"Before you can search for truth, you must be interested in finding it." -Miroslav Volf

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


One of the vocabulary words that came up in my English class today was “embody” or “embodiment.” Embodiment, as my fellow native English speakers know, involves making tangible and visible something that is invisible, something which perhaps exists only in the realm of ideas. When something is embodied, it is given a “body”—something which can be touched and seen.

I put a couple students on the spot. I suggested that (student) was a very sweet girl, and gathered support on this point from other students. I told them that if one wanted a concrete picture of what “sweetness” meant, they should simply look at (student). “She is the embodiment of sweetness,” I suggested.

I also suggested that (other student) was a person filled with love—admitting to his classmates in jest that I could be wrong but to just go with it and give him the benefit of the doubt. J “Let’s say (other student) is kind, compassionate, thoughtful, generous, self-sacrificing; if we really wanted to praise him, we might say he is the embodiment of love.” I told them that to understand what love looks like, we should look no further than (other student) for a glimpse of such love.

Now I was being a little overdramatic to make a point. But the concept I was driving at while glorifying two of my students is actually a key concept and reality of my religious faith and thus a very natural thing for me to talk about.

First, I understand Christ to be an embodiment. Jesus is for me the clearest picture of Love that human history has known. I know many of my non-Christian but spiritual and/or religious brothers and sisters would probably not agree with me. But essential to my choice to be a Christian—other than that it’s all I’ve ever known, thanks to my mother raising me in the church and to a religious experience that just sort of “stuck” and has always made sense as the most meaningful way to orient my life—is the fact that when I look at Jesus I see the embodiment of Love.

Love takes on human form, and is made relatable, clear, tangible, and even to an extent imitable in the person of Jesus. If you want to know what real love looks like, from a Christian perspective, you look at the Jesus narrative—birth, life, death, and resurrection, as well as all of his words, inclinations, actions, and promises.

I also think of Jesus as the embodiment of God. Jesus made and makes clearer than any other source what God is really like. I read the Old Testament and can’t help but think that there were some major misconceptions about God. I know many don’t resolve the tension of Old and New Testaments in this manner, preferring to let the Old Testament God be a sort of "God of Wrath" as a way of keeping a sort of "ying and yang" feel to the holistic, Biblical view of God (we’re more Taoist than we realized!).

But I tend to assume, without intending to take anything way from the sacredness of the Old Testament witness to God's relationship with the people of Israel, a bit of human error in their understanding of God, especially considering how violent God seems to be portrayed at times. I’m intrigued with the God of “process theology” (based on Whitehead’s philosophy), a God who changes over time; but I’m not sure God dramatically changed from violent to peace-loving in the span of a few hundred years.

I think perhaps Jesus was a way of God shouting more clearly than ever: “I am first and foremost love, a love that is peaceful and gracious! This is the real me!” Jesus embodies God.

I also think of Jesus as an embodiment of the Kingdom of God. Jesus shared through teaching and demonstration a vision of a world marked by peace, harmony, love, unity, and inclusion, among other things…which has been called "heaven" by some, the "new, coming, future creation" by others, and the “Kingdom” or “reign” of God by still others. It’s something invisible—at least at this point in the human story—that God, through Jesus, made visible.

There are two final, less Jesus-centric ways I think of embodiment in connection with religion—both connected to the ways people embody the person of God, Love, and the Kingdom of God. It seems like “embodiment” is more often used with the most ultimate, supreme, most accurate demonstrations of ideas. McDonald’s is the embodiment of fast-food culture, we might say, more than “Ned’s Burgers” down the street from our house. Ned’s just doesn’t capture the fullness of the concept like McDonald’s does.

Nonetheless, I tend to find embodiment of “the way of God” everywhere around me, even if it's not embodied to the extent it is in Jesus. The more I discover the richness of the spiritual practices and the devoutness of the saints of other religious faiths, the more evident to me that the Christ I’ve come to follow is somehow present in these faiths, even if he is not named as such.

When I think of a devout Hindu’s deep sense of tolerance for all living things or sense of selfless service to all, I see the embodiment of the way of God. When I think of a godly Muslim’s sense of submission to God’s will or sense of humility, I see the way of God. When I think of a serious Buddhist’s mindfulness and attentiveness or desire for right speech, right action, right effort, and so on, I see the way of God. When I see an atheist spill herself for the hungry, poor, or dejected because she instinctively knows this is right and good, I see the way of God.

I also—and here’s the hardest for me to express and not feel a bit sheepish and misguided—look at myself and fellow Christians and see, in theory at least, the embodiment of the way of God. At least that’s how I understand our call, our purpose.

I believe Christ, in recruiting men and women to follow him, was setting up a community that would embody the way of God, would make tangible and visible to people the character of God. Ideally, one should be able to look at the Church and say “wow—what a spectacular glimpse of Love, of God (or however they might name it).”

I feel a bit uncomfortable putting it that way. I worry those who aren't Christians will accuse such claims as self-aggrandizing, insane, or maybe just insensitive. On the other hand, I worry some Christians will accuse such claims as an overestimation of our capabilities and a dismissal of God’s grace to our wretched selves, no matter how much we credit the Spirit of God for helping us more fully embody this “way of God.”

But, despite the inherent challenges in such a view of our Christian identity, I believe it to be true. I want the way of God to be made visible, tangible—embodied—through the way we live, the way we love. Any lesser goal feels a bit like what Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace."

I also believe that I’m ready for dessert. I’m going to go grab some of my wife’s chocolate chip cookies, and then go hug her. Both—the sweets and the sweetheart—are the embodiment of wonderfulness. J

A Response to a Response to "Embodiment"

Note: I would have just posted this in the comment section of the above post, but my response wouldn't fit, as anyone who reads on shall soon see. J Here's a link to the original post, with comments: "Embodiment."

Here's my response to an anonymous commenter, whose invitation to dialogue I accepted with some reservation (his/her comments in bold):

To "Scared of Ducks"...I guess, anonymous ye shall remain. J As you probably know, if you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you and I fundamentally disagree about a number of matters. Your opinion is not unique; if I understand your meaning right, your perspective generally aligns with much of conservative evangelicalism, one way of “being Christian.” Though many such Christians might disagree with your conclusions and methods, you for the most part don’t stand alone. J

Because I don’t know you, I don’t know if you are open and searching, or generally settled on what you believe. But if I may push back on a few things you said...

Your open-mindedness is to be commended, for it most certainly comes from a heart that seeks to accept people. And while I agree with your eventual motive, I can’t seem to rectify the fact that God is present in many different faiths. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” For me, it seems to stress that Jesus, God, or Christianity is the only way that one can get into Heaven.

When you suggest that God is not present in non-Christian faiths, I hope you recognize that you are going against a long tradition of Christians who acknowledge God’s activity in other religions, such as missionaries who “found God” when they assumed they were bringing God to the “receiving culture.”

Your exclusivism, not surprisingly, makes me uncomfortable. It’s one thing to say people are wrong about God; I’ve been wrong about God. I used to think God made women for my benefit; now I’m absolutely sure that’s not God’s intention. It’s one thing to be particular about Christ as the one who saves; it’s another to discredit the religious experience of millions and say they are not in fact worshipping or being changed by the One, the Creator God, but by figments of their imagination. It just seems irresponsible to say that.

Regarding John 14:6. Forgive me for putting words in your mouth, but, to me, your interpretation suggests you understand the human predicament as being this: all humans are destined toward eternal hell because we are deserving of it for how horrible we are; by consciously articulating the reality that Jesus satisfied God’s need to punish someone for our wrongdoing, we avoid this awful fate. Should one fail to “get it” and say "yes, that's how it is" in this lifetime, one is eternally “screwed.” Because this is your perspective it forms a starting point for how you interpret passages, and thus you assume that John’s version of Jesus’ lengthy sermon suggests that one needs to be aware of Jesus’ significance (aka, confess him as Lord, accept him into your heart) to “go to heaven when you die.”

Ok, but do you know that there are other ways to understand this passage? Here’s a sampling:

1) Jesus is a responding to a specific question, as Thomas densely (in my opinion) asks Jesus about the way to what appears to be God’s future Kingdom, the new creation (not necessarily “heaven” as a place where souls go the minute one dies), to which Jesus essentially responds: “Thomas! It’s me! Look at me! I’m the way!” Jesus is not necessarily making universal pronouncements so that people in the year 2011 will have “a Bible” of theological lessons. He was answering a question, one which he might have answered differently in a different context.

2) In light of Jesus’ preaching on judgment and end times, and the possibility that everyone will one day recognize Jesus as Lord (Phil 2:10-12), I suspect that if one is to really “get” who God is, one will have to admit, even if they were wrong in this life, that Jesus is Lord. Jesus is thus the way to the Father. Some theologians give space for the possibility that this recognition could take place postmortem.

3) Christ, John’s preexistent “logos,” is present in all people, and his way is especially noticeable where the kind of character and actions evident in Jesus are demonstrated. So people who don’t know who Jesus is or have rejected the “Jesus” of preachers and missionaries are actually connected to this Christ. This one especially doesn’t jive with your theology as I understand it, as Jesus acts as more of a ticket to be punched than a means of more fully being united with God right now in this life, not just in the next…am I right?

This brings me to my next topic. God is love, yes, it is also said in the Bible that if one does not know love, they do not know God, because He is love. But I also find that He is so much more than that. He is just, He is grace, and He is holy. Love and justice are not mutually exclusive- as we have experienced from our parents.

God is more than love: I agree. God is both just and loving; I'm fine with that. I’m not sure what you’ve heard me saying here and in other posts about what justice is—you seem to understand God’s justice as punishment for ignorance about God; you might call it punishment for sin or rebellion or whatever, but I don’t think that’s really what you mean.

You would probably say that I’m “going to heaven” because I know Jesus, no matter how wretched of a person I am, whereas Ghandi (or pick your non-Christian saint) is not going to heaven because he wasn’t a Christian. So Ghandi will be punished for not realizing he should have spent more time reading a Bible than fighting injustice. Maybe you wouldn’t say this, but your words, as best as I understand them, point that direction.

Also, what kind of justice did you experience from your parents? My parents were just and used punishment as a means to help me grow, fix me, help me mature; it served a greater, constructive end, not to give me unrelenting consequences for being bad. That kind of restorative justice doesn’t sound like your version of justice.

And in His inherent justness, I can’t believe that He would put everyone in heaven.

So, first I think you should consider other ways of thinking about life in God’s Kingdom and the new creation (or heaven) than a place you "get put.” I might be nitpicking your language choice, but language reveals a lot about our assumptions. First, a thought experiment: what if God did “put” all in heaven? If you get to heaven and realize everyone is in heaven, would that annoy you? Would you think, “wow, I’m not so sure about this God…this doesn’t seem fair!” And why would that feel unfair or unjust, if it did? An innate sense of how justice works? Maybe a sense of entitlement?

If He was to send everyone to heaven, whether they had accepted His Sacrifice or not, that would be unjust and contradictory to the entire reason why Jesus was on the cross. Jesus died to set us free from sin, so that God, in His holiness, could stand to be with us. Because He is so holy, His very nature repulses Him from anything evil. With the Lamb’s death, all wrong-doing ever done and that would ever be done was wiped out—no other method would have accomplished this.

All wrong-doing was wiped out?” Okay, fine, but what does that even mean to you in light of your whole argument? I think what you actually mean is not “with the Lamb’s death” but with your personal acknowledgement of that death, exclusively your sin is overlooked as an obstacle to heaven. Right? You're using a lot of Christian language that I too heard growing up, but in what seems a slightly inconsistent manner. There’s room for paradox and contradiction in the life of faith—there’s plenty of that in Scripture—but I wonder if you've considered all the implications of what you're saying here.

“…contradictory to the entire reason Jesus was on the cross?” Really? Is this the only conclusion to be reached? Maybe coercion is not consistent with God, forcing people to do what they don’t want (though maybe coercion is an act of mercy?); but a Muslim woman who has been faithful with what has been revealed to her, who at the day of judgment sees God and—like the experience many Christians may have, perhaps—has her illusions and misunderstandings about God removed, as the scales fall from her eyes and she experiences the love and greatness of the God she’d experienced all her life, but in a richer and more profound way because now she sees “in full” and no longer “in part” which includes seeing Jesus…would this scenario contradict the reason Jesus was on the cross?

I think Jesus was on the cross partly because powerful people hated him and wanted him dead, but also as a means of reconciling the world to God, as a demonstration of the relentless love of God for people who may want nothing to do with God, as a sign that the way of peace trumps the way of violence, and as a mysterious cosmic defeat of death as the final victor. I also think the cross is incomplete without a focus on the birth, life, and resurrection.

Also, I think I understand the traditional line of argument about God’s holiness and its incompatibility with evil…but…it this really a helpful way to think about God? To me, God, in Jesus and his engagement with “sinners,” was saying that he can stand to be with the worst of people, that he is not repulsed by things that are evil. I don’t think God is repulsed by me, though I’m pretty evil at times; nor do I think Jesus was repulsed by the prostitutes he spent time with. Maybe I’m coming at this from a more pragmatic than philosophical angle like you, but I hope you aren't telling people who aren’t Christian that God is repulsed by them and can’t stand to be with them until they change their minds about God.

It would also be unjust in that those who hadn’t accepted His gift might not have wanted to be with Him, and it would be torture to be in His presence for eternity. Additionally, it would also be unjust if He sent everyone to hell, especially after Jesus died for everyone. So there has to be some sort of middle ground- and that would be acceptance of His Sacrifice.

I don’t really follow you here, I’ll admit…maybe I’m tired and need more coffee. J I get “The Great Divorce” idea of heaven being unpleasant for some…but I don’t really know why your logical conclusion is that a “middle ground” of “acceptance” must be reached.

I do agree that the Church should be the embodiment of love—like Christian couples, or any other Christian. So that when others look at us, they think, “Wow, they seem to me what Jesus might have been like.” But I think that there is a way to be loving, without making excuses and embodying the culture as well.

I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Does “making excuses” and “embodying the culture” mean being less exclusive about where God can be found, or about how exclusive salvation is? I’ve reread your sentence a few times and can’t figure it out…sorry…unless you’re just expressing angst over Christians who are afraid to stand up and say that God hates sin. In which, case, yes, I agree! But let’s call out sins like greed and exclusion and hatred and fear of “the other” as well as the sin of “ignorance about Jesus' significance.”

Also, I believe that our purpose is more than to just embody Christ—as He says in 1 Corinthians 4:16—it’s also to glorify Him through anything and everything we do.

I agree…and our purpose is more than Corinthians 4:16 too…we’ve got lots of ways (and verses) to express our purpose, which is great as articulating our purpose in different ways helps different people think creatively and practically about how to love God or be faithful to God or however you want to put it. I assume 1 Corinthians 4:16 is a helpful verse for you…and good! It’s a great verse and applicable to many aspects of life.

Just my thoughts. :)

Feel free to respond or not respond. I have a feeling some of what I’ve said may sound odd, because I think we’re just coming at things from two very different angles. And sometimes I'm not as clear as I could be. :)

Also, here is some Scripture that might be helpful in thinking further about some of the concerns you’ve raised. Of course, don’t consider them as “nuggets” to be understood on their own…read them in the whole scope of the Scriptural witness: Matthew 25:31-46; John 1:9, 12:31-32; Acts 10:1-25; Phil 2:10-12; 2 Cor 5:19; 2 Peter 3:7-9

And pay attention to experience. I read Scripture, which helps me understand my world, my experience. I also “read” experience, which helps me understand Scripture. It’s a dialectical relationship, a two-way street, two books that inform one another. Biology, psychology, sociology, literary criticism, and conversations with real people—these are not things to be feared but embraced as ways God reveals Truth. They can be used when reading Scripture and don't need to be seen as enemies.

Hope this helps…I write not “to win” but to encourage creative thinking about theology and the search for Truth. Sometimes such a search can be painful; my choice of quote under the heading of my blog (Volf) is intentional.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What's the Goal? Um, uh, well, I, um...

Working with non-native English speakers has many perks, one of which is being in a quotable misspeak factory. You can't blame students for slips; that’s part of the learning process. I emphasize to students that, in the interest of language learning, it’s more important to be outspoken and make mistakes than to remain silent.

My recent favorite was actually a written comment from a student, expressing his gratitude to me: “You are the kind of person who I would love to do.” The mistake is of course one of do versus be; he wasn’t actually coming on to me, but trying to show his admiration for my character, lifestyle, job, and family, which I gathered. It was very sweet. But now his comment is forever etched in my mind, both for its sincerity and its comedy.

But not all resonating comments are light. I recently was approached after one of my lower-level classes by a student who didn’t seem all that engaged in the lesson that day. With limited English, he asked me, “what was the goal?” He went on to express confusion about the purpose of the lesson, what objectives I had in designing it the way I did. He felt like he just spent over an hour doing an activity for which there was no discernable goal, and was clearly disappointed (though kind about it).

Now, to be fair, one can’t always please every student. Some students are more vocal about their displeasure than others. And not all students appreciate the same kinds of activities, emphases, lessons, etc. But students rarely challenge me in this way. My first response was to explain what value the lesson possessed, the ways I observed learning happening in the classroom, what my method for teaching was.

But—he was absolutely right. He caught me. I had no real thought-out goal. Typically my lessons involve one or several goals, helpful in ensuring that students are getting the most out of the lesson. Sometimes my goals are less structured and more general, such as in a more organic lesson where I spend more time responding to student questions and curiosities that arise from the topic than presenting detailed requirements or expectations.

But I believe even in these more fluid classes that at least knowing why I’m doing what I’m doing is important. But I failed that day, and he rightly called me on it. I felt the defensiveness stir in me, which I may have successfully hidden from him (though language learners can be pretty intuitive and can often see through my words). In the end, I felt at peace with my response to him. But the fact that the question lingered in my mind the rest of the day and week tells me that both the shock and sincerity of the challenge as well as the truth of his words carried some weight.

This student was sensitive to the necessity of goal-setting. And I am too, I think, generally. This particular lesson was prepared fairly haphazardly. Learning did take place, I’m sure. But that’s not the point. Even if I was successful in some ways, I failed to embody an important personal value—knowing my goal, my telos, my purpose, my end—in a very particular situation. This is of course a key element in virtue ethics, on which I’ve shared a bit in recent posts: possessing a clear vision of where one is headed or what one is aiming for that gives direction to how one should live and be and function now.

My mind goes to the Church as well, notably how our Christian goal is understood—by Christians and non-Christians alike. Part of our denominational plurality—as well as diversity in worship style, doctrine, ministries of the church, and “feel” or “culture” of various churches that aren’t necessarily linked to denominational differences—arguably means a plurality of goals as well.

That is, if I asked several Christians what the goal of the Church is, as well as their personal Christian goal, I’m sure that despite some overlap there would be differences in the way these corporate and individual goals are expressed. Some would probably give a concise phrase that they feel warrants no further explanation. Others might give me a multifaceted verbal outline.

Some would state their goal, but acknowledge that this is just one way of saying it; others might recite a Bible verse with confidence that there’s no better way to think about the matter. Still others might dismiss this “goal talk” altogether, feeling it sounds too business-minded, too restrictive, too focused on bottom lines, too "purpose-driven."

I guess I’m curious to hear from anyone stopping by: what do you think about the Church’s goal, or goals? What one central aim, or set of priorities, should direct how we speak, act, prioritize, or determine our values? Or, what ultimate goal should or does compel a Christian to act “Christianly?”

For Christians, how do you articulate the Church’s goal? I guess that could be answered regarding “little c” church (e.g., the church located at 2nd and Main) or “big C” (all who identify as Christians). What is your goal as a Christian? Does having a goal help you? Does it shape you? Is your goal kind of vague and general, or more clear and specific? Is the language of “goals” even helpful for you in living your Christian life, or unnecessary?

For those who aren’t Christian, what do you think the Church’s goal is? What do Christians seem to say their goal is? What appears to be their goal in practice, as in, what can be inferred about the goal of Christians based on what you see them doing and hear them saying? Do you admire the goals of the Christian Church? Do they bother you? Would you consider becoming a Christian if their goal (or goals) was different?

Thoughts welcome…

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Being Good Can Be Fun (or, Virtue Project Update #1)

I recently shared my desire to experiment with the virtues of the various world religions (Link: “A Bumbling Pursuit of Virtue”). I recommend reading that post before proceeding; I think what follows will then make more sense.

The short version of the above-linked post is this: it’s worth it as a Christian to try to be good. I’m not saying it’s easy. But I am disinterested in embracing as my own any religion which encourages purposeless obedience to rules as well as any religion which belittles and misconstrues any effort to “be good" as an attempt to “win salvation.” I think both these notions miss the point of what God is trying to do within the human community and the story God is trying to tell.

I’m also interested in acknowledging the virtues of other traditions, which I believe can be helpful in my own personal goal of becoming who I could be and living the full, abundant life which John identified as central to Jesus’ mission (John 10:10). My motivation in this interfaith approach is partially formational; I need all the help I can get! Part of it is reconciliatory; I try not to polarize faith traditions, preferring to recognizing our commonalities and identifying where God’s Spirit is at work in all traditions, whatever they might call (or not call) that Spirit.

Here’s a sample from recent weeks of some of the virtues I’ve been attempting to live out each day, through simple choices and constant awareness of that day’s particular goal or virtue. I acknowledge and name the faith/ethical tradition partly because where virtues are shared they are usually nuanced by differing traditions, and partly to emphasize the shared human struggle for wholeness, for goodness, for God.

10/12: Temperance (Classical). It’s difficult at times to take criticism without defense or to bite my tongue when I want to show someone why they’re wrong. But restraint, like giving in, can be rewarding.

10/13: Altruism (Hinduism). I’m noticing how much routine can blind me to the needs of others, who often seem like obstacles rather than people to serve.

10/14: Sacrifice (Islam). If everyone is scratching each other's backs, then no one's back itches. But it's much harder to scratch without guarantee of reciprocity. I like to think that in Heaven our itches don't last all that long.

10/15: Mindfulness (Buddhism). I “see” much more when I stroll than when I scurry.

10/16: Joy (Christian). I don’t remember what happened that day, but I’m sure I smiled a lot.

10/17: Peace (Hinduism). I like the Hindu focus on peace as something not just sought for your own sake but to be cultivated for the benefit of those around you. A violent, restless spirit can do a lot of harm to others.

10/18: Justice (Classical). Didn’t punish any killers that day. But I did seek to be equitable in my classes, including all and favoring none.

10/19: Submission to God (Islam). My desire to control my life—which brings much anxiety—was challenged that day.

10/20: Right Effort (Buddhism). No half-assing anything this day; I tried to seek quality in my work performance.

10/21: Honesty (Hinduism). Honesty with others comes a little too naturally for me at times; honesty with myself is another matter.

10/22: Peace (Christian). Christian peace is multifaceted; I believe I primarily considered my relationships on this day. Unfortunately, some kinds of peace can’t be attained by one person alone. My un-reconciled relationships haunt me.

10/23: Humility (Islam). There’s a time for self-confidence, but also a time for self-forgetfulness.

10/24: Sense of Shame/conscious of actions (Taoism). A bit objectionable to the Western mind perhaps, and a bit overly emphasized in the East, in my opinion and experience. But there’s something to be said for owning up to your mistakes and feeling great sorrow for them.

10/25: Hope (Christian). It’s hope, in ways, that motivates this whole pursuit; I have hope that my efforts have eternal importance and are pleasing to God.

10/26: Right Speech (Buddhism). I sought that day to speak highly of others and criticize no one. Criticism, especially in a group, can be alluring.

10/27: Courage (Classical). I don’t know how well I did on this one. I did dance with a Saudi young man in front of everyone at the school Halloween party, play "air bass" as part of a rap ensemble for my recently-resigned boss, and give a slightly-influenced-by-wine, brief speech to my fellow teachers at our boss’s going-away party about how much I enjoy being with them. But I think I would have done these things anyway, regardless of the attempted practice of “courage.”

10/28: Universality/Tolerance (Hinduism). I find that trying to respect and tolerate those who don’t initially seem like they deserve it can lead one to see a truer version of the person behind the unpleasantness.

10/29: Faithfulness (Christian). I had a good, prayerful walk this evening in contemplation of my goals and priorities in this season of life and the importance of fidelity to such goals.

10/30: Oops. Forgot to pick a virtue this day. So much for faithfulness. How ironic.

10/31: Compassion (Christian). So important as a teacher, I find. Students will inevitably thwart my attempts to facilitate learning from time to time, maybe by lack of study, lack of trying, laziness, interrupting each other or myself, or some other reason. But often there's more going on than is obvious; a sense of compassion is a handy tool in the teacher tool belt.

11/1: Right livelihood (Buddhism). While I didn’t really consider the harmful consequences of my vocation or country on others (perhaps the full application of this virtue), I have been seeking a sensitivity and attentiveness today that might diminish the amount of harm I do in anyone’s life.

In the spirit of today: I hope this post did no harm but only helped. J