I have just completed a fascinating read by Andrew Flescher, Heroes Saints & Ordinary Morality. It is not a quick read or even an easy one. But, it is a rich one. I know I will need to reread this book, several times perhaps, before I really "get it" but after this first read I have been struck by several things. Flescher looks back at traditional approaches to ethics that suggest there is a sharp distinction between those we might call heroes and saints and the majority of us ordinary people. He looks at the views upheld by Urmson and Heyd and tries to undo that thinking by highlighting the lives of Martin Luther King, Jr., Holocaust rescuers, Dorothy Day etc. If one was to look at figures in the last 10 years we might throw out the names of Mother Theresa, 911 Firefighters, Nelson Mandela...
So here is the question. Do we all have the responsibility to go that extra mile. Or, do we leave that to those who are somehow instinctively different than us: better somehow?
Flescher closes the book by reflecting on the writing of Tillich and other developmentalists in the world of ethics. He writes (with obvious note that this is lacking in theological language and approach) "We should be responsible in living, both responsible for ourselves and for our own development, and responsible for the welfare and well-being of others. Responsibility implies vigilance. It implies watching out for our character, directing it in ways that will resist the temptation to succumb to non-deliberate, unreflective living". That statement resonates so deeply with me. And even though this statement is not nuanced with the results of the transforming work of the cross and the spirit, does it challenge you? In what ways do you see the mainstream church living and thinking in ways that are "non-deliberate and unreflective".
This makes me want to be a better version of myself. It makes me want to embrace the hard questions and discussions. (David recoils in horror as he thinks, what more deep philosophical discussions?). It makes me want to journey into the hidden places of my head and heart. Sometimes things connect deeply with me because of where I am at the moment and so it is possible you may read these thoughts and go, "nah". But if something strikes you share it.