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The impulse to address every societal wrong with legislation and coercion, is it liberal or conservative?

      It’s also the reason when I retire I’m getting out of Cali and into MAGAland.

      • Well, when appeals to compassion and “brotherhood” don’t get results (aka the South and segregation), you gotta go elsewhere. Or should blacks have waited another 200 odd years for us whites to see the light?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          And sometimes you just Burn Out and want to leave all the Righteous Crusading and Virtue Signalling and Power Struggle behind. (Cue Blue Oyster Cult “Veteran of the Psychic Wars”.)

          Arizona is a lot less stressful than California, as long as you stay clear of the really big cities (Phoenix and Tucson). It’s only been a state for just over a century, so it still has some of a frontier/pioneer attitude; cultural archetype of Far West instead of the hypergolic explosive interface of Far West and Left Coast like you get in the Cali Power Struggle.
          Far West + Del Norte I can handle; that’s just a language border interface.
          Far West + Left Coast I can’t; that’s Ideological Power Struggle.

  10. I read this article a while back and I think it says a great deal about how important ‘authority’ is to conservative Christians. Having spent more than half my life as part of that world (and most of my friends and family are there) it is easy to recognize from this side, but harder to see from that side.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201702/childrearing-beliefs-were-best-predictor-trump-support

  11. senecagriggs says

    I’m with Chesterton;

    In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.

    • The thing is, we’ve been telling you for *years* that the walls you defend here so often are not based on Scripture and are doing great harm. But you insist they stay up anyways. Chesterton’s saying does not help your case here.

    • Iain Lovejoy says

      The false assumption in that little story is that reformers in general remove things because they see no point to them. On the whole, they tend to concentrate on removing things that they can see causing active harm. If your putative “intelligent type of reformer” had his little conversation while people were daily crashing into the fence and getting killed, you would rightly label him as a sadistic maniac.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      I’d like to tell another story.

      Bp. Kallistos Ware spoke of a parishoner who purchased a 17th C vintage cottage in the Cotswolds and was having it renovated, but was continually banging his head on a beam that inconveniently ran across the ceiling diagonally. The purchaser wanted to remove it, but the good bishop advised him to understand why the beam had been placed there in the first place.

      Now, ordinarily that would have appealed to me greatly, but then it dawned on me that people have grown considerably since the 17th century and that quite likely the beam was no big problem for the original inhabitant of the cottage.

      Or maybe that the beam was placed there at the advice of the local weirding woman as a impediment to the unquiet spirits who infested the nearby copse, it having grown over a battlefield from the War of the Roses.

      As always, if you are going to be a troubler of Israel, it matters a lot if you are a Korah or an Elijah.

  12. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Frankly, I still don’t understand (and probably never will) how their “conservative” ethos ever led them to support the current regime in the White House.

    I do.
    LOYALTY, AUTHORITY, SANCTITY.

    And behavior like a Megapastor, hitting all the metrics Evangelicals have been conditioned to see as God’s Anointing, only more so.

  13. Folks, in case you haven’t gone back and looked at the post, I have put the following up at the beginning:

    Note from CM: Sorry folks, but I see I’ve lost the battle today. I feel like the substitute teacher who has no hope of bringing order to the class. Please, either start responding to the points the post makes, or I will close comments for today.

    Here’s my summary of what the post is about.

    First, I am responding to Stephen’s comment yesterday about sympathizing with his conservative family members.

    Second, I am trying to encourage loving our conservative neighbors by better understanding how they respond to the world in certain ways because of their moral instincts.

    Third, In order to give us a template for thinking about those moral instincts, I appeal to Jonathan Haidt’s chart of five basic moral impulses, stating it and then restating it so as to give a picture of how, as Stephen said, “They feel lost and are daily confronted with a larger culture they feel alienated from.”

    These are the points I had hoped we would discuss more fully today, but we’re chasing rabbits down a hundred other paths instead.

    • Thank you for the clarity.

    • Christiane says

      I’m sorry, Chaplain Mike.

    • Christiane says

      Chaplain Mike,

      I reread Stephen’s comment yesterday, and your reply to him, and I do believe that MIGHT BE what you were trying to respond to in today’s post, this:

      “Stephen says
      August 20, 2019 at 9:55 am
      It’s easy to be dismissive and more than a little angry at them but I still feel a great deal of sympathy for the Trump Evangelicals. Perhaps because this group includes some of my own family. They feel lost and are daily confronted with a larger culture they feel alienated from. They can’t rely on the privileges enjoyed by their own parents. They listen to folks they shouldn’t listen to, who assure them there’s an easy way to solve all their problems. When Trump is gone they’ll be even more alienated from the political process than they are now. This is dangerous because frightened people are capable of doing foolish things.

      I wish the Democrats weren’t as addled as they are.

      Reply
      Chaplain Mike says
      August 20, 2019 at 10:14 am
      Perceptive comment, Stephen. I hope what I say tomorrow will address your thoughts as well as others.”

      I think Stephen showed some compassion for ‘our conservative neighbors’, yes. That is a needed change. I’m sorry I failed to see and to respond to today’s post as I might have done. Don’t give up. Tell ‘the class’ to sit down and behave, and bring Stephen’s thoughts to bear on what you want us to discuss here, as a reset, and I will cooperate with that because, in the end, bridges need to be repaired and ‘labels’ re-examined, and people need to try to understand one another again, yes. You will find a way to help make things better because you also saw in Steven’s comment something special.

      (sigh)

  14. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Perhaps there was also a sense of desperation (that I admit I have difficulty understanding) about losing their world, that the appeal of a “strong man” presenting himself as their protector and the restorer of greatness was worth the risk.

    I have no difficulty understanding.

    For 30-50 years, American Evangelicals have been living in Fear. Fear of Communism, Fear of Secular Humanism, Fear of Homosexuals, Fear of losing their Salvation, Fear of being Left Behind, Fear of the Ungodly outside of their Thomas Kincade-decorated bubble gaining POWER over them in the Zero-Sum Game.

    A Fear lovingly stroked and encouraged by Christian Leaders(TM) to make sure their flock stayed Loyal and Faithful. Only there was a Stronger Man out there (other than Pastor) for them to flock to and be Loyal and Faithful.

  15. This is a noble effort. Like Stephen, I too have conservative Evangelical friends and family that I love. I have too be careful not to let resentment overwhelm the love. I appreciate this article.

    Ultimately I think these times will demonstrate that God’s Kingdom doesn’t come via power and winning. God help us to demonstrate that even in these conversations.

    • Christiane says

      given a choice between being ‘right’ and being ‘kind’ . . . . . . . 🙂

      I think I like Stephen’s compassion as a response to his neighbors.

    • I need to amend my statement for my conscience sake. I should have said the Kingdom doesn’t come through political power. It comes with power through the Holy Spirit with gentleness.

      Oops ?

      • It is indeed counter to the way the world does things. Alas, we Christians tend to fall in line with the way the world does things when it comes to this kind of stuff.

        • Sigh…. Yes it is ironic, Rick. Like you I still consider myself Evangelical and somewhat conservative, but much less so than I used to be. I get why both sides think how they do. None of us have everything right. We all need grace. It’s a hard thing to love those who cause us to fear and get angry.

  16. I was once strongly conservative, now a little less so. (I used to always tick Republicans, haven’t voted for THE Republican presidential candidate in years; that said, I’ve been unable to check the box for the Dem’s nominee, either…LOL)

    I was once strongly Evangelical, also now a little less so.

    I try to listen to both sides, but what irks me most of all are the “provokers” on either side. Some of the conservatives who come and post here seem to do so with one intention: stir up the liberals. And why do they continue to do it? Because they know it will work.

    Many of the liberals at this site are living in as much fear now as the conservatives who rallied around Trump. Be careful where that fear leads you. I’ve seen people that I once considered very kind and generous begin to post knee-jerk reactions due to their fear of what’s coming.

    God’s grace and love as demonstrated by Jesus Christ, people. Never lose sight of it.

    • “Many of the liberals at this site are living in as much fear now as the conservatives who rallied around Trump.”

      Because we know history, and know what happens when people with nationalist and in-group resentments get handed too much political power. I respectfully suggest our fears are far more grounded in reality than theirs.

      • I didn’t say you couldn’t feel fear. And everyone’s fears are as legitimate to them as yours are to you. And you missed my main point:

        Be careful where that fear leads you.

        • Additional…

          “Be careful where that fear leads you.”

          Because look where it’s led many Christians.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Problem is, the attitude today is Us-or-Them Zero-Sum.
        Which ramps up everything to Life-or-Death Survival Mode.

      • Christiane says

        are you a liberal if you got angry at the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville?

        I saw those torch parades, and my blood pressure went way up. That was too much for me. As is the ‘camps’ which in my eyes are the same kind of hellish acting out.

        I guess if you live long enough, what is ancient history to the younger generation is far more ‘real’ to you, and when you see it coming around AGAIN, and before it led to a world war and six million innocent deaths, then yeah, maybe, just maybe you get a bit worried.

        First there’s shock, then denial (this can’t be happening in MY country!!!!!), then depression when you realize it absolutely IS happening, the you get up and SCREAM, and call people and write letters and make people mad on blogs, and yeah, you’re RE-acting, up until the point you sit down, re-evaluate everything in a present context, and get a grip and make a plan for what’s next to be done that is productive . . . . and that’s a good day, when you set out to ‘ACT’ instead of re-acting to the new neo-Nazi uprisings. (kids in California high schools are not involved in Nazi ‘marching songs’ and salutes) so we got problem.

        So we look at our ‘neighbors’ and they don’t have a problem with Charlottesville OR with ‘the camps’ and then after much ‘re-acting’, someone suggests we try a different way . . . dialogue . . . or maybe just listening to them and trying to find out WHY on earth, ‘the trump’ thing ??????????

        so a trump person and a non-trump person go into a bar together and sit down . . . . someone tell a joke . . .

        we need grace much, folks
        like now, like yesterday

        thank you Stephen, for your compassion for your ‘neighbor’ . . . it’s an example for us that is IS POSSIBLE, and that counts for something as ‘encouragement’ 🙂

        • Christiane says

          “(kids in California high schools are NOW involved in Nazi ‘marching songs’ and salutes)
          so we got problem.”

  17. If you want to approach folks with a different mindset the best way is with questions. Try to get them to articulate their own point of view. It’s not enough to know what people think but how they think. How they arrived at their conclusions. It’s very illuminating and frankly discouraging how little people actually know about their own thought processes. And I’ve had people get way more upset with me for asking them questions about their beliefs than I ever have voicing my own opinions.

    Old Socrates knew what he was doing. Of course it cost him.

    • +1 – in a non-threatening way so they don’t believe its a gotcha moment….

    • Stephen, I agree with your keen observation. However, in my life I am finding it hard to get dialogue going with those who have a different viewpoint than me. In a casual setting when someone is offering opinions or observations different than mine , I try to engage them. I am talking of course in person I ask general questions about what they think/ believe. Mostly I get talking points more than knowledge based replies. Then I offer up a follow up question I am now a conservative , racist who does not even know it. I am not saying I am right on the issues to them , I just want to hear and try to follow how they got to where they are. It is hard in todays world.
      Radagast , you are 100 percent but just a simple follow up question to many is a gotcha question.

      Quick example, on immigration issue, Legal immigration I ask people what is the legal number that is allowed now yearly and what should that number be. Never get a clear answer as most have not thought it though and I am just a rabble rouser as immigration is what built our nation, we are a nation of immigrants, the Native Americans Indians were here first and all the talking points but I get no real dialogue going.

      • randy,

        I can relate to what you say, especially on the immigration discussions where I have some experience (ran the tech portion of USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) and also have a large group of folks I manage in El Paso. It is hard to separate the discussion between legal immigration/Refugee programs which continues unimpeded and illegal immigration which has never been allowed since we developed ports of entry in the 1840s. Like you I can be patient and listen, but don’t always get the same courtesy. But it also has to work the other way…. I have to sometimes shut up and listen just to understand where the other is coming from. My running partners… it took some time… most of the anger was not about the issues but about the man. So at that point it becomes more about feelings and sometimes its hard to get past that.

    • Christiane says

      Oh my goodness, STEPHEN, I had this happen also:

      “And I’ve had people get way more upset with me for asking them questions about their beliefs than I ever have voicing my own opinions.”

      I was trying to find out the core definition of ‘the biblical gospel’ from some Southern Baptists on SBCvoices and I was told ‘you are being ingenuous’ or ‘you should know this’ . . . . and various other comments that let me know people actually offended that I would ask them that question;

      so then I began to think: they don’t know . . . or there was no ‘core’ definition that everyone ascribed to . . . . or just plainly, I caught them off-guard at something they had assumed they knew but had not been putting into so many words, and they felt that I had done something wrong or aggressive by questioning them. Well, I never did find out about a ‘core’ one definition, but I did see something of what you mention here.

      I did get lots of good people giving me answers though who were NOT offended and who did not mind sharing at all and I appreciated their kindness to me; although none of their answers were worded quite the same, but I realized that between different faith communities, language terms were not always translating well to retain meaning.

  18. senecagriggs says

    For many theologically minded Evangelicals [ myself included]; the trajectory of humanity is viewed thru the Book of Revelation. It’s a downward trend.

    [ I-monkers: this ISN’T a discussion about whether or not you agree/disagree about how Evangelicals generally see the Book of Revelation – I’m simply stating what I believe the majority opinion is within conservative Evangelicalism]

    Evangelicals reject the belief that mankind can self improve but hold to a contrary view that tired humanity is fading into moral chaos which will bring about God’s judgement and the end of mankind as we know it.

    This view, of course, is hardly new; but Revelation is the prism thru which theological Evangelicals view our future.
    __________

    Secular conservatism is a different animal – more in tune with Haidt’s assessment

    • And this comment provides insight into the lens senecagriggs sees this particular issue through…. thanks for that.

      We all see these topics through a particular lens. I wrote a comment above that unfortunately didn’t make it to the page (I think it was probably a glitch with my connection) but I did mention that we tend to see things through our experiences and our particular ideology, whether that be religious or secular. I also stated that Adam, for example, based on his comments over the years seems to come from an urban setting where experiences and answers to problems are much different than in a suburban or rural setting and this needs to be taken into account. The point is what I might believe is important based on my setting may not resonate in Adam’s.

    • How willing are you to critique your lens?

      • Eeyore,

        As I get older I have been doing more critiquing at times… and then other times I dig in…. just depends if its worth it at the time…. according to my wife she’s the one that is always right anyway….

        On a lighter note it looks like not everyone is happy with this year’s Dancing with the Stars contestants, seems they included a conservative and this is upsetting the apple cart (see CNN page). This is not an example of appreciating our neighbor… and anyway this person may be a terrible dancer and it will give everyone a chance to throw tomatoes…..

  19. Needless to say, today’s post irks me.

    I find it extremely difficult to express any compassion for people who vote for bigots, defend oppressive social structures, me ck and deride anyone who disagrees with them, and shut their eyes to the misery they help perpetuate. I can understand why they do these things to some extent, but I can neither condone them, nor keep silent in the face of them. These things are WRONG. If you have a “compassionate” way of conveying to these people that they are wrong, I’d be glad to hear it. But they ARE wrong, and need to be told that. I won’t compromise on that score.

    • I agree. And so does my African American friend and co-worker, for whom the increase of outspoken and acted-upon racism in the last two years is obviously attributable to our country having a leader who intentionally exploits and exacerbates our racist history and habits with his racist dog whistles and fire alarms. It is simply wrong, and it’s wrong that no one, not even the so-called liberal mainstream media, is willing to really hold his feet to the fire on the issue, always using language to describe what he’s done and said that lets his racism hide behind the remotest possibility that it is not intentional on his part, that it can somehow be attributed to his ignorance or overall crudity. There is no polite way to call out racists like our president, or those who support him despite his manifest racism. Haidt’s ideas don’t help here.

      • Eeyore Robert , If I understand your comments correctly you find no need to dialogue or listen to those who disagree with you. Do I understand you correctly? So you two can make one statement here on comments and you are done as you will only respond to those who agree with you and will have no ear for those who do not. How is that helpful. Have I gotten your position wrong. If I vote for Trump there is no need for you to try to persuade me otherwise or to even consider / listen to my point of view. Do I have it right. Thanks for reply

        • I will not dialogue on an equal footing with those who defend racists, especially on an internet forum. I haven’t the competence or the subtlety to do so, without legitimatizing their position. I do not now nor have I ever wanted to convince you or anybody else on this forum that they shouldn’t vote for Trump; that would be a hopeless cause.

          • senecagriggs says

            Robert F; will you dialogue on an equal footing with those who make a living aborting the pre-born; even into the third trimester?

            • Using opposition to abortion as justification for supporting a racist means you would use the same justification for supporting an openly Nazi candidate as well.

              If I knew someone at my church was performing elective abortions in the third trimester for reasons other than the mother’s health I would not receive communion with them, nor would I enter into dialogue on an equal footing with them.

              Now it’s your turn: If an openly Nazi candidate for president was the only viable opponent of another candidate who supported limited abortion rights, would you vote for the Nazi?

              • Footnote: The Nazi candidate promises to support antiabortion legislation, and appoint antiabortion judges to the courts.

                • senecagriggs says

                  I’d probably talk to them; unless they are killing people. Of course Robert, Nazi’s were all about killing the Jewish pre-born so your scenario doesn’t really compute.
                  ________

                  Margaret Sanger was all about stopping poor black people from having children – hopefully you knew that.
                  _______

                  BTW, the killing of your third trimester child will never improve a mother’s health. You probably know that too.

                  • In opposite order:

                    No, I do not know that.

                    Margaret Sanger did not invent abortion, and has nothing to do with my comment or question to you.

                    I was asking you to respond in a way that required speculation, and you did, so it did compute. You said you might possibly vote for the self-professed Nazi, if he said the right things and made the right promises to you. Pretty much the attitude of the German populace to Hitler and the Nazis in the 1930s. Your answer was exactly what I expected it would be. No surprises.

                  • Oh Seneca – you have no idea what you are talking about with 3rd trimester abortion. Those that are done are almost always due to either a fatal outcome that will take both Mother & baby, or a foetal issue so grave that the baby is considered ‘incompatible’ with life & will die, often in horrific circumstances. The incidences of healthy babies being ‘aborted’ in the third trimester are miniscule, as what will happen there is that the baby will be delivered early, alive, & removed from the Mother. And yes, there will always be the occasional horror story, but they do not constitute the norm.

                    So yes, a Mother’s health can be improved by a termination & if you had ever, ever, read any of the accounts of those poor Mothers who have had to terminate much wanted babies because the pregnancy was killing them, & the baby would die anyway, then you would be much better informed, & hopefully much more compassionate than you are.

                    Sometimes the baby dies in the womb at this stage, but is not expelled,& the Mother will die of septicaemia if labour is not induced, which would be considered an abortion. Given that in the US that even a D& C is termed an abortion, when actually it is the removal of womb contents often after a partial or ‘missed’ miscarriage then bizarrely a already dead baby can be said to have been aborted, & counted as an issue despite the Mother’s life being in grave danger.

                    Maybe you consider the unnecessary death of a pregnant Mother an improvement on her health? This is willful ignorance & you should know better. Please tell me that you at least know that post-birth abortion is not possible & that what is bandied around using that ridiculous term is the withdrawal of extreme measures from a terminally ill baby as those measures are prolonging dying, not life.

        • And to be clear: My reply to Eeyore was not intended to indicate desire or openness to enter into a dialogue with you or anybody else about Trump’s (I mean, the Chosen One/King of Israel’s [see current news headlines online for explanatory articles]) unworthiness of your vote. It was about Haidt’s ideas, and how, in this case, I believe they do not help or apply.

  20. I’m right there with you…sort of. All of the wrongs you elaborate are clearly wrong. It’s “these people” that makes me uncomfortable. CM’s post today is about the possibility of finding room for civil discourse with, essentially, one of “those people”. Bob or Tom or Stan can’t just be one of ‘them’ if you sit down to meals together on a regular basis just as Henry or George can’t just be one of “the gays” if they turn out to be your son or your brother. It’s personal connection that forces us out of easy classifying and into the dark uneasy work of relating. Sure, some people are not reachable at all by you or me but today’s post is about giving us tools to at least see where someone who differs is coming from. Ok, I see a legitimate impulse toward loyalty or protection of family that gives me a basis for conversing with this person. Then, who knows? If they know that I genuinely hear them maybe they will let down their defenses long enough to genuinely hear me. Trite? Perhaps but there is never change when there is us and them. Someone has to relax and listen. Again, there’s nothing easy about it. The only way to communicate the wrongness you see in their position is to actually communicate and CM just seems to be providing a few tools toward that end.

    • Response to Eyeore.

    • Christiane says

      at some point, we have to pull the lens back and realize that ‘that other person’ IS ‘our neighbor’

      the person has to become MORE IMPORTANT to us than the shared differences . . . . and I think that takes grace and a whole lot more humility than most of us are able to summon

      • I think you’re right. It takes a ton of humility and letting go and it’s a real pain in the tush. Who better to take on that task than a disciple of the humblest man to ever walk the planet? Blessed are the peacemakers… That’s what the the thing is about.

    • ChrisS,

      I don’t remember where you stand on things or what your experiences are that led you here…. but really like what you are saying. When we get into a personal one-on-one we can sometimes see what makes the other tick and why one might have the certain point of view that from our perception seems to be so wrong.

      Eeyore,
      I understand where you are as I was there in the 90’s for different reasons. Then I met some folks I got to know well that had very different views than me, and risked to hear why they thought the way they did. Some of it actually seem to make sense once I understood their world view. Hang in there….

  21. Christiane says

    I wondered how Haidt’s Moral Instinct’s collection aligned with Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development and I do see Haidt’s ‘liberals’ corresponding positively to Kolhberg’s model at the ‘post-conventional’ stages.

    Here’s Kolhberg’s Stages and take a look at the ‘post-conventional’ . . . . if you’re interested, see for yourself what YOU think:

    https://courses.lumenlearning.com/teachereducationx92x1/chapter/kohlbergs-stages-of-moral-development/

    • Christiane says

      I wonder if there are any OTHER models of moral development out there that might apply to a working model of ‘liberal’/’conservative’ moral paradigm in this most difficult Trump era ?

      • ???

        do theories of stages of moral development show REASONS why some people would see a ‘moral’ issue more as a ‘political’ one and vice-versa ?

        what ‘instincts’ or ‘stages’ of moral development permit an increased ability to examine an issue that is complicated rather than conflate it into a ‘labeling exercise’ ?

      • flatrocker says

        Christiane,
        I’ve seen it modeled in this way. And as with any model it can be picked apart and trivialized. But it does provide some insight and is a conversation starter of sorts.

        It lists four political worldviews (Conservative, Liberal, Libertarian, and Religious). In each column would be the corresponding antithesis of each worldview along with what each most desires and what each most fears.

        Collectively, each column attempts to describe a particular point of view.
        Again not a perfect model but a decent seed for dialog on what makes each group tick.

        Adherent: Conservative Liberal Libertarian Religious
        Antithesis: Fascism Marxism Anarchy Dogmatic
        Desire: Order Fairness Autonomy Salvation
        Fear: Chaos Oppression Coercion Damnation

  22. Christiane says

    the Bible says

    ‘Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice.
    Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave you’