The Year of Living Virtuously

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Book Description

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.

Teresa Jordan offers a wry and intimate journey into a year in midlife devoted to the challenge of trying to live authentically.

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Praise For This Book

"With philosophical dexterity, she explores, searches and scrutinizes commonplace notions of right and wrong....This compelling set of reflections is poetic in its scope, and Jordan's meditations are thought–provoking and insightful"—Deseret News Reviews

"Writer and visual artist 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 Magazine

". . .an engaging and moving collection. . ." —Wall Street Journal

"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

"Thoughtful reflections on virtue and vice.. . .Jordan successfully incorporates lessons gleaned from formative moments in her own life with those from the biographies of relative unknowns 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 Reviews