Friday 1 September 2017 | Open Table
on the theme of the second transcendental, GOODNESS
Art | Michael Leunig, “Venerable, Blessed & Saintly Creatures“; Vincent Van Gogh, “Good Samaritan”
Text | Luke 10:25-37, “The Good Samaritan”
Good job! Good luck. Good night. All good.
Looking good! Good pizza. Good wife. A good life.
When a word can mean everything, it ceases to mean anything. So, what do we mean by “good”? In modern parlance, it’s highly malleable. For ancients, however, it was the second transcendental, alongside truth and beauty. It was the perennial quest for quality.
And yet, how do we measure excellence? Surely good implies its counterpart bad, and draws on some objective standard by which we judge? Good thus draws us deeper into questions of identity, essence, purpose, destiny/telos … some larger story heading either here or there, in which the part–whether a pizza or a person–rightly relates to the whole.
Perhaps some quotes will sharpen the focus.
Let’s start with Robert Pirsig in his classic philosophical travelogue, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values, exploring the nature of quality (goodness), of both machine/motorcycle, and person:
You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy.
Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.
How about Uncle Jack (C. S. Lewis) … what wisdom can he offer? Especially given that he thinks good and bad, right and wrong, are a “clue to the meaning of the Universe” (watch his Doodle video here).
Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled. …
No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. …
There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.
Finally, let’s get mystical with the unknown author of The Cloud of Unknowing:
Genuine goodness is a matter of habitually acting
and responding appropriately in each situation, as it arises,
moved always by the desire to please God.
So, this Open Table is dedicated to sharing stories sparked by this theme of “the good” … call it goodness, character, quality, the fullest expression of our essence and identity, a realisation of our telos … whatever you call it, come with food to share and a story to tell.
Who or what embodies this quality we call “good”, in a way that fixes your focus and calls you onward and upward? Join us and explore together one of life’s greatest themes.
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