sinsandvirtues4

• SINS •

PART ONE:

Pride and Vainglory

Envy

Anger

PART TWO:

Lust

Gluttony

PART THREE:

Greed

Sloth

• VIRTUES •

PART FOUR:

Psychological Gener-

osity

Romantic Love

Patience

Forgivingness

PART FIVE:

Humility

Contrition

Joy

Gratitude

PART SIX:

Hope

Emotional Peace

Compassion

CONTRIBUTORS

Virtues and the Seven Deadly Sins:

A Potpourri of Thoughts

by

Laura Brown, Jonathan Castele, Taylor Crawford,

Daniel Ensign, Mary Flowe, Abby Gabor,

Greg Hess, Shaneice Johnson, Anne Lehan,

Tim McGarvey, Dustin McGowan, Candice Misch,

Stephanie Rentas, and Caleb Wood

Edited by Cliff Williams

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PART FOUR

INTRODUCTION

This material is a product of discussions in a course taught at Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois, during the Spring 2012 semester. The name of the course was Virtues and the Seven Deadly Sins; I was the teacher. Each class period two students wrote down ideas on the virtue or sin that was being discussed that day. In addition, I mined the papers and tests the students wrote for insightful thoughts. The particular virtues that were treated in the course are the ones that appeared in the textbooks for the course, which were:

Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, Glittering Vices: A New Look at the

Seven Sins and Their Remedies (Brazos Press, 2009)

Robert C. Roberts, Spiritual Emotions: A Psychology of Christian

Virtues (Eerdmans, 2007)

Solomon Schimmel, The Seven Deadly Sins: Jewish, Christian, and

Classical Reflections on Human Psychology (Oxford University

Press, 1997)

Clifford Williams, ed., Personal Virtues: Introductory Essays (Palgrave

Macmillan, 2005)

What follows is inspired by these books, but in no case is there a direct quote from the books.

Cliff Williams

© 2012 by the authors and editor

All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced without the consent of the editor.

For further information, contact Prof. Clifford Williams at Department of Philosophy, Trinity College, Deerfield, IL 60015 cwilliam@tiu.edu

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CONTENTS

• SINS •

PRIDE AND VAINGLORY

ENVY

ANGER

LUST

GLUTTONY

GREED

SLOTH

• VIRTUES •

PSYCHOLOGICAL GENEROSITY

ROMANTIC LOVE

PATIENCE

FORGIVINGNESS

HUMILITY

CONTRITION

JOY

GRATITUDE

HOPE

EMOTIONAL PEACE

COMPASSION

CONTRIBUTORS

******************

PSYCHOLOGICAL GENEROSITY:

BEING GENEROUS WITH THOUGHTS, EMOTIONS, AND VIRTUES

Marks of psychological generosity:

Am I performing my duty with a generous heart?

Do I try to act well and perform beyond what is needed?

Am I giving others good feelings?

Do I give others as much benefit of the doubt as I expect to receive?

Do I thank others for going out of their way?

How often do I give encouragement?

Do I break my routines occasionally to express generosity?

Do I look for the good in others?

Am I making a good environment in which people can be virtuous?

Am I willing to let others tell me things even when I know better?

Do I focus on what people do right or do I quickly point out their faults?

A few questions

What would it be like for a physician to be generous hearted?

What would teachers do to be generous hearted?

How can married people be psychologically giving to their spouses?

If generous mindedness involves giving favorable judgments to others, is it

not essentially dishonest?

ROMANTIC LOVE

Is romantic love a virtue?

What is romantic love—infatuation, eros-love, erotic love, amorous love?

Can infatuation be a virtue?

Is romantic love a moral virtue or a nonmoral virtue (if there is a distinction

between these)?

Romantic love is a virtue if it is selfless but not if it is selfish.

Romantic love is a virtue if it has good reasons for it.

Should the idea of virtue be built into the idea of romantic love so that it

would not be romantic love unless it has virtue?

A virtue is what makes one a better person, and “better” need not mean

“morally better.”

If romance is just infatuation—a frenzied passion, being blindly connected

to someone—it would not be a virtue.

Good reasons for romantic love

To be happy

To give purpose

To be able to express oneself honestly

To have a shared history of mutual caring

To be of service to the other

To be an image of God’s love

To be complete

To feel good

To be self-sacrificial

To assuage loneliness (Is this a good reason or a bad reason?)

Any reason by itself is a bad reason. There must be a myriad of reasons in

order for romantic love to be good.

Bad reasons for romantic love

To acquire self-esteem

To show off the other as a trophy

To arouse jealousy in someone else

To fulfill a desire to control another person

To fulfill a desire to be controlled

To be babied

To avoid having to make choices

To fulfill a neurotic need for attention

To fulfill a neurotic need to be liked or loved. (A neurotic need is

obsessive.)

To inflict revenge on someone

To make the other miserable

Out of immaturity

Out of stupidity

Questions

Is romance for bad reasons just lust?

Can anyone fill the voids in our lives? Must these voids be filled by God before we get into

a human relationship?

Should not romantic love remain mysterious, if only to preserve the mystery of human life?

Thoughts

Romantic love motivates us to love more deeply.

Lovers inspire each other to be more virtuous.

Romantic love gives us an opportunity to express ourselves as we are.

In good romantic love there is both a we-consciousness and an I-

consciousness.

Love excites the lover about particular features of the beloved.

Vices such as jealousy and fear can give rise to real love while still being

unhealthy.

Shared history makes a love relationship between two individuals unique.

Love relationships are often torn apart or wrongfully kept together because

of perverse reasons that the lovers do not recognize.

Aristophanic love (love based on a relationship rather than on

characteristics of the beloved) is best because it helps to guard against

self-interest.

PATIENCE

If you had to choose between patience and courage, which would you choose?

Most people would desire courage rather than patience.

We are afraid to decide.

Cowardice is the greatest vice (Mikhail Bulgakov).

Courage needs patience to avoid being impulsive.

Patience requires courage in order to avoid being passive.

What is heroic patience?

Patience and composure in the midst of danger or chaos

Rising to the occasion courageously and with patience

Self-enlarging courage tends to push out patience.

Submissive or self-sacrificing courage is compatible with patience.

Is patience always a virtue?

No: Sometimes it is a hindrance to pursuing justice.

Yes: When patience looks as if it is not virtuous, it is really something

different, such as sloth or laziness or even resistance.

What is good about patience?

Patience can empower others to mature and grow.

Patience helps avoid irascible, impetuous, or erratic behavior.

Patience helps bring about contentedness and joy.

Patience gives one time to think.

Patience reduces anxiety and depression.

Patience leads to hope.

Patience helps one get a perspective on a situation.

Patience can cause one to take a step back.

Patience gives others another chance.

Patience limits stress.

Patience helps prevent hurt feelings.

Patience improves communication in relationships.

Patience helps nurture children.

With patience there would be fewer deaths on the highway.

With patience there would be fewer wars (provided other nations also

exercised patience).

A patient person . . .

is slow to anger.

listens.

tries to understand.

is clearminded.

generally does not rush.

values others.

bears a lot with calmness.

makes it appear as if they are not suffering.

has joy in the face of suffering.

is affected by suffering differently.

is aware that suffering will pass.

How can one become patient?

By deciding to do so

By choosing to want to become patient

By training oneself:

spending time with patient people

slowing down

looking at the big picture

By cultivating love and compassion

By cultivating humility

Thoughts

Patience is applicable to every single moment of life.

We are very impatient people.

Patience sometimes requires courage, such as when one waits in the face

of danger.

Patience is similar to perseverance.

FORGIVINGNESS

What emotion does forgiveness overcome?

Anger?

Indignation? Sometimes, but not always.

Resentment? Sometimes, but not always. (Resentment is long term, a

brooding anger.)

Moral hatred? Sometimes, but not always.

What is the aim of forgiveness?

Reconciliation, unless the offender is not capable of it

Relieving one’s own bitterness and anger

Healing an emotional wound

Why is forgiveness good?

It contributes to health.

It is freeing to both the offended and the offender.

It humbles the offended and the offender.

It removes a feeling of guilt in the offender.

It releases one’s anger.

One fulfills a command of God.

Forgiveness is intrinsically good.

What are the marks of a forgiving person?

Not seeing oneself as more important than others

Being aware that one has oneself been forgiven

Being generous

Being honest with oneself

Showing love

Recognizing wrongs

Having a desire to maintain relationships

Wanting to live with joy

Naïve—a determined naïvete, not an innocent naïvete

How can we forgive when it is difficult to do so?

Keep working on it.

Work on eliminating anger.

Act as if the offense is not present and perhaps restoration will take place.

Keep forgiving if anger at an offense comes back.

Is it ever permissible to withhold forgiveness?

Yes: One can withhold forgiveness without being angry.

There is no point to forgiveness if the offender does not accept

forgiveness.

If there is habitual offense without repentance, one can withhold

forgiveness.

Churches sometimes expel people who are not repentant.

One should not force oneself to forgive.

No: In not forgiving, one allows one’s anger to continue.

Without forgiveness, one would develop negative attitudes, such as

bitterness and a critical spirit.

Not forgiving undercuts compassion.

Not forgiving prevents helping or serving others.

Forgiveness is not a matter of degree for extreme wrongs.

Thoughts

In forgiveness one treats the person as if they had never sinned.

Forgiveness is something we do, whereas forgivingness is a character

attribute.

You have not truly forgiven someone if you cannot enter into a trusting

relationship with them. But this is not true for some offenders, such as

murderers, kleptomaniacs, or pedophiles.

Our everyday instances of forgiveness do not involve murderers, kleptomaniacs, or pedophiles.

To forgive is not the same as to condone, because the latter excuses an

action, that is, says that there was nothing wrong after all, whereas the

former is based on an action being wrong.

Forgiveness always involves consequences.

It is mean to withhold forgiveness if the offender has remorse for their

offense.

There are two types of forgiveness—one in which the offender gives

restitution for their wrong and one in which the offender does not give

restitution.

In some situations the wrong remains even after forgiveness, such as a

death or a destroyed possession.

We can only forgive sins committed against us, not against others, except in

so far as the harm done to others harms us.

Forgiveness is a matter of degree.

Biblical forgiveness is complete, without stipulation or condition.

The subsequent behavior of an offender has nothing to do with

forgiveness. If it did, that would be conditional forgiveness, which is not

true forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a process.

Forgiveness can get very complex.

There might sometimes be perfect forgiveness.

If some anger toward a person is given up, then there has been some

forgiveness.

If one acts as though they have forgiven someone and gives up anger only

so that things may be civil, then they are viewing the relationship with

the person as instrumental.

Forgiving someone in the heart, i.e., without saying that you forgive, is best

shown through one’s deeds and attitude.

It is much easier to forgive a person who feels remorse for what they have

done; it takes a stronger act of forgiveness to forgive an unrepentant or

unremorseful person.

Questions

Can we ever be totally over an offense even with forgiveness?

Can we ever forgive perfectly?

PART FIVE

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