The year 2023 is the four-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Blaise Pascal. In one of the lengthier fragments of his Pensées, he ponders the dramatically contrasting magnitudes we encounter in our cosmos. “The whole visible world is only an imperceptible dot in nature’s ample bosom. . . . Nature is an infinite sphere whose centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere.” Now look at the other end: the mite with a “minute body” with “minute parts,” including “veins in its legs, blood in the veins, humours in the blood, drops in the humours, vapours in the drops.” Suspended between the “two abysses of infinity and nothingness” is humankind.
Flourishing and contentment are connected but distinct. In Christian perspective, the goal of human enhancement is not conducive to human flourishing, whereas a therapeutic approach to the body is. However, the virtue of contentment means willingness to forgo even therapeutic treatment under certain circumstances. This article attempts to argue for these conclusions with reference to the contrast between the natural and the transhuman and by considering the significance of disability and the church as the body of Christ.
Christians view sickness as a part of life. Yet, modern medicine finds little purpose in the embodied human who is also a spiritual being. While Christians live with the two-fold reality that sickness and death will occur, they do not need to languish without medical treatment.