Friday, June 30, 2006

Technology: Innovation Wish-List

I'm taking a short break from the ethics series ... something a little lighter for the weekend. Here's a short list of technological advances that I would welcome:
  1. When watching a DVD, scene selection option "Play Only PG" -- right next to "Play All", but this option would allow you to watch more movies with your kids, like movies that have two or three objectionable scenes but are mostly fine.
  2. When watching a DVD, sound selection option "Bleep Profanity". That allows you to watch movies with your kids that are mostly ok, but the writers were more fond of spicy language than is right for the children's ages in this particular household. (First movie on my wishlist: Die Hard. My son is mature enough to handle the violence. But does everybody remember what Bruce Willis says when Alan Rickman accuses him of being a cowboy? My son would be repeating it for a week. It's far too catchy. "Eloquent profanity," to steal a line from Little Feat.)
  3. When writing email, privacy options on whether a new letter can be forwarded to anyone, can be forwaded in-office only (for business email systems), or cannot be forwarded. It wouldn't stop deliberate spread of sensitive information because there's always cut and paste, but it would stop the accidental ones.
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pet peeves in the homosexuality debate

Christian (Definition) One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ insofar as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin. --- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
It's difficult for me to read much of the debate over homosexuality without becoming annoyed at both sides, despite the fact that one of the sides is "my" side. And it's not just the extremists throwing used condoms at priests on the left or picketing funerals on the right. Here are my pet peeves that you see often enough even among reasonable people.

For the traditional family camp:
  • If you're really that worried about marriage, why aren't you launching anti-adultery campaigns too? How much more prevalent is that?
  • How about some "continuity of marriage" campaigns to drop the divorce rate, if marriage is your big issue?
  • If the thought of what two men might be doing creeps you out, could you kindly just count to ten before you say something? "Eeeww" isn't the most persuasive argument in the world.
  • Come on now, all the anti-homosexual rhetoric: aren't you just glad you've finally found a sexual sin that you *aren't* tempted to? Do you pick on that one because it's the only one you feel you can speak against without being a hypocrite?
For the homosexual legitimization camp:
  • Would you kindly drop the sanctimonious routine where you lecture other people about the morality of love? "Sanctimonious" never comes across well, even from those with impeccable moral credentials.
  • Would you please not argue from Scriptures supporting agape-love and press them into service to support erotic love? It does not impress people with your deep understanding of Scripture.
  • Please don't resort to demonizing people who hold a more conservative view of Scripture. Especially right after you just gave a lecture about how much more Christ-like and loving you are than those evil morons who disagree with you.
  • If you reject certain Scriptures just say so. Can we skip playing the shell-game with words till the meaning of the verses gets lost in the shuffle? That approach just doesn't impress people with its forthrightness.
For us all:
  • "Take the log out of your own eye first" is always good advice for both sides in a long and heated debate. Really, not just "their" side but "our" side also, whichever side that is.
  • Please let's all skip the "your sin is worse than mine" argument. When people draw their own moral lines, they arrange for the other team to come off worse, shocking as that may seem. Morality is not a game of spiritual one-upmanship and the proper use of morality is not scoring points against your opponents. That's an immoral use of morality. And the immoral use of morality is one of the key reasons morality itself has fallen into disrespect.
Someone may read this and feel the need to say that they don't do those kinds of things. That's terrific. But lots of people do.

Take care & God bless

Monday, June 26, 2006

Ethics: What about homosexuality?

Note: This post takes a personal perspective based on some friends I've known over the years. For a post that looks at the debate over homosexuality and reviews both sides, see Controversies: Is homosexual behavior sinful.

Now there's a topic that's been overdone, and by now there is little new to say about it. If your view of sexuality is based mainly on family and children and the fact that mankind reproduces heterosexually, there's not much that can be said in favor of homosexuality. If your view of sexuality is based mainly on affection and pleasure, and if "family" has a more elastic definition, then there's not much that can be said against it.

And I know I have to kind of step gently on a subject like this, since the issue at stake is so close to someone's self-worth. Even though the spiteful, single-issue anti-homosexuals are really rare, they make themselves heard and they have still done their damage. Of course sometimes it's convenient for those who are pro-homosexual to lump everyone who disagrees into that camp, but I suspect that most people know better than to think they can honestly lump all disagreements under "hatred and fear". I suspect that's more of a tactical move (not an especially honest one, but a generally effective one). But regardless of whether there had ever been any of those spiteful, single-issue anti-homosexuals, it would still be a sensitive subject these days to question the morality of homosexuality. Mix together desire, shame, disapproval, pride, love, and a few more volatiles and you've got a recipe for an explosion on your hands. There are many homosexuals who genuinely love their partners (and, some might be quick to remind us, many heterosexuals who are just in it for themselves). Homosexuality cannot be understood in isolation from the larger picture of sexual morality and ethics.

Of course, if a man loved a woman, and they consummated, and they weren't married (to each other), and they said "but we love each other", most Christians would acknowledge fairly plainly that "we love each other" isn't the end of the story about whether sexual relations are right. But who among us -- heterosexuals included -- has never been caught in the odd tangle of being attracted to someone we shouldn't be? And Jesus was not very reassuring on this: even if we have the self-control not to act on it, we have the heart of an adulterer all the same. So the starting point of any discussion on homosexuality cannot be some nauseating moral one-upmanship, but an honest recognition of humanity's general brokenness and susceptibility to temptation and self-justification, especially with regard to sexuality.

So I will discuss the ethics of homosexuality with respect to two homosexuals who have been friends of mine at various points in my life. Their names have been altered, though I hope if either of them reads this, they would get the humor of the pseudonyms I've chosen for them.

A long-time college friend, she was shy about telling our group of friends that she was homosexual. As if it wasn't obvious. When she "came out" and nobody ostracized her, she was a little bolder in trusting us. I thought she'd always been homosexual from the very beginning of her sexual identity. It was during a game of truth or dare one night that I found out she used to be hetero. That someone had raped her and she couldn't deal with trusting men again. That homosexuality for her started as a crutch, a compromise between desire and fear. She never got to a healthy relationship with men, and she let her desire for that die, or killed it. Probably some of each. Homosexuality had a role in her never getting back to where she had been before, never making a full recovery from rape. So she kept her fear and distrust of men, never squarely faced the questions that she needed to face to rebuild her life after something like that. To me, it seemed like the rapist succeeded in destroying her life because she gave up something she had desired, something she had wanted, out of fear.

Does this have something larger to do with homosexuality? Depends on how much larger. I've come to realize, over the years, that "Carol" is not exactly unique in basing her homosexuality on an inability or unwillingness to form relationships with the other sex, whether it comes from distrust or fear or trauma or whatever the case may be. I'm not claiming that it's the case for everyone. But I'm not going to dishonor what happened to Carol by saying it's not worth discussing just because it doesn't apply to everybody. Saying "you can't discuss it unless it applies to everybody" is like saying stereotypes actually work. They don't. So with the acknowledgment that what happened to Carol isn't what happened to everybody, it's still real enough. "Carol", if you ever read this, I had to blank out your actual name 3 or 4 times now and type "Carol" over it. Sigh. I can't get this pseudonym thing through my head.

And then there was my friend Jason. He used to have a crush on my husband, but he didn't pursue it actively so my husband was ok with it. He stayed around our place alot. As far as I know, Jason has always been "bi". He likes men, he likes women. He won't marry a woman because he still wants the experience of other men. But he's living his life without a family, without children. And he wishes he had children. He makes no secret of the fact that he considers it this huge hole in his life that he has no family and children. When I think about him, he reminds me of other talented folks like Ian McKellen (openly gay) -- and it's just a shame for someone talented like that to have their bloodline die out. All of humanity is a little poorer for that. (I know, from the perspective of Darwinism, that might not even apply. Darwinism is a little unsympathetic about things like that. If homosexuality is a gene-based inclination, then Darwinism would have to see it as a way to keep the species from having those genes continue. But Christ did not teach survival of the fittest; he taught the value of all people, fittest or not. And let's face it, none of us is the fittest, and even "the fittest" is only fittest for a short period of time before they're not anymore.)

My point?
The two homosexuals that I've known best -- befriended, and were a long-term part of my life -- had a bittersweet relationship with their own homosexuality. It was to some extent, for each of them in a different way, a compromise with a fallen world and an injured self. And the more I consider who we are as human beings, and how important sexuality is to mankind and to community, I can't see a way that someone could be homosexual without having faced some really heart-wrenching alienations, not just from people who reacted badly, but from the mainstream of human experience based on human biology, from the fabric of human community where new persons arise in the context of a heterosexual union. It is a huge thing to miss.

It is true enough that leading a homosexual lifestyle also leaves gaps in the fabric of one's own family, where parents or grandparents or great-grandparents may have expected their line to continue, or at least to want to continue if it were possible. A branch of the family tree simply ends. And it is also true enough that those who have no children leave it to the rest of us and to our children to support them in their advanced age. Still, these are things that are within our power to bear out of charity, even if it is a fair question whether charity was considered when such a choice was made. Childlessness, as a social issue, extends far beyond the boundaries of the homosexual community.

In Scripture, sexual union is held in high regard as a life-defining, family-defining action which is the fabric of the community at large. In turn, all sexual sins are taken seriously by the Bible as life-disrupting, family-disrupting, and community-disrupting. I do not believe the Bible's teachings on sexuality (including homosexuality) are outdated or hateful; I think they're the best model for building healthy and meaningful lives in this world. I hold to them hoping for the healing of the hearts, souls, and lives of the homosexuals I've been proud to call friends. I think to deny that there is a problem is to give up hope for healing. And speaking as a heterosexual who has sometimes found the Biblical laws to be in the way of something I really wanted to do -- I have to say I'm glad that they're an immovable, fixed point of sanity when my self-centered desires start getting the better of my own rationality (not that it seems that way at the moment).

And Carol, if you read this, I know you won't agree with everything I say; maybe not with anything I say. But whether you do or don't, I want you to know that you in particular are one brave and kind-hearted lady, and I'm glad to have known you.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ethics: Does love always justify sexual consummation?

Earlier we looked at how not all things called "love" are really something that Christianity can recognize as the kind of love that Christ had for his people, the kind he enjoined us to have for each other. That is no longer the question here.

The next question on the table is whether a genuine love -- one that truly cares for the other person -- always justifies sexual consummation. Pre-marital sex? Adultery? Betraying a mate, revoking promises of faithfulness, abandonment of children? These things are tragic but not inherently wrong in most secular sexual ethics. The answer often given to whether love always justifies sexual consummation is "yes, so long as there is consent". As we have already seen, some questions at stake are these: Am I an isolated individual, or do my actions matter to other people? Does relationship damage count as harming myself or others? When we are talking specifically about the ethics of sexual consummation there is another root question to consider: What is its purpose?

On one view, sexuality is about human survival. Sexuality is the procreative act: it makes children. Pleasure and desire are means towards this one end: creating another human being.

From a Christian view, the pleasure and desire are God-given benefits that aim for an even greater end: another person, intrinsically worthy of the type of love that Christ enjoined, the type that loves other people not based on their usefulness but based solely on shared humanity. The creation of another person in the image of God is considered an inherently good thing, a child considered an occasion for gladness. From a Christian view also, the pleasure and desire are rightly part of a family bond, which is the stable basis on which a person can know he or she will always have love in this life.

In popular culture, the purpose of sexuality is considered to be pleasure, the satisfaction of desire, the relief of a hormonal pressure, or even (though not necessarily) an expression of genuine love. The purpose of reproduction is often denied or frustrated at all costs. While doing the one act that naturally produces children, some camps seem continually annoyed or surprised when a child results. Great pains are taken to ensure the sterility or chemical-induced infertility of one or the other persons involved, and as a fallback, if a child does result, the new life is not typically welcomed or valued but often quietly ended. Obviously this approach to sexuality is not a great advantage in the survival of humanity; cultures which have adopted this "ethics" have seen their populations on the decrease. As has also been much discussed, this approach necessarily degrades the value of humanity when the shared humanity of a new life is no longer considered sufficient basis to welcome that life, and its very right to exist is denied on such a profound level that no questions are asked before the life is ended. Love for the partner may or may not be removed from sexuality, but it is removed from reproduction, and from humanity at large. Sexual union is degraded from an act with life-long consequences and the power to create life to nothing more than an intense pleasure. Neither is there any way to devalue the meaning of sexuality like this without devaluing ourselves along the way, since our sexuality is an important part of who we are as persons. Sexuality is such a basic and important part of our lives that removing love from sexuality often threatens to remove love from a person's life, and removing long-term stability from sexual partners removes long-term stability from a person's life. Neither is there any way to ignore the reproductive angle of sexuality without devaluing families, since sexuality and procreation are the basis of families.

A view of sexuality which takes no account of family bonds necessarily devalues family bonds and leaves large numbers of people lonely and adrift. A view of sexuality which takes no account of procreation -- other than avoiding it -- necessarily leads to devaluing the family, impoverishing many lives of meaningful and lasting relationships, and depriving many people of a personal stake in the future of mankind. Sexuality has a large and important role in our life: family, children, and a stable life-long bond. This means that love -- even genuine love -- does not automatically justify consummation. It also means that the ones who suffer the greatest losses from sexual irresponsibility are the person deciding to go for it, and his or her beloved. A genuine love, realizing this, might reconsider.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Ethics: Does lust count as love?

Love the LORD your God. ... Love your neighbor as yourself. -- Jesus

Love is the satisfaction of knowing the good in others and being bonded together with them, sharing what is good. The good of one reflects onto the other and the good is increased. Love contains the opposite of the radical individualism that divides us and isolates us from each other. Love means the end of saying "I will do whatever I want" without giving a thought to the other. Selfishness says "I". Love says "we". The one who loves does not think of himself alone. The one who loves is no longer isolated, can no longer be fully understood apart from those he loves. His thoughts and decisions are always conscious that there is good outside himself, good which he cannot ignore without loss to himself and to those he loves. He belongs, and is part of something larger than himself.

What's love got to do with it? -- Tina Turner

Except when it is a selfish kind of love. Love has an evil twin: lust. Because of the high place given to love in Jesus' teachings, it is natural that any subversion of Christian ethics will include a subversion of love. Lust is not the only selfish thing claiming the name "love", but it is the most common. A selfish kind of love holds on to its radical individualism -- its "right" to do whatever it wants regardless of the effects on anyone else. A selfish love does not love our neighbor as ourselves; it loves our neighbor for ourselves. A selfish love values the other not for who they are, not for companionship or fellowship, not for the shared bond that they are like ourselves in their humanity, but for their usefulness. It is a greedy and self-gratifying desire that uses other people. This selfish love does more harm than good. It divides us further. It widens distrust.

We're most vulnerable to confusion when love is combined with sexual desire. It is a deep bond, a great chance to share what is good. It is a strong desire, a great risk for abusing others for selfish ends. A system of ethics which does not recognize the destructive potential of selfish lust has no right to be taken seriously; yet many people no longer consider using someone for selfish lust to be wrong. They assume lust has a right to be considered love; it does not. The pleasure of hormones is often misnamed love on the basis of its pleasantness to the one who feels it and the intensity of the attachment to the object of its desire. But lust is often impatient and unkind, selfish and self-seeking.

A hormone high is a love potion. Our desire attaches quickly to the next suitable object. The "good" we see in another person is often their usefulness in satisfying our desire. One of my professors in school, a man from another culture, told me that some cultures see romantic love, the hormone high, as an unhealthy mental state somewhat like anger, something that makes people act against their better judgment. I can see his point. Real love is not immune to wisdom and understanding but is informed by it, even in part fueled by it. The hormone high is not properly thought of as love at all. Just as alcohol intoxication is not safe when you need your better judgment to navigate a car, so hormone intoxication is not safe when you need your better judgment to navigate through decisions about other people. The wisest place for something that volatile is in the warm, kind, stable relationship already established on genuine love. Something that volatile simply cannot be the basis for lasting relationships. In order for something to be really love, it has to be about them, and not just insofar as they are useful to us or meet our needs.

Granted that any relationship from friendship to parenting can lend itself to confusion between love for the other and our own desires, still the most common confusion happens in sexuality, where a strong desire easily takes a selfish bent and where deceit is common. Not all things called "love" are really something that Christianity can recognize as the kind of love that Christ had for his people, the kind he enjoined us to have for each other. The kind of love Christ praised -- an commanded -- was a pure one, unmixed with thoughts for its own interests.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The premise of ethics: what you do makes a difference

Ethics is all based on one premise: what we do affects other people. Our actions make a difference. Our lives matter. To say that right and wrong are not relevant is to say that our lives and actions do not matter after all. I suspect one reason ethics has left the popular discussion and popular consciousness is that so many people question whether their lives actually do matter. And if our lives do not matter, then it does not matter what we do with them. Ethics becomes a moot point.

Ethics rarely stoops so low as to say that right and wrong are completely irrelevant -- though I have heard that position argued. The more common position is roughly "If you harm none, do what you will." This position is based on a radical individualism -- nearly an isolationism -- that completely ignores any groups to which we belong. It defines our persons and our actions in isolation unless damage is done to another, and only recognizes material damage as wrong. It does not recognize that being an isolated individual is itself harmful, that relationship damage is wrong. That's why divorce and child abandonment -- once nearly unthinkable in our society and reserved for the lowest of the low -- have now become commonplace in our culture. That's why parents are left to die alone in nursing homes even if they aren't too ill for their children to tend. Popular morality now glosses over the fact that our lives matter to other people, and that we may be important to them.

Granted, some people have abused ethics to control people; but other people have used individualism to neglect people. The question isn't whether a position can be abused, it's whether a position does justice to life. Radical individualism's basic claim is that I do not matter to the people around me, that my life and actions are irrelevant to the world at large, and that their lives do not matter to me unless they attack me or steal from me.

This radical individualism is against some of the well-respected thoughts of the ages. "No man is an island."1 "United we stand, divided we fall." And of course: "As I have loved you, so love each other." There are some who still build communities as best as we can. One concern is how difficult that may be when the concept is largely rejected. My concern is greater for those those who do not belong to communities. There is an epidemic of loneliness fueled by an extremist individualism that does not even recognize the basic human need for companionship, that looks on groups and extended families and communities with distrust. To base an ethic of "freedom" on the premise that your life is irrelevant and meaningless to others leads to isolation and despair. This isolation in turn easily leads to neglect of those who see you as part of their group or community or family, an aloofness or absenteeism from those who love you best.

But to reclaim ethics, we must start at the beginning: what we do makes a difference.

1 - One of the nice touches in the recent children's movie The Incredibles was that the father wrestled with trying to do everything himself, and ended up in deep trouble on an island called Nomanisan. The filmmakers were careful not to spoil the joke and never put it together for you: Nomanisan Island. The film as a whole was a refreshing but rare recognition of family and non-isolation in a modern popular forum.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Let's talk ethics: Nobody gets hurt

Popular ethics these days is very simple: if it doesn't hurt anybody, it isn't wrong. It's one of those ironies: we don't discuss ethics because it might hurt somebody's feelings, so discussing ethics is seen as marginally unethical -- or at least it is rarely done in polite company.

But "stop before somebody gets hurt" is inadequate on a number of levels. Anger, lust, greed, pride -- even hatred -- are all realities. They are nearly human universals. Leave them to grow, and they will find a way out. And what exactly is "hurt"? "Hurt" can be as subtle as contempt. As hard to measure as the effects of slander. As low-key as undisclosed deceit. As well-intentioned as spoiling the children, putting a mask of kindness over irresponsibility. Neglect is another destructive force not directly confronted by "if you harm none, do what you will". Some of the biggest hurts are registered by someone who is simply absent from loved ones' lives. And in practical use, the evaluation of wrong in terms of "hurt" tends to focus on the material such as physical harm, financial harm, or property damage. There is little recognition given to the harm of enmity, disdain, mockery; little recognition given to the simple fact that we are happiest and most content when we live our lives in stable groups with a sense of belonging; little recognition given to responsibilities to our parents, our mates, or our children. I would not care to meet somebody who did not agree with "harm none" at the most basic level, but it is not nearly enough to build the stable group with the sense of belonging that is a natural human desire.

"Harm none" is also a completely negative way to frame ethics. If someone avoids all negative actions, does that register a zero? Does the scale of ethics have a positive side? Or have we put all the "positives" in life in terms of "do what you will"? Are positives ever registered for building that stable group to which others can belong? What about purging ourselves of bitterness, malice, and anger, and building patience, kindness, and self-control, so that we do not tear apart the fabric of any group to which we belong? Is there a desirable group that can form without love, or stay together without forgiveness?

So from the very beginning, I have to reject "nobody gets hurt" as an adequate definition of ethics.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Problem with Systematic Theology

Yes, those banana plants are in my back yard. That's one bonus of living on the Gulf Coast, and closer to the equator than Cairo, Egypt. No, it's not a dry heat.

Here's a tip for all of us armchair theologians: when our minds start sneaking off to greener pastures, we're in search of God, and there's more of God in those greener pastures than in the academic deserts we're creating.

The Bible does theology much better than we do. Poetry, architecture, song lyrics, embroidery, incense. Blood sacrifice. A scarlet thread turning white. A harvest. Jesus explained the kingdom of God in terms of baked bread, sheep, wedding banquets, running water, lilies that are there one day and gone the next, sparrows that do not fall apart from God, bread and wine, and fig trees. Speaking of fig trees, now it's only a few more weeks til, courtesy of that beautifully overgrown fig tree in one corner of my yard, I hope to be gorging myself on the best fruit that God created. The humble masterpiece: the fig. And just in time, I'm nearly out of fig jam. My mother and my sister-in-law have also mentioned that they're out of fig jam, just in case I make some extra. Which I plan to.

The point? That systematic theology easily misses the point. Anyone who has been reading my blog any length of time knows that I'm not anti-intellectual. It's just that our mind is only one of our faculties, and it tends to disdain the others, and it has no right to do so. David had it right: "Taste and see that the LORD is good."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

"I Think, Therefore I'm Single"?

How about, "I love, therefore I have a family."

One day people will remember that thought can be used for constructing as well as for deconstructing.

Note: Offensive language warning if you follow the T-shirt link.

Friday, June 02, 2006

DaVinci Code: Why All The Fuss?

A few years ago, there was uproar over the release of a movie which was alleged to be anti-Semitic: Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ. After actually seeing the movie, the general consensus was that the movie was not anti-Semitic, though those charging anti-Semitism made much of the Christianity of Mel Gibson and the Christian message of the film. It turned out that Mel Gibson had gone to some lengths to make sure the film was not anti-Semitic. Back then, the religion of those involved in filmmaking and the actual content of the film both seemed self-evidently worthwhile things to consider when religious feelings were being stirred.

For The DaVinci Code, there was financing by a firm founded by one Mohammed Yusuf, a screenplay written by Akiva Goldman (yes, he was born of two Jewish parents, in case the name wasn't a giveaway), and one openly homosexual actor who has used the publicity over the movie's anti-Christianity as a soapbox to push his own anti-Christian views. Does being Muslim, Jewish, or homosexual automatically make one anti-Christian? Not automatically, for sure; still if Mel Gibson's religion raises a valid question in the discussion of his film, then it is likewise a valid question in this case. The fact that the story is explicitly anti-Christian would make it unlikely for someone to be involved who was not personally anti-Christian, though this is big business and someone might work on an anti-Christian movie simply for the money. Ron Howard has remarked that those who are bothered by such a movie shouldn't watch it. Time will tell whether Howard has anti-Christian biases, whether he really is that naive, or whether the financial aspects triumphed over any other concern in his eyes. I certainly haven't heard any news of Ron Howard hiring devout Christian actors and making sure that what was filmed was ok with a devout Christian, the way that Mel Gibson did in making sure The Passion of the Christ would not be anti-Semitic.

Here are the things that bother me most about the Da Vinci Code:
  1. That it has attracted a number of people who are unsympathetic or hostile towards Christianity by virtue of the fact that, yes, Virginia, the story is anti-Christian in a way that is neither an accident nor a minor point: without the anti-Christianity, there's not much left of the plot.
  2. "It's fiction" is used as a cloak to deflect mention of the fact that it's propaganda and a sort of verbal vandalism at the same time. Do we want the genre of fiction used as a "get out of criticism free" card for caricaturing groups you dislike or inconvenient facts in any ugly way you please?
  3. In abusing the genre of fiction in this way, the people involved in the movie (and, before it, the book) have gone beyond the bounds of good taste or civil discourse.
  4. In abusing the genre of fiction in this way, the people involved have gone beyond the bounds of ethics. Using fiction to smear your enemies is unethical because smearing your enemies is unethical. "It's fiction" really isn't a valid excuse.
  5. As usual, most of the media coverage of all this misses the point and mischaracterizes it as "religious people getting upset over differing views." I suspect the mischaracterization is at times deliberate for this reason: it has been said that if all the mistakes were simple accidents or ignorance, the law of averages would demand that at least some of the mistakes be made in each direction. When all of the mistakes tend towards one direction alone, credibility should be strained as to whether the oversights are entirely innocent.
  6. This concentration of non-Christian or anti-Christian people to work on an explicitly anti-Christian movie has caused no visible concern outside of specifically Christian camps. There is a certain escalation of anti-Christianity in mainstream venues in recent years. While it is unclear how far the escalation will go, it is worth noticing that non-Christians who traditionally claim that they uphold civil discourse are not noticeably objecting to Da Vinci Code's crossing of boundaries of good taste, civil discourse, or ethics when Christians are the targets.