triumph of st

Christ and the Moral Life

Randall B. Smith

Professor of Theology
University of St. Thomas

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves. (John Paul II, Fides et Ratio)

The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. (Gaudium et Spes, 24)

Course Description: 
An introduction to moral theology through the consideration of the key questions of meaning that pervade human life:  Who am I?  Where am I from?  Where am I going?  What is our place in the world and in the universe?  What is the nature and destiny of the human person?  What is authentic happiness and how is it achieved?  What makes life meaningful?  What about suffering and death?  Our means for exploring these questions will involve reading and reflection on certain classic primary texts.  Our discussions will also be informed by a related series of secondary articles that examine key topics, such as freedom, conscience, sin, and grace.  

Mid-Term Review Questions

Review Questions for the Final Exam

Required Books

Augustine, Confessions (any translation will do)
Langdon Gilkey, The Shantung Compound
Reader (available at a local copy shop)

Course Requirements:

1. Careful reading of each assignment before the class for which it is assigned.  Be ready for a short reading quiz before each class.
2. Active participation in class.
3. Daily reflection papers of approximately 800 words in length.  The paper should be submitted at the beginning of the class when it is due.
4. Mid-term and comprehensive final exams comprised almost entirely of essays.
5. NB:  No computers or cell phones are allowed in this class.  Period.  Don't bring them. Don't open them.  Don't look at them.


Daily Reflections: 20% (we will drop your three lowest scores)
Mid-Term Exam: 25%
Final Exam: 35%
Quizzes: 10% (we will drop your three lowest scores)
Class Participation: 10%

Policy on Attendance:

    I will take attendance daily at the beginning of each class. If you are late, it is your responsibility to see me after class to make sure you are marked present (but late). If you haven’t informed me of your presence, then you didn’t attend.
    Please be forewarned that more than three absences will result in a decrease of one-third of a letter grade. Further absences will result in further proportionate decreases.  After six absences, you will be excused from further attendance in an official way (by which I mean, you will suffer the academic equivalent of being fired).
     Please also take note that I make no distinction between “excused” and “un-excused” absences.  You may excuse yourself for whatever reason you deem important enough to miss class. I realize that there are certainly times when attending class is not the most important thing in your life.  On the other hand, since you are enrolled, attending class is not unimportant if you are to get the educational benefit for which you are paying.  Quite frankly, my experience has been that when a student exceeds three absences, his or her grade is headed downward precipitously no matter what I do.

Schedule of Class Meetings and Reading Assignments:

1. Happiness and Meaning
Introduction: In class readings:

Pope John Paul II
Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
"The Happiness Trap"
Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning (selection)
"The Risks of Meaninglessness"
Emily Esfahani Smith, The Power of Meaning (selection)
Reflection:  Write your own eulogy. If you were to die in ten years, what would you want someone who knows you well to be able to say honestly about you? Did you have serious setbacks and obstacles?  If so, how did you face them?  What made your life meaningful?
2.  Fundamental Questions: Who am I?
Tasha Eurich, Insight: The Surprising Truth About How Others See Us, How We See Ourselves, and Why the Answers Matter More Than We Think (selections) --- Outline
Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos (selections)
Timothy Clydesdale, The First Year Out, 1-6, 37-41 (on the “daily life management game”)
Daniel Goleman on "Self-Awareness"
Reflection:  In this course, we are asking students to ask "the fundamental questions" of the sort Pope John Paul II talks about at the beginning of his encyclical Fides et Ratio.  "Who am I?" is one of them.  I want you to consider whether you "know yourself"?  This reflection has two parts.  The first part is due before the second class period.  The second part will be due before the fourth class period.

Part 1:  If Timothy Clydesdale's study of college students is any indication, how likely is it that you will actually ask yourself the fundamental questions we wish to examine in this class?  How likely is it that you will prefer instead to use what he calls "the identity lock-box"?

Part 2:  Find a trusted friend or family member who knows you well.  For each of the seven areas listed below, describe how you see yourself (e.g., what are you values? how do you react to situations?). Then, ask the other person, without looking at your answers, to write down how they see you (e.g., what do they think your values are? how do they see you react to situations?).  Now discuss the similarities and differences between your answers about yourself and your partner's answers.  I am not interested in prying into your private life, so you needn't turn in to me what you wrote about the seven areas below or what your partner said.  What I am interested in is your written reflection on the similarities and differences between your answers about yourself and those given by someone who knows you well.  Were you surprised by any of your partner's answers?  If so, was the difference because they didn't understand you as well as you thought, or was it perhaps because you don't understand yourself and how you are being seen by others as well as you thought? (Due, as I said above, at the beginning of the fourth class period.)

1. Values: The principles that guide how you govern your life
2. Passions:  What you love to do
3. Aspirations: What you want to experience and achieve
4. Fit: The environment you require to be happy and engaged
5. Patterns: Your consistent ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving across situations
6. Reactions: The thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that reveal your strengths and weaknesses
7. Impact: How your actions are generally perceived by others

3. Consumerism: Buying and Selling a Sense of Self

Christian Smith, "Captive to Consumerism"
Walker Percy, "The Self as Nought"
Juliet Schor, The Overspent American (selections: shorter version in Reader)
John Paul II on "consumerism"

Reflection:  Today's reflection has three parts:

(1) Are you affected by modern methods of marketing and advertising that market items by selling a persona, a sense of identity?
(2) Are your friends affected by these modern methods of marketing and advertising?
(3) If you answered no to the first question (you are not affected) and yes to the second (your friends are affected), what would your friends and parents say about you? 

4. The Modern Moral Landscape

Christian Smith, Lost in Transition, Introduction and Ch. 1, "Morality Adrift"
Christian Smith, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (on “moralistic therapeutic deism”)

Reflection:  Part 2 of the reflection assigned on Day 2 is due today.

5. The Source of Confusion: A Confusion of Sources

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press), 6-14, 23-30.
Mary Ann Glendon, Rights Talk, 47-75
Immanuel Kant, "The categorical imperative"
Jeremy Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, chs. 1 and 4.

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (on the "harm principle")
Reflection: Consider this situation where "maximization of utility" and "rights" might come into conflict.  You are a manager in a major corporation.  Your job is to maximize efficiency and to cut inefficiency.  You will only advance in your career at the company if you are successful in maximizing profit and minimizing inefficiency.  You notice an employee who is falling behind the rest.  You inquire and find out she is having trouble with your boss who has been sexually harassing her.  She is upset, and her work has suffered.  Throughout the company there is pressure to maximize efficiencies, and higher-ups in the corporation are looking to you to do your part in your unit.  This could be your time to shine.  You say you believe in a woman's right not to be harassed, but there isn't much you think you can do to resolve that problem since the problem arose with someone who is not only your superior but also someone who makes a lot of money for the company.  And if you say something, you risk getting yourself and the company caught up in a lot of bad publicity.  As a result, your fellow employees are putting pressure on you to "not make trouble."  How here's the question:  Do you uphold the woman's "right" regardless of the consequences or do you consider this employee's good in conjunction with the good of the many?  How would you decide whether to adopt one approach (respecting her "right" regardless of the consequences) over the other (maximizing utility for the many)?  What arguments would you use to convince those who disagree with you?

6. Uncivil Discourse: The Simulacra of Arguments in Rhetorical Junkspace

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 68-71
Robert Bellah, Habits of the Heart, 1-20
Vaclav Havel, "The Power of the Powerless" (selection)

"The Four Facebooks," Nolen Gertz
"The New Mind Control," Robert Epstein
"Vicious Cycles: Theses on a Philosophy of News," Greg Jackson

Reflection:  We discussed Alasdair MacIntyre's claim that modern moral arguments are "interminable."  Let's say that the Los Angeles city government proposes a plan to bus poor kids from inner city Los Angeles out to the suburban schools Brian Palmer's kids go to and bus Brian Palmer’s kids into schools in the inner city.  Now let's say that Brian Palmer is opposed to this proposal and Wayne Bauer, the social justice warrior, is in favor of it.  Applying MacIntyre's analysis, explain why these two men  — both decent and caring in their own ways — are not only not likely to come to any agreement, but are just as likely to end up accusing each other of being a hypocrite, arguing in bad faith.  Would being "connected" on social media help them have a more informed and civil discussion or make the discussion more intractable?  Why or why not?

7. Reflections on Freedom, Success, and Justice

Robert Bellah, Habits of the Heart, 20-26
Servais Pinckaers, Morality: The Catholic View, 65-81 (on the distinction between “freedom of indifference” and “freedom for excellence”)
Michael Sandel on "The Unencumbered Self"
Charles Taylor, The Ethics of Authenticity, "The Three Malaises"
David C. Burns, "Rejecting the Culture of Authenticity"

(1) How, according to Robert Bellah, do most American's define success? 
(2) How do you define success?
(3) Consider: Is there a fundamental continuity between your conception of "success" and the eulogy you wrote for yourself earlier?  In other words, is your notion of "success" in continuity with the person you say you want to become?  Or is there a tension, perhaps even a contradiction, between the two? 

Shantung Compound Quiz 1 (pp. 6-19, 71-96) --- Shantung Compound Essay Questions for the Mid Term and Final

8. Nature, Human Nature, and Human Flourishing

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 51-61 (the threefold schema)
Epictetus, Enchiridion
Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus

In class: "Metaphysics and Ethics" (Jacques Maritain)

Reflection: If you were a Stoic, how would you envision human nature and human flourishing?  What human capacities would you wish to facilitate?  Which would you wish to minimize and why? If you were an Epicurean, how would you envision human nature and human flourishing? What human capacities would you wish to facilitate?  Which would you wish to minimize and why?  Are you more of a Stoic or an Epicurean?

9.  Reflections on Virgil's Aeneid: Free Will, Fate, and the Gods

Virgil, Aeneid, bks 1, 2

Reflection:  You are a soldier in Vietnam.  You have met and fallen in love with a Vietnamese woman. The two of you have a child, although you are not legally married.  Due to political reasons beyond your control (and about which you know next to nothing other than bits and snatches you read in the newspaper), you and your battalion are ordered back to the United States.  The North Vietnamese forces are invading the South and will soon overrun it.  If you leave, you may not see her or your child again.  If you stay, you may be imprisoned by the invading North Vietnamese.  Should you obey those orders and leave, or should you stay with her in Vietnam?  Are you responsible for taking care of her and your child even though so much of what has happened has been beyond your control?  Explain your decision.

Shantung Compound Quiz 2 (pp. 96-116-140-162) 

10. Reflections on Virgil's Aeneid: What to do about Dido?

Virgil, Aeneid, bk 4
Plato, Symposium, 189c-193e (Aristophanes's speech)
Christian Smith, "The Shadow Side of Sexual Liberation"

Reflection: If you were Dido's mother or father, would you want your daughter getting involved with Aeneas?  Why or why not?  (Please note, if your answer involves the claim that their sexual relationship is "immoral," please explain what makes it "immoral."  If you wish to claim that Aeneas is motivated by "lust," not "love," please explain the difference between the two.)  If you were you, but in Dido's situation, would you would listen to your mother or father if they warned you against getting involved with Aeneas?  Should you listen?  Why or why not?
11. Humanity and Technology: Is There a Technical Fix for Every Human Problem?
Langdon Gilkey, Shantung Compound, 193-202, 226-242
Gaudium et Spes, 1-12
Pope John Paul II, "Address to Scientists" (1981), 7-12
C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, ch. 3.

Shantung Compound Quiz 3 (pp. 193-202, 226-242)
        Langdon Gilkey concluded from his experiences during the first months interred in the Shantung Compound that “the capacity of men to develop the technical aspects of civilization ... is limitless.”  “Never again,” wrote Gilkey, would he “despair of man’s ability to progress in both knowledge and practical techniques.” 
       Along with this faith in man’s inherent capabilities, Gilkey was faced with a pressing personal question, given that his training at Harvard had been in the Humanities, especially Philosophy and Theology. “What’s so important anyway about the way a person looks at life?” he wondered.  “Are these ‘big problems of life’ really problems at all?  Does it really matter?”  “The real issues of life are surely material and political,” writes Gilkey about his attitude at that point in his life.  And surely these matters “are resolved by practical experience and by techniques,” thought Gilkey, “not by this or that philosophy or religious faith....”
       “It was not that I thought religion wrong,” he continues; “I simply thought it irrelevant.  What real function in actual life does it perform under conditions where basic problems are dealt with by techniques and organizational skill?”  He was no longer convinced that religion had “any value for the common life of mankind” since modern technology and organizational methods increasingly seemed “quite able to create a full human life without religion.”
       These are common sentiments among many modern people.
       And yet, it is also worth noting that, by the end of his time at the Shantung Compound several years later, Gilkey had come to some very different conclusions about the importance of religion and the “big questions of life.”  By the end of the war, he came to see them as essential to survival.  What brought about this change of mind? 
12. Augustine's Early Years
Augustine, Confessions, books 1 and 2
Reflection: Though he is grateful for the technical training he received, Augustine is unhappy with his early education because he came to believe his parents and teachers did not really understand the true purposes education should serve.  In their minds, it seems to have been about "success," understood as gaining the skills to attain more wealth, power, and status.  Consider the following:

(1) What goals, according to Augustine, should education serve? 
(2) Do you agree with Augustine or with his parents and teachers about the purpose of an education?
(3) What has been the purpose of your education so far in your life?  Was it more like what Augustine wishes it would be?  Or more like what his parents and teachers intended?  Do you wish it had been different?  So too, what sort of education would you like to pursue now and in the future?  The one Augustine got in his early years, or the one he wished he had gotten?
13. Augustine's Intellectual Odyssey
Augustine, Confessions, books 3, 4, and 5
    Augustine was bothered by the problem of evil by the question of why there is evil in the world.  This is reputed to be one of the most difficult questions human beings face.  I have asked many students over the years whether they are bothered by the problem of evil.  To my surprise, most answer no. Evil exists, they say, and you just have to deal with it. 
    “Is it ‘okay’,” then, “that millions of people suffer?” I ask them.  No, they reply, that does bother them.  But they don’t know what to say or do about that.  So they just don't think about it.  They aren’t bothered by the question about evil, it seems, but they are bothered by evil.
    There are, of course, two kinds of evil: natural evil and moral evil.  Natural evils are things like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and cancer.  Moral evils are caused by human choices: your grandmother isn’t killed in a flood, someone shoots her in robbery.  Your best friend doesn’t die from cancer, he is beaten to death by gang members.
So, two questions (perhaps three):
    If you have ever had a loved one suffer or die due to cancer or a flood or some other natural disaster (you needn’t specify the details), did you ask yourself, “Why is the world like this?  Why do bad things happen to people?”  If so, what was your answer?
    One question we are faced with has to do with natural evil.  But another question, a little closer to home, has to do with moral evil.  Have you noticed moral evil in yourself?  One question we might ask is why there is evil out there in the world.  But another question is why there is evil in me?  So, have you noticed evil in yourself.  Have you asked yourself why you have evil thoughts and do evil things?  If so, what was your answer?     
    If you have no answer to those questions, does that bother you? 
14. Love Finds Augustine
Augustine, Confessions, books 6, 7, and 8
Reflection:  Let us suppose that Aeneas has written a letter to Bishop Augustine asking him what he should do about Dido (ignoring for the moment the impossibility of this happening since Aeneas was a made-up character).  Compose a letter from Bishop Augustine to Aeneas explaining what he should do and why.  (Warning:  Please don't make Augustine into a caricature of the paradigmatic stern, unfeeling, pious clergyman.  Let's suppose for a moment that he was as sophisticated and understanding of others as you are perhaps more so.  So, for example, if you are tempted to say, "Aeneas, you are living in sin with that woman!" don't.  You need to explain to Aeneas in terms a non-Christian can understand why he should do what you advise him to do.    
15. What is Our Story?
St. Augustine, On the Catechizing of the Uninstructed, chs. 3-4; ch. 17 (par. 28) - ch. 25

Oliver O'Donovan, “History and Eschatology"

Reflection:  What, according to St. Augustine, is the "story" of the world?  What is the message of that story?  What difference would it make to a person's life if he or she accepted this as the world's story rather than accepting modern nihilistic conceptions of the universe? ("Nihilism" insists the world has no "story"; the world is essentially a meaningless series of meaningless events.)
16. Creation, History, and Meaning
William Carroll, Creation and Science

Movie:  “Things to Come” (H. G. Wells)

Reflection:  What is your view of the world?  Is it an essentially meaningless universe?  Is ours a kill-or-be-killed existence?  If not, what?  What relationship is there (if any) between the view of the world you described above and the goals you expressed in the eulogy you wrote for an earlier class?  Are the two views in conflict with each other?  If so, why?  Which view of the world  do you suppose will dominate the way you live your life?    

17. Respecting the Created Order

Oliver O’Donovan, “Created Order”

Robert Sokolowski, “What is Natural Law? Human Purposes and Natural Ends,” The Thomist, vol. 66, no. 4 (October 2004): 507-529.

Reflection:   This chapter poses questions about the relation of my purposes to the nature and ends of the things I encounter.  So, for example, should the nature and end of my dog limit my purposes and set boundaries as to how I treat him or what I do with him?  If I injure my dog while pursuing my goals, have I done what I ought not to do? So too, should the nature and end of my fellow humans limit my purposes as to how I treat them?  Should I consider their purposes as well as my own, and if so, in what ways?  Or as an individual, am I bound only by the things I choose to be bound by?  
18. Human Nature and Human Flourishing: Body and Soul
"The Magic of Touch"
Bill Moyers, "Healing and the Mind"
Hubert Dreyfus, “Disembodied Telepresence and the Remoteness of the Real”
Antonio Damasio, Descartes’ Error, xi-xv, 245-258 (up to “A Note on the Limits of Neurobiology Now”)
Abraham Joshua Heschel, "The Patient as Person"
Catholic View of the Human Person (an overview)

Reflection:  Is healing a purely physical thing?  Is it a purely mental or spiritual thing?  If it is not either one, how should we understand it?  Does this tell us anything important about the nature of the human person?
19. The Passions
Plato, Phaedrus, 253d-257b (“Allegory of the Chariot”)
Paul Gondreau, "Balanced Emotions"
Servais Pinckaers, Passions and Virtue
5 Steps to Emotional Intelligence

Reflection:  According to the little reading "5 Steps to Emotional Intelligence," we can recall those five steps by remembering the mnemonic "RULER." How good are you at these five steps?
20. Natural Right and Natural Justice
Josef Pieper, Justice (selections)

Reflection: Consider for a moment the definition of justice that says "justice is giving each person her or his due."  Let's say for a moment that this is true. What do you think others owe you "in justice"? What do you think you owe them "in justice"?  (If you answer, "nothing, as in "Other people owe me nothing, and I owe them nothing," please ask yourself whether you actually live that way.)
21. Natural Justice and Catholic Social Justice

Pope John Paul II, Laborem Exercens, ch. II, sections 4-10

Reflection: In Laborem Exercens, Pope John Paul II proposes ways in which convictions about the nature of the human person and human flourishing can and should influence the way we treat workers.  Do you agree with his analysis?  Why or why not?  Have you found, working, that most employers act the way the Pope proposes? Would you prefer they did? If you were a manager or employer, how would you treat your workers?

22. Natural Law and Mosaic Law 
“Thomas Aquinas on the Old Law and the Natural Law” (with Diagram)
Pope John Paul II, Veritatis splendor, 35-53

Psalm 19
Psalm 119
Deuteronomy 4:7 ff.

Reflection:  The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche thought that the Old Testament Jewish laws were made by a “slavish” people to keep excellent men enslaved and to prevent them from exercising their will-to-power, their will-to-dominate and change the world.  In his encyclical Veritatis splendor Pope John Paul II suggested that, “God's law does not reduce, much less do away with human freedom; rather, it protects and promotes that freedom.”  So does the law enslave us (as Nietzsche thought) or free us (as John Paul II thought)?
23. The Ten Commandments

Catechism of the Catholic Church, pt. 3, sect. 2, aa. 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 (sections 2196-2513)
Thomas Aquinas, Summa of Theology I-II, q. 105, aa. 1-4   

Movie: The Bicycle Thief (also titled The Bicycle Thieves), Vittorio De Sica, 1948  

Reflection (choose one of the following two):

A)   In the Summa of Theology, Thomas Aquinas proposes that not paying a workman his wages is a violation of the commandment against stealing, do you agree?  When employers fail to make payroll, do you imagine they say to themselves, “Oh no, I just violated one of the Ten Commandments, and that’s a serious sin!”  If not, why not? 

 B)   In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2479), we read that “Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect.”  Is gossip of this sort (that maligns a person) a violation of justice and charity, specifically a violation of the commandment against bearing false witness?  If you say yes, gossip is a "sin," why do you continue doing it?  Do you like it when others gossip about you?  If not, why do you do it? When you do it, do you say to yourself, “I am committing a sin; I am violating one of the Ten Commandments”?  If not, why not?

24. The Virtues
Philip Hallie, “Magda and the Great Virtues,” 
Josef Pieper, “The Christian Virtues”

Movie: “Chef” (Favreau, 2014)

    Do you have a skill? Did learning the skill involve discipline? Did it involve learning information you didn't previously know?  Does mastering your skill involve learning to deal with material (wood, metal, the spin of tennis balls, hitting curve balls, paint, a musical instrument, the human voice) or with other people (teammates, fellow band members, other carpenters)?  If so, please describe.  Has mastering your skill given you joy?  (If you haven’t mastered a skill, would you like to?)
    Now consider this:  A student once came to my class and announced as she entered the room, "I want to be like that woman!  I want to be Magda Trocmé!"  What would she have to do to make herself into someone like Magda Trocmé?  Would it be like developing a skill?  If so, how?
25. Sin and the Failures of Character
Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (selections)
Roch Kereszty, “Sin as a Threefold Alienation”
David Blumenthal, The Banality of Good and Evil, "Hierarchy and Role"

Reflection:   Some of the reasons the “ordinary men” of Reserve Police Battalion 101 gave for not accepting their commanding officer’s offer to “stand down” and not take part in killing innocent women and children were that (a) they didn’t have time to think; (b) they didn’t want to seem like a “coward”; (c) there was pressure to conform; and (d) they were under orders from above.  Consider your own life.  Have you ever done something that you later realized was wrong — perhaps even at the time you suspected was wrong — because you (a) didn’t have time to think it over, (b) didn’t want to seem “cowardly,” “uncool,” or “like a loser”; (c) were pressured to conform; and/or (d) subjected your own moral identity and more evaluations to someone in authority.  What are the chances that you might do so again?
26. Grace and Charity
“Grace,” Catholic Adult Catechism
Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Movie:  Of Gods and Men (2011)

Reflection:  Would being motivated by charity and by the Christian worldview make any difference in how one decides what is “prudent” or not?  If so, how?  What kind of person must one be and what kinds of abilities must one have to make prudent judgments when faced with decisions like those faced by the villagers of Le Chambon whether to hide Jewish refugees or refuse?  Would charity and/or faith help?  If so, how? 
27. Prudence
James C. Scott, "Practical Knowledge"--- outline
Josef Pieper, The Four Cardinal Virtues: Prudence

Reflection:   Are you a very wise person?  After you have given a general answer to that question, now ask yourself whether you have a good understanding of first principles; a solid ability to reason from first principles to particular situations; and a good memory that allows you to learn from experience.  Are you teachable?  Can you “think on your feet” when new situations arise?  Do you foresee relevant problems?  And do you take the necessary precautions to protect against possible problems? Does considering the question of wisdom from the perspective of those categories change your judgment about your own wisdom? 
28. The Parts of Prudence
David Messick and Max Bazerman, “Ethical Leadership and the Psychology of Decision Making” --- outline

Reflection:  Authors Messick and Bazerman discuss three sources of moral error:  mistakes about the world, about others, and about ourselves.  Consider a bad decision you made.  What was the source of that poor decision?  Was it a mistake about the world, about others, or about yourself?  Or was it all three?  Explain.
29. The Beatitudes and the Lesson of the Martyrs
Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 1, "The Beatitudes"
Pope John Paul II, Veritatis splendor 90-94 

Movie: "A Man for All Seasons" (1966)
Reflection:  In Veritatis splendor 91, Pope John Paul II declares that, "The Church proposes the example of numerous Saints who bore witness to and defended moral truth even to the point of enduring martyrdom, or who preferred death to a single mortal sin. In raising them to the honor of the altars, the Church has canonized their witness and declared the truth of their judgment, according to which the love of God entails the obligation to respect his commandments, even in the most dire of circumstances, and the refusal to betray those commandments, even for the sake of saving one's own life."  Early in the course, we discovered reading Christian Smith's book Lost in Transition that most emerging adults report that they would be willing to compromise their own values if it would benefit them and they thought that they could get away with it. 

Option 1: If you were put into the situation of the "ordinary men" of Reserve Police Battalion 101,
how much would you be willing to sacrifice if refusing to take part meant sacrificing something, perhaps even your life?  Would you be willing to sacrifice yourself?  Would compromising your values be a way of losing yourself losing the person you set out to be much the way Thomas More did not wish to "lose himself" by signing the oath in "A Man for All Seasons"?  Or would you be willing to compromise whatever values you had proclaimed up to that point in your life?  
Option 2:  Would you be willing to make substantial sacrifices (job, money, career, reputation, freedom, life) for anything?  If so, for what and why?  If not, why not?

30. Death and Eternal Life