I introduced the topic into my Patristics class last night. We were discussing the careers of St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. John Chrysostom. Both ended poorly by worldly perspective, but gloriously in the mind of Christ. Nazianzen stepped down as Archbishop of Constantinople mainly because he was not politically savvy enough to maintain both his strong doctrinal convictions and the legitimacy of his position as archbishop. Chrysostom was horrible brutalized under the aegis of the wicked Archbishop of Alexandria, Theophilus, and died being exiled from his see in Constantinople. What unites these two saints is that both chose integrity over prudence.I have contrasted the two in the title of this post out of hope to stave off their facile Platonic elision. Yes, in the realm of ideas they are related; in the realm of fact they are so often opposed. Post factum rearrangements I deride. My point is: take the matter seriously. Christ says, the world or your soul, not both.
How far does Santorum’s prudence extend, how far his integrity? – I have no idea. Let’s see how things play out. We know there were definite limits to George W’s Christian integrity, but Harper is an embarrassment to Christians of a far greater magnitude.Now, what about us bloggers? Sylvia is a woman of integrity. The Heresy Hunter is a man of prudence – hiding as he does in the shadows of anonymity. (Am I baiting him? No, I am just teasing him. BTW, via email I have discovered that he is actually a really nice guy!) My friend, Julie, at Concerned for Life, is a woman of integrity. Her daughter has told me about her slashed tires after Life Chains and pro-life bumper stickers! Me, some people think I like to polish apples; an episcopal friend of mine has chastised me harshly over my imprudence. In the end, I don’t think I fit into either extreme, but would like to think my integrity is greater than my prudence.
Prudence can be a bad word.In our “Red Hat Toronto” Canada era, I think we should make a move towards integrity. With Cardinal Collins we have all been robbed in red so that we might one day be able to be bathed in blood. Martyrdom was something for which Early Christians longed.
Yet, on the other hand, we have the Great St. Basil, friend of Nazianzus, who was in all things a model caution, so much so as to irritate his buddy.