The Cardinal Virtue of Temperance by Thomas S. Buchanan

The Cardinal Virtue of Temperance

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
—Galatians 5:22–23

Many years ago, I lived in Evanston, Illinois, home of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. It was the early 1980s, and the strong but waning power of that organization was evident in that this college town was still dry. One could walk past their headquarters and see the ladies in long dresses at their social events. At the time, I found it surprising that any form of the temperance movement was still alive after the 1960s, but there they were in their splendid Victorian manor.

Those in the twentieth century’s temperance movement were modern Gnostics. They believed that the world was intrinsically evil and that the things of the world were to be avoided. In this belief, they mistook the cardinal virtue of temperance for abstinence.

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Thomas S. Buchanan is the George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware. He has studied at UCSD, Northwestern University, and MIT, and has held visiting professorships at the University of Western Australia and the University of Aix-Marseille. He has served as department chairman, deputy dean, and institute director, president of the American Society of Biomechanics, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Biomechanics. He is on the Board of Trustees of Saint Katherine College, the editorial board of Touchstone, and the board of The Fellowship of St. James.

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