My guest today to help us navigate the word “moderation” is my brother Ron.
On Aug 15, 2017, Ronald Whitmer wrote:
David Brooks column in the New York Times appeals to the virtue of "modesty."
David Brooks AUG. 15, 2017.
My brother wrote …..
My mind was immediately drawn to Plato and his reflection on "sophrosyne," literally "moderation." My Jowett, 4th edition, translation reads "The subject of the Charmides is temperance or "sophrosyne," a peculiarly Greek notion, which may be also rendered Moderation, Modesty, Discretion, Wisdom, without completely exhausting by all these terms the various associations of the word."
A quick search for "sophrosyne" found this web site:
I was struck near the end of this link that as goddess Sophrosyne when Pandora's box is opened she immediately flees to mount Olympus, leaving the world forever. Her flight is disastrously self-serving for it locates the practice of the virtues far removed from where they are most needed. Their practice is needed within the context of one's anxieties and fears, in the mix of the chaos and evil of a changing world.
St. Paul's writings on prudence and endurance may draw upon Plato's word but his words and the virtues embodied shift radically the frame within which virtues are now to be lived. They are to be lived by "putting on the mind of Christ" and mindful of the Spirit flooding our hearts as a guide for the way that lies ahead.
We are gifted with an alternative. Not flight or denial but with the Word spoken from the beginning: "the Word (Meaning) is made flesh" and the abiding relational community of the Trinity is drawing us by love and friendship into the universe as a community of the whole.
Our virtues cannot be practiced by fleeing or denying them. The ego's narcissistic needs for safety and closure may attempt to feign their use apart from the world, but to do so, forecloses transcendence and the sacramental reality within which we reside. There is cause and good reason to consider putting on the mind of Christ and all the essential virtues and then to read again the temptation narratives and the invitation to take up your cross and follow me. We have this option detailing how we can live redemptive without giving in to anxiety and fear, "on earth as in heaven."
A fragment, "Alleluia!"