30 April 2023

'... judged of your works,'

Mormon, the man who abridged and complied what we have today as the Book of Mormon, had a pretty tough time of it. His times (4th century CE) were very hard with his nation in decadent decline and enemies working to wipe them completely from the earth. Mormon knew that their salvation from a fate of destruction was turning back to God, both individually and collectively, but all of his efforts were ineffective.

The Lord told Mormon that he didn't have to preach to his people anymore as they had rebelled.

Vengeance is mine, and I will repay; and because this people repented not after I had delivered them, behold, they shall be cut off from the face of the earth.

Although we don't remember it, we actually agreed to come to mortality and to the earth and said we would accept the Lord's offer to make it happen.  This fact is what gives Jesus the right to be vindictive about our ingratitude at what he has and does provide.  It also makes Christ the judge of your behavior (too late, you already agreed to it and you have been mooching off the Lord's generosity for years so you owe him) as below:  

Mormon 3:20
And these things doth the Spirit manifest unto me; therefore I write unto you all. And for this cause I write unto you, that ye may know that ye must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, yea, every soul who belongs to the whole human family of Adam; and ye must stand to be judged of your works, whether they be good or evil;

Obviously, Christ judges us based on the commandments he gave us and our obedience to him.  It seems that "teddy-bear-Jesus" isn't making much of an appearance as the time for forgiveness will have passed.  Our opportunity to access Jesus' redemption ends and his judgement comes.

As always, a message to take away is to work out your ultimate reward during life.  Since you don't know how long your life will be, you should get busy doing what is needed to get the reward you desire.  You may be able to make some changes after death and improve your fate, but don't depend on it.  Do it now.

07 April 2023

969, or How the New World Order Faced Lucretia and Failed - The Second Episode: Antonio's Arrangement

The offices of the Mundane Insurance Company were nondescript in an almost painful way. Some sort of tan hessian weave covered most of the walls, though not to the floor or ceiling, but in the perfect placement to tear the skin if a hapless employee decided to rub against it while flopping over from exhaustion due to overwork or, more likely, catatonic boredom. The floors were covered with grey industrial carpeting so thin that it often revealed seams and exposed metal sub-floor where it wasn't held together by spilled coffee stains and liquid white-out streaks.

Above the thirteenth floor was a standard dropped ceiling with panels that have browned along the seams. In keeping with corporate custom, every fifth panel was substituted for a buzzing translucent panel that blinked on-and-off with light at a cadence which could have been carefully designed to zombify the floors occupants if company executives could gin or vodka up the interest in being the least bit careful. More fortunate souls worked under panels that had gradually burned out and failed to be replaced by what appeared to be a non-existent maintenance staff.

The labyrinth of lavender cubicles was punctuated by attempts to add color and personality to the endeavor. Not too far from the elevator doors was a bunch of three silvered Mylar balloons tied with ribbons that were stuck to well-chewed gum at the corner of a space assigned to Harriet Cornish, according to the nameplate. The balloons variously read 'Happy Birthday George' and 'Chinese New Year 2005' along with faded stars and fireworks. These were hard to read as the helium seemed mostly depleted and each rolled back and forth along the cubicle wall as the inadequate ventilation system blew around them. The balloons added a bit of color and movement that an abandoned pair of crumbling banana antennae headgear and walls festooned with sarcastic Dilbert cartoon strips failed to provide.

Harriet Cornish, or the woman who was sitting in Harriet's apparent cube, looked quietly furious. She would sit up very straight every few moments to glare at her bow-tied manager, who was cowering a few cubicles away while still remaining visible over the four-foot-high cubicle walls. The cubicle he was sitting in was labelled with 'Lucretia Vordonis', giving us the impression that nameplates rarely matched people in this organization. To further reinforce this thought, the woman who we will tentatively name Harriet, once she gets her manager's attention, clamps her teeth down hard and thumbs at one of the offices that line the wall on either side of the floor's elevator. It is one of those offices with a glass wall that allows us to see its occupant. The nameplate on the wall seems to be the managers name, which I won't bother to disclose as he is as inconsequential as the beginning of the story made clear. As 'Harriet' and the manager can clearly see through a glass wall, Lucretia Vordonis is sitting at the mock-impressive desk in the office with the manager's name on it. The cubicle woman glares back menacingly at the manager who readjusts a new bow-tie and hides behind Lucretia's former computer, feverishly speeding through the process of converting Lucretia from an hourly worker to a salaried professional and justifying her new office space by a change in title and grade. Unfortunately, both he and several dozen people are interrupted by a jangling ring from Lucretia's phone, all the heads pop up from their work like a prairie-dog convention, as the manager sitting in Lucretia's cubicle dutifully answers.

The call comes from the finely-appointed and properly-maintained executive offices and reception area of the Mundane Insurance Company one floor down: An important customer wants some technical information on their account and the executives want the best analyst to help him. After the manager breaks into a cold sweat and whispers some phone conversation, the call ends. Harriet sneers at her boss and he simply hunkers back to the task of elevating Lucretia. There is a sour feeling in his stomach but that is nothing compared to the experience of being alone with that strange woman. Anything is worth avoiding that.

Shortly, the doors of the elevator slide open and a smartly dressed man of unspecific ethnicity steps out, squinting at the visual assault of the cubicle farm at its perpetual haze of angst and sweat hovering to some unseen horizon. Mylar balloons rattle about in an artificial breeze nearby as he approaches the nearest supposed human and inquires regarding a Lucretia Vordonis.

A red-faced woman begins to hyperventilate and can barely manage to motion a shaking finger toward an office a few doors away from the elevator. The man pivots with his fine leather shoes and glancing back to notice the name on the cubicle's plate, he says "Thank you, Harriet" in an off-handed yet pleasant way.

The office door has a man's name but he sees a woman within sitting at an uncluttered desk. Shrugging, he opens the office door just enough to put his head inside. "Lucretia Vordonis?" The woman at the desk looks up from reading a book, which he takes as an acknowledgement. The chair across the desk from Lucretia is of a style and manufacture that you will find in many run-down public institutions, yet this doesn't seem to bother the man, who smoothly loosens the button of his fine suit coat. "I am happy to see you today," as he offers his hand.

The woman across the desk simply looks at him, ignoring both the offered handshake and the crash of some equipment beyond the still ajar office door. The smartly-dressed man flinches slightly at the noise, but the practiced smile never leaves his face as he gracefully slides into the available chair. "I am Antonio Midinar and I have come to consult with you about a property I own in Kuala Lumpur..." His voice was smooth and the accent used was exotic yet very intelligible. He began to talk of the intricacies of Malaysian zoning policy, producing a manila folder about three centimeters thick that he set before the woman.

He noticed the disheveled sense about Ms. Vordonis, however his studied manner in adjusting to perceived cultural standards in any situation allowed him to continue smiling and speaking in a carefully prepared way. The woman's light brown business suit with an antiquated ruffle about the collar and cuff clashed strongly in his mind with the rose-colored poet's blouse, sequined and buttoned up to her throat. He could hear some heated yet indistinct talk from the cubicle farm but he didn't allow it to disrupt his description of the skyscraper in the Malaysian capital that he and a conglomerate of international businessmen jointly owned

His eyes narrowed as it appeared he was losing the woman's concentration on his speech. Her look was almost placid as she seemed to stare at something over his left shoulder. Not missing a syllable in his on-going talk, he casually sneaked a look what Lucretia might be focusing her attention rather than him, but it appeared to be only another section of complete blank grey wall. There was another crash from the cubicles that he strained to ignore but the square-spectacled woman failed to register at all.

"As you can see, I am most concerned about terrorist attacks on my building in the wake of the twin towers..." The man was trying to place Ms. Vordonis' perfume but could only manage to think of mold. He was finding it harder to keep up his blather, which he erroneously attributed to the visual assault of her matted rat's-nest of hair. Incongruously, he felt the familiar sensation of excitement that accompanied the proximity of a sensationally gorgeous and alluring woman, but there was only this one seemly-disinterested and frumpy woman across the desk and the flash of a rather plump and scarlet Harriet assaulting a man with a stapler while shouting about some lost promotion. Yet, the arousal persisted.

He had come to elicit advice, but he felt like he was losing Lucretia's interest and potential insights. Between the unfamiliar sense of impending failure to achieve his purpose and the growing desire to find a more intimate way to understand feelings about this seemingly hideous woman, his prepared script was suddenly abandoned. "You must come to Kuala Lumpur yourself to inspect my building. Perhaps then you can better guide us in adjusting our insurance needs." In a totally unpredictable way, he found himself offering Ms. Vordonis first-class passage to Malaysia and a stay at his private estate. Alarms were sounding in his head, almost drowning out Harriet's shouting from the cubes, but he was powerless to stop the flow of offered enticements that he typically reserved only for international supermodels

Lucretia's attention seemed to wander back to Antonio's face. "Fine," she said flatly.

The man seemed relieved, pulled the handkerchief from his top coat pocket, and dabbed away uncharacteristic perspiration from his brow. "I will make all the arrangements." He rose less than gracefully, offered the woman his hand again, which she again blandly ignored. "Thank you for your help."

With a grateful waning of the peculiar swell of jumbled emotions, Antonio Midinar only vaguely noted his brushing against a wall in his escape and it was tearing a section from his coat sleeve. Going unnoticed in his private consternation, a bow-tied man and Harriet were locked in some physical struggle for dominance in the midst of cubicled and stunned prairie-dog on-lookers.

The slightly less sharp man marched resolutely to the elevator and nearly broke its down button with his fevered and repetitive mashing. 

The Previous Episode

02 April 2023

Love, Messiah Style

I continue the theme of Christ's love as expressed through his atonement and condescension through taking on himself our life travails and suffering as we do. Jesus understands us and our sorrows and tolerated injustices quietly and far beyond any that we might endure. He deserved far better treatment in life and got far worse than he deserved, yet his supreme acts were not to justify himself - he triumphed for our deliverance from sin and death.

1 Yea, even doth not Isaiah say: Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb so he opened not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people was he stricken.

9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no evil, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah truly saw Christ and his doings.

It must be recalled, as pondered in the Godfather analogy, that Christ does our Father's will above all other things.  Jesus suffered and died because God the Father instructed him to do so. The Lord is the ultimate example of obedience to his Father and we are expected to obey as he did.

We are not asked to do the things that Christ did through his atonement. We are not required to take on us the sins of others (actually, we can't) and we don't have to die on a cross. However, we are to love others as he did, calling all to repentance or changing for the better, aligning ourselves with God's agenda for our exaltation and never-ending joy and also inviting all around us to the same alignment and path to Jesus.

Come, follow him!