A Possible Gospel And New Testament

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Gospel, Chapter Ten: Sin is Compelled

Sin Is Compelled through Self-Ignorance

”When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’” Luke 23: 33-34. Sin is ignorance. Sin is not chosen.

Indeed, it is compelled. As Saint Paul puts it, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15.

“Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” John 8:34. It is when we know who we are that our words and actions are compelled by neither a sense of threat nor a ravenous desire that disguises fear.

Reflect Upon Yourself; Do Not Judge Others

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” Mat 7:1-5.

Jesus saved a woman from being put to death for adultery by challenging anyone who was without sin to cast the first stone. The crowd dispersed.

And Jesus said to her: ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” The woman replied, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” John 8:10-11.

Against Punishment

Concerning some who would not receive Jesus: “When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them.” Luke 9: 54-55.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” Luke 6:37.

Do what is necessary to protect the innocent and strive to enlighten the guilty rather than punish them. Punishment is vengeance. It does nothing to instill a conscience in adults, and only embitters them further.

Judgment is False

All persons are incomparable. Make no comparisons. When you say, “If I were her, I wouldn’t have done that,” and, “If I were him I would have done this instead,” you judge with false judgment. For if you were in fact that other person, then “you” would not be you at all; you would be him or her. Therefore you have no way of knowing that you would not have done just the same. All that you know, or suppose that you know, is that if you were in the other’s situation you would have acted differently; but you may not even know this.

To choose evil over good while knowing evil as evil and good as good is like a farmer who tied his wheat in bundles and had it burned, gathering and saving the chaff for bread. Or it is like someone who went out to buy shoes and rejected a stylish and comfortable pair in favor of odd-looking shoes that pinched her feet. Those who do evil know not what they do.


At 10:21 AM, Blogger Don Iannone said...


As always, a thought-provoking post. Thanks.

This verse brings back memories: "Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?"

It was used often by the evangelists traveling from church to church in the 1950s and 1960s. My Dad picked up the line and used it often to remind me (and I think himself) to lessen my (our) judgment of others. That was clearly part of the issue, but there was more.

What took me time to learn was what to replace judgment with. Over time, I learned that respect, compassion, and empathy for others were viable substitutes. Then, I came to see that my attention needed to focus on attitude and thought substitution inside myself and not just external word substitution. I was "blind" to my own flaws but still projected them on others. As long as that was the case, I was a judgmental person. Not only must we see our own flaws, but we must learn to forgive them and commit ourselves to learning from them and using them in our work to re-shape ourselves.

Self-acceptance is important here, but self-acceptance centered on our true spiritual Self and not our little ego-self, or as Lional Corbett, the spiritual psychoanalyst, says--our "me-go"



At 10:43 AM, Blogger kevin said...

Yes, thought provoking. Honestly, I find our society to be overwhelmingly judgmental, disturbingly so.

I am not convinced that 'sin' is soley compelled thru igonorance, I would like to hear about this interpretation in some more depth. Surely plenty of people "sin" knowing fully well what they are up to.

I speak from personal experience...

And I think the definitions we use for this word, sin, is problematic. For the sin of a saint is different than the sin of an ordainary person.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger mistipurple said...

reminds me of the story of the man who asked for an exchange of his cross. amidst a wide variety of choices, he picked one that he felt was just right for him, and it turned out to be his original.
i learnt then that everyone's cross is quite the same, bearing on his capacity.
so, it reminds me to judge not.

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Liquidplastic said...

I like what Don and Kevin said, "this is a thought provoking post", as all your posts are. I would hasten to add, that one has to believe in a thing before it's a reality. Since we, as human being, seem to collectively believe in 'evil' and 'sin' it would seem that we have manifested it, and as such must live with it and the definition that we universally accept.

Now how does this, to my mind, bring ‘judgment’ to the same playing field? --- To me, the concept of ‘evil’ and ‘sin’ falls under the concept of ‘right and wrong’, which in my humble opinion is subject to the individual. If I am hungry, is it evil or a sin to steal food? Or rather, if you see me hungry and have food enough to spare, is it ‘evil’ or ‘sin’ to leave me in this state? Therein lies the judgment as to why a person would be hungry and not be able to obtain food. This judgment is usually based on the one who has and the one who has not. So where is the ‘evil’ or ‘sin’?

From an observational stand point, neither of these folks would be right or wrong, except based on what they felt individually --- thus evil and sin is not a spiritual concept, it’s a social one. If it’s a social one it can be corrected, but only by one individual at a time, “taking the beam out of their own eyes first”.

Too bad we can’t start with the mega structural churches. There are homeless folks, no fault of their own, who can’t sleep in these million of dollars empty buildings. But on the other hand, I have a little space in my home, and have not invited a homeless person to live with me --- OUCH! Damn! There goes that beam again!

At 1:32 PM, Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

I always had to wonder why there was so much GOSsip in the GOSpel crowd? Back in my old churchy days I use to hear an exhorbitant amount of gossip. The pressures of conforming seems to release a venom from people that is beyond the pale. Choosing good over evil is hard enough, the prerequisite accompanying guilt makes it unbearable! Evil is always the path of least resistance for humans.

Anyway, I had to constantly rebuke myself and others for such UNchristian behavior. I dubbed my calling: FIRST STONE MINISTRYS, after the you who are without sin passage.

On the lighter side your post also reminds me of Python's Life of Brian. The scene where all of the women are disguised as men so that they could participate in public stonings was absolutely Brilliant.

At 1:51 PM, Blogger Darius said...

DON I: Well said. The only thing I can think to add is how pointless judging others is. It elevates our own feelings of superiority – hard to see that as something people need…

KEVIN: I have problems with the word “sin” too, but if you’re working with the gospels, what can you do? They use the word like seventy times seven times. (That was an inside “gospel joke,” for people who haven’t read them…) So I’m trying to divest the word of its problematic connotations.

When you say that plenty of people sin or do wrong knowing fully well what they do, I’d say there’s “knowing” and knowing...

A young child, for example, may “know” stealing is wrong – because mom/dad say it’s wrong. So you might not want to turn your back completely on junior in the candy store just yet…

I think there are many adults for whom it doesn’t go a lot deeper than that. What is right or wrong is what social authority tells them is right or wrong. Let the social order break down, and many people become capable, say, of helping to staff a concentration camp. Or, nowadays, participating in state-sanctioned torture.

Probably even more of us go the route of becoming experts at rationalization, intellectualization, projection - “private logic…” So you have robbers, child molesters, murderers, telling themselves that somehow, someway, it’s ok for them do be doing what they do. The child likes it. I deserve this because life has treated me unfairly. He deserves that because life has treated me unfairly.

I can’t imagine that the thoughts of even those who commit great wrong run along the lines of: “I fully understand how and why committing this act harms others while shrinking my own spirit. Nevertheless, what the heck, I’m going to do it anyway just because I'm evil.”

MISTIPURPLE: I agree with “judge not.” Are you adding that everyone’s cross is “just right” for them to bear? If so, I know that a lot of people seem to agree with this.

Often you hear it rendered, “God never gives anyone more than they can handle.” But as wonderful as it would be to be able to understand life as we know it as fair, to me it’s starkly clear that this just isn’t true.

A newborn baby is flushed down a toilet by a young mother. An elderly Cambodian woman lies slowly dying of gangrene in an impoverished village.

A guy who used to live above me threw himself out the eleventh story window. Every day, all around the world, people are given more than they can handle.

You might not have meant this; if not, it’s still a good opportunity for me to mention it, since you hear it stated so frequently.

LIQUIDPLASTIC: As I said above to Kevin, I’m not crazy about the “sin” and “evil” vocabulary either, but when you’re working with the gospel you can’t avoid the terms. So I may as well state what I find misleading about them, and maybe arrive at either a better vocabulary or a modified understanding of what the words mean.

Sounds like you’re saying you don’t feel a “list” approach to right and wrong works – for example, the ten commandments (you didn’t bring them up, I’m inferring).

To me, the list – or “moral principle” approach – does work up to a point. If we recognize that moral principles represent a large body of collective experience that says, for example, that stealing usually does more harm than good in the day to day lives of most people most of the time – to me that’s fine. Where we get into trouble is trying to allege that these guidelines to moral behavior are absolutes. It leads toward absurdities – for example, as you point out, condemning a hungry person for stealing food.

HOMOESCAPEONS: That’s true – judging others is lots of fun. At the work place as often as at church. Just not good, clean, wholesome fun. Finally leaves a bad taste in the gossiper’s own mouth too, I'm pretty sure...

How about this: Yes, evil is always the path of least resistance – until we know better. After that, doing good becomes the path of least resistance.

Saw Life of Brian a long time ago, thought it was hilarious.

“Rebuking yourself” – now that’s gotta hurt…

At 2:34 PM, Blogger crystal said...

Since you know me too :-) you know I'll disagree with this idea of sin as ignorance, though your biblical references do seem to point that way. You've left out the ones, like Matthew 25:31 - , where Jesus says the bad people will be punished for their acts ... why would they be punished, if they were not considered responcible for what they had done? I personally don't like those kinds of passages either, though.

The idea that people only do "bad" things from a lcak of knowledge is gnostic and neo-platonic. I think it was Plato who said that if a person knew what the "good" was, he would do it. But this is obviously untrue.

Most people know that it is good to eat fruits and veggies, to exercise regularly, to floss ... yet many don't do these things. It's not that they lack knowledge, but the will to do the "right" thing.

Similarly, I can't believe that when people murder others, they always do so through an ignorance of the wrongness of their act. True, some people might be mentally impaired, but in crimes of passion, for instance, a person may murder another, knowing it's wrong, in a rage, for revenge, out of jealousy erc.

Your philosophy ignores free will and personal responcibility for one's acts.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Darius said...

CRYSTAL: Yes, the gospels also have all kinds of support for judgment and even condemnation – I’ll look at those verses soon.

I’m not sure how helpful it is to associate particular thoughts with schools of thought. The schools of thought may include lots of things that the thinker of the specific thought doesn’t have in mind. The same thought can be found in lots of different schools. For example, sin as a lack of knowledge is as Buddhist as it is Gnostic, neo-platonic, and probably lots of other things…

Free will came up in an earlier post, where I explained why I’m quite sure it’s impossible to prove or disprove. I wouldn’t want to make it foundational to my view of self or others unless someone made a compelling case for its existence, along with some indication of the degree of freedom that’s being alleged.

In discussing free will earlier, I mentioned that although I don’t see it as provable/disprovable, my personal feeling, like most people, is that it seems to exist to some degree. For myself, it seems to exist mainly in small decisions, like whether to put baloney or peanut butter on my sandwich. More consequential things have felt, personally, more heavily determined. For example, I doubt that I could possibly have chosen a career involving math!

In saying people do wrong from ignorance, I wasn’t speaking of mental impairment, although of course that would be another factor mitigating against free choice; but of the ordinary human experience of not knowing things deeply – only superficially and apparently. Don’t know if you caught my reply above to Kevin, but I spelled it out there. So I’d say that in your crime of passion example, the person, in the moment, is very much not feeling and not knowing the wrongness of it. If that knowledge can be said to be present at all, it’s way in the background. What’s in the foreground, and very much being known and experienced and compelling his action, is indignation, outrage, revenge, the sense that some wrong or injustice has been done to him, etc.

I'd never ignore the idea of responsibility for one’s actions, which I view as indispensable as a practical matter. However, I don’t wed the practical aims of trying to get people to behave with forethought and self-control – and keeping those who can’t away from the rest of us - either to abstract ideas concerning the existence of free will, or to what I view as a feel-good desire to punish those who have done wrong.

Notice that the abstraction and the desire work well together. In so far as I can convince myself that I know this other person freely chose evil, he deserves to be "punished" - and I get to avoid thinking of myself as vengeful.

At 6:09 PM, Blogger breakerslion said...

You've pushed quite a few of my buttons, and you found one of those rare "three plays for a quarter" Juke Boxes.

I'll try to keep it short. I believe that "evil" and "sin" are human constructs. There are actions that can be seen as moral and/or ethical, and there are those that are not. Who decides? Ultimately, you do, but it is in the interest of those who like to build power structures to tell you that you are incapable of reasoning this out for yourself. There are many moral frameworks, just like there are many economic frameworks. All of them are models, usually working off of a set of assumptions concerning "the general case", meaning a simplification that forms the basis for all else. Unfortunately, while the human mind makes great progress in so breaking down a problem, it usually results in an oversimplification and fails to adequately describe the system. In the case of "sin" and "evil" you have to further throw in prejudices, "faith" (belief without proof), and the self-reinforcing/self fulfilling nature of some of those beliefs. You also have to consider the potential for exploitation and control as a motive for promoting the good-evil-sin model. How many people have been marginalized or trampled underfoot when the bearded one pointed a finger and shouted "Heretic!" or "Blasphemer?" Just another way to say "sinner" in their world of "right" and "wrong".

The "judge not" exhortation is another command to subservience. One always judges. Most are inhibited from acting upon their judgment. If their judgment is based on prejudice, jealousy, fear, or incomplete information, then society is well served by this inhibiting factor. It is still, in my opinion, based on a self-serving falsehood, and therefore unethical.

I would much rather have seen, "Judge not, unless you are willing to submit to jugment in turn."

I could go on, but I'll spare you at present. I could also have connected the dots a little more thoroughly, but I trust you get the basic idea.

At 7:42 PM, Blogger mistipurple said...

then life is bleak indeed. as what i have said in the posting before this.

At 6:20 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

In general, I agree with Darius and Breakerslion: the common case is one of ignorance, not willful wrongdoing.

But I wonder, what does this do to the ideas of personal responsibility and justice? Are these ideas worth keeping, anyhow?

At 6:45 AM, Blogger christabelle said...

if we realise it's the grace of God in our lives then we will stop judging others, u no, sometimes when I read the old testament how pple r killed 4 their sins, I wonder; if I had lived then, mayb I wldnt hv a chance at all, but Jesus dying has made all the difference, all our sins r under his blood.
"To choose evil over good while knowing evil as evil and good as good is like a farmer who tied his wheat in bundles and had it burned...

Darius how true, I hpe we really get what ur trying 2 say, as usual beautiful!

At 7:57 AM, Blogger Within Without said...

Very compelling argument, Darius, but a very complicated issue because I think we have to believe that all people take whatever actions they take because they DO know what they are doing, or at least they believe in it.

Did those who crucified Jesus as described in Luke know what they were doing? Wouldn't they have had to? Did they believe in and agree with what they were doing? It's immaterial...they were probably following orders from superiors, who DID believe in what they were doing.

The difficulty becomes when faith enters the picture (as described by Breakerslion, "belief without proof") and we ascribe judgments to peoples' actions based on religion or one version of what's wrong or right, or what WE think is right.

I'm not here to diss the Bible or any other historical version of events that can not be proved, but much of these accounts merely state the obvious as it has always been and as it always will be.

The issue is that we all do the wrong things from time to time. I don't agree with John 8:34 that everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. If we do nine things right and one thing wrong, does that make us bad? Or does it make us pretty good, really -- human?

We can't help but look at others' actions and assess them in our own minds and hearts because that's how we develop our own set of values and our own judgments about how we live our lives.

It's when we start verbalizing those judgments to others behind that person's back, often maliciously and without all the facts, that we go beyond a realm of fairness and our own personal responsibility.

When we start looking at what other people are doing and feeling a need to cast stones at them in public that we start treading on thin ground.

At 8:13 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

A fascinating post and a plethora of thoughtful comments here. Darius suggests that for many people 'what is right or wrong is what social authority tells them is right or wrong'. Breakers Lion goes further by suggesting that the social order gains power through discouraging those who consider moral and/or ethical actions for themselves. I agree with both points and think it is very important that we understand from where our moral codes are derived. While Christian doctrine has historically been highly influential in establishing some ground rules for ethical behavior in our culture these have never really tallied with the operating judicial code (the law).

Some of Darius' words recall to me the writings of Vaclav Havel. He has noted that it is our responsibility that establishes our identity and strength of self-character. This would seem to equate with Don's idea of 'self-acceptance centered on our true spiritual Self and not our little ego-self.' I think I just begin to perceive where Darius is coming from with the line, 'Sin is compelled through self-ignorance,' but I would appreciate further explanation, perhaps. Darius, are you suggesting that sin is only possible when we understand the (much contested) true nature of existence (all is one or we are all God's children)? In a random and meaningless universe harming another person is not wrong for, in such a universe, there is no right and wrong? For me, your thoughts tend toward such a logical, philosophical approach.

I think there are very strong pressures in our materialist culture to satisfy the demands of one's ego and desires in spite of covetousness, envy, lust and pride being frowned upon in the Bible. These are just the type of human feelings that advertising plays on. Like Kevin, 'I find our society to be overwhelmingly judgemental, disturbingly so.' I wonder at how difficult it must be to follow the kind of ethical practice advocated here ('don't judge') in modern culture, not that historically it would have been much different. 'Do what is necessary to protect the innocent'? Well, do what you can! Don's story is surely inspiring to us all. He 'came to see that [his] attention needed to focus on attitude and thought substitution inside [himself] and not just external word substitution.'

At 8:30 AM, Blogger defiant goddess said...

Ah, such beautiful wisdom. Thank you. I needed some of those reminders.

At 10:04 AM, Blogger Darius said...

BREAKERSLION: I agree. Evil, sin – any word we can say, any thing we can name or think - is a human construct. This includes the entire realm of science as well as religion. Some constructs appear to involve reality-contact more than others.

I’m glad to see it’s not just me! You’re maybe the third person so far to bring up that “evil” and “sin” have connotations that you don’t accept. Me too. One of them is the idea that wrongdoing is “freely chosen,” which is what the post’s about.

It sounds to me as though the major button you mention gets pushed by this post has to do with church authority, and churchgoers being told what to do and what to think. You relate the verses I quoted against judgment to your position on this.

But Jesus isn’t saying not to judge in the sense of not thinking for yourself – rather, more like the opposite of that. By saying to reflect on our own shortcomings rather than judge and condemn others (consider the two by four in your own eye before commenting on the splinters in the eyes of others, etc.), it seems to me that Jesus is asking people to be more reflective and less blind followers. After all, the norm would have been for the adulteress to get stoned.

MISTPURPLE: In your comments to last post and here, you’re bringing up realities that can challenge belief: suffering, injustice, death.

So my take on these two comments of yours is that they’re adding up to something like: So then, what possible grounds can there be for faith, or for seeing life as meaningful? This is a big question. For now, a couple little quotes:

The poet William Wordsworth refers to “the faith that looks through death” in his Intimations ode – not the faith that looks around it or dodges the issue.

My favorite popular song lyric of all time:

“And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me,
Shine until tomorrow,
Let it be”

- The Beatles, Let It Be

If instead it went,
“And ‘cause the night is sunny
There is always light that shines on me…”

… it would be a lot less compelling!

MATTHEW: As far as personal responsibility and justice goes, here’s what I said to Crystal above when she asked about that:

I'd never ignore the idea of responsibility for one’s actions, which I view as indispensable as a practical matter. However, I don’t wed the practical aims of trying to get people to behave with forethought and self-control – and keeping those who can’t away from the rest of us - either to abstract ideas concerning the existence of free will, or to what I view as a feel-good desire to punish those who have done wrong.

Notice that the abstraction and the desire work well together. In so far as I can convince myself that I know this other person freely chose evil, he deserves to be "punished" - and I get to avoid thinking of myself as vengeful.

CHRISTABELLE: Interesting the similarities/differences/overlap in people’s views here. It sounds as though you and I have the same view of sin not being freely chosen, and different views of who Jesus was.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Darius said...

WITHIN, WITHOUT: As far as Jesus’ crucifiers knowing what they were doing goes – or any other people who do wrong – here’s what I said above to Kevin:

When you say that plenty of people sin or do wrong knowing fully well what they do, I’d say there’s “knowing” and knowing...

A young child, for example, may “know” stealing is wrong – because mom/dad say it’s wrong. So you might not want to turn your back completely on junior in the candy store just yet…

I think there are many adults for whom it doesn’t go a lot deeper than that. What is right or wrong is what social authority tells them is right or wrong. Let the social order break down, and many people become capable, say, of helping to staff a concentration camp. Or, nowadays, participating in state-sanctioned torture.

Probably even more of us go the route of becoming experts at rationalization, intellectualization, projection - “private logic…” So you have robbers, child molesters, murderers, telling themselves that somehow, someway, it’s ok for them do be doing what they do. The child likes it. I deserve this because life has treated me unfairly. He deserves that because life has treated me unfairly.

I can’t imagine that the thoughts of even those who commit great wrong run along the lines of: “I fully understand how and why committing this act harms others while shrinking my own spirit. Nevertheless, what the heck, I’m going to do it anyway just because I'm evil.”

I also replied to Breakerslion after you posted…

Re. the quote about anyone who commits sin is a slave to sin: if you look at it in the context of the other quotes I cite, you’ll see that my take on the slave quote is, “Anyone who commits sin is behaving compulsively, driven by ignorance.” You’re reading it as, “If someone does something wrong, that proves they’re basically sinful.” And that whole “basic sinfulness” idea, which many Christians believe, doesn’t work for me either. I think people are “basically ambiguous.” Or as Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney put it with the immortal line, “There is good and bad in everyone…”

I also agree with you that actions or behavior – and, I’d add, not persons – are very much to be judged.

BENJAMIN: I want to highlight that when I suggested, “What is right or wrong is what social authority tells us is right or wrong," I was saying that I think this is how it is for children and for some adults who are not well developed morally.

Benjamin, if you don’t mind, please take a look back at my replies to Crystal and Kevin for further clarification of how I’m looking at this so I don't need to re-post it...

That’s for sure about advertising, and the media generally. It encourages the very stuff we need to me moving away from, not just as individuals, but collectively, for the sake of our long term survival on this planet.

ABNORMAL: Me too – that is, I need my own reminders! It’s very hard not to judge others.

At 12:58 PM, Blogger Ananda said...

hey darius. this is my first time dropping by. great blog. i really like your blogrollcall... sufi blog was interesting. peace, ananda
ps: tyou for your blog comments on my site last week. perspective is a beautiful thing when we can see what others think and feel.

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Pastor Doug Hoag said...


I believe you are correct in saying judgmental people shouldn't be condemned, but enlightened. Most judgmentalists are working out of an obsolete worldview.

Also, condemning sin (whatever one might mean by that) would produce the opposite of the desired effect. It leads to more shame and guilt, which, counterintuitively, exacerbates aberrant behaviors.

Shaming an addict drives the addict deeper into the addiction.

Theologians define sin with a fancy Latin term roughly translated "humanity turned in on self." In short, selfishness.

We are all selfish to some degree, but when selfishness is raised to the level of being systematized into a religion, then a monster is created. The adherents literally don't know what they are doing.

This is the "sin", I believe, that Jesus and Paul opposed.

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Thanks for visitin' my tiny corner of the world!

Well, scanning quickly thru your posts I seem to be Lucky New Reader #13. (You did say you thought you had, maybe, 12 readers...)


I need to rest up post-travel, but will delve deeper later. Looks nice and chewy here.

At 4:12 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Sin is compelled by ignorance of the self and ignorance of our true nature? Yet for Adam and Eve the original sin was to learn of our nature and eat the apple from the tree of knowledge. These two views struggle to sit prettily together.

'For some adults who are not well developed morally...' 'what is right or wrong is what social authority tells them is right or wrong.' Sin may derive from 'the ordinary human experience of not knowing things deeply - only superficially and apparently.'

Much sense spoken in these parts! The world will change for the better when the power of love is greater than our love of power.

At 4:34 PM, Blogger Darius said...

ANANDA, thanks for stopping by. I’ve noticed that with blogs I like, they often carry a high percentage of links I like too.

PASTOR DOUG HOAG: “Most judgmentalists are working out of an obsolete worldview.” Sounds true to me. If you read the more condemnatory lines in the New Testament (some of which I’ll be looking at soon, probably next post), they often appear to represent the diatribes of what was then a small Jewish Messianic sect against the rest of Judaism. Don’t think there was much awareness of Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists... I’d expect not atheists or agnostics, either. And of course Islam didn’t exist yet. So in this respect, the world in which the Bible was written was much smaller than it is today.

"Selfishness"is what I’d call “sin” too. I tend to say “egoism,” but same basic idea I think.

LORI WITZEL: Thanks for checking in, but shoot… Did my remark about the 12 regular readers follow that bit where somebody called me “the false Messiah?” Well if you’re number thirteen, there goes my aura of discipleship. Wait a minute… It’s poifect! I mean, the number 13… for the false Messiah… Maybe if I reach 18, I can figure that’s 6 + 6 + 6… But if I’m like the Anti-Christ, I need to get a lot more power. I mean, I don’t even feel close to being the anti-Pat Robertson. I need my own TV show.

BENJAMIN: I’m not an expert on the Adam and Eve story, but I can see where one interpretation – the one most popular, from what I've seen, among Christian conservatives – would be that to come to greater awareness is dangerous, and even the origins of “our basically sinful nature.”

Since I’d reject all that, and conservative Christians would reject everything I’m saying, I see the two views more as struggling to push each other off the swing than to sit prettily together!

“The world will change for the better when the power of love is greater than our love of power.” Makes sense to me. Don’t know how we develop political systems where people who are in love with something beyond power for the sake of having it end up on top. Seems to me like a real problem, and I’m clueless as to where the solution might come from.

At 6:20 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Thanks, Darius. You end there with an important question. I'm clueless too. Seems to me (self) analysis and discussion such as this is a reasonable place to start on that quest. You're lovely. Be well x

At 6:38 PM, Blogger mistipurple said...

thank you. a question then. how does one live life?

At 8:00 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

who knows the true definition of a sin?


At 9:49 PM, Blogger Lady Wordsmith said...

Ahhh Darius. And with a song you hold my Taoist heart. "Let it be. Let it be."

The Tao teaches us that people would profit if we could abolish knowledge and wisdom; harmonious relationships would form if we could abolish duty and justice; and waste and theft would disappear if we could abolish artifice and profit.

But these are actions to treat just the symptoms.

The Way goes on to say:
Reveal your naked self and embrace your original nature;
Bind your self-interest and control your ambition;
Forget your habits and simplify your affairs.

In other words - Let it be. And the only 'it' we can be, is the one in which we are born.

Raised a Roman Catholic, I too learned the verse the good Don Iannone remembered. As a knee-sock wearing girl, I couldn't remove from my eye the image of a person walking around with a four-by-four protruding from their eye!

But then Catechism became replaced with taking college classes and then lecturing collegiate faces. It was then became transfixed with the pyramid of Maslow's Hierarchy. A morale hierarchy of need. And a desire burgeoning on becoming a need to self-actualize.

Until Today. (Tonight, if one must be technical) Posed now as a bare-footed woman, I find myself transfixed on the start of something bigger:

" ... Let me walk, naked and wanting, before you. But call me no whore. My tears; fall too.
More stains to whet the shroud. ..."

Yes. I think keshi sums it best:
who knows the true definition of a sin?

who indeed?

Thank you for the heart holding lessons. As always -Lady

At 11:12 PM, Blogger moonlight said...

love ya site.

At 5:57 AM, Blogger eden said...


kind regards!

At 7:06 AM, Blogger Darius said...

BENJAMIN: Thanks Benjamin, and for your thoughts.

MISTIPURPLE: “How does one live life…”

Most general answers to that would probably sound pretty dumb and be meaningless. Unless anyone reading this has a good, short answer? But Misti, you’re just lucky this is virtual reality, because I know there are one or two Buddhists out there, and the only time Buddhists get violent is when you ask that sort of question. Then they usually womp you over the head with something and tell you to meditate for three days. No kidding.

I have several posts lined up that you could say are about how NOT to live, then was going to start posting some positive stuff. Let me think if I can work anything in somewhere before then. I think it would have to be a poem – I mean, to even begin to address a question like that in a single blog post.

KESHI: I do, I do! And Pastor Hoag. He calls it “selfishness,” I usually use the word “ego” or egoism. And I think it’s operative to the degree that we don’t know ourselves (= ignorance).

LADY WORDSMITH: Raised a Roman Catholic, that’s quite the contrast you ended up with. You say Taoism says to “Reveal your naked self and embrace your original nature" - as opposed to the doctrine of original sin, and the idea that there’s no fig leaf big enough to cover for us but God himself in the person of Jesus Christ!

MOONLIGHT and EDEN: Thanks for stopping by -

At 7:59 AM, Anonymous Marissa said...

I agree about treating "sinners" with compassion and trying to enlighten them, rather than condemn. One of the major causes of obesity in the United States (not that obesity is a sin) is our media- because it focuses so heavily on body image, dieting, weight loss, anorexic models, perfect hair, etc, that just leads people to feeling shameful, guilty, and bad for themselves, which in turn makes them eat more. No other country has this problem with obesity that we do. Shaming someone doesn't do any good.

At 8:07 AM, Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

I really liked pastor doug's 'SINplification'of the shame spiral. Selfishness eh?

I think that he is on target although to my way of thinking sin is a human concept and for the most part is an instrument designed to shame people into subordination.

Serial killers, lacking the physiological electro/chemical requirements for 'sin' recognition, are the most selfish people on the planet.

At 9:43 AM, Blogger Darius said...

MARISSA: So now I'm noticing that "shame" is another one of those connotations the word "sin" has. We should be ashamed of ourselves, and consider ourselves as profoundly unworthy, really lucky to be alive at all, because we're so sinful...

Another reason why I personally like "egoism" or "self-centeredness" better than "sin."

They must have noticed that shaming, ridicule, embarassment and so forth are counterproductive for kids at some point. You rarely see teachers employing these "methods" in the public schools anymore.

HOMO ESCAPEONS: Guess you, me and Marissa are on the same wavelength here on sin and shame...

If you change, "serial killers" to "sociopaths," I think you're on to something. The way I've thought of it is that there seems to be a small minority of violent criminals who really appear to have "something missing" emotionally.

That is, most criminals, maybe even most serial killers, show signs of having emotional lives like the rest of us, but they took major wrong turns, often had terrible backgrounds, and became - badly warped.

But sociopaths are remarkable because they really appear to lack the sorts of pro-social feelings most of us have - even when some of us end up going the criminal route and acting on our worse natures instead. It's as if sociopaths only have a worse nature - affectively cold and unfeeling, but often bright and able to put on a good act when that's needed. Pretty creepy...

Onward human genome project!

Neither the "free choice" nor ignorance ideas of wrongdoing work for such individuals.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

I would like to see a short book--maybe 125 pages--called Spiritual Conversations with Darius. Based mostly on the exhanges on your blog.

At 10:38 AM, Blogger mistipurple said...

thank you again. you know i mean it from my heart. hugs.

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Trish said...

Hey, thanks for posting a comment on my blog. I have taken a few statistics classes in college, so I learned about randomness and all of those statistical operations. However, it just struck me as kind of amusing that I should find a dime on the ground at the exact time I needed it. I guess you could say that there is randomness and chance in the world, but in my own experience, the more I live, the less I believe in coincidence.

You also commented about God doing us little favors. Well, maybe it's simplistic or naive of me, but I believe we can learn and grow from the events in our lives even when they are not "nice" as you say. I've had some bad things happen in my life that I can look back on and say, "Hey, God, thanks. I really learned from that, even though going through it was awful." So, I believe, as Romans 8:28 says, "We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him."

I'm not going to debate the existence of bad things in the world, because indeed there are bad things in the world; your example of millions of children starving is one prime example. Perhaps my argument doesn't make "factual or moral sense" to you, but I truly believe in a loving God who embodied himself in Jesus Christ in order that no matter what happens, we can go through life knowing and trusting that we are loved by One who became just like us in every regard except sin in order to bring us to God.

Anyway, have a good day, and if you ever get the chance, go for a helicopter ride. It's amazing.

At 1:21 PM, Blogger SusieQ said...

Gee, your posts always invigorate the mind. They make a person think.

You seem to be saying that there are two kinds of ignorance when it comes to sin. One would be the kind of ignorance that is the result of a immature, or ill-informed conscience. The other would be the kind of ignorance that is the result of not knowing what is truly good for you, or what will truly make you happy. Is this what you are saying? Or is there possibly a third ignorance as well, that being not knowing your inner self, in other words not knowing what really makes you tick as an individual.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Darius said...

DON I: Thanks, Don, I could imagine that – the posts followed by some elaborations as prompted by comments. That would be mainly an editing job. As long as I’ve found it impossible so far to get the three book manuscripts into print that I’ve already written, the motivation to do that work isn’t there. But maybe a good thing to keep in the back of my mind.

MISTIPURPLE: Thanks Misti -

TRISH: Thanks for this clarification. I see from what you’re saying here that you didn’t mean, “I don’t believe in coincidence” literally.

Up to a point, that’s true to my experience too – that in retrospect, a lot of adversities turn out to be good things to have happened. And that’s an important point, I think. But yes, I would think it’s simplistic to suppose that all adversity is for the best, even if St. Paul says so. (Serious enough adversity can leave you severely disabled or brain damaged, for example.)

Religious belief, whether in the Christ, or the Seal of the Prophets, or reincarnation, works well for millions of people, playing a constructive role in their lives. So to those who can believe, and for whom belief plays a constructive role in their lives, I say more power to them. In the long run, however, it’s hard for me to see how the world will be made whole and healed by way of religious belief systems that contradict each other and are beyond proof or disproof.

SUSIEQ: Hi, your comment just came in and I have to run, I'll be back...

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Lady Wordsmith. I really appreciate your discourse here on how Taoist ideas might relate to the modern world. Very interesting and intelligent comment. 'Harmonious relationships would form if we could abolish duty and justice.' I like that. The moral codes (religious or otherwise) that operate within our contemporary culture are not quite the noble ideas we are led to believe they are, in my opinion.

Mistipurple. 'How does one live life?' The question, of course. What I most like about this site is when we come close to addressing this question which, I think, ultimately we should all answer as individuals. What frustrates me about this site is how, at times, we shy away from addressing this question and prioritise conciliation (being friendly) over the actual content of the debate.

Darius. I'm actually quite shocked at your last comment here. It also seems to undermine your whole argument in regard to sin. To summarise, your point seems to be that sin is compelled by self-ignorance, except where sociopaths are concerned. Is your reference to the Human Genome Project a joke? Because already those people labelled by society as suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder are often given chemicals to treat such a... 'personality disorder'. I begin to feel that your view is that any sin which is sanctioned by the state and is acceptable in our culture can be forgiven, while one that is disruptive to our culture, like sociopathy, is condemned. It is the former of these two points that worries me the most. If egoism is sin, why don't they produce some drugs that make us irresponsive to advertising and lessen our greed?

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Darius said...

SUSIEQ: Yes, that’s it, but I might consolidate and say that to know what’s truly good for you and what will make you truly happy - and what won’t - is pretty much to know what makes you tick. And children would have to be a special case to a large extent, since they’re still developing and haven’t had the chance either to have the range of experiences in relation to others that inform us about our moral selves; nor have they developed the defenses, rationalizations, and self confidence of adults, which can work to reduce our capacity for change and growth, and leave us more set in our ignorance, so to speak, than children.

BENJAMIN: I’m shocked you’re shocked! Well, kind of surprised anyway…

Where technology is concerned, I’ve never seen a genie put back in a bottle. The best we can hope for is to use technology wisely. Given what I know of psychopathic or sociopathic personalities, which is limited, if it’s something genetic, and there’s a way to correct that, I’d be all for it.

I haven’t stated or implied anything about drugs, the state, forgiveness… So I’m not seeing how your statements here relate to my outlook, although I’d welcome any points you may care to make about these matters.

My only point about psychopathic or sociopathic personality – I think it used to be called the one and then the other? – is that from what I’ve read, those sociopaths who end up committing crimes really appear to lack traits like empathy, compassion – any genuine feeling for others, although they’re often bright, and know they need to fake it in order to get by; and, in the case of violent criminals, to attract victims.

This is in contrast to, for example, your typical Mafia figure, who may go out and murder outsiders yet have a warm family life. So from what I’ve understood, there are two basic kinds of violent criminals: those who are like the rest of us in so far as they demonstrate some capacity for real human warmth, despite their criminal activities; and those who appear to really lack that capacity, which is what I referred to as “something missing.”

I’m certainly no expert on sociopaths or criminals, so please correct this if you feel I’m misinformed -

At 5:52 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Hi Darius. I'm sorry. On reflection I'm not shocked at all by your words. I may at some point stop making such foolish bids for the moral high ground here!

You're merely arguing that if people are going to commit sociopathic acts of violence then that is a valid reason for either prescribing medical drugs or seeking to redress the problem with eugenics. Fair enough. I'm sure most people would agree with you.

I'm interested by your final analogy. Since the Mafia hitman is a warm and caring family man, do you think he knowingly commits a sin?

As to the many issues regarding drugs and new technologies, it would seem quite tangential to this thread, really. Personally, I would say that while I do have empathetic and compassionate qualities my concern has often been that I'm faking a genuine feeling for others in order to get by. Yeah, that's the story of my life! I'm sorry. Peace x

At 8:31 PM, Blogger GoGo said...

Darius, Thanks for your post. The answer to your question is I am currently in a Masters program for Social Work.

As for your post. I have to admit, I came here and read your words and completely wanted to walk away. Why? Because I am a lesbian and most Christian based faiths sees this as an act against God...or at least the male Gay version. I personally know this to be the prejudice of man and not God. how? The same way a minister knows and all faithful. I'll walk up to God and know he will tell me my love is not a sin...over all the leaders of faith.

I choose to write a response because I want to believe the words about non-judgement you profess. I hope it is there. I know my God/my higher power loves me for who I am and will never ask me to change in love of God.

I hope your faith really does help you to not judge this. And I will take the time to not judge you for your devoted faith. Can you see my sexuality as NOT a sin, or simply something to not judge? Can I see your faith as a form of walking a path of spirituality rather then blind faith that opresses others not like you? I feel challenged by your words to do so, I hope so.

Seems a learning curve God would want for both of us.


At 12:33 AM, Anonymous grumble said...

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” I wonder if
this survived translation. Our own
ability to form judgements stems
from what we learn as rights and wrongs. If this basic mechanism is
disabled by rhetoric, we are merely puppets to the first person
(whether right or wrong) willing to define these for us. I wonder if the translation shouldn't be
something more like:
"Judge yourself first as you would be judged, before judging someone or something else, then judge the living Hell out of it or them".

Free will more or less demands that we agree on the rightness or
wrongness of an entity or action,
otherwise, the squeaky wheel gets
the oil, and everyone else gets the

There's a huge difference between
making an ill-conceived gesture, or
acting on faulty data, and trying
to wash ones hands of a decision
made despite a sense that what one
does is basically illogical or bad,
in general.

At 7:10 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

Darius said:
I'd never ignore the idea of responsibility for one’s actions, which I view as indispensable as a practical matter. However, I don’t wed the practical aims of trying to get people to behave with forethought and self-control – and keeping those who can’t away from the rest of us - either to abstract ideas concerning the existence of free will, or to what I view as a feel-good desire to punish those who have done wrong.

I'm not sure this answers my question. Are you saying that we should keep the ideas of justice and personal responsibility around for purely practical reasons, despite the fact that we can't seem to ground them logically?

I mean, if we're going to embrace determinism, isn't it unreasonable to ever demand justice? (By justice, I mean "an eye for an eye".) Isn't it unfair to expect people to assume responsibility for their own actions, when "their own actions" are actually caused by forces over which they have no control?

At 7:12 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Frankly this is all very confusing but I'm inclined to agree with Grumble's comment. While the emphasis of Darius' point is surely that we reflect more upon ourselves, our own thoughts and actions, the suggestion that we don't judge others is a pretty fantastical, if admirable, proposition to make.

Grumble's allusion to rhetoric is significant since so much of our common linguistic framework is predicated on the concepts of right and wrong. A sound comment.

At 8:09 AM, Blogger Darius said...

BENJAMIN: I brought up sociopaths in response to something someone else said about criminals earlier on the thread – Homescapeons? It had nothing to do with drugs and only slightly to do with gene therapy/engineering. It mainly involved the idea of sin. But I forget what! And now I’m too lazy to check back… I think that would be one of the seven deadly sins right there…

I would not think that any violent criminal, including a Mafia guy who cares for his family, knowingly commits sin. Not in the sense of having a clear and undistorted understanding of right from wrong. As one quick indicator on this, there’s something terribly warped in a double standard that allows someone to feel and behave well in relation to their immediate family while seeing to the murder of, say, somebody else with a family…

Everybody fakes it sometime, and to some extent, and for different reasons - but that isn’t at all necessarily being sociopathic, and rarely is. So all I can say is that if you are a sociopath, then you're an excelent one - very good at pretending to be a sensitive, thoughtful guy.

GOGO: Oh, an MSW – that’s supposed to be a good degree, last I checked. Very versatile in what you can do with it.

Glad you kept reading. It can be deceptive – you’re not the first person to almost bypass this as a Bible-thumping blog, because of all the scriptural allusions. Maybe I should put the subtitle all in caps: A Possible Gospel: MORE FUN THAN FUNDAMENTALISM!!!

I don’t so much thump the Bible as shake it around...

No learning curve required for me on lesbianism/homosexuality/heterosexuality. I just see a bunch of people with different sexual orientations.

GRUMBLE: Judging “its” - meaning, words and actions - seems to me too not only warranted, but unavoidable. To know right from wrong, good from better, and bad from worse, is to make moral judgments.

On the other hand, I can’t see judging persons as being justified or accomplishing anything constructive, per the post and my remarks above on this thread.

You mention free will. I’d want to distinguish free will, which is a highly theoretical issue to which I think there’s no resolution because there’s no proving its existence, from the practical matter that in fact we can learn to do things with our hearts and minds that include taking the needs of others into consideration, planning ahead of time, being conscientious – developing modes of feeling and thought that improve the quality of our moral decision-making. But whether, when we learn to be better at this, it represents the unfolding of something determined by the interaction of our genes with our environments, or genuinely involves some free choice, reverts back to a highly theoretical issue which I don’t think has any real-life constructive role to play in the domain of our moral conduct.

At 8:30 AM, Blogger Darius said...

PS: BENJAMIN, I'm about to work on the next post, but just caught you're comment...

It's hard not to judge others, for sure. But even if we never get there all the way, it's possible to cover a lot of ground - to judge less frequently, with less conviction, and to speak and act less judgmentally because we have begun to know better.

MATTHEW: I’m saying that feelings, mind-sets, and conduct that we recognize as pro-social occur and can be learned and improved upon without reference to irresolvable philosophical debates about free will vs. determinism. When I help a child understand that there are consequences to his or her actions, the kid can be five years old and totally non-philosophical-minded!

As far as justice goes, I think we’re already doing better than an eye for an eye – at least until recent years… That is, the constitution excludes cruel and unusual punishment. We don’t, for example, execute murderers in the same manner in which they murdered.

Christianity itself could be viewed as speaking to the idea of going beyond justice with its pronouncement of our fallen nature and how we should all be going to hell, except that God has intervened by coming as the Christ to bring a salvation that’s more than we deserve…

At 9:08 AM, Blogger mistipurple said...

dear benjamin, i read what you wrote briefly, with reference to my question on how to live life. thank you.

there are so many words in this place. i do not like to read too deep into things nowadays. it may be that i am afraid of what i might find.

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Hi Misti. You catch me on a good day. Maybe you've just got better things to do! I haven't yet found the answers and I've been looking a while x

Hi Darius. Your comments keep making me laugh today! Thanks for what seems like a positive (almost non-) judgement upon me.

'Everybody fakes it sometime, and to some extent, and for different reasons.' I'll agree with that. Cheers x

As to Mafia hitmen, sociopaths and the whole 'is sin compelled by self-ignorance?' business, my mind has been far stretched by this one and I'm letting it lie.

Joy to you all x

At 8:03 PM, Blogger Matthew said...

Darius said...
Christianity itself could be viewed as speaking to the idea of going beyond justice

I agree. But some of us still seem to be hanging on to the idea of God as a "just" God. It seems to me that one can be just or one can be merciful, but not both.

At 11:51 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

selfish, egoistic and ignorance. Is that all? Then why the hell am I not doing all of that other stuff..lol I better go do it then :)


At 12:55 AM, Anonymous grumble said...

I can see that the idea of free
will is nebulous, at times. That
observation or doubt alone is enough to disqualify it as a core
belief. But it really only makes the cheese more binding, as they say. If there are inconsistencies,
I say: look again. Our definitions
of right and wrong really make no
difference, if we revert to the laws of the jungle. Arguably, our
own surrogate God-System has yet
to awaken. Whether we remain faithful to our own trust in knowledge qua knowledge, and our
(as I would argue) primitive coupling of straight, scientific
facts with human motivations, will actually survive intact, remains to be seen. I'd guess that the trip back to Eden is a difficult
journey, at best- even though it seems more appealing than letting
our man-made system rage to its
spectacular conclusion. Don't know if you can get there, from here.
It's possible that, were an active hand grenade placed in the crib of an infant (with the pin in place,
of course), nothing interesting
would happen. It would be a bad idea, and would likely end badly,
but maybe not. In effect, the damned things have been laying around like Easter eggs, and the
infants are only now showing up in
the garden. Adults are looking on,
but one has to wonder about their parental skills, or common sense.
The infants are meanwhile looking around for toys of their own, like what Junior's already found. We may
have some suspicions about how things will turn out, but if we knew what grenades could do, and suddenly decided to let nature take its course, I'm not sure that
the volte face away from free will
self-governance would work out happily. Along the same lines, while religion has had an uneasy influence on the world, the events
and conditions we face are largely
of our own design- we can't have
it both ways. We can't say that we
will assume Godlike knowledge, run
the world into a murderous cul-de-sac, then offer the reins back to
a God who only existed to take lip
service from a bunch of amateurs. Hanging out waiting for the Rapture is probably all the time most of us will spend in Purgatory, before a warmer eternity sets in. If this sounds
like mumbo jumbo, then we have to
figure out whether our synthetic
reality still leads to this kind of endpoint, except sans deities.
Either way, there's not a lot of room for smug assertions or rosy
assumptions. Botching our existence
on this planet is unlikely to be
an entree to Utopia, whether taken
in a lay or any religious context.

At 11:04 AM, Blogger Darius said...

MISTIPURPLE: Probably the worst that can happen here is you’ll find we’re long winded!

BENJAMIN: Thanks Benjamin. But to call a positive response to others a positive “judgment” of them isn’t the word I’d use. Here we’d be getting into a whole other area…

MATTHEW: I think so too. Personally I like “compassionate” better than “merciful” - despite its unfortunate association today with politically “compassionate conservatives! – but they’re similar, especially in expressing a largesse that exceeds fairness.

KESHI: Hi Keshi - not sure I’m following…

GRUMBLE: If I understand correctly, you’re saying that although religion as we understand it now has problems, a mentality that’s strictly secular in the sense of ignoring the domain of faith and spiritual life is problematic as well. That’s also how it looks to me.

At 5:57 PM, Blogger SusieQ said...

Darius, what is a politically "compassionate" conservative? And what is unfortunate about the word association?

I would also like to add that I did not understand a thing that Grumble wrote. :-(

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Darius said...

SUSIEQ: Oh, I was just foolin' around with the "compassionate conservative" reference. That's what Dubya said he was going to be when he ran for office that first time...

I think my paraphrase of Grumble, right above your comment, is basically accurate...

At 10:12 PM, Blogger SusieQ said...

"Oh, I was just foolin' around with the "compassionate conservative" reference."

Okay. I'll accept that.

At 7:38 AM, Blogger Darius said...

SUSIEQ: The irony for me isn't in the phrase "compassionate conservative" itself, but in Bush coining the term to apply to himself, and to the priorities held by he and his administration.


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