Right now in the United States we are watching an endless demonstration of all kinds of vice: lechery, greed, selfishness, and intolerance to name a few. Many casual conversations are of the “ain’t it awful” variety where people bemoan the state of things, outdoing each other with tale of the latest outrage. Not only is it exhausting, it is indirectly morally corrosive. Even though we seem to be attacking another’s vice, we often get caught up in the same behavior.
In my faith, today is All Saints Day, and I share a quote from St. Paul:”whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” So for a while I will be reflecting on that old fashioned subject “virtue.” It turns out there are many lists of virtues, but I will try to reflect on those that challenge me now or did in the past.
Today’s photo is of my beloved grandfather Niles Carpenter on the day he received his PhD from Harvard. He studied both at the Episcopal Seminary and at Harvard, never wanting to plant his foot firmly in either camp. He became an ordained Episcopal priest but spent the majority of his life as a professor of sociology. For me he embodied many of the virtues, and I remember him, a secular saint, today.