Character Education, Repentance, and Charles Dickens

Dinner Topics for Monday

Character Education, Behavior Repair—“By Any Other Name. . .”still  REPENTANCE

key“It is easier  to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

Dickens and his characters

Charles Dickens and his characters

In Charles Dickens’ classic novel, Great Expectations, the young boy Pip started out in difficult circumstances, being raised by his older sister, who was very harsh. When he came of age, he was blessed with a considerable fortune from an unknown benefactor. His money caused him to be rather prideful and vain, but his conscience always bothered him. When at length he discovered the source of that fortune, he was humbled. In due time, Pip overcame his pride and vanity, because he ultimately heeded his conscience, felt compassion for many he had once disliked, and developed a sincere desire to do what was right.

Another story from great literature is in the Bible, where Jesus Christ met the woman taken in adultery. After He shamed her accusers, there was no one left to condemn her or throw stones at her. The Savior told her to “go and sin no more.” Although Jesus did not condemn her, neither did He forgive her at that time. There is something she needed to do first, in order to obtain that forgiveness. She needed time to repent. (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.68)

REPENTThe dictionary defines repent—“to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.”

Character education, behavior repair—what have you—implies the choosing of right over wrong, and making an effort to change for the better, or in other words, repentance. Repentance, by any other name, is still repentance.

People often have negative feelings about repentance. However, honest observations of our current culture compel us to acknowledge that good character leads to a more peaceful, orderly, and happy society. The truth of this principle cannot be ignored.

Parents need not be afraid of holding their children to high moral standards. The atonement of Christ is a safety net in the times of falling short, but it is fastened to repentance. Repentance is not easy, but it is easier in the long run. Still, “it is easier [yet] to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

After His suffering was over, Jesus said that if we would repent, or turn from sin, we would not have to suffer for those sins, because He already paid the price. So, at the end of the day, we see that “repentance” is really a message of love, because it is the key to mercy, and ultimately saves us from a lot of unhappiness.

Copyright © 2011 by C.A. Davidson

faith-and-freedomFortify your family with the Judeo-Christian Heritage HERE

Charles John Huffam Dickens; 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world’s most memorable fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period.[1] During his life, his works enjoyed unprecedented fame, and by the twentieth century his literary genius was broadly acknowledged by critics and scholars. His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular.[2][3]

Born in Portsmouth, England, Dickens was forced to leave school to work in a factory when his father was thrown into debtors’ prison. Although he had little formal education, his early impoverishment drove him to succeed. Over his career he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights, education, and other social reforms.

Dickens sprang to fame with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity, famous for his humour, satire, and keen observation of character and society. His novels, most published in monthly or weekly installments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication.[4][5] The installment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience’s reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback.[5] For example, when his wife’s chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities, Dickens went on to improve the character with positive features.[6] Fagin in Oliver Twist apparently mirrors the famous fence Ikey Solomon;[7] His caricature of Leigh Hunt in the figure of Mr Skimpole in Bleak House was likewise toned down on advice from some of his friends, as they read episodes.[8] In the same novel, both Lawrence Boythorne and Mooney the beadle are drawn from real life—Boythorne from Walter Savage Landor and Mooney from ‘Looney’, a beadle at Salisbury Square.[9] His plots were carefully constructed, and Dickens often wove in elements from topical events into his narratives.[10] Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in ha’pennies to have each new monthly episode read to them, opening up and inspiring a new class of readers.[11]

Dickens was regarded as the literary colossus of his age.[12] His 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, is one of the most influential works ever written, and it remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre. His creative genius has been praised by fellow writers—from Leo Tolstoy to G. K. Chesterton and George Orwell—for its realism, comedy, prose style, unique characterisations, and social criticism. On the other hand Oscar Wilde, Henry James and Virginia Woolf complained of a lack of psychological depth, loose writing, and a vein of saccharine sentimentalism. The term Dickensian is used to describe something that is reminiscent of Dickens and his writings, such as poor social conditions or comically repulsive characters.[13]

More about Charles Dickens

Judeo-Christian Worldview: True to the Faith

Judeo-Christian Worldview:

True to the Faith

I worry that we live in such an atmosphere of avoiding offense that we sometimes altogether avoid teaching correct principles. If we don’t teach our children and youth true doctrine—and teach it clearlythe world will teach them Satan’s lies. ~Bonnie L. Oscarson

by Christine Davidson

Jesus-last-supperPeace-I-Leave-With-You-Walter-RaneMany who heard Jesus teach in Capernaum complained, “this is an hard saying. “ Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at His doctrine, said unto them:

DOES THIS OFFEND YOU?

From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve,

  “Will ye also go away?”

“Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. Thou art that Christ, the Son of the Living God.”[1]

Walk No More with the Truth?

Today is no different. For some, Christ’s invitation to believe and remain faithful continues to be hard. Granted, there are many adverse forces seeking to pull us away. It is not popular to be Christian these days. Members of the left-wing media are ever making a Christian man or woman  “an offender for a word,” [2]  heaping upon believers increasingly vile abuse, seeking destruction of all that is true and good. Worldly professors twist truth, calling evil good and good evil; putting darkness for light, and light for darkness. [3]

I feel compassion for the rising generation, growing up in such times of confusion, with so many demands on their loyalty.

To Whom Shall I Go?

About a half century ago, when I was a teenager growing up, I was the youngest, and my older siblings had all left home. We had not yet found the gospel in our lives. But I remember searching for something larger than myself, something strong and solid to hang onto, a cause for my loyalty.

My father was a brilliant scientist in a crisis of faith. I heard my parents having frequent “discussions, ”  always about his agnosticism and my mother’s unwavering faith. I felt shaken.  Worried that their marriage was in trouble, I asked my mother about it. She assured me that things would work out. They did. Soon thereafter, my parents found the Church of Jesus Christ and became devoted Christians, as did I.

childrenlitreadingart They have passed on, but of late I have wondered how my life might have been different if my mother had not held to her faith. What if she had taken the path of least resistance? Would I have found the gospel if my parents had not taught me so well? To whom would I have gone? Of course, we know of some young people who turn to God, regardless of their circumstances. I’ll never know the answer to that in my own case, but I believe it would have taken me much longer to find the truth if they had not guided me properly. If I had found God later in life, would I have married differently, and would my children be in the fold? And what about their children?

 

Joshua and his Grandpa

Parents, Your Example Is Pivotal

jesus-rock1                Because of my parents’ faithfulness, I continue to follow the Savior, as do my children, who are also teaching their children.  Do you see the pattern here? Choices have consequences.  Truth matters. And it matters that we pass that on to our descendants.

Throughout history,  language, attitudes, and styles change. Voices rise and fall, actors on the stage of life come and go. There is a constant we can always rely on: God is the same—yesterday, today, and forever.  Because of His unending love for us, He provided a way for us to come back to Him, through  His loyal Son.

True to the Faith

Let us all press on in the work of the Lord,

That when life is o’er we may gain a reward;

In the fight for right let us wield a sword,

The mighty sword of truth.

Fear not, though the enemy deride,

Courage, for the Lord is on our side.

We will heed not what the wicked may say,

But the Lord alone we will obey. ~ Evan Stephens

Defining Moment:

American Culture—outward appearance and immoral social trends are not who we are. Despite what the world and misguided secularists would have you believe, America is founded on Judeo-Christian values, and none other.

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[1] Matthew 16:16

[2] Isaiah 29:21 That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him … and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.

[3] Isaiah 5:20

Spotify Free: Music to overcome the Obstacles in Life

Spotify Free:

Music to overcome the Obstacles in Life

We all have obstacles in life—physical, emotional, spiritual—that challenge our progress. This vigorous piece by Jordan New Age Music will inspire to keep going. You will prevail!

Listen to ‘Obstacles’ for FREE below [be sure to ‘FOLLOW’ me and ADD this to your Spotify Playlist]

Obstacles Spotify

Character Education: Faith, Decision-making, and Charlie Brown

Character Education:

Faith, Decision-making, and Charlie Brown

Charles Schultz. In fond Remembrance of Charles Monroe “Sparky” Schulz (/ʃʊlts/; November 26, 1922 – February 12, 2000)[2] was an American cartoonist and creator of the comic strip Peanuts (which featured the characters Charlie Brown and Snoopy, among others). He is widely regarded as one of the most influential cartoonists of all time.

Choose Wisely

Quentin L. Cook

keyold“Refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15).

 

My desire this evening is to share some counsel about decisions and choices.

Lucy Rationalizes

charlie-brown-lucy-baseballWhen I was a young lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area, our firm did some legal work for the company that produced the Charlie Brown holiday TV specials.1 I became a fan of Charles Schulz and his creation—Peanuts, with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, and other wonderful characters.

One of my favorite comic strips involved Lucy. As I remember it, Charlie Brown’s baseball team was in an important game—Lucy was playing right field, and a high fly ball was hit to her. The bases were loaded, and it was the last of the ninth inning. If Lucy caught the ball, her team would win. If Lucy dropped the ball, the other team would win.

charlie-brown-lucyAs could happen only in a comic strip, the entire team surrounded Lucy as the ball came down. Lucy was thinking, “If I catch the ball, I will be the hero; if I don’t, I will be the goat.”

The ball came down, and as her teammates eagerly looked on, Lucy dropped the ball. Charlie Brown threw his glove to the ground in disgust. Lucy then looked at her teammates, put her hands on her hips, and said, “How do you expect me to catch the ball when I am worried about our country’s foreign policy?”

This was one of many fly balls Lucy dropped through the years, and she had a new excuse each time.2 While always humorous, Lucy’s excuses were rationalizations; they were untrue reasons for her failure to catch the ball.

Decisions Determine Destiny

It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices.

freewill1During the ministry of President Thomas S. Monson, he has often taught that decisions determine destiny.3 In that spirit my counsel tonight is to rise above any rationalizations that prevent us from making righteous decisions, especially with respect to serving Jesus Christ. In Isaiah we are taught we must “refuse the evil, and choose the good.”4

I believe it is of particular importance in our day, when Satan is raging in the hearts of men in so many new and subtle ways, that our choices and decisions be made carefully, consistent with the goals and objectives by which we profess to live. We need unequivocal commitment to the commandments and strict adherence to sacred covenants. When we allow rationalizations to prevent us from temple endowments, worthy missions, and temple marriage, they are particularly harmful. It is heartbreaking when we profess belief in these goals yet neglect the everyday conduct required to achieve them.5

Some young people profess their goal is to be married in the temple but do not date temple-worthy individuals. To be honest, some don’t even date, period! You single men, the longer you remain single after an appropriate age and maturity, the more comfortable you can become. But the more uncomfortable you ought to become! Please get “anxiously engaged”6 in spiritual and social activities compatible with your goal of a temple marriage.

Some postpone marriage until education is complete and a job obtained. While widely accepted in the world, this reasoning does not demonstrate faith, does not comply with counsel of modern prophets, and is not compatible with sound doctrine.

I recently met a fine teenage young man. His goals were to go on a mission, obtain an education, marry in the temple, and have a faithful happy family. I was very pleased with his goals. But during further conversation, it became evident that his conduct and the choices he was making were not consistent with his goals. I felt he genuinely wanted to go on a mission and was avoiding serious transgressions that would prohibit a mission, but his day-to-day conduct was not preparing him for the physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual challenges he would face.7 He had not learned to work hard. He was not serious about school or seminary. He attended church, but he had not read the Book of Mormon. He was spending a large amount of time on video games and social media. He seemed to think that showing up for his mission would be sufficient. Young men, please recommit to worthy conduct and serious preparation to be emissaries of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

My concern is not only about the big tipping-point decisions but also the middle ground—the workaday world and seemingly ordinary decisions where we spend most of our time. In these areas, we need to emphasize moderation, balance, and especially wisdom. It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices.

Everyday Decisions

A wonderful example of the need for moderation, balance, and wisdom is the use of the Internet. It can be used to do missionary outreach, to assist with priesthood responsibilities, to find precious ancestors for sacred temple ordinances, and much more. The potential for good is enormous. We also know that it can transmit much that is evil, including pornography, digital cruelty,8 and anonymous yakking. It can also perpetuate foolishness. As Brother Randall L. Ridd poignantly taught at the last general conference, speaking of the Internet, “You can get caught up in endless loops of triviality that waste your time and degrade your potential.”9

Frivolous Distractions

When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals.

RushSocialMedia2PIXDistractions and opposition to righteousness are not just on the Internet; they are everywhere. They affect not just the youth but all of us. We live in a world that is literally in commotion.10 We are surrounded by obsessive portrayals of “fun and games” and immoral and dysfunctional lives. These are presented as normal conduct in much of the media.

Elder David A. Bednar recently cautioned members to be authentic in the use of social media.11 A prominent thought leader, Arthur C. Brooks, has emphasized this point. He observes that when using social media, we tend to broadcast the smiling details of our lives but not the hard times at school or work. We portray an incomplete life—sometimes in a self-aggrandizing or fake way. We share this life, and then we consume the “almost exclusively … fake lives of [our] social media ‘friends.’” Brooks asserts, “How could it not make you feel worse to spend part of your time pretending to be happier than you are, and the other part of your time seeing how much happier others seem to be than you?”12

Sometimes it feels like we are drowning in frivolous foolishness, nonsensical noise, and continuous contention. When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals. One father wisely responds to his children with their numerous requests to participate in these distractions. He simply asks them, “Will this make you a better person?”

When we rationalize wrong choices, big or small, which are inconsistent with the restored gospel, we lose the blessings and protections we need and often become ensnared in sin or simply lose our way.

Erosion of Judeo-Christian Values

But when culture, knowledge, and social mores are separated from God’s plan of happiness and the essential role of Jesus Christ, there is an inevitable disintegration of society.

apathydudeI am particularly concerned with foolishness13 and being obsessed with “every new thing.” In the Church we encourage and celebrate truth and knowledge of every kind. But when culture, knowledge, and social mores are separated from God’s plan of happiness and the essential role of Jesus Christ, there is an inevitable disintegration of society.14 In our day, despite unprecedented gains in many areas, especially science and communication, essential basic values have eroded and overall happiness and well-being have diminished.

When the Apostle Paul was invited to speak on Mars Hill in Athens, he found some of the same intellectual pretension and absence of true wisdom that exist today.15 In Acts we read this account: “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.”16 Paul’s emphasis was the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. When the crowd realized the religious nature of his message, some mocked him; others essentially dismissed him, saying, “We will hear thee again of this matter.”17 Paul left Athens without any success. Dean Frederic Farrar wrote of this visit: “At Athens he founded no church, to Athens he wrote no epistle, and in Athens, often as he passed its neighbourhood, he never set foot again.”18

Subtle Influences

Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.

bigbenclockI believe Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s inspired message distinguishing between “good, better, best” provides an effective way to evaluate choices and priorities.19 Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.

Even worthwhile endeavors need evaluation in order to determine if they have become distractions from the best goals. I had a memorable discussion with my father when I was a teenager. He did not believe enough young people were focused on or preparing for long-term important goals—like employment and providing for families.

Meaningful study and preparatory work experience were always at the top of my father’s recommended priorities. He appreciated that extracurricular activities like debate and student government might have a direct connection with some of my important goals. He was less certain about the extensive time I spent participating in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He acknowledged that athletics could build strength, endurance, and teamwork but asserted that perhaps concentrating on one sport for a shorter time would be better. In his view, sports were good but not the best for me. He was concerned that some sports were about building local celebrity or fame at the expense of more important long-term goals.

Given this history, one of the reasons I like the account of Lucy playing baseball is that, in my father’s view, I should have been studying foreign policy and not worrying about whether I was going to catch a ball. I should make it clear that my mother loved sports. It would have taken a hospitalization for her to miss one of my games.

I had decided to follow my dad’s advice and not play intercollegiate sports in college. Then our high school football coach informed me that the Stanford football coach wanted to have lunch with Merlin Olsen and me. Those of you who are younger may not know Merlin. He was an incredible all-American tackle on the Logan High School football team where I played quarterback and safety and returned kickoffs and punts. In high school Merlin was recruited by most football powers across the nation. In college he won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman. Merlin was ultimately the third overall pick in the National Football League draft and played in an amazing 14 consecutive Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.20

The lunch with the Stanford coach was at the Bluebird restaurant in Logan, Utah. After we shook hands, he never once made eye contact with me. He talked directly to Merlin but ignored me. At the end of the lunch, for the first time, he turned toward me, but he could not remember my name. He then informed Merlin, “If you choose Stanford and want to bring your friend with you, he has good enough grades and it could probably be arranged.” This experience confirmed for me that I should follow my dad’s wise counsel.

cook-choices-192x192My intent is not to discourage participation in sports or the use of the Internet or other worthwhile activities young people enjoy. They are the kind of activities that require moderation, balance, and wisdom. When used wisely, they enrich our lives.

However, I encourage everyone, young and old, to review goals and objectives and strive to exercise greater discipline. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and distractions. It is especially important to make choices consistent with our covenants to serve Jesus Christ in righteousness.21 We must not take our eyes off or drop that ball for any reason.

This life is the time to prepare to meet God.22 We are a happy, joyous people. We appreciate a good sense of humor and treasure unstructured time with friends and family. But we need to recognize that there is a seriousness of purpose that must undergird our approach to life and all our choices. Distractions and rationalizations that limit progress are harmful enough, but when they diminish faith in Jesus Christ and His Church, they are tragic.

My prayer . . . we will make our conduct consistent with the noble purposes required of those who are in the service of the Master. In all things we should remember that being “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” is the great dividing test between the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms.23 We want to be found on the celestial side of that divide. As one of His Apostles, I bear fervent testimony of the reality of the Atonement and the divinity of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

 

  1. Lee Mendelson-Bill Melendez Production TV Specials.
  1. From the moons of Saturn distracting her to worrying about possible toxic substances in her glove, Lucy always rationalized why she dropped the ball.
  1. See “Decisions Determine Destiny,” chapter 8 in Pathways to Perfection: Discourses of Thomas S. Monson (1973), 57–65.
  1. Isaiah 7:15.
  1. “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces” (William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, act 1, scene 2, lines 12–14).
  1. Doctrine and Covenants 58:27.
  1. See Adjusting to Missionary Life (booklet, 2013), 23–49.
  1. See Stephanie Rosenbloom, “Dealing with Digital Cruelty,” New York Times, Aug. 24, 2014, SR1.
  1. Randall L. Ridd, “The Choice Generation,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 56.
  1. See Doctrine and Covenants 45:26.
  1. See David A. Bednar, “To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood” (speech delivered at BYU Campus Education Week, Aug. 19, 2014); lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/to-sweep-the-earth-as-with-a-flood.
  1. Arthur C. Brooks, “Love People, Not Pleasure,” New York Times, July 20, 2014, SR1.
  1. Unfortunately, one diversion that has increased in our day is pure foolishness. When the Savior enumerated some of the things that can defile man, He included foolishness (see Mark 7:22).
  1. This happened in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as with the Book of Mormon civilizations.
  1. See Frederic W. Farrar, The Life and Work of St. Paul (1898), 302. There were philosophers of all kinds, including Epicureans and Stoics, rival groups who some described as the Pharisees and the Sadducees of the pagan world. See also Quentin L. Cook, “Looking beyond the Mark,” Ensign, Mar. 2003, 41–44; Liahona, Mar. 2003, 21–24.
  1. Acts 17:21.
  1. Acts 17:32.
  1. Farrar, The Life and Work of St. Paul, 312.
  1. See Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 104–8.
  1. Merlin Olsen was a hall of fame football player, actor, and NFL commentator for NBC. He won the Outland Trophy playing football for Utah State University. He played pro football for the Los Angeles Rams. On TV he played Jonathan Garvey opposite Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie and had his own TV program, Father Murphy. Merlin is now deceased (Mar. 11, 2010), and we miss him very much.

 

Religious Freedom 1: Judeo-Christian view of Human Nature understood by Founding Fathers

Religious Freedom 1:

Judeo-Christian view of Human Nature understood by Founding Fathers

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” ~John Adams

Bowing to political correctness, Notre Dame promptly took down this address. So I am posting it in its fulness, in three parts. Unlike phony icons of the Left, William Barr is a real statesman, a man of true integrity. This speech is long and meaty, but well worth studying, and teaching to your family. ~C.D.

William Barr Speech at Notre Dame Part 1

Today, I would like to share some thoughts with you about religious liberty in America. It’s an important priority in this Administration and for this Department of Justice.

religious freedomWe have set up a task force within the Department with different components that have equities in this area, including the Solicitor General’s Office, the Civil Division, the Office of Legal Counsel, and other offices. We have regular meetings. We keep an eye out for cases or events around the country where states are misapplying the Establishment Clause in a way that discriminates against people of faith, or cases where states adopt laws that impinge upon the free exercise of religion.

From the Founding Era onward, there was strong consensus about the centrality of religious liberty in the United States.

The imperative of protecting religious freedom was not just a nod in the direction of piety. It reflects the Framers’ belief that religion was indispensable to sustaining our free system of government.

James Madison

In his renowned 1785 pamphlet, “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” James Madison described religious liberty as “a right towards men” but “a duty towards the Creator,” and a “duty….precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.”

It has been over 230 years since that small group of colonial lawyers led a revolution and launched what they viewed as a great experiment, establishing a society fundamentally different than those that had gone before.

They crafted a magnificent charter of freedom – the United States Constitution – which provides for limited government, while leaving “the People” broadly at liberty to pursue our lives both as individuals and through free associations.

This quantum leap in liberty has been the mainspring of unprecedented human progress, not only for Americans, but for people around the world.

In the 20th century, our form of free society faced a severe test.

There had always been the question whether a democracy so solicitous of individual freedom could stand up against a regimented totalitarian state.

That question was answered with a resounding “yes” as the United States stood up against and defeated, first fascism, and then communism.

But in the 21st century, we face an entirely different kind of challenge.

Threat not from outside the US

American foundersThe challenge we face is precisely what the Founding Fathers foresaw would be our supreme test as a free society.

They never thought the main danger to the republic came from external foes. The central question was whether, over the long haul, we could handle freedom. The question was whether the citizens in such a free society could maintain the moral discipline and virtue necessary for the survival of free institutions.

By and large, the Founding generation’s view of human nature was drawn from the classical Christian tradition.

These practical statesmen understood that individuals, while having the potential for great good, also had the capacity for great evil.

Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large.

No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity.

But, if you rely on the coercive power of government to impose restraints, this will inevitably lead to a government that is too controlling, and you will end up with no liberty, just tyranny.

Madison vs. tyrannyOn the other hand, unless you have some effective restraint, you end up with something equally dangerous – licentiousness – the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good. This is just another form of tyranny – where the individual is enslaved by his appetites, and the possibility of any healthy community life crumbles.

Edmund Burke summed up this point in his typically colorful language:

“Men are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their disposition to put chains upon their appetites…. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.

Men who cannot control their passions cannot be free

 It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

So the Founders decided to take a gamble. They called it a great experiment.

Freedom depends on the Self-Discipline and virtue of the People

Madison-self controlThey would leave “the People” broad liberty, limit the coercive power of the government, and place their trust in self-discipline and the virtue of the American people.

In the words of Madison, “We have staked our future on the ability of each of us to govern ourselves…”

This is really what was meant by “self-government.” It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.

But what was the source of this internal controlling power? In a free republic, those restraints could not be handed down from above by philosopher kings.

Instead, social order must flow up from the people themselves – freely obeying the dictates of inwardly-possessed and commonly-shared moral values. And to control willful human beings, with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will – they must flow from a transcendent Supreme Being.

In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people – a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and man-made law and who had the discipline to control themselves according to those enduring principles.

As John Adams put it, “We have no government armed with the power which is capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.

Our Government made only for a Moral and Religious People

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”~John Adams

As Father John Courtney Murray observed, the American tenet was not that:

John Adams-Constitution morality“Free government is inevitable, only that it is possible, and that its possibility can be realized only when the people as a whole are inwardly governed by the recognized imperatives of the universal moral order.”

How does religion promote the moral discipline and virtue needed to support free government?

First, it gives us the right rules to live by. The Founding generation were Christians. They believed that the Judeo-Christian moral system corresponds to the true nature of man. Those moral precepts start with the two great commandments – to Love God with your whole heart, soul, and mind; and to Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.

But they also include the guidance of natural law – a real, transcendent moral order which flows from God’s eternal law – the divine wisdom by which the whole of creation is ordered. The eternal law is impressed upon, and reflected in, all created things.

From the nature of things we can, through reason, experience, discern standards of right and wrong that exist independent of human will.

Modern secularists dismiss this idea of morality as other-worldly superstition imposed by a kill-joy clergy. In fact, Judeo-Christian moral standards are the ultimate utilitarian rules for human conduct.

They reflect the rules that are best for man, not in the by and by, but in the here and now. They are like God’s instruction manual for the best running of man and human society.

By the same token, violations of these moral laws have bad, real-world consequences for man and society. We may not pay the price immediately, but over time the harm is real.

Religion helps Train People to Do What is Right and Good

Moral Absolutes quoteReligion helps promote moral discipline within society. Because man is fallen, we don’t automatically conform ourselves to moral rules even when we know they are good for us.

But religion helps teach, train, and habituate people to want what is good. It does not do this primarily by formal laws – that is, through coercion. It does this through moral education and by informing society’s informal rules – its customs and traditions which reflect the wisdom and experience of the ages.

In other words, religion helps frame moral culture within society that instills and reinforces moral discipline.

I think we all recognize that over the past 50 years religion has been under increasing attack.

On the one hand, we have seen the steady erosion of our traditional Judeo-Christian moral system and a comprehensive effort to drive it from the public square.

On the other hand, we see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism.

By any honest assessment, the consequences of this moral upheaval have been grim.

Virtually every measure of social pathology continues to gain ground.

In 1965, the illegitimacy rate was eight percent. In 1992, when I was last Attorney General, it was 25 percent. Today it is over 40 percent. In many of our large urban areas, it is around 70 percent.

Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.

As you all know, over 70,000 people die a year from drug overdoses. That is more casualties in a year than we experienced during the entire Vietnam War.

Bitter Fruits of the Secular Age

moral decline graph

Only Staying above world standards is still moral decline

I will not dwell on all the bitter results of the new secular age. Suffice it to say that the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has brought with it immense suffering, wreckage, and misery. And yet, the forces of secularism, ignoring these tragic results, press on with even greater militancy.

Among these militant secularists are many so-called “progressives.” But where is the progress?

We are told we are living in a post-Christian era. But what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the hearts of the individual person? And what is a system of values that can sustain human social life?

The fact is that no secular creed has emerged capable of performing the role of religion.

Scholarship suggests that religion has been integral to the development and thriving of Homo sapiens since we emerged roughly 50,000 years ago. It is just for the past few hundred years we have experimented in living without religion.

We hear much today about our humane values. But, in the final analysis, what undergirds these values? What commands our adherence to them?

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Judeo-Christian Worldview: Parable Lessons with a Warning for Rising Generations—Do Not Be Deceived Deceive Me Not By Gary E. Stevenson As we obey God’s commandments, we will always be led in the right way and will not be deceived. Today, I … Continue reading

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Moral Character Education: Parenting Advice, How to Teach Kids Self-Reliance

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Moral Character Education: Parenting Advice, How to Teach Kids Self-Reliance Resilience—Spiritual Armor for Today’s Youth By Lynn G. Robbins Our children are capable of thriving in the face of today’s challenges. Our charge as parents is to help prepare them … Continue reading

Christian Character, Children’s Literature, and McGuffey Readers

Dinner Topics for Monday

William McGuffey’s Great Educational Legacy

mcguffeyreaderParents and Homeschoolers: These wonderful books not only teach children to read, but provide classic character education as well.

key“The Christian religion, is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions.”[ “From no source has the author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred Scriptures. From all these extracts from the Bible I make no apology.” ~William McGuffey

From Wikipedia

William Holmes McGuffey (September 23, 1800 – May 4, 1873) was an American professor and college president who is best known for writing the McGuffey Readers, one of the nation’s first and most widely used series of textbooks. It is estimated that at least 122 million copies of McGuffey Readers were sold between 1836 and 1960, placing its sales in a category with the Bible and Webster’s Dictionary.

Early years

He was born the son of Alexander and Anna (Holmes) McGuffey near Claysville in Washington County, Pennsylvania, which is 45 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. In 1802 the McGuffey family moved further out into the frontier at Tuscarawas County, Ohio. He attended country school, and after receiving special instruction at Youngstown, he attended Greersburg Academy in Darlington, Pennsylvania. Afterwards, he attended and graduated from Pennsylvania’s Washington College, where he became an instructor.

He was close friends with Washington College’s President Andrew Wylie and lived in Wylie’s house for a time; they often would walk the 3 miles to Washington College together.[1]

Professional life

McGuffey left Washington College in 1826 to become a professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. A year later in 1827, he was married to Harriet Spinning of Dayton, Ohio, with whom he had five children. In 1829, he was ordained at Bethel Chapel as a minister in the Presbyterian Church. It was in Oxford that he created the most important contribution of his life: The McGuffey Readers. His books sold over 122 million copies. He was very fond of teaching and children as he geared the books toward a younger audience.

In 1836, he left Miami to become president of Cincinnati College, where he also served as a distinguished teacher and lecturer. He left Cincinnati in 1839 to become the 4th president of Ohio University, which he left in 1843 to become president of Woodward College (really a secondary school) in Cincinnati.

In 1845, McGuffey moved to Charlottesville, Virginia where he became Professor of Philosophy at the University of Virginia. A year after his first wife Harriet died in 1850, he married Miss Laura Howard, daughter of Dean Howard of the University of Virginia, in 1851. McGuffey is buried in the university burial ground, in Charlottesville, Virginia. The School of Education at Miami University is housed in McGuffey Hall which is named for him and his home in Oxford is a National Historic Landmark offering tours on weekdays.

Legacy

McGuffey is credited with the following quotation:

McGuffey“The Christian religion, is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions.”[2]

The McGuffey School District in Washington County, Pennsylvania is named for William Holmes McGuffey. The industrialist Henry Ford cited McGuffey Readers as one of his most important childhood influences. In 1934 he had the log cabin where McGuffey was born moved to Greenfield Village, Ford’s museum of Americana at Dearborn, Michigan.

 More about William McGuffey in Wikipedia

 

 

Judeo-Christian Worldview: Moral Compass Theme Quotes

Judeo-Christian Worldview:

Moral Compass Theme Quotes

Moral Compass Quotes

If we continue to teach about tolerance and intolerance instead of good and evil, we will end up with tolerance of evil. ~Dennis Prager

He that thinks absolute power purifies men’s blood and corrects the baseness of human nature, need only read history to be convinced to the contrary. ~John Locke

Courage to Stand

Christ has not called us to be nice but to be good. Nice people never confront evil, but good people do. ~Bryan Fischer

“It is a time of permissiveness, with society in general routinely disregarding and breaking the laws of God.” ~Thomas S. Monson

Always and ever, there must be an exercise of discipline—moral discipline founded on faith in God the Father and the Son and what They can achieve with us through the atoning grace of Jesus Christ. ~D. Todd Christofferson

But behold he doth not command us that we shall subject ourselves to our enemies, but that we should put our trust in him, and he will deliver us. Therefore, . . . let us resist evil. ~Alma 61: 13-14

We have lost our moral compass completely, and, unless we find it, we’re going to lose our civilization. ~John Rhys-Davies (Gimli in Lord of the Rings)

Discernment and Judgement

“We live in a time when even the wisest will be hard-pressed to distinguish truth from clever deception.” ~Henry B. Eyring

Remember: sin, even if legalized by man, is still sin in the eyes of God! ~Russell M. Nelson

We live in an age of appeasement—the sacrificing of principle. Appeasement is not the answer. It is never the right answer. ~Ezra Taft Benson

Evolution has a lot of holes filled with Silly Putty, but the one gaping wound they cannot hide is the Moral Law. ~Keith Merrill

Judgmentthe spirit of wisdom . . . .enabling a person to discern [choose] between right and wrong, good and evil. ~Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828,

¶Beware of afalse prophets, which come to you in bsheep’s clothing, but cinwardly they are ravening dwolves.  Ye shall aknow them by their bfruits. ~Matthew 7:15-16

For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.~  2 Nephi 28:20

Therefore my people are gone into captivity because they have no knowledge.

~Isaiah 5:13

Integrity

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. ~James 1:8

Disregard for the commandments has opened the way for what I consider to be the plagues of our day. They include the plague of permissiveness, the plague of pornography, the plague of drugs, the plague of immorality, and the plague of abortion, to name just a few. ~Thomas S. Monson

We need to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation. we need [to have] a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and [to] use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation. Russell M. Nelson

“True greatness is never a result of a chance occurrence or a onetime effort or achievement. Greatness requires the development of character. It requires a multitude of correct decisions in every day choices between good and evil that Elder Boyd K Packer spoke about when he said, ‘Over the years these little choices will be bundled together and show clearly what we value.’ “Those choices will also show clearly what we are.” ~Howard W. Hunter

Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. ~Edmund Burke

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. ~Proverbs 20:7

All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; my lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. God forbid. Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. ~Job 27:3-5

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” ~Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
~Abraham Lincoln

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~John Adams

 

Truth vs. Deception

We need [men and] women who can detect deception in all of its forms. ~Russell M. Nelson

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. ~Matthew 24:24

Beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes. ~Neil L. Andersen

“The face of sin today often wears the mask of tolerance. Do not be deceived; behind that facade is heartache, unhappiness, and pain. … If your so-called friends urge you to do anything you know to be wrong, you be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone.” ~Thomas S. Monson

Tolerance for behavior is like a two-sided coin. Tolerance or respect is on one side of the coin, but truth is always on the other. ~ Dallin H. Oaks

Perhaps the best example [of moral relativism] is the self-esteem movement. It has had an almost wholly negative effect on a generation of Americans raised to have high self-esteem without having earned it. They then suffer from narcissism and an incapacity to deal with life’s inevitable setbacks. But self-esteem feels good. ~Dennis Prager

We believe in absolute truth, including the existence of God and the right and wrong established by His commandments. We know that the existence of God and the existence of absolute truth are fundamental to life on this earth, whether they are believed in or not. We also know that evil exists and that some things are simply, seriously, and everlastingly wrong. ~ Dallin H. Oaks

 

 

Parenting Tips: Teaching Peace

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

“Peace-ability”

Parenting Value: Anger Management

 

Richard and Linda Eyre

teenagerSonAndMomkey“Calmness. Peacefulness. Serenity. The tendency to try to accommodate rather than argue. The understanding that differences are seldom resolved through conflict and that meanness in others is an indication of their problem or insecurity and thus of their need for your understanding. The ability to understand how others feel rather than simply reaction to them. Control of temper.”

Sample Method for Preschoolers: The Magazine Game

This game helps small children realize that it is all right to feel mad or sad, just as it is all right to feel happy or glad, but that it is not all right to hurt other people or their feelings because of how we feel. Flip through magazines with a child, stopping every time a person is pictured and asking, “How do you think he feels?” (Happy, jealous, worried, etc. — this is also a chance to teach children new words and the names of new emotions.) Then say, “It is okay to feel this way?” (Yes) Then say, “Is it okay to be mean to someone else if you feel mad or sad?” (No!)

Sample Method for Elementary Age: The Color Game

This is a good way to teach younger elementary-aged children the good consequences of peace and the bad consequences of anger and retaliation. Cut out two single figures in the human shape, one from red paper and one from pastel color. Tell the children that the red represents temper and impatience, the pastel is control and peace. Give them a situation and let them tell you what each figure might do in each of the following situations:

  • Your alarm clock doesn’t go off, so you’re going to be late for school.
  • You’re playing basketball and you get called for a foul you didn’t think you committed.
  • Your friend forgets to meet you for lunch.
  • Your little brother flips you with a rubber band.
  • Your mom says you can’t have a sleep over because there’s school tomorrow.
  • The new pen you just bought won’t work.

And so on. Think of your own, based on your own experiences.

Sample method for Adolescents: The “Analytical-of-Angry” Discussion

Help young teenagers conceptualize the benefits of trying to “understand” rather than trying to “win.” At dinner or some other natural conversation time make the statement that we have many situations in which there is a choice between two A words — arguing or analyzing. In other words, when someone does something to us or says something with which we disagree, we can either fight back and argue or we can try to analyze why he did or said it.

Point out the second choice is better because we learn something whenever we try to figure out why, and we keep our cool and keep our friends.