16 November 2006

Of Moral Authority.

First Things' Jody Bottum had to go to the doctor, which became the unsought occasion for some worthwhile moral reflection, but also this too true observation:

Not to worry: There’s nothing wrong with me except some aches and pains and lingering colds, all caused by general lack of “taking care of yourself,” as one doctor kindly explained. Actually, she said, “You are in as bad a shape as a body can possibly be and not actually be very sick. There are these things called exercise, sleep, and regular meals. You ought to try them sometime.”

Turns out that coffee and cigarettes are not completely reliable substitutes. Good to know, I suppose. But that physicians’ tone of moral authority—oh, how it grates, and, oh, how it works. Even dentists have it, the voice that speaks from certain knowledge of right and wrong in your personal behavior: “Do you floss after every meal?” There isn’t priest or pastor left in America who would dare assume that stern, judgmental tone.

Of course, Episcopalian clergy, being priests of a church with no "core doctrine," are explicitly in this predicament; there is only individual preference, no transcendent moral order, no certain (as in revealed) knowledge of right and wrong.


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