Monday, 2 June 2014

Dignity is intrinsic

I recently watched this clip of Jonathan Allen, another Paul Potts wannabe, on America's Got Talent . At face value a very touching and hopeful piece. And yet the more I pondered it, the more I felt uncomfortable. And that's not because I'm a bit of a AGT/BGT etc snob, since I must confess I really don't like such shows! No, it's because the judges want to affirm Jonathan simply because he can sing, and incidentally because he's gay and has been rejected by his parents. We are not loveable because of any talent we may possess, but simply because we are made in the image of God, and that His divine love has been demonstrated to us in the giving up of Christ in the Calvary event. We have 'bestowed worth'.


John Ortberg has a great sermon on how human dignity is in large part a consequence of the life of Jesus of Nazareth and the movement he spawned, check it out here, and in a another sermon he spells out why human dignity does not depend upon talent and ability,

A Yale professor by the name of Nicholas Wolterstorff has written a fabulous book about justice in the last couple of years. He raises the question…Why do human beings have dignity, worth and rights? His book is an attempt really to found justice on the notion of human rights, which he believes are very important. But he asks this question…If children are beaten, if woman are marginalized, it's wrong. We all have this sense that it's wrong. Why? Now it turns out that secularism has a very hard time establishing a foundation for human worth and rights.
That's not to say that secular philosophers don't value human rights because they certainly do, but it's hard to find something to ground them in. If you ground them in certain human capacities or abilities then when those abilities get diminished, then to that same extent, those rights would get diminished. But we have this sense that all human beings, whatever their IQ, whatever their capacities, there is a notion of human rights and it turns out there simply has never been a foundation for them like human beings have worth and rights because they are precious to a Creator who made them and loves them; and therefore, we are to value them, value them all as well.

So don't be mislead by the rather gushing judges on BGT since as you can see by subsequent rounds in the competition, they actually didn't want Jonathan to stay just like he was, a rather geeky drop-out, oh no, he's preened and coiffured into something more attractive to the marketeers. I wish him well. But his value is not in his talent but in his humanity.
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