Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The good Padre wants me to post regularly, so I hope you don’t mind hearing those issues I’m studying. My ethics class has been focusing on lying for the past couple of weeks. I find this very interesting because, especially in the wake of our upcoming election and all that has been in the news regarding all the candidates.

According the St. Augustine, Kant, Calvinist Legalists, and Pope John Paul II, lying is wrong under any circumstance. You can’t lie no matter what.

Augustine has listed eight kinds of lies, all which are unacceptable. Better to save your soul than lie to protect someone and loose your soul. Lying is a sin no matter what. Kant believed we owe everyone the truth. This has to do with dignity and respecting others. The Pope wrote in Veritatis Splendor that the church is the pillar of truth and we are can’t alter truth as we see fit. Lying is wrong and a sin and the Bible and Church says it’s an evil. Calvinist Legalists POV also says never, never, never lie cuz it’s a sin. However, Grotius says to give people the truth that they are are due, however, in particular situations, we don’t necessarily need to reveal the truth, esp. in private affairs.

Then we have Joseph Fletcher who promotes Act Utilitarianism under a new name: Situation Ethics. Fletcher’s idea is that “1) only one thing is intrinsically good, namely love: nothing else. 2) The ultimate norm of Christian decisions is love: nothing else. 3) Love and justice are the same, for justice is love distributed. 4) Love wills the neighbor’s good whether we like him or not. 5) Only the end justifies the means: nothing else. 6) Decisions ought to be made situationally, not prescriptively.” This is from Situation Ethics a book on a debate between Fletcher and John Warwick Montgomery. Montgomery sees that if there is a choice between two evils, you chose the lesser of two evils, but you have to ask Jesus for forgiveness because lying is wrong even for good intentions.

So between Calvin legalist, Kant, Augustine and the Pope who believe no lying no way no how, you would think all the political conservatives would be truth-sayers because they are such good Christians. What do you think?


FranIAm said...

They are such good Christians?

That is a lie!

Theirs Lovely Mona, not your own.

I recently wrote on my blog that I noticed that I lie a lot less now that I am not some corporate executroid life form. Not that I was a big lying, liar, but lying is so much a part of that kind of life.

Now that I am just here and being me- despite the problems associated with my unemployment, I don't lie as much.

Sometimes I want to, but I just can't.

It is interesting. Trust me- there are other lies, aren't there always?

Great post and I am delighted to see this here!! (that is not a lie!)

The Lovely Mona said...

Thanks, Franiam. I guess I could have put "good Christians" in quotes. There's tons more to say about lying, but there's not enought space.

Jane R said...

What, no Sissela Bok? She literally wrote the book on lying. I haven't read it in ages but I just took a quick look at the reviews on Amazon and they remind me that Bok "analyzes the mechanics of deceit" and also criticizes "paternalistic lies." At the same time she says just about all of us lie.

Which doesn't answer your question, sorry... Though I wonder about all these men (I do mean men, not generic humans) who speak in absolutes. Always suspicious. (I'm not a relativist, I do think some things are wrong, wrong, wrong, but I also am suspicious when someone, fancy thinker or regular person, can't handle or recognize the ambiguities in life.) Another reason to read Sissela Bok.

Oh, and she's a philosopher, not a theologian. (She also wrote a good book on secrets.)

Fran, I have noticed too that in some jobs I spoke differently from others, and that it had to do with my censoring what I said more than lies. But one has to ask: at what point does self-censorship become lying? And how do power and being beholden to institutions affect our truth-telling?

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Sissela Bok is daughter of the famous Myrdals, Swedish Social Democrats of Norwegian extraction.

Gunnar Myrdal wrote on American racism already in the 1940ies and Alva Myrdal was onetime Ambassador to Dehli and Minister of Ecclesiastic (School and Church)affairs.

The Lovely Mona said...

Sissela Bok's book "Lying" is where some of the info came from. The teacher started with the Apendix which has writings of some of these men. It's a great book.

I didn't realize Sissela was a woman, not being familar with the name. Thanks for the short bio on her. Very interesting...

Grandmère Mimi said...

What I say is, "All the political conservatives should be truth-sayers because they are such "good Christians". But they ain't.

Lovely Mona, thanks for taking to the keys while El Padre el Grande is away having all kinds of fun while you do the hard work.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Hi Lovely Mona,

Thanks for sharing with us these past days...for some reason I'm having trouble commenting here but I'm enjoying every moment of your lead here at the Dance Party!


Lies? (quickly points finger elsewhere)

Jane R said...

Sissela Bok has written a memoir about her mother, Alva Myrdal... (And she's married to Derek Bok, former president of Harvard. Very high-powered family.)

Thanks again for sharing your class with us, Lovely Mona.

Caminante said...

In that line of thinking (Kant, Augustine), the French family that lied to the Nazis that they were not habouring Jews sinned. Don't think so. At least I hope not.

The Lovely Mona said...

We discussed that in class, too. We looked at it as the Utiliarians, Fletcher, and Bonhoeffer would agree with you. We even discussed equivocation which would be saying you saw Jews down the street (20 years ago). Another thing would to say something under your breath and changes the meaning. These are non-lies.

FranIAm said...

As Jane said in a comment..."Fran, I have noticed too that in some jobs I spoke differently from others, and that it had to do with my censoring what I said more than lies. But one has to ask: at what point does self-censorship become lying? And how do power and being beholden to institutions affect our truth-telling?"

Self-censorship is one aspect of lying yet I think of another element of power... How it may numb us in some ways as well.

I think one of the elements of institutionalized evil is the drive to ennui, which leads to the numbing and then...

Wait- have I just described the contemporary US?

Oh Lovely Mona, what you have begot here and with the other posts... brilliant.

Thank you.

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