Families that Discuss together, stay together

Families that Discuss together, stay together
Families that Discuss together, stay together

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Companion Virtues: Intelligence and Goodness

You who know me, know I love John Erskine's Essay called "The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent". I like it for a few reasons including the idea that it always seems to prepare me to start another school year on the right foot—making sure I remember intelligence is a virtue and a companion to Goodness. You can read more about his premise in the link above.

Well, my thoughts have somewhat been rolling around in the realm of being intelligent and virtuous—that Knowledge must be matched with the sister virtue of Goodness.  To the degree that intelligence and Goodness exist together, they make a person whole and glorious. C. S. Lewis said, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” I surmise that sometimes in our learning we justify our weaknesses and lower our values and standards. I think this is the seductive danger in leaning toward our own understanding and not God's understanding. In Second Nephi 9:29, we learn that "to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God." This principle of aligning my intelligence with God's intelligence has led me to ponder on my recent past.

Here is a little history: for the last twelve years, I have been associating with a couple who have intrigued me with their thoughts, ideas and intellect. Most of our discussion has been in the field of religion, LDS religion, and includes principles and ideas from without the mainstream of Church belief. It has been fascinating and compelling. Other couples have shared stories and books about visions and near-death experiences. These have been intriguing too. For the sake of making this post brief, I am not going to go into detail at this time. I may revisit this post when college classes and my own homeschooling responsibilities are not overwhelming me, but for right now, I will be brief.

Over time, I have had a feeling that something does not quite settle right in my soul about all of these things and I have not known why and maybe I still do not know why, but I have an idea. It seemed that all these years only a few number of members know about these things or talk about them. The rest do not or do not even care. The Brethren surely do not talk about them either. The word esoteric comes to mind. These discussions, therefore are for the few, not the many. They also come in, not by the Gate, but in other ways (under the gate, over the fence, etc.) Knowledge translated into Greek is Gnosis, which could be interpreted as Gnosticism. In other words, over the last decade or so, I have been delighting in good old Mormon Gnosticism. Not gnosticism in the ancient sense pertaining to the 2nd Century heretical movement, but a loose definition of gnosticism in the sense that only a few know about it—esoteric knowledge.

If the knowledge is esoteric, then it is not for the general public. This is starting to sound like the Dark Ages to me. If it is not for the general public, then it is only personal revelation and not something that ought to be shared with others. Alma 12:9 says, “It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.” Strict command is pretty strong here. I surmise that this "gnosis" in which, I have been caught up is not for me to share with others, discuss with others or listen from others.

I believe Mormon Gnosticism began as a fascination with me, then gradually, I felt a sort of "pulling away" from the basic faith. I do not think I went far, but just enough to feel a little darker. In my struggle, I felt to veer away from the esoteric and an amazing thing happened, I felt freer and more filled with light and knowledge, or more pertinently, I felt true gnosis—the kind of living knowledge given to all mankind from God.

Back to Erskine, I truly DO have a moral obligation to be intelligent, act intelligent and do intelligent things. I have the obligation to be good and to match my intelligence with that of God's, but I do not have an obligation to share the esoteric or the obscure doctrines, I need to heed the Lord and "impart only the portion of His word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give Him". I do, however, have an obligation to continue to seek for personal revelation and when it comes, I know I can be like Mary of the New Testament and keep all these things and ponder them in my heart (Luke 2:19).

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