All posts by Dr. Charlie Self

Inversion: Parallel Universes

I entitled this piece, “Inversion” because we have a world in which what was previously morally clear and obviously true is no longer seen that way, especially by purveyors of identity politics and anarchistic philosophies. “Parallel universes” is a phrase that describes the lenses through which people see the same events, ideas and trends…and it is stunning how different these visions are!

Two crises dominate the public square, especially in the USA and the West. The first is anthropology: what does it mean to be a human being, and, what is the future of male and female identity? The second crisis is the foundation of the first one: how do we “know” anything? In a world of competing “memes” and “narratives” where is the room for empirical research and critical thinking? Emotions rule the day and how particular persons and groups “feel” trumps careful research and reflection.

Let’s begin with how we “know.” Philosophers and religious leaders have debated for millennia about the nature of reality and the sources of our knowledge. Much of this was confined to the academy and esoteric circles. Most of humankind wakes up to a challenging world of laboring for daily bread and they do not need a lesson of whether or not their toil is “real.” The importance of events has always been debated, but not the reality itself. Historians love gathering different perspectives; however, all but a few would affirm, “Some events really happened.”

For the past 20 years, we have allowed feeling, political agendas, and image- and social media-driven communication to eclipse careful evaluation. From former President Obama’s fictionalized autobiographies to current debates on climate change, gullibility or suspicion is driven by ideology, not research. The very people that scream, “Science matters!” about climate change ignore advances in science completely as they promote abortion and infanticide. Gender confusion is a psychosocial pathology – science is clear that 99% of humans are born with particular DNA designating them male and female.

We need a return to reason and research, a willingness to subject ideas to scrutiny and adapt our understanding after careful reflection. Such progress will not be politically correct or conform to everyone’s feelings. It will, however, help us solve real problems and promote human flourishing.

Next week: human identity up for grabs.

True Toleration

Moral convictions do not mean the absence of compassion. True toleration helps neighbors of vastly different universes live peaceably together with love and respect. If I disagree with someone’s beliefs or behaviors, it is not narrow-mindedness or disrespect.

Can we all grow up a bit and stop labeling and libeling?

I believe unborn and newly-born children are human persons. That is a love for life, not a war on women.

I am a Christian; therefore, I disagree on some matters with my Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, or secular neighbors…who I will gladly work with to make our world a better place.
We have miles to go on gender equality and racial injustice. I do not need to hate myself or “shut up”, however. 

I think ethical free enterprise is better than centralized socialism. This does not mean I reject a safety net or concern for the environment. I want America to lead the world in hospitality for immigrants…and secure the borders and reform her policies.

As a minister, I will only consecrate heterosexual, monogamous marriages. That does not mean I will not be a good neighbor to adults that organize life differently. As an academic, I enjoy presenting all sides of important issues. Truth can stand the test of opposing arguments.

The moment we label and libel, we end the search for wisdom and reveal fear of “the other.”
We must want for all others the liberties that we enjoy. 

For our Political Leaders

Our political impasses are solvable…except the lust for power blurs vision for the common good. We can balance a budget, secure our borders, offer equity and opportunity, provide for our defense and rebuild infrastructure with skilled people ready to help. But too many leaders would rather agitate than build. It is easier to promise the unachievable than call for integrity.

I have three questions as you propose legislation:
First, who benefits? Are we aiming for the common good or lining the pockets of a few?

Second, what are the principles behind the laws? The ideas and virtues underneath do matter.

Third, how will we pay for this? Are we moving toward fiscal stability or deficit-spending our way to power?
Stewarding the public trust requires courage, moral clarity and wisdom.