Friday, February 25, 2011

a "green" Zion

i started reading Approaching Zion by Hugh Nibley (expect more posts based on essays from his book to follow) and today i read "Our Glory or Our Condemnation" and among other things, i got a sense that one of the things latter day saints ought to be doing - to live our religion fully - is to embrace the "green" movement (as cliche as that may be at times).

What gave me this impression? Well, when Bro. Nibley said things like this:

"...the earth comes from the hand of the Creator most glorious and beautiful, with great rivers, small streams, and mountains and hills to give variety and beauty to the scene, designed by God as a place of beauty and delight. That is the way we must keep it."

and this:

"Now we all know that Adam could not stay in the Garden. He was expelled and told to get his living by the sweat of his brow. In return for hard physical labor, the earth would yield him of her abundance (Moses 4:23-25). It was a fair exchange—he was to put hard work into the soil, and in return the soil would sustain him. He was to live by work, though, not by plunder. I spent my mission among the fields of Europe, which had been under the plow for literally thousands of years and were still yielding their abundance. After my mission I visited a glorious redwood grove near Santa Cruz, California. Only there was no grove there; the two-thousand-year-old trees were all gone: not one of them was left standing. My own grandfather had converted them all into cash. It wasn't hard to do in those days. You looked up the right people, you got your name on some pieces of paper, and presto! you were rich for a short while and the earth was impoverished forever. I'm pleased to state that my grandfather recognized that there was something wrong with this, that he was not fulfilling the commandment given to Adam, that it was not the kind of work Adam was assigned to do. There was no proportion whatever between the amount of work and the return, between what man took from the earth and what he gave to it. Grandfather took something priceless and irreplaceable and gave in return a few miles of railroad ties. He not only broke the cycle of life so beautifully exemplified in those all but immortal groves, he destroyed it for quick wealth, which served only to corrupt his children and lead them out of the Church. In those days, we enjoyed a feeling of immense prosperity through the simple device of using up in twenty or thirty years those reserves of nature's treasury that were meant to last for a thousand years. With such prodigal waste, of course, we were living high. There's no permanency in economy that takes a hundred from nature and gives back one. There's no survival value in such an operation, which is certainly the business of systematic and organized looting—the very opposite of making a fair exchange with the earth. Above all, it ignores the ancient doctrine of man's obligation to "quicken" the earth that bears for him. The old Jewish teaching is that Adam had a right only to that portion of the earth that he "quickened," on which he labored with the sweat of his brow. Let us not confuse the ethic of work with the ethic of plunder."

I can't help but see in here the admonition, not only to be conscious our usage of the natural resources God has given us, but to adopt a style of living where you give in proportion to what you take. This to me means 1. recycling -- not only to reduce the amount of natural resources we need to use in order to produce things but also to reduce the large amount of waste we dump into our planet every day. 2. eating local foods in season -- to avoid the waste of transport and etc. and reduce the need to use energy to grow out of season and specialized crops and fertilizers (pollutants) that harm the earth (and us). 3. consuming less, living more simply -- again to reduce consumptions means to reduce the need for production and reduces waste. to reuse and make do with things that aren't the newest and greatest, to wear clothes out rather than replace every season, or give up having strawberries on your birthday because they are out of season, might seem like a sacrifice when you're used to having what you want when you want it. but is it possible that these types of changes, sacrifices, were part of what Joseph Smith was talking about in his lectures on faith when he said:

"... A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation;"

I think it is. I think it's one of the things that shows a more profound immersion in LIVING THE GOSPEL. once we get the more obvious things going, we tend to think "all is well in Zion" and don't look deeper for the many MORE ways there are to live our religion fully. it's not just a social trend to be "green" and to be mindful of how you live on this earth. i felt the truth of Bro. Nibley's words, that it is part of our responsibility in preparing the earth to receive the savior -- to receive Zion:
"The order of Zion is such as will leave the earth as near its primordial, paradisiacal condition as possible."
"We're not making Zion here, but we're preparing the ground to receive it" 

and there is MUCH to be done.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Godly Sorrow

Paul taught that “godly sorrow” is required if true repentance is to take place (2 Corin. 7:10). He also taught that not all sorrow is godly and that "wordly sorrow" is a dead end.

Consider the following words of President Ezra Taft Benson: “It is not uncommon to find men and women in the world who feel remorse for the things they do wrong. Sometimes this is because their actions cause them or loved ones great sorrow and misery. Sometimes their sorrow is caused because they are caught and punished for their actions. Such worldly feelings do not constitute ‘godly sorrow’ ( 2 Corinthians 7:10 ). Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father and our God. It is the sharp and keen awareness that our behavior caused the Savior, He who knew no sin, even the greatest of all, to endure agony and suffering. Our sins caused Him to bleed at every pore. This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having ‘a broken heart and contrite spirit’ ( D&C 20:37 ). Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance” ( The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 72).

It seems like it is really easy to get caught up in the downward spiral of worldly sorrow and waste time feeling terrible. the trick seems to be recognizing where the feelings are coming from and identifying which sorrow you are feeling...and if it is Godly sorrow then letting it work through you and motivate you to repent. if it is not Godly sorrow then it is a WASTE of time, energy, and emotion to allow yourself to dwell in it.  Alma 42:29 - And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Luke 11:11 - If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?

The Lord has promised those who seek will find, those who ask will receive, and those who knock will have the door opened. All the reasonable and straightforward results. Never a stone when we ask for bread; never a serpent when we ask for fish. 

And yet sometimes when we ask to be liberated from our burdens... the "logical" releasing does not follow and instead comes something else.

Mosiah 24:15 - And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

It isn't a stone or a serpent... but it isn't bread of fish either. maybe it's a bowl to make our own bread in or maybe it's even harder to understand the connection and it's, i dunno a pencil or something.

This is when FAITH, trust and confidence in the divine love and omniscience of God, again comes into play.

From Elder Maxwell - C. S. Lewis put it well when he said: “We are bidden to ‘put on Christ,’ to become like God. That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want” (The Problem of Pain[1962], 53). Hence it is so vital for us to be submissive because we’ll be puzzled when He gives us what we need in order to become more like Him and the Son, unless we are submissive in mind.

I've been "puzzled" a lot lately. What has gotten me through the confusion (and at times unfortunately, the doubt) has been an overarching belief that nothing that occurs is contrary to God's will; he doesn't turn to look at my life and say "oops! that wasn't what was supposed to happen!" so even when i keep getting pencils i can trust that eventually I'll know what to do with them... and they will bring me closer to Christ. i believe that everything that happens in my life comes with a gift in it's arms to help me learn and grow and come closer to him.

**even the things that sorta seem like they might be serpents - the exactly opposite of what i think i need - never are. they always turn out to be what i absolutely needed (but didn't know i needed haha). 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

i'm learning

so i'm going to get really personal here for a minute. (and at the same time sorta vague - after all, this is still the internet!)

i've been learning some pretty awful and wonderful things about myself in the last year. i'm sure you can guess why they qualify for both of those adjectives. spending the time that i have slowing down and rediscovering (& discovering for the first time) my priorities has been an intense and at times painful experience. my eyes have been opened to some scary truths about what i thought i knew i wanted... and that "like most women" (as my brothers are wont to say) i didn't really know what i wanted. not in a concrete way.

for example, as a good mormon girl i have always known i wanted a temple marriage. but recently i've really come to understand that in more particular detail. it's not just that i want to get married in the temple... it's that i want to commit to a man, and to God, to do all that i can better myself and my family and to progress together. but even that doesn't seem to clarify what i've learned about that goal lately...

because of the time i have spent with my siblings and parents, all living in the same home again in these last few months, i have had a strong affirmation of how precious it is to have such close, meaningful, and fulfilling familial relationships. there is NO WAY i am going to do anything to deprive my own children of something so beneficial and invaluable.

i can't, not for anything else i might want.

all this time i thought i was just looking for a good guy to marry in the temple... but now i can see that i am looking for something much more than that. i am looking for someone who shares the same hopes and desires -- that is willing to make the necessary choices and sacrifices to do right by me and our children and to bless all of us. we need to want the same thing and to prioritize in the same way. (to have a like testimony)

which is so so complicated. and hard. SO HARD.

it seems like all around me i am seeing women renounce what they ultimately want for what they think they want now. i used to be so confused by that, but i'm starting to understand it better. i'm starting to see how complicated it is to keep, not only your priorities straight, but to even understand those priorities in the first place... to put children, people you've never met, and a future that seems so far away before the here and now...

there is a lot of sacrifice involved. especially at the age when you are the most self-indulgent... i had to sacrifice a lot to learn what i have (which isn't much) and though at the time i was frustrated and upset about the pain of it -- looking back now i am beyond grateful i didn't screw things up before i knew what i really wanted. what i really needed.

of course, this doesn't mean i'm good to go. i'm still confused about a lot of things. but i am glad that i can move forward -- to whatever is coming up in my life (and i have next to zero idea of what that will be) and know better what (and who) i am making choices for.

i know better what i want now. the choices i make from here on out will (hopefully!) be made in accordance with that new clarity. it gives me direction and purpose. and i'm grateful.

many facets of my life have opened up in this way. i hope i can live according to what i've learned.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

trust the results of faith and not what you think you know

I was thinking about the story in Luke 4 where Jesus declares himself to be the Messiah that the Jews have been waiting for to the people in his hometown synagog. Their response:
22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?
I suppose there were many different and individual reason why they didn't accept him. He wasn't what many of them were expecting the Messiah to be. Some had watched him grow up and could not accept someone so "known" to be more than what they knew him to be.

I think it's far to easy for us to do the same thing. We often have preconceived notions of who God is and what He does/can do in our lives -- which closes our eyes to His declarations to us; when He manifests himself to us in daily life or speaks to us through others...we brush it off because what we "know" tells us that we "know better."

We do it to other people too. To the apostles who speak in God's name, we shrug our shoulders and discount their words. To friends and family who have received the blessing of repentance and forgiveness, we stay half turned away because "they won't change." 

We trust too much what we know and expect. Not to say there is no validity in knowing and understanding... I just believe that we need to be more open to having everything we thought we knew tossed out the window for greater light and truth -- or for a trial of faith.

Faith placed in who God really is and what he can really do, in the words of those with the authority to speak in God's name, and in people who have truly repented and come unto Christ will bear sweet results:
For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil (Moroni 7:11).