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Monday, 6 October 2014

In Praise of Hypocrisy

A British bishop has had to step down over a secret life of serial adultery.

Oh, shame, I think, poor man, the worst of us do some good, and the best of us have our faults.

(I read somewhere, can't remember the details, that a priest who risked his life and liberty to bring the sacraments to slaves in the ante-bellum deep South later went to prison for embezzling parish funds. I always try to think of that before I, (too often, too hastily, ) pass judgement on people whose circumstances I don't know.)

And then I read:
‘It has been difficult keeping the secret,’ he told the Mail. ‘In some respects I feel very calm. It is liberating. It is a relief. I have been very careful not to make sexual morality a priority [in his sermons]. I don’t think it got in the way of my job, I don’t think people would say I have been a bad bishop.
So.... no.

Just no.
Because  teaching your people about morality of all sorts was your, as you put it, "job."

It may be unfair of me to impute motives, but I will at least wonder if his failure to adequately address sexual morality in his preaching and teaching was so that he wouldn't have to hear it -- so he'd never need consider his own misbehavior seriously.

Where does anyone in any position of authority, or more to the point, in a magisterial post, a teaching capacity, get the absurd idea that unless they are perfect they are not to hold up ideals? that because they are sinners they must stop trying to help those they teach be saints?

I believe it is because there is no more sin anymore, no sin but one -- lie about your enemies, kill you children, fornicate, drive the poor even further into the dust,  rape, destroy other nations, but whatever you do - DON'T BE A HYPOCRITE!

Don't dare even suggest there are standards if you yourself don't live up to them - and since no one is perfect, let's just shorten that to don't tell other people that any behavior is wrong or evil.

Now me, I think what most people call hypocrisy has positive value, and I think it is a necessary trait for all of us who weren't immaculately conceived.

I believe we should all try to hold up the good and the true and the beautiful as the goal - as ideals after which to strive, as standards whether we can live up to them or not.

I was going to write an essay "In Praise of Hypocricy," but those interwebs naturally reveal that this has already ben done by people wiser and more eloquent than I.
Like this:
Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. More to the point, virtue deserves tribute. I tire of nincompoops raising a quivering finger at folks whose morality may not be 100% consistent. I grow weary of those who think the mere observation of hypocrisy means something. I yawn and roll my eyes at the killjoys who seem to think that the mere existence of hypocrisy somehow discredits the idea that one should at least attempt to act ethically.
The argument seems to be that if you reveal someone is a hypocrite in any way, no matter how tenuous, they’ll dissolve into an embarrassed puddle of goo like the Wicked Witch of the West when splashed with a bucket of water.
What kind of reasoning is that? Looks to me like the kind of highfalutin disputation used by spoiled, foot-stomping, semi-sentient adolescents on their parents. It’s a textbook example of the ad hominem logical fallacy. Pointing out that someone is a hypocrite is analytically equivalent to calling them a pooty-head or mentioning they are fat and smell like paste. 

Or this  podcast.

(Incidentally, is smelling like paste an insult? The things I learn on the Interwebs...)

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