11 May 2021

Straightjackets and Guardrails

My podcast player went haywire, perhaps with the intervention of God, and I found myself listening to a very old discussion rather than my morning devotional. I would reference the source, but it is an old idea and I only heard a glancing reference to it.

The story goes that a municipality notices that much money is spent on ambulances reporting to deaths and injuries at the bottom of high cliff from which many people fall.  An "out-of-the-box" thinker suggests that a guardrail or fence be put at the top of the cliff to prevent such falls in the first place and that the reduced cost of ambulance service would more than pay for the preventative.  I always considered this a lesson in prevention and economics, but the discussion to which I accidently listened was not so narrow in moral scope.

A broad concept, of which such things as socialism and neighborhoods were a part, was being discussed.  At its very heart, the people on the unintended podcast episode were talking about *safety* and the price of it. From the amiable discussion, everyone was convinced of safety's supernal importance and that no cost was too high for maximum safety.

The word "safety" has been bandied about much.  I recall President Trump saying on more than one occassion that this was a big part of a President's job, to ensure the safety of the nation. President Biden would likely attribute his enhanced desire for more safety, far more than Donald professed, to his presidential win. Like the discussion to which I was listening, there is no longer any argument about the centrality of safety in our lives, only the depth of expense society is willing to spend to aquire even more of it.

I have worked in hospitals and prisons, where straightjackets are sometimes used. In every case, the justification for putting a person in a straightjacket is "for their own safety".  It was a bit of a euphemism in prison, because it surely appeared that it was to control behavior and make others that had to deal with the straight-jacketed person feel more comfortable - it had little to do with the protection of the wearer and everything to do with the reducing the fear of others.

In the early stages of our current "public health" scare, society accepted what was touted as a few weeks of lockdown to get hospital services past the "surge" that might overwhelm them. That was more than a year ago and the stated justifications for continued restrictions have altered slightly, but they are still centered on a few societal fears that have swollen far beyond what is healthy or reasonable. Like the straightjacket, the people of our society are heavily constrained "for their own safety" just as the prisoners I knew. I don't really feel safer, nor do many others, and I never really asked for such a depth of safety, especially at the cost that so many have had to pay. We were promised that the "magic" vaccine would end the crisis, but it has not. There is a very real concern that the effective straightjacket placed on us by our well-meaning officials will never be removed because we will all be "safer" with this "new normal".  The continuation of this "public health" emergency has more to do with stoking the fear of the ignorant for power and gain than it does for the "safety" that our leaders seem to think is their job to provide.

Our nation's founding document, the Declaration of Independence, only mentions "safety" once. Our founding fathers rebelled against the smothering tyrany of a king over far fewer grievences and far lower taxes that we now toil under. Those men fought kings for the liberty that God had given them, where we ignore our God and plead with our leaders to enslave us afresh, all in the hope of a little "safety". We should put more faith in a God that wants our liberty rather than governments rife with corrupt people who scheme to profit from our fears.  Jehovah over Pfizer.

I would not be surprised if that old story about the guardrail across the cliff was created by an enterprising fence salesman.

20 April 2021

Another Grand Conjunction

 I have just been hit by two "blasts from the past" that conjuncted a few days ago.

When I was in my late 20's, I took a very interesting job as a siesmic navigator on a boat for Petroleum Geoservices, better known as PGS.  I floated on exploration boats for two years and came back to on-shore work when the twins were going to be born.  That was late 1999.

Not too many years later, Lisa and I decided to look at going to graduate school in Shetland, an island group above Scotland. We worked hard to get the arrangements together, but the UK finally said they wouldn't approve a student visa for us, so that plan went down the drain.

Here, I see that a PGS ship, the Ramform Vangard, which was under constuction when I was working for the company, has had to have an extended stay in port at Lerwick (the capital of Shetland). I never thought much of the "Ramform" boats as they reminded me of luxury liners compared to the boats I worked on - they even had a European chef for meals where we settled for a failed Ukranian deckhand as a cook.



14 April 2021

Grounding Ourselves during the Maelstrom

When it comes to elections, my candidates rarely win. It would probably be useful to those who seek office to consult with me, just to be sure that I don't plan to vote for them, thus avoiding a nearly-sure loss.

I am not an extremist, at least I don't consider myself one.  The current political climate is rife with extremism, from succession to the "green new deal", from racism to the "cancel" culture. Society is demanding that everyone pick a side in a ideological war where fringe groups battle in a "winner-take-all" fashion and victory will never be claimed until all opposition is destroyed. In the minds of some, a winner's political enemies must literally be killed if they cannot be turned.  I am not of that ilk at all - I want all of us to survive these times and your compelled conversion to one side or the other has never been my aim.

It has been windy at "the Crash Site", which is where I sleep during the work-week.  It is a sandy desert place and I have been impressed by how much sand is picked up by the high winds and blown about.  The landscape changes quite a bit and only the things that I have tied down to various pounded posts are in the same place after a good windstorm.  A strong wind a few months back picked up my dome greenhouse (my former sleeping quarters) and deposited it, twisted and torn, across a neighbor's fence.  Only a number of deeply-set fenceposts now keep it in place in this week's winds. It brings to mind the oft-quoted bible story of the people building houses on sand and on rocks.

In a talk by Chi Hong (Sam) Wong from the April 2021 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the concept of having a good spritual foundation is referenced yet again for us.  Christ himself has reinterated the idea in our own day here:

Doctrine and Covenants 6:24 

Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.

I take heart in the assurance that if I am about good things, I will survive just fine. In the current climate of redefinition and hatred, it can be hard to know whether something is good or not, but Christ and his prophets have left us a fine scriptural record of good deeds to follow.  If we let our lives be ruled by the example of Jesus Christ, "ye are built upon my rock", and we have the promise that we will not be overcome by the various evil ideologies swirling about us like a storm.  As we "do good" in Christ's way, we will one day receive the peaceful and glorious future that Jesus offers to those who follow him.

One doesn't have to join an extremist group or vote the "right" way to get by in this world.  You may not get your dream job at your dream company and you may not become a "talking head" on some important news show, but a follower of Jesus Christ will survive and may even (quietly) thrive in our present society.  We have the Lord's promise.

15 March 2021

Pathways to Blessings and Prosperity - 3 Nephi 5:21:22

I have spoken about prosperity at least once before and I have prospered myself in recent years. I don't know how much I deserve anything like it, but good things have happened regardless as I put myself in God's path.

My continued slow reading of the Book of Mormon might shed some light on some things that bring prosperity, physical and spritual. 

3 Nephi 5

21 Surely he hath blessed the house of Jacob, and hath been merciful unto the seed of Joseph.

22 And insomuch as the children of Lehi have kept his commandments he hath blessed them and prospered them according to his word.

As it reads, God blessed the house of Jacob (those would be the tribes of Israel) and has been merciful to the "seed of Joseph", which are more specifically the descendents of Ephriam and Menassah, the sons of Joseph. This is relevant to the writer Mormon, who is a descendent of Lehi, whose children were of both sons of the biblical Joseph.  It seems that these scriptures make reference to a lineal tradition of God's followers and covenant people.

The Book of Mormon has many references that God will "prosper" his people upon the Western Hemisphere who obey him.  The people of the Book of Mormon, both the righteous and the wicked, are descendents of Joseph, so blessings and mercy are due to them by heritage, if they seek such through obedience to his commandments, as in the second verse.

Blessings and mercy are not restricted to one or another of the twelve tribes of Israel: such is given to all the descendents of Jacob. Anyone who seeks out an authoritative baptism are included in the tribes of Israel and become an inheritor of these promises.

One of those promises is that we prosper according to our dilligence in keeping Christ's commandments as in verse 22. 

Why not seek the prosperity that comes of being baptized into the house of Jacob and keeping the commandments of Christ?

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 my 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 insist 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"!