I still exist… I just don’t have leisure-internet-time at the moment. If you’re a praying type, please pray that we’d get our own place to live in soon 🙂
In the mean time, I recommend Plutarch’s Lives – I’m really getting into them at the moment. It’s fascinating to learn about some of the well-known people from 2,000 years ago – and also fascinating to consider the criteria by which Plutarch evaluates their lives. It seems that one’s conduct results from the way one’s character (either virtuous or otherwise) is impacted by fortune.
When the essentially noble Sertorius is successful, for example, it is seen as a result of his honour and virtue. When he is unsuccessful, it is explained with reference to “misfortune.” When he finally acts with uncharacteristic severity, it is seen as fortune’s mis-shaping of his essentially virtuous character:
“It is true that piece of harshness and cruelty which he executed in the latter part of his days upon the Spanish hostages, seems to argue that his clemency was not natural to him, but only worn as a dress, and employed upon calculation, as his occasion or necessity required. As to my opinion, I am persuaded that pure virtue, established by reason and judgment, can never be totally perverted or changed into its opposite, by any misfortune whatever. Yet I think it at the same time possible, that virtuous inclinations and natural good qualities, may, when unworthily oppressed by calamities, show, with change of fortune, some change and alteration of their temper; and thus I conceive it happened to Sertorius, who when prosperity failed him, became exasperated by his disasters against those who had done him wrong.”
Consider the partial similarity to Paul’s conception of things – right conduct will flow from the conscious expression of one’s identity in Christ. And when trials and temptations push believers off course, Paul reminds them of this new essential identity: “This is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”