Modern Myths and Latter-day Truths
Great Books for Families
By H. Wallace Goddard
Those who have read the Myth of the Month columns know that they are an attempt to catch those “natural” ideas in our culture that lead us toward ineffective living. The philosophies of men often promote high-sounding nonsense that becomes actualized and institutionalized in our culture. Sometimes we accept the cultural myths without examining them. Sometimes we teach them without testing them.
The truths that guide our lives should pass three tests: they should agree with scripture; they should agree with good research; and they should pass our own real-life test. I hope not to be misunderstood; I do not believe that the latest research discovery is on equal footing with heavenly revelation. I DO believe that good research teaches us to approach life and scripture with more sophisticated questions. And I believe that our individual lives are laboratories for testing truth.
A Popular Untruth
Consider one very popular movement in our culture: The self-esteem doctrine has been taught for decades as if it were self-evident truth. “You cannot love anybody until you love yourself.” The last few decades have been very damaging to self-esteem’s esteem. High self-esteem is associated with many problem behaviors. It actually can block sensitivity, caring, and growth. Many scholars have been challenging the simplistic notions that self-celebration is the path to wellness.
More significant than the scholarly discontent with self-esteem, scripture has never supported it. Humility, service, and self-forgetfulness are recommended over self-celebration. We are to worship God, not ourselves.
On the personal level, my efforts to convince myself that “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me” has always felt goofy and unconvincing. In contrast, when I have taken Ammon’s attitude, I have felt Real Power: “I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things” (Alma 26: 12).
The self-esteem issue is one of those addressed in a collection of sixty “Myth” columns that were written for Meridian Magazine. They have been collected together with a dozen articles I wrote for Deseret Book’s website entitled “Latter-day Parenting.” Our son has organized the 72 articles into a spiral-bound collection which is available for $5 (which includes shipping to U.S. addresses).
Modern Myths and Latter-day Truths
It’s not easy to be objective about one’s own writing. I believe that this collection offers access to many important discoveries about the human journey, about marriage, parenting, and life. My work as a professor of family life has provided wonderful opportunities to dialogue with insightful scholars. My career has also caused me to reflect often and deeply about what “truths” are really True. Of course, that is not the most important influence in these articles. I know that the best material in this collection was the result of receiving counsel from Heaven.
In an effort to share anything we have discovered that is useful, the collection is available to all. You can send $5 to Andy Goddard at 574 East Center, Provo, UT 84606 or call (801) 607-0458 or read all the articles (together with chapters from our out-of-print books) online at www.JoyMap.org .
2007 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.