The following are some thoughts on how C S Lewis will figure as a “guide” into the look and feel of the “moral fabric of the Middle Ages,” and how that fabric differs from our own. It’s basically me grinding away at the grist for this Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants book.
My argument in this chapter is not that Christianity—either in the medieval period or any other period—has taught some distinctive morality, or even that it taught that morality in a distinctive way (although it did, from the earliest years of the church, as Robert Louis Wilken persuasively argues in The Spirit of Early Christian Thought). Rather, my argument is that today, Protestants, especially evangelicals, have fallen so in love with Luther’s (Augustine’s) message of grace, and have so spiritualized their faith (I almost said Gnosticized, and sometimes I wonder) that questions of morality have receded from view. So we need to hear again from a time (the Middle Ages) when Christianity structured not only people’s worship, but also their moral lives. Continue reading
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants
Tagged C S Lewis, Charles Taylor, Chaucer, Chronicles of Narnia, Dante Alighieri, emotion, ethics, medieval cosmos, Michael Ward, moral philosophy, morality, natural law, planets, subjectivity, truth, virtue, virtue ethics
Folks, if you want to see whether Aquinas’s (and other medieval) moral philosophy is useful for Protestants today, then you should check out Rebecca De Young’s book Glittering Vices. Dr. De Young will lead the seminar on the seven deadly sins I will be attending at Calvin College next month.
This morning I had the pleasure to hear Dr. De Young present a paper on the vice of vainglory. I (and not just I, but at least one other person I spoke with) was both enlightened and convicted (in a constructive way) by what I heard. I DO talk about myself too much. I DO, even in this blog, self-present in vainglorious ways. There ARE remedies (though Dr. De Young didn’t get to them in this paper).
Here are my scratched-down, piecemeal notes on that session, minus the handout she provided for us: [For further notes I took on the conference, of a more general nature, see this post.]
From “Spin” to Silence: Aquinas and Cassian on the Vice of Vainglory
Rebecca Konyndyk De Young, Calvin College
Vainglory was contracted into pride after Thomas (certainly by the typical list of 7 deadlies in the 20th/21st c.)
Today pride and vanity often used synonymously.
Before (including in Aquinas), they were separated, helpfully. Vainglory had to do with excessive desire for others’ attention and approval. Pride might also include a power dimension, over other people. [she noted other distinctions I didn’t catch.] We lose a range of explanation if we drop the distinction.