A Crisis of Virtue – The Good That We Need

Glory to God for All Things | 8/18/2019 | Staff
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C.S. Lewis once said that courage is the “form of every virtue at its testing point.” It is easy to forget that figures such as Lewis, Tolkien, and even Chesterton, did not write during a time of Christian ascendancy. Lewis was denied a chair (a full professorship) at Oxford for years precisely because of his embarrassingly public profession of faith. To the “learned” sceptics around him, it made him seem “less than serious.” Tolkien was a devout, practicing Catholic, but was never as public as Lewis. Lewis wrote popular books on the topic and gave radio addresses. All of that is a reminder that courage was a virtue in daily demand in their lives.

Universities have long been hot-beds of unbelief as well as places where mediocre men and women can do great damage to the careers of giants. We do not live in exceptional times in that regard. The same pettiness and meanness have found ways of trickling down into other parts of the culture, infecting Christians as well. Every virtue requires the practice of courage (another virtue) if it is to find expression.

Topic - Virtue - Matter - Christians - Church

It is interesting that the topic of virtue was the one matter on which Christians of the early Church and the educated pagans around them agreed. Indeed, the list of virtues that came to be a hallmark of ascetic writings in the Fathers was pretty much the same list found earlier in the works of Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics. In general, what constituted a “good man” was much the same whether seen from the point of view of a Christian or a pagan philosopher.

The short list of the virtues is instructive:

Christians - Writers - Virtues - List - Faith

Christians writers added the “theological virtues” to that earlier list: faith, hope, and love.

When we read of Roman soldiers being so deeply moved by the courage...
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