14 February 2021

The Redefinition of Respect

These days, it seems that there are demands for respect all around us. It seems like everyone, no matter what they do, are suddenly worthy of respect from everyone around them. This is confusing for me, perhaps because I am of a different generation and culture than most others around me.

I grew up with a very influential grandfather. Actually, he was my great uncle by marriage, but he later married by divorced grandmother and was the only grandfather that I knew on my mother's side of the family. He was hard-working, both kind and demanding, put others before himself, and served God with diligence. I remember most when he was often disappointed with me and wanted me to be more present in my surroundings. I ultimately respected his opinions and learned that when I disagreed with him, I tended to be wrong and he tended to be right. Even after his death, his advice to do technical work, which I rejected early on, turned out to be the right way to go and very lucative for me. When I think about "respect" these days, I think about him.

When social warriors insists that I show respect for infants, sexual or cultural perverts, or other unproven people, I get a sour taste in my mouth. I like infants - I was a preschool teacher for some years and enjoyed the experience very much. I don't think much of those who engage in various perversions, but I also don't wish them any ill and know that they have benefitted from my charitable contributions as I may have benefitted from theirs.  I hope they grow out of their brand of foolishness and that I do the same with mine. I want the best for others, but that is not "respect" to my mind.

I realize that I may offend the demands of others when I withhold my "respect" from swathes of people. I see a great difference in a neighborly attitude of "live and let live" and the individual honor that we may choose to bestow of respectability. 

As a religious volunteer at a prison, there was discussion of the idea of respect once, which had far more to do with fear and deference than what I felt for my grandfather. I was sometimes frightened and deferential to men grown monsterous through endless body-building incarceration, but I didn't respect them by following their examples or hanging onto each word of their felonous stories with a sense of longing. 

It makes me think of the "doublespeak" of Orwell's 1984 fame - the reduction of vocabulary to the point that no one can think of concepts outside of the will of the Party. It seems that more and more people want that world, one in which everyone is accorded respectability as if they are accomplished or of renown through just making a demand for such. It smacks of "participation awards" where people are cheered for simple existence and presence, except that now we are socially bludgeoned if we don't cheer loudly enough. The definition of respect is changed and rendered nearly the same meaning as base acknowledgement. "I am therefore I must be respected."

The troubling part is that the ancient accolades attached to respectability are expected to accrue to everyone now. We treat every babe and child as if they wrote a literary masterpiece or labored for decades to support a family while gaining valuable wisdom along the way. One no longer needs to do much of anything to be respected by others; others will respect you or else, harkening back to the fear of the muscled prison bruiser who will clobber you if you don't comply.

Our society has become quite threatening, reminiscent of the prison experiences I have had. I don't have much respect for society generally, much less for sycophantic governments that codify the worst elements of cultural degradation. The redefinition of "respect" is a thinly-veiled threat that we must vaunt the disrespectable and honor that which our ancestors found repugnant. It has less to do with a grandfather of high standards and more to do with a demanding and frightening thug. Which one wins?  

27 November 2020

This Nation Will Never Fail

 I date myself all the time, more and more as time passes.

On October 26, 1974 (yes, I was 7 years old), then Prophet Harold B. Lee spoke at the Hart Auditorium (I watched "Star Wars" at that auditorium 12 years later as a college student) on the Ricks College campus (now BYU-I).  I bring this up because of all the talk that the United States may cease to exist and break into any number of countries based on party or ideology.  President Lee said this many years ago.

Men may fail in this country. Earthquakes may come; seas may heave themselves beyond their bounds; there may be great drought and disaster and hardships, but this nation, founded as it was on a foundation of principle laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail

I got this from the Deseret News 1974 Church Almanac that I have in my front room. Times were hard forty-five years ago, and it is no better in 2020. However, we can hear the words of prophets of God.  I heartens me that our nation is going survive these days, as it has survived so many others. A prophet has said it and I, for one, will take it to the bank!

10 November 2020

"Enough and to Spare"

In a media-saturated world that is slanted heavily toward anti-God ideologies, I have always found it useful to get news and perspective from a variety of sources. It is getting tougher to find some balance when anything other than absolute submission to socialistic ideals is being touted as near-treason to Neo-socialistic sensibilities.

Take for example a story from one of my favorite sources: Mercopress, a media provider in the South Atlantic where I can follow stories about the Falkland Islands and South America. I had never heard of Earth Overshoot Day before, but apparently this group marks the day when the world has used up all of a years renewable resources and then selfishly pillages resources that can never be renewed.

However, God presents a more hopeful scenario:

Doctrine & Covenents 104:17 
For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.
Much of the environmentalist movement and its precursors in darwinism and eugenics are based on the idea of scarcity. The theory says that there are not enough resources and there are too many people.  The "Green New Deal" is heavily steeped in this sort of thinking combined with its close cousin of climate change fear-mongering. Many groups, often ignorantly, follow the war-drum-beats of elitists who desire some utopian gardenplace village with themselves awash in comfortable and easy plenty and with everyone else (including you) simply gone.

Fortunately, God has provided all that we need and more than sufficient for all the spirits that were promised their earthly mortal lives. Oppositionally, modern concepts of scarcity and "noble sacrifices" eschewing marriage and family are completely against the purposes, power, and preparations of God and deny his promise to all of his children. People that act on these concepts do an evil of very deep order: convincing themselves and others to fight against God and the abundance he provides by denying the unborn his promises of life.

Based on God's words above, much of the fervor of an environmental argument is just swept away. God doesn't want us to be wasteful or to deny the needs of life to others, but we are not running out of anything necessary and we are definately not destroying the Earth (big tough place). We can certainly destroy each other with things like war and pollution and murder, but that is a different and completely human matter that doesn't involve any shortcomings from Earth or God. Those pesky Ten Commandments are mostly about being grateful to God and sharing the plenty that God provides without hurting others - those are the things that are far more important to everyone's earthly experience.

Don't get distracted by lies meant to turn you away from God and deny life to others. Marry! Have children! Raise them upon the truths of God - there is "enough and to spare"!

08 November 2020

Jesus' Two Great Commandments

I fear some people misinterpret the Two Great Commandments that Jesus gave as a response to an interesting query. There is a temptation to overlay recent concepts of love on these two commandments and essentially reinterpret them in ways perhaps at variance with what was originally intended by the Lord.

Matthew 22:36-40

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The last verse says that the key to understanding everything else that has been revealed lies in the first two commandments.

The first commandment indicates an active and all-encompassing reverence for God, which I interpret as obedience-in-action to his commandments. As God doesn't force you to obey, the desire to keep his commandments must ultimately come from a place of total devotion (or love) rather than just the fickleness of fear and the avoidance of punishment. I say total devotion because the use of "with all thy..." a few times here - it seems you need that total commitment to gain the trenscendent goal of exaltation that God offers.

I fear that some combine the two great commandments together as if they both contain some unifying and singular definition of love. There are two commandments because two seperate things are being taught.

The second great commandment sounds much like the "golden rule" to me, as this from Matthew 7:12 - 

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Note the repetition of "the law and the prophets". This shows that The Golden Rule is directly related to the Two Great Commandments. It doesn't make sense that it relates to our relationship with God as we can never return to God anything remotely close to what he has done for us. Therefore, it must be a reference to the second commandment, which works very well.  Treating your neighbor as you would like to be treated seems to be the manifestation of the love Jesus demands of us toward our fellow man.

I think a significant group of people read more into these than is healthy. God does not demand much of us through commandments (no matter the Jewish tradition of 600+ of them) and everyone can live their lives obediently, exempting those who lack accountability. However, in order to live these commandments throughout a long life, a dedication to God and his purposes are ultimately necessary, as the First Commandment indicates. 

Modern love has embraced the feminine and soft ministrations of mothers as the ultimate expression of love, to the excluding of nearly every other sort. Many people project this sort of love on God and Christ in a motherly and demanded protection from pain and suffering and (frankly) incovenience. I conjecture that many reject a traditional God because they don't understand his purposes and therefore totally discount the manifestations of his love through a well-provisioned Earth, a clear plan to Godly living, and a redemptive Atonement through Christ. Today, the work of fathers and men to provide and open opportunities and motivate, much in the vein of our God-father, is universally disparaged and many demand the acceptance of only totally emasculated boy-children. Many people, worshipping their "inner child"(ishness) and an undemanding Earth-goddess-mother to the exculsion of much else, prefer a soft and comforting blanket of "mommy-love" as opposed to the challenging opportunity of exaltation which the masculine God offers and which constitutes his love for us.

I love my mom. I love my wife and her mothering of both me and our children. However, I'm just as grateful for the different love and example of my father, who most certainly does not mother. Beyond that, I am even more grateful for my Heavenly Father, who gave each of us loving mothers for the bulk of our lives, but is the great example of that "push-you-along", rarely satisfied, and more fatherly love.

God is the ultimate example of a good father: setting expectations that his children can attain and challenging them to rise to those expectations. It is a masculine love, not tending to softness and too often overlooking curable faults. God's love is more a command to rise to our divine heritage and become more like Christ. This is sometimes described as "tough" love where transcendence to exaltation is the goal that is set before us. God loves us enough to put us on the upward path, make that way clear for us, and give us the resolve that we need to succeed. What an amazing Father!

The next time you read and think about the Two Great Commandments, I hope you consider different manifestations of love that could also fit into Christ's commandments to us.

11 October 2020

That Didn't Work Out

A while back, I proposed that if some heckler calls you one (or several) of the currently trendy labels, such as "bigot" or "homophobe", usually as just a knee-jerk reaction to ideological difference, One should just say "so what" and move on.  As I read in the Book of Mormon today, Jesus Christ suggests his preferred response: 

3 Nephi 22:7

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall revile against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.

I know that further trends in "kindspeak" instruct us to never say anything against people but only against actions, but as highlighted above, it sounds like Christ tells us to condemn those who revile us as if they stand in judgement over us. I suppose we can try to lessen the blow by condemning their "tongue", but my thought to just take the verbal blows are not what Jesus would have us do. It also really does look as though we are taught to condemn those who "revile against thee in judgment".

There have been a few, even friends, who have reviled against me and my posts, labeling me with all sorts of ignorantly misused yet trendily judgmental terms meant to silence detractors. As Jesus directs, I condemn those of you who vilify me as I work to spread the gospel of the Savior as I understand it.  Such people need to change through repentance.

I hope all take heart that Jesus Christ is ready to forgive the repentant and contrite person. May we all be grateful for this fact and seek the repentance we need!

20 September 2020

The Doctrine of Christ

I understand and honor those who want to get to the heart of any matter set before them. I am also one that tends to brush away things that I consider ancillary to real purposes. In Christ's ministry in the holy land, he went to weddings and dinners; he socialized over the course of a three year ministry. In the land of Bountiful, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, Christ was only present for a handful of days, so we don't hear of his social schedule. He was rather purposeful and almost business-like. There was little time for things like parables, collecting new followers, or answering a lot of questions.

In one crucial incident, Christ did a clear progression of things in the first hours of his visit to the people at Bountiful, as described in the third book of Nephi, chapter 11:

  1. God the Father announces and identifies Jesus and that he is the son of God (v. 3-7);
  2. Jesus show each person that he was the promised and crucified Messiah who had been prophecied would come (v. 8-17);
  3. Jesus calls Nephi and others and gives them the power to baptize (v. 18-22);
  4. Jesus explains exactly how to perform a baptism and denounces (traditional Jewish) disputations on baptism and doctrine (v. 23-30);
  5. The first rendition of the doctrine of Christ and his promise that the Holy Ghost will validate its truth (v. 31-36);
  6. The second rendition of the doctrine of Christ (v. 37);
  7. The third rendition of the doctrine of Christ (v. 38);
  8. There is nothing more or less in the doctrine of Christ. Blessing to them that preach this as Christ's doctrine and punishments for those who teach other things as the doctrine of Christ (v. 39-40); and
  9. Charge to Nephi and his brethren to go and teach these things. (v. 41)

There is a definite line of authority to baptise established, from God to Christ to Nephi and others. There is instruction on the authorized performance of the ordinance of baptism specifically to those newly authorized to perform it. There is a specific charge against speculation toward alteration of the baptism ordinance and the doctrine surrounding it. The doctrine of Christ is the singular importance of repentance and baptism to being saved and inheriting the kingdom of God, repeated three times. Finally, those authorized to baptize are instructed to preach the doctrine of repentance and baptism to everyone.

31 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.

32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.

33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.

34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.

35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are bone.

37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.

38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.

40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

41 Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.

I emphasized a phrase above because there is a strong tendency for many people to say that there is nothing more to Christ and Christianity than repentance and baptism. From my reading, this is the total sum of what needs to be done to be "saved" (how many different flavors of salvation are out there?), which is to inherit the kingdom of God. It doesn't mean there is not more to God or Christ, such as exaltation. It means that you cannot add other stipulations to salvation (as the Jews were known for), nor can you neuter or push aside any of the stated requirements, such as authoritative baptism (as some Christ-believing groups have done), and say you will still be saved. In this situation of short exposure, Christ was terribly clear and immediately repetitive on this doctrine!

Are there further blessings and opportunities that God offers us beyond this "salvation"? I strongly believe that there are, including transcendence toward exaltation, which is to become like God. I don't feel that anything said in this chapter or elsewhere in the Book of Mormon or Holy Bible proscribes or condemns such further opportunities.

What I hope to convey here is the central importance of baptism performed by those authorized to do it. For those who essentially do nothing, relying alone on the "love of Christ" to "save" them, and loudly proclaiming this concept, I can only say that Christ has already condemned such teaching and (lack of) practice and purveyors, as quoted vividly above! I will rather say this, as instructed by Christ: "Repent! Be baptized! Be saved!"

13 September 2020

"Please help me..."

Occasionally, I hear pleas from over-wrought parents - cries for help in overcoming family shortfalls that go far beyond food or paying some overdue bills. I know families with members that have near-tragic circumstances that no amount of money or personal intervention can relieve. They want to be successful; they want to be the picture-perfect family from TV shows and magazines; proud parents want their children to wins awards and acclaim, but they don't have "those" children or parents think a better job or house or marriage might make the "magic" happen.  For some reason, sometimes even of their own make, a family situation is merely broken and the only remedy is a temporary dissolution.

In some such situations, foster care can be better care than a "birth" family can provide. It sounds absolutely terrible, but the reality of smaller and more fractured families with little capacity to face larger challenges, public resources that you may have thought only dealt with criminal abuse or negligence can be a last solution for diminished and broken families.

Looking back only fifty years ago, families were larger, lead by hierarchies of unified couples, and could provide help and comfort from an extended group of people and resources bound to each other by blood and relation. If you had a difficult child, either by demeanor or handicap, there was someone in the family that could intervene, even so far as to take that child in and to provide what was needed.  If there was something your immediate family couldn't handle, the extended family very likely could.

Sadly, our society has been on a multi-decade, multi-pronged mission to destroy such families.  Many children live in households run by single, and increasingly never-married, people. Many young people purposefully reject and isolate themselves from parents and relatives in favor of transitory relationships with friends and co-workers. Too many people conceive children with no thought toward the work required to parent them well, intentions that demand a strong, stable, and resourceful (monied/brained) married couple devoted to each other and then their children.  Far too many people copulate with mounds of their own maturity/drug problems, mindless of the probable outcome. Most of the situations that made families successful in the past have been discouraged in recent times and what the past knew as family dysfunction (like never-married parenthood) is foolishly praised and even selfishly lionized.

I was a public health nutritionist twenty-five years ago.  It was painful to see 12-year-old pregnant girls brought to my office to collect food vouchers by their 26-year-old mothers (proud grandmas). There was not a husband (or stable relationship) in sight. I should have told them to give those babies up for adoption, but I was too young and frightened of the consequences to my income. More than ever, society demands the provision of public housing, food stamps, welfare checks, childcare, and a crowd of helpers for every child. Getting pregnant is often now a ticket to an enticing web of resources and services meant to replace the benefits of family in the most indiscriminate and political way possible. A girl and her coming children may technically survive day-to-day, but there will be little available with which to accomplish more (much less overcome) without massive help, especially from a large extended family (which has been mostly eliminated).  I assure you from experience that the help available from a well-funded program, filled with kindhearted and powerful social workers, do not begin to take the place of a decent extended family.  However, if you lack such an extended family, a government agency is a far better alternative than going it alone to beg help of your Facebook "friends".

Moving forward a decade or two, we see what I call "multi-generational dysfunction".  Resourceful, coupled and traditional and helpful grandparents and great-grandparents are dead; incompetent parents who rejected "the old ways" but enjoyed the crumbling remains of ancestral resources; and now grown children who had no decent examples of functioning family, no knowledge of extended family members, and nowhere to turn in difficult times except to the charity of strangers or soulless government agencies.  Increasingly, capable families cease to exist entirely and family members that are known are more of a disability than a help. No wonder society scoffs at family - in so many places, remaining families have become breeding-grounds of abuse, neglect, and dysfunction.

So, what is the product of a multi-generationally dysfunctional family to do when, for instance, a child is seriously handicapped?  If there are needs too far beyond ability, to whom should one turn?  Depressingly, a parent should face reality and take the painfully humbling step of turning to government agencies to take over the parenting of that child. If the proper care of a child is beyond parents stripped of other options, it may be time to put them out for fostering, no matter how painful or dispiriting such a move might be.  It is not just a question of money and gifts - many children and families have needs and intrinsic dysfunction that mere money can never resolve.  Sometimes, the needs of such a child are better handled by more resourceful and functional groups, often bearing governmental titles.

We should reward this - a debilitated parent's willingness to give their child over to others (even a government agency) for fostering toward a better childhood and future. I can think of no act more humbling and heart-rending to admit and to act upon voluntarily. Parents may have to make a greater sacrifice to put their children in circumstances where habitual dysfunction or serious disability might be better addressed, usually through your local government child welfare office.  Again, it sounds terrible, but isn't a child worth the personal sacrifice of giving up parental rights?  You can turn a corner for your family and set your children on a better path, even if it hurts your heart to do it.

For those of you not yet facing the decline of the  family you came from, don't let it happen on your watch!  Marry well and with devotion, have children, do what it takes to provide and nurture them well, and teach your children to follow your example!  There are so many broken families, but yours need not be one of those. Choose today not to abdicate your responsibilities to continue your family.