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Hope, Optimism and the Pandemic

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In addition to the four cardinal virtues (cf. Ethical Musings’ Cardinal virtues and the Covid-19 pandemic ), Aquinas also identified three theological virtues: faith, hope and love. The virtue of faith is vital because through faith a person relates to God. Love points to our need to care for our neighbor as we care for self (cf. Ethical Musings’ Vaccination as a sacramental act ). This post discusses the virtue of hope in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Hope is not synonymous with optimism. An optimist, in familiar images, tends to view a glass as half-full rather than half-empty. Whose contrasting descriptions lack any specific reason(s) for adopting one perspective instead of the other. Optimism requires no logical or evidentiary basis. Many gamblers are perpetual optimists even though the mathematical odds remained stacked against the gambler winning. Hope, unlike optimism, requires a foundation or basis in logic, mathematics, science, experience, etc. I am optimistic t

Help me make it through the night

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When Christian writer Sue Monk Kidd was pregnant with her second child, her three-year-old son, Bob, was afraid of the dark. Sue tried everything. She left a light on in the hall and a night-light on in Bob's room. Nothing she did helped; he was still scared of the dark and would cry out in the middle of the night. One night as she held him to comfort him, he touched her round abdomen. He asked, "Mama, is it dark inside there?" "Yes," his mother replied, "it's dark in there." Bob thought further, then asked, "There’s not even have a night-light, is there?" "No," Sue responded, "not even a night-light." Then Bob hugged his mother and she patted his head. Bob had one more question that night, "Do you think it’s scary all alone in there?" "I don't think so," Sue explained, "the baby is not really alone. The baby is inside of me," It was a very special moment between mother and s

Cardinal virtues and the Covid-19 pandemic|

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In the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas famously promoted four cardinal virtues: courage, justice, prudence and temperance in his Summa Theologica. Aquinas borrowed those four virtues from Plato and then “baptized” them by interpreting them from a Christian perspective. Aquinas’ moves were possible because Christianity, after a long hiatus, again found Greek philosophy a rich source for understanding the Christian faith. Greek philosophical influence is readily apparent in parts of the New Testament, e.g., John’s Gospel and Paul’s letters. Then followed centuries in which Christians avoided any dialogue with Greek philosophy for fear of corrupting Christian thinking. One of Aquinas’ major influences on the Christian tradition was to push Christian ethics toward virtue and away from rules. Virtue ethics presumes that character (who a person is) shapes behavior more than rules do. People generally act without carefully analyzing a situation to determine which rule(s) apply. And onc

Musing about the alternative to vaccination

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Persons choosing not to receive a vaccination to protect against Covid-19 need to consider the moral meaning of their choice. If vaccination is a sacramental act (cf. my last Ethical Musings post ), then what is the spiritual or ethical meaning of not being vaccinated? Among the several reasons that may lead a person to refuse vaccination are: Suspicion of rapidly developed and government approved vaccines, seen from the perspective of historically justified distrust of prior government medical experimentation on members of certain racial or ethnic groups without first obtaining a person’s informed consent Membership in a faith community, such as Christian Science, that rejects all medical treatment Having an actual medical condition that makes vaccination against the Covid-19 virus hazardous Believing one or more lies regarding the virus (e.g., Covid-19 is no worse than the flu) or the vaccines (e.g., the vaccine contains a microchip or the vaccine permanently alters the recipient