Tuesday, September 28, 2010

we are not dots - we are lines

So I've been reading The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner and beyond the fact that is devastatingly poignant and well written, it has also opened my mind up to a new idea: That to know someone isn't just to know about him -- but to know about everyone who has come before him and led up to his being. I'll let Stegner explain: ...The understanding of any person is an exercise in genealogy. A man is not a static organism to be taken apart and analyzed and classified. A man is movement, motion, a continuum. There is no beginning to him. He runs through his ancestors…

I am as much the choices of my mother, father, grandmother, great-gradfather, etc. as I am the choices I have made. Everything they did led to my being were I am today. In Nature/Nurture terms, my nurture (environment/context of my life) was determined by them -- where I happened to be born and when, etc. -- as well as my biological make-up and the blessings and challenges that come with it. That IS genetics. And things within me, from them, are released: The process of growing older is perhaps a simple process of breaking down cell walls, releasing things that have for a while been bound up in the firmness of young muscle. 

Like the tendency towards heart disease, stubbornness, even strong faith in God... It is handed down and ...how far back beyond one ought to go, and how infinitely much one could fill in to the bare outline of two generations! 

To know myself I HAVE to know them... I think this is why I never regret the time spent listening to stories of ancestors, reading family histories, trying to understand my family.

To know what Harry Mason is, as of JAnuary 1931, I should have to know every thought, accident, rebuff, humiliation, triumph, emotion, that ever happened to him and all his ancestors, and beyond that I should have to with him against a set of standards to which I was willing to subscribe. That would be understanding but that kind of understanding can only happen instantaneously in the mind of God.

I can never know everything -- but I can know a lot. And I can be grateful for it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

the constitution

"Some of the things said by various persons in recent public discourse
cause me to urge that we be more careful in the way we throw around the
idea that something is unconstitutional. A constitution should not be
used as a weapon to end debate." - Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Inquire of the Lord

This an excerpt from a speech Harold Glen Clark gave to a group of BYU students at a devotional. (I recommend reading the whole thing.) I've underlined/bolded the bits that caught my attention.

Inquire of the Lord
Just one word to the hundreds who, in their secret hearts, have come here to find someone with whom they can share companionship and a love which will last forever. Let me tell you that you too must do your homework. So many storm the Lord to get him on their side, with all his blueprints. This is a poor start, especially when we've never "studied it out first in our own minds," to quote the Lord's word to Oliver Cowdery. Let not that person think that he should receive anything from the Lord, for the Lord will leave him alone with his problems. He is not teachable by the Lord or anyone else, and he will be driven by the wind and tossed while waiting in vain for the Lord to give him a picture of the girl he's to marry. One of our great prophets, Jacob, said:
Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works. [Jacob 4:10]

When we have lived the commandments, when we have learned to know and follow his will, and the person we want to marry does the same thing, we will both be drawn together in the Lord because we have much to share with our Father and with each other. We put ourselves beyond serious doubts and fears and foolish errors. Our whole bodies will be filled with light when our eyes are single to the mind and will of our Father in heaven, and we will comprehend all we need to know to make a good choice, and our companion will also (D&C 88:67). Why is this so? It is because our affections are based on eternal principles. When are two Latter-day Saint people in love worthy of each other? When can a couple be truly sealed for time and all eternity in the temple? It is when they love their Father in heaven enough to say, "Father, we have thought through our marriage, we have our own ideas, but we know that you ordained marriage, you made us male and female, you told us to leave father and mother and twain be one, and we want to be guided by you. We want to know, for we love you. We want to keep and make, make and keep sacred promises with you in your house, and in your own way."

Is it possible to love any woman, or any man, any more than we, or they, can love God, covenant with him, and follow his will? The answer is no. That's why marriage in the temple has so much potential for those who come here with an eye single to his glory. The successful temple marriage begins when two people want God's blessings in the way he has ordained. Then our Father in heaven can promise these two everything that he has and deliver it. He knows that with this spirit the couple will say more than just "Lord, Lord." They will wait to back it up by being worthy of all the requirements found on the temple recommend. Eternal love, as Erich Fromm says, is more than a feeling, for feelings come and go. How can we be sure on this basis alone that love will last forever? You can be sure only when feelings are supported by a judgment, a decision, a meaningful promise before God. Everything in our lives falls into place when we continually ask and answer the questions "What does my Father in heaven want me to do?" And "What did I do today to fulfill his will?"

In the scriptures, in the quiet of our study, in a clean body and mind, and in the busy and anxious bustle of good causes in our priesthood and Church and civic and home duties, God answers our inquiry. But until we find him and his will, and until he finds us and our will, we begin, as H.G. Wells says, "at no beginning and work to no end," and nothing in the universe or in our lives will fall into place.

{So, we must first learn ourselves to follow the will of the Lord --- but we must also find/wait for our companion to do the same. I will know the right choice to make when I comprehend God's will -- and my companion must know it by the same means and we will thereby have a relationship and love based on eternal principles rather than just feelings. We will be able to make commitments centered in our promises to God (not just to each other). We will do it His way and thereby receive the best possible outcome: His blessings. Nothing will fall into place -- and all of our work will inevitably be fruitless unless we do this. So we MUST inquire of the Lord and do His will.}

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Who do we worship?

This is all from my study today...make what connections you can.

The Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. taught that “it is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God" and that to acquire the faith necessary for salvation you must have a correct idea of God’s character, perfections, and attributes, as well as knowing that the life you are living is according to God’s will. He added, “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.” (Lectures on Faith

So we must KNOW who we worship.

From Elder Russell M. Nelson's article Jesus the Christ: Our Master and More (go read it!) 
"Under the direction of the Father, Jesus bore the responsibility of Creator." 

"The Gospel of John proclaims that Christ is the Creator of all things: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3) 

"His title was “the Word,” spelled with a capital W (see JST, John 1:16, Bible appendix). In the Greek language of the New Testament, that Word was Logos, or “expression.” It was another name for the Master. That terminology may seem strange, but it is appropriate. We use words to convey our expression to others. So Jesus was the Word, or expression, of His Father to the world

We worship God. That worship is of the Father through the Son, who is the expression of the father. The very name of God speaks of the plurality (and yet singularity) of whom we worship. El, the name of God the father, and Elohim, the plural of El and often translated as Jehovah, our Savior Jesus Christ. 

"Jehovah is derived from the Hebrew word hayah, which means “to be” or “to exist.” A form of the word hayah in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament was translated into English as I AM" (Elder Nelson)

"He is “the eternal I AM,” the Lord God Omnipotent who appeared to the patriarchs and prophets of old, who delivered Israel from Egypt, who gave the law on Sinai, and who guided and inspired the righteous prophets, priests, seers, judges, and kings of the Old Testament."

"Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament. But when we open our Bibles, we find little evidence that this is so. (The Old Testament makes merely four direct references to Jehovah and three references to him that are names of altars). What is missing in the translations is clear in the original Hebrew text, where Jehovah, the Savior’s Old Testament name, appears over 5,000 times! Why then is Jehovah missing from our Bible translations? The answer can be found in the way His name has been treated by Jews since the days of Malachi and Zechariah. Jehovah is the name of God, and devout Jews, out of reverence for Him, never say His name. Instead they substitute Adonai, a Hebrew title meaning “Lord.” So whenever they speak of Him or read aloud His name from scripture, they substitute Adonai (Lord). King James translators of the Hebrew Bible followed Jewish practice. Instead of printing Jehovah, the name of God, they substituted the English title LORD, printed in small capitals, every time the name Jehovah appeared in the Hebrew text."

Jesus Christ is our Lord God and Savior.  Joseph Smith declared that "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith). He is at the center of the church, of the gospel, and of our understanding of and access to God. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the rising sun

Sometimes it boggles my mind when I see the things that people think are important. Sometimes I just can not understand the skewed perspectives on life that so many have. Sometimes it seems like rationality has left the minds of the world...

But then I read this testimony of Christ from C.S. Lewis:

"I believe in Christ as I believe in the rising sun, not just because I can see it, but more importantly, because I can see everything else more clearly because of it."

Those without Christ in their lives cannot see as clearly as we can; they do not know and understand what we know and understand. What a blessing of clarity we have because of Him.

And yet, even with this clarity we sometimes let this mortal existence hold too much sway on our thoughts and actions. Let me add to this something Elder Neal A. Maxwell said:

"It is very important that we do not assume the perspectives of mortality in making the decision that bear on eternity! We need the perspectives of the gospel to make decisions in the context of eternity."

We see more clearly because of Christ and we must use what we see to choose Christ.

Thursday, September 2, 2010



It's nothing new, but people certainly tend to try and do it in all the wrong (and strikingly similar) ways.

The better way:

Romans 12:2
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

to whom shall we go?

After Jesus feeds the five thousand in John chapter 6 the people follow him around wanting to be fed again. Christ basically tells them that he is not there to feed them physically but spiritually. He explains that the time has come for them to change, and that he is that change. This is the response:

Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? (John 6:60)

Most of the people leave him at this point. Jesus turns to those who are left, his twelve disciples, and asks "Will ye also go away?" (vs 67) The response he receives from one of his disciples is, in it's own rights, a remarkable one:

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)

There will come, time after time, "hard sayings" into our lives. We will be placed (on even a daily basis) in the position to choose to stay with Christ, to stay through what he asks us to do and become, or to choose to leave. It is absolutely critical that we have firm in our minds and hearts this same declaration that Peter made-- that we know that Christ, and only Christ, is the way to lasting peace and joy. We need to always remember that there really is no where else to go.