Good morning you have reached the former KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, now DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF HEAVEN. Please listen to our menu carefully as some options are no longer available. To pray to Allah press 1; for God press 2; for Jehovah press 3. For all other religions please stay on the line and the Deity on Duty will listen to your jeremiads.
While you are waiting we would like to update you on some of our services. If you are an unrepentant sinner, please dial H to talk to a representative in the LOWER REPUBLIC. Please note that we have a half price special on repentance coupons. Place your order now as supplies are limited….[Music plays Nearer my God to thee…]
SOME THOUGHTS ON ETHICS AND RELIGION
“If God does not exist, everything is permitted” is attributed to Dostoyevsky’s Ivan Karamazov. Did he mean that it is impossible to have a moral code of conduct without believing in God? In fact, one could argue the opposite. True ethics exist only in the absence of an authoritarian and watchful God. For of what value is good behavior if it stems from fear of punishment or hope of heavenly rewards?
Ethics evolve when people have emancipated themselves from external diktats and internalized the values they have absorbed from their parents, teachers, mentors and other influential individuals in their life. That is what is meant by leaving childhood and becoming adults.
My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time
To let the punishment fit the crime
The punishment fit the crime
Gilbert and Sullivan, The Mikado
Once upon a time Mikhail Khodorkovsky was the richest man in Russia. He had a petroleum company called Yukos. Then he got involved in politics. Bad idea! He was promptly arrested, his assets seized. The charge was corruption and tax evasion. Suddenly he was living in the vast, cold inhospitable regions that are such a part of the history of Russia. It seems that every time his sentence was about to end, a zealous department of Injustice found new reasons to keep him there.
A trio of Punk Rockers named Pussy Riot staged a mock Putin expulsion from power in a church. They were promptly arrested. A prank, right? A slap on the wrist? They too are serving time in those frozen, harsh camps. And as this is written, one member of the band has gone missing in the system.
After 60 years, Queen Elizabeth is still on stage and the wings are getting crowded. Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands just vacated her seat in favour of her son. King Albert of the Belgians is bowing out and his son will do the waving to the crowds from now on.
So isn’t it time to retire gracefully Elizabeth?