Reflection Paper #5
When discussing the bases of religion, one will run into a few problems: Theodicies and Ethics. Both these terms are used in the same sense of when defending a cause or issue. Ethics can be defined as the moral basis of discerning right from wrong and can be shaped by internal and/or external forces. On the other hand, Theodicy is defined as the explanation of the ways that God reacts when faced with evil disorder and discrimination. In the religious autobiographies of a Holocaust survivor, Judith Magyar Isaacson, and in the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s, Letter from a Birmingham Jail, both issues of Theodicy and Ethics are prevalent.
Theodicy is best demonstrated in Judith Magyar Isaacson’s religious autobiography. There are different forms of theodicy, but she uses Monotheistic Theodicy within her writing. Monotheistic Theodicy has one God that is worshiped and upheld. This is shown during the blessing of a fellow female prisoner in the concentration camps that Isaacson and her family went through. They said a prayer during their time there, “The Lord bless thee and keep thee, The Lord make his face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee” (Comstock, 204). This prayer is similar to the closing remarks of a Christian service. As the prayer continues, it ask the Lord to look out for the rest of the family and give them peace during the difficult and hard times. The reasoning behind the prayer was to show that God was true. This is not the only aspect of Monotheistic Theodicy; there is also much explanation that justifies suffering. There are different types of suffering, but Isaacson focuses on the punishment, or a sort of test of faith, that God puts people through. Isaacson is very graphic when it comes to discussing this topic, only so one can see the suffering during such horrible situations that her and her family had to endure. She brings up this idea that suffering can be seen as a punishment, so that it is seen, as the events of suffering were amends for large amounts of sin. Redemption would eventually be met, with God being the reward that would be much deserved. However, on the contrary, there was another explanation of the horrible suffering could have been justified as a assessment or a soul builder. It is said that God will not give a person more than they can handle, suffering wise, there will always be a good outcome from the worst sufferings in life. This is not a great clarification of how much suffering that Isaacson’s family went through and it does not bring justice to the entirety of Monotheistic Theodicy. All and all, each type of theodicy is used as a tool to justify certain situations that will be considered foolish.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a letter from a Birmingham Jail that demonstrated virtue ethics that focus on virtues, character, and motives. His letter was written at confused time in history where a lot of people were fighting to earn rights that they believed to be absolute and unmoral. There were two types of ethics reflected in King Jr.’s letter that are boy Virtue and Theological ethics. The first type of ethics is theological and it focuses on goals, ends and outcomes. It emphases actions that are ethical and right and it has a purpose to bring about the greatest total of happiness for the biggest number of people. This type of ethics allows for a person to change what they value in life depending on a situation that one is in, causing it to be more feasible and lenient on things than other types of ethical procedures. King uses greate examples of acceptability for picketers to halt the undeserved segregation laws. They just “degraded human personality,” and it is “out of harmony with moral law” as long as the protesters broke the law, it was okay (King, 4). For King, the laws were unjust and people would say that they were able to accept the consequences for the actions that they preformed. This flexibility in ethics made