Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Chp 6: Taking a Chance with Others: The Beginning of the Moral Life

Wadell begins this chapter by recounting a story of moral formation on the F Train. He writes, “We learn that all morality begins in and is an elaboration of the discovery that something other than ourselves is real—whether it is nature, another person, or God—and the moral life is the ongoing attempt to understand, deepen, and apply this discovery” (145) Furthermore, this exploration of something other than ourselves is “the threshold of every friendship” (146).

Learning to acknowledge the other is foundational to our morality. When we embrace a stranger, we are placed outside of ourselves. This is the beginning of friendship. “What is remarkable about the moral life,” Wadell writes, “is not that morality is friendship, but that all our friends were once strangers” (148).

Friendships do not appear out of thin air; we must seek a connection with others. Once that connection is forged we begin the “adventure” of a moral life. This adventure is a moral adventure that is “the adventure of another person shaping, challenging, and enlarging our world as we do their own.... it is part of the history of every friendship” (147).

Thus, a once-stranger becomes integral to our moral formation. As Wadell writes, “we cannot be ourselves without them” (144). By recognizing something outside ourselves, we gain a new perspective. Our moral formation begins and grows with the continued presence of the outside influence.

Wadell concludes the book saying, “the Christian moral life is what happens when we grant God, and others, the freedom to be our friends” (167). Our moral life is a consequence of our relationships with others. Our friends, especially play a crucial role in our moral formation. Without these relationships, we are incomplete.

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