I re-listened to our 13th podcast this morning after a conversation with a parent on limiting children’s screen time. I’m reposting it here in case the tips are helpful for other parents. We looked at best practices for how to use technology strategically, in a way that does not invade our relationships or our EQ.
In December 1945, as Allied forces were making their way through Germany arresting war criminals, two Egyptian brothers were going about their farm work near the upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi.
The day started out like any other day for twenty-six year-old, Muhammad ‘Ali al-Samman, and his fifteen-year-old brother, Abu al-Majd. On that particular day the brothers were riding on camels in search of a special soft soil that served as a fertilizer for crops.
Coming to a large boulder, they decided this looked like a good place to dig for the nitrogenous fertilizer. No sooner had the brothers begun digging when they hit the top of a red earthenware jar. This jar, which turned out to be almost a meter high, was sealed on the top with a bowl.
“You can’t just decide to become a good person – it’s going to be a process. You’re going to have to engage in a moral formation over time. So Aristotle talks about the sorts of practices you need to engage in in order to embody or acquire virtues. To a certain extent, it’s not as if you perfectly acquire the virtue of courage or humility, but you engage in a process of slowly over time becoming more the sort of person you are aiming to be.”
This comment was made within the context of Bill explaining why a virtue-based approach to ethics (which situates moral duties within the larger context of human flourishing) is superior to more legalistic approaches which simply want to ask “What should I do?” Although we need to ask what-should-I-do types of questions, there will never be a context for adequately addressing such questions unless we’ve first identified what virtues are central to flourishing as human beings.
I’d like to add to Bill’s observations that the Scriptures constantly assume that virtue includes dispositions and not merely behaviors. Virtuous dispositions like peace, gratitude, contrition, joy, compassion, all include an emotional as well behavioral components. Virtuous disposition also includes such things as proper perception, right motivation, and an attraction to goodness and truth. All of this is the fruit of time and good habits, which is why a person cannot suddenly become good overnight, despite the best intentions.
Listen to the entire conversation here.
My identical twin brother, Patrick, recently interviewed me about The Robin & Boom Show, my forthcoming book, the political situation, the difference between logical fallacies and thinking errors, and how to be a more positive thinker.
I’m reading Augustine’s Confessions right now and was stuck by the following words, from when he is recounting the dissolute lifestyle of his youth.
“Thou wast always by me, mercifully angry and flavoring all my unlawful pleasures with bitter discontent, in order that I might seek pleasures free from discontent. But where could I find such pleasure save in thee, O Lord — save in thee, who dost teach us by sorrow, who woundest us to heal us, and dost kill us that we may not die apart from thee.”
Robin interviews Dr. William Kabasenche, professor of philosophy at Washington State University. They discussed virtue ethics, and how this differs from other common approaches to ethical decision-making. In this podcast you will learn why the ethical life should not start with questions like, “What should you do?”, but instead should seek to ask questions such as “what type of person do I want to become?” Dr. Kabasenche explained how this approach lends insight into questions of genetic screening and end of life issues.
Things were slow earlier today, as I sat behind the reference desk at the Whitworth library.
Shortly before my lunch break, a few patrons came into the building. One of our visitors was a previous professor at the university who is now writing a book on the history of music ministry in the United States. I had the opportunity to help him access a database of unpublished PhD theses.
When I wasn’t answering questions or helping patrons with research, I worked on an extended research project for one of the faculty members. He had asked the librarians to dig into the university archives to gather information for a history of the history department.
Having grown up as a Christian, I would always have said I believed in the resurrection of the body. However, my primary concern was focused on the immortality of the soul. Without giving it much thought, I simply assumed that the doctrine of resurrection was a shorthand way of referring to going to heaven when you die. Even though I had read the Gospel accounts of Christ’s resurrection many times, and even though I had read Paul’s lengthy discussion of bodily resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, I still unthinkingly assumed that the resurrection of believers would be non-physical.
My belief in a non-physical resurrection was part of a larger perspective that deemphasized the importance of the physical world. In some of my earliest writings I argued that during the Old Covenant the Lord’s work had been focused on the material world, whereas in the era of the New Covenant His work was purely spiritual (read: non-physical). Accordingly, what happens in the material world is unimportant to God. The best we can hope to do, I thought, is prepare for the next life. In the next life, the soul will be liberated from the body that now imprisons it.
When controversy erupted last weekend over President Trump’s incendiary tweets, the ensuing furor focused on the issue of racism. This has been unfortunate since it has obscured the real elephant in the room, which is identity politics. The Left cannot offer a substantive critique of Trump’s use of identity politics, seeing that identity politics forms such an integral part of their own ideology. Hence, all they can do is just keep repeating the charge of racism.
But it doesn’t really work. After all, if the president had told a white person of Russian ancestry to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” few would imagine that this revealed an incipient racism against whites. However, because the congresswomen that Trump singled out happened to be non-whites, everyone is ready to assume that he must have been motivated by racist impulses.
This is not to excuse the President. Something far more sinister and subtle than racism is happening here. Trump’s use of identity politics is truly demonic and threatens the integrity of our nation.
In the podcast below, Fr. John Behr observed that the greatest change in the modern world (greater even than electricity and the internet) is that we no longer have to deal with death in an immediate way. Until the last fifty years, ordinary people had constantly to deal with the process of dying and with dead bodies. But in the modern world we no longer see death or have to deal with dead bodies. We have sanitized death. A practical result of this shift is that we have no practical horizon for understanding finiteness, vulnerability and transcendence, or even for fully grasping the mystery of the incarnation when God embraced death in order to trample it down.