As I’ve said before:
The most important factor in evaluating your answers is the clarity of what you say. You need to explain these things in your own words. Aim your answers not to your instructor or TA, but to your roommate who is not in this class. In other words, what you say should be plainly and clearly put. You can use examples where this helps, but do not use examples in place of explanations. Our aim is not to trick you, but to help you learn to articulate what you have learned as clearly as possible. In your answers you do not need to agree with anything said in class, but you are responsible for knowing what we have discussed and for explaining any differences as clearly as possible.
SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS FOR THIS EXAM: You must choose 2 of the following questions. Be sure to read each question carefully and address all of its required parts. No extra credit for answering more than 2 questions.
1.Do any 3 parts of this question:
“The moral structure of the universe”: This is a topic that came up during “Crimes and Misdemeanors”. To say that the universe has a moral structure is to say that morality is objectively right. The topic is also relevant to the Book of Job, to the film “The Quarrel”, and probably to every topic we covered.
- Explain the thesis that the universe has such a structure. What’s the idea?
- Explain the alternative that is articulated by Aunt Mae, an alternative sometimes called “relativism.”
- Chaim and Hersh seem to argue about this as well. Explain their positions on the topic.
- Consider the view that God decides what is moral and immoral. Does this view involve any sort of relativism?
2. The book of Job
- Here’s a passage Wolterstorff’s Lament for a Son:
“The only thing that angered me in what people offered was a small book someone gave me written by a father whose son had also been killed in a mountaineering accident. The writer said that in his church on the Sunday before his son’s death, they had read this passage from Psalm 18: ‘Thou didst give a wide place for my steps under me, and my foot did not slip.’
The writer now interpreted the passage as speaking to him:
His son’s foot had not slipped. God had shaken the mountain. God had decided that it was time for him to come home.”
Wolterstorff continues: “I find this pious attitude deaf to the message of the Christian gospel.”
- Connect this passage and Wolterstorff’s reaction to it to the discussions between Job and the Comforters.
- Consider the following suggestions: Job, after God’s “Speech from the Whirlwind,” also would agree with Wolterstorff that the father’s attempt to find religious reasons for this son’s death is a bad idea. Why might Job think this? Explain what it was about God’s speech that might suggest this.
3. Forgiveness: (Answer 3 of the following 4 parts)
- In Calvary, Fr. James says that forgiveness is an underappreciated virtue. Explain what he means (or might mean) and provide detail concerning one example from the film of someone practicing forgiveness.
- Consider the role of forgiveness in The Quarrel. Does either character truly forgive the other? What does each of the characters think about forgiving God for the Holocaust? If you are not sure, explain your best guess.
- In Job and Lament for a Son, the main figures experience a personal catastrophe, Job feels that he has been wronged. Wolterstorff feels that his son has been cruelly robbed from him. Does Job ever make peace with his loss? Does he forgive God?
- (Follow up to c.) How would you describe Wolterstorff’s way of coming to terms with his loss?
4. Growth from suffering:
- For at least two characters from the films and books we have read, explain (with illustrations from the material) how each of these characters grew as human beings from the sufferings they endured.
- Consider this claim: “Troubles, suffering, wounds are crucial to human development.” Explain this idea. In other words, why can’t a person reach her/his potential as a full human being without pain or adversity?
5. Do two parts. Religious and secular:
- The response to evil in the Book of Job—specifically the Whirlwind vision–is a religious response. Formulate a secular analog to the Whirlwind vision. In your own words explain how this might help a person who is suffering.
- Consider the attitude of Fr. James, the priest in Calvary, to forgiveness. He is of course a religious person. But is his attitude a distinctively religious one? Couldn’t a secular person endorse the same idea? Explain whether you think there is anything distinctively religious about his attitude to forgiveness.
- How about the attitude of the philosopher in the voice-over at the end of Crimes and Misdemeanors? He is secular. But is there anything distinctively secular about his ideas? Would a religious person think differently about this topic?
Link to movies:
Crimes and Misdemeanors