Friday, October 31, 2008

Marriage Controversy No Problem

Samuel the Lamanite proclaims truth

I may not be a rocket scientist, but even I can read the signs. There is a great deal of needless confusion about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.

Church leaders have counselled us sufficiently on the subject. There is no confusion regarding the doctrine of the church, nor any mystery about the source of confusing messages. In the June 2006 issue of the Ensign, Elder David A.Bednar gave the following instruction.

Lucifer relentlessly assails and distorts the doctrines that matter most to us individually, to our families, and to the world. Where is the adversary focusing his most direct and diabolical attacks? Satan works unremittingly to confuse understanding about gender, to promote the premature and unrighteous use of procreative power, and to hinder righteous marriage precisely because marriage is ordained of God and the family is central to the plan of happiness. The adversary’s attacks upon eternal marriage will continue to increase in intensity, frequency, and sophistication.

According to Elder Bednar, advocates of gender confusion are promoting Lucifer's attack on the Savior's plan of happiness. We need not suffer from any confusion about the source of questions and casting doubt on the issues. It is one of the tactics of our adversary to cloud every issue with doubt.

We learn more about Satan's tactics in the message of the Book of Mormon. Elder Bednar asserts...
Because today we are engaged in a war for the welfare of marriage and the home, in my latest reading of the Book of Mormon I paid particular attention to the ways the Nephites prepared for their battles against the Lamanites. I noted that the people of Nephi “were aware of the intent of [their enemy], and therefore they did prepare to meet them” (Alma 2:12; italics added). As I read and studied, I learned that understanding the intent of an enemy is a key prerequisite to effective preparation. We likewise should consider the intent of our enemy in this latter-day war.

Thus we understand that those who spread confusion and advocate radical change in the law of the land are minions of the adversary, whether wittingly or not. Those who are confused by the tumult deserve our reassurance that Heavenly Father is over all, and he will prosper the cause.
The Father’s plan is designed to provide direction for His children, to help them become happy, and to bring them safely home to Him. Lucifer’s attacks on the plan are intended to make the sons and daughters of God confused and unhappy and to halt their eternal progression. The overarching intent of the father of lies is that all of us would become “miserable like unto himself” (2 Ne. 2:27), and he works to warp the elements of the Father’s plan he hates the most. Satan does not have a body, he cannot marry, and he will not have a family. And he persistently strives to confuse the divinely appointed purposes of gender, marriage, and family. Throughout the world, we see growing evidence of the effectiveness of Satan’s efforts.

We don't have to let the devil win this fight unopposed. There are sufficient resources, and enough advocates for the truth to rally in support of this campaign.
More recently the devil has attempted to combine and legally validate confusion about gender and marriage. As we look beyond mortality and into eternity, it is easy to discern that the counterfeit alternatives the adversary advocates can never lead to the completeness that is made possible through the sealing together of a man and a woman, to the happiness of righteous marriage, to the joy of posterity, or to the blessing of eternal progression.

Elder Bednar offers this encouragement to us all.
Given what we know about our enemy’s intent, each of us should be especially vigilant in seeking personal inspiration as to how we can protect and safeguard our own marriages—and how we can learn and teach correct principles in the home and in our Church assignments about the eternal significance of gender and of the role of marriage in the Father’s plan.

In short, there is no reason to feel any further doubt about this controversy. Do not be taken in by the sophisticated arguments of opponents to traditional marriage. They are on the wrong side, and their cause will fail. They will never find the happiness they seek, which the Lord has promised to the ever-faithful.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Climbing: Freedom of the Hills

A powerful longing afflicts my heart these days. Today we went up into the mountains to cut firewood for winter. I realized while I was there that I love being there, but I am not free in my heart as I once felt in the forest. I cannot climb the hills freely as I once did without question or thinking. It is a terrible, compromising transformation. Whereas I once roamed unrestrained by anything but my strength, I now find myself fettered at every step.

It makes me unutterably saddened and weary beyond measure. I long for the naive and innocent freedom I used to find such joy in. I seek the untouched purity of the highest heights.

An elusive object to pursue, I have the feeling that I will continue this quest to the end of my days.

 Teton Sunset, from Jackson Hole

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October 2008 General Conference: Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament

Elder Dallin H. Oaks instructed us in his conference address concerning practices involving our administration and partaking of the sacrament.
By participating weekly and appropriately in the ordinance of the sacrament we qualify for the promise that we will “always have his Spirit to be with [us]” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77). That Spirit is the foundation of our testimony. It testifies of the Father and the Son, brings all things to our remembrance, and leads us into truth. It is the compass to guide us on our path. This gift of the Holy Ghost, President Wilford Woodruff taught, “is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon man” (Deseret Weekly, Apr. 6, 1889, 451).
Elder Oaks expressed concern that some do not approach the sacrament with the proper attitude of worship and reverence. He reiterates counsel intended to help us maintain that attitude. First, prepare ourselves to partake of the sacrament in quiet reverence. Elder Oaks reminds us that the sacrament was instituted to replace the blood sacrifice of live animals.

Instead, “ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:20).  That commandment, repeated in the modern revelation directing us to partake of the sacrament each week, tells us how we should prepare.

Our partaking is in remembrance of the Savior's atoning sacrifice, and we should remind ourselves of that.

Our manner of dress is an important part of preparation for the sacrament, and it reflects how well we understand the importance of this sacred ordinance.

During sacrament meeting, we should avoid pursuits that would detract in any way from our reflecting on the Savior's atonement.
During sacrament meeting—and especially during the sacrament service—we should concentrate on worship and refrain from all other activities, especially from behavior that could interfere with the worship of others. Even a person who slips into quiet slumber does not interfere with others. Sacrament meeting is not a time for reading books or magazines. Young people, it is not a time for whispered conversations on cell phones or for texting persons at other locations. When we partake of the sacrament, we make a sacred covenant that we will always remember the Savior. How sad to see persons obviously violating that covenant in the very meeting where they are making it.
 The music accompanying the preparation for the ordinance should be selected as a reminder of the purposes for partaking of the sacrament.

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “This is an occasion when the gospel should be presented, when we should be called upon to exercise faith, and to reflect on the mission of our Redeemer, and to spend time in the consideration of the saving principles of the gospel, and not for other purposes. Amusement, laughter, light-mindedness, are all out of place in the sacrament meetings of the Latter-day Saints. We should assemble in the spirit of prayer, of meekness, with devotion in our hearts” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:342).

The sacrament is the ordinance that replaced the blood sacrifices and burnt offerings of the Mosaic law, and with it came the Savior’s promise: “And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 9:20).

Elder Oaks addressed concerns specific to those who administer the ordinances.

Young men who officiate in the ordinance of the sacrament should be worthy. The Lord has said: “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:42). The scriptural warning about partaking of the sacrament unworthily (see 1 Corinthians 11:29; 3 Nephi 18:29) surely applies also to those who officiate in that ordinance. In administering discipline to Church members who have committed serious sins, a bishop can temporarily withdraw the privilege of partaking of the sacrament. That same authority is surely available to withdraw the privilege of officiating in that sacred ordinance.

Elder Oaks made it clear that long-standing counsel about how the young men should dress is still applicable.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a valuable teaching on this subject in general conference 13 years ago. Since most of our current deacons were not even born when these words were last spoken here, I repeat them for their benefit and that of their parents and teachers: “May I suggest that wherever possible a white shirt be worn by the deacons, teachers, and priests who handle the sacrament. For sacred ordinances in the Church we often use ceremonial clothing, and a white shirt could be seen as a gentle reminder of the white clothing you wore in the baptismal font and an anticipation of the white shirt you will soon wear into the temple and onto your missions” (This Do in Remembrance of Me).

Elder Oaks makes the closing point that those who officiate at the sacrament table, prepare the sacrament, or pass it to the congregation should be designated by one who holds or exercises the keys of this ordinance. They must be authorized to administer this ordinance by one who holds the keys -- either bishop or branch president.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October 2008 General Conference: Go Ye Therefore

Sister Sylvia Allred teaches about how to be prepared for missionary work:

* If you have children at home, help prepare them for missionary service.
* Prepare yourself for missionary service.
* Invite family and friends to listen to the missionaries or to attend our Church meetings and activities.
* Accompany the missionaries to investigators’ homes, or invite the missionaries to teach nonmembers in your home.
* Invite people to a family home evening in your home.
* Invite people to a family history center, or help them do family history research.
* Give referrals to the missionaries. Members can be the greatest and best source of referrals.
* Share your beliefs and testimony with nonmember friends and family.
* Seek for opportunities to reach out to others.
* Extend friendship to investigators and new converts.
* Give your best efforts to finding those who are seeking the truth.
* If you have family members or friends on missions, send them letters of love and encouragement, and pray for them.

We can all participate in missionary work. This is the Lord’s work, and He will help us do it. His gospel has to go to every nation, and we can be instruments in His hands to bless the lives of others by sharing with them His truth. We will be greatly blessed in the process.

Rehab progress 22

I have every evidence that rehabilitation is progressing normally, albiet very slowly. It is a challenging difficulty to continue in the exercises and routine, though I would dearly love to say that I am recovered. Too many problems yet remain.

I am encouraged that my balance and dizzyness seem to have improved so dramatically over the past few days. I was making the complaint to my physical therapist, Ben Robinson, that I can walk for long distances over an extended time period, when I have something to hang onto when I threaten to fall, but I cannot successfully walk across the room. That problem seems to have gotten much better this week. Although I still teeter and weave like a drunk man, I have a lot less to complain about. I told Ben that I think he worked some kind of voodoo spell on me, so abrupt were the changes. Maybe it is mostly imagined, but it seems I have a lot better time navigating. We went to the forest on Monday afternoon to collect more firewood for the winter, and I was able to work without being tripped up or falling down. The improvement was enough that I cannot deny, things are looking good. I only wish a few of the other problems I am having would respond so quickly and positively.

October 2008 General Conference: You Know Enough

"You know enough", asserts Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Presidency of the Seventy. He testifies of repeated confirmations that although we cannot claim a perfect knowledge of all things, we know enough to carry us through.

While there are many experiences like the one we are having today, full of spiritual power and confirmation, there are also days when we feel inadequate and unprepared, when doubt and confusion enter our spirits, when we have difficulty finding our spiritual footing. Part of our victory as disciples of Christ is what we do when these feelings come.

Elder Anderson relates several examples. He tells of experiencing doubts and feeling inadequate when he was first called as mission president. Answer to his sincere prayers confirmed the feeling, “You don’t know everything, but you know enough!"

Later, he shared a similar message with a young missionary who wanted to return home early from his mission.

He didn’t know everything, but he knew enough. He knew God loved him. That priceless piece of spiritual knowledge was sufficient for his doubt to be replaced with faith. He found the strength to stay on his mission

A friend who suffered the loss of a family member questioned what he had advocated as a church member, and taught as a missionary.

The mother of my friend wrote me a letter and asked if I would give him a blessing. As I laid my hands upon his head, I felt to tell him something that I had not thought about in exactly the same way before. The impression that came to me was: Faith is not only a feeling; it is a decision. He would need to choose faith.

My friend did not know everything, but he knew enough. He chose the road of faith and obedience. He got on his knees. His spiritual balance returned.

He related the story about Hadley, who was born with a serious handicap, but exhibited the innocent faith of a child.

Although Hadley had learned to speak, she had difficulty controlling the volume of her voice. In her louder voice, she asked her mother why the little boy did not have legs.

Her mother quietly and simply explained to Hadley that “Heavenly Father makes all of His children different.” “OK,” Hadley replied.

Then, unexpectedly, Hadley turned to the little boy and said, “Did you know that when Heavenly Father made me, my ears did not work? That makes me special. He made you with no legs, and that makes you special. When Jesus comes, I will be able to hear and you will get your legs. Jesus will make everything all right.”

“Except ye . . . become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Hadley knew enough.

In spite of difficulties and questions, we know enough to progress. We know enough to seek the help we need to be successful.

Challenges, difficulties, questions, doubts—these are part of our mortality. But we are not alone. As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have enormous spiritual reservoirs of light and truth available to us. Fear and faith cannot coexist in our hearts at the same time. In our days of difficulty, we choose the road of faith. Jesus said, “Be not afraid, only believe.”

Elder Anderson summarizes his message:

Our spiritual journey is the process of a lifetime. We do not know everything in the beginning or even along the way. Our conversion comes step-by-step, line upon line. We first build a foundation of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We treasure the principles and ordinances of repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. We include a continuing commitment to prayer, a willingness to be obedient, and an ongoing witness of the Book of Mormon. (The Book of Mormon is powerful spiritual nourishment.)

We then remain steady and patient as we progress through mortality. At times, the Lord’s answer will be, “You don’t know everything, but you know enough”—enough to keep the commandments and to do what is right. Remember Nephi’s words: “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." (1 Nephi 11:17)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Taking the cure

I got a flu shot this week. Mostly because I went to town with my parents, and they believe it is vital. I never want to insult them, but I don't expect them to be so familiar with the science and epidemiology associated with flu epidemics and the theory behind public immunization.

Some people are very sensitive about this issue. I discovered, inadvertently, that our next-door neighbor does not get immunization for his children. They school the children at home,too, so they avoid problems with public health bureaucracy.  Medical studies have resolved this issue, but people still have doubts.

I am afraid I touched on sensitive feelings, spouting off about immunization and the irresponsible parents who fail to participate in public immunization programs.  He came back on the defensive. with some arguments about mercury and autism, and I was taken aback, because it surprised me to realize that he was one of the parents I was talking about.

Suffice it to say that not all who hold their children out of immunization are ignorant simpletons.  There are real issues of concern about immunization safety and problems that may result as side-effects of the vaccine.  Parents are responsible for making this decision about whether or not the children will be exposed to the risk of disease form the shots, or from childhood disease. The threat of widespread epidemic is so much reduced by public immunization, there may be a higher risk for isolated individuals who participate than those who don't.

On the other hand, I understand that some of the reduced risk factor depends on large populations being vaccinated.  Those who don't participate are protected from disease by those around them, who are vaccinated. They benefit from the risk-taking that others are exposed to. That doesn't necessarily paint a very complementary picture of the non-participants. We have to weigh in the realization that in reality, there are no non-participants, and the immunized children protect the others from disease.

I am concerned, too, that today's younger parents do not have the perspective of knowing first-hand the horrifying death and devastating disease that swept through the population, striking so many at random. They have never seen someone with misshapen limbs twisted by childhood polio, for example, or seen their friend locked in an iron lung, struggling just for a free breath. They don't realize what an amazingly effective job public immunization has done of eliminating childhood diseases from our population.

I witness, somewhat bemused at the huge public outrage against Chinese baby milk, contaminated with melamine, and imagine the millions who would have been wiped out without a chance, but for widespread immunizations that have made so many public epidemics a thing of the past -- perhaps a past forgotten too soon. I hope we don't have to re-learn the lessons of epidemics and scourges long-past. Our ancestors paid far too dearly to learn that lesson the first time.

In a long-past time, I remember all the children at the grade school, lining up at the school cafeteria for their shots. I recall how frightened I was at the time. No one bothered to explain to us about the horrible disease they were fighting. At the time, we only knew that the syringe was painful and threatening. Some of the children were sobbing in fear before the vaccine was even injected. But most of us endured the fright, and were thus protected from childhood disease.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rehab progress 21

Things are moving right along -- I suppose.

I feel like I am progressing too slowly.

Even though I find new capacity every day, I also find more limitations -- things I used to do so easily without even thinking.

Today we were building in the garage, trying to put up a little bit of sheet rock. I found that I could not cut the sheet rock panels very well right-handed. Well, I could not hold it left-handed very well either. There was a tough decision facing me every time I picked up the utility knife -- right or left hand? The right hand is still too weak, either to hold or to cut.

The dilemma stems from limits of either hand. The left is too clumsy, the right is too weak. They are not used to working together in such a partnership.

I ended up finding some compromise that let me work left-handed most of the time. Just work much slower.

In order to cut the pieces to the right dimensions, I had to kneel down on the floor temporarily. I was startled to find that I could not stand up -- my legs just would not lift me. I had to pause and remember the technique I already practised in several rehab sessions, then patiently and painstakingly execute the laborious manoeuvre to get up off the floor.

My right foot behaves rather arbitrarily too. Everything on the floor conspires with my foot to get wrapped up or tangled, so I trip at the least excuse.

It gets so frustrating at times, I honestly hate my stupid body. I recognize that things could be so much worse -- but everything seems to work together to teach me that they could be so much better, too.

I am improving my strength and endurance on the treadmill. Today I walked 1.2 miles in 20 minutes. I feel like I could maintain the pace for much longer. But in the gym, on the treadmill, I have handles to grab if I stumble. And I do -- a lot. I am afraid if I tried to maintain that pace on the track, I would surely fall and hurt myself. Maybe more strength is not what I need right now. I am just lacking the confidence to push any kind of limits, because I am afraid I will approach the edge of control, and hurt myself.

My ultimate objective is to pass the fire departments strenuous endurance test. It stipulates 3 miles in 45 minutes, carrying a 40-pound backpack. We generally conduct qualifying tests on the track at North Sanpete High.

I suppose with better strength and balance, I am also gradually building confidence in my abilities. I just feel like my body has let me down before -- so I feel like I need to be prepared to fail again in a big way.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rehab progress 20

The can of soda continues to emphasize my ridiculous plight.

I am very fond of this particular brew. I pop the lid open, and naturally grip with the right hand.

Wouldn't you think I could drink some soda? I grip the can just fine, initially. But my right hand relaxes, by itself, and I find the can slipping down, out of my grasp. I exercise all my will just to close those fingers tighter, but my hand fails to respond.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

The United Order, taxes and wealth

The scriptures do have a lot to say about riches and wealth. A lot of Mormon people are misled or confused by the current economic situation. We worry about the future.

Fortunately, we have inspired counsel to guide us through troubled times, and confusing issues.

In his conference talk of April, 1977, Elder Marion G. Romney instructs regarding the history or the Lord's program for the church, the United Order.

(The Purpose of Church Welfare Services, Ensign, May 1977).

Whenever the Lord has had a people who would accept and live the gospel, He has established the united order. He established it among the people of Enoch, of whom the record says:

“The Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish.

“And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” (Moses 7:17–18)

If we will do the things the Lord has asked us to do, we too will continue to be blessed and will grow in righteousness. In the revelation that the Prophet specified as “embracing the law of the Church”, the Lord said:

“Behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them. …

“And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church and his counselors. …

“And it shall come to pass, that after they are laid before the bishop of my church, … it shall be kept to administer to those who have not, from time to time, that every man who has need may be amply supplied and receive according to his wants.

“Therefore, the residue shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer to the poor and the needy.” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:30–34)

“And this I do,” said the Lord, “for the salvation of my people.” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:36)

In this revelation, which the Prophet designated the “law of the Church,” the Lord revealed the essentials of the united order, which was His program for eliminating the inequalities among men. It is based upon the underlying concept that the earth and all things therein belong to the Lord, and that men hold earthly possessions as stewards accountable to Him.

Romney further asserts,
These divine principles are very simple and easily understood. However, there are a number of concepts which must prevail in order for this ideal to be realized. Chief among these concepts are the following:

1. A belief in God and acceptance of Him as Lord of the earth and the author of the united order. Through it we seek righteousness and spiritual development. “For,” declared the Lord, “if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;

“For if you will,” he continued, “that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you. …

“That you may come up unto the crown prepared for you, and be made rulers over many kingdoms, saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Zion.” (Doctrine and Covenants 78:6–7, 15)

2. The united order is implemented by the voluntary freewill actions of men, evidenced by a consecration of all their property to the Church of God. No force of any kind is ever involved.

3. As to property, in harmony with Church belief as set forth in the Doctrine and Covenants, “no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, [and] the right and control of property.” (Doctrine and Covenants 134:2) The united order is operated upon the principle of private ownership and individual management. Thus, in both ownership and management of property, the united order preserved to men their God-given agency. In this way, He holds each steward accountable for his own work and productivity. Indeed, He said:

“For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures.” (Doctrine and Covenants 104:13.)

You can see from this the truth of President Clark’s statement when he said:

“The Church never was, and under existing commandments never will be, a communal society, under the directions thus far given by the Lord. The United Order was not communal nor communistic. It was completely and intensely individualistic, with a consecration of unneeded surpluses for the support of the Church and the poor.” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., “The United Order and Law of Consecration As Set Out in the Revelations of the Lord,” from a pamphlet of articles reprinted from the Church Section of the Deseret News, 1942, pp. 26–27.)

4. The united order is nonpolitical. It is therefore totally unlike the various forms of socialism, which are political, both in theory and in practice. They are thus exposed to, and riddled by, the corruption which plagues and finally destroys all political governments which undertake to abridge man’s agency.

5. A righteous people is a prerequisite to the united order.

6. The united order exalts the poor and humbles the rich. In the process both are sanctified. The poor, released from the bondage and humiliating limitations of poverty, are enabled as free men to rise to their full potential, both temporally and spiritually. The rich, by consecration and by imparting of their surplus for the benefit of the poor, not by constraint, but willingly as an act of free will, evidence that charity for their fellowmen characterized by Mormon as “the pure love of Christ.” (Moroni 7:47) In this way they qualify to “become the sons of God.” (Moroni 7:48)

With these concepts in mind, we are better prepared to understand how our present Welfare Services efforts relate to the united order and the full ideal of Zion which the Lord has in mind to bring about. Because the people were not then fully ready to live the united order, the Lord suspended it, because, as He said:

“They have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them;

“And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom;

“And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.” (Doctrine and Covenants 105:3–5)

He further indicated that:

“It is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion—

“That they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands.” (Doctrine and Covenants 105:9–10)

Full implementation of the united order must, according to the revelation, await the redemption of Zion. (See D&C 105:34.) In the meantime—while we are being more perfectly taught and are gaining experience—we should be strictly living the principles of the united order insofar as they are embodied in present Church requirements, such as tithing, fast offerings, welfare projects, storehouses, and other principles and practices. Through these programs we should, as individuals, implement in our own lives the bases of the united order

Romney quotes from President Kimball regarding physical needs,

Many people spend most of their time working in the service of a self-image that includes sufficient money, stocks, bonds, investment portfolios, property, credit cards, furnishings, automobiles, and the like to guarantee carnal security throughout, it is hoped, a long and happy life. Forgotten is the fact that our assignment is to use these many resources in our families and quorums to build up the kingdom of God—to further the missionary effort and the genealogical and temple work; to raise our children up as fruitful servants unto the Lord; to bless others in every way, that they may also be fruitful. Instead, we expend these blessings on our own desires, and as Moroni said, ‘Ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not.’ (Mormon 8:39)

“As the Lord himself said in our day, ‘They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own God, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.’ (Doctrine and Covenants 1:16) (President Spencer W. Kimball, The False Gods We Worship)

Friday, October 17, 2008

October 2008 General Conference: Let Him Do It with Simplicity

Elder L. Tom Perry gives counsel concerning how to faithfully endure a challenging life. He asserts that he and Elder Wirthlin have been around for a very long time.

Following the example of Henry David Thoreau, Elder Perry tells of how to simplify our lives to supply basic needs and simplify our requirements.

The first requirement is food. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we possess sacred knowledge from revealed truth about the relationship between the body and the spirit. Doctrine and Covenants 88:15 states, “The spirit and the body are the soul of man.” To bless us both physically and spiritually, the Lord also revealed to us a law of health, telling us which foods and substances are good for the body and which are not

The Word of Wisdom also offers us blessings for obedience that cannot be obtained any other way.

Another of the basic necessities Elder Perry considers is our clothing.

A simplified life that brings spiritual blessings requires the wearing of simple and modest clothing. Our dress and grooming send a message to others about who we are, and they also affect the way we act around others. When we are modestly dressed, we also invite the Spirit of the Lord to be a shield and a protection to us.

Elder Perry discusses Thoreau's third requirement of shelter.

Newspapers are filled with reports of the current housing crisis. We have been encouraged at almost every general conference of the Church I can remember not to live beyond our means. Our income should determine the kind of housing we can afford, not the neighbor’s big home across the street.

Thoreau’s final necessity was fuel.

We have been hearing a lot about fuel and energy—about their high cost and limited supply, our unsafe and unpredictable dependence on their suppliers, and the need for new and sustainable sources of energy. I leave the discussion of these complicated issues to leaders of government and industry. The fuel I want to discuss is spiritual fuel.

Elder Perry suggests that we can insure our supply of spiritual fuel.

The Lord has given us a beautiful plan about how we can return to Him, but the completion of our mortal journey requires spiritual fuel. We want to emulate the five wise virgins, who had stored sufficient fuel to accompany the bridegroom when he came (see Matthew 25:6–10). What is required to maintain a sufficient store of spiritual fuel? We must acquire knowledge of God’s eternal plan and our role in it, and then by living righteously, surrendering our will to the will of the Lord, we receive the promised blessings.

Rehab progress 19

I have developed a condition the physicians refer to as "BPPV" for "benign paroxysmal positional vertigo". The dizzy drunk walking results in part due to misalignment of the rocks in my head. The doctors had to call it something a lot more sophisticated than just rocks in the head, so they refer to them as "otoconia". I knew it must be something like that.

Here is a link to some good information on this problem.

The treatment is simple and painless.

Poor balance and lack of control are some of my most serious problems right now, so hopefully this treatment will help correct it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Anybody can be really unpleasant. I see a lot of that on the internet these days. It seems to be more of a challenge to keep unhappiness to yourself.

I try to weep by myself. People tend to misunderstand, to see a grown man crying out loud in public. Then everyone is inclined to ask the most stupid question that can be imagined in those circumstances -- "Is anything wrong?"

Far better to be joined in something we can see the humor together in. As in Elder Wirthlin's counsel we should learn to laugh.

I am sorry and apologize to anyone whose life is saddened by me. I never intended to share that. My sadness is my own.


Rehab progress 18

Some things we learn with the greatest of difficulty.

I am reminded that when I need a bathroom, I don't have any time to waste. Very short warning. Apparently some damage to my brain short-circuited the early warning system, so I sometime have a surprise when I am ill-prepared to deal with it.

I have also learned, by sad experience, that sandals have some advantage over shoes, in cases where I remember the first lesson too late. When I pee my pants, it runs down my leg. If I am wearing sandals, the flood will drain away harmlessly. But if I am wearing shoes, it runs down and fills them to overflowing. This has unhappy consequences for the shoes and socks, in addition to wetting my trousers and underwear.

I got new sandals this summer, thinking of the convenience. They have a very easy velcro closure that makes them really neat to put on.

I never thought about the advantage of being well drained and quick drying. Unfortunately the weather here has grown colder, so today I was wearing athletic shoes -- expensive Nikes -- today for the overflow event.

Ah, well. Yet another of those invaluable lessons of esoteric knowledge that cannot be gained, except by experience. I can easily shower and wash my clothes.

I just hope my shoes will dry out...

October 2008 General Conference: The Truth of God Shall Go Forth

Elder M. Russel Ballard in his most recent conference address, reviews the history of the restoration and the continuing growth of the church, as a witness of the prophetic vision of Joseph Smith, and subsequent church leadership who follow his example.

He relates details regarding Joseph Smith's remarkable vision for the future of the church:

Many people, including Latter-day Saints, forget that Joseph Smith was very much aware that the Church would eventually be relocated to the great American West. In August of 1842 he prophesied “that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some [would] live to . . . build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains” (History of the Church, 5:85).

Then, Elder Ballard shows how that prophetic vision was so dramatically fulfilled:

Nearly 18 decades have passed since the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830. We have had 178 years to observe the fulfillment of prophecy and to watch “the truth of God” as it goes “forth boldly, nobly, and independent.”

The growth of the church through the years has increased steadily. Elder Ballard asserts further:
Now, my brothers and sisters, my purpose in this brief review of Joseph’s prophetic vision of the destiny of this Church and its literal fulfillment through the decades is to remind us of this simple truth:

“The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.

“For God doth not walk in crooked paths, . . . neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.

“Remember . . . that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 3:1–3).

God has spoken through His prophet and announced to the world that “the Standard of Truth has been erected” and that “no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing.” That is undeniably and indisputably true. We have seen it for ourselves, in decade after decade, from the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith to the time of President Thomas S. Monson. Persecutions have raged. Calumny and lies and misrepresentation have attempted to defame. But in every decade from the time of the Restoration forward, the truth of God has gone “forth boldly, nobly, and independent.” The little Church that started in 1830 with just a handful of members has now grown to more than 13 million Latter-day Saints in many different nations around the world, and we are well on our way to penetrating every continent, visiting every clime, sweeping every country, and sounding in every ear.

As he suggests in his counsel, we must continue to work and strive, as those who faithfully faced challenges before us, to build up the church and kingdom of God:

This is not to suggest that our challenges today are more severe than the challenges faced by those who have gone before us. They are just different. The Lord isn’t asking us to load up a handcart; He’s asking us to fortify our faith. He isn’t asking us to walk across a continent; He’s asking us to walk across the street to visit our neighbor. He isn’t asking us to give all of our worldly possessions to build a temple; He’s asking us to give of our means and our time despite the pressures of modern living to continue to build temples and then to attend regularly the temples already built. He isn’t asking us to die a martyr’s death; He’s asking us to live a disciple’s life.

I have long characterized my own life as a disciple's efforts. Elder Ballard lays out where the efforts of our predecessors have led us, and challenges us to continue on a faithful course.

To do so is a noble cause. My effort and my concentration are focused on that end. I only hope to be found worthy when my humble struggle is done.

Men and Women

I feel nothing but confusion coming from the discussion about "gay marriage" and California's latest voter initiative. Apparently other people have similar misgivings. I have read much discussion about it, pro and con, on the internet and in the bloggernacle lately.

I think, if we could but return to conditions closer to subsistence living, men and women would discover together fairly quickly that traditional roles work more effectively than any implementation of idealogical "egalitarian" relationship. That understanding should form the basis for any further development or refinement of civil law.

Of course, civil law should be based in the values and ethics of the culture under the laws. The scriptures read:

Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people. (Mosiah 29:26)

I am not certain, but I think the people of California voiced their opinion, were overruled by judges who interpret the law according to a different voice. Let us hope that ultimately the voice of those who would choose the right will prevail, in California and elsewhere. In the mean time, confusion reigns.

I, for one, do not find any need to answer all the confusing questions, just to satisfy my curiosity, or for any other reason. Though it is interesting to discuss, Church leaders have already counselled us to affirm that the marriage covenant is reserved for relationships between a man and woman. That is good enough for me. I may not understand all the implications, but I long ago committed to follow the counsel of the brethren, to the best of my ability. So there is no doubt in my mind about that, at least.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rehab progress 17

I am obviously not ever going to find a magic spell that will relieve me of this current problem. But I am making some progress toward regaining physical function. So says Ben Robinson, the physical therapist I am going to.

Today in an hour-long workout I pedalled the exercise bike 2.5 miles and walked the treadmill at 3 mph for 20 minutes. By the time I finished the circuit of exercise machines I was totally out of energy.

I bemoan the passing of the time when I would have laughed at such trivial exercise. But apparently the gains I make will continue to be minuscule and painstaking. This is the way with normal exercise, but I was expecting to regain strength more easily, because I was in better shape beforehand. Apparently brain damage doesn't work that way, and I needed to start all over again from where I was after the stroke damage. I didn't know that, and nobody really took the time to explain it to me. Perhaps others who have to go through something similar can be forewarned.

Anyway, I continue to believe that some progress is better than nothing -- notwithstanding my impatience. I am still better off than the man with no legs...

October 2008 General Conference: Come What May, and Love It

If you find yourself facing a difficult challenge, or are discouraged for any reason, I recommend a review of Elder Wirthlin's general conference address. Elder Wirthlin counsels us to endure times of adversity by keeping a good attitude.

Elder Wirthlin's four main points:

1. Learn to Laugh
2. Seek for the Eternal
3. Understand the Principle of Compensation
4. Put Our Trust in the Father and the Son

He illustrated this first point with a very funny story about a man who came to pick up one his daughters for babysitting. One of the other daughters thought he was her blind date come to pick her up, and went with him to get in his car, after formal introductions were made to all the family members. The girl was embarrassed to learn that the man was only looking to get the babysitter, and the whole family collapsed in laughter to learn of the mistake.

On the second point, Elder Wirthlin counsels:
Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering, and sorrow is part of our on-the-job training. These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are precisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others.

Because Jesus Christ suffered greatly, He understands our suffering. He understands our grief. We experience hard things so that we too may have increased compassion and understanding for others.

He states the third principle thus:

The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.

While I do not fully understand how to apply this idea, I am trying to visualize how it must apply to my circumstances. I am uncertain what compensation is being offered in the midst of my troubles, but I am relying on the fourth principle outlined to get me through. I do not know if things will ever improve for me. So I wait...

Elder Wirthlin speaks of the fourth principle by mentioning that one of his daughters suffered with a certain affliction for many years. In spite of her suffering, she put her trust in the Lord. His recommendation:

The simple secret is this: put your trust in the Lord, do your best, then leave the rest to Him.

While this advise is not as easy as it sounds to depend on, it seems to be the final hope of those who have abandoned every other. We can put trust in the Lord, who understands all afflictions.

I do. I will continue doing all I can.

The rest is up to him.

Ludicrous images

When I used to deliver pianos for Summerhayes Music, many years ago, we made regular trips to the avenues and to the downtown Salt Lake City area. During conference time, we always used to see a man hanging around Temple Square dressed in a red devil costume. It was a funny sight to see, and we always laughed.

These days, I wonder about those kinds of images. Red devils are a bit more threatening than they used to be. Such pictures come to life in my nightmares -- and I see them very often. Pictures like Rafael's little cherubs seem a lot more innocent and innocuous.

In fact, the character from Star Wars, the first episode, now appears with fairly great regularity in my more disturbing dreams. Not a welcome guest in my head, to be sure.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October 2008 General Conference: Answering our accusers in the Savior’s way

I am somewhat unhappy about Elder Hales conference talk on how to respond to dissidents and those who would make accusations.

Elder Hales speaks against responding in kind. His counsel is:
When we do not retaliate—when we turn the other cheek and resist feelings of anger—we too stand with the Savior. We show forth His love, which is the only power that can subdue the adversary and answer our accusers without accusing them in return.

I can tell you, nothing could be more difficult, for me. When I hear attacks against the things I know are true, my first impulse is always to fight back. I will have to change my responses to conform to Elder Hales' counsel. Elder Hales further counsels:
This is especially important in our interactions with members of other Christian denominations. Surely our Heavenly Father is saddened—and the devil laughs—when we contentiously debate doctrinal differences with our Christian neighbors.

I am made especially uncomfortable at this suggestion. Let me not be found guilty of making the devil laugh. The mental image of demonic laughter haunts me. It is very unpleasant to think of myself this way.

He goes on to extend this idea further:

This is not to suggest that we compromise our principles or dilute our beliefs. We cannot change the doctrines of the restored gospel, even if teaching and obeying them makes us unpopular in the eyes of the world. Yet even as we feel to speak the word of God with boldness, we must pray to be filled with the Holy Ghost (see Acts 4:29, 31). We should never confuse boldness with Satan’s counterfeit: overbearance (see Alma 38:12). True disciples speak with quiet confidence, not boastful pride.

This part serves as answer to some of my misgivings about pride. There is a significant distinction between the kind of pride that lends us quiet confidence and the quality that leads to the hubris of boastful bragging. We can be forewarned by the kind of attitude our proud feelings lead us to.

Elder Hales further distinguishes between confident speaking and boastful pride:

As true disciples, our primary concern must be others’ welfare, not personal vindication. Questions and criticisms give us an opportunity to reach out to others and demonstrate that they matter to our Heavenly Father and to us. Our aim should be to help them understand the truth, not defend our egos or score points in a theological debate. Our heartfelt testimonies are the most powerful answer we can give our accusers. And such testimonies can only be born in love and meekness.

Thus our personal motive for acting is a key to knowing if we are moved by charity and genuine concern for others, or if our acts are self-serving and centered upon our own interest.

Elder Hales makes a good recommendation for those who are confused like me, and seek some guideline for personal behavior:
We should be like Edward Partridge, of whom the Lord said, “His heart is pure before me, for he is like unto Nathanael of old, in whom there is no guile” (Doctrine and Covenants 41:11). To be guileless is to have a childlike innocence, to be slow to take offense and quick to forgive.

I will have to consider this idea further. It certainly sheds some light on my questions about pride -- but perhaps not in the way that pleases me. I need to change my thinking somewhat to accommodate. Not easy advice to follow.

Monday, October 13, 2008

October 2008 General Conference: Angels of Mercy

I confess, Elder Holland intrigued me with his talk about angels.

I have mostly dismissed the idea of angelic ministrations. Frilly, new-age illustrations of feathery angels with flapping wings like a huge swan put me off from the whole idea.

But Elder Holland explains, in his conference talk, that angels still come to us, and are always around, seen and unseen.

I will have to reconsider my scepticism.

(The picture of angels is by Rafael, by the way. Artists are probably responsible for a lot of confused ideas about angels.)

Rehab progress 16

I have made regular visits to the physical therapist in Mt Pleasant. They have gotten to know my dad and me pretty well. He is getting therapy for a painful back condition -- something I hear them referring to as "lumbago".

I have been making slow but steady progress, improving my performance and increasing the weights and the length of time, so my workouts are building stamina, as well as muscle strength.

Unfortunately, I have a vast gulf of disability to overcome. Compared to my capabilities before I had the stroke, my recovery is so slight as to be almost not worth noticing. I walk on the treadmill, for example, at 3 mph for 20 minutes. After that exertion I am reduced to a sweaty heap. I can't manage much more, in present condition. Before, I could climb on high mountainsides all day without stopping. I passed the fireman test which requires walking 4 mph for 3 miles. It makes me feel sad to remember, I thought I was doing so well. I wonder now if I will ever regain such capabilities. Probably not. But I will keep trying, nonetheless.

Everyone is very encouraging at the workouts. They all say I am improving.

But if I am doing so much better. why don't I feel happy?

October 2008 General Conference: To Learn, to Do, to Be

In his inspired and inspirational priesthood session address, President Monson outlined his message.

1. Learn what we should learn.
2. Do what we should do.
3. Be what we should be.

This is a simple message, calculated to be most effective for sophisticated, informed listeners. We have heard this counsel many times -- those of us who are the target audience already know what we should be doing. A most effective reminder that we are not doing everything we can -- and that is what we should be striving for.

President Monson illustrated his point with the following humorous and instructive story:
Many years ago I had a desperate call from the head of the missionary training center. He said, “President Monson, I have a missionary who is going home. Nothing can prevent him from quitting.”

I replied, “Well, that’s not singular. It’s happened before. What’s his problem?”

He said, “He’s been called to a Spanish-speaking mission, and he’s absolutely certain he cannot learn Spanish.”

I said, “I have a suggestion for you. Tomorrow morning have him attend a class learning Japanese. And then have him report to you at 12:00 noon.”

The next morning he phoned at 10:00! He said, “The young man is here with me now, and he wants me to know he’s absolutely certain he can learn Spanish.”

When there’s a will there’s a way.
I heard this message with increased humility, a renewed will to follow the inspired leadership, and an increase of love and devotion for President Monson and his counsel. May those who have ears to hear heed his counsel...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

October 2008 General Conference: Pray Always

In his recent conference talk, Elder Bednar gives valuable words of counsel regarding the manner in which we should offer up prayers to God.

His talk outlines three basic, simple principles we can observe to make our prayers more effective. I felt certain that these ideas were based upon his personal experience.

Principle #1. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we counsel with the Lord in all our doings (see Alma 37:37).

Principle #2. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we express heartfelt gratitude.

Principle #3. Prayer becomes more meaningful as we pray for others with real intent and a sincere heart.

Rehab progress 15

What about tomorrow?

Why am I working so hard to recover a bit of functionality?

Is it all just futility?

I don't know the answers. The future has so many uncertainties. I don't know if it will make any difference for me to continue trying. For some reason, I am compelled to do so.

Today I encountered another one of those stupid little things that absolutely defeat my every effort. I was trying to trim my fingernails.

Everyone knows the simple little instrument I am talking about. I just cannot generate enough power with the fingers of my right hand to make it work properly.

Everyone around me seems more aware of my limitations than I am. I discover new frustrations every day.

I was trying to apply some herbicide spray to the weeds at the neighbor's house the other day, the kind of work I am very familiar with, and performed routinely before I became so dysfunctional. He was very solicitous, asking again and again if I was feeling okay. Especially when I would stumble and almost fall down. After several precarious recoveries, he very nearly insisted that I retire, and resume the weed spraying another day. I must have looked worse than I felt.

Anyway, I keep trying, because I don't know what else to do with myself. I don't feel like a disposable commodity. But maybe I have outlived my usefulness. I don't think so, but I suppose the possibility is there.

I was talking about this nagging feeling with my dad as we worked together yesterday. I don't know what to do with the rest of my life, if the world has no use for me. I was imagining some kind of romantic relationship -- what it would be like, who I could find that would be a likely partner. I have to admit, I'm not a very attractive prospect right now. My dad suggested that I should give it more time, before worrying about things like that. But I am a lone and lonely man right now.

Last week I checked my email screening filter, and discovered that it had been filtering out from my inbox numerous offers for a matrimonial relationship with women supposedly from Russia. I must say, the idea intrigues me. Unfortunately, the proposals were all disconcertingly inappropriate for me. Most of them because the purported spouse was decades too young to be a good match for me. But it was thought-provoking.

In the past, I have tried several avenues for meeting women appropriate to my particular taste and inclination. I met with little success. Most are not able to even understand the intellectual pursuits that interest me, let alone complement that subject. I was seeking a mate that has at least a college background, and they seem to be in short supply as available date partners. Let alone a partner that would be anxious to help me keep my nails trimmed. Least of all can I imagine such a woman finding an interest in me, under present circumstances.

Ah, well. Perhaps there is not such a person. I will continue to keep my eyes open.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Blood pressure

What is high blood pressure?

Of course I understand the simple mechanics of hydrostatic pressure in the vascular system. That part is fairly easy to figure out. But all the rigamarole and nonsense about treating hypertension is incomprehensible. I am not stupid about such things, but I find most of the medical discussion about this matter to be less than enlightening, at best. At the worst, it is obvious that the medical establishment uses this issue to explain what they do not understand, to instil fear in medical consumer market, and to drive people to seek a non-existent cure for something that may not even be a health problem in the first place.

It seems as if the doctors discovered a cure that no malady existed for, so they had to invent one. Like the narrowly focused man who has a hammer, to which everything looks like a nail. A hundred different drugs for controlling high blood pressure are on the prescription drug market now, but nobody really understands what they do or how they work. What doctors know, it seems, is how much they can make selling those little pills. They seldom think about other ways the drugs may be affecting people.

Voices in the Dark

I have an occasional experience that seems inexplicable to me. I hear a voice in the night.

Most often it sounds like my father. It is a compelling tone, so strongly commanding and urgent that I always respond immediately. On hearing the voice, I sit up in the bed and usually I answer with something like, "What is wanted?", or sometimes just acknowledgement that I hear. Whatever my response, there has never been a reply. Just the ringing, empty silence and continuing darkness.

I have questioned my dad many times about hearing him calling me in the night. It has never been him. Circumstances are usually such that it is easy to determine that it was not his voice I heard. Yet it always seems so compelling, so real to me. I don't know what to make of it.

I have tried to compare my experience to that of the boy Samuel, living with Israel's then prophet, Eli. Samuel heard a voice calling his name in the night, and not realizing that the Lord was calling out to him, he went to Eli, asking what he wanted. After this manifestation was repeated several times, Eli realized that it was the Lord calling out to Samuel in the night. Eli told Samuel to answer, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." Samuel followed his instruction, and was given a special message from God.

Though I would like my experiences to be comparable, I have never heard anything further on any of these occasions. Just darkness and silence. I have never been certain if God is trying to send me a special message, or if perhaps I am simply delusional, in some fairly consistent way.

The voice I hear is not invariably the same voice. Sometimes, I hear my mother calling me. Sometimes, it is my brother (which is curious, since he has been dead now for some length of time). Rarely I cannot identify the speaker. But always, the voice carries an unmistakable and compelling tone of the greatest urgency.

I have never been able to discern what this voice portends. It never continues with any further message -- simply awakens me, and leaves me with the feeling that there is something that I must do, some response that is so important that it leaves me wondering for housrs and hours afterward.

I'd sure like to hear the rest of the message. Or at least, I believe I would.

October 2008 General Conference transcripts

Although I watched and listened to much of the conference, there was a lot I missed for one reason or another. Conference talk transcripts are available for downloading today. You can access the talks at this link.

I plan to spend quite a bit of time reviewing the counsel given. These are dangerous and troubled times. I think we can use all the divine guidance we can get. And I pray that Heavenly Father will help me to find my way through the mists of darkness.

Bad Habits

My worst bad habit is eating -- even when I am not hungry at all.

I catch myself thinking about lunch, simply because it is lunch time. I start in making a peanut butter and jam sandwich, then realize that my stomach is turning over, just at the sight of the bread in front of my eyes. I realize that I was in the process of beginning to make a sandwich, even though I was not hungry, had no appetite for food, and might even feel sick to eat this food. It was a stupid impulsive act, and I started doing it before I even thought about it, simply because of the ingrained lunch time habit.

I need to give more thought to my habits, to recognize the bad ones before I automatically do these programmed actions, even when I don't need or want them.

Some of my habits have proven to be bad, even though they served me in the past. I have been accustomed to being warned by my body that I would soon need a toilet. I find the urgent need coming upon me without sufficient warning, and I can no longer depend on advance notice. My habit no longer serves, because my body has quit sending the earlier signal that I was used to. Now when I realize that I need a bathroom, it is right now.

I have had several instances where my old habits failed to serve me well, with rather unpleasant results.

Rehab progress 14

I honestly wish I had something more positive or significant to report.

Progress is slow, alas. I am not going to compete in a marathon race this week.

Challenges continue to impede my progression. They tend to be the most mundane of things. I feel like a whiner to even iterate my trivial complaints.

One thing that continues to plague me is difficulty moving my right foot. It is an impediment when trying to enter and exit the car. It is like I cannot even get out of my own way. Slow movement is the rule. I have to move with care, too, for everything I do. I am so afraid of falling down and hurting myself, or someone standing nearby.

It bothers me to be bothered with such concerns. I never had such worries before, and I do not think it is an issue that other normally even think about. But it nags at me fairly constantly.

I get a lot of praise for my performance at the physical therapist workout. But the progress is minimal. I wish I could do more, and am impatient.

This week I increased my treadmill time to 20 minutes at 2 mph. But it is nothing in comparison to a 30-mile hike through the mountains at 12000 feet elevation. I am working in that direction, but it seems like an unattainable goal. I will have to be satisfied with the treadmill -- for now

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Visiting with Friends

John Redelfs and his sweet wife Esperanza joined my parents and I for dinner this week while the Redelfs were in town for General Conference. It was a surprise to me that they came to visit, and a memorable event.

It is truly gratifying to have such fine friends, and to be known by such good people. Thank you, John and Esperanza.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

October 2008 General Conference

Once again, we have the opportunity to sit at the feet of prophets and inspired men of God, to hear inspired words of counsel for our day.

Today seems like an even more crucial moment than any day in the recent past. Perhaps words of advice will be the key for preserving us from impending disaster. Let us hope so.

I do.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Questions about Pride

I do not understand warnings from church leaders regarding pride.

To be proud of personal accomplishment is a great motivator. We attempt and accomplish much, overcome many personal challenges, because we feel some sense of pride in our ability. Is this a bad thing?

We discussed this issue briefly in Sunday school lesson this week. The lesson presents an illustration called "The Pride Cycle".

The outcome of discussion furthered my confusion.

I have even further confusion from popular usage of the term "pride" which seems to have been co opted for exclusive usage by militant homosexual groups demanding normalization and acceptance for their perverted habits. This is obvously not the "pride" I am referring to.

President Benson gave the classic speech counselling church members "Beware of Pride". But according to my understanding, he was one of the proudest men imaginable. I have heard that he favored a saying that was even written down on a plaque that he kept on his desk -- "Be right, then be nice. But first, be right." Something like that seems characteristic of a very proud man. Apparently, Benson was considered stubborn and intractable by many.

I don't know. I think he was a man of strong convictions. But I am confused about how to distinguish between firm, unshakeable faith and overwhelming personal pride. As far as I can judge, it amounts to very nearly the same thing.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The cats came back...

My sister's kids brought home some cuddly soft kitties when they were here visiting, last summer. They turned into cats, of course. So my mom ended up with a whole gang of cats that hang around -- too many for practical purpose, too many to feed, too many...

Well, she tried giving some away. It worked okay with the gray cat -- he's been gone for a long time now. So she thought the other cats would be willing candidates for adoption by some family with lots of affectionate and loving kids.

The black-and-gray striped cat went to Kimballs, nearby. That cat has been transported to a new home numerous times, accompanied by generous supply of cat provisions. It keeps coming back. Won't stay away.

Today we spotted the little black cat, returned. So now the full compelment of cats has returned. The only one that has stayed adopted is the dirty gray-white cat that moved up the mountain to Annette Grant's house a couple of years back.

Cats are notional creatures, I guess. They have a mind of their own, about where they decide to call home.

Rehab progress 13

I have been attempting, with very limited success, to engage in some of the work I used to do.

My right foot is cooperating better, but I still have balance and coordination problems with walking. Everything imaginable lays on the ground in my path, conspiring to trip me up, it seems. I have to remember to pick up my right foot on every stride. It is getting better, slowly, though I cannot tell if the improvement is due to real nerve pathway regeneration, or just through repetitive practising of what I need to do in order to move from place to place.

In any case, I am anxious to resume certain activities. I wish I was recovered enough to be more useful processing firewood, but there are some things I just cannot do. I hope to recover some of these capabilities, given the time and practice.