Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Good’ Category

When assaulted by any vice, we must embrace the practice of the contrary virtue, and refer all the others to it, by which means we shall overcome our enemy, and at the same time advance in all the virtues. (. . .) For as the wild boar, to sharpen his tusks, whets and polishes them with his other teeth, and by this means sharpens all at the same time, so a virtuous man, having undertaken to perfect himself in the virtue of which he stands most in need for his defence, files and polishes it by the exercise of the other virtues, which whilst they help to sharpen that one, make all of them become more excellent and better polished.

– St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life

Acknowledgement

By Francisco Bayeu y Subías – [3], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50771068

Read Full Post »

St_Maria_Sehnde_Gottesdienst

Someone recently asked me about whether or not one had to pray in a church setting in order to be a good person, as opposed, for example, to private prayer in one’s own home.

My response was that the answer to this question (more…)

Read Full Post »

IMG_0016

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind.

– Martin Luther King, Jr., qtd. in “Wikipedia Contributors”

Acknowledgements

Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, dcu, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Wikipedia Contributors.  “Martin Luther King, Jr.”  Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.  15 Jan. 2018.  Web.  15 Jan. 2018.  <https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King_Jr.&gt;

Read Full Post »

Well I love inspirational stories, but I can’t say I’m over-fond of Hallmark, Lifetime, or any other similar storytelling outlets.  And for essentially the same reason…

…that is, I think inspirational stories are important, and should be taken seriously (no offense intended to those who like Hallmark or Lifetime; let us be content with begging to differ).

Stephen Chbosky’s Wonder has that happy distinction of being a tearjerker without being a nerve-jerker, a movie that tugs at the heartstrings without (more…)

Read Full Post »

I really have been trying not to over-rely on Youtube videos recently.  But in his commentary on Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, Bishop Robert Barron offers a beautifully succinct presentation of the cardinal human virtues.

Read Full Post »

A few of my favorites/honorable mentions, listed in no particular order…

Saving Private Ryan

We Were Soldiers

American Sniper

Unbroken

Glory

Trailer Link (Turner Classic Movies): http://i.cdn.turner.com/v5cache/TCM/cvp/container/mediaroom_embed.swf?context=embed&videoId=1091318

Band of Brothers

Trailer Link (Internet Movie Database): http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi3629711385/imdb/embed?autoplay=false&width=480

Read Full Post »

animal rightsLinks to previous posts:

Part 1
Part 2

Please read these if you haven’t already.  This post won’t make much sense otherwise.

We have amply covered the privilege given to autonomy in the world today, as well as its extension from humanity to the animal kingdom and the accompanying exclusion of human beings in utero.  We might also add usefulness as a core modern value, as the prioritization of autonomy will compel us to look for what is useful to that end (both generally and in each instance).

If we are serious about this worldview, it follows that we must do what we can to ensure the autonomy of each and every creature.

Herein lies the problem: It’s impossible.

There are far too many variables, too many uncertainties, too many “moving pieces” for every creature’s autonomy to be able to flourish without restraint.

In fact, this “ethos,” in its various forms and degrees, is what pits one vs. another — both on the individual and collective levels.  The privilege of autonomy, rather than being progressive, takes us back to the old law of “survival of the fittest,” and in this case the “fittest” are those able to exercise what we understand as autonomy (however widely its degrees vary).

One might argue: “Yes, but the kind of ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality you’re worried about belongs to a more primitive state of mind.  Our model is based on reason and science.”

fighter aircraftThat’s fine, except that the danger in question is not something to which the modern worldview is immune.  It simply works its way into the newer framework in subtler ways, and is perhaps the more dangerous for it (consider, for example, ancient warfare where enemies in arms and pillagers alike would face their opponents and victims, versus a modern warfare that is less bloody, but which allows for the decimation of entire populations without knowing the targets as anything other than coordinates on a grid).

Let’s be clear: We all agree on the importance of preserving and protecting the proper dignity of each creature.  But contrary to what some claim, we cannot rely upon arguments about what is “conducive to progress” (and not to be redundant, but I will remind the reader that our society sees the growth of autonomy as an indispensable feature of progress) to ensure that this happens.  In his book Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud opined that the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) is actually counter-evolutionary, as the good of one’s neighbor will often detract from the (immediate) good of oneself.

If it’s dignity we want, we must appeal to a system of values.  And of this I make three basic observations:

  1. When we do this, we go well beyond questions of autonomy and its attendant bedfellow, usefulness.  If you don’t get how this could be the case, consider the Freud allusion above.
  2. A system of values places strictures on our urge to do whatever we please, whether according to the whims of pleasure or some higher motive.
  3. Finally, it affords us certain basic rights that have no connection whatsoever with the “usefulness” or “autonomy” or our existence.  It confers on every human being the privilege and responsibility of personhood, as well as conferring on animals the dignity proper to them.

Ok — in the fourth and final post, we will bring these reflections back full-circle to the topics we looked at in part one.  Thanks for reading.

*********************************************************************************************************************

Acknowledgements

  1. “Shanghai-monkey” by F3rn4nd0 – File:Shanghai man with monkey.jpg. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shanghai-monkey.jpg#/media/File:Shanghai-monkey.jpg
  2. “Northrop P-61 green airborne”. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Northrop_P-61_green_airborne.jpg#/media/File:Northrop_P-61_green_airborne.jpg

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »