philosophical thoughts on human flourishing, and sometimes other stuff
Do you address how Christian parents should deal with children who, despite exemplifying the virtues enumerated in the review, fail to share either their parents' piety (or any variety of theism)? I've known some parents for whom their kids' atheism was a source acute anguish, despite their obviously being otherwise irreproachable and exemplary persons.
Rob-I talk about this in a general sense, as I discuss the importance of loving children unconditionally, rather than parenting by guilt or shame. More to the specific issue you mention, I briefly discuss on p. 105 the notion that ideally children should feel comfortable coming to their parents with their doubts about Christianity. Many parents with strong commitments in this area fear that their children will leave or reject the faith, and this is an understandable thing. However, the notion of stewardship comes into play insofar as the child does not belong to the parent, and so they have the freedom and dignity to go their own way, so to speak, and parents should respect this.I would point out that I think it is okay for a child's atheism to be difficult for her parents, or "a source of acute anguish", as you put it, even if she is otherwise morally exemplary. The reason is that the ultimate aim of Christianity is not virtue, though this is essential and all too uncommon, but rather something like Aquinas's beatific vision in which human beings are in deep communion with God and one another. This is partially realizable now, and fully so in the "afterlife".
I suspect one of the parents to which I refer deeply regrets not having taken greater efforts to subordinate the inculcation of liberal arts values in their children to, as you put it, "the ultimate aim of Christianity." It is as if they were betrayed by precisely the values they trusted would secure their kids on the way to that aim.
Interesting. My view is that some of the liberal arts values are necessary for authentic faith. For example, I don't think faith is genuine unless it is in some sense autonomously adopted. I think faith is reasonable, and would define it as a power to trust what one has reason to believe is true. So the liberal arts value of critical thought is perhaps not a necessary component of the ultimate aim of Christianity, but a very important one given the role belief plays in actions and character. I want to say it is necessary, but there could be counterexamples to that that I'd have to think about first.
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