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Meadowchik

By Virtue of Agency and Righteous Power

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This morning I came across a notion expressed by an LDS member, positing that the poor have a better chance at learning wisdom and love because of their economic and social position.

I would like to respond to that idea here.

As much as the idea of the noble, happy poor is appealing to me and as much as I hope for the happiness of the vast majority of the world's population living in relative poverty, I think the idea that having no social or material capital helps us misses the fundamentals.

On the contrary, it is agency that opportunes us to choose wisdom and love, and in many cases poverty has a strong inverse relationship with agency.

Think about the majority of impoverished globally, who wash their own clothes by hand: what happens to the mother who can use a machine? She has more time, her family has more time. Maybe she can read and then change her world with what she reads.

Before she has a machine she has less choice and after she has a washing machine she has more choices. She now has to trade off less of material advantages and necessities if she chooses to spend time reading, to herself or anyone else.

Thus material advantages allow a person the chance to make more decisions, to exercise power in more ways, for good or bad. And the fruitful exercise of agency produced more opportunities for fruit-bearing agency.

In other words, without agency, the righteous exercise of power--or in other words, virtue--is impossible.

I believe that Christ expects us to love "the least" because, in part, He wants all of us to experience opportunities of power and thus develop virtuous personal qualities grown from righteous exercise of power, virtues by virtue of virtue.

Thoughts?

Edited by Meadowchik

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27 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

This morning I came accross a notion expressed by an LDS member, positing that the poor have a better chance at learning wisdom and love because of their economic and social position.

I would like to respond to that idea here.

As much as the idea of the noble, happy poor is appealing to me and as much as I hope for the happiness of the vast majority of the world's population living in relative poverty, I think the idea that having no social or material capital helps us misses the fundamentals.

On the contrary, it is agency that opportunes us to choose wisdom and love, and in many cases poverty has a strong inverse relationship with agency.

Think about the majority of impoverished globally, who wash their own clothes by hand: what happens to the mother who can use a machine? She has more time, her family has more time. Maybe she can read and then change her world with what she reads.

Before she has a machine she has less choice and after she has a washing machine she has more choices. She now has to trade off less of material advantages and necessities if she chooses to spend time reading, to herself or anyone else.

Thus material advantages allow a person the chance to make more decisions, to exercise power in more ways, for good or bad. And the fruitful exercise of agency produced more opportunities for fruit-bearing agency.

In other words, without agency, the righteous exercise of power--or in other words, virtue--is impossible.

I believe that Christ expects us to love "the least" because, in part, He wants all of us to experience opportunities of power and thus develop virtuous personal qualities grown from righteous exercise of power, virtues by virtue of virtue.

Thoughts?

I think there are always exceptions to the rules, so I know there is no way to fit everyone into these little boxes we are talking about here, but for the most part I think apathy creeps in with the luxuries of life, and while someone who is poor is a slave to the mundane necessities of life, I think generally they are more humble. Humble, to me, means the same thing as teachable. With pride it means unteachable, to me. Someone who has pride thinks they are the end all, and be all of everything. Pride quickly turns to apathy. While the mother who has to hand wash, has less time for leisure activities, she probably can't afford a T.V. or a cable bill either, so she may in fact have more time than the mother who has a machine and chooses to watch soap operas all day. I think the person you talked to meant that the poor are more often humble and the people who aren't are usually not humble.

I know there have been times when I have been so impoverished that I had to go without eating for a couple of days just so my kids could have something to eat. I have also been homeless a couple of times. When the kids were little they didn't know it though, because they just thought we were going camping for an extra long time. Anyway these times were when I was closer to God than I had ever been. I saw little miracles happen every day, I'm sure most people would chalk it up to coincidence, but there were far too many coincidences for it to not be miraculous. I was in tune with the Spirit so much more than when life is easy. I also understand what it is like for others who are going through similar situations. I think I learned a lot more than if I never had those types of struggles before. I certainly learned to love others whom I would have probably wouldn't even have noticed if I never went through those things as well.

I know I am not able to speak for everyone, but for me at least I learned a lot more wisdom, and love for my fellow man from being impoverished. Even though I was a slave and had to take more back breaking work, for less pay, when I could get it, if I wanted to feed, clothe and house my kids. I also had a lot more time in constant communion with God than I did before I ever had hard times like that. I was a lot more apathetic before then. I raised some pretty awesome kids who are more well rounded than many of their peers because they have more understanding of the value of things, because I choose to raise them myself instead of being well off, earning good money and having a day care raise them for me. Just a little food for thought anyway.

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1 hour ago, waveslider said:

I think there are always exceptions to the rules, so I know there is no way to fit everyone into these little boxes we are talking about here, but for the most part I think apathy creeps in with the luxuries of life, and while someone who is poor is a slave to the mundane necessities of life, I think generally they are more humble. Humble, to me, means the same thing as teachable. With pride it means unteachable, to me. Someone who has pride thinks they are the end all, and be all of everything. Pride quickly turns to apathy. While the mother who has to hand wash, has less time for leisure activities, she probably can't afford a T.V. or a cable bill either, so she may in fact have more time than the mother who has a machine and chooses to watch soap operas all day. I think the person you talked to meant that the poor are more often humble and the people who aren't are usually not humble.

I know there have been times when I have been so impoverished that I had to go without eating for a couple of days just so my kids could have something to eat. I have also been homeless a couple of times. When the kids were little they didn't know it though, because they just thought we were going camping for an extra long time. Anyway these times were when I was closer to God than I had ever been. I saw little miracles happen every day, I'm sure most people would chalk it up to coincidence, but there were far too many coincidences for it to not be miraculous. I was in tune with the Spirit so much more than when life is easy. I also understand what it is like for others who are going through similar situations. I think I learned a lot more than if I never had those types of struggles before. I certainly learned to love others whom I would have probably wouldn't even have noticed if I never went through those things as well.

I know I am not able to speak for everyone, but for me at least I learned a lot more wisdom, and love for my fellow man from being impoverished. Even though I was a slave and had to take more back breaking work, for less pay, when I could get it, if I wanted to feed, clothe and house my kids. I also had a lot more time in constant communion with God than I did before I ever had hard times like that. I was a lot more apathetic before then. I raised some pretty awesome kids who are more well rounded than many of their peers because they have more understanding of the value of things, because I choose to raise them myself instead of being well off, earning good money and having a day care raise them for me. Just a little food for thought anyway.

It's true that this is a multidimensional relationship: poverty may increase humility because adversity does so and poverty is frequently an obstacle. At the core, we all have agency in how we choose to respond to adversity and that agency is in itself a power and thus when responding righteously we develop more virtue within us.

However, in reference to the material world, this mortal coil, resources,  whether merited or not, allow us more opportunities and more ways to act righteously.

But, it's not as if we can look at a single individual's income level and tell how virtuous they are or how much opportunity they have.

That wouldn't be the take-away of this little epiphany, imo. The take-away is that we want to serve the least among us and we want all to have as much chance to make righteous, powerful choices and thus become more virtuous and joyful.

Edited by Meadowchik

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4 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

However, in reference to the material world, this mortal cool, resources whether merited or not allow us more opportunities and more ways to act righteously.

While this may be true that we may have more opportunity to do certain righteous acts, we are still able to be righteous before we obtain material wealth, often times with more of a sacrifice as a price for doing them. This to me means that we can have accelerated growth, if we choose to make the sacrifices necessary to perform righteous acts. We should not wait until we have acquired material wealth before we start to try to be righteous, but rather we should be righteous first and Heavenly Father will bless us with whatever we will need to fulfill His plan of righteousness for us. We should be more anxiously trying to find out what Heavenly Father's plan for ourselves is, instead of trying to force something to happen so we can be used as a tool for Him at a later date, when we think we would finally be at a place where we can be used properly:

"32  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Matthew 6:32-33

I'm not saying that material wealth shouldn't be sought after, only that it shouldn't take precedence over God. There are many well to do people who are very righteous, but all too often people do get their priorities mixed up. The key words not being, "....money is the root of all evil," but rather, "....the love of money is the root of all evil.":

"5  Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6  But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11  But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
1 Timothy 6:5-11

We are given a perfect example of how to live our lives, and it wasn't by trying to gain riches first before helping others. Christ had nothing according to the material world, but he gave more than anyone else ever could/can, ever.

"And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head."
Matthew 8:20

I do get what you are saying though, as we are trying to aim for a Zion society, where there are, "...no poor among...." us. I think the key to that is being of one heart and one mind more than being materially wealthy so we can help others after our own needs are met.

"And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them."
Moses 7:18

Any wealth we might have in a Zion society, I think, would be viewed as just having stewardship over whatever it is we have, in order to bless everyone else with, instead of owning it to bless ourselves and just giving the excess to the poor. Just my two cents worth anyway.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

This morning I came across a notion expressed by an LDS member, positing that the poor have a better chance at learning wisdom and love because of their economic and social position.

What is wisdom?  How does one learn it?

 

3 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

On the contrary, it is agency that opportunes us to choose wisdom and love...

How does one choose it?

 

3 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

...in many cases poverty has a strong inverse relationship with agency.

What data are you using to make this assertion?

 

3 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Before she has a machine she has less choice and after she has a washing machine she has more choices.

What about those who voluntarily choose to wash by hand?

 

3 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Thus material advantages allow a person the chance to make more decisions, to exercise power in more ways, for good or bad. And the fruitful exercise of agency produced more opportunities for fruit-bearing agency.

If material wealth translates to increased agency which improves the number of chances to make righteous decisions and thereby the ability to produce good fruit...

...how does this scripture fit that model?

23 ¶Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Source: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/19?lang=eng

 

3 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

In other words, without agency, the righteous exercise of power--or in other words, virtue--is impossible.

Does wealth beget agency?  Are you drawing a connection between wealth and virtue?  

Is virtue only manifest through agency?

 

3 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

I believe that Christ expects us to love "the least" because, in part, He wants all of us to experience opportunities of power and thus develop virtuous personal qualities grown from righteous exercise of power, virtues by virtue of virtue.

Could you provide examples of opportunities of power?  

If technology affords us the ability to be more virtuous people, are we actually becoming more virtuous as a whole?

If the level of technology possessed by a civilization is directly proportional to the virtuosity of that civilization...

...and if it can be said that we are much more advanced than those people living thousands of years ago...

...shouldn't we be a much more virtuous people by now?

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I believe that waveslider is pretty much correct in his assessment. It is true that material wealth can free up more time to learn, do righteous deeds, and provide the resources to do both. But the sad reality is that wealth historically does not help a person's desire to do good, but often becomes a source of pride and selfishness. Look at the relative wealth of so many people in the U.S. and then there are the homeless and impoverished. Those things could be abolished if enough people cared. We would not need a government to try to redistribute wealth.

Glenn

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6 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

This morning I came across a notion expressed by an LDS member, positing that the poor have a better chance at learning wisdom and love because of their economic and social position.

I would like to respond to that idea here.

As much as the idea of the noble, happy poor is appealing to me and as much as I hope for the happiness of the vast majority of the world's population living in relative poverty, I think the idea that having no social or material capital helps us misses the fundamentals.

On the contrary, it is agency that opportunes us to choose wisdom and love, and in many cases poverty has a strong inverse relationship with agency.

Think about the majority of impoverished globally, who wash their own clothes by hand: what happens to the mother who can use a machine? She has more time, her family has more time. Maybe she can read and then change her world with what she reads.

Before she has a machine she has less choice and after she has a washing machine she has more choices. She now has to trade off less of material advantages and necessities if she chooses to spend time reading, to herself or anyone else.

Thus material advantages allow a person the chance to make more decisions, to exercise power in more ways, for good or bad. And the fruitful exercise of agency produced more opportunities for fruit-bearing agency.

In other words, without agency, the righteous exercise of power--or in other words, virtue--is impossible.

I believe that Christ expects us to love "the least" because, in part, He wants all of us to experience opportunities of power and thus develop virtuous personal qualities grown from righteous exercise of power, virtues by virtue of virtue.

Thoughts?

I agree He wants us to love the "least of these my brethren" (Matthew 25:40) as an expression of our expanding agency. He is also the least (D&C 50:26; 88:6) and wants us to love Him. I think the blessing or the divine characteristic is in not being compelled to be humble (Alma 42:14), in other words, to choose. This is what Christ did in Abraham 3:27.

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6 hours ago, waveslider said:

I think there are always exceptions to the rules, so I know there is no way to fit everyone into these little boxes we are talking about here, but for the most part I think apathy creeps in with the luxuries of life, and while someone who is poor is a slave to the mundane necessities of life, I think generally they are more humble. Humble, to me, means the same thing as teachable. With pride it means unteachable, to me. Someone who has pride thinks they are the end all, and be all of everything. Pride quickly turns to apathy. While the mother who has to hand wash, has less time for leisure activities, she probably can't afford a T.V. or a cable bill either, so she may in fact have more time than the mother who has a machine and chooses to watch soap operas all day. I think the person you talked to meant that the poor are more often humble and the people who aren't are usually not humble.

I know there have been times when I have been so impoverished that I had to go without eating for a couple of days just so my kids could have something to eat. I have also been homeless a couple of times. When the kids were little they didn't know it though, because they just thought we were going camping for an extra long time. Anyway these times were when I was closer to God than I had ever been. I saw little miracles happen every day, I'm sure most people would chalk it up to coincidence, but there were far too many coincidences for it to not be miraculous. I was in tune with the Spirit so much more than when life is easy. I also understand what it is like for others who are going through similar situations. I think I learned a lot more than if I never had those types of struggles before. I certainly learned to love others whom I would have probably wouldn't even have noticed if I never went through those things as well.

I know I am not able to speak for everyone, but for me at least I learned a lot more wisdom, and love for my fellow man from being impoverished. Even though I was a slave and had to take more back breaking work, for less pay, when I could get it, if I wanted to feed, clothe and house my kids. I also had a lot more time in constant communion with God than I did before I ever had hard times like that. I was a lot more apathetic before then. I raised some pretty awesome kids who are more well rounded than many of their peers because they have more understanding of the value of things, because I choose to raise them myself instead of being well off, earning good money and having a day care raise them for me. Just a little food for thought anyway.

I'm with you, and see that the woman who is washing the clothes, might be working alongside her child. But understand there are other ways to be humble and close to your children. Maybe a happy medium of being able to survive with the comforts of life and see some hard times too. As you have experienced.

I feel for the super rich, in that they won't know the things you've witnessed.

Edited by Tacenda

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You post thoughtful things, Meadowchick.  And IMO it's regrettable your last thread got shut down.

The Bible gives us numerous examples of righteous rich and unrighteous rich, of righteous poor and unrighteous poor.  But it's not money that matters, it's righteousness--and one could argue this is why both Prosperity Theology and Poverty Theology get it wrong.  In my personal experience, I've found LDS are much more inclined toward the former than the latter, and they cite D&C 82:10 (the "bound" god) among other passages to substantiate this point of view.  Your example bucks the longstanding trend I've seen. 

The idea of "agency" (what those outside of the LDS religion are more likely to call "free will") makes for an interesting mash-up with the previous idea.  Does the electric washing machine really afford more free time and therefore opportunities to employ agency?  Perhaps not if you have to work 80 hours/week to pay for all the modern convenience.  Primitive tribes-people worked fewer hours to feed & shelter themselves than most of the rest of humanity following the Industrial Revolution (something I recall from an anthropology class back in college--please don't issue a CFR). 

But supposing you're right and we have more agency and freedom than ever before (for sure, I can spend an hour at the supermarket just trying to understand the differences and thereby pick among the brands of canned beans).  Is there really a connection to be drawn between the Biblical concept of righteousness and the volume of choice our modern world provides?  It's an interesting idea you have, but I wouldn't say it's an intuitive one.  

--Erik

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On one hand the call of Christ is to help the poor while working to abolish it even though we may never succeed. I have seen wealth destroy people and seen poverty destroy people. I have seen people in between destroyed.

"Lord, who made the lion and the lamb,
You decreed I should be what I am;
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan,
If I were a wealthy man?"

-Fiddler on the Roof

Elder Oak's response:

"Yes, Tevye, it might. Let us give thanks for what we are and for the circumstances God has given us for our personal journey through mortality."

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I really want to get back to this and respond to everyone, but I have to pause. I'm at the hospital with my daughter who is having a rough bout of asthma. She's fine but is being kept under observation with interspersed breathing treatments.

So, please be good! :) 

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You and your daughter be well.

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That certainly puts things into perspective.  I share Calm's sentiment.  Take care, Meadowchick.

--Erik

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On 02/10/2016 at 8:59 AM, Calm said:

You and your daughter be well.

 

On 03/10/2016 at 0:43 AM, Five Solas said:

That certainly puts things into perspective.  I share Calm's sentiment.  Take care, Meadowchick.

--Erik

Thanks, we were out of the hospital in less than three days.  Now she's almost done with the home-treatment and it looks like she's adjusting to the weaning down.  But we had fun in the hospital, tried not to laugh too much beating each other in UNO and Connect Four. :)

Edited by Meadowchik

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On 01/10/2016 at 0:26 PM, waveslider said:

While this may be true that we may have more opportunity to do certain righteous acts, we are still able to be righteous before we obtain material wealth, often times with more of a sacrifice as a price for doing them. This to me means that we can have accelerated growth, if we choose to make the sacrifices necessary to perform righteous acts. We should not wait until we have acquired material wealth before we start to try to be righteous, but rather we should be righteous first and Heavenly Father will bless us with whatever we will need to fulfill His plan of righteousness for us. We should be more anxiously trying to find out what Heavenly Father's plan for ourselves is, instead of trying to force something to happen so we can be used as a tool for Him at a later date, when we think we would finally be at a place where we can be used properly:

"32  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Matthew 6:32-33

I'm not saying that material wealth shouldn't be sought after, only that it shouldn't take precedence over God. There are many well to do people who are very righteous, but all too often people do get their priorities mixed up. The key words not being, "....money is the root of all evil," but rather, "....the love of money is the root of all evil.":

"5  Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6  But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11  But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
1 Timothy 6:5-11

We are given a perfect example of how to live our lives, and it wasn't by trying to gain riches first before helping others. Christ had nothing according to the material world, but he gave more than anyone else ever could/can, ever.

"And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head."
Matthew 8:20

I do get what you are saying though, as we are trying to aim for a Zion society, where there are, "...no poor among...." us. I think the key to that is being of one heart and one mind more than being materially wealthy so we can help others after our own needs are met.

"And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them."
Moses 7:18

Any wealth we might have in a Zion society, I think, would be viewed as just having stewardship over whatever it is we have, in order to bless everyone else with, instead of owning it to bless ourselves and just giving the excess to the poor. Just my two cents worth anyway.

 

 

I agree with all of this.

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On 01/10/2016 at 0:50 PM, Curious_About_Everything said:

What is wisdom?  How does one learn it?

I would say that wisdom is God's truth and that we learn it by following Him, first and foremost with a broken heart and contrite spirit.

How does one choose it?

We choose wisdom when we do what we know is God's will, or right or correct. We choose love when we love others in the ways we know are how God wants us to love.

What data are you using to make this assertion?

I said in many cases poverty has a strong inverse relationship with agency. Suppose a woman prostitutes herself to feed her baby. Compare her to the woman who does not and who starves to death with her baby. They are extreme cases, but once she is dead, she has less opportunity to exercise mortal agency and her child has had none.

What about those who voluntarily choose to wash by hand?

Good question.  The difference between me and a woman without a machine is that when I wash by hand, it's by choice.  When she washes by hand, its by necessity.  Yes, she can still choose to wash clothes or not. Suppose she chooses to wash and she spends all her daylight hours washing while another family member prepares food. Now, compare her to me, who can pop those clothes in the machine, get as much washing done in a day as she does, except I have hours and hours more of time where my hands are free to do something else, to choose to do or not to do something else.  Even in agency, one choise precludes another. We cannot choose what we cannot choose.

 

If material wealth translates to increased agency which improves the number of chances to make righteous decisions and thereby the ability to produce good fruit...

...how does this scripture fit that model?

23 ¶Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Source: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/19?lang=eng

 

 

Does wealth beget agency?  

Wealth begets opportunity, which is exactly why it is harder for the rich man to enter heaven.  The temptations are more plentiful. 

 

Are you drawing a connection between wealth and virtue?  

I would say that the connection between wealth and virtue is that with wealth comes the greater responsibility to do good andlive virtuously with the more ample resources and opportunities one has.

Is virtue only manifest through agency?

Yes. 2 Nephi 2:

 22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

 23 And they would have had no achildren; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no bjoy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no csin.

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/2.25?lang=eng

Could you provide examples of opportunities of power?  

Having the time to read to your child, having a bicycle to be able to ride to a well in the early morning instead of spending half a day to do so. Being able to take your goods to a market to sell. Being able to form a coop with your neighbors to buy medicine for your sick wife, or to buy furniture to sleep on, or to buy a farming tool to grow more food.

If technology affords us the ability to be more virtuous people, are we actually becoming more virtuous as a whole?

If the level of technology possessed by a civilization is directly proportional to the virtuosity of that civilization...

...and if it can be said that we are much more advanced than those people living thousands of years ago...

...shouldn't we be a much more virtuous people by now?

We are. Look at how we treat thieves, law-breakers, rapists, and even murderers: we house them, feed them, give them opportunities for education and even rehabilitation.  We do not enslave them and most of the time, we don't kill them. Wealth and technology have made it possible to create a much more humane society than what was endured by people thousands of years ago.

 

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On 01/10/2016 at 2:30 PM, Glenn101 said:

I believe that waveslider is pretty much correct in his assessment. It is true that material wealth can free up more time to learn, do righteous deeds, and provide the resources to do both. But the sad reality is that wealth historically does not help a person's desire to do good, but often becomes a source of pride and selfishness. Look at the relative wealth of so many people in the U.S. and then there are the homeless and impoverished. Those things could be abolished if enough people cared. We would not need a government to try to redistribute wealth.

Glenn

It is true that it is better for a person to choose to be humble than to be forced to be humble, but as you imply it is less likely.  But, the point is that it is more virtuous to choose to be humble when are not forced to do so by our circumstances than to learn the hard lesson through the school of hard knocks.

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On 01/10/2016 at 3:59 PM, Tacenda said:

I'm with you, and see that the woman who is washing the clothes, might be working alongside her child. But understand there are other ways to be humble and close to your children. Maybe a happy medium of being able to survive with the comforts of life and see some hard times too. As you have experienced.

I feel for the super rich, in that they won't know the things you've witnessed.

It is human nature to follow the path of least resistance and therefore an easy path can easily make for weak character and less rich life experiences. Maybe this is one reason why God allows suffering in the world.

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On 02/10/2016 at 1:37 AM, Five Solas said:

You post thoughtful things, Meadowchick.  And IMO it's regrettable your last thread got shut down.

The Bible gives us numerous examples of righteous rich and unrighteous rich, of righteous poor and unrighteous poor.  But it's not money that matters, it's righteousness--and one could argue this is why both Prosperity Theology and Poverty Theology get it wrong.  In my personal experience, I've found LDS are much more inclined toward the former than the latter, and they cite D&C 82:10 (the "bound" god) among other passages to substantiate this point of view.  Your example bucks the longstanding trend I've seen. 

The idea of "agency" (what those outside of the LDS religion are more likely to call "free will") makes for an interesting mash-up with the previous idea.  Does the electric washing machine really afford more free time and therefore opportunities to employ agency?  Perhaps not if you have to work 80 hours/week to pay for all the modern convenience.  Primitive tribes-people worked fewer hours to feed & shelter themselves than most of the rest of humanity following the Industrial Revolution (something I recall from an anthropology class back in college--please don't issue a CFR). 

But supposing you're right and we have more agency and freedom than ever before (for sure, I can spend an hour at the supermarket just trying to understand the differences and thereby pick among the brands of canned beans).  Is there really a connection to be drawn between the Biblical concept of righteousness and the volume of choice our modern world provides?  It's an interesting idea you have, but I wouldn't say it's an intuitive one.  

--Erik

'Tis true that American women today spend as much time dong laundry now as their counterparts in the fifties (an article I read somewhere I can't remember so don't CFR me;) ) but that is because we now have so much more clothes than we did then.  An outfit or two or three for each day of the week is not uncommon for many modern people.  However, compare me to the woman in Bangladesh caught between a primitive and modern world where cleaned and pressed clothes are expected daily and she is then required to do that work for her family members' well-being so that they can advance into the modernizing world around them, the one with longer life expectancies, more divisions of labor, specialisation and then benefits to the entire collective society.

Say this woman has a machine for washing and can run it in the morning and spend the rest of the day on other work, even her own business or whatever. Now she has more time to do things with her hands, has more time to produce, too. Then, she has more time and resources to visit the widow and fatherless, hold the hand of the downtrodden with her own.

I totally see this in my life. And it is an accepted wisdom in the Church, too, that once we're more self-reliant we're more able to help others, materially, socially, and spiritually. A woman who's just had a baby or a man who's just lost his wife are typically expected to not be available to engage in Christian outreach. It is understoof that there are priorities to which they must attend: her infant, laying his wife to rest. Of course these are righteous in and of themselves and they can frequently use those opportunities for much righteousness beyong their own spheres, but we are expected as Christians, that once we have the opportunity, we use it to serve and express love to others.

Edited by Meadowchik

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On 02/10/2016 at 3:04 AM, The Nehor said:

On one hand the call of Christ is to help the poor while working to abolish it even though we may never succeed. I have seen wealth destroy people and seen poverty destroy people. I have seen people in between destroyed.

"Lord, who made the lion and the lamb,
You decreed I should be what I am;
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan,
If I were a wealthy man?"

-Fiddler on the Roof

Elder Oak's response:

"Yes, Tevye, it might. Let us give thanks for what we are and for the circumstances God has given us for our personal journey through mortality."

Tis true that envy and greed can destroy, whether wealthy or poor, like it did ****ens' Uriah Heep. 

I want to be clear that of course we are still only judged based on the knowledge we have and the opportunities we have and how we use and respond to both. Attitude is paramount.

 

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My family is poor by worldly standards (four kids, I'm the sole income-earner), but we feel that this has been an important part of our family's strength. We do a lot more together than most other families (including LDS), and our fun has to not cost money. When people marvel at my children and our family, we smile and tell them that they really don't want to be us (and they don't --- if they only knew, they would be horrified at what they consider to be deprivation). We feel very blessed that we have never had to struggle with the challenges of prosperity and wealth, and a lot of that has to do with our wants versus the wants of those who have means, we think.

I ran into this Schwäbisch saying while preparing for my German classes that I teach at the high school. Schwaben is the region just east of the Black Forest, and they have perhaps the most renowned culinary tradition in Germany:

Bei de Reiche lernt ma s'spara, bei de Arme s'kocha (dialect); Bei den Reichen lernt man das Sparen; bei den Armen das Kochen (high German); "The rich learn to save; the poor learn to cook."

My wife and I got a kick out of this. Because we almost never eat out and don't buy pre-packaged food, we have also developed our cooking capabilities to the amazement of many. I think this extends far beyond merely cooking/baking ability. For example, we avoid the whole electronics addiction epidemic because we . . . have no electronic devices to speak of. And our kids have a level of gospel scholarship unknown to others because they study books, not "Gospel library" menus.  

Another thing my wife and I were talking about this week is to what extent anxiety and depression may be a disease of the well-to-do (a luxury that the poor can't afford). I'm sure that this view makes some gasp in outrage, but if you think about it, this may be a factor in Utah's embarrassing per capita anti-depressant usage that isn't discussed --- alongside the usual "LDS don't self-medicate and are more apt to seek professional help." In many ways, Utah is a prosperous pocket that was largely immune to the high unemployment during the recession. 

None of this is to say that poverty should be sought out and coveted . . . :) 

 

Edited by rongo

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4 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Tis true that envy and greed can destroy, whether wealthy or poor, like it did ****ens' Uriah Heep. 

David Copperfield is our family's favorite book! You're right that one must also be careful not to take pride in poverty and "being 'umble," like Uriah Heep. 

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27 minutes ago, rongo said:

My family is poor by worldly standards (four kids, I'm the sole income-earner), but we feel that this has been an important part of our family's strength. We do a lot more together than most other families (including LDS), and our fun has to not cost money. When people marvel at my children and our family, we smile and tell them that they really don't want to be us (and they don't --- if they only knew, they would be horrified at what they consider to be deprivation). We feel very blessed that we have never had to struggle with the challenges of prosperity and wealth, and a lot of that has to do with our wants versus the wants of those who have means, we think.

I ran into this Schwäbisch saying while preparing for my German classes that I teach at the high school. Schwaben is the region just east of the Black Forest, and they have perhaps the most renowned culinary tradition in Germany:

Bei de Reiche lernt ma s'spara, bei de Arme s'kocha (dialect); Bei den Reichen lernt man das Sparen; bei den Armen das Kochen (high German); "The rich learn to save; the poor learn to cook."

My wife and I got a kick out of this. Because we almost never eat out and don't buy pre-packaged food, we have also developed our cooking capabilities to the amazement of many. I think this extends far beyond merely cooking/baking ability. For example, we avoid the whole electronics addiction epidemic because we . . . have no electronic devices to speak of. And our kids have a level of gospel scholarship unknown to others because they study books, not "Gospel library" menus.  

Another thing my wife and I were talking about this week is to what extent anxiety and depression may be a disease of the well-to-do (a luxury that the poor can't afford). I'm sure that this view makes some gasp in outrage, but if you think about it, this may be a factor in Utah's embarrassing per capita anti-depressant usage that isn't discussed --- alongside the usual "LDS don't self-medicate and are more apt to seek professional help." In many ways, Utah is a prosperous pocket that was largely immune to the high unemployment during the recession. 

None of this is to say that poverty should be sought out and coveted . . . :) 

 

To be fair, though, you're likely better off than eighty percent of the world's population, if you have a house with heating, running water, electricity, means of transport and a washing machine.

There's relative poverty and then there's poverty.

But I do sometimes wish we'd never have had a TV. When the temptation is not there, it's easier to avoid. That said, if any of your children enter a profession that requires more electronic devices, the learning curve may be steep, especially that of balancing its use. But it sounds like having the foundation they have likely will make up for that and amply so :)

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1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

To be fair, though, you're likely better off than eighty percent of the world's population, if you have a house with heating, running water, electricity, means of transport and a washing machine.

There's relative poverty and then there's poverty.

Very true.

You know what blows my mind? I have been told by both stake presidents and general authorities that North America is a net fast offering consumer, and Africa is a net fast offering provider (meaning that North America uses more fast offerings than it donates, and Africa donates more than it expends). This really shows that "need" is largely a matter of self-perception. I don't really agree with the 2010 handbook update on welfare that says that the relationship between wants vs. needs and lifestyle varies based on culture. Meaning, the standard to weigh requests for fast offering funds against shouldn't be dirt floors and shanties (no one in our wards would merit it if that were the case), but it is a sobering thought what our "needs" are in the 1st world countries.

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Things have been extremely tight for us at times and quite comfortable at other times.  I've found you can have just as much or more pride when you don't have money as when you have it.  You can have just as many disractions either way,  but the distractions are different.  The love of money is a problem for both the poor and the rich.  Rich and poor families both vary on time spent together.

Agency is just as much there for the woman who washes her clothes by hand as it is for the woman who has a machine. Both choose to wash or not.  Both choose whether to have a good attitude about it or not.  The woman who uses the machine chooses what activities she will do while the machine is running. The woman who does it by hand chooses what she will think about as she washes the clothes.  

The number of possible opportunities may expand for the wealthy, but the amount of time and ability to do something does not.

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