Monday, January 19, 2015

The Glory of God

   And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come...
  The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.  (Doctrine and Covenants 93)
  There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
   And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.  (Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Intimidated by Intimidation

Decrying intimidation and bullying has become de rigueur a popular cause.  It seems to involve the perception that I am being forced to capitulate against my will because the antagonist wields greater power or influence.  The popular sentiment is that it is unethical or immoral for those who enjoy this impression of greater power to actually use it for influence or persuasion.

The general problem with accusations of intimidation is that they are often used as tools by the supposedly aggrieved parties to brandish their own axe.  All too often the claimant is using the accusation to intimidate, in the hope that their complaint will be taken up by others.  It is especially common to air such complaints in the sympathetic popular media.  This is the classic "pot calling the kettle black" scenario.

The disingenuous "big bad guy is intimidating me!" accusation is most in evidence today amongst popular groups trying to adopt the posture of innocent victims of power.

There are obviously individuals who really do suffer from injustice, intimidation, and bullying.  Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf addressed this problem in his April 2012 General Conference talk, "The Merciful Obtain Mercy".
I imagine that every person on earth has been affected in some way by the destructive spirit of contention, resentment, and revenge. Perhaps there are even times when we recognize this spirit in ourselves. When we feel hurt, angry, or envious, it is quite easy to judge other people, often assigning dark motives to their actions in order to justify our own feelings of resentment.

Of course, we know this is wrong. The doctrine is clear. We all depend on the Savior; none of us can be saved without Him. Christ’s Atonement is infinite and eternal. Forgiveness for our sins comes with conditions. We must repent, and we must be willing to forgive others. Jesus taught: “Forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not … [stands] condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin” and “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”

Of course, these words seem perfectly reasonable—when applied to someone else. We can so clearly and easily see the harmful results that come when others judge and hold grudges. And we certainly don’t like it when people judge us.

But when it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt.
From this perspective, I see my own problems revealed.  I am not perfect, but I am working on it.  Advocating for reaching a perfect state always magnified my own hypocrisy.  I am willing to expose my own imperfections, in the honest hope that we might all improve ourselves.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Questions of Faith

One of my favorite discussions of this issue, a 1984 General Conference address from Elder Bruce R. McConkie.

He outlines these questions for self-assessment.
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” (2 Cor. 13:5.)
 Test one: Do I worship the only true and living God?

Test two: Do I believe in the fall of Adam?

Test three: Do I believe in the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Test four: Do I accept the true plan of salvation?

Test five: Do I believe the gospel as it has been restored in this final dispensation of grace?

Test six: Am I a faithful member of the true Church?

Test seven: Do I honor Joseph Smith as the great prophet of the Restoration?

Test eight: Am I enduring to the end, growing in grace, and gaining the attributes of godliness?

Test nine: Do I put first in my life the things of God’s kingdom? Is it with me and mine the kingdom of God or nothing?

Test ten: Am I so living that I will be saved in the kingdom of God?

The Church is like a great caravan—organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of tens and captains of hundreds all in place.
What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way? The caravan moves on.

Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise. The caravan moves on.

Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, and rivers to ford? Such is life in this fallen sphere. The caravan moves on.

Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest. Thank God that the caravan moves on!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The Fifth Commandment

I can afford to be preachy about this.  Though we sometimes harbor diametrically opposing opinions, I have tried to treat my parents with honor and respect.

I honestly try to follow the Fifth Commandment:  "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." (Exodus 20:12)

Relevant counsel from President Monson:
How do you honor your parents? I like the words of William Shakespeare: “They do not love that do not show their love.”  There are countless ways in which you can show true love to your mothers and your fathers. You can obey them and follow their teachings, for they will never lead you astray. You can treat them with respect. They have sacrificed much and continue to sacrifice in your behalf.
Be honest with your mother and your father. One reflection of such honesty with parents is to communicate with them. Avoid the silent treatment.
Don’t wait until that light from your household is gone; don’t wait until that voice you know is stilled before you say, “I love you, Mother; I love you, Father.” Now is the time to think and the time to thank. I trust you will do both. You have a heritage; honor it.  (Thomas S. Monson)
There can be no dichotomy in fulfilling this unequivocal commandment.  There is no "Yeah, but..." argument that justifies disobedience.  Every person on this earth has a father and mother, and bears a responsibility to honor them and be respectful to them.

It is important to set our priorities.  President Ezra Taft Benson:

Why did God put the first commandment first? Because He knew that if we truly loved Him we would want to keep all of His other commandments. “For this is the love of God,” says John, “that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3; see also 2 John 1:6).

We must put God in the forefront of everything else in our lives. He must come first, just as He declares in the first of His Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

 When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.  (The Great Commandment:  Love the Lord).

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Joy of My Life

My grandson Christopher adds his photographic contribution to the Christmas celebration.

Lucas practices his truck-driving skills with the new RC toy...

Happy New Year!

Best wishes for prosperity and happiness!  The Lord bless us all...

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


And He shall reign for ever and ever...
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords

Christmas Wishes

...peace on the earth, good will toward men...

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Peace on Earth

 The promise of Jesus Christ:  These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Handel's Messiah
Glory to God

No Gay Blood Wanted Here

I would be happy for Elizabeth Warren and her liberal friends to volunteer themselves to accept blood donations from those engaging in homosexual activity.  Maybe Warren believes her Native American blood would prove impervious to blood-borne pathogens.  But I personally will never again willingly trust the US blood bank system.

The media is triumphantly trumpeting their victory in prevailing to force the FDA to liberalize their policy which has heretofore banned homosexuals from donating blood.

The article in Politico quotes Senator Elizabeth Warren as admonishing the FDA to "have courage to set policies based on science” in order to “commit to building a bigger, safer blood supply through risk-based screenings.”

In fact this rhetoric argues directly against science and contradicts all reason.   It is well known that of the more than a million HIV/AIDS carriers in the US, most of them (about 80%) are among the active homosexual population.  Homosexuals comprise a small fraction of the total US population (less than 5%), but the greatest majority of AIDS/HIV carriers.  Declining to accept blood donations from known homosexuals obviously will not significantly diminish the blood bank supply.  See my earlier post discussing the now relaxed acceptance of AIDS/HIV in US.

Earlier this month, Warren wrote a letter, along with Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), that was signed by 75 congressional colleagues and called for Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to end the “outdated MSM blood donation policy”.  Notwithstanding the liberalized rules, these Congress critters insist that the policy is still "discriminatory", advocating for further rule changes.

My hope and expectation is that this ill-considered policy change to be reversed as soon as the new Congress convenes.  Instead of liberalized policies dictated by partisan interests and based on ignoring the facts of medical science, the blood banks should rightly be operating under stricter rules that automatically disqualify homosexuals from ever donating blood that according to all evidence, is quite likely to be tainted with disease.  There is absolutely no justification for exposing the general population to elevated risks for a disease that remains primarily an attribute of homosexuals.

It is a sad commentary on popular culture that "discrimination" is so enthusiastically denigrated. How exactly do we propose to characterize the stupid insistence that blood from homosexual donors is not qualitatively different from any other source, if not "blind gross discrimination"?   There are a number of other criteria for blood donation, for which a donor is disqualified for life from donating blood.  Why should homosexual behavior be any different?  And as if we could ever even opt to make informed choices without discriminating.  Discerning decisions informed by good evidence should predominate in politics and the public square.  Instead we depend on politically-correct buzzwords and morally bankrupt philosophies as a substitute for doing the cognitive hard work needed to make sound and discriminating choice.