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Posted May 14, 2009

Book: Reclaiming Virtue: How we can develop the moral intelligence to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason
Author: John Bradshaw
Batam Books, New York, 2009. pp. 516

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

John Bradshaw has written this book for the millions of decent, caring people who are struggling everyday with painful choices, who are appalled - as he is -- by the greed and shamelessness that plague our society, and who long for guidance for themselves and their children in an increasingly complex world.

Is the only solution a return to an oppressive, rule-based morality or an idealized past? Bradshaw says no. Instead he shows that each of us has what he calls an inborn moral intelligence, an inner guidance system that can lead us - if we know how to cultivate it in ourselves and others.

His fascinating discussion ranges from ancient Greek philosophers to modern explorations of emotional development, from provocative historical insights to the recent discoveries of neuroscience. Why do so many attempts at moral education fail? What is willpower, and how can we develop it? How can we navigate the inevitable problems of love, work and aging? How can we begin again after addiction or failure? How can we lead and discipline our children?

An Excerpt from the Book:

The Humility That Moves Us to Seek New Learning (Docilitas)

Even Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player who has ever played the game, needed a coach. In any area of skill and know-how, being open to learn more is an essential feature of excellence. Aquinas' humility [in his treatise on prudence] is not just the willingness to learn; it is the desire to find new teachers who can take us beyond where we are now, and humbly ask for their help. It is, in the broadest sense, the desire to be a better and better person.

. . . . For the first three years of my sobriety, my twelve-step sponsor was a necessary part of my recovery from alcoholism. He taught me the humility to follow the twelve steps and not try to improve on them. I have deep gratitude for his help. But there came a point when he could not take me where I needed to go in order to grow. I was acting our sexually, and he believed that had nothing to do with abstinence from alcohol. That is when I sought the help of a therapist to do the grief work related to my childhood abuses. After several years of this work, I became deeply vulnerable, stopped resenting my parents, and had no more tears to cry. But I did need to learn the living skills I had not learned and did a workshop using a book entitled Your Perfect Right by Robert Alberi and Michael Emmons. This course helped me immensely. Finally, as I developed my ego strength, I felt the urge to expand and grow spiritually, and I sought to consciously live a more intense consciousness. I needed another spiritual master to begin to work on my spiritual growth. I discovered Henri Nouwen and learned seven meditation techniques. I tried each one for a period of time until I found the one I felt I could go the deepest with. This I practice to this day. My life has been a series of endings and beginnings, and each stage demanded my being willing to leave one teacher and seek a new one to learn from.

Table of Contents:

Part I: What is Moral Intelligence?

Part II: Developing Your Moral Intelligence

Part III: Nurturing the Moral Intelligence of Those in Our Care