I’m very lucky with my children — and I do think it’s because I raise the children with morals, not just rules

My daughter and her brother fight a lot; both of them give me way too much push-back at bedtime; and they’d rather play on computers than do their homework.  Having said that, I realize when I talk to other parents how lucky I am with my children.  What I’ve described are behaviors.  We all have them.  But what makes my kids so great is that they both have a strong moral core.  They may do stupid and irritating things, but they’ll never do bad or destructive things.

One of the things behind that, I believe, is that I tend to focus on Big Ideas.  One of my pet peeves with public school in our area is that it eschews big ideas.  Everything has to be self-referential.  You learn Shakespeare by having the kids do a project where they “re-imagine” Romeo and Juliet in their own high school.  You read books that are all about feelings.  All of the books have messages about liking yourself, or not bullying, or not committing crimes, but none are premised on Big Ideas.  All of them revolve around social dynamics (nice kids will support you, bad kids will hurt you) or getting the correct feeling about what you’re doing.

These books are kind of like Google Map instructions.  You print them up, and they tell you drive 1.2 miles, then make a left turn onto the freeway, then take the 2nd exit and make a right turn at the bottom, etc.  They’re very helpful for that particular situation, but they give you no guidance should you make a wrong turn.  Their very specificity renders them useless at that point.  Having a big map, or even a compass (North?  I’m supposed to be heading north?!) enables you to deal with all situations.

Although my children have been resistant to reading the classics, I feel it is incumbent upon me to talk about Big Ideas.  “Don’t bully” is a rule, not a moral principle.  Discussing with them the differences between Hillel’s and Jesus’s formulation of the Golden Rule has vast moral implications, though.  I find both formulations morally fascinating.  Hillel said “Do not do unto others as you do not wish them to do unto you.”  Jesus said “Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you.”  Both versions have profound and important implications for good behavior in a functioning society.  Both offer guidance.  Each needs serious thought to understand and apply.

Girls today, who are bombarded with faked up images of luscious women, and who are told to hate men but to have sex with them at the drop of a hat, get very limited fare when it comes to dealing with these pressures.  Their books have the distraught “ugly” girl who somehow manages to triumph in the end over mean popular girls.  They’re fun to read, but I defy you to find me a real girl who can use the tactics in the books to her own advantage in the real pressure cooker of a real high school.

I grew up reading Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (a book I doubt any Marin girl has ever read), and found it a very useful moral guide.  Jo and her sisters grapple with poverty, social pressure, impulsive teenage behavior, and poor-decision making, but they do so at a deep moral level.  They don’t triumph because they’re more clever; they triumph, sometimes after years, because they look at their values and determine what is most important to them — and believe me, it’s not being skinny and in with the in-crowd.

Jane Austen’s comedies of manners are also deeply concerned with core values.  Elizabeth and Darcy find each other because, when push comes to shove, they follow the correct societal values.  Elizabeth tries to tame a wayward sister; Darcy comes to the aid of the woman he loves, because he believes that he failed her morally when he did not warn her about Wickham’s true character.  Both come to realize that they were blinded by superficial behaviors, and recognize the other’s moral worth.  Certainly manners matter.  But the fact that Austen’s books include villains who abuse manners as a method of taking advantage of young women too foolish or emotional to separate moral wheat from immoral chaff is core to each of her stories.  They’re not about mere rules, although they take place in a rather rigid, rule-bound society.  They are about core principles that transcend class.

Anyway, today is a funeral day for one of my Mom’s old friends, so I am off, and won’t be back for hours.

Please consider this an open thread.

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  1. Mike Devx says

    Ron, on #33,
    I did not say that the Bible was corrupt, nor that Jesus was corrupt, nor the Apostles, nor the early Church.
    I claimed that the Church of the Middle Ages was corrupt, and too many of the Popes of that era were corrupt.
    To me, you are arguing something different.
    Similarly, when you claim that because I think Obama is corrupt, I think the Constitution must be corrupt… that’s a comparison I don’t accept.    A comparison on the Pope and the Church being corrupt would be Obama and his Administration being corrupt – and that is a comparison that would hold true.  Your equating Obama to the Constitution would be like equating the Pope’s corruption to the Bible’s corruption, and that wouldn’t have anything to do with my argument.  I don’t think Obama makes the Constitution corrupt, and I don’t think any corruot Pope makes the Bible corrupt.

  2. Mike Devx says

    Ron, I still believe the Middle Ages church was corrupt, no matter how much you accuse me of blasphemy instead of holding the same opinions as Martin Luther.  His points were not bigotry, and nor are Ymar’s, and mine are not either.
    I believe indulgences are documented facts of those times.  They were corrupt practices.
    I doubt that it is was considered blasphemy to consider the Pope near-divine.  I know many Catholics even in the mid-20th Century considered the Pope infallible due to his closer relationship to God.  They were NOT being blasphemous, except perhaps by the opinion of some – such as yourself – who hold to a particular doctrine.  Obviously many Catholics did not share that particular doctrine.
    Your welcome to your particular set of beliefs, and certainly can call diversions from your beliefs blasphemous if you wish.  But hopefully you can see that as a form of argument, declaring blasphemy doesn’t accomplish anything.

  3. Ron19 says

    Dear Mike:
    You are correct, I am arguing something different, namely, that in spite of corrupt people in the Church during the Middle Ages or any other time, the Church itself was not and is not corrupt.
    I did not claim that you think Obama is corrupt, rather, I asked a rhetorical question that I apparently should have answered myself.  I do not think that the Constitution is perfect, but I do not think it is corrupt.
    The Church and its administration are two different things.  The United States of America is not Obama and his administration.

  4. Ron19 says

    Dear Mike:
    “my Church” is a problem concept in the US and the world.  Your definition of it and my definition of it are obviously different, and there are tens of thousands of official, semi-official, and local or private definitions in the US alone.  And so, my set of beliefs is not your set of beliefs; you are just as welcome to believe your set of beliefs as you say that I am welcome to believe my set of beliefs.
    Ron19, I personally would be very happy to see your list, and an explanation of your beliefs in that area.
    What I gave you was an abbreviated list, but it was at least a partial start on what I believe.  The BookwormRoom.com reply box is not big enough for all of it spelled out in detail, so I gave you some references where you could find out more about the parts you are truly interested in.  Most of it is available at Amazon, which you can reach through Bookworm’s portal.  Much of that list and the one below has been thoroughly checked for possible errors vs. the Bible and Church (my Church) teaching of two millennia.
    I’ve also thought of some more items that could go on that list:
    The Baltimore Catechism, Vols. 1-4.  This set of books from 1885 is something that was used to teach us in grade school, in the 50’s and 60’s. 
    The Catholic Encyclopedia, one version of which is maintained on line by http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/ 
    The Fathers of the Church, also maintained online by http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/ 
    Christian Prayer by Catholic Book Publishing Co, also available as a free mobile app by Laudate.com from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aycka.apps.MassReadings with other things, such as daily Mass readings, prayers, the Rosary, Stations of the Cross, and many more.
    The books and encyclicals of the Popes and Councils, including the Council of Jerusalem mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles.
    The Seven Precepts of the Catholic Church.
    Comment #46 above.
    Someone who disagrees with me is Loraine Boettner in his book, Roman Catholicism.  An excellent analysis of this book is Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn.
    Mike, what does your list look like?
    WLIJC, Ron19

  5. Ron19 says

    From  http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2013/11/11/Vatican-Reporter-John-Allen-on-the-Francis-Effect-and-the-War-on-Christians 
    Vatican Reporter John Allen on the Francis Effect and the War on Christians
    On the persecution and murder of Christians around the world, and what impact Pope Francis can have on that:
    “The election of Francis, alas, didn’t fundamentally change the dynamic of the early 21st century, which is that Christians around the world are getting their teeth kicked in. Now, one would hope that the popularity and political capital of this pope provides him a platform from which to engage this issue. My suspicion would be that, as we go on, he’s going to do that.”
    On what can be done at a grassroots level:
    “We’ve got to steal a page from the Jewish community. If there is a swastika spray-painted on a synagogue anywhere in the world tonight, by tomorrow morning the global Jewish community will have raised holy hell about it, and God bless them for doing that. They’re absolutely right to do that.”
    On why the mainstream media has paid little attention to the destruction of Christian churches and the murders of believers, from Nigeria to Morocco to Egypt to Syria to Pakistan to Indonesia:
    “Listen, you and I are both media people; we know the power of narratives in shaping the way that we in the media approach stories. The narrative about Christianity is that it is this big, massive, rich, politically wired institution that controls everything, which makes it very hard for media people to get their minds around the idea that Christians could actually be the victims of persecution, as opposed to the inflicters of it.
    “The problem with this narrative is it doesn’t do justice to reality. Two-thirds of the 2.3 billion Christians in the world today live outside the West. The majority of them are poor. They are often members of ethnic, linguistic and cultural minorities, so they’re doubly or triply at risk. That’s the reality on the ground, who Christians are today.
    “So we’ve got to change the narrative. Once a narrative has taken hold, the hardest thing in the world to do is to dislodge it. But that’s the task we’re up against. The good thing about Francis is he’s got a kick-ass narrative. Bear in mind what I said about changing narratives. This narrative, having been set, it’s going to be very difficult to dislodge it.”
    On the big picture:
    “The big picture would be, if you and I had opened a betting line eight months ago on the idea that, within a year, the most popular figure on the planet would be the pope of the Catholic Church, I would think the odds would have been fairly long.”

  6. Mike Devx says

    I will have to read through your comments more carefully this weekend.  (I’m up with a bad stomach and ran across the comments that I’d missed).
    I suspect at first glance that we are using words that mean different things, is all.  You separate out the Church from the Church administration; I have tended to view it all monolithically.  But, more later.

  7. says

    Those who refuse to recognize the truth or that opposing views are in any way valid, make the same mistake as the Popes making money from indulgences. They see only what is glittering in front of their eyes.
    Their faith is inferior to the Apostles and the Saints of Ancient days.
    They who cannot and will not change themselves, but prefer for the world to change in accordance to their prejudices and preconceptions, is not as close to God’s Grace or Will as the common masses think.

  8. Ron19 says

    You have my sympathy.
    Fran and I came down with a bad case of the flu a few weeks ago.  It was temporarily devastating, and mild effects are still lingering.
    You are in my prayers for a better recovery.
    A common language is a real handicap when discussing two different sets of religious beliefs.

  9. Mike Devx says

    That is actually rather funny but true, Ron19: “A common language is a real handicap…”
    What happens is you make assumptions that you are sharing the same *definitions*, when you’re not.  For example, if you and I were to write a paragraph defining “The Church”, they would likely be very differnt definitions.  Or perhaps we even have different definitions of “indulgences”…  I will read more carefully later this week; work beckons.
    Thank you for the kind words, but it was just a mildly bad stomach, only the sort of thing that, once you’re awake, means you’re not going back to sleep!  Everything is fine.

  10. says

    I don’t care who people think they are or even what they believe in. Those that attempt to exert their authority on me will find out it doesn’t work the way it does with powerless kids and people staring at a gun.
    Whether people did it in the past or are they doing it here, makes no difference to me. The more they keep on the path, the more their status of “human” gets removed. Until at a certain point, my judgment is Final. There will be no revision later.

  11. says

    I’ll add a little side observation. Ron isn’t defending the Catholic Church, the Pope, or following doctrine bulls or recommendations perpetuating the Faith from my pov. Ron’s responses have made me think worst of Catholic followers and those obedient to Authority, given how frantic they are to defend their ethics. Now if the Pope were here, I might have a solid conversation with him, but he as the Authority isn’t present. So all that are left are his followers.
    All Ron can do is make people like me an enemy of the Church, whatever people mean by “Church”. Whether that’s a good idea or not… well, I suppose Authority has yet to conclude a study on that matter.
    I judge an organization not only on the strength of their individual beliefs but also on the conduct of their followers as well as their leaders. Comparing and contrasting whether what they say matches what they do.

  12. Ron19 says

    Ymarsakar #62:
    All Ron can do is make people like me an enemy of the Church…
    Ymarsakar #20, containing several anti-Catholic points:
    The Catholic church used to operate under an authoritarian model as well. People weren’t able to read the bible because it was only in Latin. They had to rely on priests and bishops to tell them what the Bible, God, said. So essentially all the decrees and doctrines came from human hands, not a divine connection between God and man. The bureaucrats were the middle men and they got fat and corrupt in time.
    My first comment was #21; so how did I make Ymarsakar an enemy of the Church in his earlier comment?

  13. Ron19 says

    Ymarsakar #62:
    All Ron can do is make people like me an enemy of the Church…
    So you’re finally acknowledging that I control your thoughts and, subsequently, your actions.


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