[IC] Analysis of the Three Virtues

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[IC] Analysis of the Three Virtues

Post by Melnerag on Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:53 am

This short article is circulating among the clergy and theologians, and it is unlikely a common man without interest in doctrine and philosophy will ever get his hands on this.

Analysis of the Faolean Virtues and comparison with the Nine Steps of Ascension
by sister Gwendelyn Ashborough

The Three Virtues formulated by the archbishop Alonsus Faol form the cornerstone of the doctrine of the Church of the Holy Light. Alonsus Faol’s approach differs to that of prophet Anethion in how the two men approached the duality between action (external) and virtue (internal). While Anethion teaches that correct action cultivates virtue, Faol’s teaching implies that virtue leads to correct action. Both men acknowledged that virtue leads to correct action, and that correct action helps refine virtue, the difference is in where they have placed their focus. Devotional practice of chanting, meditation, prayer and religious music serves to cultivate virtue directly according to both teachings.

One who compares the Anethionean Nine Steps and the Faolean Three Virtues will notice that the Nine Steps begin with an instruction to correctly practice the rituals of faith and to show deference to the priesthood. These principles of devotional practice and esteem for the clergy are not included in the Three Virtues, but are an unspoken truth in the de facto practice of the Faolean Teaching.

The concepts of Happiness and Connection to the Universe are central to the understanding of the Three Virtues. Each of the two concepts has been written upon extensively by philosophers of all centuries, but there is as of current no official dogmatic Church view on the matter. The most recurring theme in understanding the Connection to the Universe is consequence and responsibility , a realization that one’s actions affect the world as a whole. The most impressive example is the case of a thief who steals a loaf of bread to feed his family. The act of theft has the direct consequence of reduced income and acute frustration for the shopkeeper, but it has a greater significance of devaluating the regard for the Law. When a Light-following Judge is to sentence the thief, he must deal with this consequence, because if he acquits the criminal he will deliver a devastating blow to the institution of the Law.

Anethionean teaching refers to the consequence and responsibility as increase or decrease in the power of the Holy Light in the universe depending on one’s actions, thoughts and motives. Faolean teaching seems to imply a similar connection, but never make an explicit doctrinal statement about it. Another recurring theme in understanding the Connection to the Universe is cosmic feedback, a process that turns good consequences of actions into happiness for the acting agent and bad consequences into suffering. A devout follower of the Light has a personal stake in making the world a better place.

The concept of Happiness is a tricky one, and has been discussed back and forth since writing was invented and very likely even before that. The main theme of the discussion is the distinction between fleeting and permanent happiness. Happiness derived from possessions is fleeting, happiness derived from virtue and action is permanent. Interpersonal relations belong to either one or the other category depending on the author. The moral connotation also differs; some writers condemn all happiness derived from material possession as evil or sinful.

In the scope of this article I have decided to differentiate between spiritual happiness attained through the positive feedback from the personal connection to the universe, and the worldly happiness derived by all other means. I believe that this distinction is justified because spiritual happiness brings one closer to the Light, while worldly happiness does not, even though the two can be intertwined when an action increases both worldly and spiritual happiness.

The virtue of Compassion teaches one to aid the increase of happiness and closeness to the Light of those around him. A very common misunderstanding of this virtue is that it commands to increase –all- happiness, while from the wording of the virtue it is clear that Faol meant what I have defined as spiritual happiness. Prophet Anethion approaches the problem differently, by establishing a social framework and mode of behavior that encourages each individual strengthens his connection to the universe and the Light by personal action. Action carries an additional consequence of increasing the value and esteem of the mode of behavior, which motivates others to adhere to it. Anethionean Steps 4 to 6 teach what Faoleans would consider Compassion, even if doing so indirectly.

Virtue of Compassion must not be confused with simply compassion. Virtue of Compassion teaches one to increase spiritual happiness of others and undertake right actions with good consequences, while compassion codifies behavior that is considerate towards the feelings of others and meant to improve their lot. The two often coincide, but there are exceptions.

Let’s turn to the dilemma of a wounded Orc. A devout follower of the Light happens upon a wounded Orc after a skirmish and has a chance between killing the Orc, or nursing it to health. What action is correct for a follower of the Light?

By killing the Orc the devout will contribute to the practice of War and validate murder-without-trial as a good course of action, and take life of another sapient creature. Nursing the Orc (ideally) leads to a sense of gratitude and a desire to reciprocate the good action on the Orc’s behalf, saves a life, upholds the concept of Justice and denounces Violence. The worst-case scenario of nursing the Orc cultivates no good emotions and desires in the Orc, or even nurtures contempt (as Orc Warriors take pity and mercy as an insult), undermines justice since Orc’s crimes (if he committed them) go unpunished and may de-evaluate Mercy and Kindness itself if the Orc kills the devout after being nursed to health as it discourages others from showing mercy again.

This dilemma leads us to another interesting unwritten facet of Faolean teaching. Wisdom and Experience are not codified into a Virtue, but they enter into deciding on the course of action in this dilemma. Hope – belief in best possible outcome – enters the decision-making process directly. A hopeful devout will always choose to nurse the Orc, because he counts on best-case scenario. Wisdom allows one to judge when hope is justified and when it is not.

Hope ties well with the Second Virtue of Tenacity. The Virtue of Tenacity is a direct response to the sense of despair one may feel when faced with the vastness of the universe and own insignificant contribution to the cosmic balance of Light and Darkness. Tenacity includes Faith in the Holy Light, the knowledge that following the Light’s Path will bring about positive change and the Light will be with the faithful during this undertaking, even during the darkest moments. Tenacity includes Hope that there will be positive change and that one’s actions will not be in vain. Tenacity includes resolve, because lack of focus and wavering concentration undermine the effectiveness of change.

Now I wish to turn the discussion of the Three Virtues in order and their application as well as the common misunderstanding.

Virtue of Respect teaches the realization of the law of consequence and responsibility, positive and negative cosmic feedback and spiritual happiness of self and others. Popular misconception equates the Virtue of Respect with respect (everyday meaning), which leads to awkward situations and embarrassing statements even by trained paladins. When a priest instructs to treat somebody with Respect, he means to act congruently with the Virtue of Respect. An answer of “Respect is earned, not given” has nothing at all to do with the request. Respectful (everyday meaning) behavior is desirable of the follower of the Light, but it is not demanded in itself; such behavior is only mandatory when it serves to increase spiritual happiness of others and affect positive consequences. Proper and respectful behavior is socially desirable, and behaving in respectful way improves the image of followers of the Light in popular eyes, which is a positive consequence as it encourages trust in the Light and the Church. Similarly, disrespectful behavior by devouts may push people away from the Church or even the Light.

Virtue of Tenacity teaches faith in the Light and one’s own abilities, hope, resolve and self-worth. In application it is often confused with patience, the popular saying of ‘patience is a virtue’ further deepens the confusion. A follower of the Light who is impatient in a slow baker’s queue is just that, impatient, and cannot be reproached for lack of tenacity. Patience, however, remains a desirable quality.

Virtue of Compassion enables a faithful to utilize the knowledge gained from the virtue of Respect and inner strength gained from the virtue of Tenacity to actively affect positive change and increase spiritual happiness in others. It is an important point to make that spiritual happiness is meant. If a follower of the Light finds a sleeping starving orphan and leaves a loaf of bread, and the Orphan wakes up, eats it, and does not sense any gratitude or desire to do good the deed was in vain as far as the Virtue of Compassion is involved. It however remains a good, decent and socially-desirable deed. It should be noted that this giving of the loaf of bread increased the giver’s own connection to the Light and provided him with spiritual happiness. Faol implicitly warns against confusing Compassion with simple Kindness. When a follower of the Light equates one with another, or interprets compassion in everyday sense of the word he may mistakenly assume that he has a mandate and a sacred charge to solve every social and personal problem he encounters. Compassion (everyday meaning) and kindness are socially desirable, and can have good consequences, but good consequences are not guaranteed. An overly charitable society may breed laziness. A society with merciful and lenient judges may undermine Justice.

To conclude I wish to warn the reader against equating the names of the Three Virtues with everyday meanings of the words used to name them. This equation leads to a great confusion and adds to further complicate an already abstract teaching. The preaching and teaching of the Three Virtues is often devoid of any elaboration regarding the concepts of ‘happiness’ and ‘connection with the universe’, which leaves room for interpretation and results in an audience which falsely feels that it understood the message and I hope that the clergy of the Church will look past my affiliation to the Tyrrean Order and consider explaining these concepts in more detail during public lectures and masses.

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Re: [IC] Analysis of the Three Virtues

Post by Lexgrad on Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:36 am

((Or Just ask Lexy in game for a practical answer XD Like the work Gwen ))

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Re: [IC] Analysis of the Three Virtues

Post by Guest on Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:49 am

Melnerag wrote: This short article is....

always good to open with a joke i guess

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Re: [IC] Analysis of the Three Virtues

Post by Melnerag on Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:15 pm

Proper articles have REFERENCE-page as long as what I've written!

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Re: [IC] Analysis of the Three Virtues

Post by Rae Wulfgnar on Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:12 am

("To conclude I wish to warn the reader against equating the names of the Three Virtues with everyday meanings of the words used to name them."

But that's the best part! When they yell out ''You're not being respectful or compassionate! You disobey the Virtues!" When I'm dragging criminals to jail by their ear. )

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Re: [IC] Analysis of the Three Virtues

Post by Melnerag on Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:30 am

((Some people think that being Compassionate (having mastered the Virtue of Compassion) equals being a softy. They are in for a rude awakening.))

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Re: [IC] Analysis of the Three Virtues

Post by Rae Wulfgnar on Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:50 am

(Indeed! Indeed they are!)

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Re: [IC] Analysis of the Three Virtues

Post by Lexgrad on Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:19 am

(tbh even if they would use the virtues wrongly it would be an improvement)

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Re: [IC] Analysis of the Three Virtues

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