Chapter 6: Spiritual Anthropologies II: Ecofeminism, Iris Murdoch, and Other Reflections on the Human Situation
A. According to Hauerwas, how does Iris Murdoch describe the moral life, and what roles do love, attention, freedom, humility, and unselfing play in Murdoch’s vision?
B. How does Bishop Kallistos describe the significance of beauty? How do his comments compare to Iris Murdoch’s view of the beautiful? What other similarities and differences do you find between Murdoch and Bishop Kallistos?
1. Hauerwas believes that the ethical significance of the life of the Christian is to be found not mainly in crisis situations or in the decisions they demand but in the humdrum of everyday life (p. 47). What do you think of his interpretation?
2. What are one or more significant differences between the way Iris Murdoch views the ethical life and the way that Christians – according to Hauerwas in V and V – view it?
3. What is freedom, according to Iris Murdoch? Do you find this understanding of freedom convincing? How does it differ from your own understanding of freedom?
4. How does Murdoch’s understanding of the illusions surrounding human perceptions resonate with or differ from Loy’s description of the insubstantiality of the constructed self?
5. Do you agree with Hauerwas that “to affirm and embrace the fact that we are faced with real death… denies final significance to our lives” (37)? Why or why not?
6. Why does Biship Kallistos say the “Transfiguration of Christ stands out as the ecological event par excellence” within the entire Gospel story?
7. Why is it significant for Bishop Kallistos that human beings are not saved from but with the world?
1. How does Iris Murdoch define “love,” “attention,” and “fantasy”?
2. What are “unselfings” according to Iris Murdoch? Why are they essential for human growth and maturity?
3. What does Murdoch mean by saying that human beings are “defined by [their] inability to bear reality” (Hauerwas, 31)?
4. What is the role of art for Murdoch in helping persons grow toward the vision and humility necessary for truly seeing one another and reality? Why is art (and especially literature) uniquely necessary for such growth?
5. How does one’s social location (in relation especially to structures of power and privilege) shape the very “reality” one views? Use the Murdoch essay to discuss.
6. What is the importance of the cross in the Transfiguration Mosaic in Sant’ Appolinare, and in Bishop Kallistos’ ecological theology?
7. How does Bishop Kallistos’ view of wonder compare to John Vucetich’s perspective on what he calls the more important function of scientific knowledge?