Parents, Families, and Kin: A Father’s Day Homily

Two weeks ago a bishopric counselor asked me to prepare a talk for the upcoming Father’s Day sacrament meeting. Now, I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have some problems with our current (and past) discourse on gender, sex, and gender roles. These problems are trenchant, and definitely not the mere product of self-consciously sexist attitudes on the part of current LDS leaders (indeed, sexist attitudes are much more the products how we talk about these topics and the kinds of things that our talk about them takes for granted). Still there have been some important shifts in the past generation.

Setting aside, for the time being, the question of Church administrative hierarchy and structural injustices (which are certainly problems) the language of familial patriarchy has been placed, in recent decades, alongside an emerging language of parental equality within the home. Emphasizing the equality of spouses and of parents was a central and persistent theme of President Hinckley’s ministry. The complementarity of husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, is framed in the language of equal partnership; wives are not subservient to husbands who make unilateral decisions, and fathers are not rarely-present figureheads who merely enforce the domestic regulations of mothers. Additionally, the shift in our discourse on parenting roles parallels a shift in how society more broadly models parental relationships.

For these two reasons, the shift in the way that church leaders and church members talk about the roles of mothers and fathers, as well as the simple reality that families which fit the 1950s model of father-working-mother-homemaking are increasingly rare—in short, because we are called upon, both as an ideal as well as by practical realities, to be equal partners in the home, I chose to focus my talk not on fatherhood per se but on the importance of family relationships and on the blessings that come from fixing our attention on our roles, duties, opportunities, and commitments within our families and our homes, over and against the distracting concerns of the world. I hoped to more fully tease out the meaning of the now familiar admonition that successes in the world cannot compensate for failures in the home. What are the key differences between our family lives and our lives outside, in the world? Why is what happens in our homes and families so much more important that what happens outside, our work, our civic participation, even our church service, and not just for at home parents but for all of us?

I believe the answers Mormonism provides to these questions are made clearest against the backdrop of what the world teaches, and has taught for many centuries, about human nature and the nature of our relationships and interactions. Modern political philosophies and economic theories, across the ideological spectrum, presume two things about human nature. These presumptions are taken as the foundational truths upon which our entire system of life and the philosophical traditions which sustain it, from politics and education to economics and recreation, are built:

1) Human beings are inherently greedy and depraved, avaricious and contentious, ruthless and animal-like in their pursuit of self-interest.

2) Unless the unruly human animal is somehow governed, it will reduce the world to absolute anarchy—either by a system of monarchical domination in which natural human self interest is restrained by an external power, or by a self-organizing system of free and equal powers, a republican democracy, in which the opposition of particular interests regulates and reconciles them to the common interest.

These two ideas, of a depraved human nature and of the necessity of governing if through either authoritarian hierarchy or oppositional equilibrium, debatable though they are, nevertheless run like a red thread through our philosophical heritage and not only underlie our modern political order but constitute a totalizing metaphysical order, with the same basic structure of elemental units of competing self interest found in the organization of the universe as well as the atom, our cities and markets as well as our bodies and minds.

A brief and cursory sketch of the intellectual heritage of Modern Western theories of political economy provides a sense for how powerfully influential and nearly universal these two ideas about human nature have been, and how they have acquired virtually unquestioned, taken-for-granted status in our shared imagination. Plato spoke in The Republic of “the self-advantage which every creature by nature” pursues. Aristotle described human nature in similarly lurid terms: “Appetite is by nature unlimited, and the majority of mankind live for the satisfaction of appetite.” He continues, describing Man as “a wild animal…for appetite is like a wild animal and passion warps the rule of the best men.” Hesiod believed that, in the absence of imposed justice, people would devour one another: “wretched and godless…cheat their…parents…destroy [each other's] towns…praise the bad and insolent…might will be right…harsh-voiced and sullen-faced and loving harm, envy will walk along with wretched man.” In Hesiod’s account of the universe, there is no order without supremacy and hierarchy, thus humankind had to have its nature subdued by Zeus and the gods. And Plutarch writes that Solon believed, despite the objections of his friends, that the natural rapaciousness of self-interested citizens could indeed be checked by written laws.

Thucydides described a violent civil war at Corcyra in which humanity’s depraved nature was on full display: “human nature, always rebelling against law and now its master, gladly showed itself ungoverned…above respect for justice…the enemy of all.” “The cause of all these evils,” he continued, “was the lust for power arising from greed and ambition, and from these passions proceeded the violence…” He also asserted that humanity was destined to forever repeat such tragic sufferings “so long as human nature remained the same.” Thucydides’ account is significant, not just in the detail with which it describes humanity’s natural depravity, but for its influence. The political philosopher Thomas Hobbes would be the first to translate Thucydides’ work into English and the Greek historian’s vision of human nature would directly shape Hobbes’ defense of authoritarian government as a check against it. Thucydides’ account would also influence John Adams, who would propose a decidedly different solution to the exact same problem.

Before looking at Hobbes and Adams in more detail, we should note as well a strong and influential medieval tradition in which humanity’s wildly avaricious nature was wedded to the doctrine of original sin. Here, our contemptible and ferociously self-interested nature was explained as a consequence of the Fall, of the disobedience of our first parents. As inheritors of this depraved nature, we also share culpability for it. The solution to the problem of culpability was baptism, preferably as quickly as possible after birth to remove the stain of original sin. The solution to the problem arising from the threat that human savagery would continue to rear its ugly head after baptism was, of course, monarchical power, kingly rule by divine right. Medieval thinkers from Augustine and Aquinas to Dante and St. John Chrysostom (who wrote that if you took away our rulers “we would live a life less rational than animals, biting and devouring each other”) tie our shared natural depravity with the transgression of Adam and Eve as well as to the need for authoritarian rule.

Such thinking reached its apogee in the writings of Hobbes, who in Leviathan described a human “state of nature” in which all are permanently at war with all. Hobbes’ solution was a uniquely powerful Sovereign who would hold the human race in perpetual awe and check our natural dispositions with fearful coercion. Adams accepted Hobbes’ (and by extension Thucydides’) dismal view of human nature, but proposed an alternate solution to the problem. Drawing on a philosophical tradition which drew from the experience of the early medieval republics of Italy as well as emerging traditions in the Anglo-American Enlightenment, and in particular reaching into the classical tradition, Adams argued (in an essay entitled “All men would be tyrants if they could”) that all men would be tyrants if they could:

…every Man, who has ever read a treatise upon Morality, or conversed with the World…must have often made [the observation]…that the selfish Passions are stronger than the Social, and that the former would always prevail over the latter in any Man, left to the natural Emotions of his own Mind, unrestrained and unchecked by other Power extrinsic to himself.

The solution was a government of counterbalancing powers. As opposing interests clashed and competed, their destructive dispositions would be transformed into beneficial effects. Adams advocated a republican form of polybian mixed government, reserving sovereignty to the people after the manner of Athenian democracy, but combining democracy, oligarchy, and monarchy in a single system. The power of the popularly elected lower house would be counterpoised against that of the natural aristocracy of wealth in the Senate, with both opposed by a single executive authority. Each of these powers, if left alone, would resort to tyranny, but poised against one another, the resulting opposition and rivalry would produce domestic tranquility.

A similar view of the generally beneficent effects of individual self pursuit was laid out, on the plane of economic production and commerce rather than politics, on the eve of the American revolution by Adam Smith. His was a world in which the aggregate effects of the pursuit of individual self interest on the part of all would work like a great Invisible Hand to the benefit of all as well as to the maximal production of wealth.

It is worth noting that Adams’ vision of political ideals and Smith’s outline of economic imperatives have shaped almost the entirety of subsequent debates and practices, not just in the US but in the sphere of global governance and economics. Much as we are conditioned to believe that there are enormous differences between our current political and economic ideologies (there aren’t) and much as the parties involved would like to claim Smith and Adams as their exclusive intellectual heritage, the fact is that politics and economics today are debated well within the parameters laid out by these to great thinkers. It’s also worth pointing out that the mainstream, orthodox political and economic theories of our time all presume a model of human nature that aligns with the longstanding traditions I’ve outlined here. Human beings are self-interested, avaricious, greedy beings who rationally and ruthlessly pursue their own personal increase at the expense of other actors. Such values have been normalized, rationalized, even celebrated by the dominant ideologies of our time, and find their fullest expression in the abstracted, generic figure of the Shareholder, whose interests market actors are conditioned to identify with, and in whose unbridled interests managers are legally mandated to act.

I have presented this (admittedly oversimplified) history if only to illustrate the degree to which the notion of a relentless, aggressive, self-interested and self-aggrandizing human nature has taken root in our collective imagination. Yet alternatives do exist, conceptions of the human condition undreamed of in our received philosophies of human nature. If the received wisdom revolves around self-interest, what does it then mean when the terms “self” and “interest” apply not to individuals but to transpersonal relationships?

Kinship, family relations, represent an entirely different plane of human action and interaction, in which the conventional myths of a depraved and self-interested human nature have no obvious place or purchase. Family and kindred relations are the source of our most meaningful experiences, our deepest sentiments and most lasting attachments. They govern who we are in ways that our economic and political relations could never dream to match. Our modern ideas about human nature are in fact culturally specific (though it is a spreading culture) and the products of our particular histories. Yet kinship is the one true universal of human sociality. One would think that our notions of human nature would begin at home, in our families, yet that would yield something far removed from self-interest since family is the place where charity truly obtains.

There is some acknowledgment of this in our intellectual and philosophical tradition. Both Plato and Augustine described ideal human societies as ones based on kinship. Greater yet was Aristotle’s formulation of kinship as the basis for all human social relations in Nichomachean Ethics:

Parents then love their children as being themselves (for those sprung from them are, as it were, other selves of theirs, resulting from the separation), children love parents as being what they have grown from, and brothers each other by virtue of their having grown from the same sources: for the self-sameness of their relation to those produces the same with each other… They are, then, the same entity in a way, even though in different subjects…

Kinship is a mutual relationship of being. Family members are in a very real sense members of one another. If you are a member of my family, then my relationship to you is intrinsic to my own existence. The “self” is something that exists not just within you as a discreet entity, but is diffused among those most closely related to you. A part of your self exists, not just metaphorically but in reality, in others. In a universe characterized by familial relationships, there is no such thing as “self-interest” in the modern political or economic sense of the term. Kinship and kindness have the same roots. We participate in one another’s being, we share purpose and essence.

Familial relationships also defy the basic logic of our modern politics and economics in other key ways. Whereas the latter focus so much attention on the rational pursuit of self interest and the imperatives of efficient productivity, family life is utterly different. We commit the resources and time and energy we do into our family responsibilities with no regard for rational calculation, for a measurable return on our investment, or for something like efficiency. Maybe when it comes to small tasks like changing a diaper or loading a dishwasher quickly we strive for a degree of efficiency, but when it comes to the serious work, to teaching our children what they need navigate the world, to cultivating strong loving bonds between spouses, to instilling values, to pursuing happiness together, to caring for those we love and ensuring they feel our love—when it comes to these pursuits, our successes and failures (and there are always both) are not measurable with the logic of accounting, of returns on investment, of efficiency or workplace productivity. These are the most important, most fulfilling, and most meaningful things we will do in this world, and they utterly defy the logic of rational, efficient pursuit of self-interest. They reveal in us our true nature, a nature starkly alternative to that imagined in our political culture or our debates over economic policy.

The fullness of the Gospel tells us a completely different story about who we are, our nature, and our destiny. It tells us that there is no Original Sin, that our competitive, ruthless, self-interested dispositions were not inherited from our fallen first parents but were taught to humanity by Satan, who convinced Cain that any act, even one which took innocent life, was justified if it led to an increase in property. Cain, who was not his brother’s keeper in their dog eat dog world, gloried in his victory as he took possession over Abel’s property, claimed it made him free (as we are all taught to equate the control of property with freedom, and increased property with increased freedom).

The gospel tells us that we are to understand ourself first and foremost in terms of familial relationships, as sons and daughters of Abraham, of Adam and Eve, of Heavenly Parents. Adam never refers to Him as God, but only always simply as Father. We are taught that our family ties define who we are, and define who we will become. That families not only can be together forever but must be together forever. We are taught, like Enos of old, that the love and charity which obtains within a family should extend outward in an expanding circle that encompasses not just our friends and allies but even our enemies.

We are taught that Priesthood is, at its core, the power to forge, through sealing, familial bonds stronger than those which arise from our natural genetic ties. And we are taught that kinship bonds can extend beyond our natal families, outward in space and backward and forward in time. In our effort to quietly forget the fact that Joseph Smith spent the latter years of his life multiplying his marital relationships, we have completely forgotten that the prophet-kings of bygone Mormonism routinely had men adopted to them as sons. Whatever the source of our inability to fully understand now what Joseph was doing then, he clearly felt that marital and parental bonds on earth most closely approximate the kinds of relationships which obtain among and between all beings who participate in celestial order. And he believed that part of that order could be extended into this earthly experience.

Remember, when Jesus was asked about His family, He pointed to his disciples and said, Here they are. Family relations are defined by a self that exists not just within you but inside others, and we are taught not only to love others as we love ourselves but that a perfect love will transform us such that when we encounter Christ we will see ourselves in Him, see who we really are, our image in His countenance as His is in ours. We are taught that the true nature and purpose of our existence lies not in the great and spacious high rise of the world, but in the radically different reality on the other side of the yawning gulf, where it wasn’t enough for Lehi to experience the love of God alone, without his family with whom he longed to share it.

The world can and will continue to teach us its own model of human nature, one which reduces us to our basest of impulses, debases our potential. Yet we know that we can discover and build upon our true nature and true potential by submitting, not as a vile sinner to a contemptuous authoritarian God, but as a child submits to a father. It is in our homes, in our family lives and family relationships, and in the extension of those bonds outward into the world, that we find our truest selves. It is my prayer that we will recognize the full implications of what it means to make our homes and our family lives more important than our worldly experiences, to define ourselves and our purposes as members of infinitely extensive earthly and heavenly families rather than according to terms set out in the philosophies of men.

Comments

  1. For the record, I am WELL aware of the contradictions inherent in trying to accommodate the language of equal parenting with the language of presiding, and Yes, I do find it problematic. However, it should be clear to those of you who endured to the end of the post, that that’s not really the subject of discussion here. Not that I don’t lurve talking about it and all that, but let’s steer clear of it for the present conversation…

  2. David M. Morris says:

    Brad I have learned a lot from this, thank you. Very well written and convincing. Lots for me to think about, some that I hadn’t ever thought of.

  3. Thanks, David!

  4. Kinship. Love it.

  5. Bradley,
    I bet the second speaker spoke for ages and you only had 3 minutes to give this.

  6. Only two speakers this time, Ronan. Left me with twenty full minutes, almost no editing for brevity. Also, the SP was there, so all in all it was like walking into the personal nightmare of my Bishop.

  7. Brian-A says:

    Whereas the latter focus so much attention on the rational pursuit of self interest and the imperatives of efficient productivity, family life is utterly different. We commit the resources and time and energy we do into our family responsibilities with no regard for rational calculation, for a measurable return on our investment…

    A literature at the boundaries of demography and labor economics models family members as a rational, self-interested agents who bargain and make investment decisions. I don’t know that literature well, but I think it has some success in matching data.

    To limit my own selfishness, I personally need to exert as much effort inside the home as I do outside. Am I an outlier? How is kinship different than other group identities?

  8. “A literature at the boundaries of demography and labor economics models family members as a rational, self-interested agents who bargain and make investment decisions.”

    To the extent that such models bear any resemblance to lived reality, they would be, by definition, limited to processes and activities subject to the calculative logic of accounting. Maybe this works with things like chores and even breadwinning/budgeting. But I maintain that the really important goals, pursuits, and outcomes of family life—raising capable, well-adjusted kids, cultivating love and trust, engendering values and character, the sheer joy and fulfillment of family love—involve successes (and failings) not remotely measurable in quantifiable terms and utterly un-subject to the logic of rational productivity, investments and returns.

  9. Brad,
    You’re not wrong.

  10. It seems to me the elephant in the room is Mosiah 3:19 and Alma 41:11. Although Mormonism has never explicitly articulated an “original sin” argument it is peppered with references to “original guilt” (Moses 6:54), “carnal nature” (Mosiah 16:5), the “disposition” of men (D&C 121:39), etc. This is something that has always seemed to me to be at direct odds with what Mormonism teaches about our origins and relationship to God.

    The way I’ve always understood Mosiah 3:19 is that the “natural man” is the “worldly man” a person who succombes to the incitements of the “enemy of all righteousness” (Mosiah 4:14). It’s no mistake that the way King Benjamin says we teach children to not “serve the devil” (Ibid) but walk to “love one another, and serve one another” (Mosiah 4:15) is through administering “of [our] substance unto him that standeth in need” (Mosiah 4:16). We essentially teach our children that all children of God are divine, “all depend upon the same Being” (Mosiah 4:19). We teach children that all people stand next to God in the same relation, as our Heavenly Parent’s children in need of divine assistance.

    If any western christian tradition can be called dividual christians, as Mark Mosko tries to call all Melanesian christians, then Mormons seem to be among the best candidates. Mormonism stands in stark contrast to the individualism of protestant Christianity. In Mormonism, our personhood is in a very really sense the accumulation of all our eternal relations. Although we may have been intelligences from the beginning, and thus discrete units, we are only given a purpose through our kinship to God. Similarly, I’m defined by my relationship with my family as part of a eternal chain of being. Exaltation and eternal lives is built on the recognition that as far as we can become gods we can only do so only through our relationship with our family. To me those kin relations are supposed to be modeled after our relationship with our Heavenly Father and Mother, a relationship of love and mercy. Like you said Brad, it’s not about evaluating our basets impulses but reaching for the highest divine ideal, an ideal that I believe is part of our very nature.

    P.S.: I like the Sahlins. The recent JRAI articles and The Western Illusion of Human Nature were well used.

    It is interesting that Rousseau argued for a human nature directly in conflict with Hobbes. I believe I remember reading that Kropotkin, the Russian prince/anarchist and mentor of A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, used to carry around with him a picture of Rousseau to remind him of how flawed the Western notion of human nature was. He viewed it as essentially cooperative or at least co-constitutive. It’s no mistake that Levi-Strauss said that his whole life project was the capture the spirit of Rousseau. The Elementary Structures of Kinship is essentially about how we work together (through affiliation) to produce a social good (adherence to the incest taboo). But enough with the anthro talk, great post!

  11. Thanks, Jordan. Sahlins and LS are both major influences on my thinking here (indeed, the original outline of the first half of my talk drew heavily from the chapter on Hobbes and Adams), and not directly mentioning Rousseau in the post is a real oversight. Great comment, though!

  12. I have no problem in having more than one kind of bonding. At times, I have even done things in self-interest. Such as college. I slowly moved away from my childhood, and moved towards a family I was yet to meet.
    I have had many important bondings outside of my kinship and kinship is also much larger than just the modern nuclear family.

  13. regarding the natural state of man, I kept expecting D&C 121:39 to come up:

    “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

    If it is the natural state of men to use authority to abuse one another, where does that come from? Is it a product of our fallen state or is it as the OP stated, learned from the time of Cain?

    I think the only antidote is selflessly serving those around us. In fact the proceeding versus teach us just that. “Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men”. I think it can apply equally to our church relationships as to our family relationships. Heck, even our business relationships could benefit from some good old-fashioned charity. The line “never attribute to malice, what can reasonably be attributed to ignorance” is spot on. Giving folks (especially family members) the benefit of the doubt is not only an act of charity, but also a necessity if we are to form relationships better than the status quo or natural man quality.

  14. Brad,
    About Rousseau’s outlook, while it would be nice if we could rely on it, it seems to me that it is easier for ill-intentioned individuals to corrupt a society that is based on mutual trust and kinship than to corrupt a society based on mutual mistrust (like what Hobbes describes). In particular, it seems to me that attempts to create societies based on mutual trust and relationships (Israeli kibbutzes, for instance) rarely extend beyond the first generation. They continue past the initial group only if they recruit new members; children of the initial group only very rarely wish to follow in their parents footsteps.

    Even if we try to understand society as a kinship, that is no guarantee of peace or Zion. Take the acrimonious aftermath of a parent’s death, when oft times the children fight over the inheritance. Or, consider the example of the Nephites in 3 Ne 7. An expanded notion of kinship didn’t prevent division or intrasocietal strive. Is it possible that this notion is only possible because we are in a secular, Western society that has largely moved away from familial and kinship means of definition, instead relying on consumer choice and demographic information for self-identification? In other words, in other societies (the Middle East, Tribal areas) where kinship is still considered important and defining, would this argument still fly?

  15. You raise interesting points, John. Kinship (and societies in which kinship figures centrally) is often viewed as something inimical to republican democracy and economic liberty, as a source of, at best, nepotism and, at worst, outright corruption. I’m thinking of pieces I read from political scientists several years back, which argued that the reasons Iraqis were having problems sustaining democracy is that they marry their cousins (i.e. too high a social premium is placed on kinship bonds). I don’t think that framing human nature and human relations (either metaphorically, literally, or metaphysically) primarily in kinship terms is enough to produce Zion. But I also think that our shared vision (at least in Western political culture and its attendant metaphysics) of human nature is a real obstacle to Zion, resulting in our inability to see it as anything other than either a bizarre libertarian paradise or some form or another of planned economy. Part of what gives kinship its social power is exclusivity. Kin relations—as envisioned by the restored Gospel—are a starting point which re-opens a pathway cordoned off by our current model of Man as the quintessential political/economic animal. It is a starting point, but what gives it its power is the Atonement, the ability to overcome our basest of impulses, which you (and Rousseau’s critics) correctly judge as threatening to a social order based on mutual trust.

    Who your kin are matters, because not everyone is your kin, and if everyone were your kin, kinship would be meaningless. That’s a highly intuitive zero-sum logic that is also at home in our modern political economy (I’ll wave a magic wand turning everyone into millionaires and then celebrate by buying you a $700 Diet Coke). But the Gospel and the power of the Atonement are mysterious, and operate according to a logic of multiplicity and multiplication that is highly counterintuitive and yet, we are told, nevertheless quite real. Being the Firstborn is special, because only the Firstborn receives the full inheritance. Yet we are told that we are all the Church of the Firstborn, all joint heirs with God’s Firstborn Son, and we all receive all the Father has. There is no zero-sum logic in the Kingdom of God, but instead there is endless, and mysterious multiplication, where what meager quantity is held within a community (say a few loaves and fishes) can be taken, blessed, broken, and redistributed by the power of Messiah to fill all.

    If this post has anything like a singular argument, it is that the real power of the Atonement to transform us into a celestial community begins when we define ourselves first and foremost as kin, as members of the same family, as descendants of the same lineage, where (as in the sealing room and on the page of the patriarchal blessing) the dominant metaphor for human sociality is infinite kinship.

    And, most importantly, where the metaphor is also real.

  16. #14: John C., If you look at the histories of societies, Kinship has been a very workable system. Especially at the Clan level. Being a member of nuclear family, does not have the value of being a member of a clan. Early Mormon settlements in the West, contained large clans in which persons placed a great deal of their Trust.
    But yes, in the modern Western world, this happens less.

  17. Mark Brown says:

    Brad,

    Good work. Well done, young man.

  18. Neal Kramer says:

    A nice attempt to create an explanatory framework against which to measure restoration ideas about the what it means to be natural and the relationship between the natural man and God.

    The Pearl of Great Price makes it absolutely clear that Augustinian, Lutheran, and Calvinist views of original sin are incompatible with the truth about the atonement. “Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.” No tainting of children by parents’ sins means no original sin. No inborn or natural inclination toward sinfulness in infants. Infants are whole–meaning innocent, when they come into the world.

    In the Q&A after his presentation at Richard Bushman’s birthday, Terryl Givens (the best reader of the Book of Mormon in its intellectual-historical context) boldly announced that the Book of Mormon is anti-Calvinist in its theology. I don’t have the direct quote, so I don’t want to put words in Terryl’s mouth. But it’s clear that any attempts to make the Book of Mormon a Calvinist text are bad misreadings.

    For Mormons, “the natural man” means something like “the person who has fallen under the influence of his own sins”
    and therefore must be redeemed from them through repentance under the power of the Atonement (especially in Mosiah 3:19). This is made very clear by Alma and Amulek at Ammonihah (a city committed to Nehoristic individualism).

    Thus, the ideas of Plato, Augustine, Machiavelli, Calvin, Hobbes, and Locke on human nature and the state of nature, including the idea that people are by nature engaged in a life or death struggle with each other, are inconsistent with a restoration view of humankind. (Hence Mormonism’s emphasis on individuals in community rather than individuals against each other.)

    Bradley’s great talk reminds us once again that we ought to know better what the scriptures teach and the doctrinal foundations of gospel family and community truly are. No one needs to controlled by virtue of a sinful nature. We need to be joined together in equality, covenant, and love,

    D&C 121 really begins to make sense when we understand what Brad is talking about.

    Very well done and very edifying.

  19. Chris Gordon says:

    Brad, now that I took a breath from ranting about sister missionaries’s dress code I was able to digest some of this. What a great piece!

    John C., how the heck were you able to manage ranting on one thread and commenting intelligently on another!? I thought I was slacking at work!! :)

  20. Chris,
    Those are the only two modes of communication I have. :)

  21. Thank you for this. We had a WRETCHED father’s day service, with the assurance that fathers need mothers to make them be fathers, because women’s lib (she SAID THAT) has destroyed the family. And then, there was the opening “hymn” a too-slow version of the already excruciating “In Our Lovely Deseret.” Kill me now.

  22. Benjamin says:

    Generally speaking, when you generalize too broadly, you miss both points.

  23. Benjamin, I don’t follow.

  24. Brad – I think he’s not just telling, but showing.

  25. Ah, yes…

  26. Wow, Brad. Phenomenal. I’ll be thinking about this post for quite a while – and trying to figure out a way to work it into talks I give.

  27. Thank you, Ray.

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