Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sacrifice as a Virtue

I'm reading a fascinating book, Joyce Little's The Church and the Culture War (Ignatius Press, 1993) for a class I'm taking, and came across this passage last night:

The fact that self-sacrifice is regarded by less than half of all adults in this country as a positive moral virtue tells us far more about the current state of American religious belief than do all the polls indicating that more than 90 percent of the American public still believes in God.  It tells us that the Trinitarian Godhead which is within itself a communion of self-giving love is no longer the God in whom the American public believes.  It tells us that Christ, the source of the sacred or sacramental ordering of our lives, who becomes Head of the Church and source of that order by virtue of his sacrifice for the sake of the Church, no longer informs American religous sensibilities.

The characterization, the worth, the value, even the social role of acts of sacrifice is clearly one of the sharpest divisions between religiously-oriented and secularly-oriented feminist theorists.  Little's quote made me wonder about a couple of things.  One is whether these differing perspectives on self-sacrifice -- as a "moral virtue" versus a surrender of one's right to "define one's own concept of existence" -- might help explain some of the subtext of the arguments in many of our other great ongoing social debates.  Another is what kind of a God people believe in if they reject the notion of self-giving love or sacrifice as a virtue.

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Schiltz, Elizabeth | Permalink

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