Author Topic: Did THE SHEPHERD OF HERMAS' author directly base his account on a real vision?  (Read 594 times)

Offline John Lamb

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In her essay "The Dark Side of Purity or the Virtues of Double-mindedness?", Sally Glen writes,
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A growing number of philosophers are raising doubts about the possibility of a complete and wholly integrated set of moral values and principles - even for one person. These philosophers argue that a complete and fully integrated set of moral values and principles is unattainable. Personal and professional identity in healthcare practice and healthcare action research are constituted by a complex constellation of values and principles.
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Paraphrasing Strawson, one might argue that the ethical issues in healthcare presented by moral complexity are often compounded by practical constraints. As Kuflick notes, limitations of time, energy, and circumstances are often such that individuals become sensitive or are increasingly preoccupied with different aspects of the same reasonably complex moral problem.
As an example, she gives a case where a 14 year old girl who is seeing a Nurse Practitioner (a step down from a doctor, but a step up from a regular nurse) regarding diet as a result of her low hemoglobin count following a broken bone, and tells the nurse that she thinks that she is pregnant. But the girl had no idea what to do about her pregnancy. At that moment, the girl's mother comes in, tells the nurse that the daughter has been feeling nauseous and tired lately, and asks the nurse if she has any idea what could be causing her daughter's symptoms. But the daughter glares at the nurse, suggesting that she doesn't want the nurse to mention the pregnancy. The nurse is faced at that moment with conflicting responsibilities:
A) A duty to the unborn child, perhaps a strong moral one if the nurse is against abortion.
B) A duty of confidence to the 14 year old girl as her patient.
C) A responsibility to be truthful. Furthermore, in this case not answering the question could suggest that the nurse is hiding something. Further, the daughter is in the care of the mother as the daughter's guardian.

This poses the question of whether double-mindedness could be a virtue when faced with complex problems with opposing moral responsibilities.

How would you answer the question of whether double-mindedness is per se an "earthly spirit from the devil"? Could it in fact sometimes be an asset or virtue, as in ambivalent situations containing complex inner conflicts?

The girl is sinning in trying to conceal her possible pregnancy. Her evil glare should be ignored and the nurse should confess the possibility of pregnancy. Adults should not be ruled by the whims of girls, and doctors and nurses should not be ruled by the whims of their patients. The girl is trying to undermine both the authority of her mother and of her nurse, which is certainly of an "earthly spirit from the devil".
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Offline Gardener

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Medical professionals shouldn't be blurting out patient supplied information as a possible diagnosis, since they (patients) are not competent to diagnose anything. Proper diagnosis will include listening to the patient and pursuing symptoms to check for possible causation. She should just say she wants to run a few tests before offering anything which is conclusive, or even points in a direction of a diagnosis.

The presentation of the patient indicates that she *should* be tired anyway, due to low hemoglobin. So the only thing which could be out of the norm is nausea, but may be a consequence of tiredness leading to lack of proper eating or her body adjusting to the diet she is on to raise her red blood cell count.

That the girl thinks she is pregnant means she has had sexual relations. But as concerns the context of the medical reality, the presentation of the "difficulty" is factually ignorant.
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Offline rako

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I think that both of you replied with rational responses based on morality, and that the combination of your opposite responses shows what the author considers to be the virtue of Double-mindedness. On one hand, the nurse and mother can be concerned about the girl's well-being and share the information in order to come to the best decision for her benefit as John suggested. On the other hand, the girl's symptoms can be from other factors like the fractured knee and it could be premature to announce the possibility of the girl's pregnancy that was told in private confidence, so the best thing could be to run a pregnancy test first, as Gardener suggested. For a reader like me to put together both of your conflicting recommendations creates a situation of Double-mindedness. Even if I were to select one of the two decisions, the other one would still remain in my mind as a rational, moral-based alternative.
 

Offline Gardener

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The situation is more complex than presented; this is the problem with convenient simplicity. The professional thing is to look into the possible causes of the newly presented symptoms. It is unprofessional to offer potential diagnosis, especially as explosive as unwed/underage pregnancy, without having knowledge of that being the case.

From there, I would tend to agree with John that the mother should be informed as such knowledge is made sure.

There is no double-mindedness, then. But rather, linear progression which is symbiotic in its diagnosis, revelation, and treatment.
"And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we are ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?" - St. Maximilian Kolbe

Providence is a present mystery by which our hope is confirmed and our faith solidified, if we give not into despair or disbelief.
 
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Offline rako

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The situation is more complex than presented; this is the problem with convenient simplicity. The professional thing is to look into the possible causes of the newly presented symptoms. It is unprofessional to offer potential diagnosis, especially as explosive as unwed/underage pregnancy, without having knowledge of that being the case.

From there, I would tend to agree with John that the mother should be informed as such knowledge is made sure.

There is no double-mindedness, then. But rather, linear progression which is symbiotic in its diagnosis, revelation, and treatment.
Sure, there is no Double-mindedness for you, since you are presenting a single course of action.
However, a reader can read what you and John have both written, and choose one course of action, but still be "double minded" as a result of seeing both options as having valid moral aspects.
Should the mother be given the new information about the girl's announcement that she could be pregnant? One recommendation can be to keep this information confidential between yourself and the patient and to do testing to find out the answer of whether she is pregnant first, which is what I understood you to mean. Another recommendation is to disclose the new information about the potential pregnancy in order to make the best decision with the mother involved, which is what I took John to mean.

Another example could be The Shepherd of Hermas' status among Church writings and the amount of authority that it should be given. Certainly it is not part of the canon as the Church established it, but beyond that, should it be respected like the writings of Clement and Ignatius, or should it be treated lower, like Tatian's Diatessaron? If you put together the opinions of the early writers, I think that there is a double situation where some early writers respected it like Clement of Alexandria, but many others "despised" it, as Clement of Alexandria noted. It has some strong morality in some places and was written supposedly by the brother of Pope Pius I, but it also seems to contradict the Biblical teachings regarding a husband divorcing his wife over adultery (Jesus says that such a husband would not be in adultery if he remarried). So a person reading the Shepherd I think can reasonably come away double-minded about what kind of respect to give it, as it is an internally-conflicted document itself.

Another issue could be whether the text was written as a literal record of a supernatural encounter with a divine Shepherd, as a partly fictional account based on a real direct experience with a divine Shepherd, or a basically fictional allegory. Coming to a decision may take more thinking than simply reading the text, and in fact centuries after its composition there may be no conclusive answer. So there seem to be plenty of issues that are internally-conflicted and a wise person may not be sure about how to resolve those conflicts without further guidance or evidence, which itself may not be forthcoming.
 

Offline St.Justin

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The situation is more complex than presented; this is the problem with convenient simplicity. The professional thing is to look into the possible causes of the newly presented symptoms. It is unprofessional to offer potential diagnosis, especially as explosive as unwed/underage pregnancy, without having knowledge of that being the case.

From there, I would tend to agree with John that the mother should be informed as such knowledge is made sure.

There is no double-mindedness, then. But rather, linear progression which is symbiotic in its diagnosis, revelation, and treatment.
Sure, there is no Double-mindedness for you, since you are presenting a single course of action.
However, a reader can read what you and John have both written, and choose one course of action, but still be "double minded" as a result of seeing both options as having valid moral aspects.
Should the mother be given the new information about the girl's announcement that she could be pregnant? One recommendation can be to keep this information confidential between yourself and the patient and to do testing to find out the answer of whether she is pregnant first, which is what I understood you to mean. Another recommendation is to disclose the new information about the potential pregnancy in order to make the best decision with the mother involved, which is what I took John to mean.

Another example could be The Shepherd of Hermas' status among Church writings and the amount of authority that it should be given. Certainly it is not part of the canon as the Church established it, but beyond that, should it be respected like the writings of Clement and Ignatius, or should it be treated lower, like Tatian's Diatessaron? If you put together the opinions of the early writers, I think that there is a double situation where some early writers respected it like Clement of Alexandria, but many others "despised" it, as Clement of Alexandria noted. It has some strong morality in some places and was written supposedly by the brother of Pope Pius I, but it also seems to contradict the Biblical teachings regarding a husband divorcing his wife over adultery (Jesus says that such a husband would not be in adultery if he remarried). So a person reading the Shepherd I think can reasonably come away double-minded about what kind of respect to give it, as it is an internally-conflicted document itself.

Another issue could be whether the text was written as a literal record of a supernatural encounter with a divine Shepherd, as a partly fictional account based on a real direct experience with a divine Shepherd, or a basically fictional allegory. Coming to a decision may take more thinking than simply reading the text, and in fact centuries after its composition there may be no conclusive answer. So there seem to be plenty of issues that are internally-conflicted and a wise person may not be sure about how to resolve those conflicts without further guidance or evidence, which itself may not be forthcoming.

Where on earth do you get this from "(Jesus says that such a husband would not be in adultery if he remarried)"

The last paragraph above is exactly why it is not included. If it was Divinely inspired that wouldn't happen.
Are you Charismatic or Pentecostal by any chance?
« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 07:51:24 PM by St.Justin »
 

Offline Michael Wilson

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I agree with St. Justin on the "The husband would not be in adultery" question; Jesus says exactly the opposite:
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[9] And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery. [10] His disciples say unto him: If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not expedient to marry.
Comment of Dr. Challoner:
[9] "Except it be": In the case of fornication, that is, of adultery, the wife may be put away: but even then the husband cannot marry another as long as the wife is living.

[11] Who said to them: All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given. [12] For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.
The whole gist of this discourse is that marriage is forever; if Our Lord would have been telling the Jews that a man could divorce his wife for the cause of fornication in the sense that the marriage could be dissolved, then the disciples and the Jews would have understood it in that sense, because that would have been in accord with what they already believed and practiced; but on the contrary, they are dismayed by His teaching to such an extent that they even state that "If such were the case it would be expedient not to marry"(!); that is, they can see that  they would have to remain continent in case that they divorced their wives; such a prospect is shocking to them. But just as in the case of His discourse on the Blessed Eucharist in Jn.6; Our Lord does not modify or explain away His teaching in the face of their objections, but rather emphasizes it by insisting that: "All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given. [12] For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it."
"The World Must Conform to Our Lord and not He to it." Rev. Dennis Fahey CSSP

"My brothers, all of you, if you are condemned to see the triumph of evil, never applaud it. Never say to evil: you are good; to decadence: you are progess; to death: you are life. Sanctify yourselves in the times wherein God has placed you; bewail the evils and the disorders which God tolerates; oppose them with the energy of your works and your efforts, your life uncontaminated by error, free from being led astray, in such a way that having lived here below, united with the Spirit of the Lord, you will be admitted to be made but one with Him forever and ever: But he who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit." Cardinal Pie of Potiers
 
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