Monday, June 28, 2010

First draft of the book is DONE!

Late, late Saturday night I finished the first draft of "The Meaning of Virtue". There have been too many interruptions to count, but progress is happening!

And since I am a bit excited by this, here is the beginning of the current draft of chapter 6. Enjoy!

Thus far, we have spoken in bits and pieces about what is virtuous and what is not. Here, however, we are going directly to the root of the matter.

So often we Chastity and virtue are spoke of in church, is it usually in the context of what should not be done. Yet, while it is not often enunciated as virtue per se, the General Authorities have spent a lot of time discussing what we should do. If Faith is believing and acting on what we know, then virtue is entering into and honoring covenant relationships. And the most sacred of relationships, other than that between self and God, is between husband and wife (and God). The plan of salvation is a great cycle that begins and ends with a married couple.

The crux of Virtue is Family. Virtue is what sustains and establishes the family both now, and in eternity.

Christ does not save us as a “lone wolf”. He is marvelously emphatic when he says, “If ye are not one, ye are not mine.” Likewise, it is with startling emphasis that He says “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20, see also D&C 6:32)

Christ's great (and profound) Intercessory Prayer in John, prior to his arrest and crucifixion talks much about the disciples becoming one with the Father, as Christ is one with Him.

Perfect unity, and organization is a defining characteristic of both the Father and the Son, and all the society of angels.

As the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The greatest temporal and spiritual blessings which always come from faithfulness and concerted effort, never attended individual exertion or enterprise.”. To receive these greatest blessings, we must have, as Stephen Covey would put it, synergy and interdependence. This is in stark contrast to co-dependence that is the mark of a bad relationship, or to the much lauded independence of those unburdened with spouse or children. This synergy between differing natures is a necessary and essential part of our exaltation.

When the Earth was created, Adam was placed in the midst of all God's creations. Adam was given the task of naming each animal, but it is telling that none of them could work as his counterpart. Even among all the vast creations of the Almighty on this sphere, Adam could find none that were comparable to him. In a very real sense, Adam was alone.

Once Adam had the opportunity to come to this realization, God said, “It is not good that man should be alone”. This line alone, is difficult to over-emphasize. Indeed, Adam was alone, and no other thing, animal, job, hobby could alleviate that loneliness, and none are meant to. Notwithstanding the presence of angels and being in the presence of God himself, yet God declared that was “not good”.

“It is not good that man should be alone. I will make a help meet for him”. First, let me clarify, there is no such word as 'helpmeet'. The NIV phrases that line, “I will make a helper suitable for him”. Young's Literal Translation put it, “Not good for the man to be alone, I do make to him an helper -- as his counterpart.”

Lest I be unclear, God created Eve as a counterpart, an equal companion to Adam. The word used is literally, 'corresponding to'. The Hebrew phrasing is in some ways reminiscent of yin and yang - opposites which complement and enhance instead of oppose each other. This is likewise reminiscent of 1 Cor. 11:11, “neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord”.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fathers Day and the End of Civilization

For just a moment, let's think about what Men are good for, and let's look at what Society around us has to say.

The Atlantic helps us celebrate with the articles, "The End of Men" and "Are Fathers Necessary?".

A new video game is out called, "Hey Baby", where you as a woman can take FPS vengeance on anyone with the nerve to make a catcall. Video here.

Women have recently become the majority gender in the workforce, partly due to the particularly harsh effects of the recession on male unemployment. But don't expect any pity from political cartoons. has an article misrepresenting a study done at Boston College, entitled "Why Do Dads Lie on Surveys about Fatherhood?". And while it does use a study to show something that the studies authors clarified (in a comment after the article) that their study did not say that, I do have to give it credit for showing how underappeciated Fathers are in society and the workplace.

While on our side of the fence, we have Feminist Mormon Housewives with the article Happy Deadbeat Dads Day, with the improbable story of a real nutjob. But seriously, how many guys at their worst would even spend so much as an afternoon looking for the Three Nephites?

Now, I don't expect everyone to be negative on Fathers Day, and I think it is a waste of time for men to complain anyway. So why bring any of this up?

A lot of the deterioration of society has been because a break down of the family. It does not take much TV watching to see fathers portrayed as stupid and foolish, and their wives as smart and savvy. Divorce laws have been tilted so far in favor of women that women initiate ~3/4 (no less than 2/3 at least) of divorces and can usually expect alimony, child support and custody. And how do these fatherless children behave?

A few statistics for you -

According to one study, 53% of inmates at state correctional facilities grew up without the benefits of a two parent household.
B. Chapman, Fairness For Families: An Organing Theme for the Administration's Social Policies, 2 The Journal of Family and Culture 23 (1986).

A survey of rapists by Raymond A. Knight and Robert A. Prentky demonstrated that 60 % came from female-headed homes, 70 % of 'violent' rapists came from female-headed homes and 80 % of those with 'displaced anger' came from female-headed (read single-parent) homes.
R. Knight and R. Prentky, The Developmental Antecedents and Adult Adaptations of Rapist Subtypes, 14 CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR 403-426 (1987).

A study from 2000 found that nearly 90% of the change in violent crime rates from 1973 to 1995 could be accounted for by the change in percentages of out-of-wedlock births.
Mackey and Coney 2000, p. 352

While another study concluded,
"[A]n increase of 13% in female-headed households would produce a doubling
of the offense rate."
Osgood and Chambers 2000, p. 103

As a society we have eliminated every incentive for marriage and fatherhood for men and there is going to be hell to pay for it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

chapter 5 teaser

I am behind on blogging AND my book... but here is a teaser for chapter 5.

Virtue is tied to our ability to feel. In deed, it is the worst offenders, rapists and abusers and murderers of the worst sort who have lost the ability to feel, to empathize with others, and their victims in particular. On the other hand, the ability of the Father and Son to comprehend all things we suffer, and they suffer with us. The ability to empathize is a trait common to all righteous men and women.

Empathy is important because it is necessary to us to be able to feel joy. So many of the 'little' indiscretions of virtue are hazardous because they dull our ability to feel, or at least the ability to feel as deeply and passionately as we could.

The ability to feel is important because joy is the measure of our creation and our reason to existence. If we can not feel, we can not fulfill the reason we were created for. The result of Laman and Lemuel's sins were that they were past feeling. Likewise,

Likewise, the rules given in the Word of Wisdom pertain to our bodies and their ability to feel and act. By governing and bridling them within the boundaries the Lord has set, we enhance our ability to feel joy. These boundaries and rules for the word of wisdom are the laws that pertain to taking care of our body.

In fact, one of the original Seven Deadly Sins, was Gluttony. It was not that food was evil, nor that Christ himself did not partake of food, but that we must govern that passion, or it will govern us.

Those who have abused illegal drugs in search of a high, in the end, can feel nothing at all. And while, the chemicals associated with sexual passion are natural, that is all the greater reason to obey Him who is the Creator of our bodies and spirits.

In fact, it is by taking our sexual passions out of the context of a permanent relationship, that we weaken our passions, and paradoxically, make it more addictive.

It is God who has created all these things. He created them because they are good and enjoyable, but like all potent things, they must be used with care, and in the proper way. That means we do not dull or ignore our feelings, but nor do we allow ourselves to carelessly act upon our passions. Our passions, if acted on without self-control, are destructive and self-defeating.

Now, I hasten to add, that in our age of excess, that as whole, I admire nuns. Their dedication is admirable, even if we disagree on some doctrinal points. Kathleen Norris, in her book, “The Cloister Walk” quotes a prioress, “Celibacy is not an excuse for being unhappy or uncharitable, to stuff feelings down, to become angry, or an iceberg…The worst sin against celibacy is to pretend to not have any affections at all. To fall in love is celibacy at work…Celibacy is not a vow to repress our feelings, it is a vow to put all our feelings, acceptable or not, close to our hearts and bring them into consciousness through prayer…the worst thing that we can do is to deny our true feelings and become rigid, afraid to relate.”