Living Righteously in a Wicked World
This lesson includes some of the darkest chapters in the Bible. What do we do with such passages? How do we engage with scripture? How do we evaluate the actions of Biblical prophets? What was the sin of Sodom? What is the nature of righteousness and sin? How do we live according to our principles even in an adversarial environment? This episode wrestles with these fundamental issues.
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Class Member Reading: Genesis 13, 14, 18, 19
Additional Reading: Genesis 12; Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 14:25-40; 19:9-15
Other Reading: Abraham 1-2; Genesis 12-25
Jennifer, Justin, and Hannah provide a powerful and productive discussion that will improve your life. For real.
You can access the Assigned Reading here (or PDF)
You can access the Lesson Notes here (or PDF)
Lesson Part 1
5:11 Assigned Reading: Genesis 13-14, 18
11:55 Assigned Reading: Genesis 19
22:18 Other Reading: Genesis 12; Ezekiel 16:49-50
25:05 Digesting the Reading
Discussion Part 1
35:45 Expectations in Most Wards
47:50 What Can We Learn From the Characters
53:45 Literary Intent and Obedience Culture
1:08:06 Righteous in a “Wicked” World
1:15:05 Real Negative Infuences in the World
1:25:12 Maintaining Integrity in and Adversarial Environment
1:31:17 Overcoming BIG Obstacles
TED talk on using peer/social pressure to encourage good decisions
Dan Ariely on factors that influence our decisions
Introduction to the Handbook of Sociology of Morality
A longer article on the same topic
A dense but interesting article on how culture/environment motivates and justifies our decisions
Soul Searching, book about the influence of religious activity on teenagers
Why People Do Good Things (The Good Show), RadioLab
Academic article on resilience in the face of adversity
A Wicked World? (I wasn’t able to find a good source on the current cultural dangers, which genuinely are real)
A post about dealing with the narrative of Sodom and Gomorrah in a sensitive way
Is the world getting worse? Mormon Matters
Is the world getting worse? FeministMormonHousewives
TED talk on the abundant future
How the world is getting better, BigThink
Why things aren’t getting worse, Patheos
Social Media, Political Change, and Human Rights
Thanks to James Estrada for some wicked fast editing, and to Steven Nelson for the beautiful bumper music.
Mike Maxwell says:
I loved your insight on how the ethic of hospitality plays into the Lot story. For me, it really enhances the story of Lot and how his virtue contributes to his protection from the destruction of Sodom.
I had always read this story as a metaphor on how bad decisions invite more evil, rather than relieve us of it. The men of Sodom demand his visitors and (to our modern, western ears) Lot makes an inexplicable offer of his virgin daughters instead. Per the JST, the story seemed to say that evil does not satisfy but invites more evil so offered one alternative, the men of Sodom demand both the visitors and Lot’s daughters. However, it begged the question of how does offering his daughter’s make him any better than the wicked men of the city?
Now, reading this with the perspective you shared on of the ethic of hospitality, it really changes the story. Lot’s actions make sense as a virtuous response to the dilemma of choosing the ethic of hospitality as a virtue higher than the protection of his daughter’s virginity. His virtue is rewarded with angelic protection from the men of Sodom and the subsequent escape from Sodom before it’s destruction.
It still leaves the question of why, if Lot is a good man that, he seems to perpetually land in bad situations. He splits with Abram to settle in the well-watered plain, pitches his tent toward Sodom, then goes to live there, he is taken captive by invaders and loses all his stuff, Abram rescues him and gets his stuff, women, and people back, Lot continues to live in Sodom, angels rescue him and his daughters (minus wife, sons-in-law, and stuff) from destruction, he asks to live in a Zoar and then moves to a mountain cave where apparently neither nor his daughters can marry to produce offspring, his daughters seduce him, bear him children, who become Ammonites and Moabites.
Other than Moabites being Jesus lineage, not sure if there is a conclusion to this narrative, other than Lot was a good man who exercised faith and commitment to God through some difficult situations. I would love to hear other perspectives on this.