Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mere Christianity: Book 3; Chapter 2 (The Cardinal Virtues)

This chapter focuses on the cardinal virtues, something which I mention frequently in my writing.  After reading through this chapter I feel as though there is not a specific focal point on which I can reflect without just regurgitating what Lewis said.  Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on a series of important quotes through the chapter:

"Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think on what you are doing and what is likely to come of it."
 "Nowadays, most people hardly think of prudence as one of the virtues.  I n fact, because Christ said we could only get into his world by being like children, many Christians have the idea that, provided you are good, it does not matter being a fool"
"Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence."
"But he wants everyone to use what sense they have."
"Christianity is an education itself."

Basically...Faith AND Reason, think  before you act, you don't have to know it all before you start, form your conscience, and make the effort to learn.

"Temperance is.... going the right length and no further".
"But the whole point is that he is abstaining, for a good reason, from something which he does not condemn and which he likes to see other people enjoying."
"One of the marks of a... bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting everyone else to give it up."

Basically... its not just doing the right act, but the right act with the correct attitude (eventually, for this will take a change of heart, but the perfection of virtue would really call for the alignment of the attitude).  Also, its not about "abstinence" per se, but about moderation.

"Justice... is the old name for everything we should now call fairness."
"It includes honesty, give and take, truthfulness, keeping promises..."

This is pretty self explanatory... give people (and God) what they deserve.

"And Fortitude includes both kids of courage--the kind that faces danger as well as the kind that 'sticks it' under pain."
"'Guts' is perhaps the nearest modern english'."
"You will notice...that you cannot practice any of the other virtues long without bringing this one into play."

Again, pretty self explanatory.

"There is a difference between doing some particular just or temperate action and being a just or temperate man."
"A man who perseveres in doing just actions get in the end a certain quality of character."
"...It is that quality of rather than the particular actions which we mean when we talk of 'virtue'."

True virtue is about consistency of action, and consistency of thought.  It's doing and thinking the right thing habitually, and doing it with the right intention and attitude.

"This distinction is important for the following reasons" [so that we might not think]
1) "Provided you did the right thing, it did not matter how or why you did it..."
2) "We might think that God wanted simply obedience to a set of rules: whereas He really wants people of a particular sort."
3) "We might think that the 'virtues' were necessary only for this present life"

This is why we shouldn't think of morality (or virtue) as "single action alone"

No comments:

Post a Comment