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Monday, November 10, 2014

HARRY'S JUDGMENT

A few days ago a man who is currently serving as a bishop in an LDS ward wrote an article about one of my ‘favorite’ Mormon politicians (there was much sarcasm intended by that word).  This Bishop suggested that if Harry Reid lived in his ward there might be some difficulties in signing a Temple Recommend for the illustrious Democrat.


Harry Reid


(For those not of the LDS Faith, a Temple Recommend is the document required to allow an individual to enter Temples and participate in the religious rituals found therein.  A member is presented with a number of questions that must be answered appropriately to receive the Recommend.  Some deal with the stance on beliefs and associations that might be considered ‘against Church practices or doctrine.’)

Manti Temple

The author of the article indicated that, at least from his perspective, Harry Reid was in violation of several of the questions that are asked of each member desiring entrance to the House of the Lord.




There is no sympathy from me for Mr. Reid and his political persuasions.  His actions are often odious and despicable (see the tricks he pulled on Mitt Romney) and his leanings are so far left that I wonder how he can walk. In my estimation he is a liberal in the most offensive way that term can be used.

BUT!!!

His worthiness to participate in the religious practices of His (and my) church is not based on his political beliefs or practices.

(I suppose if he was a member of ISIS and went around cutting heads off innocent people we might reconsider.)

He doesn't!!!

He is my brother in the gospel of Christ.

His support of some programs and laws leaves me wondering how he sleeps at night.

Nevertheless – and this is a big nevertheless – I (nor anyone else except his Bishop) do not have the authority or responsibility to determine his worthiness to enjoy the blessings of the temple.


For a few years I was invited to serve as bishop of my ward.  In that responsibility I interviewed countless individuals, seeking to determine worthiness to partake of sacred blessings.  Most who came were completely qualified to receive recommendation.

Not surprisingly, none were perfect.

But there were some who caused me to think and prayerfully consider what to do.  A few were encouraged to prepare themselves more fully in certain areas and return when they felt they were ready.

Some responded with anger or shame when denied a Recommend and left without the desired blessings.  Through it all, my decisions were based on what I knew of the person, the answers to their questions, and the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.

I sincerely believe that I never made a decision founded in personal opinion, anger, or frustration with the member or circumstance.


It is not the duty of a bishop to make judgment on souls who reside outside the realm of his stewardship.  When one bishop calls into question the judgment of another there is a serious breach of protocol and propriety.  That is not the ways things are done in the Church.

I am confident the bishop who wrote the article is a good man and is doing his best to fulfill his calling.  He is offered inspiration from the Holy Ghost to know how to lead his little flock of saints

But, he is not privy to the facts, inspiration, worthiness, or anything else concerning members of another congregation.

It is highly inappropriate to speculate on the worthiness of a member who is not within the stewardship one has been given.



I know Harry Reid in his political role by his voting record and the things he preaches.


I know nothing of his role as a husband, father, man, or member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  



There is only one person responsible to give or withhold permission to participate in temple blessings.

Jordan River Temple

Those judgments are best handled by leaders who have the right to make the determinations necessary.  They are trustworthy and will do what is right.

Let them.


Without help from the ‘peanut gallery.’

Monday, November 3, 2014

HELP

I know the following is a little long, but I have always loved the message  C. S. Lewis included in his Narnia Chronicles.  This story takes place at the end of the "Last War" and is meant to help us understand why some people can't be helped.... because they won't be helped.  


Anyways, enjoy and think a little about what it means to you.

Aslan and the Dwarfs

“I hope Tash ate the Dwarfs too,” said Eustace. “Little swine.”

“No, he didn’t,” said Lucy. “And don’t be horrid. They’re still here. In fact you can see them from here. And I’ve tried and tried to make friends with them but it’s no use.”

“Friends with them!” cried Eustace. “If you knew how those Dwarfs have been behaving!”

“Oh stop it, Eustace,” said Lucy. “Do come and see them. King Tirian, perhaps you could do something with them.”

“I can feel no great love for Dwarfs today,” said Tirian. “Yet at your asking, Lady, I would do a greater thing than this.”

Lucy led the way and soon they could all see the Dwarfs. They had a very odd look. They weren’t strolling about or enjoying themselves (although the cords with which they had been tied seemed to have vanished) nor were they lying down and having a rest. They were sitting very close together in a little circle facing one another. They never looked round or took any notice of the humans till Lucy and Tirian were almost near enough to touch them. Then the Dwarfs all cocked their heads as if they couldn’t see anyone but were listening hard and trying to guess by the sound what was happening.

“Look out!” said one of them in a surly voice. “Mind where you’re going. Don’t walk into our faces!”

“All right!” said Eustace indignantly. “We’re not blind. We’ve got eyes in our heads.”

“They must be darn good ones if you can see in here,” said the same Dwarf whose name was Diggle.

“In where?” asked Edmund.

“Why you bone-head, in here of course,” said Diggle. “In this pitch-black, poky, smelly little hole of a stable.”

“Are you blind?” said Tirian.

“Ain’t we all blind in the dark!” said Diggle.

“But it isn’t dark, you poor stupid Dwarfs,” said Lucy. “Can’t you see? Look up! Look round! Can’t you see the sky and the trees and the flowers? Can’t you see me?”

“How in the name of all Humbug can I see what ain’t there? And how can I see you any more than you can see me in this pitch darkness?”

“But I can see you,” said Lucy. “I’ll prove I can see you. You’ve got a pipe in your mouth.”

“Anyone that knows the smell of baccy could tell that,” said Diggle.

“Oh the poor things! This is dreadful,” said Lucy. Then she had an idea. She stooped and picked some wild violets. “Listen, Dwarf,” she said. “Even if your eyes are wrong, perhaps your nose is all right: can you smell that?” She leaned across and held the fresh, damp flowers to Diggle’s ugly nose. But she had to jump back quickly in order to avoid a blow from his hard little fist.

“None of that!” he shouted. “How dare you! What do you mean by shoving a lot of filthy stable-litter in my face? There was a thistle in it too. It’s like your sauce! And who are you, anyway?”

“Earth-man,” said Tirian, “she is the Queen Lucy, sent hither by Aslan out of the deep past. And it is for her sake alone that I, Tirian your lawful King, do not cut all your heads from your shoulders, proved and twice-proved traitors that you are.”

“Well if that doesn’t beat everything!” exclaimed Diggle. “How can you go on talking all that rot? Your wonderful Lion didn’t come and help you, did he? Thought not. And now— even now— when you’ve been beaten and shoved into this black hole, just the same as the rest of us, you’re still at your old game. Starting a new lie! Trying to make us believe we’re none of us shut up, and it ain’t dark, and heaven knows what.”

“There is no black hole, save in your own fancy, fool,” cried Tirian. “Come out of it.” And, leaning forward, he caught Diggle by the belt and the hood and swung him right out of the circle of Dwarfs. But the moment Tirian put him down, Diggle darted back to his place among the others, rubbing his nose and howling:

“Ow! Ow! What d’you do that for! Banging my face against the wall. You’ve nearly broken my nose.”

“Oh dear!” said Lucy. “What are we to do for them?”

“Let ‘em alone,” said Eustace: but as he spoke the earth trembled. The sweet air grew suddenly sweeter. A brightness flashed behind them. All turned. Tirian turned last because he was afraid. There stood his heart’s desire, huge and real, the golden Lion, Aslan himself, and already the others were kneeling in a circle round his forepaws and burying their hands and faces in his mane as he stooped his great head to touch them with his tongue. Then he fixed his eyes upon Tirian, and Tirian came near, trembling, and flung himself at the Lion’s feet, and the Lion kissed him and said, “Well done, last of the Kings of Narnia who stood firm at the darkest hour.”

“Aslan,” said Lucy through her tears, “could you— will you— do something for these poor Dwarfs?”

“Dearest,” said Aslan, “I will show you both what I can, and what I cannot, do.” He came close to the Dwarfs and gave a low growl: low, but it set all the air shaking. But the Dwarfs said to one another, “Hear that? That’s the gang at the other end of the stable. Trying to frighten us. They do it with a machine of some kind. Don’t take any notice. They won’t take us in again!”

Aslan raised his head and shook his mane. Instantly a glorious feast appeared on the Dwarfs’ knees: pies and tongues and pigeons and trifles and ices, and each Dwarf had a goblet of good wine in his right hand. But it wasn’t much use. They began eating and drinking greedily enough, but it was clear that they couldn’t taste it properly. They thought they were eating and drinking only the sort of things you might find in a stable. One said he was trying to eat hay and another said he had got a bit of an old turnip and a third said he’d found a raw cabbage leaf. And they raised golden goblets of rich red wine to their lips and said “Ugh! Fancy drinking dirty water out of a trough that a donkey’s been at! Never thought we’d come to this.” 

But very soon every Dwarf began suspecting that every other Dwarf had found something nicer than he had, and they started grabbing and snatching, and went on to quarreling, till in a few minutes there was a free fight and all the good food was smeared on their faces and clothes or trodden under foot. But when at last they sat down to nurse their black eyes and their bleeding noses, they all said:

“Well, at any rate there’s no Humbug here. We haven’t let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs.”

“You see,” said Aslan. “They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out. But come, children. I have other work to do.”


Lewis, C. S. (2008-10-29). The Last Battle: The Chronicles of Narnia (pp. 167-170). HarperCollins.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

THERAPY

Guess what?

I’m sitting with my beautiful wife, watching people torture her and make her cry.

And I let them do it.

And I pay them money.

All in the name of therapy.

And guess what else?

When we get home, I get to take the place of the therapist and do the evil deeds myself.

It’s not fun, but the ends justify the means (or something like that).

Back on July 25th we took this sweet young thing to the hospital where a very talented doctor made incisions in her knees and replaced the old arthritic bones and stuff for metal and plastic new ones.  And now we have to finish things off by inflicting pain and suffering on her tortured body.

Soon she will be able to get out of a chair without assistance and hike and all the other things she loves to do with her legs.  And on that day, all the suffering will be worth the sacrifice she has made.

Hurray for doctors who know what they are doing.

And hurrah for therapists who can make themselves watch people cringe, cry, and complain and still do their job. 

And stay upbeat and happy.


Thanks to all involved and all who have offered prayers on Teresa’s behalf.  She and I are very grateful.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

PROPHETIC HELP

Just a quick note to express my appreciation to those who participated in the General Conference we had this past weekend.  There were some marvelous messages from men who have sought out what we need to hear.

Here are two in particular that I found very pertinent.

Elder Oaks

Elder Dallin H. Oaks was spot on with his message about contention.  This is especially true, considering the Supreme Court decision to not consider the appeals of 5 states pertaining to same-sex-marriage.  It will take all we have to stay out of the fray in this regard.

Elder Holland

Elder Holland’s message on caring for the poor and needy was provoking (at least to me).  There are many areas in this regard that need to be fixed in my heart.  That whole judging thing is so difficult but I recognize it as a weakness and vow to fix what is broken.



I recommend both of these messages to anyone – member of the Church or not – who would like to understand how the Savior would handle things today.

Friday, October 3, 2014

NOT DREGS

Dregs: the remnants of
a liquid left in a container,
together with any
sediment or grounds.

synonyms
"the dregs from a bottle of wine"
The most worthless part or parts of something.




Also people

Invisible

Worthless

Useless

Pushed aside

Look away

Ignore

Who decides?

Guilt


                       Why them?

Lazy?

Poor?

Uneducated?

What did they do?


What will I do?

The worth of souls is great in the sight of God; 
(D&C 18:10)


HE LOVES THEM ALL

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

THE ASSIST

One of my dreams, as a younger man, was to become a basketball player.  There is a beauty to the game that appeals to me and I loved the competition and comradery I experienced on the floor.  But, alas, I was never very good so my efforts were limited to church-ball and pickup games.

Not my team but they look great.

Today I find that my love for the game has diminished considerably.  Part is my inability to participate with any real consistency.  Yet, I don’t feel the same loss for baseball (another beloved game) so it must be something else.  If I were to guess, I suspect the state of the game has turned me off and driven me away.

NBA, college, and to some extent high school teams have lost the idea of team.  Instead of highlighting the combined efforts necessary to be successful, basketball has become a forum for idolizing individuals.

One of the greatest BUT also one of the most selfish.

Everyone loves Kobe and LeBron because they are such marvelous talents (and they are), but how successful would they be if they didn’t have teammates to get them the ball?


I know, life and basketball are different but I think principles of truth still exist – and one I will not relinquish is the principle of TEAM.

I spent a lot of time with my boys on one of these.

In my mind, the great players of the game were those who invited all to come in and play AND helped them become the best they could be.  Players like John Stockton, Tim Duncan, Bill Walton, and Chris Paul work/worked tirelessly to hone their talents.  The difference between these players and those above (and others) is they intentionally included everyone on the team in the effort to win.  Yes, they were stars, but it was not beneath them to allow others to have success as well.

I’ve been considering the same principles in the lives of people like you and me.

There is a tendency for many of us to reach for ‘stardom’ and, if not intentionally then at least subliminally, we try to push others down in our quest for heights.  It seems more glamorous to have name recognition and the attendant excitement.  But when we look carefully, most of the glamour and hype are short-lived and usually leave us with the bruises and scars that come from selfishness.

It takes a strong person to see the limelight and know they could bask there-in but recognize their abilities are needed for another, less ‘glorious’, purpose.

Joseph Smith Jr.
One such man (a hero of mine) was the brother of Joseph Smith.  Hyrum, the older brother of Joseph, was a capable, talented, dedicated brother who had everything that would make a man popular in his day.  He was handsome, strong, gentle, spiritual, and thoughtful – but he was also very humble.

In later years, there were many who thought Hyrum looked and acted more like a prophet than his brother.  After all, Joseph was known to challenge grown men to wrestling matches (not WWE type) or play baseball or run races with the young boys of the town.  Hyrum, on the other hand, was more inclined to follow the rules of proper adult decorum.

And that’s the rub.  Hyrum was good for Joseph. 

Here was a brother/counselor who could be trusted and whom Joseph knew would always provide good counsel, unfettered by frivolity and light-mindedness.  The Lord even expounded on Hyrum’s attributes and outlined several characteristics that set him apart from other people of his time (see D&C 11):

Hyrum Smith the assist king
1.    He had an honest heart
2.    His judgment was righteous
3.    He had the spirit of revelation (means he could listen to God)
4.    He was loyal to those he loved

In other words, Hyrum was a great set-up man for the Prophet and was in a place where he could assist with the coming forth of the work.

Never – not once in all the years they worked together in the Restoration – did Hyrum rebel or speak against his beloved brother.  Others abandoned the work (even some of their family) and many turned violent against them, but these two brothers were loyal and faithful until the very end.


And the assist always went to Hyrum.




Wednesday, September 10, 2014

MANHOOD

In light of my last post, certain events have interested me and require (well, at least in my own mind) a comment.  The intent is not to persecute but to identify.

Many may be aware of the Ray Rice fiasco that has blown up on the NFL.  For those who don’t, let me summarize.

Ray Rice is a big man who plays professional football.  He has a significant other (not really sure of their relationship now) whom he claims to care for and wishes to protect.  One evening, in a casino, he decided it was his duty to protect her by ‘clocking’ her in an elevator (for those who don’t know the term, ‘clocking’ is a euphemism for striking someone with great force and knocking them out).

The NFL determined said actions were “naughty” and required him to sit out two games. 

Our justice system decided that he was sorry so they took no action. 

All was well for a time.

Recently a video was released showing Mr. Rice in action with his friend/acquaintance/significant other.  He definitely ‘clocked’ her. 

It was horrific.

Anyone who saw the video was appalled…

Suddenly the NFL was disturbed by the actions of one-of-its-own and determined to take stronger action.

My first question is this:

Did they really just realize the severity of Mr. Rice’s actions?  The fact that they knew she was out cold (so cold that Mr. Rice had to carry her out of the elevator and to their room) should have given them some indication.  Video evidence was not really needed to understand what had happened – but until that evidence was “available” the League pretended the action wasn’t all that bad. 

Now Mr. Rice is out of a job and may face other charges.

This ISN’T what I meant when I called my last post Men vs. Women.

I was raised in a family where it was verboten to strike a girl or woman at any time.  My dad taught me that if a girl/woman felt the need to hit me or use physical force on me, my only options were to cover up or run.

My sons were taught the same.

Of course, we also taught our daughter that she shouldn’t hit boys unless they were being ‘naughty.’

My point for this follow-up is to express disappointment in the actions some take towards women.  I am not sexist but I firmly believe it is the responsibility of men to protect women and see that they are cared for in the best manner possible.  Rice was a bully and an aggressor against a smaller and less-able person…..who also happened to be a woman. 

But Rice is not the only one who has performed badly.  The actions of Rice’s employer were nearly as egregious.  The ‘penalties’ the NFL imposed initially were perceived by many (including myself) to be inadequate for the seriousness of the offense.  I guess the money a man can bring to a team is more important than the moral indignation needed to cry out against abuse.

The thought of striking a woman in anger is revolting to me and makes me ill.  The video of the above offense was almost more than I could handle.  If this is where our world is heading, we really are in the last-days.

Let me balance my nausea with a report on what else I see in the world around me.

There are three sons and one son-in-law in our family who are gentle and tender with the women they have committed to love for eternity.  It is impossible to imagine any of the four ever using physical force to control their beloved.  I believe it would break the heart of any one of them to use any form of violence against their spouse.  These are good men and have taken to heart the Savior’s words concerning their relationships with women.  I am PROUD (yes, I know it is a sin, but I am) of whom they have become and how they are teaching their own sons to treat women and girls.
There are more like my sons out there in the world (btw, I am confident my youngest will continue to be a gentleman as he looks for the right young lady to marry).  I like to believe there are more on the good side of this issue than on the other.

Ray Rice may be a wonderful football player, but at this point in his life he is a lousy man!!!


I hope he can change.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

MEN VS. WOMEN

There is a myth that says men need to be changed and women are the ones who can do it.

OK, it’s not a myth, but it also not the full story.  There are innumerable reasons why men progress the way they do while in mortality.  But there are an equal number of ‘whys’ for what guides women to become what they are.

The forces that move us to be our best are gender related.  YES, men and women think differently and feel differently about almost everything.  Gender attributes are essential for the world to work and yet many struggle with these differences.

Gender attributes have been a topic of mockery for – well, forever.

Take, for example, the Victorian image of a woman’s place.  Women were considered too weak and feeble minded to know how to care for themselves or make decisions that might affect their welfare. Many felt that without a “big strong man” to guide her, a woman would be engulfed in the flood of hard choices surrounding her and destroyed.  Or if she did try to fend for herself, she was not really considered a woman – just a female trying to be a man.

In recent years the tide has turned towards highlighting the dents in the male armor.

Currently, the male gender is portrayed as bumbling, ignorant, selfish, desire focused, and lazy (Homer Simpson?).  Because he is such a flawed creature, women have determined that they don’t need ‘one’ and can do just fine on their own.  Or if they do decide to marry/cohabitate, it is only so they can satisfy some urge for companionship, parenthood, or support.  The result is a culture where men can be friends but not really equals with the female sex.

What happened? 

How did we let the relationship between such complementary individuals become so distorted and messed up?

I suppose there are many reasons and I won’t try to delineate all of them in this essay. What I will do is mention something that I have considered for some time and feel can help the chasm to be bridged.

The differences between men and women are not accidental.  Each is ‘wired’ in ways that help them fulfill their specific roles in the world.

Men are generally imbued with a desire to work, protect, and support those they love.  It is in their nature to stand guard over families and make sure they have the necessary things to prolong life and happiness.

In most cases, women have an innate desire to comfort, teach, and protect those in their care – and often even those who aren’t.  They seem to have more patience with the little things and can often see beyond the immediate circumstances.

These are generalizations – but also truths if you look closely enough.  Yet, there always seems to be a need, by some, to ridicule and demean these essential differences.

If you are still with me and haven’t labeled me as a misogynist or an idiot, I will continue.

The crux of the matter points to what happens when we overemphasize or under-utilize the differences between males and females.  Men begin to think they only need women for sexual or entertainment purposes and push away the natural desire to find a permanent mate.  Women become frustrated with ‘manhood’ as it is portrayed (and often practiced) so they venture out on their own, trying to meet the needs of womanhood by other means.  The end result is a society that values neither men nor women and makes a mockery of the eternal nature of both.

It was never meant for the genders to battle between themselves for the crown of leadership.  The test for both genders comes down to honoring the differences and melding them into a synergistic whole, much stronger and greater than an individual could hope to become.  Men were meant to love, honor, and care for women and women were meant to love, honor, and work side-by-side with men for the everlasting benefit of each other, family, and the world.  The loss of these values has been a great hindrance to the growth of peace in the world and happiness in the home.

Having said all the above, I do have a solution that should work

It is so simple that it will not be a surprise to anyone.

In the words of a great man…..

STOP IT!!!

To eliminate the battle between men and women, both parties have to stop being selfish.  Stop expecting something from the other gender not being given by their own.  Things like faithfulness, respect, fidelity, exclusivity, LOVE, time, more respect, attention, consideration, and who knows how many others.

Stop with the selfishness.

Stop with the lustfulness.

Stop with…… you fill in the blank.

When we, as humans and mortals of different genders sincerely make an effort to change, there will be a transition from the current state of things to something more acceptable to our senses and desires.

And it will make our God much happier.


Watch and see.