October 2012

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It’s hard because no one ever listens as soon as a conversation turns political. It’s just about waiting for our turn to regurgitate the pros of our favorite candidate or policy.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about: How should I change my conversation strategies in response to this fact?

In the past, when people asked me, “Are you democrat or republican?”  I might answer with: “I just call myself a Christian, but other people also call me an anarchist.”  Everyone just explodes with how naive and irresponsible that is.  Or sometimes how I can’t possibly be both.  We go back and forth on political theory.  But nobody listens.  Not even me.  (To my shame!)

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I’ve been thinking recently about ways to formalize exactly what makes Christianity different. One way to approach this is through ethics.

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle defines virtue as the mean between two vices. For example,

Every ethical virtue is a condition intermediate between two other states, one involving excess, and the other deficiency. The courageous person judges that some dangers are worth facing and others not, and experiences fear to a degree that is appropriate to his circumstances. He lies between the coward, who flees every danger and experiences excessive fear, and the rash person, who judges every danger worth facing and experiences little or no fear.

In picture form, that looks something like:

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