Photography- Morality Project

Goth Tessa Dana Chris

Photography/Editing: James Futrell

Hair: Melissa Payne

Makeup/Creative Director: Saschia Johnson

Models: Tessa Dipallina and Christine Talamayan

 

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Wanna read more? Here’s another great piece from our Morality Collection by Geoff Blanchette

 

Simon Williams On Morality

On Morality

Introduction

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I will be presenting Morality from the position of an Evangelical Christian. In this post, I will simply assume that the Bible is as the authoritative word of God and the existence of the Christian God, as described in the Bible and the first six ecumenical councils. My goal is to present an understanding of Morality that is true to human experience and is faithful to the Bible.

Definition of Terms

You can skip this section if you want, but I wanted to explain some of my terms. Morality is a complicated topic and it can be very easy to misunderstand me if I don’t make clear what I mean when I use certain words. Please refer to the following list as needed for clarification:

  • Attribute – A quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.
  • Bad – That which doesn’t measure up with the attributes of God. Also, called Evil.
  • Duty – A moral or legal obligation; a responsibility; a task or action that someone is required to perform.
  • Good – That which coincides with the attributes of God.
  • Moral Duties – This is concerned with whether something is right or wrong. This is always a moral consideration.
  • Moral Values – This is concerned with whether something is morally good or bad. Good and bad may not have a moral dimension.
  • Right – This is concerned with moral obligation. This is what we ought to do. This produces godliness.
  • Wrong – This is concerned with moral obligation. This is what we ought not to do.

Moral Objectivity

What is the Good?

I want to affirm the existence of the good as an objective feature of reality. That is to say, the good exists and is discoverable; just like the scientific method, the laws and constants of the natural world or the laws of logic. On this view, the good is not a physical or abstract object, but is the sum of the attributes of God. This means that the good is not tied to human opinion, happiness or flourishing. In short, God is the good.

Good and Evil

On the view that I’m affirming, the attributes should be understood as being on a scale with the foundation of the scale based on God. All attributes are in comparison to God as the perfect standard and rule.

LOVING
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

For example, on the above scale of “Loving,” there is no such thing as “hatred.” It doesn’t exist as an objective feature of reality. Hatred is only a statement of a person being less loving, whether in comparison to God or other humans or even his/herself. On this view, it could be said that someone loves his/her mother but hates his/her father (by self-comparison) if the mother were loved at a 9 ranking, even if the father were loved at an 8.5 ranking. The father is still loved, but is given less love than the mother. This is the same with all “evils.” The scale is used to provide a qualitative sense not quantitative.

God’s Strictly Greatness-Building attributes:

Not all of God’s attributes are related to morality. Some of them are “good” in the sense that they are strictly “greatness-building” attributes. These are attributes that improve beings that possess them, making them greater. God, as a maximally great being, would have the most (10 on the above scale) of all greatness-building attributes. The loss of these attributes would be considered a bad thing, or an evil, but it wouldn’t make a person evil. I will try to illustrate this by giving some examples.

  • Strength
    • Jer 32:17
    • To have power is greater than weakness. And is, therefore, a good. But what is weakness? It is to “lack power.” I have a neurological condition that causes muscle weakness via atrophy. So, I know first-hand how evil it can be to have strength and then lose it. Any being that is less than all-powerful would be weaker than an all-powerful being. Therefore, God, being omnipotent, is the ultimate standard for power.
  • Presence
    • Psa 139:7-12
    • Omnipresence may be God’s most underrated attribute. It has so much going for it but is rarely addressed. For example, to be “present” in a spatiotemporal sense, a being must exist. Therefore, existence is part of being present. Existence is a good even in the face of accompanying evils, such as pain or suffering/depression, because those evils are not necessary for a being to exist and they can be removed. Even the existence of a flesh-eating bacteria is a good for the bacteria if not for us.
      To be “present” in a cognitive or personal sense, a being must be sentient and, therefore, living. This is popularly referred to as “mindfulness.” To be conscience or aware of something is greater than being oblivious or ignorant. It can be said that it is not greater to be conscience of evils such as pain and suffering. But why would that be? Is it truly greater to be ignorant of pain and suffering? Is a person who is oblivious of their own pain or someone else’s pain greater? Wouldn’t that lack empathy or cloud judgement?
      It is, also, greater to be present throughout reality than to be isolated to a single spot. Therefore, God, being omnipresent, is the standard for existence and presence.
  • Knowledge
    • Dan 2:21
    • The more knowledge you have the better, making it a good. To have all knowledge is to know all possible propositions and to believe all true propositions and not to believe any false proposition. Any being that has less than this is less knowledgeable than a being that does. Therefore, God, being Omniscient, is the ultimate standard for knowledge.

Moral Values

Alright, let’s move on to God’s moral attributes. In addition to building greatness, the moral attributes also serve to promote proper behavior and conduct.

God’s Moral Attributes

These are the attributes of God that causes one to be morally upright. I won’t bother describing each one because I think you get the idea from above. Only a few of them will be listed, but there are a ton.

  • Loving
    • Rom 8:35, 37-39
  • Truthful
    • Jhn 8:31, 32
  • Righteous
    • Eph 4:22-24
  • Just
    • 2Co 5:10
  • Merciful
    • 1Jhn 1:9
  • Faithful
    • 1Co 10:13

 

If this understanding of morality is true then it helps to explain God’s use of and compatibility with evil. In scripture, God is shown to be compatible with evil (Please see Isaiah 45:7, or whenever He is punishing, like the 10 plagues of Egypt). Because any action that doesn’t measure up with God’s perfect attributes could be considered evil. But, when God calls something evil it may or may not be in accordance with our tolerance of evil. When God provides punishment, the act is not just evil to His standard, but must be considered evil by the standard of the person’s or culture’s being punished. Or else it wouldn’t be a proper punishment. The question then is, when does something become evil to us? As fallen humans, with different tolerance levels of evil, it could be very low on the scale. Something could start to be evil at 5 or even lower. And anything above that could be considered love by that person. But these opinions always move along the scale provided by the standard of God.

If God is compatible with evil then what is He incompatible with? This is to move us to Moral Duties.

Moral Duties

Moral duties only exist in relation to beings with the authority to give commands. For example, a boss has authority to command tasks related to the job he/she supervises. Bosses are in charge of directing an employee’s efforts and when they do it becomes morally right for the employee to carry out the command (to obey). Obviously, when dealing with other humans, there are a lot of other factors that impact moral duties which are related to moral values. But, to disobey a lawful command is morally wrong. God, as a maximally great being who is moral perfection, has the most authority and is in the best position to give lawful commands. Our disagreement with the commands of God are always from a position of situational ignorance and moral imperfection. Therefore, disobedience of God is always morally wrong (Objectively Wrong) and is what the Bible calls sin. Sin is the only thing that is incompatible with God.

Conclusion

This is just a basic overview of one understanding of morality, and it’s definitely not fully fleshed out here. I also wanted to address relative morality and subjective morality. Maybe I will do that in other posts. Please let me know what you think! There are a ton of nuances in this topic and hopefully I can address those with any questions that are made. Thanks for reading!

 

Simon Williams is a certified Chapter Director for Reasonable Faith. He works at Millstone Power Station as a Leading Nuclear Chemistry Technician. Prior to Millstone, Simon served six years in the United States Navy where he apostatized to atheism. He renewed his faith in Christ shortly before being Honorably Discharged. He has been a member at Norwich Assembly of God since 2012 and is happily married to Saschia Johnson.

 

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Wanna read more? Here’s another great piece in our Morality Collection Redivivus by Geoff Blanchette.

 

 

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Wedding Day- Geoff Blanchette

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Wedding Day

She puts on
her white dress.

She slips on
her red heels.

She takes the quivering hand
of her father,

steps out of the alcove
and down the aisle,

with her head held high
as her unexpected burden

bounces in time
to her steps.

Geoff Blanchette is a writer and actor based in Westerly, RI

Would you like to add your opinion? Instead of commenting on this post please write/create something to be shared with the community.

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Wanna read more? Here’s another great piece in our Morality Collection by Toni Williams

the drain sings lovely -Morality Collection

 

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some of us lose all the time
time after time
until our true colours have bled out
and we start to see things in black and white
question on which side our shadows cuddle light
which sun offers up a tanned braising against a weak pale puffed burning
eagerly the skin turns to paper
and we’re unsure if we can capture enough words
before we become curling ashes in our pyres
for some of us, art is the air we breathe daily, until we drown ourselves in the bathtubs of our failed accomplishments
the drain sings lovely songs
bubble babble trickle symphony sung in the voices of those held dearest
in places where physically none are held anymore
these empty arms and trembling hands remember the way we painted each other
stroke by stroke, our brushes one anothers blushes
crimson your cheeks
raw-red from the joy-cry of understood and accepted
and named true
with words lovingly whispered through actions unspoken.

Written by: Michael Morlock, a father, artist, and time traveler from New England. You can find him @themancalledmorlock on Instagram

 

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Would you like to add your opinion? Instead of commenting on this post please write/create something to be shared with the community.

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Wanna read more? Here’s another great piece in our Morality Collection Frayed Ends by Geoff Blanchette

Frayed Ends- Morality Collection

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And what,
dear children,
is the end of the world?

Is it when
a hydrogen bomb is triggered,
and flesh and concrete
and body and soul
are brought to nothingness by the fury
of a stillborn sun?

Is it when
the rich finally get tired
of carrying the poor on their backs
(or, conversely,
when the poor
feel likewise
about the rich)
and drag them bodily
against the nearest convenient wall
(you can see it now, can’t you,
aglow in an aura
of weathered newsreel)
and shove a Luger
straight between their eyes
and blow their brains out,

plink

splat,

like wooden ducks at a carnival shooting gallery?

Is it when
the march of progress
tears apart the land

and poisons the water
and fills the air
with smoke and mercury
and electromagnetic waves
that carry only noise
and boundless ignorance,

aided & abetted
by the zombie hordes
who don’t really have a clear idea
about much of anything
(except, you know,
that they were promised
a new season
of that hot new show
and they really hope they get it
because, like,
that shit is pretty awesome)?

Is it when
a good friend
writes you a letter –

oh let’s be real,
the friend writes you an email
or a text
or a tweet
because who the hell has time anymore –

but for the sake of argument,
a good friend
writes
you
a letter,

itemizing in detail
the exact reason why
he or she
will never speak to you again,
delineating the lines
that you
so carelessly
crossed,
and wishing you
a long and happy life
without the burden of their
continued presence?

Is it when

your car breaks down,
or your phone falls in the toilet,
or the dog poops on your new carpet,
or the other guy at the office
got that big account that you wanted,
or the cute piece at the bar
seems a lot more interested
in that hot blond than in
your particular charms,
or your significant whoever is
mad at you again
because you forgot to mow the lawn or
wash the dishes or
suck them off
like you promised to?

Or:

Is it when you see
your newborn child
for the first time,
when you hear him propose,
when you hear her say Yes,
when you earn that last diploma,
when you meet a new friend,
when you forgive an old friend
for the sin of being human,
when you laugh with a good joke,
when others laugh with your jokes,
when you move into your own space
for the first time,
when you get your first real paycheck,
when you learn something
you never imagined before,
when you help someone understand something
that you know,
when you build,
when you love,
when you live?

And what,
dear children,
is the difference
between an end
and a beginning?

Written by: Geoff Blanchette (use link to see his wordpress) a writer and actor based in Westerly, RI

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Wanna read more? Here’s another great piece in our Morality Collection, I Want It All by Geoff Blanchette

Saschia Johnson- Morality Collection

Saschia Moraldom

Moraldom

Wrap me in white and send me along,
away to a place where there’s no rules

Rock me steady on a hollow log
listen for my beats, while I drift along

Gift me your love while in white I dream
but what I want is to be alone, I suppose

watch as everything escapes from your scheme
but please oh please let my lover of prose

Sing until I’m a blooming rose.

Saschia Johnson -Creator from Southeastern Connecticut

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Wanna read more? Here’s another great piece in our collection written by Simon Williams

Toni Williams -Morality Collection

Toni Williams- on morality

“I define morality by God’s written word.
Luckily God makes it plain
so that we are without excuse.
In fact God lists bad behavior
out in Romans 1:29-32.
Romans 2:1 states we have no excuse.”

-Toni Williams raised catholic, married a Protestant, go to any church that preaches and teaches Jesus Christ is Lord.

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Wanna read more? Here’s another great piece in our Morality Collection Moraldom by Saschia Johnson

 

Morality Project

I have decided my new project will be based around different views of morality. Here’s my view on morality taken from Gilbert Harman’s article Moral Relativism Explained

Moral relativism, as I understand it, is the claim that there is not a
single objectively true morality but only many different moralities, just
as there is not a single true language but only many different languages.

Gilbert Harman
Princeton University

This is a complex subject and can get very personal but, I think it’s something worth talking about, writing about, and getting creative about. According to Henry James,

Art lives upon discussion, upon experiment, upon creativity, upon variety of attempt, upon the exchange of views and comparison of standpoints…

So lets discuss, compare,  exchange, and make some art!

I will be collecting different pieces and posting them to my blog until January 2018. I will take ALL the responses and add them to this blog. It’s considered pure opinion and perspective here. Art, Quotes, Essays, lists, photography, book suggestions, poetry, short stories under 7000 words are all acceptable. Email: saschia.johnson@gmail.com or fill out form here.