01 August 2021

Living Up to Your Commitment

A rather unique doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reveals that all of us had an existence before birth as spirit children of God.  The Bible mentions this in reference to Jeremiah (1:5) and Job (38:4, 7). Revelations 12:7 talks of the "war in heaven", where the spirit children of God chose to follow either Jehovah (Christ) or Lucifer (Satan).  Satan's followers were cast down and Christ's followers were prepared to come to earth through birth.

When you chose Christ before you were born in mortality, it wasn't just a choice, it was a commitment.  You said you would follow Christ - that is why you are here.  Mortality is called a lot of things, but it may be thought of like a very extended military "boot camp".  It is designed to ascertain if you are qualified to be part of God's "army".

The biggest thing to remember is that you committed to this.  You enlisted in God's development program. I suppose you can say that you did not bargain for the trials presently faced, but it was all explained to you previously, including the fact that you would not remember anything prior to your enlistment.  Once you start down this path, you can't bow out until you complete "boot camp", at least not honorably. That is literally suicide on a few levels.

Repentance and baptism are described in holy writ as the gate that opens upon the path to the promised life with God:

2 Nephi 31:17-18

Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.

Our lives are designed to be the testing of our committment to Christ and God that we gave before our birth. It is well to remember that punishments promised to the disobedient are proportionate to the committments and covenants we made.

Training is rigorous, to be sure. It is a proving ground, to say the least.  It was what God offered - the path forward.  Christ laid the trail and showed us the way. We must all prove ourselves worthy to continue on the path and every committed person will pass this test of mortality.  You can do it.

31 July 2021

The Importance of Finding Joy in Simple Things

This world is crazy and it is just getting more so.  How do I cope?

I spend workweek evenings living on an acre of desert land I bought within commuting distance from my job.

My first shelter was a geodesic dome greenhouse that I built from a kit.  I didn't anchor it down as well as the instructions said and a big wind picked it up, tore it apart, and deposited it in a neighbor's field.  I found it and rebuilt it again, did a better job of tying it to the ground, and ultimately covered it with a much more durable tarp.  I don't live in it anymore, but it has proven very good for storage.

The dome made a lot of noise and even though I had a fine bedframe and bed, I was losing sleep with the original polyester sheeting cover snapping in the wind and getting torn up over the weeks.  I thought about how to solve the problem and settled on buying a trailered MacGregor 25 sailboat from a guy on a nearby lake.  It was much cheaper than a comparable RV and gives me the added bonus of naturally being secure from cows and coyotes that tear things up.  My bed and frame are shoe-horned in the galley area and I don't have to worry about my 1-ton boat blowing away.

Recent rains have brought out horseflies and mosquitoes, so I have a mosquito net up to protect me from the various bugs that like to nibble on me when I try to sleep.  So far, the situation works well and I have weathered some strong storms that shook the boat hard but kept me dry and protected.

You may be wondering why I titled this "finding joy in simple things", after I describe what a lot of people would describe as pretty strange and primitive living conditions.

I get out on the deck of my boat and look up at the sky.  I get there when it is still light out and I look at the clouds in the sky.  As time passes toward dusk, the clouds get colored and are amazing to behold.  There are often stormclouds that come off the mountains just east of me, bringing very pleasant and cool breezes (I like a good stiff wind) and dramatic scenes as the sun sets.

Once the files and mosquitoes settle down after dusk, I can get out from under my mosquito net and look up at the stars, which are simply incredible.  If the moon is not casting a dim light over the desert at the moment, I can actually see the march of the constellations and planets and even the Milky Way is usually visible, looking like a spray of clouds in the heavens. I usually drift off to sleep that way and something will wake me up later to actually move into the galley and get into my proper bed.

Mornings supply a similar scene as sundown, although with colors like pink and purple. 

So, in the face of corruption and unkindness from all directions, I can get away and enjoy the beauties that God, our Father in Heaven, has provided for us.  It probably doesn't require a desert locale or a boat to look into the skies and enjoy the wonders of the heavens, but I know that it took a conscious choice to re-aquaint myself with them. You might do something similar and find elusive joy.

As we toil through a world falling into despair, we can turn to simple and unaffected things with which God has blessed us and find joy in his promises of a blessed future to those who turn to him. Better things can be ahead!

22 July 2021

Repentance Means Change for the Better

My readings in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants have inspired me to use this blog to repeat and repeat the charge to all that we must repent. I woke today thinking that it might be useful to help people understand what I interpret repentance to actually is and, perhaps more importantly, what it looks like.

Repentance is a change of heart and behavior that better aligns us with Christ and his commandments.

It is a short statement, but there is plenty packed into it.

First, it is important to gain a personal understanding of God, his Christ, and what they command us to do. Jesus did what his Father (and our Heavenly Father) told him to do, even the difficult things. Much of what we know of God comes to us from the example and teachings of Christ and his prophets throughout time. Jesus went about doing good and we should do the same. I know it would have been very useful for Jesus to have rallied his followers into an army, taken control of local government, and forced the people of Judea to behave better, but that isn't the right way to effect a change of heart. Christ lived the life more like an itinerant preacher, moving from place to place, teaching and healing and serving as an individual man and encouraging his followers to do likewise. A lasting change of behavior only comes with a authentic change of heart, not just some display or pretense.  It cannot be forced externally but cultivated internally.

Second, Christ is perfectly aligned with God - Jesus commits himself fully what is commanded of him and he follows through on that committment, even when it is difficult.  The act of taking on himself all the sins of the repentant and dying on a cross as a young man was a tremendous sacrifice that God required of him.  God has other work for us to do to show our devotion to him, certainly less dramatic.  Primarily, he asks us to put aside desires and devotion toward wealth and fame and instead "impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally.” (Mosiah 4:26) In doing these things, we align our lives with Christ's and do the good works God commanded us to do.

Again, repentance is a change of heart and behavior. As we read of the doings and teachings of Christ and the words of God's prophets, we let them affect our hearts and begin to feel more charity and love toward others. We desire to help those in need, both physically and spiritually.  I think it is useful to begin helping others even if we don't yet feel much love toward them - our service will soon bring on such feelings. As we do this, we will begin to feel toward others as Jesus does and behave more like him. Worldly concerns will fade in comparison to the service we can do. God will bless our efforts with resources and further opportunities to continue to serve others in meaningful ways that bless rather than coerce. We will feel greater joy in life, no matter what troubles we may personally face.

Our mortals lives are like a schooling opportunity: as we come to understand God and Christ and obey them, we learn how to become our best selves and qualify for the greater opportunities that they enjoy and desire to share with us. It all starts with changing our hearts and actions, which is repentance.


30 June 2021

My Thoughts on the CES Letter

 "Yes, Virginia, I have read the CES Letter..." and my response follows.

I have had spiritual experiences for decades in relation to scripture and God's hand in my life. These experiences satisfy me that God exists, that God speaks to prophets who record their experiences in whatever way they deem fitting, whether through speeches or writing or videos, and that God continues to work for the exaltation of men and women. 

Through divine intervention in my own life and years of reading and reflection, I am satified that the Book of Mormon was written and translated by those who were acting on God's influence and instruction. I am satisfied that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the structure through which Christ effects his promises and authorized priesthood toward God's purposes. It is an organization founded and run by rather ordinary people with faults and shortcomings. I am also satisfied that there is no intent to deceive or profiteer among Church leadership and any success that the Church enjoys, financial or otherwise, comes from proper stewardship and heavenly inspiration. I am futher satisfied that malfeasance within the Church is resolved in a manner consistent with justice and upon its discovery.

I respect those with great experience, especially God, who I revere as the Father of all, in sharing their wisdom with me as they will. Just as any parent produces a sheltered environment in which children learn and grow into maturity and adulthood, I trust that a Heanvenly Father set that same standard for me. I realize that I am still a child in many ways and trust that God will reveal greater knowledge when I am mature enough to understand and put such wisdom to righteous uses. Like any responsible parent, I reject juvenile calls for "full disclosure", especially from those who prefer to use such information destructively or ignorantly. Countries carefully guard "nuclear secrets" from "bad actors" to prevent global destruction - the same principle applies to sharing our more "sacred" beliefs with those who are bent on our personal destruction. 

There will always be detractors and dissenters from every point of view, from every culture and nation, and from every faith. Nothing on this earth is of a perfect nature and faults, real or contrived, will always surface for those resolved to dredging up such. I have always found that any endeavor or fact is made better by the influence of sincere and forthright people with good hearts. I have also come to know that any endeavor or fact can be defaced by the evil acts and accusations of those who seek only to destroy and denegrate. One's "facts" and intentions can be evaluated by the demeanor and vitriol of those who proclaim them - people are usually neither as good or as bad as their supporters or their critics purport them to be.

In relation to Joseph Smith, I find that the Book of Mormon has been a great benefit to me and I am grateful to the man who produced it, no matter how it was done.  My esteem for Joseph Smith and his associates in the church he founded is based upon the positive influence that the Book of Mormon and other writings have had upon my life. The Holy Bible and my reading of it have also been of great worth to me and I honor both Jew and Gentile that brought it into my family, faults notwithstanding.  I am willing to set human foibles aside to better appreciate the value I find in these remarkable texts and those associated with them.

It is useful for me to evaluate people or groups by their "fruits". In my estimation, those associated with Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are doing good and becoming better, both individually and collectively. I have found that these good and better results are direct reflections on the summed life of the man, the stories and lessons in the book, and teachings and purposes of the church. God's ultimate goal of the exaltation of men and women is far better accomplished through the efforts of faithful Latter-day Saints than through the doubt and dessension promulgated through "the CES Letter", which I recommend to none. 


Understanding the Voice of the Lord

Increasing numbers of people ignore established sources of wisdom that God provides through prophets. The world is becoming more tumultuous and the "experts" to whom many turn for answers are often revealed as vacuous and unreliable, more often wrong than right. The need for wise guidance has never been greater and those who know how to hear God will get the peace and direction that each of us desires in these confusing times.

I am grateful yet again for the writings of inspired prophets of God that we have today from the Book of Mormon:

 3 Nephi 11:4-6

And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.

And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.

And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard;

In this instance, God was speaking to the people but they could not understand. We may very well sit in a church or read from scriptures and thus hear the messages from God, but we may not actually understand what God is telling us.  In these verses, a prophet helps us to better understand what God has to tell us:

  1. We have to "open our ears to hear it". So many times, God has already provided answers, but we are too distracted by our own cares to "hear" them. As we set aside quiet time to put the responsibilities of life on hold, we will be more ready to hear what God wants to tell us.  I recall being in places far from the bustle of life that are quiet enough that you can hear the breeze and distant rustle of trees and the occassional bird. In such circumstances, where the buzz of our busy lives is far away, we have a better situation to "open our ears" to what God is saying.
  2. We must focus on God, the true source of wisdom. In the verses above, "their eyes were towards the sound". I recall how often my children would talk to me and I obviously wasn't listening - I wasn't looking at them and paying real attention to what they said.  How often do we also hear from God yet are not similarly paying attention?
  3. We can get answers directly from God. "...they did look steadfastly toward heaven...". It is good to listen to pastors, priests, and teachers, but it is better still to listen more to God who knows you and what you need far better. True prophets will always encourage a better and more direct access to God, so that we can "understand the voice".
I will be bold here and say that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints points me to scripture and prophets that put me on a direct path to a better understanding of God and Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for the Prophet Joseph Smith who translated the Book of Mormon so that we could have that better understanding of God and Christ's labors on our behalf. I am grateful for prophets that speak to us today, continuously pointing us toward God and what he is saying.  

If we "open our ears" and look to him, we too will understand what he is saying to us.

16 June 2021

The Messiah is not LazyJesus

There is much hyperventilating over the new-age concept of God's "unconditional love" for all.  You can likely hear my attitude about it - I think it is a bad road to take.  In so many scriptures, we are told of the conditional nature of salvation and the Lord's favor comes to us if we repent.  I just tripped over another one this morning:

3 Nephi 9:22

Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved.

Many years ago, I created a fake diety called "LazyJesus" and really should have trademarked it. LazyJesus lounges on a theological couch, engrossed in some TV program, and dismissively forgives everyone so he is not interrupted.   LazyJesus saves everyone because he is too busy to make distinctions between good and bad. LazyJesus is that distant dad that isn't paying attention and lets the kids do whatever they please and never disciplines anybody and provides needed cover for any behavior.  The love of LazyJesus is measured by his ability to ignore what is happening and provide a neverending stream of things free of any requirement. LazyJesus sadly seems to be the God of many modern "Christians".

The idea that Christ has "unconditional" love is yet another indicator that a person worships LazyJesus as opposed to the Christ found in scripture. From the scripture above, we see that "whoso repenteth" will be received in the kingdom of God. In the next phrase is the focus of my thoughts here:  "for such".  This is Christ himself speaking and he says that the act of laying down his life and taking it up again was "for such". One of the central acts of the atonement of Christ was done for "whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child", not for others (not unconditional). Then, another powerful word - therefore - which is to say "based on everything I said before".  Because of the fact that only those who repent and become as little children in obedience to Christ get the kingdom of God and Jesus' sacrifice was done for only for them, he reinforces the need for repentance and coming unto him and that this is salvation.

What is the point of the followers of LazyJesus referencing "unconditional love" so much?  It seems to be the inappropriate co-mingling of "love" and "salvation" - such people must think that all people are saved because Jesus loves everyone.  Does the true Christ love you? Yes. Does the fact that he loves you mean that you will be saved? No. A large expression of Christ's love is in providing the opportunity to be saved.  Everyone can be saved, but only under the conditions of repentance.  At least in this case, love doesn't conquer all - you must still repent.  That is why I constantly bring up repentance - I am just echoing what Christ says all the time throughout scripture!

I advise you against being a devotee of the fictional LazyJesus.  LazyJesus can't save. The true Christ that preaches repentance - he can and does save, if you repent.

15 June 2021

Today's Word of Wisdom

 Many people know Latter-Day Saints best by the health code to which most adhere:  The Word of Wisdom.  It has been interpreted to proscribe the use of coffee, tea, tobacco, and harmful drugs, along with encouraging the eating of vegetables and fruits, grains, and a little meat. Though triggered by Emma, the wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith, in relation to having to clean up tobacco use after church leadership meetings, the Lord gave this as his justification for revealing the Word of Wisdom:

Doctrine and Covenants 89:4

Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation-

 In the tradition of recent study guides produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I will ask a few "open-ended" questions and let you readers answer for yourselves.

  • Given the realities of the modern world and consumption habits, what proscriptions and encouragements do you think the Lord would give today as a "word of wisdom"?
  • Relative to the phrasing "evils and designs", beyond what goes into our bodies, what "conspiring" do you think the Lord would "forewarn" us about?
Verse 4 is a broad statement of the realities of life. There have always been evil people and they have always had designs and conspiracies toward us, no matter what naysayers shout - God himself says such things exist.  I recall as a youngster that tobacco advertising on all media was a design by "evil" people to profit from unhealthy products.  The US National Security Agency (NSA), now a very public public part of government, was a secretive organization in the past and those who spoke of it were labeled "conspiracy theorists".  It can readily be seen that what was once the hidden "designs" of "conspiring men" are now out in the open and affecting our lives just as strongly as what we consume.

You may take some time to consider what an updated Word of Wisdom from God would "forewarn" us about today.  Nutrition and health were the subject in the early 19th century, but perhaps there are other matters more potentially damaging about which the Lord would be concerned for us. It is important to study the words of our modern church leaders to know the warnings that have been revealed in our time, just as the Lord revealed knowledge to Joseph Smith in the past.

23 May 2021

"Stoning" Among Us

In the Book of Mormon, the Lord catalogues the destruction of many cities and lands as a result of wickedness and abominations and the treatment of those who called out the wicked.

3 Nephi 9:10-11

And behold, the city of Laman, and the city of Josh, and the city of Gad, and the city of Kishkumen, have I caused to be burned with fire, and the inhabitants thereof, because of their wickedness in casting out the prophets, and stoning those whom I did send to declare unto them concerning their wickedness and their abominations.

And because they did cast them all out, that there were none righteous among them, I did send down fire and destroy them, that their wickedness and abominations might be hid from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints whom I sent among them might not cry unto me from the ground against them.

We are in the midst of such "stoning those whom [the Lord] did send to declare unto them concerning their wickedness and their abominations". We have witnessed on the news so many incidents of violence against those who presume to speak out against people who revel in perversions. Our society now offers special priviledge to the perverse and speech codes that force vocal acceptance of them. On most media, virtual "stones" are thrown at any who dare offend the fornicating and gender-bent. God has proclaimed such as abominations throughout the ages and provides vivid recorded details of the fate of such wicked people and the places where they are sustained. The modern purveyors of perversion work hard to eject or eliminate the voices of those who would call them to repent of their wickedness, just as those of old.

As the opponents of righteousness succeed in silencing their detractors through such a virtual "stoning", nothing stands in the way of God's wrath upon them through fire and destruction. It has happened before and, upon the same conditions of "none righteous among them" in the future, it will happen again.

Repent!

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 a 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.

https://www.shetnews.co.uk/2021/04/14/crew-on-ship-docked-in-lerwick-in-quarantine-following-covid-cases/


  

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?