Socratic circle | July 2021

Hello, everyone! Happy July! I can’t believe it’s time for another Socratic circle again, can y’all? Summer is going by too fast… *cri* Let’s dive in! *figuratively cannonballs into the figurative Socratic circle pool*

Let’s start by addressing the Socratic circle issue for June. This asked the “two-for-one” question, Is grace truly the opposite of justice? Which trait is the more important for us to embody?

I’m excited to say that as with last time, this question received two awesome answers! Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

The first response came from Samantha @ Bookshire. Here’s what she had to say:

I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “grace” in this question. I suppose there could be a complex discussion of *why* God gives us grace (and I’d probably be up for that. XD) but it *seems like* (and obviously, correct me if I’m wrong!) what you mean by “grace” here, (i.e. a freely given gift, an attribute of God that is often seen as being in opposition to justice) is the same as what I’d usually refer to as “mercy”. (Definition: “the loving kindness, compassion, or forbearance shown to one who offends (e.g., the mercy of God to us sinners)”) Primarily, to start, I’m going to address whether mercy is the opposite of justice in God, because that seems like the easiest place to address it, to start.

It may often seem like God’s mercy and His justice are opposed. After all, wouldn’t justice suggest that we be doomed to death and hell, for the Fall and the stain of Original Sin? Whereas God’s mercy allows us the hope of heaven through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

However, this is not the case. As a Catholic, I actually believe that God’s mercy and justice are the *same*, or, if you’d like an easier way of looking at it, work together. One of my FAVORITE examples of this comes from St. Anselm, who says (and I’m paraphrasing, of course) that God’s justice demanded reparation from humanity after the Fall, but that debt could only be paid by someone who was God. And in His mercy, He came to earth to die for us, and pay that debt! Mercy and justice working together. 🙂

Another example that’s commonly used is that of suffering. God allows suffering in His justice (we all have sinned, etc.), but uses it to turn us towards Him, and grow in perfection, in His mercy.

And yet one more final example: when a parent punishes a child for an offense, the punishment should be (and usually is) just. However, it’s also merciful, because it will help the child to go “in the way he should go” and become better.

So, it behooves us to imitate both God’s love AND his justice. However, since God kind of has the justice covered (“vengeance is mine, says the LORD”) it is better to err on the side of mercy, especially if one is not the one in authority, as in a parent child relationship, for instance.

I suppose that might seem like a bit of a cop-out of an answer, but I think it answers the questions satisfactorily…after all, one of the Catholic Church’s unofficial favorite sayings is “between two goods…why not both?” XD

The second response came from my friend Hazel, who also participated in May’s Socratic circle. Here are her thoughts:

i define grace as the ability to limitlessly forgive, no matter what the other person has done or how far theyve “fallen.” wow, im really out here with the starwars stuff- BACK TO THE REGUALRY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING, uh… alright its serious time.

justice i define as approved, legal karma. grace, as ive already said, is the ability to limitlessly forgive. i dont think theyre exact oppisites. its hard to define opposites in the first place, even with fairly basic concepts like good and evil. actually, scratch that, good and evil are really complex, even though it seems like they wouldnt be.

i believe that justice and grace can often go hand in hand. say someone shoots a guy. justice, of course, would be a jail sentence, and yeah, that would satisfy most people. however, grace would be if the family of the dead guy forgives the shooter, and the shooter accepts forgivness and apologizes.

grace and justice are equally important to embody, but because we live in an imperfect world, its really difficult. justice is often the first thing we move to because of our emotions. plus, grace isnt enough to deter someone from committing another crime. just saying, “oh, i forgive you,” isnt enough to stop a serial killer from murdering another person. forgiveness doesnt have as high a value in society anymore.

the other thing is, i cant say, “oh, in a perfect world, grace would be enough when a problem comes up,” because problems wont come up. its really difficult to find a way to dsicuss something like this without the influence of our imperfect world.

all in all, i think that grace is better for small-scale issues (an argument with an annoying guy in class, your friend stole all your hairties, etc), but justice is better in larger situations (court case, car crash, etc). id continue, but i have to go cut up a pepper to eat because i will throw my goldfish at the person nagging me, and i dont want to waste them like that. theyre the rainbow ones. theyre special.

Thanks so much for sharing your philosophical thoughts, you two (and kudos for defining your terms! *thumbs up*)! It’s always amazing to me how one question can produce a handful of completely different responses. What you both said prompted me to think differently as well, which is always a valuable result.

All right, moving on to the Socratic circle issue for July! This question is something I think about from time to time and might actually like to write an essay on someday, because I think it would be a valuable and fun topic to have a set stance on:

Is there such a thing as objective beauty?

If you’re interested in expressing your views on this issue, please feel free to comment about it, write a post, short story, or poem, make a piece of art, or literally anything else; and I will collect any entries and feature them in the next Socratic circle post. Just be sure you keep in mind the following:

  • Define your terms! If there’s one thing my homeschool curriculum has taught me, it’s the importance of this practice.
  • Keep your submission PG, please. I will not feature anything that contains vulgar content of any kind.
  • If you don’t put your submission in the comments of this post, be sure to comment below and leave a link to your submission(s) by July 31 if you wish for it to be featured. (There is a chance, of course, that I’ll simply happen upon your submission—I follow many of the people who follow me—but I can’t guarantee it.)
  • Please feel free to tag others to participate in our circle! The more the merrier!
  • And of course, you’re welcome to post, comment, etc. on a previous month’s (i.e. June’s) Socratic circle issue as well—just know that it won’t get featured in the next post (but I’d still love to see it!).

And as always, if there aren’t any responses to this question, that’s totally fine. The point of these posts is just to get everyone thinking. Certain issues may not require outward expression for some, and that’s okay. ^_^

I can’t wait to see how this month’s Socratic circle goes!

6 thoughts on “Socratic circle | July 2021

  1. Both Sam and Hazel had wonderful thoughts to contribute! I think allowing the participants to define their terms cleverly allows for diversity as far as answers are concerned.

    I meant to participate, but I didn’t realize that June was almost over until it was over. XD

    My thoughts, in summary: like Sam, I feel like grace and justice seem to be opposites, but they don’t have to be thought of in that way, necessarily. The Bible describes Jesus as being full of “grace and truth”—justice, perhaps, can be seen as a synonym for “truth”. God is the only one who can perfectly balance the two. I think God wants us to err on the side of grace, because (like Sam said) he’s got the justice part covered. The second greatest commandment is to love others, after all, and grace is more loving than justice (insofar as I can see). Hazel makes a good point, too, in saying that justice is better in larger matters and grace in smaller matters (I feel like that has truth to it).

    Anyway, all that made better sense in my head… XD


  2. Oh, and did you make your blog post picture thingy yourself? ‘Cause it’s amazing. And I’m not just saying that because you said the same thing about mine, I really genuinely think so. I wish I could draw like that. XD


  3. lets see here…
    I think that yes, there is such thing as objective beauty. I had to go Google what that meant, but I honestly think it’s possible. I will also say, though, that objective beauty is not possible in people. It’s impossible for everyone to agree on one person is beautiful.
    But also, in a way, it is possible. In God’s eyes, subjective beauty (opposite of objective, if that wasn’t clear) doesn’t exist. Everyone is beautiful to Him. It’s just that people’s… I wouldn’t call it bias, but living in an imperfect world makes us unable to see beauty in everyone.
    I mean of course I hope you strive to find beauty in everything, but uh…
    yeah idk how I was gonna finish that.

    But like I was in the car, and there was this absolutely STUNNING sunset, and I literally thought of this XD


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