the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Monday, June 05, 2006

The four virtues

I've been reading CS Lewis's Mere Christianity and I've come across a chapter that all Christians would do well to remember.

Here is my abridged summary of 'the Cardinal Virtues':

There are four virtues that all civilised people agree on.

Prudence means common sense... Because Christ said that we could only get into His world by being like children, many Christians have got the idea that provided you are 'good', it does not matter being a fool...on the contrary He told us to be 'as harmless as doves and as wise as serpents.

Temperance means not abstaining, but going to the right length and no further... Abstaining for a good reason from something which he does not condemn...he may see it fit to give up marriage, meat, beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or starts looking down his nose at other people who use them, he has taken a wrong turn.

Justice includes honesty, give and take, truthfulness, keeping promises, and all that side of life.

Fortitude is both kinds of courage. The kind that faces danger, as well as the kind that 'sticks it' under pain. 'Guts' is perhaps the nearest modern English.

We might think that, provided you did the right thing, it did not matter how or why you did it... but the truth is that right actions done for the wrong reasons do not help to build up virtue, and it is this quality or character that really matters.

Especially the first two virtues have been overlooked in modern Christianity. These are ideals that are generally shared by everyone on the planet - something we have in common! I think most people outside the Church would be surprised that we are even interested in prudence and temperance - it certainly doesn't look that way sometimes. Or maybe CS Lewis was too much of an idealist. He was probably unaware that the majority of Christians don't care about real prudence and temperance.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice colors. Keep up the good work. thnx!

7/21/2006 8:00 AM  

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