Aristotle famously argued that our actions shape our character: we become who we are through repetitive actions. Becoming brave, for example, depends on acting bravely in the terrifying trenches of everyday adult life. Then, over time, acting bravely becomes habitual; our brave actions transform us so that we are no longer scared people attempting to act bravely. We become brave to the extent that we now naturally act in accordance with our brave soul. In the same way, Aristotle believes that our happiness depends on cultivating a life characterized by a particular kind of action. He calls these actions virtues, whereas vices are those actions and states of the soul that prohibit our attainment of happiness.

Ambrose of Milan adapted this concept into the early church, and Augustine subsequently argued that the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love are both necessary components of the Christian life and only possible through the gift of transformative grace. Since then, virtue ethicists have insisted that individuals and institutions should draw on virtues to move toward a telos of knowing and loving God. But how are we to sort through virtue and vice in a time of competing visions of the good life? How are we to evaluate the actions that shape a heart, when what any individual counts as virtuous or sinful is perhaps driven by that individual’s community and context?

In the next issue of The Other Journal, we seek theologically infused contributions on these themes of virtue and vice. The following are some—but certainly not all—of the questions authors might wish to consider: How ought we to think of the virtues and vices today? What particular social, political, or spiritual issues might we address anew through a lens of virtue and vice? What interpersonal and psychological issues can be clarified in and through the analysis or practice of particular virtues and vices? How should the church speak about virtues and vices today? And are there contemporary virtues or vices that require fresh interrogation?

We seek essays, creative writing, art, and reviews that uniquely engage this complex conversation. As always, we are particularly interested in contributions that tackle these themes with verve and slant, contributions that open our ears to the peacefully contrarian Christ by way of their distinctive style, ideas, and progressive consideration of the other.

More information on our submission guidelines, including our email address, can be found on our Submissions page.

The Other Journal