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The Year of Living Virtuously

Weekends Off

List Price: $15.95

November 10, 2015 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 224 Pages | ISBN 9781619025882
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Winner of the 2015 Eric Hoffer Book Award

Winner of the 2015 Utah Book Award in Nonfiction

Winner of the Salt Lake City Weekly's Best of Utah Arts Award in Best Local Nonfiction Book

Benjamin Franklin was in his early twenties when he embarked on a “bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection,” intending to master the virtues of temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. He soon gave up on perfection but continued to believe that these virtues, coupled with a generous heart and a bemused acceptance of human frailty, laid the foundation for not only a good life but also a workable society.

Writer and visual artist Teresa Jordan wondered if Franklin’s perhaps antiquated notions of virtue might offer guidance to a nation increasingly divided by angry righteousness. She decided to try to live his list for a year, focusing on each virtue for a week at a time and taking weekends off to attend to the seven deadly sins.

The journal she kept became this collection of beautifully illustrated essays, weaving personal anecdotes with the views of theologians, philosophers, ethicists, evolutionary biologists, and a whole range of scholars and scientists within the emerging field of consciousness studies. Though she claims to never have aspired to moral perfection, she was still surprised, as was Benjamin Franklin before her, “to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined.”

Teresa Jordan offers a wry and intimate journey into a year in midlife devoted to the challenge of trying to live authentically. Through her explorations, we come to understand the ethics of time, the importance of mindfulness, and the profound societal cost of our contemporary epidemic of distraction.

TERESA JORDAN is an artist and author who grew up in a house full of books on an isolated ranch in Wyoming where the love of learning she acquired in the local one-room school carried her to Yale and into a lifetime of inquiry. Her books include the memoir Riding the White Horse Home and two illustrated journals, Field Notes from Yosemite: Apprentice to Place, and Field Notes from the Grand Canyon: Raging River, Quiet Mind. Her first book, Cowgirls: Women of the American West, was one of the earliest books to give voice to contemporary women working on the land. With her husband, Hal Cannon, she created the series “The Open Road” about the outback American West for public radio’s The Savvy Traveler. She now lives in southern Utah near Zion National Park.

Praise

“Writer and visual artist [Teresa] Jordan takes a page from Benjamin Franklin and embarks on a yearlong quest to master the 13 virtues Franklin explored in his “project of arriving at moral perfection.” While perfection is not in the cards, the process of trying is both fun and eye-opening.” —O, the Oprah Magazine

“As a refresher course in living a more moral life, Ms. Jordan launched a year-long exploration of how virtue and vice play out in orgdinary life, which she documented on her blog. The stimulating results are gathered in the engaging and moving collection The Year of Living Virtuously (Weekends Off).” —Wall Street Journal

“She balances her year on two constructs: on weekdays she writes about Benjamin Franklin’s list of 13 virtues, including temperance, sincerity, justice, resolution, and humility, while the weekends go to the seven deadly sins, including sloth, anger, and pride. Jordan quotes various writers and thinkers like William Blake and Hannah Arendt, and dapples her prose with bits of fascination.” —Boston Globe

“[A] gorgeous, thoughtful book of essays… [T]he book offers rich resonance with its stories.” —Salt Lake Tribune

“With philosophical dexterity, [Jordan] explores, searches and scrutinizes commonplace notions of right and wrong… This compelling set of reflections are thought-provoking and insightful.” —Deseret City News

“Jordan ranges widely and confidently through many worlds, with her humane voice making for a pilgrimage that is both searching and pragmatic.” —15 Bytes

“Jordan successfully incorporates lessons gleaned from formative moments in her own life with those from the biographies of relative unkowns and artists and thinkers as famous as Franklin, and she delves deep, especially in the more extended essays, into the essence of contrasting modes of being… Jordan’s engaging collection abounds with provocative inquiry, offering plenty of food for thought.” —Kirkus

“When you begin this book of modern meditations, you will simply want to keep reading it, having fallen under the spell of Teresa Jordan’s marvelous and many-faceted investigation into our notions of virtue and vice. You can open The Year of Living Virtuously to any chapter – to Lust or Greed or Gluttony, or Balance, Manners, or Moderation – and find wit and quiet wisdom. The extraordinary stories and sources Jordan draws on for her meditations, ranging from the personal to the neuro-cognitive, remind us that we can choose where to place our attention and, as we live more mindfully, not only endure the difficult moments but find the tranquility we seek.” —Judith Freeman, author of Red Water and The Long Embrace

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