Why do we do the things we do? This question can span many topics. To the moral theologian, intent and circumstance are important to determine the level of culpability in moral acts.
- Should we treat a homeless person who steals to survive versus someone who steals to injure someone the same?
- Should we treat someone who kills a person out of blind rage the same as a soldier who kills an enemy combatant in a war?
Thou shall not steal and Thou shall not kill are sins in all four scenarios. However, intent and circumstance can increase or lessen the culpability of these actions. Did the homeless person run out of options for food that led her or him to steal? How does Just War Theory apply to the soldier’s actions during an active combat scenario? Answering these type of questions are key to understand the depth and breadth of a moral act.
How Does Moral Theology Pertain To Faith and Astrophotography?
To move away from heavy moral questions to lighter situations, intent and circumstance are important when enriching our faith. For example, I feel so fortunate that the Vatican Observatory has given me the space to explore my love of faith, astronomy, and now astrophotography on this blog. This journey has taken many twists and turns, but it always brings me back to some simple questions:
- How does astronomy enrich my faith?
- Why do I have this inner desire to connect the night sky to my faith life?
- Why do I want to image the night sky?
- Has this process been life giving or life taking?
Answering these questions takes me down many paths. Focusing specifically on astrophotography, my initial intent was to take amazing images of the night sky. Starting with the simple and progressing to the difficult, I am so proud of what I’ve learned and the progress I’ve made. Still, there have been many moments that have revealed my deeper intent as to why I do what I do.
For example, last week I wanted a quiet and peaceful night before the snow comes to Wisconsin. I took my camera and a wide angle lens to do some star trails. Here’s the image I captured after 15 minutes of exposure thime.
Of the many reasons I wanted to capture this image, the primary one wasn’t to get nice star trails, but to have a quiet evening and find peace through prayer. As the minutes passed, I was blessed with 15 minutes of prayerful contemplation of God’s creation waiting for my camera to finish its work.
Joy and peace are the same desires that have led me to fall in love with landscape photography and wildlife photography. Though the images are very different, the intent is the same regardless of the circumstance: Peaceful joy contemplating God’s creation.
Be Aware of Intent and Circumstance!
Beware of social media! Yes, that may seem to be a contradictory statement from a social media blog post, but its true. Key to understanding the social media outlets you should engage with versus the outlets you should distance yourself from is intent and circumstance.
- What is the intent of the media outlets I follow?
- What are the circumstances that impact how they present their material?
- Do these outlets focus on promoting the truth or inciting anger and controversy to get clicks and, by extension, make money?
- Does the truth matter to these outlets?
As tempted as I may be to pontificate on social media that I think is trash, I will not – I don’t want to become the very noise I detest and harm the credibility of Sacred Space Astronomy in the process. All I would ask is that you take some time and reflect on intent and circumstance in your life.
- Why do you do the things you do?
- What are things that bring you joy and peace versus anger and frustration?
- Is your social media engagement promoting that joy and peace or making it difficult?
- And what social media is life giving versus life taking?
Pray with these questions and may God bring you joy and peace in all you do today!