Economics 101, a Novel, ch_06 pt_4 -- Faith

(The framing story starts is here: If you haven't read that, you might want to. Otherwise, the rest of this may not make much sense.

Introductions and characterizations begin here:

In the previous chapter, we got to see more of the group date activities that Bobbie and Karel and Dan and Kristie participated in together:

And the trip back to school for the second semester was important, too. Don't skip that:

In part one of this chapter, we get to watch them get serious about life as their second semester as graduate students begins:

In parts two and three, we get to watch them make some adjustments as they date others.
If you don't care about characterization, you might want to jump ahead:

After the last couple of chapters, I think we're getting a feeling for where things aren't going and why.

But there are a few things left to wrap up before we can talk about the third semester.

Just a few, right?

In the study room, Karel walked around and watched over students' shoulders as they worked out example problems in statistical analysis and tried to apply them to the anthropology problems the professors had given them. Bobbie looked up and waved "Hi" with her pencil as he walked by.

Jack looked around and raised his hand, so Karel went to his table.

"I still can't figure out why they split the numbers up this way."

"Well, you understand about focusing on a subset, right?"

"Sort of. But this seems so, what? so much like a guess."

"Sometimes you do have to guess. That means that sometimes you guess wrong."

"Guess wrong? That's so much work. Too much trouble."

"Research involves checking a lot of bad guesses."

Bobbie was eavesdropping. She volunteered, "It's kind of like faith, isn't it? Alma told the Zoramites about planting the seed and watering. I think you have to assume you'll try some bad seeds, too."

Jack looked back at Bobbie and said, "Teacher's pet." He wasn't smiling.

Karel said, "I can try to explain, but I'm not sure you'll understand without trying some guesses of your own. Besides, there are a lot of principles in play here, and even the professors don't always know in advance how to pick and choose."

"I've got a job. I don't have time to guess and then run a bunch of calculations."

"Let me see. Have you taken an undergraduate statistics class?"


"So if I tell you about the bell curve, and then tell you that this particular set of criteria allows us to focus on stuff outside what we call the norm, does it mean anything to you?"

"I can understand focusing on things that are outside of what's normal, but how does this set of selection criteria do that?"

"Let the teacher's pet help you." Bobbie came over.

"Hey! you're doing my job again!" Karel half-complained.

"And you're going to help me in the physiology class. Get out of the way."

"I think Jack just wants Bobbie's attention," Jim said, mockingly.

"Hah, hah." Jack laughed a mock-laugh.

"Shhh!" Several people shushed them.

"Are you serious that you don't understand?"

"Sorry. Yeah."

"How would you describe the norm?"

"Non-working mothers?"

"These aren't stats from the US." Karel pointed out.

About half the students were listening now.

Bill asked, "But norm is norm, isn't it?"

Amid the complaints and voices of agreement, Betty said, "Bill, have you ever been outside the US?"

"Been to London."

"Even in London, you see a few things that are different, right?"

"Double-decker buses? Chips that are thicker than French fries instead of flat?"

Karel said, "In the particular part of the world we are looking at here, trying to define 'non-working mothers' would be practically impossible."

"It doesn't necessarily make sense in America, either," muttered Bobbie.

"Good point."

"What did you say? Say it louder."

"I said that what people mean by work is based mostly on traditions and whimsy, but let's not talk about that today."

"But Karel said it was a good point."

Bobbie and Karel looked at each other and laughed a little ironically and then sighed.

Karel tried again. "Let's talk about mothers who work for pay. And then let's ask what 'pay' means. Is it always money?"

Jack said, "Okay. The book said something about the value of unpaid work, and suggested that these numbers might be related to that. So, if the number of hours self-reported as spent on a particular kind of volunteer work can somehow be shown to relate to something like the children's grades in school, we could start looking for a connection."

"Nicely put."

"That's a lot of work. But I guess that's part of what anthropology is about."

"Excellent! Now, let's try the numbers."

Maybe it's pointing out the obvious, but in the time frame of this story, they didn't have computers and statistical software to do the grunt work for them.

So when Jack is complaining about the time it takes, he's not just being lazy.

After the help section, Jack stayed behind, waiting until most of the other students were gone.

"You two are like, engaged, right?"

Bobbie and Karel looked at each other.

"No, ..."

"Going steady?"

"No ..."

"But I couldn't like, ask Bobbie out, could I?"

Karel and Bobbie exchanged glances, and Bobbie shook her head. Karel just shrugged.

Bobbie sighed and thought for a moment. Then she said, "You could, but I might refuse, too. Can I ask? How old are you?"

"Twenty-six. Does it matter?"

"Well, at least you're not ten years younger. Is there a specific reason you want to ask me out?"

"This doesn't bother you?" he asked Karel.

Karel shook his head and raised his hands. "I'm her friend, not her boyfriend."

"I don't believe you. There's something there that goes beyond just friends."

Bobbie said, "It's a very poor world, where a man and a woman can't just be really good friends."

Jack was silent for a minute, trying to build up courage and think of something he could ask her to do with him at the same time.

Then Bobbie said, "No, listen, I'd probably turn you down. Can I tell you the reason why?"

Jack hid his reaction, even from himself. "I guess ...," he started, then stopped.

"Attitude and chemistry."

"My looks?" Maybe he had kept his body from reacting, but his words revealed him."

"Oh you're decently good-looking enough. But there's this thing called chemistry. I don't feel it. And your attitude doesn't help."

"A ... attitude ..." and he was stuck, trying to figure out what to say or ask next.

Karel said, "There's nothing wrong with being turned down. I've been turned down so many times, I lost count years ago."

Bobbie looked at Karel. "Really?"

"Yeah. I should tell you sometime."

Jack interrupted. "But I have to work. I have so few chances to even talk with girls."

Karel said, "I found, at some point, that if I quit thinking about asking women out, it was a lot easier to talk. And once it was easier to talk, sometimes I didn't even have to ask."

"Now that last sounds more like the Karel I know."

"Girls ask you out?"

"Not very often. More like we find out we are interested in the same thing and then we just end up going to the same place together."

"I'll have to think about that. But you two are reading each other's minds. Why don't you get married?"

And Karel and Bobbie looked at each other again, in mock disgust. Then they both chuckled.

"Sometime," Bobbie said, smiling kind of wistfully, "Karel and I might talk about that. Right now, I just need friends. And Karel and a couple of friends of his are kind enough to be my friends."

"So I guess you're suggesting I figure out how to just be friends."

"It's a good suggestion. Do you think you might not know how to do that?" Karel asked.

"Maybe I don't.

"You decide you want people to be happy," he said. "And you decide you don't care whether it is or isn't you that is with them when they're happy."

And Bobbie added, "And you should probably decide that you won't wait to be happy until you're with that special someone. Find a reason to be happy now."

And Karel couldn't resist adding on: "And see if you can find something interesting in your homework. A bad grade is small cost if you get lost in studies and have fun."

"Are you serious about the grade?"

"Maybe. If you're having fun studying, other people like to study with you. And that's a good way to make friends."

Bobbie said, "I think you're selling the studies too hard."


And somehow, they all laughed, a little ironically, but they did laugh.

Jack thought for a bit, then said, "I guess I'll try. Both ideas." Then he picked his books back. "See you in class."

"See you."

"Take care."

"Friends." Karel said as they watched him leave.

"Thank you for being my friend."

"And thank you, for being my friend. And you're going to be late for your class."

And Bobby grabbed her books and ran, looking back and waving as she ran out the door.

In the department offices, Melissa was busy when Karel and Bobbie arrived.

"Karel! Bobbie! I'm glad to see you again."

"Bobbie says good things are happening at home."

"They are. But I was so worried about having asked you all that stuff last time."

"Not to worry. Friends can handle a little difference in opinion."

"You're not mad at each other."


"I'm glad. Your professors are both waiting in Professor White's office."

Bobbie said, "No time to talk today, I guess?"

"Yeah, pretty busy. Let's talk next time."

"Okay, see you then."

In Professor White's office, both professors were looking very happy to see them.

Professor White said, "We just wanted to formally tell you both that you've been accepted into the PhD program. You can start taking the doctorate track classes in summer if you want, or you can wait until fall."

"Wow!" Bobbie almost squealed in delight.

"This is wonderful news. Thank you," said Karel.

And Bobbie found words, too. "Yeah. Me, too. I mean, thank you."
And they shook hands all around.

"I'm going on sabbatical in a year," Professor White continued, "so Professor MacVittie and I will both be your supervising professors, if that's okay."

"No complaints from us." Bobbie said.

Karel looked at Bobbie, but she didn't seem to have noticed that she had spoken for both of them, so he just smiled to himself and said, "None at all."

The professors took a little time to make sure they understood the program they would be entering and procedures they would need to follow. Then Bobbie and Karel made arrangements to meet with the professors the next week and left.

On their way, they stopped back at the office.

"We're both in!" Karel said with a grin.

"Congratulations! Are you going to tell your families?"

"Right now." Bobbie said.

"Mom! Is Dad there, too?"

"No. You sound excited."

"I got in!"

"Got in what?"

"Mo-om, the program. I'm now a real PhD student!"

"Wonderful! I'll phone your dad at work and tell him. What about Karel?"

"He's in, too, of course."

"Glad to hear that. What are you going to do over summer?"

"Well, I'm thinking I'll work full-time at the hospital. I'm running a little short of money."

"Dad says not to worry about that. Focus on studies and, uhm, ..."


"Social life. I almost said something I shouldn't have said, didn't I."


And they both giggled.

"Dad says if you need to log some flight time, he can send Rick and Lupe down with the company plane."

"That would be really cool. But is the money okay?"

"We're pretty well in the black for the whole last two years, and Rick is doing so well your Dad sometimes complains he has nothing to do, so, yes."

"Mom! Is Dad there, too?"

Well, of course Karel's call started out the same.

"Hang on, he has the day off today." She covered the mouthpiece. "Honey, it's Karel." Then she uncovered the mouthpiece and said, "So, you sound excited. Should Dad and I share the phone?"

"You could."

His dad said, "Okay, we've got the receiver between us where we can both hear. Go ahead."

"We ... I've been accepted into the program."

"Wonderful!" Mom said.

"Fantastic! And what was this 'we'?" Dad asked.

"Well, Bobbie has, too."

"That's great. but you still can't make her mind up for her?"

"Dad. You know that is exactly what I must not do."

"Okay. Take her time."

"Dad!" This time it was Mom chastising him.

"I mean, let her take her time."

"Thank you."

"Listen. The boss was telling me he needs someone who can handle the physics of semiconductors to do some contract work over the summer. I'm inclined to tell you to just stay close to Bobbie, but if you think it would be wiser to give her room to keep thinking things out, there's work here."

"Actually, I think I'm the one who needs the space, Dad. I really don't want to push her, and I'm not sure I can maintain my objectivity."

"I'll tell the boss you're thinking about it, then."


Our four friends had met in the lounge at Karel's dorm.

"Well, okay, you two are now officially in the PhD program. Cool. But Lectures on Faith is scaring me." Dan threw his books on a couch and sat down.

"Scaring you, Dan?" Bobbie asked. She sat down, too.

"Tests next week, and we haven't even gotten past the first chapter in our study group."

"We've all read it." Kristie sat down and opened her backpack.

"But it's supposed to be a big mystery."

"The temple ordinances are supposed to be a big mystery, too, but there really isn't anything there that isn't in the scriptures, if you include the Pearl of Great Price." Karel sat down and got out his books, too.

Bobbie said, "I agree with Karel about this. Maybe the emphasis is a little different, but it's all in the scriptures."

Kristie said, "The first chapter is talking about the physical world, how the principle of faith encompasses the thermodynamic principles, and provides us the wherewith to ignore the question of how the various systems get set up."

"Karel likes it when you talk like that," Dan joked.

"So do you. But we all have to answer the questions in our own ways."

"Yeah. Now about the spiritual world, faith is basically the answer to the question why, right?" Dan liked his summary.

"I'll say it just a shade different, but yeah." Bobbie agreed. "Now we need to summarize the second lecture.

Karel opined, "This lecture is interesting for the math, but the essence is that knowledge of God was not forbidden in Adam's or Noah's day. All those guys passed it down to their posterity, father to son and grandson and so on. In recent times, many churches insisted that we should not try to know too much about God. But this lecture insists we should learn all we can."

Kristie said, "Their ages are interesting. Adam probably talked with Noah's father, and Enos probably talked with Noah, himself. That's a lot of knowledge that can be passed from generation to generation."

Bobbie pointed out something the lecture said about Cain. "Cain and his descendants would have had Cain's teachings about God, however correctly or incorrectly Cain might have passed it on to them.

And Dan said, "God taught Adam, and Adam and angels taught Adam's children. And Adam and his children taught their descendants. The Gospel has been taught from the beginning."

"Anything else?" Kristie asked. They thought that was about it, so she continued, "Now, in my opinion, the important points of the third lecture are the ideas that we need to know God exists and that He is perfect. And we need to gain the assurance that we are living the way He wants us to, which means we have to learn to live that way."

Bobbie said, "Sounds good. But we don't want to forget that the lecture talks a lot about how God is -- perfect, eternal, knows everything, etc. Kind of like Karel."

"Hey. No speaking blasphemy."

"But Karel, you are perfect."

"Give me a break."

Dan just chuckled.

"Enough of that, you two." Kristie was laughing, too. "We need stuff we can write on our tests."

"God is perfect, like Karel."

"I'm just going to ignore that," Karel said. "Merciful, true, gracious, ... what does gracious mean?"

"Dances well?"

"Dan!" Kristie kicked him under the table.

"Ouch. That would be graceful, I guess."

Karel decided to tease Bobbie back. "I'll bet God is graceful, too. Like Bobbie."

Bobbie held up a pencil and said, "Lightening rods up!"

They all laughed.

Kristie said, "Gracious means that He blesses people with good things."

"That makes sense."

Dan picked up the list. "Doesn't lie, isn't prejudiced. Eternal."

Karel said, "From all eternity to all eternity. God's existence transcends the time line of this world, whether we think it's six thousand years or two billion."

Bobbie said, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, ..."

They were all silent for a moment or so.

Bobbie continued, "Love. God is love. And we can trust Him. That's the important thing, that we can trust Him."

Again, they were silent for a moment or so, until some of the undergrad boys walked through, joking and making noise.

Karel pushed the conversation forward. "The third lecture is that we can trust God, and the fourth is that it is His will to save us, and it is within His power and privilege to do so."

"Save us from what?" Dan asked, perhaps rhetorically.

Kristie suggested, "The fall?"

Karel asked, "What is the fall?"

Bobbie said, "Adam and Eve making whoopie?"

Karel replied, "Some other churches teach that, we are not supposed to."

"When we are children, we are innocent. We don't know much, and we don't have much experience, but we think we're pretty close to perfect. And, because we don't know much, we are pretty close to perfect. Karel explained this to me several years ago in the locker room after a game where I had blown a big play."

Kristie's eyes opened wide. "The garden of Eden is a metaphor for our own innocence!"

Bobbie's brow was knit. "Not sex, per se?"

"That's my understanding. Any loss of innocence."

"Give me a second or two to think about that."

The seconds stretched into minutes, and another group of noisy undergrads came through on their way outside.

Bobbie said, "I'm going to have to pray about it. We need to move ahead."

Kristie said, "I will, too. This is a bit new to me."

"Well, it's not really said in black and white in the Lectures, I think, but it may help understand some parts. Okay, there's a quick list of God's attributes."

"Knows the works of His hands. Knows everything."

"Faith and power, power to create the universe."

"Just. His judgment is perfect."

"And merciful. His judgment is perfect."

"Because He is all this, we can have faith in Him, and our faith in Him can save us."

"That's pretty straightforward." It was Bobbie's turn to push ahead. "Now I have some problems with the fifth lecture. It seems to me to say that there are only two personages in the Godhead, and that only Jesus has a body."

Dan said, "I've heard people argue that. I think they are using 'personage' and 'tabernacle' in different ways from what that argument would say."

Karel nodded. "My feelings, too."

Dan continued, "We should read Doctrine and Covenants section 130, verse 22."

"'... Body as tangible as man's, the Son also.' Wasn't that given some time later?"

Karel prompted, "And?"

"Sorry, I'm not seeing it."

"Truth doesn't change. The elders' early ability to express it definitely did."

"So we have to say the Lectures have errors?"

"If saying so helps, why not? But we don't have to say that. Instead, let's assume that section 130 is correct, and see if we can understand what the elders who compiled the Lectures intended."

Kristie said, "Well, if 'personage' meant a person with a body to them, that would clear up some things. But what's the 'tabernacled' mean?"

Karel said, "Maybe it refers to Jesus having received a body in the time-line of this world. Received a tabernacle during our history. I'm not sure that's what it means, but I'm sure it didn't mean the Father no longer has a body."

Dan added, "Unless whoever wrote it got it wrong and Joseph Smith just didn't want to argue. But it doesn't say Father has no body. It only fails to say He is a personage of tabernacle. But it also says in the Questions and Answers, 'in the likeness of the personage of the Father' and that the Son received the fullness of the Father. And it says, on the first page, 'these three', not 'these two'. And, of course, while we are puzzling about the wording, we miss the point that the Son participated in the creation, among other things."

"Good point." Kristie nodded.

Bobbie pursed her lips in thought. "Re-reading this, I think I'm seeing that the emphasis is on the idea that the Father and the Son are not somehow just different ways of seeing one God. I think I agree with the idea that they were struggling with how to explain it, and the later wording works better for us."

"On more thing," Karel said, "Jesus followed the Father, and we are supposed to follow Jesus. He shows us how to follow the Father."

Bobbie picked up the sixth lecture. "Sixth lecture. If we don't have the faith to be willing to sacrifice all things, we eventually get tired and give up. Because, until we have that faith, we can't be confident of our position with God, and the troubles inherent in life get us worried. And that worry wears us down. And if our religion can't inspire that kind of faith in us, it can't save us."

Dan said, "I think that covers it as well as one paragraph can. How about the seventh? Faith is not physical force."

Kristie said, "Doctrine and Covenants 121, what, verse 43 or so? Without compulsory means?"

Bobbie said, "I like that. Kindness and love unfeigned. And God mostly does not use compulsory means. You guys are wonderful. But I think our study group has probably started and finished without us. Should we go see if anyone is left?"

"There you guys are," Mike said. "All sorts of rumors have started."

Kristie asked, "Rumors?"

Meg explained. "Mike was betting Kristie and Bobbie would be wearing engagement rings next time we saw you."

Kristie laughed and said, "Quit that."

Bobbie just smiled and shook her head. "We got deep into Lectures on Faith."

"You did? Can we look at your notes?" Piers asked.

The study group stayed late that night.

And discussing the Lectures the second time around, they did a much better job of understanding them. But it would be cheating you of your opportunities to study if I told you what they came up with, so I won't tell you about that.

One of the important things is that they took the time to pray silently and listen with their hearts instead of talking about it casually like they did in the dorm lounge.

That Friday, all four were able to join the folk dance team practice.

"Stop, everyone." Tom held up his hand. "Joel, Kelly, what's wrong? Your rhythm's way off."

"Joel called me a whore!"

"I did not!"

"You can talk about that later. Dan, can you trade with Joel?"

Dan moved to partner with Kelly, and Joel moved to partner with Bobbie.

"Okay, let's start over again at the three-count shuffle."

While they worked through the routine, Bobbie asked Joel, "Let me guess, were you studying Hosea together?"

"How did you know?"

"I think Karel's wearing off on me."

During a break, Bobbie told Dan her idea. Dan was against it.

But after they started up again, Kelly seemed to become talkative. During a pause, she asked, "Why does the Bible have to talk about whores and such?"

So Dan said, "Because that kind of thing is among the stupid things that people do and then have to repent of."

A little later, Kelly asked, "So explain Hosea to me."

"Well, the whole country of Israel had given their hearts to false gods, and God was comparing that to adultery."

Somewhat later, she asked, "Why does God want to use such unpleasant ways of explaining things?"

"He thought it might be meaningful. But even the smallest sin is big enough to keep us out of the Kingdom of God."

At the next pause, she asked, "So what's the use of trying?"

"Because, if we follow Jesus, we can overcome the big sins and the small ones, a little bit at a time."

"We don't have to be perfect all at once?"

"Just have to keep trying. It's a little like learning to dance, isn't it?"

"I never make mistakes when I'm dancing."

"Kelly, Dan, what's with the parking on the dance floor?"


And at the next pause, she said, "At least, not on purpose."

"I think that's kind of the idea."

Later still, "So if Joel says something bad about me, I have to forgive him, too."

"Yes, but maybe forgive doesn't mean keep dating."

After the practice, Tom talked with Kelly and Joel.

"You two need to settle things out. I thought you had quit dating."

"We were just studying together."

Cherise joined them at this point. "In a group?"

"Just us two. It's more fun."

"Then it's no different than a date. If you're going to study together, get some other people to study with you."

Cherise turned to Bobbie, who was cooling down nearby. "Bobbie, how many people do you study with?"

"As many as possible. If anyone is studying what we're studying," she said to all the team, "you're welcome to join us."

As Kelly and Joel left, Joel told her, "Kelly, I think we need to back way off. I was talking about the meaning of the chapter, and you ended up taking it personal. Maybe we aren't right for each other."

"But, ..."

"Anyway, let's see how we do apart from each other for a few weeks."

The link to the next of the characterization chapters will be here when it's ready is here:

(The chapter index is here:

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