Cardinal Virtues: Justice

Virtue — even attempted virtue — brings light; indulgence brings fog.

-CS Lewis

Statue of Justice with sword and scales in front of a blue cloudy sky

Cardinal, in terms of virtue, I once thought a reference to the Catholic ordained.  It is not. Cardinal from the latin cardo, or hinge, like hinge on a door, seems to mean something more like important or critical or pivotal or to hinge on.

Justice, from the latin justus meaning uprightness. The nearest modern english fairness. We can hear it in the term righteousness. The Catholic Church teaches that this is the most important virtue and with good reason. The determination of right and wrong and then, of course, doing the right.  The knowledge of right and wrong.

The virtues are to be strived for.  Every bit closer we come, every bit more joyful we become.  The virtues seem to be concerned with others.  Not of self.  So much of what all the teachings are wrapped up in is the golden rule: treat others as you would have them treat you.  I find it interesting that this all hinges on how we treat ourselves.  Therein I suppose lies the mystery of the existence of God.

We all hold a distinct advantage in knowing that which is human, as we are, of course, human.  We all know that we ought to do so and so, yet we do not.  We all know when someone is being selfish; yet is it not just that which is the hardest to see in ourselves?  The hardest to admit perhaps.  Rationalizations abound of course, of course.  Still, I have come to believe that the brass tacks of the matter is this: we all know there exists a way we ought to act and we all know, if we admit it, that we ourselves, you and me, fall short.  The question then becomes where did this knowledge of the true way that seems to be within everyone us, this evidence of God, come from?

Perhaps the answer lies in the prophecy of Jeremiah:

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

-A takeaway from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Forgiveness and Trust: Simplicity

To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back – in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.

-Frederick Buechner

 forgiveness and trust: simplicity

 

Forgiveness: to let go: to let leave: to move on. Enough. Unresolved issues take up space. In his book, Crucial Conversations, Joseph Grenny argues that if you do not talk it out you will act it out. Passive aggressiveness. Acting it out, I believe, breaks down trust. A most useful characteristic. Trust speeds up. It bears time. Freeing us from needless worry about the distant future and distant past that we may focus on now and on eternity.

Acting it out creates more negative. Negative that slows and takes up more and more. That becomes harder and harder to forgive. That eventually break relationships. I believe margin works the other way round. If you have it, the hour conversation to talk it out now can be had. Which leads to more margin. Margin begets margin.

I have come to believe that if we lack margin now we can insert forgiveness and trust to set things on the right course.

 

-A takeaway from Simplify by Bill Hybels

-A takeaway from Crucial Conversations by Joseph Grenny

-A takeaway from Mansfield’s book of Manly Men by Stephen Mansfield

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

How to Judge Others

That is why Christians are told not to judge others. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it.

-CS Lewis

Judging others


For the longest I thought myself a body with a spirit. Then I realized it was the other way round. A spirit with a body am I. One will let go the other and continue on. Our bodies and brains and bents make up our raw material, as it were. Circumstances influencing all along. Our spirit the the driving force determines what our bodies do. We view others and see results of the the body, which of course result of the spirits choosing, still we do not see spirits. More, we can not presume to see all the raw materials. Who could surmise to know all the words spoken to a body: the thoughts thought about it and by it: the rearing: the mental makeup. Suppose all one body knows is hate. And the spirit fights for good and wins and results in going out of its way to open a door for another.  Now suppose another body knows all the better love and is lazy of spirit and losses.  And the loss instead of a complement to lift a day and encourage another results in the same door being opened.  A lazy spirit displeases our God and a spirit fighting for good pleases, still we know not the difference from our vantage. A door opened is a door opened. What then of us as judges? I imagine, we are not fit at all. I image further the only logical answer is to let judging to those fit to judge. The Three Persons with perfect knowing.

 

-A takeaway from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Building Goodness: Simplicity

“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones.”

-King Solomon

Farmer Hand Touching Wheat Ears

Words build up.  Words tear down.  We create simplicity with our words.  We create drama with our words.  The things we say matter.  Each day, each interaction we have a choice to bless people with simplicity or burden them with unnecessary drag.  Our attitude is most critical to building a culture of simplicity in our community and organizations. Are you a culture builder or a culture buster?

What if at the end of a work day when you left to head home you could say “Today I persevered for my fellow, I blessed everyone with my words.  Today I built up the culture I belong to. Never tearing it down with even the slightest unnecessary burden or negativity.  I never criticized, condemned or complained”  How satisfying that day would be. How fulfilled we would feel.

 

-A takeaway from Simplify by Bill Hybels

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Contentment Brings Margin: Simplicity

“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”

-C.S. Lewis

Creation Of Earth

I once heard a wise woman discourage the use of the word ‘bored’ in her household.  “Offensive to the creator” was her stance. How firm a foundation. Who are we to be bored with what God has given? In finances a basic understanding is to spend beneath the level provision provided. Contentment with what we are given will bring margin. We can budget time as we budget finances. We have all been allotted 24 hours a day and we all approach the future at that rate. How much progress is enough? Contentment will bring margin.  Who are we to say “this is not enough.” Enough money. Enough progress. How much is enough for you to be content? Do you yearn for self or for others? Do you toil for the perishable or for the eternal? Perhaps these are the questions of margin. To reveal what contentment you were set for.

 

-A takeaway from Simplify by Bill Hybels

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Empty to Filled: Simplicity

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”

-C.S. Lewis

barbed wire fence, Kansas pasture

There was a point in my life where after a long day, I regret to say, I sometimes felt emptied to a point of toxicity. I felt I had nothing left to give. This is not true of course. I was being deceived. Mistaken indeed. Other times I have equally demanding days, yet I am filled.  Ready to serve. The difference seems to be one of attitude and perspective. Resentment seems to breed toxicity and emptiness. Thinking something was not fair. Someone did not do their part. Focusing on self.

The better way, I have come to believe, is to focus on gaining perspective.  True wisdom, I believe, is seeing things as God sees things.  We tend to get glimpses from time to time.  Understanding, I believe, is obeying God’s commands. Thinking of the long-term effects instead of the short-term.  The eternal perspective providing all understanding.

Reflection seems to be a tool for gaining perspective. Anyone can look back on yesterday and say ‘I was foolish’ but who can look into the next minute and say ‘that would be foolish.’?  To say. To do. To think. Who can be so aware to notice feelings setting in?  Subtle attitudes taking hold?  Who can notice and change their course?  Reflection and pause and sensitivity are habits that make us wise.  Discipline and humility, I believe, aid in understanding.

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

 

Drink of the Deep: Simplicity

God made us plain and simple but we have made ourselves very complicated.

-King Solomon

Busy retail high street 3 days after Christmas

A wet spring dusk among the shops. The kind where the lights of cars and street lights and store lights reflect on the wet ground. The rain ceased. The sidewalks busy again. A mother has conquered the shops. Plunder in elbow – hurries on a little one to come along. A man rushes past on his jog, playlist in ear. A group of young men banter back and forth as they head to the pub. Another mother hurriedly rushes around an SUV after shepherding several little ones in. Everyone late for full. On time for empty.

Deep things intrigue. Deep things fulfill. An adventure in the deep wilderness.  The superficial distract and leave empty. Once you have had a deep adventure the superficial just will not satisfy. A deep conversation of everlasting things can not be replaced by empty talk that goes no where.

What have we done to live our lives so superficially? Spending our time on things that do not last. Who can say if these people are on a deep adventure? Perhaps it is their cares that will decide. Are they focused on the distant past and distant future or on the everlasting and now? Planning and wanting for themselves or responding and serving others?

 

-A takeaway from Intimacy with the Almighty by Charles Swindoll

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.