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On God and the World Series

Something to lighten up the day.

Consider the following argument:

1. God does not have a preference as to whether the Cubs or the Indians wins the World Series.

2. The committed Christian should try to unite his will with God's will.


3. The committed Christian who realizes that God has no preference about who wins the World Series should try to achieve a state of indifference within himself concerning who wins the World Series.

It seems like there must be something wrong with this argument, but I'm not sure what it is. Thoughts?

Comments (31)

I'm right in line with this syllogism. Lacking any strong commitment to either team, but also liking the game of baseball played at a high level, I tend to watch these games rooting for close contests and a long, exciting series.

Call it interested indifference.

But is a die-hard Cubs fan supposed to pray that God will make him indifferent, too? That seems a bit extreme.

One might try to get out of it by saying that God doesn't really expect us to try to change our feelings, that our feelings are not what God is concerned about but rather our actions, and therefore that "uniting one's will with God" doesn't mean trying to be indifferent where God is indifferent.

But still, it would seem to follow that even a die-hard Cubs fan should not *pray* that the Cubs will win the World Series if he realizes that God is not going to work to bring that about.

(Please understand that there is a slight twinkle in the eye in all of this. I'm not really trying to be quite so deadly serious about this discussion as it might otherwise appear.)

You all need to become Calvinists!

God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass in the World Series; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of an Indians victory, nor is violence offered to the will of Cubs fans; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. (WCF 3.1)

Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all baseball games come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, He orders them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, such as the earnest desire of players and coaches to train, strategize and win, either necessarily, freely, or contingently. (WCF 5.2)

God, in His ordinary providence, makes use of the athletic skill of baseball players, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at His pleasure. (WCF 5.3)

I'll leave readers to judge how serious I am about these shameless modifications to the Westminster Confession.

God might be indifferent to my choice of deli mustard or dijon mustard on my sandwich today. However, I need to make a choice. Having a preference that God is indifferent to is not a violation of God's will. That's the flaw. Q.E.D.

That's probably going to have to be the direction one goes to find the flaw, but there are some disanalogies: I can make a *true* statement to the effect that, "My taste is such that I get more pleasure out of deli mustard than out of dijon mustard." But I can't similarly make a *true* statement to the effect that, "It would be better for the Cubs to win the World Series than for the Indians to win the World Series." Or at least, it's highly questionable that that would be a true statement.

Moreover, for one team or the other to win affects many people's lives in both positive and negative ways, which is a disanalogy to my simply eating the type of mustard that I happen to like. So if I pray about something so trivial as the hope that deli mustard will be available at a restaurant so that I can gratify my preference, I'm not praying for something that will make a lot of other people sad. But if I pray that the Cubs win, or even cheer for the Cubs to win, I'm willing something to happen that will make a lot of other people sad. And the same vice versa if I'm rooting for the Indians.

Another disanalogy is that in the case of food preferences people do not usually spend large amounts of time directing what one might call an act of pure will or pure wishing towards having the food preference satisfied. Nobody sits around a TV cheering for the deli mustard to show up, for example. It seems that sports encourages us to engage in this category of "rooting for" or "cheering for," which has no real analogy in the case of food preferences.

Of course God does not want the Cubs to win. That's why He has not allowed them to win for the last 100 years. What's to debate? The empirical evidence is conclusive. :)

Why do we all need to became Calvinists? What you are inferring on God and second causation,in combination with the question of His foreknowledge,is a discussion on occasionalism, concurrentism and mere conversationalism or sommething else,going back to the Scolastics. Your proposal is one hypothesis of a kind of concurentism as I see it,existing much earlier than Calvinistic philosophy of religion,which should, as any other theory,be taken under evaluation, as you say. So,forgive me,but I do not see the reason for converting to Calvinism on the basis of such a theory,which is btw. not even directly relevant for the argument under discussion. Excuse me if I am wrong and for my bad english skils.

We'll know more tomorrow, Tony, but since you're Catholic you may consider this relevant:

Today is the Feast of All Saints.

The Cubs are winning their game tonight.

Makes ya' think.

If you don't care about baseball, have no team preference or if you're not a Cubs fan, fine.

I'm a Cubs fan. I don't care if God is indifferent.

There are two fatal flaws to this argument:

1) Major League; and
2) Major League 2.

As a White Sox fan, I've jumped on the Cubs bandwagon and I'm happy to cheer them on to their improbable victories through the post-season and amazing achievements to this point (Game Seven tonight will be one for the ages.)

It seems interesting to think about competition and fandom -- obviously God approves of everything that is good and true and beautiful and my hunch is that includes athletic competition at the highest levels. But competition seems to come hand in hand with a natural desire to cheer for a winner -- in addition to the common prayers for the health and well-being of all athletes. Is God indifferent to which nations win the Olympics? By Lydia's same analysis, presumably the answer is yes -- and yet it seems both natural and right to cheer for your nation in a good natured way to win Gold Medals. Can it be wrong to be a fan of a sports team?

To become obsessed with sports -- yes, this would be bad. But to cheer "your" favorite team's success -- seems like it is an old and natural human desire and one that God does not explicitly condemn anywhere in the Bible (although it does condemn rivalries -- but in context is it really talking about harmless sports competition between professional teams? The Byzantines supported the Greens and the Blues for hundreds of years and I don't think the church in the East condemned the games.)

Just a few thoughts before the big game tonight -- if the Cubs win tonight the City is going to go crazy tomorrow. I will pray no one gets hurt during the celebrations.

So, likewise, God is indifferent to whom I marry, so I should be, too??

God has his opinions. He would rather that you live a life of virtue than of vice. You could, however, field a baseball team of living saints and they might not win the World Series. God has his desires, but given the nature of man's flaws, He might not get His desire, tonight. Does that shock you that God doesn't get what He'd rather have? Heck, we disappoint God every day.

Now, I think God should cause torrential rain before the fifth inning every time these two teams try to finish the Series and just leave the series as a washout and a tie.

The Chicken

God is indifferent to whom I marry

Now that, I'm inclined to doubt is true.

Sweet sunshine that was a classic, and insane, Game Seven clincher. I rarely give away that much sleep for two teams I don't give a rip about, but it was worth it this time.

Of course God wanted the Cubs to win. That's the only possible explanation for the 100-year drought! He was setting up all the prior conditions of a fabulous victory. (Did you notice it running to the 7th game?) It was obvious from the first that this is what God intended, and for us to desire anything contrary to God's intent would be impious. ;)

(Muffled sounds of hat being eaten...)

Hahaha. Nice.

Several things happened in that game which may never happen again as long as baseball is played. For instance, the Cubs carried three catchers on their roster: very unusual. And all three had RBIs in the Game Seven finale! (Statistics guys, I gather, disparage the RBI's usefulness, almost wishing it didn't exist; just the kind of counterintuitive grumpiness that makes the statistics-infusion into sports so intriguing.)

Also, most of the big turns in that wild game came as the result, not of hard luck or mistakes, but just straight up good fundamental baseball. For instance, the baserunning in the 5th inning by the Indians was simply superb. Gloriously superb. Lester's wild pitch scores two runs only because Kipnis and Santana played the game right, with concentration and discipline in a clutch situation. Hold your head high, Tribe fans. (You got the Cavaliers after all.)

And Ross's home run, I hear, makes a record because he's the oldest player to score a home run in game 7 of the World Series.

Indeed. Always liked David Ross. Catcher is the one position in baseball that is permanently demanding, physically.

Joe Maddon will go down as a Chicago legend for all time, but I have to wonder about some of his managing decisions, like going immediately to Lester after the dubious walk issued by Hendricks and overusing the spent Chapman. Had the Indians completed the comeback, Maddon would be in a world of hurt right now.


Many a Cubs fan is arm-chair quarterbacking Maddon's decisions during that amazing game this morning. I too thought pulling Hendricks didn't make much sense, but I think he wanted a lefty against the next batter. Meanwhile, as spent as Chapman was, keep in mind he was one out away from ending the eighth inning when the Tribe made their comeback (all the more reason to respect them as worthy opponents this year.) AND he came back and took care of Cleveland in the ninth!!! Just an amazing performance by an amazing closing pitcher.

There are a lot of people dragging this morning -- we were up late partying last night :-)

I thought of that. My Cubs fan friends were all tut-tutting about putting Chapman in the night before. I was talking to the wife of my auto mechanic yesterday while my car's oil was being changed. She said she hoped the final game would have a big gap so that no one guy would be blamed for the loss, regardless of who won and who lost. Well, she didn't get her wish, but it occurred to me later that the manager would be the "one guy" getting blamed if the Cubs lost, probably regardless of the gap.

@ Paul + Jeffrey: I'll quarterback and say Maddon had his plan which almost backfired. He was gambling with Chapman who was being used in a way he wasn't use to. Hendricks was doing fine until the umpire called a ball when it should've been the third strike on replay, which probably made Maddon antsy and he was pulled. He did it in Game 6 of the NCLS. Lester/Ross managed to justify their presence on the mound/plate, though it was stressful once it started.

It was the Cubs offense that bailed Maddon out; if the bats didn't show up then the 108 drought would still exist. As Kyle Hendricks said in the post-game interview it was the players' job to figure out a way to win - and they did.

In the end the Cubs were the better team because of the first five innings with the offense managing to run the bases successfully in the 10th. Maddon made his mistakes which the players overcame.

Whoa, I just heard that Ben Zobrist grew up within a stone's throw of my beloved Christian Camp Manitoumi in Lowpoint, IL, and that he used to work there in the summer. That's kind of a "small world" moment. That camp meant the world to me as a kid.

Here's my opinion.

God's providence extends to every real aspect of every action by a moral agent in the universe, and to every condition and circumstance of every such action. For (a) God is a God of infinite love, and so his will is for each agent to act morally at every moment of choice. And (b) God is a God of omnipotence, whose universal act of creating WILL result in the completion of the created order that He chose to display his glory. Every facet of that universe that CAN pertain to his glory, and to the moral behavior of his creatures, is under his design and intention and providential will.

He cares who wins games. But he cares about it insofar as it pertains to the ultimate purposes he has intended. He cares who wins because that sets the critical conditions for the moral choices he is going to use to derive actions and results HE wants to come out of that situation, which lead to this person being saved and that pathway to the greater glory of God. But either team winning can serve the glory of God, and we cannot know His providence so as to perceive His preference of THIS state of glory over THAT state of glory. To us, that may seem as indifference, but such is a limitation in us, not in God.

Beyond that, God wants us to have favorites - within boundaries. Just as love of your OWN family is a virtue, and love of your OWN country is a virtue, so also love of "your own" team is a virtue, in its proper order. Love of family and love of country fall under the virtue of piety, as St. Thomas says, because we ought to love those to whom we owe our very existence. (Obviously, we owe it to God even more so, in a vastly higher sense.) And because we ought to love our own family and our own country, we ought to want them to excel - even to excel in competitive matters that are not themselves matters of morals. (We ought to want them to excel in morals far more, of course, but that's not exactly competitive.) And, when they do excel, we ought to take joy in that, as the due and proper interior response to such success and excellence: we ought to want the good for those who matter to us.

Similarly, we ought to delight and take joy in the excelling of our own team, on which nothing morally critical rests OTHER than the due virtue of _trying_ to win, well. For, in that virtue, which hides within it the long practices, the courageous determination to put forth all effort, etc, we see the VERY SAME virtue that acts in matters in which not just the action and intention matter, but the OUTCOME matters: going to war, and fighting fires, and braving bullies, etc.

"Performing" well in a sport is a practice field for performing with the virtues in other arenas. And, likewise, "performing" well in, well, performances (i.e. the performing arts like plays) is also a kind of human excellence and ought to be cultivated. For man is a creative being: "In His image and likeness", He wh is the Creator. We emulate and imitate our Maker when we craft such arts, and in creating and performing them well, we induce the _shadow_ actions of virtue in the audience in loving and hating and fearing and taking joy in the right things for the right reasons.

God is not indifferent to our play. Kittens and puppies and wolf-cubs play because it is part of their nature to play, it perfects them and is a natural good in them. So also for us.

To be a tad more serious, Tony, everything you say makes sense to me as a parent, because I have kids who play chess competitively. I want them to do well, to excel, etc., to the glory of God. And I have every reason to care more about *their* excelling than about someone *else's* excelling. So far, so clear.

Where I'm less sure is about specifically wishing that my kids or my home team would *win*. Because of course it's possible to excel without winning. In fact, if both sides do an excellent job, it's unclear who is going to win. (As last night, when the Indians played a great game, the game went into overtime, etc.)

This is where the phenomenon of fandom comes in. And the thing about fandom is that it's almost, maybe strictly, sui generis. Because fandom isn't just wanting your side (or your kid, etc.) to do a great job, to glorify God by playing well, etc. It's wanting your side to win, which ipso facto means wanting the other side to lose. At least in a game where there are winners and losers. A true fan isn't going to be just as happy if his team plays a stellar game and loses as if his team play a somewhat less stellar game and wins. The winning is a thing in itself for a fan. It's something he desires and wills for, and is even perhaps inclined to pray for.

But it's difficult to imagine actually praying, "Dear Lord, please let my team instead of the other team win." After all, there are probably just as worthy people praying the opposite direction, and with no more reason than you have.

We can imagine special reasons: This child is dying of cancer and will be made especially happy if he can see the Cubs win before he dies. Okay, that's special. That's not just wanting the Cubs to win and the Indians to lose because the Cubs are my team.

So to be honest, in supporting my kids in their competitions, I generally cheer (and pray) for them to do a great job, not per se for them to win. (Again, unless I have some special reason to believe that it will do my kid more good to win than the other player, or something of that kind.) I can't bring myself to do the latter "just because." It seems too arbitrary.

And there's a real sense in which that isn't true fandom.

I haven't really figured out a metaphysics of fandom yet.

But it's difficult to imagine actually praying, "Dear Lord, please let my team instead of the other team win." After all, there are probably just as worthy people praying the opposite direction, and with no more reason than you have.

Not at all. After all, you have more reason to want your team to win than to want the other team to win: it is YOUR team.

And you can pray it, that doesn't mean He is going to grant it. Included in your prayer, as in every prayer, should be an implicit "to the extent that it is good for me (us), and further's _Your_ will."

Where I'm less sure is about specifically wishing that my kids or my home team would *win*. Because of course it's possible to excel without winning.

Well, I am suggesting that it is part of the virtues of competing that you compete to win, that you TRY YOUR HARDEST to win (within the rules). It is hard to imagine a person trying their hardest to win without wanting to win, and this wanting means nothing else but desiring actually for US to win and for THEM to lose. And if wanting to win is part of the behavior of the virtuous man, then praying for it is also.

Within due limits - in the right way and for the right reasons. I.E. within the context of "a game". And, so, it could be no good prayer to pray "please let their pitcher get hurt", or even "make them play far below their real abilities." But one might well pray "let us play to the VERY BEST of our own abilities, even though we often do not play that well." And, even, "let us play well enough to win, if that is within our ability."

But since the desire to win should - to be virtuous - be constrained within the bounds of good sportsmanship, so also would be the desire to win_with_God's_help. So, praying that the other team does not play up to the level they normally are able to play, or that they suffer some inadvertent set-back that has nothing to do with your skill, these are not part of good sportsmanship. Wanting to win even though your opponent plays well is good sportsmanship. Wanting to win because your opponent is distracted by threats, or injured, or blocked by a bad umpire is not.

Sports and fandom are indeed strange phenomena. A few thoughts.

As a plain practical matter (as anyone who's played competitive sports at any level knows) taking up competitive athletics means winning and losing. It just does. Neither can ever be excluded.

Even the greatest teams, even the most fortunate and successful athletes, have tasted bitter and unbearable defeat. Tom Brady has been on losing side at the Super Bowl several teams, watching with that sour expression of exhaustion combined with disappointment.

But at least Tom Brady feels he can affect the outcome -- in his case, affect it in a big way. For the fan, his power to affect anything is null. Therefore the necessity of winning and losing coming in a package, as it were, is all the more pronounced. You cannot take up the cause of a sports team without knowing that both eventualities will be your lot as a fan. Even if you just became a Broncos fan last year, riding the Super Bowl victory with the purest passion of winning: well guess what? In Week 5 of this year, the Atlanta Falcons showed up in Denver and boatraced the Broncos. Bitter defeat.

My sense is that fandom in our age has something of the character of what we might call patriotism of exile. The prophet Jeremiah to the exiled Jews: “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” I wrote about this some years ago for The Christendom Review, in the context of that single wild year of 2011 when Tim Tebow was the Denver Broncos' quarterback.

Yesterday morning, Cubs fans all over the world felt that they could in a real sense partake of civic excellence and fraternity: not as an abstraction but as a particular instance of brotherhood: they could exult in their beloved city Chicago and all Chicagoans everywhere were brothers and sisters.

For the rest of us, even if we like baseball and favored the Cubs, this particularist stuff gets tiresome very quickly. If the Cubs are back in the World Series next year, I'll almost certainly be rooting against them (unless it's against the Yankees, whose particularist hauteur is most tedious of all).

This fandom is, of course, a feeble substitute for the real thing. It has far too much spectacle and tawdriness, and far too little intimacy and depth. The good of civic fellowship, the good of seeking the welfare of the city, is more authentically evident in much more modest things: a church's neighborhood Fall Festival, a 10K race through a small town on Independence Day, a block party on Memorial Day, Saint Patrick's Day parades, etc.

But by adding love of a game to love of one's city, professional sports have managed a peculiar integration of personal and civic drama which has proven extremely popular and profitable. (When you add in college athletics, the connection is even clearer: many, many millions have played high level athletics in college, and that college was, precisely, their home during those formative years).

Anyway, I'm sure there are some weak spots in my analysis, but it seems pretty sound overall.


You wrote:

"But by adding love of a game to love of one's city, professional sports have managed a peculiar integration of personal and civic drama which has proven extremely popular and profitable. (When you add in college athletics, the connection is even clearer: many, many millions have played high level athletics in college, and that college was, precisely, their home during those formative years)."

Big college athletics, particularly football, has become a training ground for greed, in recent years. There are poor student-scholars who have to work one or two jobs just to make ends meet (if they don't want to go into hock with Uncle Sam for twenty-five years), but student-athletes are, in many cases, given a free ride, helped with (or graded leniently in) course work, etc. Ironically, in such contact sports, they are, in many cases, damaging the very brain they came to improve by education. In many cases, not to be a wet blanket, but it must be said, some athletes have left the pure love of the game far behind them. In the 1940's or earlier, most sports were played more purely, but the rot set in with the advent of the big money that could be made when television got involved, among other reasons. The lure of greed even has filtered down to juveniles playing in Little League games (at least, it has with some parents). The whole notion of the, " entitled jock," which arose in the 1950's, especially in juvenile football, has plagued many a quieter juvenile scholar. The 2016 Cubs are nothing like the 1908 Cubs, even though the team would like to maintain that illusion. Back then, it was a game. Now, to many, it is a business.

The Chicken

Paul, I definitely see the civic unity and the wholesome joy that has come out of this victory, and I see that as a great good. In this particular case, one could argue that we could have foreseen that even *more* of this kind of joy and good would come out of a Cubs than out of an Indians victory, given the nature of Cubs fans and the even greater length of time (108 years) since a Cubs victory. It is in some ways a purer test of fandom to imagine a fan's fervent desire for them to win the World Series *next* year, when this uniqueness no longer exists.

I think Tony's points are most interesting where he connects a fan with a player. Since it is licit for the player to desire and attempt to *win*--indeed, it is a sine qua non of playing one's hardest and best--why should it not be legitimate for a fan to desire that his team would win, not just that his team would do a "good job" or "show their abilities," etc.? This is something I have to ponder. I'm still having trouble imagining _praying_ that one's team would win when one has no special _claim_ to win or no _argument_ that one's own team's victory will add more to the goodness in the world than the other team's victory. But I think what Tony has shown is that some of my attempted distinctions may be arbitrary--the distinction between fan and player and the distinction between wanting to "do well" and wanting to win. After all, if one prays that God will help someone to show his skills in a particular game, of course this is *relevant* to his winning.

My sense is that fandom in our age has something of the character of what we might call patriotism of exile. The prophet Jeremiah to the exiled Jews: “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” ... This fandom is, of course, a feeble substitute for the real thing. It has far too much spectacle and tawdriness, and far too little intimacy and depth. The good of civic fellowship, the good of seeking the welfare of the city, is more authentically evident in much more modest things: a church's neighborhood Fall Festival, a 10K race through a small town on Independence Day, a block party on Memorial Day, Saint Patrick's Day parades, etc.

Paul, I think both of these points are well said. And, taking them as points of triangulation, I would qualify my comment above by saying that by and large, an athlete normally should want to win, but in a qualified way. He should want it, but he should want many other goods above it as having a greater claim on his intention and hope: his family, his work, his church, his city are all more important than his team and winning (ignoring, for the moment, the pro player whose work is his team). He should want, much more than he wants to win, faithfulness in his marriage, obedience and honor from his children, the peace of a well-run city, etc.

Indeed, every good thing in this world, that is OF this world (and, therefore, not speaking of persons), should be desired in a qualified way: insofar as it is part of my pathway toward the ultimate good - God. St. Augustine makes this point in many of his works: all goods of this world are to be treated as means to an end, not as the end in itself. Winning the game, treated as an end in itself, raises it out of the category of "game" and makes it something else; something more important than a game can be, and, therefore, something distorted from its true nature into a false good. For a game is a pursuit of recreation, which is a healthy and necessary part of human life, but it is a lesser pursuit than the goods of contemplation and prayer, than the goods of family and cooperating with God in pro-creation, than the goods of work and cooperation with God in the creation of a healthy human order. Treating it as above these others is to distort the hierarchy of human goods.

So, though I do so with trepidation, I think that I must defy Lombardi and say him nay: Winning is not "the only thing", it is rather a critical part of participating in games, and that's all.

Seems a possible breakdown is equating indifference with a positive act of the will. If God is indifferent to the outcome (such as whether you have chocolate ice cream or cherry pie for dessert), your willing to have one or the other is not contrary to God's will. Thus, either option is "united" to God's will because He has no preference. I suppose you are saying God wills to be indifferent, therefore so should we. But if He is indifferent to the outcome, does that necessarily mean He wills us to be indifferent, or does He simply will that we not pester Him about it and wills to leave us free to do either or neither? God obviously willed that Adam and Eve not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Whether they ate of any other, every other, or only a few others, He was indifferent. Does that mean A&E could not have preferences as to the other trees? Could Eve not prefer the Tree of Warm Fuzzies and Adam the Tree of Sidesplitting Laughter without transgressing God's will?

c matt, I don't think there is any possibility of dealing with these kinds of questions, unless we speak in terms of more than sense of God's "will". For example, on the easiest 2 levels, God "wills" that all men be just. However, he knows that Bill is not going to be just, and He wills to use that fact to generate some good out of the situation that would not otherwise happen, such as Sally forgiving Bill, to her spiritual benefit. Does God "really" will that Bill be unjust because He plans to use Bill's injustice? No, we have to be able to assert at least in some sense that God wills that Bill be just, and separately wills to use Bill's injustice. So the kind of willing that God has in willing Bill (and all of us) to be just is not his EFFECTUATING will, because he wills also that we be free and wills to allow Bill to be unjust, and wills effectually Sally's spiritual growth in the condition of injustice. One set of terms used for this is God's antecedent will and his consequent will. He does not always effect the objects of His antecedent will. He always wills that we avoid acts that are inherently evil (e.g. any act which has as its very object a morally disordered object).

In less momentous circumstances: There are many acts whose object in itself is neither good, nor bad, but is neutral. It is morally neutral whether you pick chocolate over vanilla ice cream, either is permissible under the moral law. God is _generically_ indifferent to our choosing either one, precisely because _generically_ they are both compatible with morally good acts. However, in particular circumstances, there could be a situation where choosing one is the right thing to do, and choosing the other is the wrong thing. When, for example, you ought to let someone else have that one last serving of chocolate for some reason. Because God both arranged to put you into that circumstance, and because He knows full well that you ought to pick the vanilla and leave the chocolate, IN THAT CIRCUMSTANCE He is not indifferent to your choice. Or, if in the concrete conditions there were NO demands on you, He would also be providentially responsible for your personal preference for vanilla, and might well want you to satisfy that preference here and now according to reason. Your act of choice, if it is made for a good that is connected all the way up the chain to your ultimate goal of union with God, is a morally good act, and that is what is pleasing to God in the concrete circumstances. So, God may be indifferent to the choice as to its genus but not as to the act in the concrete.

It is in like manner that we should want any of the goods here of this life: We may act so as to obtain a good that we THINK will further God's intent, which seems reasonable for good and worthy intermediate ends (plan for college to get an education to become a preacher of the Gospel...) but God decides to frustrate or prevent (you get in an accident...) Ideally, we should not WANT the good thing so intently that when God has taken away all possibility of it, we despair. We should rather want it with a limitation: so far as is consistent with His will. When it becomes apparent that it is not His will, we should cease to want it. This represents, at least in some sense, a *kind* of indifference: a wanting that gives way to not-wanting if conditions create a report back "God doesn't want it" in spite of whatever apparent good it holds. This is what it means to be poor in spirit as in the beatitude - to be indifferent to any goods of this world just so far as God is indifferent to my having it.

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