The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #72: Patience

General Introduction
– Listener feedback
– Who’s listening?
– What’s on the blog?
– Formatting a dissertation

The Patience of Job
– The patience of Job?
– Gregory the Great (again!)
– Shall we blame his friends?
– The plurality of wisdom literature
– Interrogating James
– Humility and patience

New Testament Patience
– Fruit of the Spirit
Macrothumia: “being long of will”
– Perseverance and endurance
– The time between times
– Multiple patiences

Augustine and Patience
– Yeah, it’s in there
– Good temper
– Patience as species of anger
– Patristic adaptations
– Nathan beats another dead horse

Stoic Patience
– Implication rather than statement
– Thinking clearly about reality
– Our arbitrary world
– One thing leads to another
– Stoicism and Christianity
– Self-control and love

Literary Exemplars
– The patient Griselda
– Abusing patience
– Fabius Maximus as patient dictator
– Olaf, glad, big, and patient
– Defending Booker T. Washington

Learning Patience
– Practical, not intellectual
– Personal virtue
– The Greek and the Christian
– Modeling God’s patience
– Interconnectedness

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Trans. Terence Irwin. New York: Hackett, 1999.

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. New York: Oxford UP, 2008.

Cummings, E.E. Complete Poems, 1904-1962. New York: Liveright, 1994.

Epictetus. Enchiridion. Trans. George Long. Seattle: CreateSpace, 2011.

Gregory the Great. Morals on Book of Job. Trans. John Henry Parker. Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, 2010.

Marcus Aurelius. Meditations. New York: Simon and Brown, 2012.

Markus, R.A. Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of St. Augustine. New York: Cambridge UP, 1989.

Tertullian. The Writings of Tertullian. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, 2004.

Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologicae. New York: Christian Classics, 1981. 5 volumes.

Washington, Booker T. Up from Slavery. New York: Tribeca, 2011.

5 thoughts on “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #72: Patience

  1. Good podcast, team. I actually found myself getting annoyed at how long the “Patience” episode took to download and had to stop myself. I had places to go.

    I don’t want to get too real with you kids because I think you are very nice people but the book of Job has always rubbed me the wrong way. You talked about the irrational cruelty of the Prince is Chaucer but it seems like the same criticism could be leveled to God in the book of Job.

    I think that it’s ludicrous to think that God would make a bet with the devil and ruin a man’s life just to prove a bet. I’m sure you’re going to tell me that it’s more complicated than that but, on the surface, it seems like God is being irrationally cruel to someone that hasn’t done anything to prove a bet.

    I’m not a Bible scholar by any means but I believe that his sons are killed. Is that right? What about them?

    I understand if it’s just an allegory but it seems like it’s teaching a terrible lesson. If it was, “these terrible things happened to this guy for no reason and he never lost his faith” I think that would be a fine allegory.

    When it becomes, “these terrible things happened to this guy because God and the Devil made a bet” that gets super dicey for me. It’s not just me that gets uneasy around Job either. It’s often cited by the new Atheist movement as a primary “pump the breaks” moment in the Bible.

  2. Good point about the virtues being inextricably intertwined. I’m such a “systematic” thinker (or maybe it’s the influence of factor analysis in personality psychology) that I want to try and explain all virtues as subsets or combinations of a parsimoniously-small list of virtues (e.g., Aquinas’ seven). So during the episode I found myself trying to decide if patience was a subset of courage (which most of the scholars I’ve read do) or a subset of temperance, what with the emphasis on restraining anger.

    So maybe patience is a subset of courage, but you can’t display patience without temperance, and you need wisdom to know how much restraint to put on your anger (not too much not too little), and you need justice so that your anger is directed toward the right end, and so on.

  3. Sorry for the slow response, all.

    Ryan, you’re right that the book of Job demands some very serious ethical thinking, and that’s precisely why I teach it every year to Christian college students. My own starting point for teaching the book is that it’s a response to certain intellectual movements in the life of Israel. (I’m not one who subscribes to Job’s early composition.) That ideology, one in which everything that happens to every person has a direct and proportional moral cause, was one that history, family memory, and most people’s individual stories renders unintelligible.

    Enter Job.

    Yes, if our starting assumption is that it’s a book about God as a literary character, then you’re right that it’s dicey. If it’s a book about the character of human existence, then I’d say it rivals and surpasses the Greek tragedies in its honesty about superhuman forces that make the world hard for human beings. And that’s why I consider both the frame-narrative and the speeches of Job integral to the story. Job the character has a sophisticated grasp on the absurdity of protesting against God, and he protests nonetheless. As I said in the episode, I consider the makrothymia of Job precisely that refusal to stop demanding justice of God and of Job’s neighbors.

    I know that such a reading will neither strike certain forms of Christian piety as properly submissive nor satisfy the protests of the nü atheists, but I think that might be the peculiar genius of Job: it leaves everyone just about the same degree of cold, for very different reasons.

  4. Oops. Forgot Charles.

    Charles, your comments here and on courage are well-taken. As I said, I’m trying out a more role-based idea of the virtues, but at root I’m still more convinced by an Aristotelian/Thomist model in which they’re all present in the genuinely good person.

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