Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Some of the great questions of how to live well, yet friction grips

- that an engagement with life begins with wonder;
- that there is a natural law which reveals a minimal amount required for our flourishing;
- that happiness is not a feeling but has to do with entering deeply into the relationships that surround us;
- that the passions need educating, not least passions like anger;
- that the stoic aim of becoming attuned with life is key - even or especially when it demands of us a noble response to suffering.

This is all rich wisdom. However, the risk is that, so seamlessly shared, it loses its edge and bite. When so easily agreed upon, it comes to seem obvious and easy too, and clearly it is not, or we'd be living wisely and well already. Listening [to an atheist and a priest agree on these questions] made me realize that disagreement, with at least a little emotional heat, is useful. It provides the listener with a sense of what's at stake. Friction grips. It's perhaps why…the Bible's many conflicts and arguments are not embarrassments, but are necessary as the substance that has brought the people of the book to where they are with God.

- Mark Vernon

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