Archive for the Virtue Category

Mom, Dad, I’m Sorry..

Mar 20th, 2009 Posted in Family, Men's Ministry, Virtue | no comment »
D-Day

D-Day

My father was born in 1933 just after the giddy height of the 1920’s had worn off and the Great Depression had gripped the United States. By the time of my Dad’s birth, the world economy was in turmoil and 1300 banks in the U.S. had closed. An additional four and one half million people lost their jobs, in a population of 125 million and now more than 30 million Americans had no income. Herbert Hoover had seemed unable to act, and Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, exacerbating an already established global recession. In 1932 F.D.R. arrived with massive bailout plans designed to shore up the economy, and the effect of some of these plans are felt yet today. Overseas, three men were planning to change the face of the political landscape, Hitler in Germany, Stalin in Russia, and Mao Zedong in China.

In the later 1930’s, Chamberlain returned from a summit with Hitler and proclaimed, “..we have peace in our time, peace with honor”; it was neither. As country after country fell in front of the Nazi war machine, America watched and readied herself, sending aid to a Britain struggling against the German aggressor. When my father was eight years of age, the Japanese hit us at Pearl Harbor, dragging a now awakened bear from its den. America was at war.

By 1944, 12 million Americans were in uniform and 19 million more people were back at work, 35 percent of them were women. This nation was immersed in the war, from the front to the back, and they won. This generation knew the intense humility and privation that the Great Depression brought, they lived through the hard work of rebuilding this nation, they saw so many of their friends, so many aspiring scientists, musicians, mathematicians, farmers, that didn’t make it past their very early twenties, who gave their all to this country. Millions of men and women were involved in this fight through poverty and riches, adversity and achievement, and from defeat to triumph. This generation of men and women kept our way of life alive for their children through personal sacrifice. Thank you Mom and Dad, thank you Grandma and Grandpa, and I would like to apologize to you for not learning what I should have so that I could be this strong in my generation. (As an aside, I’d like to apologize to my kids as well, because we are doing the opposite of what our parents did; we are tearing this country down to feed our gluttony and leaving you scraps to rebuild with).

Here’s my question: Where are these men and women today? We are faced with what could be the beginnings of a depression, there are many questions where international violence is concerned, and many domestic programs are in jeopardy. I fear that our parents fought for this country and we inherited it, said, “thank you very much”, and went and sat on the couch.. and stayed there. We took their long-suffering and turned it into a need for immediate gratification, accepted their endurance and twisted it into expectation, and received the benefit of their toil and eroded it until we became apathetic. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning

Nov 10th, 2007 Posted in Virtue | no comment »

“If a man empties his purse into his head, no-one can take it from him.”

1. The acquisition of knowledge or skill

Those who educate children well are to be more honored than parents, for these only gave life, those the art of living well. – Aristotle

To think of learning as a preparation for something beyond learning is a defeat of the process. The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning. – Daniel Bell

Learning makes a man fit company for himself. – Young

It seems obvious to me that learning must be life-long but it isn’t obvious to everyone. Life doesn’t get easier over time, but individual issues can become simplified if you learn. Learning from life provides deep and organic learning. The “ditches in our mind” seem to be cut most deeply by the rushing headwaters of heartbreak and great pain. When learning is painful, it sticks with us for a lifetime. The key of course is to consider it learning, looking past the pain to gain insight. Read the rest of this entry »

Integrity

Nov 9th, 2007 Posted in Virtue | no comment »

“Find what’s right, and do it loudly.” (Orrick)

1. The quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standards
2. The state of being complete or undivided

It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe. – Thomas Paine

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. – Martin Luther King, Jr

I learned that falsifying this one fact about my life made me feel phony, ridiculous, complicit, and, worst of all, undermined by my own hand. – Gloria Steinem

These quotes are all correct, and insightful, but the balance of my opinions I have shamelessly purloined from Dr. Stephen L. Carter, author of the book Integrity. If you do not own a copy of this book, buy it, read it, and read it every year until you shuffle off this mortal coil – I cannot recommend it enough. Read the rest of this entry »

Humility

Nov 8th, 2007 Posted in Virtue | no comment »

“Imitate Jesus and Socrates.”

1. Modest and unassuming in attitude and behavior
2. Feeling or showing respect and deference toward other people
3. Relatively low in rank and without pretensions

Humility is not a peculiar habit of self-effacement, rather like having an inaudible voice, it is a selfless respect for reality and one of the most difficult and central of all the virtues. – Iris Murdoch

If you hear that someone is speaking ill of you, instead of trying to defend yourself you should say: “He obviously does not know me very well, since there are so many other faults he could have mentioned.” – Epictetus

Blame yourself as you would blame others; excuse others as you would excuse yourself. – Chinese proverb

Franklin’s advice is simple and direct – imitate two people who were known to have the virtue of humility. The quotes suggest some of the qualities of humility; respect for your position in the Universe, self-effacing humor, treating yourself as you’d have others treat you, and so forth. In order to get Franklin’s point, we’ll have to take a look at the lives of both Socrates and Christ. Read the rest of this entry »

Chastity

Nov 7th, 2007 Posted in Virtue | no comment »

“Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your or another’s peace or reputation.”

1. The pursuit of or indulgence in sexual pleasure

Each coming together of man and wife, even if they have been mated for many years, should be a fresh adventure; each winning should necessitate a fresh wooing. – Marie Stopes

It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance. Therefore much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lecher. – William Shakespeare

Its (pornography) avowed purpose is to excite sexual desire, which, I should have thought, is unnecessary in the case of the young, inconvenient in the case of the middle aged, and unseemly in the old.– Malcolm Muggeridge

Franklin’s opinion on a volatile subject is clear – minimize sexual contact in every situation. The addition of other concepts seems almost an afterthought; he knew that abstinence was unlikely. Moderation is seen in the last part of the phrase, as well as the admonishment that acting on this strong urge can result in grave harm to relationships and social standing. Read the rest of this entry »