DOING THE RIGHT THING: DVD Series
Moderated by Fox News’ Brit Hume, and Co-Hosted by BreakPoint’s Chuck Colson, and Princeton’s Robert George, in this series a distinguished panel of experts offers a substantive, resourceful and engaging discussion on ethics at the intersection of moral epistemology, cultural analysis, applied ethics, and theological-philosophical anthropology:
Panelists include Acton Institute’s Michael Miller, David Miller, and Glenn Sunshine.
In six 30 minute DVD sessions, the panel discusses the following before a live student audience at Princeton:
- How did we get into this mess? (connecting the “crisis of ethics” with the “financial crisis”)
- Is there truth or a moral law that we can all know? (natural moral law theory)
- If we know what is right, can we do it? (character formation)
- What does it mean to be human, and why does it matter?
- Ethics in the Market Place (morality of capitalism and business ethics)
- Ethics in Public Life (professional and political ethics).
Each session offers a stimulating panel discussion about the above topics, along with some interaction with student questions in the audience. The student questions are substantive and interesting. At times, George even directs one of his Princeton students to help answer a question from a fellow student. It feels dynamic but not busy. Moreover, various guest experts make appearances throughout the series, whether for the purpose of modeling the truth of some concept or for offering perspective to the discussion. Guests include former New York Time’s columnist Ben Stein, Acton Institute’s Robert Sirico, Calvin Seminary’s Neil Plantinga, Biola University’s Scott Rae, Joni Erickson Tada, and many others. Audience interaction and guest contributions enrich each 30 minute session with perspective, insight, and different voices and experiences.
I appreciate how the above topics interrelate with each other. Clearly, the series intends to utilize the current “crisis” ethos punctuated by the financial crisis as a prompt to ask the deeper, worldview sorts of questions about knowledge of what is good and how to live in it. But the series does not start and end with individual, moralistic navel-gazing, which so often abounds with “privatized morality” habits of thought. The series decisively connects the centrality of both the sound development of the “inner life” and the “outer life’s” character formation. A thick concept of human flourishing pervades this DVD series: Human beings are not only free but are designed to flourish in virtue.
There are several worthwhile benefits to this DVD series. Below are some that come to mind:
- It provides a workable framework for thinking about moral knowledge and its importance for character formation and development (here, one could supplement the DVD series with Dallas Willard’s Knowing Christ Today and David Horner’s Mind Your Faith).
- It connects the realities of the current “financial crisis” with correlating moral problems like the “crisis in ethics.”
- It offers discussion about character formation and not simply a primer on ethical theory.
- It recognizes that capitalism as an economic system is not amoral but that economic life and endeavoring must be bound by knowledge of what is good.
- It is interested in helping people conform to moral reality and not simply a discussion about the dialectic of historical or contemporary ethical theories.
- It could be usefully incorporated, in whole or in part, in different learning environments.
- It has a resourceful leader study guide, with helpful outlines, discussion prompts and recommendations to read more (although, mostly web sources at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview).
For local church small groups that I help lead, students that I teach, and for pastors that I try to resource, Doing the Right Thing is the helpful DVD learning resource that I can confidently entrust to others. In part two of my appraisal, I offer some thoughts about how to use this series.