By Cordell and Janice Vail

01 Feb 2004

Copyright 2004 by Cordell Vail, all rights reserved

A weekly email gospel message for the descendents of Ammon and Winona Vail


We have tried very hard in our married life to collect together and then to teach to our children what we call "life's greatest lessons. I have become very fascinated over the years with something that I have chosen to call the "phenomenon of passion". I have noticed parts of this "phenomenon of passion" for many years. But in a recent conversations with friends, I have discovered what appears to me to be a profound commonality in the effect of passion on a person. Truly learning about and understanding the "phenomenon of passion" is one of these "life's greatest lessons".

I will make no attempt here to differentiate between an emotion and a passion. The dictionary definition uses them as a part of the same expression. Webster's definition of passion is:

Passion: usually implies a strong emotion that has an overpowering or compelling effect
(his passions overcame his reason), the state or power of receiving or being affected by
outside influences; condition of being acted upon.

In this discussion, we will refer to all of these kinds of feelings as passion rather than a state of emotion. There are many different forms of passion in our lives. If we were to try to list them I suppose the list would look like something like this: hunger, anger, jealousy, sex, and love. In Napoleon Hill's book Think and Grow Rich on page 201 he lists two kinds of passion (he calls them emotions):

The Seven Major Positive Emotions The Seven Major Negative Emotions
desire fear
love jealousy
faith hatred
sex revenge
enthusiasm greed
romance superstition


There may be others. The scope of this discussion will be to focus mostly on what he lists as negative emotions or passions because of our tendency to consider those passions as addictive or controlling against our will.

As a part of those passions then can be listed something we might call controlling habits. An example of some of them would be: smoking, drinking, drugs, immorality, swearing, lying, uncontrolled eating, compulsive buying, gambling, etc. etc. You could list anything I suppose that is a vice or weakness and say that when you give in to it, it is giving into a negative passion. Anything that comes under the category of needing self control to not become controlled by or addicted to something could be added to the list.

I remember many times hearing Janice say, "You should never go to the store when you are hungry because you buy a lot more than if you go when you are full". That used to fascinate me. Why would our judgment be impaired by our hunger. Why would we not buy what we needed no matter how hungry or full we were. But then I began to see that same phenomenon of passion" in other things. I noticed it for example in people who have a problem with swearing. People say they will never swear again, but then when they get angry, they swear. Why? Why would the heat of anger change our judgment. Why would we be so in control at church, work or school where people see us and then when at home or alone not be able to control our temper and swear? Why would we not think of lying in normal circumstances? And then it is like we forget who or what we are when the passion of embarrassment falls upon us. We are almost possessed with another spirit and can not stop the words from coming forth from our mouth. We tell a "little white lie" to cover ourselves.

I have noticed the "phenomenon of passion" in the exact same way in relation to immorality. Many a young person has said they would never make a mistake as they sat and talked to parents, church leaders or friends, yet when they are in the back seat of a car filled with the emotions of passion, it is like a second personality takes over. They forget who they are and what they are and do things that they said that they would never do. The walls of resistance fall down. They give in to their passions rather than have self control. WHY?

The question, WHY is the main focus of this paper. It is an attempt TO DISCOVER

WHY. Why does passion have the power to make the walls of self control or resistance fall down when we are in certain situations. Why do we give in to a passion anyway when we have worked so hard and so long to control it? Why? It is also an attempt to show the commonality between passions. Maybe it could be said that there are more kinds of "holics" than alcoholics. I have heard all of these expressions used and more like them: the company executive who has become a "workaholic", a person that loves chocolate so much that they have become a "chocoholic", or a criminal that is a "sexaholic". Each negative passion on the list above could have the term "holic" attached to it if we define the term "holic" in the sense of something that has power in certain circumstances to make us do what we have resolved not to do or as Webster says above, when passion overcomes reason, it is then something controlling.

The more I have thought about this "phenomenon of passion" the more I can see a common thread in all of the aspects of their functionality in our lives, and the effect giving in to negative passion has on us. Each of the negative passions listed above is a very different emotion, yet each seems to work in a similar way when it comes to having power to control us. When it falls upon us, it some way has the power to break down our fences and almost in a sense "MAKE US GO WHERE WE DID NOT WANT TO GO". Or did we? That is the very core question. Did we give in because we actually wanted to deep inside our mind? Even though becoming an alcoholic is very different than having the compulsion to eat chocolate, there are some very common elements in the feelings that cause us to do both.

NOTE: Nothing in any of these Sunday Sermons is intended to represent the official doctrines of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are strictly instructions and teachings from Cordell and Janice Vail to their family.

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