Monday, November 11, 2019

I See Good People

Good: (MW) of a favorable character or tendency: virtuous, right, commendable: Kind, benevolent

(Free Dictionary): that which is morally right; righteousness.

Good person(MW) an honest, helpful, or morally good person
(Free Dictionary): a person who is good to other people

Craig, at another blog, has repeatedly taken issue with my posts on Good People. He also  refuses to define how he's using the word Good and finds my answers about good people to "mean both everything and nothing..." but clearly, my definition/descriptions don't do that.

Someone who kills, lies and cheats is not a good person.

Someone who is kind, helpful, patient, loving, gracious IS a good person.

We can't say objectively "this person is good and that person is bad" because Good is subjective. 

Nonetheless, it's just not that difficult to recognize good behavior or to say, "That is a good person." 

It's not that difficult for most of us to be able to say that. Even Marshal and Craig (both of whom are objecting to me saying that there are good people) appear to concede that there are good people. (Craig: "I know people who, by my subjective standards, I would consider to be good.")

Yes, it's just not that difficult to recognize good behavior or to say, "That is a good person." 

I know a person (actually, I know several people for whom the following description fits...) who...
works every day helping homeless people on their job (or teaching children, or nursing...);
raised and loved wonderful children;
taught and cared for and mentored other people's children; 
live in small circles so that they're limiting the amount of pollution they produce; 
are honest and patient with people, even stubborn or obnoxious people; 
pick up litter when they spot it on the sidewalk;
don't litter themselves;
do kind things for and with poor people, for immigrants, for oppressed Muslims;

On the other hand,
Perhaps their worst habit is watching too much TV (no small thing, that!); 
Their diet could be better;
They DO lose patience with obnoxious people some times;
They do fail to help some people some times (when they're tired from helping people all day, for instance);
They have gossiped;
They stole a pencil when they were a child (I don't really know this, just acknowledging that they probably have done things of that nature);

Of course, they have never killed, beaten, stolen from people, sexually harassed anyone, etc. No "big" crimes/wrong-doing.

In short, they are generally genuinely good people. NOT perfect people, but no one has ever said one must be perfect to be good and that's just not a rational description.

Indeed, those who would insist that you must be perfect to be counted Good would be a rather grace-less person. A pharisee, perhaps.

Yes, I DO know good people. Genuinely good people. Beyond that, I am close enough to them to know that they have no hidden secret murders or assaults they've taken part in.

They are not perfect, but by any reasonable measure, they are good.

Just because there is no objective measure to definitively say, "THEY ARE OBJECTIVELY GOOD PEOPLE," we can easily note and say, "They are, by reasonable measures, very good people."

I know such people. I go to church and work with a large number of them.

Calvinists and skeptics who say otherwise are just not dealing with reality and, most likely, they are choosing to define Good in some non-standard and irrational manner.

Good: of a favorable character or tendency: virtuous, right, commendable: Kind, benevolent

When I say Good people, I just mean "people of a favorable character or tendency: virtuous, right, commendable: Kind, benevolent." And yes, they exist. No matter what the Pharisees may say.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


I was captured today
in a gentle storm of leaping leaves
falling, showering, drizzling
around and upon and throughout me

Enveloping me like grace
like love
like dirt,
like sky
like I don't know who and
I don't know why
like a great symphony
swelling, flowing, growing
in deep crimson harmony

and with each spin
each rotation of autumnal bliss
I was delivered,
washed clean
baptised with a hickory kiss

spun gold salvation in a
sweet soaring swirl
landing on my head
on my shoulder and legs,
It made me twist, it made me twirl

right along with that
riotous laugh of leaves
and I danced holy ghost joy
on the sidewalk and all down the
wide-eyed street

"Glory Hallelujah!"
I raised my voice on high
I raised my hands
I raised my song
I raised my Self to fly

I was captured, today,
brainwashed and then set free
free to let go and live and leap
and die like those
soaring, spinning, gracious, grinning

Hallelujah. Amen.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Does Our Nature Determine Our Actions?

Craig over at another blog recently posted some questions in my general direction and I've answered them. I thought it might be instructive to the previous posts to re-post those answers here. He asked questions about the idea of what our human nature is like.

Does our nature determine our actions, or do our actions determine our nature?

Both. We are who we are. I may be, by nature, a naturally lazy or ungrateful or ungenerous person... or at least tend towards those attitudes. However, if I - in spite of what I may think my nature is - start being a harder worker, or more grateful towards others or more generous... then I become a hard working, grateful and generous person. IF I am working hard, then whatEVER my "nature" might be, I AM a hard worker and not lazy. If I decide that it's important to give and start giving to good causes (in time and money), then i AM a generous person. So, ultimately, our actions determine our nature, but I'd say it's some of both.

And I'd state that based on all the evidence we see. Further, there is research that says that, even if we don't think of ourselves as generous (for instance), if we start giving, we develop more of a giving nature.

It's like that old parable: There are two wolves within us. One is evil and one is good. Those wolves are fighting. And which wolf wins the fight? The one we feed.

2. Can you really, accurately, objectively determine a person’s nature based on subjective observations of part of a person’s public actions?

I don't know that we can objectively determine a "person's nature" but I think we can REASONABLY and generally ACCURATELY determine a person's nature based on observation.

It's POSSIBLE that a truly evil person can keep evil intentions hidden from friends and observers all around over time, but the odds of it truly being hidden, in spite of evidence of a good life, are ridiculously small. I'd say, along with Jesus, that one can recognize them by their fruit/by their actions. A good tree, Jesus said, will bear good fruit and that is observable.

Is a “good” deed done for a “bad” motive really qualify as “good”?

My short answer: No.

My slightly longer answer: I would say that it would truly depend. The question is too vague and not enough data is available. Generally speaking, I'd be suspicious of good deeds done for a bad motive.

Can the same action be good or bad depending on the circumstances or motivation?

Yes, I think so.

If we’re defined only by our actions, then what’s the magic number to be considered “good”?

There is no magic number.

No one is arguing that a person that we observe who is "reasonably good..." i.e., the saints we all have in our lives... people who are consistently patient and kind and helpful and loving to people - especially the down and out and marginalized, and with no obvious immoral actions - No one is arguing that such a person is PERFECTLY good. I'm just saying that, given the fruit of one's life and especially over time, you can recognize good people by their fruit.

Perfectly good? No, of course not. REASONABLY good. Yes, of course.


Those were my answers to his questions. My questions to him went unanswered.

What I've asked are questions like...

1. We all have those saintly people in our lives - people we recognize as good, who are, over time, consistently helpful, patient, kind, loving, grace-full, welcoming and who have no huge obvious misbehaviors in their actions - or at least, I do. Do you have people in your life who you recognize as obviously good people?

2. Given the evidence of Good People in the world, do we have any reason to suspect that they're NOT good, for some reason?

3. I recognize that some Calvinist types may say that by Good, they mean Perfect, i.e., without sin, like God. But that is not the standard definition of Good. Using the commonly understood, standard definition of Good, do we have any reason to suspect that no Good people exist?

4. What would be your argument for that? Do you recognize that this sounds crazy on the face of it to many - perhaps most people?