The basic premise of this blog is that genuine faith produces good spiritual fruit. Almost eleven months ago now, I wrote of my desire to look at this fruit more closely, using the twenty-four character traits the VIA (“Values in Action”) Institute on Character have identified as universal characteristics of human wellbeing as my lens. As I explained last March:
Over the coming months, I’d like to explore these values intentionally, from a Christian perspective, to see what our own tradition has to say about them, and how they interact with the values of the Gospel. I think this will be an interesting project, as the VIA character strengths represent a more comprehensive and intentional list of the ‘good fruit’ that we might bear than what Paul provided us, and I believe our spiritual lives will only be enhanced by broadening the focus of what holiness and true wellbeing might look like.
Additionally, one of the most intriguing ideas the positive psychologists behind the VIA Institute have proposed is that perhaps these traits — gathered from an exhaustive global exploration of cultural values, beliefs, proverbs, religious texts and folk tales — might also be a window into looking at psychological pathology. This is to say, if human wellbeing is marked by the presence of these twenty-four traits, might unhealthy human being in the world be marked by their absence, opposite, or excess? To put this in a Christian lens, if wholeness and truth manifest tangible good fruit in our life, would it not stand to reason that spiritual misalignment manifests in the absence of good fruit, the active presence of bad fruit, or a cancerous excess of what would otherwise be good?
I’m looking forward to exploring these ideas further in the coming months. It will be a slow process, but I think in the end it will be worthwhile. Stay Tuned!