Spiritual Formation and the Life of the Mind

Recently, I posted a list of spiritual formation books I’ve read over the last couple years. Working in an academic setting, I’ve come more to believe that spiritual formation and the life of the mind are closely connected–much as our secular culture tries to divorce reason and spirituality.

virtuous minds


A new book I’ve been reading, Virtuous Minds develops this idea. The author, Philip Dow, talks about seven “virtues” of worthy of cultivating in our intellectual formation: courage, carefulness, tenacity, fair-mindedness, curiosity, honesty, and humility. What strikes me in this list is the connection of character and intellect. We’ve all known very bright people who have employed their gifts very badly–falsifying data, cleverly manipulating balance sheets, and more. Intellectual giftedness, without intellectual integrity is a dangerous thing.

Courage, it seems to me begins with a love of truth–indeed, it seems that all of these virtues are rooted in this. Of course, this in turn is rooted in the premise that “the truth is out there”. Truth is not something simply to manipulated for our own power trips and personal prosperity. In fact, these virtues seem to assume that truth matters more than ourselves, even our lives. Courage means being willing to put myself at risk for truth. Humility, on the other hand, means being willing to admit when I am wrong and someone else better grasps the truth than do I.

I’m only part way through this book so I am ‘curious’ to see how the author will help us in the matter of cultivating these virtues. Stay tuned!




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