13 December 2019

Reacting to Social Justice Warriors (SJWs)

The Book of Mormon has so many jewels that help us deal with troubling times!

One of the recent manifestations of troubles is the rise of Social Justice Warriors, sometimes known as SJWs, and their increasingly successful forays into many political and social institutions.  It is easy to think of an SJW as simply a high-spirited defender of various rights and peoples, but all too often we see such folks engage in riotous behavior and some of their more punitive proposals codified in regulation.  They seem nice and good in the beginning, but as they gain some influence, we see many of them taking a decidedly dark turn.

I was reading today in 3 Nephi 3:11-12, where the prophet Mormon give us some insight into a powerful political group called the Gadianton Robbers (v.11) and how the established government and their supporters chose to deal with them (v.12).

I highlight in red a phrase that should ring true of the SJW, who might be identified as one current incarnation of the Robbers:
11 And now it came to pass when Lachoneus received this epistle he was exceedingly astonished, because of the boldness of Giddianhi demanding the possession of the land of the Nephites, and also of threatening the people and avenging the wrongs of those that had received no wrong, save it were they had wronged themselves by dissenting away unto those wicked and abominable robbers.
Most SJWs will loudly trumpet their defense of those who are oppressed (like the "wrong"-ed above).  Some go so far as to take destructive action, perhaps even to commit homocide or extinction (as Giddianhi threatens by letter), to "avenge" a perceived oppression.  Not only can we see the stated aims of SJWs reflected in the Gadiantion Robbers of the past, but we get hints from the methods of the Robbers of what our modern SJWs may do in the future.

Verse 12 lets us know how Lachoneus, the governor of the people, reacted to such "defenders" of the "wronged" in his time:
12 Now behold, this Lachoneus, the governor, was a just man, and could not be frightened by the demands and the threatenings of a robber; therefore he did not hearken to the epistle of Giddianhi, the governor of the robbers, but he did cause that his people should cry unto the Lord for strength against the time that the robbers should come down against them.

The governor called on his people to make an appeal to God for strength against the Robbers. This same counsel might see our society through the wiles of the SJW as well. Robbers sometimes encouraged people to join their ranks, much like SJWs do today, and personal strength was needed to persuade the innocent from being "converted" into Robbers (or SJWs) themselves and turning against God in favor of social praise and riches.

As Lachoneus counsels, let us strengthen ourselves through a renewed commitment to God against mis-guided violence and a rejection of godly principles and living. Instead of turning to charismatic talkers and children and "you are just fine as you are" evangelists, let us hold fast to Jesus Christ and his commandments that persuade us to repentance and betterment and joy.

There will often be Robbers and SJWs among us.  According to Mormon and Lachoneus, our part is not to give in to their demands but to choose higher paths ordained by God.

21 November 2019

The Letter from James (James 1 - 5)

After all the elaborate writing of Paul, I always find the epistle of James to be a wonderful and understandable respite, except for the fact that James highlights many principles of behavior and living on which we need to be working!

Here is a bit of a list that I came up with.  Surely, all of you could come up with better lists, given how "meaty" James is!

  • It is better to be a "low" person with afflictions than a rich man living in ease. (1:9-11)
  • Everyone is tempted (not just "bad" people) - it is how we endure temptations that matters (1:12-15)
  • Actually being and doing good is much better than hearing and talking about doing good. (1:22-25)
  • Pure Religion - visit the fatherless children and widows - sounds like ministering! (1:27)
  • You shouldn't treat people differently, rich or poor. (2:1-9) 
  • You can't pick and choose the laws you keep, you have to keep them all. (2:10-12)
  • "...faith without works is dead..." (2:17-26)
  • Be careful and thoughtful of what you say (I need to work on this one) (all of chapter 3)
  • Lusting leads to war (4:1-5)
  • Be humble and resist evil (4:6-10)
  • Don't spend your life acquiring riches. (5:1-6)
  • Be patient in doing good and following the Lord until he comes (5:7-20)
Hopefully, you can come up with better specifics on how to be!

14 November 2019

Changing a Climate Without a Clue

Climate is changing all the time. In what records scientists have been able to develop, there have been things like ice ages and warming trends in the past, among all sort of variations. These seem to have been happening for the entire lifetime of the earth, which length of life there is all sorts of debate. Basically, experts can't definitively agree on much about how the earth works, much less something as basic as its age.

A first painful question:  How do we know if the changes were are observing now in the Earth's climate are really anything that we can affect?

I don't think the actions of humans created the last big ice age - either there were far too few of us or we were more like apes and therefore, by politically correct (pc) standards, totally benign. Why did the climate make a big change then and why?  All we can do is shrug and say "wasn't us!"

Some painful follow-up questions:  What if our heroic efforts to suppress temperature rise actually work and we interfere with a *natural* and "necessary* change in climate?  How do we know if a change in climate is more *natural* (aka pc-good) or if it is more "man-made" (aka pc-bad)?  If climate has always changed over time (looks like it has), how can we ever tell a "good" change from a "bad" change or even guess at a cause, much less if it is altruistic or malevolent?

In any particular change, some species look as if they flourish and others seem to suffer or even go extinct.  Dinosaurs suffered in past climate "catastophies" and mammals ended up flourishing.  Should the dinosaur have been preserved somehow at the expense of those nasty mammals (which includes you)?  Regardless, past climate change was out of the hands of either of these species and things proceeded without an intervention that we can definitely identify. For all we know, the planet wants humanity extinct and we are just acting terribly selfish!

Obviously given the rhetoric, many people think our technology or intelligence can stave off the next global climate event.  Everyone seems terribly sure that it can be done with no real evidence to back up the effectiveness of any proposed action. Yet, we are being demanded by children and politicians that we must seriously curtail humanity in the hope that it will pull our current climatic situation toward a more "positive" direction.  Of course, the children are angry that we terrible adults should have been doing this decades (millennia) ago and we may already be passed an undefinable "point of no return".

For all we know, the "positive" trend could be the warming of the earth and rise of sea-level that we think is happening today - some posit that the earth experienced such conditions in the extreme past and humans, if they existed then at all, didn't seem to take drastic steps to prophylacticly devolve like some demand that we must do today.  Perhaps the heating is returning us to better conditions for life on our planet that existed eons ago!  It could be "the great circle of life" manifesting itself.

Last painful questions: Why does anyone think our world of a few hundred years ago or last week is definitely closer to "proper" (pc-good) than it is today or will be a hundred (or million) years from now?  Who is so sure of this that they are willing to take the entire human race one huge, collective step backwards?  Should we be fighting against what could be the best climate for our world?

Depressingly, too few of our "experts" are willing to admit that questions about the climate are likely unanswerable and that curtailing development has just as much chance of derailing the natural and good course of the world as the chances of "correcting" things and that such efforts might prove to be negligible in either direction of "good" or "bad" results on the climate while possibly distracting humanity from moving forward in the bargain. There is more a political sideshow being acted out than a scientific or even "logical" argument being raised. I think we need more scientists and "leaders" to eschew the financial and honorific awards of playing politics and actually leveling with the world's people.  We don't know much about "climate change" except that it seems to be a regular feature of this stubborn planet, no matter what we collectively or individually choose to pompously do to alter its course.

10 November 2019

The Struggle to Find Masculinity

I listen often to a psychologist and college professor named Jordan Peterson and his insights into our current social upheavels. I was strongly impressed to share this snippet of one of his lectures on masculinity.  In his own way, he describes the sort of responsibility that is particularly resonate with young men that have often been cast aside as worthless and destructive to an emasculated world desired by some.

For my part, I encourage everyone to seek wisdom and they will often find themselves at the feet of Jesus Christ. If you get there through the words of a psychologist or at the hands of a priest, it matters little.  Christ will help you find the true masculinity and transcendence that your soul demands.  I don't pretend to be some paragon of virtue, but I have become acquainted with Jesus and his teachings from many sources and I invite all to find the truth of God through his prophets.  It is a worthy pursuit for any who seeks the divine masculine!

31 October 2019

My Own Gratitude

As I look back on my life so far, I remember again that I am profoundly blessed and I thank God for his watch-care for me and my family. It can all be summed up in one word: gratitude.

My mom generously gifted the house in Tucumcari to us and we were initially preparing it for sale until Lisa suggested living in it, her continuing love of the area coming through. After a huge downsizing, she is snuggly nesting in her new place. I still work my weekdays about a hundred miles away in Portales and spend time with her on the weekends. I am grateful for the generousity of my mother!

Speaking of the job, I am blessed to continue my work at Eastern New Mexico University, administering some computer servers and applications. It can be a bit more pressure than I prefer and I will surely appreciate retirement when it comes, but it is fine employment that lets me provide well for my family. Few jobs pay as much in this area and I have friendly people to work with, so I hope I am not found complaining too much during the rough times!

My father is a great (sometimes better than I am) influence on my adult children. Three of my sons are serving our country in the military in many ways due to his encouragement. I never thought I would have such a military family, but it isn't surprising given the service of both Lisa's parents as Marines and Dad's time in the Air Force. Such service provides some wonderful opportunities to develop skills and discipline. I am very grateful for their willingness to give up part of their lives for our nation.

My children are all engaged in interesting pursuits, from cleaning petrified wood and water lines to building earthships and caring for the disabled, each chasing their own stars. It has been especially gratifying that we were able to celebrate a marriage this summer and the beginning of a new family!  I am a happy father for the development of my adult children.

Of course, I bask in the love of my wife, Lisa.  I feel undeserving most of the time, but she resolutely cherishes me and our life together anyway. It is hard to find anything for which I am more grateful than the enduring love and companionship of my wife!

Most of all, I am grateful for God's greatest gift, his son Jesus Christ, who payed for my sins and works to give me a glorious future. In so many ways and seemingly every day, God provides the inspiration that I need to do what must be done and I am surpassingly grateful for his interventions in my life!

I hope each of you can find many things in life for which you can feel gratitude and express it often to those around you.

27 September 2019

Have Faith

Young people expect a lot and they are angry and vengeful toward previous generations and often toward God for not meeting their expectations.

Some of my kids find me to be a poor father. I am actually quite a lot like my own father and I think he has been pretty good in the main. Mom was a fine mother as well despite the usual imperfections. My wife and I worked to make sure that we had a better relationship than any of our parents could manage - my parents divorced when I was just entering adolescence and I was determined that I wouldn't do that when it was my turn.  I haven't divorced and my children didn't have to deal with that damaging situation. We generated better circumstances than the previous generation but that just wasn't good enough as far as some of my children were concerned.

It is like climate change.  Children lack any sense of history, especially if their parents never read them Grimm's fairy tales, so they don't understand that things like nasty witches, expanding deserts, damsels in distress, broken world records, simpletons, trends toward heating or cooling, and the powerful preying on the weak have always been with us.  These things are no one person's particular fault and no one person is actually responsible for solving things globally. Individually,
we need to be and do good and better, but "the collective" will always tend toward evil a la the Tower of Babel from that unfashionable Bible.  God typically works on the individual scale, but he will ultimately correct things but do so in a way that might not suit the preferences of short-sighted children.

It's funny - young hellions like Miss Thunberg screech about how terrible adults are, but we know a few things that she can't seem to grasp:  Things work out and Good (actually God) will triumph.  The young have a decided lack of faith on every level. Sadly, they will find themselves with bad results if they continue to ignore the absolute centrality of faith in and action resulting from the goodness of God.

I know I am a pretty bad father who didn't divorce the way I should have and I am not the endless well of resources that every child demands so that they can have a blissful life of ease. However I did learn the lessons my parents and their parents tried to teach me:  God is there and those who stay by Him will enjoy the inevitable victory that He will win.  For my children and their contemporaries, I and my generation falteringly pass this knowledge on to you and you would do well to live your life by it.

06 September 2019

Socialism and Liberty: A Fantasy Union

Socialism is an imaginary human management system that will not work until every human is under its management. In no case will *every* human submit to such a system without some external and absolute tyranny, which also won't work.

Liberty is the state of mortal being that is ordained by God. Every human enjoys liberty insofar as they exercise it. Everyone exercises some liberty even if they have no intention of doing so. You cannot fully abdicate your liberty to others, no matter how much they or you desire it.

Sometimes, people are tricked into the idea that Socialism can create Liberty, but this is not so.  Socialism only spreads responsibility among the group and allows others to attempt to regulate an individual's actions. Liberty insists on full individual responsibility and full consequences for individual choices. Liberty sounds good but few actually desire it fully - most people are allured by the fiction that one can do as they please and a family, community, or nation will bear the costs of consequences and responsibility. One can only ignore such costs for a while and others rarely indulge long-term.

Socialism teaches people to be as irresponsible as they can for as long as they can and to "skip out" on consequences. Socialists coddle the childish in us in exchange for our allegiance, which proves to be short-term at best - children (literally or figuratively) are rarely loyal through the lean times that socialism eventually demands of its disciples.

We are living in a time where we begin to see that no significant amount of irresponsibility can be born by the collective "others" indefinitely. There is no place where more than a handful of people can act without consequence and society can actually bear the full cost of it.

We sometimes get a gentle hand and a soft shoulder in our troubles, but we cannot rely on an eternal supply of these. We have our liberty, for better or worse, and each of us must learn to use it responsibly and with full understanding and acceptance of its consequences. Socialism, in spite of promises and "good intentions", cannot sufficiently fill the role that each of us should take upon ourselves.

15 August 2019

Family Sovereignty: Voting Together

My wife and I vote the same way these days.  We have decided to work together as a couple in political matters. The same philosophy holds for families as well - only as we work together can the family have any power.  It is a bit tricky with me being a classical liberal of the Jefferson flavor and Lisa being a Reagan conservative, but I typically give in and vote her way because I love her more than I love my personal politics.  Besides, my candidates always lose anyway.

The womens' rights movements was not really an attack on the notions of toxic masculinity or domineering patriarchy, it ended up being an attack on the family as a cohesive unit.  The best families of the past would come together and cast the one vote of the father after deciding what the husband and wife thought on the question.  Far more likely, the wife would tell her husband how to vote, threaten to deny him her bed if he didn't comply, and the man would say he voted as she demanded, no matter exactly how he had cast the ballot! For hundreds of years, this was how things worked as a matter of course. As women were given their own vote and encouraged to make choices independent of other family members, they can and do great harm to necessary family unity. Women and men going their own way (the trendy MGTOW) are basically self-defeating - the power is in unity in the relationship, not doing "your own thing".

Solution:  Make sure both votes cast by the adults in your family are agreed upon, therefore doubling your voting power rather than canceling it out.

08 August 2019

Xenos Xenagogy

There has been a lot of downsizing going on in my world.  We are selling our Portales home after moving a portion of our stuff to our house in Tucumcari and dumping the rest.  Although physically tired (I really never want to move again, but I have a reputation for doing it anyway), I have been working diligently to move my stories and writing to a new server and got nutty about creating a lot more content.  You can see the beginnings of the results at https://xenos.quix.us.  I call it the QuayLand Interchange Xenagogy, because it is fun to play with words that contain Qu, I, and X in them (you know, the domain name is quix.us).  You will just want to click on the link and see what is happening over there rather than leaving comments that I will never read here.  My "signature" writing can now be found at https://quix.us:70 and I have even revealed some lost tomes of mine that have recently been uncovered, such as 1998's Godsend and The Storms of October among a bunch more.

The most cool thing about the Xenagogy is that YOU can become a contributor to it, either by making comments on topics already written, or by creating pages yourself that are written collaboratively among the group.  We (the mouse in my pocket and I) are most interested in getting interesting insight and stories related to Xenos people, but we will see how things develop.

30 May 2019

Tools of Empowerment

[This essay is included as an addendum to a Mesalands Community College employment application.]

In any endeavor, one must put forth some effort to stand out from the crowd. There is always limited resources and limited time and both must be used to best effect to accomplish one’s goals. It is vital to gain experience and, ultimately, mastery of both resources and time in relation to yourself and others so that you may be in control of your life and influence others, rather than be controlled by others or simply by circumstances.

My first job was at a movie theater.  There were any number of fifteen-year-olds that could have vied for the position I won, but I put forth extra effort and took advantage of the social connections of my family. I started out as a doorman, basically cleaning the theater between movie showings.  The guy who ran the film projectors hated working the “midnight movies” on weekends and I offered to learn his job and be his backup and soon became a union projectionist at the ripe age of sixteen.  I was making the wages of a family man while still in high school, all because I saw some opportunities and went after them.

In the digital age, there are nearly limitless opportunities to create and profit from content. The internet has proven to be a highly effective content distribution system among other things, giving almost anyone with a computer and a connection the ability to be creative and build an audience for their creations.  Never before has there been such ready access to the tools that open up the power to be seen and heard by others and to affect others in powerful ways.

The most successful people of our times often started by taking up digital tools and grasping the opportunity to use them in creative ways.  Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, used computers and the early internet to initially sell books, perfecting his e-commerce model and applying it to other products until Amazon became the world’s dominant marketplace. He capitalized on the digital resources available to him and his customers’ desire to save time in finding desired products and is now a powerful and profitable influencer.

You can also take up the same tools, computers and connectivity, couple them with your own creativity and pursued opportunities, to expand your own influence and empowerment.  We offer the resources of experience and mentoring and the time for learning to help you to better grasp and use these powerful tools to command your own future and realize your goals. We invite you to join us as we chase your digital opportunities together and put ourselves at the front of the crowd!

10 April 2019

A Latter-day Saint's Imperative Duty: D&C 123

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I affirm my personal belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and this was how I learned it.

Joseph Smith was very poignant about what latter-day saints like me should do:
11 And also it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart—

12 For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—

13 Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—

14 These should then be attended to with great earnestness. Doctrine and Covenants 123:11-14

This is how I read these verses:

  1. point out where to find the truth;
  2. bring to light things of darkness as God points it out to us; and
  3. we should be doing these earnestly.

Faith is the essential fuel but we need to provide the engine and steering to make it effectual. It isn't enough to believe that you can get to exaltation, you must begin and proceed on the journey yourself. God gave you a body, a mind, and the freedom to make choices - he judges our use of these and the progress we make with what we were given.  As we use our gifts to learn the truth and expose error, we are duty-bound to share what we learn with others.

This blog and my home server are my efforts to do these things, fulfilling my imperative duty!

14 March 2019

My "Teaching" Style - Learning by Doing It Yourself

For the last few years, I have been given the lofty title of "professor" at Eastern New Mexico University and led a college-level course in Information Technology Management. You might find my choice of wording strange, but it more accurately reflects how I tend to approach the learning process and what it is meant to accomplish.

Some guiding principles in teaching and learning that I find universally applicable:

Being Productive rather than Consumptive

When you see a need (market opportunity), your tendency should be to create a new solution to address that need, rather than only complaining and waiting for someone else to address it for you.  This applies to curriculum creation, learning opportunities, entrepreneurship, parenting - basically any facet of life.

I encourage those taking my courses to produce work that is worthy of publication in a professional journal or blog.  There is little sense in spending time writing a paper that only one person will ever read - publish it!

Learning rather than Being Taught

This puts the focus of action on the seeker of learning (student) rather than a teacher. Too often, students get frustrated that I am not up in front of the class (metaphorically - I lead a web-based course) and doing the heavy-lifting of education for them. I end up simply facilitating and evaluating their efforts to gain their own learning through a textbook and explorations from a variety of sources.  I rarely present myself as an authority in the course subject - I hope to behave more like a fellow seeker of learning who has gone further in the journey and can share the wisdom gained from a greater experience and a longer study.  This is where I get the term "leader" rather than teacher.

Learners Prioritize the Things that are Important to Them in a Larger World

The "student" is in control of priorities in their lives. Although I supervise a course, the learner determines how much effort they put into it, which reflects in their grade, and when/whether to take a course. Too often, students expect me, as the course-runner, to alter the conditions of course for them so as to work around family or health needs, essentially requiring me to change requirements to suit them and their circumstances and desires. I rarely comply with this sort of request - one cannot change the sea, only the way one approaches it. It does a student no good to have every course "requirement" shift about at their pleasure when reality, to which education is meant to be a preparation, is rarely so accommodating.

Too often, expectations are that a teacher is responsible for the grades of students, as seen by making adjustments for poor student progress, rounding up scores, or trying to ascertain a student's optimal learning modality (visual, auditory, tactile, etc.) and using a variety of techniques that "reach" each learner where they are. As I teach those who should be adults, I prefer to put the responsibility on the student to rise to the stated course standard, to seek out sources and modalities that they best comprehend, and to approach competence under their own power.  Responsibility for learning must be placed on the learner, especially in the expanding marketplace of knowledge and experience, of which "college" is a increasingly small player.

Do rather than Watch; Stand rather than Sit

I come from the world of home economics, which is built on the concept of the skilled demonstration. A student watches with the understanding that they will then practice and ultimately demonstrate themselves, first to a "teacher" to certify proficiency, and then to others as a demonstrator in their own right. I am a firm believer in the value of demonstrated competence beyond book-work.  One learns best by doing, first under tutelage in controlled circumstances, later with fewer restraints.

Portfolios of work already done, showing a progression in complexity or refinement, are excellent indicators to ourselves and others that we can accomplish what we propose to do.  Be it a collection of art or a resume of positions held and projects completed, we show our demonstrated competence that should grow over time. Though we may list the names of people we originally studied under, few can successfully just ride coattails - we will ultimately have to show our independent worth beyond our degrees and mentors.

I will readily admit that having a teacher take responsibility for the "success" of their students is more profitable to the institution and less stressful to consumers in the short term of a college "career". Sadly, if that is all a learner puts into their own development, being steered about by employed servants and getting a certification to which instructors put the bulk of effort, college does society and each student a great disservice. Better for a professor to point out resources, provide initial demonstration, stand back to let students take the lead, and certify the show of learning and the student's successful products. Ultimately, it is through products that we create that will define our worth to ourselves, those who employ us, the family to which we contribute, and to society. The bulk of college coursework should reflect the need for everyone so certified to meet these demands.

22 February 2019

Charity that Goes Where Your Heart Is

I love liberty, including the liberty to see my money go into causes that I choose to support.

Alida Brown is a wonderful person. We didn't agree on much politically, but I don't question her kindness and generosity. I know she cared about me and my family and was mindful of time that was needed together when she and I worked some long hours on county health council needs. I remember that she had taken a single mother and child in need into her home for many months, helping them access opportunities. Alida is a great woman and I never would want to dissuade her or those like her from performing the wonderful service they render.

I remember some work that we were doing on a Saturday morning at the office. Our talk wandered onto the political and I recall vaguely that our ideological differences were laid bare. She struggled to understand how some libertarian-leaning person such as myself, who are so often cast of drug-addled, "anything-goes" ne'er-do-wells, would be involved in concrete, research-based, publicly-funded community health initiatives. I was certainly an anomaly in the council group, which seemed exclusively peopled by those looking to use the resources of big government to fulfill one (hopefully) altruistic goal or another.  Good folks all, but often of a different "bent" than I am.

I shared my thoughts on liberty, which is simply the ability to chart one's own course beyond the coercion of one's neighbors, especially as expressed through government. I wanted to do what I wished without being compelled by a codified dictum like tax law. I was helping her to work to improve health in our county because it helped feed my family and the work was compatible with my skill-set. Although I understood that taxes collected from everyone paid for our work, I didn't like that aspect of it.  If our work was wanted and needed, couldn't the necessary money be raised from charitable people instead of from money first taxed by the government and then legislated to a politicized cause?  I never could rectify how I should feel that taxes were better than voluntary donations.

I am always happy to see local initiatives funded by private foundations, especially ones that reflect the sensibilities of those being served. I will avoid speaking poorly of those working for the betterment of people, families, and communities - they are good people.  However, I often find myself at crossed-purposes with such folk when their help becomes "loaded" with ideology and political correctness.  Studies show that Americans are the most generous people when measured by their charitable donations and I am personally thrilled when such donations are spent in ways approved by the original donors - the work being done that reflects their heart-felt desires.  For instance, I am happy to give to organizations like LDS Humanitarian Aid and Heifer International that (hopefully) avoid large administrative overhead and provide for basic needs and education to those in the world who need it most.  I am not special, but I am glad my donations can provide help that is special to those who receive it!

I hope many of you feel the need to be charitable and don't just count the taxes you pay as your only contribution to the lives of others. Let your own heart be the guide by being charitable with the resources and time that you control!

21 February 2019

Dealing with God's Fierce Anger

As I move slowly through the Book of Mormon, I have reached Helaman 13, which is the first part of a prophecy from the prophet Samuel, a Lamanite.  This is a tough chapter, as it brings to light what could be considered by many to be some of God's more unsavory attributes. As I shared what I was reading with my wife, for example, she was expressing her own concerns that I was becoming critical to prevalent attitudes about God and what I was seeing as the projection of a kinder, gentler, somewhat ineffective God that can readily be ignored or simply dismissed. The God that Samuel speaks of here would likely be described in modern terms as harsh, demanding, and even hateful and vengeful when unheeded.  It is not surprising that many people choose to reject God because:
  • they see steadily declining evidence of God's influence on people; or
  • they only see God as a fictional character in some ancient morality story from a cruel age; or
  • they find their own modern virtues and ways to be superior to God's.
We live in a society that decries anger in any form. I have become angry at times, especially under stressful circumstances, and I am regularly castigated for it and declared a "bad man". Lost forever is the reason I became angry in the first place - which is often very justified! Modern moralists say that a good person can never display anger, yet I read these statements from Samuel:
And four hundred years shall not pass away before I will cause that they shall be smitten; yea, I will visit them with the sword and with famine and with pestilence.

Yea, I will visit them in my fierce anger, and there shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies, to behold your utter destruction; and this shall surely come except ye repent, saith the Lord; and those of the fourth generation shall visit your destruction. Helaman 13:9-10 (emphasis added)
The subsequent record affirms that this prophesied destruction did indeed come and the entire Nephite nation was exterminated just a bit more than 400 years later.  The quote above is put in the first person -  God himself says in his own words that he will cause the sword and the famine and the pestilence and all of this comes from "my fierce anger".  This entire chapter goes into some detail about this Godly anger and how it will manifest as the people choose not to repent. What we see in Helaman 13 is quite consistent with the God of the biblical Old Testament - a God that is passionate about developing certain attributes in his children and is perfectly willing to use seemingly "harsh" means to accomplish this.

It is no wonder that a culture such as ours that abhors even the appearance of anger would seek to recast their God as one devoid of negative emotion. Vaunted spokesmen for a variety of ideologies are hard at work redefining truth and virtue, as Samuel predicted:
But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.

Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him. Helaman 13:27-28
I find few statements that more clearly explain the prevalent preaching and adorning of the cultural leaders of our times!

The modern ideal of the doting dad that never punishes bad behavior and never raises his voice will find no analogue in the Judeo-Christian God of holy writ!  In my study, I see a God that blesses the obedient and repentant while eventually and openly punishing the disobedient and wicked after multiple warnings and ample time to comply.

In the midst of the hard predictions and promises of future destruction in Samuel's words, there is the constant call for the people to change their ways and repent so that punishment can still be changed to blessing:
But if ye will repent and return unto the Lord your God I will turn away mine anger, saith the Lord; yea, thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me, but wo unto him that repenteth not. Helaman 13:11
We currently enjoy a time when there is an opportunity to repent and yet so many choose to read this lull as a lack of interest or existence from God. It is trendy these days to castigate those who preach better behavior, drawing upon a growing pile of contrived rationalizations, many rooted in the fact that no divine punishment has come so far. Samuel goes on to predict the consequences of such behavior and choosing not to change while the opportunity was available:
But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head. Helaman 13:38
I know that, for many, the things that Samuel recorded in this chapter of the Book of Mormon seem unkind and unflattering. We like to believe that we have built a world where such things as anger or punishment have been banished as evil. I will say that only when we are firmly on the path of righteousness should we expect to avoid God's "fierce anger" and court his loving nature. The way to turn away God's coming wrath and enjoy his blessings is to repent and change for the better. So, when a parent or other authority gets angry with you, instead of chastising them for their "unacceptable" behavior or haughtily ignoring them, perhaps you should look within yourself to make changes that will turn away such wrath. Parents and God often have a great deal in common and, in Deity's case, are working for your ultimate good - you would do well to listen and comply.

11 January 2019

God as an Impartial Judge

Many people have a mistaken idea that, because God loves them, they can do as they wish with their lives and plead for mercy later through demands that "love conquers all". This concept of laziness flies in the face of God's work to develop us into people who can become like himself.

"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:  But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." - Acts 10:34-35

God is not a respecter of persons.  He must judge us in an impartial way and he cannot make special exceptions for anyone. All must be judged by the same set of rules - this is the nature of justice. Also, God cannot abdicate his role as judge because he loves you - he will not throw aside required repentance and growth through appeals to his love.

Under earthly circumstances, a judge with a close personal relationship with the litigants would have to recuse themselves. God can't do that as he has a close and personal relationship with all of us as our Father and there can be no other judge put on the case.

That is one reason why Christ was sent by God the Father to open the way for mercy under condition of repentance.  God can still be loving through Christ where he must also be a "no respecter of persons" judge.  This is why Christ is referenced as "Love" in many writings - He is the manifestation of God's love where the Father must be the impartial Judge who cannot recuse himself.

Mercy has already been offered through the works of Christ - you and I cannot appeal to some further mercy or love after the fact when we are brought before God for judgement. We must obey and repent during our mortal lives, as stipulated by Christ, if we desire a pleasant conclusion. There will be no "throwing yourself on the mercy of the court" in the end - such mercy was extended beforehand and has to be worked out prior to your appearance before "the bench".

Please don't think that you or I can ignore Christ's offer of mercy now and still access it in the hereafter - now is the time to repent, not later.