Monday, May 18, 2015

Nothing to Fear...


The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.  (Roosevelt)

 Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.  (German proverb).

It is inarguable that life always entails an element of risk.  But along with the bad things, risk also brings us good.  In this is I am wont to characterize myself as "pro-choice".  In my view, fear - or happiness - is an individual choice.  I choose not to compromise my own happiness obsessing about potential threats to my personal welfare.


Jesus presented this idea to his disciples...
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.  (John 16:33)

In his recent General Conference address, Elder Bednar amplified this idea...
In our daily lives, endless reports of criminal violence, famine, wars, corruption, terrorism, declining values, disease, and the destructive forces of nature can engender fear and apprehension. Surely we live in the season foretold by the Lord: “And in that day … the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:26)....

Our works and desires alone do not and cannot save us. “After all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23), we are made whole only through the mercy and grace available through the Savior’s infinite and eternal atoning sacrifice. Certainly, “we believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:3).  (Elder David A. Bednar, April 2015)
We will never satisfy the demands of our fears by assuming a hostile defensive attitude.  This will only foster hatred and resentment.

Projecting our own fears against whoever seems to pose a potential threat only serves to polarize and justify the irrational.  Paranoid delusions will have you imagining the boogie man lurking in every dark corner, but the real bad guys will more likely come from a surprise direction you never anticipated. 

 I’m always amazed by what women will do because they’re afraid.


Make no mistake.  I am not advocating a wimpy passive acceptance of violence and aggression.  We have an obligation to defend ourselves.  But in the end, strong defense always has limits - there will always be someone that is physically superior.


The only way to succeed is found in ultimate promise from Jesus...

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  (John 14:27)


 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pretense


The arguments promoting homosexual "marriage" are ridiculous.  But so are most of the discussions opposing it.


Nothing in nature is quite as ridiculous or sublime as the human relationship that results in procreation and perpetuation of the human race.  One of the few acts of human behavior to surpass the drama of creating the next generation are the frustrated and frenzied obsessive sexual acts of homosexuals, a senseless and confused cultural engagement in parody of the biological imperative, that can never in any circumstance ever result in increase, either purposeful or accidental.

Every snickering naive post-puberty teenage human knows and understands the difference between sexual indulgence and marriage.  But proponents of homosexual "equality" now contrive to blur the distinction.  They are wont to insist that there is no substantial difference between Divinely sanctioned marriage covenants and the subject of an obscene joke.


Amid the overblown and contrived pageantry, flagrant public displays of wanton inebriated behavior, and prancing "pride" parades, what passes for moderation and reason are accusations from the politically correct - "rape culture" and "manspreading" are cause for postured outrage.  While deviance is celebrated as representing "tolerance" and "equality".  The advocates of this perversion act as if they themselves invented unrestrained sexual indulgence.


Despite the absolute futility of this perverted and depraved behavior, those who are obsessed about this pretense are now on the cusp of forcing everyone in the land to respect their deviance, and lend the dignity of judicial review to their prancing antics.  The AIDS/HIV epidemic in the United States is the "elephant in the room" that proponents so carefully ignore.  The well-known dirty secret is that homosexual practices, confined to 5% of the United States population, account for nearly 80% of the incidence of AIDS/HIV.  Certainly sufficient grounds for government intervention.


Those who dare to deplore this ugly perversion are censured and silenced.  Groups and corporations endorse this "equality" and bully any who presume to speak against it.  Respectable and decent persons who express any opposition to deviance are now despicable "homophobes".  And the raging hateful rampage against them, supposedly to defend against unfair "discrimination" is unequalled and relentless.


The Supreme Court is now called upon to lend their supposedly learned jurisprudence to promote and force acceptance of  the ridiculous pretense.  And if it were ever a question, why not homosexual "marriages"?  Why should civil government have any interest in promoting moral standards?  Even the raising of the absurd question before the court makes an absolute mockery of the judicial process.



Perhaps the biggest pretense is that so many raging activists now claim to be advocating for what they refer to as "love", as they scream profane epithets and make frenzied obscene gestures.

When all is said and done, my suspicion is that our modern version of Sodom and Gomorrah insanity will prevail for a season.  Some will persist in their insistence that good is really evil, and evil is good.  When the people realize what injustice has been wrought therein, it will be even more difficult to oppose.

This is the legacy we will hand to our children.  If they presume to disagree with this form of "tolerance", they will be punished.


For example, the bakery in Oregon that declined to provide cakes to a homosexual marriage celebration.  They did not try to interfere in any way with the two lesbian women becoming "married".  Did not yell at them, argue with them, or criticize their behavior.  Just would not provide them with cakes, and got sued for it.  Their business is now closed, and they face the threat of substantial fines.

It's all a big freak show, and I make no pretense about being amused.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Parables: The Lost Ones



The Savior instructs through parables.  In chapter 15 of Luke, there are three instances.

What is the significance?

This subject has captured the imagination of many classical and contemporary artists. The paintings are dramatic and poignant.

Some of the talks from Church General Authorities also reference these stories.  Elder Thomas S. Monson referred to these parables as "Search and Rescue".  His talk was about humanitarian efforts. 

The second story tells about a woman who misplaces one of her ten coins, turns the house upside down to find where it was lost, and rejoices when she finds it.

There is rejoicing in each instance when that which was lost is recovered.



The Prodigal Son story differs from the others.  Jesus makes it quite clear that the son in the parable parted company from his father and his father's household thinking he would be better off without them.  He takes some division of fortunes from his inheritance and goes out into the world.



His money is all squandered in "riotous living".  That phrase has interesting significance in today's world.

Interesting also that the story differs in that the father does not leave his establishment to go off seeking after his lost son.  In this story the father and son apparently parted company by mutual agreement.

 
Instead of investing his wealth wisely, the son eventually falls on hard times, and returns to his father's house hoping to receive treatment at least equal to the standard of living afforded to the father's servants.

I am curious, why is this story different from the parable of lost sheep?

Perhaps we have a different obligation toward those who innocently wander astray than we do for those who wilfully leave the company of the disciples of Jesus?


In both instances the lost are welcome to return, but in the case of the sheep, the shepherd leaves the ninety and nine, and goes actively searching to rescue the lost lamb, bringing it back to the fold carrying the lost sheep on his shoulders.


This contrasts with the prodigal son, who eventually comes to regret the misfortune he experiences, and returns to his father's house voluntarily.  He has lost all hope, and will confess to his father the heartrending realization, "I am no more worthy to be called thy son".

The father, seeing his returning son approach from afar, rejoices in his return and kills the fatted calf in celebration.

One sour note celebrating the return of the prodigal son.  The older brother complains, jealous and angry to see all the attention is being given to his younger brother, when he was the one who remained ever faithful.


The father admonishes him,  "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."

Interesting choice of phrases in this reproach.  "Was dead, and is alive again, was lost, and is found".  What possible significance is there in these words?

Jesus apparently left the parable rest with that point.  We do not learn if the errant prodigal is restored to a share of the inheritance, or if the father later installs him as one of the household servants.  Perhaps it is sufficient to know assurance that the elder brother's reward for his uninterupted faithfulness will not be compromised by the return of the prodigal.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Parables: Foolish Virgins



I would suppose that the story of the foolish virgins might also be appropriately adapted to this instance.

Is it any coincidence that Jesus chose to illustrate this parable with a story about women?

The foolish virgins sally forth, assuring each other that it will be okay to temporarily abandon their allegiance to the bridegroom, to carry out their own important purposes. They dally at the local shopping mall, admiring their own reflection in the mirror, picking up some really rad bling for their own adornment. They ask each other, "Do you think this purple dress make me look fat?" They shoot some great selfies on their smart phones.

At some point, they casually saunter back to the marriage feast, fully expecting to be admitted, but are shocked to find that the doors of opportunity have already closed.



Then they stand out in the night, breast-beating and vociferously bewailing their self-rightous victimhood, referring back to their awesome selfies for confidence, and complaining loudly into the darkness, as they threaten to make that blankety-blank bridegroom really sorry for ever shutting them out.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Seek and Ye Shall Find...

Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

For everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.  (Matthew 7:7-8)



 God does not force us to believe.  Faith is the product of active seeking.

Belief is something we choose—we hope for it, we work for it, and we sacrifice for it. We will not accidentally come to believe in the Savior and His gospel any more than we will accidentally pray or pay tithing. We actively choose to believe, just like we choose to keep other commandments.  ("Choose to Believe", Elder L. Whitney Clayton, April 2015 General Conference address)
Of course, the converse also holds true.  If we actively choose to disbelieve, we compromise the process that builds faith just as effectively.
 
Contrary to popular sentiment, the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is open to everyone who seeks for it.  It is not secret or hidden to those who keep the commandments of God, nor is it obscured to any with eyes to see and ears to hear.
 ...All saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
  And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
  And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.  (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-20)

But beware of seeking the wrong thing, because if you go looking, you'll find it. If you're looking for trouble, you've come to the right place.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bees won't sting idiots

 

Revisiting a theme from Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn...


Jim said bees wouldn't sting idiots; but I didn't believe that, because I had tried them lots of times myself, and they wouldn't sting me.


I'm almost sure Mr. Clemens had a great time thinking about this aphorism, just imagining how many idiots would go right out and try it.

In very revealealing current events, Mr. Obama assures children playing on the White House lawn.  “Oh no, it’s a bee. That’s OK, guys. Bees are good, they won’t land on you. They won’t sting you, they’ll be OK."

Little doubt, Mr. Obama wishes that we would believe with all our fairy-story-loving hearts in the benevolence of bees and other living things.  This all-too-common but wholly unrealistic view of the natural world is the basis for much of the current administration's policies, included the foreign affairs being "negotiated" by Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry with Iran.  But the facts contradict such an optimistic view of the bees, and the world in general.

Bees are "good".  They serve a useful role in nature.  Which commonly includes stinging those they see as threatening to the welfare of the beehive.  Notwithstanding fairy-tale wishes from naive political leaders.  Unfortunately, the bees are totally illiterate, they don't seem to share Mr. Obama's optimistic fairy-story view of world affairs.


Apparently the White House features, among other things, its own politically-correct beehive, that servants at the White House exploit to get honey.  For which it has its own purposes, including beer-making.



Bees do sting idiots.  I've tried it many times. When I give them the opportunity, the bees always sting me with the greatest enthusiasm.  They are apparently believers in the doctrine of non-discrimination - they don't bother to practice forbearance based on their assessment of the idiocy of the subject.  I have no doubt they will sting Mr. Obama and his useful idiots, given a fair chance.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Wastch Wildflowers


Wasatch Wildflowers.

I have been identifying the profusion of mountain wildflowers from A to Z, from photographs submitted by the Hike the Wasatch club over a number of years.  The mountains of Utah become a summer showplace of superlative splendor.   This YouTube slide show is another form of home movies, though the accompaniment is courtesy of the Vienna Philharmonic and first movement of Beethoven's 9th.  The sequence follows more-or-less alphabet sorting of the taxonomic genus names.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

April 2015 General Conference




Summaries of 2015 April General Conference, from Deseret News, 

with personal annotations.


All of the General Conference talks are available at the Church web site shortly after the session ends, either for online streaming, or for download, as video or audio media.  Talks are transcribed to text and available for reading or downloading shortly after the Conference. 




General Women's Session

I failed to take notes during the Women's Session, though my mom gave me permission to watch.





Saturday Morning Session


President Eyring recalled finding a donation slip inside of an old book of scripture, with one dollar indicated as the amounts for each donation category.  It was the equivalent of the widow's mite.
President Boyd K. Packer: "The Plan of Happiness"
 A cookie and a kiss.  Marriage and family within the bounds of gospel teaching are the Plan of Happiness.
Sister Linda K. Burton: "We'll ascend together"
Extraordinary ordinary.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks: "The Parable of the Sower"
The stony heart.  Beware of playing games during the Sacrament. Do things that make our harvest plentiful.
Elder L. Whitney Clayton: "Choose to believe"
God does not force us to believe, He invites us. 



Saturday Afternoon Session


During the beginning of this session, President Uchtdorf conducted the sustaining votes, and financial audit and statistical reports were given.  Interesting to note trends in growth of membership report.


President Uchtdorf responded calmly to dissidents shouting dissenting votes during the sustaining of General Authorities.  He was unperturbed, noted their objection, and at the end of the proceedings, instructed them to bring their objections to their local Stake President.

The disturbance indicates a basic misunderstanding of the principle of Common Consent.  Although it is intended to be a democratic process, it was not implemented to facilitate demonstrations or protests. The protocol is intended to help settle disputes peaceably and without rancor.

Most Church members recognize the sustaining vote as an opportunity to fulfil the obligations bound by sacred covenants.

Elder David A. Bednar: "Therefore they hushed their fears"
The peaceable things of the Kingdom.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson: "Why marriage, why family"
Quote from Bonhoeffer, "The Office of Marriage".
Elder Wilford Andersen: "The music of the gospel"
"I could teach you to dance, but you have to hear the music".
Elder Dale G. Renlund: "Latter-day Saints keep on trying"
"Twas I, but it's not I".   God is disappointed when we fail to recognize the struggles of others.
Elder Michael T. Ringwood: "Truly good and without guile"
Blessed is he that endures to the end.
Elder Quentin L. Cook: "The Lord is my light"
Sunflowers grow in inhospitable soil.  We flourish and become beautiful as we follow the sun.


 

Priesthood Session


Elder Ulisses Soares: "Yes, we can and will win!"
The adversary tries to deceive us with mists of darkness.  (Elder Soares delivered his counsel in Portugese, but English translation was broadcast simultaneously.)

Brother Larry M. Gibson: "Fatherhood — our eternal destiny" 
High time to examine our hearts, and make a course correction.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: "On being genuine"
The Potemkin Village.  We have left our first love.  God has power to breathe life into you.  It cannot happen if we hide behind a façade.
President Thomas S. Monson: "The priesthood — a sacred gift"
Come, ye sons of God.  Determine our duty.  Military service priesthood interview.


Sunday Morning Session


My nephew went, with a group of young people from his ward, to the Conference Center this morning before the session, to attempt to counteract some of the dissident protests being staged around the Conference.  Rumored to be many gatherings planning to conduct noisy disruptive demonstrations.  The counter group plans to loudly sing LDS hymns together to overwhelm and bury the tumultuous noise of angry dissenters.

The Tabernacle Choir was accompanied by two ladies at the organ - something I have never seen before at General Conference.

President Thomas S. Monson: "Blessings of the temple"
New temples in Haiti, Ivory Coast, Thailand.  Though President Monson exhibits signs of age over the past several years, he gives no indication of serious infirmity, and his address was as enthusiastic and energetic as ever.  This has been an issue of some concern in certain venues.  I hope such doubts are pacified.
Sister Rosemary M. Wixom: "Returning to faith"
A constant quest to learn "Why?"  Church is not a place to put on a perfect face.
Elder Jose A. Teixeira: "Seeking the Lord"
Life is not confined to a four inch screen.
Bishop Gérald Caussé: "Is it still wonderful to you?"
Children, to Bishop Causse:  We have lived here all our life, and we have never been to the Eiffel Tower.
Elder Brent H. Nielson: "Waiting for the prodigal"
How to respond to those who have lost their way.  All of us are lost, and need to be found.
A fictitious tree branch fails to distract. Brotherly hands helped me to safety.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: "The gift of grace"
On this day, our lives changed.  We grow from flawed and limited beings, by the Grace of God.


Sunday Afternoon Session


Jesus used His agency to choose Heavenly Father's plan.
"Hang in there" is not a principle of the Gospel.
Unless we step back a little we cannot appreciate the forest.  Focus on a single jigsaw puzzle piece will not bring the entire picture into perspective.
Interjected by President Uctdorf:  Sorry, President Monson.  I made a switch to my native language!

If everything is going perfectly, just wait.  Can you see the hand of God in your life?  Our faith grows as we anticipate.  The skeptics will be silenced.
Learn our duty.  How could we be content with anything less?
There was a musical interlude, with the Tabernacle Choir singing a Primary song, "Tell Me the Stories of Jesus, accompanied by two ladies at the organ!

Fundamental attributes of our Divine nature.
How will I change?  How do we hallow the Sabbath?






Friday, April 03, 2015

Name that Freedom Contest




From the Federal RFRA:


SEC. 3. FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION PROTECTED.

(a) IN GENERAL. -- Government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b).

(b) EXCEPTION. -- Government may burden a person's exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person --

(1) furthers a compelling governmental interest; and

(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

(c) JUDICIAL RELIEF. -- A person whose religious exercise has been substantially burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against a government. Standing to assert a claim or defense under this section shall be governed by the general rules of standing under article III of the Constitution.


Relevant language from the "controversial" Illinois RFRA asserts:


Free exercise of religion protected. Government may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person (i) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and (ii) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
 
I'm hosting a contest to coin a new term that symbolizes "malcontents who harbor unreasonable fears about free exercise of religion." Something short and pithy, like counterpart to "homophobe". Or totally perverted new meaning, like the kidnapped and innocuous "gay".

Any suggestions?

The term should be appropriately politically-incorrect, and tastefully free from any hint of profanity.  Any portmanteaus will be considered, as long as it meets  the requirement for concise brevity.



Thank you. 



Wednesday, April 01, 2015

April Conference: Expecting stormy weather


Stormy weather conditions usually prevail at General Conference time in Salt Lake City.

Since the Mormons came to settle in the Salt Lake valley, the atmosphere tends to be rather unsettled, especially at the April sessions.  Conference goers expect storms to be hanging around, sometimes rain, sometimes even snow.


An interesting survey of General Conference weather trends was conducted several years ago, published in Deseret News.

Researchers found that April sessions of General Conference tend to be stormy and overcast, with measurable precipitation 64% of the time.

In keeping the tradition, today on Thursday 2 Apr 2015, it is raining and light snowing throughout the valley.  The National Weather Service for SLC has issued a "hard freeze warning" for tonight.


  That will be the end for our spring flowers.