Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hot Soup, Cold Soup

Donna B Nielsen describes in her book Beloved Bridegroom the ancient biblical imagery of Christ as the Bridegroom. In reading her book I have gained an appreciation for both Christ's intimate love for each of us as well as the historical importance of marriage as an institution and eternal covenant.

Anciently, Jewish marriages were the pinnacle of their culture and society. Marriages were not arranged per-se, but a young man often made proposals of marriage to a girl he may have never have spoken to and only seen a few times during city wide festivals or otherwise.

Marriages were a solemn legal and spiritual covenant. The betrothal period often lasted a year while the young man built a house for the couple to live in. The proposal was accompanied by a dowry for both the family as well as the bride. The bride received this dowry much as we would an engagement ring today, and wore some of the money around her neck as a symbol of her promise of marriage.

Marriages were protected and emphasized by the families, society, the church, and the law. Such support leads to strong families. But is there not one thing missing? What about love? Is that not the foundation for a strong marriage and family?

To quote from the book, pg. 13, "It was not that love was thought to be unimportant, it was just that to them, love was an emotion to be cultivated after marriage rather than before. Much more emphasis was placed on the principle that marriage meant honoring a sacred commitment to a pledge. A person's word of honor to be loyal and to make the marriage work was considered more significant that passionate attraction."

To help sum up this difference between ancient and modern marriages, contemporary minister and religious psychologist, Walter Trobisch says, "[They] put cold soup on the fire and it becomes slowly warm. [We] put hot soup into a cold plate and it slowly becomes cold."

I found this quote very interesting. I think that to a large degree that this is true. That in our society we focus on finding love, on the initial attraction, then assume the story is a happily ever after as long as the couple makes it to the alter. While the marriage institution of old was firmly and effectively established, I don't believe we have to let our hot soup turn cold.

In fact, possibly surprising to some, the divorce rate in the US has declined over the last decade:

Per capita divorce rates 1990-2002:
1991, 0.47%
1992, 0.48%
1993, 0.46%
1994, 0.46%
1995, 0.46%
1995, 0.43%
1997, 0.43%,
1998, 0.42%,
1999, 0.41%,
2000, 0.41%,
2001, 0.40%,
2002, 0.38%

In my own life, I would like to have steamy hot soup that only grows warmer with time. President Faust, in his recent conference talk asks, "How can a marriage be constantly enriched?”

He goes on to answer, "We build our marriages with endless friendship, confidence, and integrity and also by ministering to and sustaining each other in our difficulties. Adam, speaking of Eve, said, 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh' (Genesis 2:23). There are a few simple, relevant questions that each person, whether married or contemplating marriage, should honestly ask in an effort to become 'one flesh.' They are:

"First, am I able to think of the interest of my marriage and spouse first before I think of my own desires?

"Second, how deep is my commitment to my companion, aside from any other interests?

"Third, is he or she my best friend?

"Fourth, do I have respect for the dignity of my spouse as a person of worth and value?

"Fifth, do we quarrel over money? Money itself seems neither to make a couple happy, nor the lack of it, necessarily, to make them unhappy. A quarrel over money is often a symbol of selfishness.

"Sixth, is there a spiritually sanctifying bond between us?"

I believe that we can have our cake and eat it to. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to date and find my wife and fall madly in love. I am also grateful for our eternal marriage covenants and all that marriage has taught me. I am grateful to have hot soup and to have the examples of my parents, as well as David & Lindsey, to show me all a marriage can be. I am grateful for Pres. Faust's words of direction as well as Pres. Hinckley and the other leaders of the church to help show us the way--show us how to have warm soup in warm bowls.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Dreamer's Freshest Dream

I have been reading a lot about the rising difficulties for today's youth to (1) get into the increasingly demanding college entrance (BYU's ACT acceptance cutoff has risen 4 points in 5 years), and (2) the increase difficulties today's generation of college students have paying for higher education (A full Pell Grant in the 1970's would pay for 75% of Harvard vs. 25% of a state school today).

Are the doors of oppurtunity still available to all? The America Dream has long been questioned and seems increasingly jeopordized. Seemingly, in today's world, the American Dream seems more sustained by reality television giving the occasional average joe a crack at a million dollars, a dreamy bachelor/bachelorette, or a chance a pop stardom, than it does by American industry, education, or policy.

Here is some proof that the American Dream is still hanging in there. Today, it seems, the American Dream just takes a little extra dreaming.

Newseek Reports a decade ago, Jesuit Father John Foley decided to tackle problem of the low graduation rates for inner city minorities, and even lower accpetance rates into college.

Check Out the article, but the long and short of it that the church did not have the funds to support the school, and the low income families couldn't afford the tuition.

Dreams take money. Money or big dreams and fresh ideas.

Foley, threatened to see his dream fall apart before ever getting a sinlge student enrolled turned to management consultant, Richard Murray, for help. Murray came up with the idea to have the students pay for their own tution by holding entry level jobs with local Chicago firms. If they could work 1 day a week and work the cirriculum into the other 4 days it could work.

Now a decade later, he has over a 100 Chicago firms involved and nearly a 100% acceptance rate into college. What a model.

Two great things from this: (1) look at what results came from rethinking the education model, and (2) the privatization of education.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Harvard to kick the bill for <$60k families

18to35.org reports that Harvard is kicking the bill for the children of families that earn less than $60K/yr. The students will continue to be required to pay some amount based off of a payment schedule that is tied to their campus employment.

What a great step. Harvard has the means to be a major influence in changing the educational landscape and I am glad to see them take such a meaningful step.

A tiered payment program could be implemented so as to not leave the $61K families out to dry.

Also, while I feel this is an incredible step, I would be interested to learn about the requirements with the payment schedule and the campus jobs.

I just graduated with my BS a week ago. I worked multiple jobs through school both for experience and to keep the bills paid, but found that those who had really high financial demands were at a considerable disadvantage when they had to sacrifice extracurricular activities and career promoting opportunities.

At this point is the $6,000- $8,000 a year that a campus job will earn really worth the sacrifice to the individual when that amount is of such little significance to Harvard?

A great step... there is still a better way.