Speaking of Faith, July 30, 2009 — Repossessing Virtue

As a means of better connecting with my community and understanding what fuels others, I’ve organized a group to discuss the podcast Speaking of Faith. I’ve enjoyed this weekly show since a fellow blogger suggested it several years ago. Krista Tippett, the host, manages to make such complicated topics fascinating and within reach of understanding. The podcast is not Christian, but just as its name suggests — about faith. This week’s show is a rerun of an ongoing series — Repossessing Virtue. Scientists, religious leaders and community members are interviewed and asked three key questions:

1. What are you doing different in this economy?

2. What virtues are you drawing on?

3. Is the economy a moral or virtuous crisis?

Two of my favorite quotes from the show are:

Sharon Salzberg: Suffering is something that we tend to avoid, we shun it. If we ourselves are suffering, we feel humiliated. One of the things that should make us closer is our vulnerability and yet we can feel so isolated rather than really together.

Vigen Guroian: It’s a good moment to sit back and reflect on what’s really valuable in our lives. And maybe riding the crest of the wave was exciting and exhilarating, but maybe there’s an advantage to being landed on the beach.

I am doing things differently. I’m more conscious of the blessings and luxuries I enjoy daily. I am consciously trying to share more with others. I am trying to save money so it can instead be spent on causes that make much more sense than $3 lattes and $300 handbags. I still want those things, of course. I just want to be better, more.

Aristotle defined virtue as an excellence in fulfillment of a particular function. Happiness is a result of being virtuous. Specifically, he labeled the following as virtues: magnificence,  courage, temperance, liberality, magnanimity, pride, good temper, truthfulness, wittiness, friendliness, modesty, and righteous indignation. Aristotle put these in one of two categories; a virtue is either intellectual or moral.

I’d argue many of these are both. I am drawing on many of these virtues to find meaning and significance in life, although I’ve never considered myself virtuous. I pray for more temperance and am humbled to admit I’ve got a bit too much indignation. I think with the current economic conditions, as a country, world and people, we could use to have less pride, more good temper and certainly more friendliness.

If you are interested in participating in the conversation, I’d love to hear your answers to those three questions in the comments. The podcast is linked above. Each Sunday possible, I’ll now be posting about SOF. If you live in Phoenix and want the details to meet us in person, send me an email. I hope to hear from those who consider themselves members of a faith group and those who do not believe. Virtue isn’t specific to religion.