Singer-songwriter Rich Mullins earned lasting fame with a series of contemporary Christian hits in the 1980s and 1990s. In less than a decade, he won a dozen Dove Awards. His anthem “Awesome God” remains a staple of evangelical praise. Mullins’ early music was influenced by his Quaker upbringing, which was austerely anti-dogmatic, and his “Independent Christian” young adulthood. The Bible college he attended grew out of a movement whose foundational slogans touted “No creed but Christ.”
Though the story begins lightheartedly, there is nothing lighthearted about the kind of suffering that Frodo Baggins is invited to embrace in The Lord of the Rings. Frodo’s initial response is predictable: he is terrified by the news that he possesses the great Ring of the Dark Lord, Sauron, who is seeking him even as they speak. In a show of remarkable courage and wisdom that surprises even Gandalf, Frodo accepts his role and agrees to bear the Ring out of the Shire.
The last forty years have witnessed a remarkable and growing interest in virtue ethics. Moral theologians have rightly celebrated this new interest and encouraged it. Students of Aquinas have especially welcomed this interest, because the return to virtue ethics offers opportunities for the renewal of moral theology along Thomistic lines. At the same time, however, the return to virtue also presents a number of challenges.
In contemporary parlance, the term habit has come to mean a psychological groove that diminishes freedom and restricts a person to stereotypical forms of behavior. Whether this refers to speaking with a heavy regional accent or to drinking coffee each morning or even to smoking a cigarette after every meal,
Today the Catholic Church celebrates Mary as “the Mother of God.” Christians have invoked Mary in this way since at least the time of Origen of Alexandria in the early third century. She was officially honored as the Mother of God in 431 at the Council of Ephesus, which ratified the tradition of calling her Theotókos, a Greek term meaning “the God-bearer” or “She who gave birth to God.”