Lessons from Doc: #8 Learn to like gardening, puttering around the house, and fixing things.

I speak with no authority on this principle. I am a very unsuccessful gardener even though I like to blame the fact that my yard doesn’t get enough sun to grow things, and I am a far cry from a handy man. I don’t feel any particular pride even in my ability to keep a yard. I feel a great deal of shame about this and envy those with more skill and aptitude than I have. I know I could place a higher priority on domestic responsibilities, but I also try to blame my busy life. But that is Doc’s point … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #7 Learn to like the song of birds, the companionship of dogs

On #7, please see another great post by Kristine Haglund at this link:http://bycommonconsent.com/2012/06/29/learn-to-like-vii/ … [Read more...]

On My Marriage

As I read Kristine Haglund’s wonderful discussion of Lowell Bennion’s aphorism that we should learn to like people different than we are, I was struck by the comparison she made between our relationships with other people and with the creation itself. As a literary critic, I am well aware of a similar problem we create whenever we read. Peter calls it “wresting the scriptures,” but we might also simply call it narcissism. Instead of a window into another world, a book becomes a mirror, reflect … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #6 Learn to like work and enjoy the satisfaction of doing your job as well as it can be done

Doc founded the Teton Valley Boys Ranch in the 1960s on the idea that work was inherently valuable and that boys needed to learn to like it. I don’t know why girls were not included in his objectives. He never spoke about this, as far as I know. Certainly there was only so much he could do with one ranch and one idea, but his successor and one of my heroes, Dick Jacobsen, bought the property years later and reinstituted the boys ranch and then created a girls and family ranch on the other side o … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #5 Learn to like people even though they may be different… different from you.

For a wonderful discussion of principle #5, go to this link and read a post by my friend Kristine Haglund: http://bycommonconsent.com/2012/06/19/learn-to-like-v/ … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #4 Learn to like fields, trees, brooks, hiking, rowing, climbing hills.

This might have the appearance as one of the easiest, dare I say natural, aphorisms of Doc’s, since appreciation of this sort would appear easy to come by. I have never met a person who did not have at least a modicum of respect for natural beauty of some kind. So it is curious, then, that much rarer are those individuals whose attachment to beauty is deep enough to forge a lasting commitment to the health and wellbeing of their surroundings. I have said it before, but fierce affection for n … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #3 “Learn to like plain food, plain service, plain cooking.”

Doc loved gardens. He loved weeding and feeding people with the food he grew. I once ate fresh tomatoes from his garden in his kitchen. The Teton Valley Boys Ranch served plain oatmeal for breakfast. At first it made me gag, seeing as how I was 12, but I developed a love for the way it stuck to my stomach. At least that was my theory. I knew it was cheap, easy to make, and good for me, and I did indeed learn to like it.Once again, Doc seems ahead of his time. We know so much more now about the … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #2 “Learn to like reading, conversation, music”

The underlying principle of Doc’s aphorisms seems to be that it matters a great deal how we spend our time and where our deepest affections lie. This matters not only to our character but to the communities, large and small, of which we are a part. As I suggested in my previous post, this is in part because how we spend our time also tends to determine how we spend our money and resources, that is, how we consume. The activities listed here—reading, engaging in conversation, and listening to or p … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #1 “Learn to Like What Doesn’t Cost Much”

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6: 6-8).Price, of course, is not always a reflection of quality, as I have sadly learned in this economy of increasingly poorly made products. We live in an economy that thrives on obsolescence, so durability is arguably at least one reason to buy what may cost more. As I mentioned in my earlier … [Read more...]

My Debt to Lowell Bennion

In the last few months I have had the privilege of meeting two sons of Lowell Bennion, a man who had a stronger influence on the way that I think (and hopefully someday act!) as a Mormon than anyone else. On the occasion of both of these encounters, I felt overwhelmed with feelings of tenderness and nostalgia for their father perhaps because they held such a close physical resemblance to him but also because they were living out their lives in ways consistent with who he was. I believe that … [Read more...]