How can we choose our duty?
Posted on 2012-03-15
I attended a fascinating talk by a Christian academic last night in which he expressed concern about a loss of sense of duty. He felt that in our "consumerist" culture people felt they were free to do what they wanted, so choose what religion they wanted, to switch denominations if they felt like it and so on.
His point was that God is God and we can't choose what he is like or make him more how we would like him to be. More generally people don't have a sense of doing something out of duty, but just because they enjoy it or they want to do it.
Another example - an overheard conversation:
Student 1: You really ought to become a Roman Catholic
Student 2: Why ?
Student 1: Because it is so *you*
Student 2: But what if I don't like it?
Student 1: Well just give it a try and if you don't like it, leave...
Again, no sense of having to do something, but trying something and if you enjoy it, carry on with it until it stops being interesting.
I think he made his point well, but I have a massive problem with what he is saying. If we just don't think the belief system we are in makes any sense, or doesn't meet our needs, or doesn't help us in any way, are we then still supposed to go along with it?
More generally - do we just do as we are told by our "leaders" or "betters" whether it works for us or not?
The best way I can express the problem is - do we choose our duty? By definition a "duty" is a given we can't avoid, but how do we know what it is? Don't we have to choose it in some sense ?
Anyway I'd be interested if anyone has any comments on this - for or against.