Of Virtue, Goodness, and Repentance


The temple in New York City
The Manhattan New York Temple (LDS.org)


Two quotations from the incomparable Hugh Nibley:


“We recognize what is lovely because we have seen it somewhere else, and as we walk through the world, we are constantly on the watch for it with a kind of nostalgia, so that when we see an object or a person that pleases us, it is like recognizing an old friend; it hits us in the solar plexus, and we need no measuring or lecturing to tell us that it is indeed quite perfect. It is something we have long been looking for, something we have seen in another world, memories of how things should be.”

“Goods of First and Second Intent,” Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 9:528


Who is righteous? Anyone who is repenting. No matter how bad he has been, if he is repenting he is a righteous man. There is hope for him. And no matter how good he has been all his life, if he is not repenting, he is a wicked man. The difference is which way you are facing. The man on the top of the stairs facing down if much worse off than the man on the bottom step who is facing up. The direction we are facing, that is repentance; and that is what determines whether we are good or bad.

“Funeral Address,” Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 9:301-2




On the counter in the room of the home where my wife and I stayed for the past several nights in Indiana was a copy of William Bennett’s compendious 1993 volume The Book of Virtues.  I own a copy myself, though I haven’t looked at it for while.  But I couldn’t resist picking it up and browsing in it, and I was smitten with it all over again.


So I was in a receptive mood when my friend and colleague Ralph Hancock reminded me (and others) of a wonderful column that the ever impressive David French wrote earlier this year:


“The Myth of the Virtuous Poor: In defense of accountability”


I heartily recommend it.  Moreover, it’s congruent with my earlier post titled “In some respects, the Mormon lifestyle may not be so bad AFTER all.”




On a different, broader, and even more fundamental level, but still quite a relevant one, some of you may enjoy this video, which is somewhat more than five minutes long.  Others will simply be provoked:


“Without God, there can’t be moral good.”


Posted from New York City, New York



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