“On the seventh day God finished his work which he had done and he rested” Genesis 2.2

The first issue involving New Media and Christian holiness is that of rest. The Lord created the heavens and the earth. After that, he rested. The act of creation (space, time, and the ordered matter within it) was an act of divine love. God did not need to create anything in order to add to his own holiness and perfection. However, from all eternity God rested.[i] Being at rest, in other words, is an intrinsic part of his nature. Being a creator was an act of gratuitous love. The fact that creation and rest are the first two things revealed to us about God means they are fundamental to how we are to understand him. At the beginning and centre of the act of creating everything, there is a God who rests. After creating he returns to rest, and invites all that he has created to join him in it.

Continue reading “Rest”

Justice: The Most Terrible of the Virtues

by James Schall
Published in the Journal of Markets and Morality (vol 7, number 2, fall 2004).

The place of justice among the virtues, both moral and theological, has always been a delicate issue. Machiavellians tend to underestimate or deny its central significance. Contemporary religious rhetoric often tends to exaggerate it. Classi-cal philosophy was ever aware of the ambiguity of justice—its impersonality and rigidity. Unless placed within a higher order of “good,” as Plato saw, or of “charity,” as Aquinas understood, justice introduces an unsettling utopianism into any existing polity.

“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness andpeace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of theearth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.”

—Psalm 85:10–11

“Summum jus, summa injustitia.”

—Cicero, De officiis

“Deus misericorditer agit, non quidem contra justitiamsuam faciendo, sed aliquid supra justitiam operando.…”

—Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, 21, 3, ad 2

In ethical and political affairs, no more frequent or more agonizing word is found than that of justice or its related words fair, equitable, right, or rights. In its own way, of course, justice is also a noble word standing at the height of the practical, not theoretical or theological, virtues. It is also one of the attributes applied to the divinity—God is just. Justice, following Plato, can have a very broad scope. It means that everything is voluntarily doing what it ought to do so that the whole may do what it is ordered (that is, designed) to do. Such is the fifth definition of justice in the fourth book of Plato’s Republic. The standard subtitle of this famous dialogue is precisely “On Justice.”

Justice is classically treated in the fifth book of Aristotle’s Ethics, wherein he distinguishes between legal or general justice and special justice. In earlier books, he offered an overall description or analysis of virtue and responsibility, together with the vices opposite to each of the virtues.1 Aristotle explained how virtues applied to human action and passion in which they exist as habitual guides or moderators. Justice is a virtue, which, unlike courage or temperance, does not look inward. Rather, it looks ad alium, to how we stand to another or others besides ourselves when we chance to come into various relationships with them. It implies that our perfection is not something totally dependent on or related to ourselves alone. If we speak of “justice to ourselves,” we mean that we compare or relate what we ought to be with what we in fact are and do. Continue reading “Justice: The Most Terrible of the Virtues”