Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Mantle of Charity

The Prophet Joseph Smith
"It is one evidence that men are unacquainted with the principles of godliness to behold the contraction of affectionate feelings and lack of charity in the world. The power and glory of godliness is spread out on a broad principle to throw out the mantle of charity. God does not look on sin with allowance, but when men have sinned, there must be allowance made for them. … The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs. …

“… How oft have wise men and women sought to dictate Brother Joseph by saying, ‘Oh, if I were Brother Joseph, I would do this and that;’ but if they were in Brother Joseph’s shoes they would find that men or women could not be compelled into the kingdom of God, but must be dealt with in long-suffering, and at last we shall save them. The way to keep all the Saints together, and keep the work rolling, is to wait with all long-suffering, till God shall bring such characters to justice. There should be no license for sin, but mercy should go hand in hand with reproof." - Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:24

The Wise Lawgiver and Just Judge

The Prophet Joseph Smith
"The great designs of God in relation to the salvation of the human family, are very little understood by the professedly wise and intelligent generation in which we live. Various and conflicting are the opinions of men concerning the plan of salvation, the [requirements] of the Almighty, the necessary preparations for heaven, the state and condition of departed spirits, and the happiness or misery that is consequent upon the practice of righteousness and iniquity according to their several notions of virtue and vice. …

While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, causes ‘His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.’ [Matthew 5:45.] He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, ‘according to the deeds done in the body whether they be good or evil,’ or whether these deeds were done in England, America, Spain, Turkey, or India. He will judge them, ‘not according to what they have not, but according to what they have’; those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have a law, will be judged by that law. We need not doubt the wisdom and intelligence of the Great Jehovah; He will award judgment or mercy to all nations according to their several deserts, their means of obtaining intelligence, the laws by which they are governed, the facilities afforded them of obtaining correct information, and His inscrutable designs in relation to the human family; and when the designs of God shall be made manifest, and the curtain of futurity be withdrawn, we shall all of us eventually have to confess that the Judge of all the earth has done right [see Genesis 18:25]." - Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:595–96

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

So Shines a Good Deed

"How far that little candle throws its beams!  So shines a good deed in a weary world." - William Shakespeare

The Power of Kindness

K.I.N.D. = Know, Invite, Now, Do It

"Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind." - Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:23–24

"The best portion of a good man's life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love." - William Wordsworth, Lyrical Ballads 

"I have wept in the night
At my shortness of sight
That to others' needs made me blind,
But I never have yet
Had a twinge of regret
For being a little too kind." - C.R. Gibson

"Kindness is powerful, especially in a family setting." - Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Loving Others and Living With Differences



"Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not that which is pleasing in the sight of God." - Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:379

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Pioneer Ancestors

My Pioneer Ancestors

William Thomas Higginson
William Thomas Higginson (1835-1914):
  • Parents: Charles Wood Higginson and Mary Ann Bouncer
  • Relationship: William Thomas Higginson, father of George Taylor Higginson, father of Elmo Cassim Higginson, father of Julie Lynn Higginson, my mother.
  • Birth: November 1, 1835, Kenton Hall, Shifnal, Shropshire, England
  • Marriage(s): Elizabeth Jones (October 18, 1857), Christina Young (September 27, 1863), Hattie Jane Taylor (February 10, 1873)
  • Children: 13 - 8 (Christina Young), 5 (Hattie Jane Taylor)
  • Occupation(s): Jockey, Stable Boy, Farm Laborer
  • Fun Facts: His brother George was with Parley P. Pratt when he was killed.  By 1967 William Thomas Higginson had 13 children, 62 grandchildren, 246 great grandchildren, 537 great great grandchildren, 85 great great great grandchildren.
  • Pioneer Company: William B. Preston Company
  • Age at Departure: 27
  • Mission: Northern States, 1899-1900
  • Life Sketch and Other Documents: Short story, Letter Containing Testimony, etc., Same Letter with More Details, Same Letter Complete VersionMission Call from President Lorenzo Snow 
  • Trail Experience: Individual Information, Trail Excerpt 
  • Testimony: "The next morning after I got home, there lay some Milleneum Stars on the table. I
    William T. Higginson and Christina Young
    picked one up and on the front page there was a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph and these were the words I read; 'Thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph', and I asked myself the question, 'can I deny that'? And the spirit of the Lord said unto me, 'No you cannot deny it'. And from that time to this present moment I have never had no doubt in my mind as to Joseph Smith being a true Prophet of God. And after receiving that testimony I tended to the meeting at Astley and got acquainted with our father and mother and other Saints, yet I did not get baptized till July 1855, that was over one year after I received the testimony. I would have got baptized sooner but I was very bashful and did not like to ask for baptism, and as Father and were gong to a meeting we called at Tetley's and he was going to baptize a brother, so he asked me if I didn't want to be baptized. I told him yes, and so I was."
  • Death: November 29, 1914, Hatch, Bannock, Idaho, United States
  • Headstone

William Plummer Tippets (1812-1877):
  • Parents: John Tippets IV and Abigail Pierce
    William Plummer Tippets
  • Relationship: William Plummer Tippets, father of Abigail Eliza Tippets, mother of Mary Sophia Tippets, mother of Reba Marchant, mother of Jacquelyn Tebbs, mother of Ralph Cornel Hancock, my father.
  • Birth: June 26, 1812, Wilton, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States
  • Marriage(s): Caroline Tippets (July 30, 1835), Jeanette Stebbans (1837), Sophia Burnham Mead (January 1, 1842) 
  • Children: 10 - 1 (Caroline Tippets), 9 (Sophia Burnham Mead)
  • Occupation(s): Farmer
  • Fun Facts: The pioneer company that William Tippets traveled with transported almost 5,000 pounds of freight destined for Brigham Young and Newel K Whitney.
  • Pioneer Company: Edward Hunter Company
  • Age at Departure: 37
  • Mission: 
  • Life Sketch and Other Documents: Building a Log House, Incomplete History, History
  • Trail Experience: Individual information, Trail Excerpt
  • Testimony:
  • Death: March 29, 1877, Cause of Death, Typhoid Fever
  • Headstone
William Marks Miles (1828-1897):
  • Parents: Samuel Miles and Prudence Marks
    William Marks Miles
  • Relationship: William Marks Miles, father of Emmeline Emilia Miles, mother of Jeremiah Hatch, father of Lelia Hatch, mother of Julie Lynn Higginson, my mother
  • Birth: May 28, 1828, Attica, Genesee, New York, United States
  • Marriage(s): Orpha Ann Alexander (1853), Martha Jane Curtis (1859), Margaret E. Lawrence (December 11, 1859)
  • Children: 12 - 3 (Orpha Ann Alexander), 9 ( Martha Jane Curtis)
  • Occupation(s): Farmer, Stone Cutter, "It had always been my ambition to have a good farm and raise horses and cattle.  I, being twelve years old this year, was able to raise a garden and also hire out to do light work in many types of construction. I got what schooling I could along with working long hours to help make a living for my younger brother and sister." / "William Marks Miles, was a stone cutter by trade, even helping with the building of several temples. He was also called by President Brigham Young to be an Indian Interpreter and Peace Maker. The Indians learned to love William and asked him to wear a small bunch of whiskers on his chin to identify him, so that they would not kill him during any of the frequent uprisings. (Although it was customary to wear whiskers in those days, William was always clean shaven.)"
  • Fun Facts: William and his family knew the prophet Joseph. Smith and his contemporaries personally, and resisted mob persecution (his family was once held prisoner by the mobs), and they traveled to Adam-Ondi Ahman and Nauvoo.  He quarried granite from the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon for the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. William also helped build a rock dam in the Cottonwood river.  He was a friend of the Indians. 
  • Pioneer Company: Ezra T. Benson Company, Jedediah M. Grant-Joseph B. Noble Company
  • Age at Departure: 21 
  • Mission: Temple builder, Indian Interpreter and Peace Maker
  • Life Sketch and Other Documents: Autobiography of William Marks Miles, History of William Marks Miles 
  • Trail Experience: "I had gained much experience through my contacts with the captains and wagon masters and working and riding with the guides and frontiersmen the last few years. l learned a lot about the ways of the Indian and learned to talk their sign language. l had become quite handy at driving oxen and pulled many a family out of the mire that were driving horses."
  • Testimony: "Our farm joined that of Dr. Warren Cowdery, he and my father being brothers-in- law. His wife being Patience Simonds, a sister to Father’s first wife, Sarah Simonds, and being a brother to Oliver Cowdery. We early became acquainted with the rise of the church known as Mormons. It wasn‘t till the winter of 1833-34 that the Elders visited the town. Father learned of a meeting to be held in an adjoining town, Farmersville. Father and some of my older brothers attended the meeting held in Ira L. Hatch’s house. After the meeting closed, a few proceeded to a nearby stream where the ice was cut, it being mid-winter, and some baptisms were tended to. In a few weeks our town was visited by Elders John Murdock, Orson Pratt and others. A large branch was raised up. My parents were early baptized. Warren A. Cowdery was appointed and set apart as president of the Branch Other members included Hyman Hyde and family, Thomas Graven, Ira C. Hatch, the Cheaneys, the McPherson family, the Caulkins brothers, Lyman and Israel; Benjamin F. Wheeler and his wife, Eliza, my sister, Isaac Decker and family (they were baptized after moving to Ohio), also my brother. Joel. Mother's brother. William Marks, visited us at this time and attended our meetings. He became a convert to the truth of the gospel and was shortly afterward baptized... l was baptized in March 1836 by Solomon Warner. In April 1836 Father and Mother received their Patriarchal Blessings under the hands of Joseph Smith, Sr., who visited the branch."  His creed was: "Let your conscience be your guide."  
  • Death: July 7, 1897, Moreland, Bingham, Idaho, United States
  • Headstone
Thomas Henry Wright
Thomas Henry Wright:
  • Parents: Joseph Wright, Frances Green
  • Relationship: Thomas Henry Wright, father of Elizabeth Wright, mother of Earnest Wright Marchant, father of Reba Marchant, mother of Jacquelyn Tebbs, mother of Ralph Cornel Hancock, my father.
  • Birth: April 18, 1818, Woolwich, Kent, England
  • Marriage(s): Elizabeth Barrett (March 9, 1846), Caroline Eliza West (February 8, 1869)
  • Children: 20 total - 15 (Elizabeth Barrett), 5 (Caroline Eliza West)
  • Occupation(s): ? 
  • Fun Facts: He had some disagreements while crossing the plains, and he was even accused of murdering a man's wife, but she actually just died of cholera: "I Tho. H. Wright of the Church of Jesus Christ of L.D. Saints do charge Bro. Edward Middlemass With Falsly & Wantonly accusing Me of Killing his Wife & Makeing Me out to be a Murderer When it is Well known she died from the effects of a severe attack of Cholera." / A wagon wheel ran over his daughter's leg, but her leg did not break.
  • Pioneer Company: Seth M. Blair / Edward Stevenson Company
  • Age at Departure: 37
  • Mission: ?
  • Life Sketch and Other Documents: 
  • Trail Experience: Trail Excerpt, Trail Excerpt
  • Testimony: ?
  • Death: May 27, 1881
  • Headstone
Simmons Philander Curtis:

Robert Nish:
Robert Nish
Next Ancestor:
  • Parents:
  • Relationship:
  • Birth:
  • Marriage(s):
  • Children:
  • Occupation(s):
  • Fun Facts:
  • Pioneer Company:
  • Age at Departure:
  • Mission:
  • Life Sketch and Other Documents:
  • Trail Experience:
  • Testimony:
  • Death:
  • Headstone

On Friendship

"In friendship...we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years' difference in the dates of births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another...the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting--any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, 'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,' can truly say to every group of Christian friends, 'Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.' The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Millions Shall Know Brother Joseph Again

"He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people." (Joseph Smith-History 1:33)

Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God.  The Holy Ghost has testified to my heart and confirmed in my mind on occasions too numerous to count that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Beloved Son Jesus Christ, that he was the chosen instrument for the Restoration of the Gospel, that he translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, and that he lived great and died great in the eyes of God and his people.  I echo the testimony of his close friend and fellow servant:

“I testify before God, angels, and men, that [Joseph] was a good, honorable, [and] virtuous man— … [and] that his private and public character was unimpeachable—and that he lived and died as a man of God.” - John Taylor (see also D&C 135:3)

Joseph Smith himself declared: "I shall speak with authority of the Priesthood in the name of the Lord God, which shall prove a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. . . . If you wish to go where God is, you must be like God, or possess the principles which God possesses, for if we are not drawing towards God in principle, we are going from Him and drawing towards the devil. . . . Search your hearts, and see if you are like God. I have searched mine, and feel to repent of all my sins."

How well do you know the Prophet Joseph Smith?

The following resources may be helpful in your quest to know the Prophet Joseph Smith better, and to better understand the marvelous work and a wonder that the Lord brought about through him:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What is Political Philosophy?

"This volume provides an unequaled introduction to the thought of chief contributors to the Western tradition of political philosophy from classical Greek antiquity to the twentieth century. Written by specialists on the various philosophers, this third edition has been expanded significantly to include both new and revised essays." - The History of Political Philosophy

"There is no inquiry into the history of philosophy that is not at the same time a philosophical inquiry." - Leo Strauss

What is political philosophy?  This is as good a place to start as any.  (The Leo Strauss Center)

The Whole Future of Civilization

10 Blessed Blogs

Here is a short list of virtuous, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy blogs from which to gain edification, inspiration, instruction and enlightenement:

1. LDS Newsroom
2. FAIR Mormon Blog
3. The Soul and the City, Ralph Hancock
4. Sic et Non, Daniel Peterson
5. Mormon Scholars Testify
6. Forn Spǫll Fira, John Gee
7. Ether's Cave, Matthew Roper
8. Enigmatic Mirror, William Hamblin
9. Sixteen Small Stones, J. Max Wilson
10. The Millenial Star

Monday, October 13, 2014

Loeb Classical Library

Loeb Classical Library
Just as I was beginning to think that the everything virtuous, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy on the internet had already been mined and synthesized onto this blog, my dad informed me that the Loeb Classical Library is now available online.  Amazing!

“Here is 1,400 years of human culture, all the texts that survive from one of the greatest civilizations human beings have ever built—and it can all fit in a bookcase or two. To capture all the fugitive texts of the ancient world, some of which survived the Dark Ages in just a single moldering copy in some monastic library, and turn them into affordable, clear, sturdy accurate books, is one of the greatest accomplishments of modern scholarship—and one of the most democratic.”—Adam Kirsch

The Sura of Light

"God is the light of the heavens and the earth. A metaphor for His light is a niche in which there is a lamp placed in a glass. The glass is like a shining star which is lit from a blessed olive tree that is neither eastern nor western. Its oil almost lights up even though it has not been touched by the fire. It is light upon light. God guides to His light whomever He wants. God uses various metaphors. He has the knowledge of all things." - The Sura of Light, Qur'ān 24:35

A lot could be written about this verse, and much ink has already been spilt in reference to this verse. In fact, the Persian mystic theologian and philosopher Al-Ghazali wrote an entire book based on the ideas expressed in this verse.

The Sura of Light

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith

"To the youth listening today or reading these words in the days ahead, I give a specific challenge: Gain a personal witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Let your voice help fulfill Moroni’s prophetic words to speak good of the Prophet. Here are two ideas: First, find scriptures in the Book of Mormon that you feel and know are absolutely true. Then share them with family and friends in family home evening, seminary, and your Young Men and Young Women classes, acknowledging that Joseph was an instrument in God’s hands. Next, read the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Pearl of Great Price or in this pamphlet, now in 158 languages. You can find it online at or with the missionaries. This is Joseph’s own testimony of what actually occurred. Read it often. Consider recording the testimony of Joseph Smith in your own voice, listening to it regularly, and sharing it with friends. Listening to the Prophet’s testimony in your own voice will help bring the witness you seek." - Elder Neil L. Anderson 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Meet the Mormons

Have you seen Meet the Mormons yet?  If so, what did you think?  If not, when will you see it?

After watching, and enjoying the film tonight, it occurred to me that I had just met (on the screen at least) some exemplary and exceptionally talented members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  And this is as it should be.  There are certainly many exemplary and exceptionally talented Mormons.

Without going into too much detail, the film Meet the Mormons is a Christ-centered, family focused, service oriented, and genuinely edifying production.  It is simultaneously warm, inviting, light-hearted and humorous.  The testimony of Christ, the Book of Mormon, and the basic doctrinal components of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were all unabashedly present throughout the film, though mostly implicit in the lives of the six families represented.  In short, however it may be received by national or international audiences, Meet the Mormons is a wonderful montage of biographies that pays homage to the vitality and vibrancy of a growing faith.

The beautiful scenery and the variety of personalities in the film accentuate the beauty of the subject matter.  From Alabama to Maryland, from Costa Rica to Germany, from Nepal to Utah, Meet the Mormons invites audiences to take a glimpse into the lives of some ordinary people, who, by small and simple things, have begun to make an extraordinary impact for good in the lives of others.

Meet the Mormons emphasizes the common ground that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints share with people of all races, ethnicities, religions and backgrounds without sacrificing the unique aspects of the faith.  It shows that each of us has an important piece to play in the symphony of life, and that each of us, with God's help, has the potential to play that piece inspiringly well.

Go see Meet the Mormons.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mormonism, Liberalism, Conservatism

Mormonism, Liberalism, Conservatism
A Discussion with R. Davis & R. Hancock

Which way?

R. Hancock

Introductory thoughts on The Liberal Soul: Applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Politics

The Meaning of “Liberal”
· Moral virtue, self-mastery, moderation
· “Liberality” expansive, open to others, communal

Liberalism in American Tradition combined these: Moral Self-Government

Moral self-government depends on shared morality of larger community
· Freedom requires limits, moral framework
· Freedom without limits is not freedom, but radical individualism

Conserving Liberalism
· American Liberalism became its own worst enemy by rejecting defining limits of liberty
· Liberal generosity of spirit severed from traditional moral foundations
· 2 rejections of the limits of liberty – limited constitutional government sacrificed to boundless confidence in bureaucratic state
· Liberty as moral self-government
· Relativism

Bob Dylan: “A self-ordained professor’s tongue…(Eric Clapton)”

The Reign of “Equality”
· Pierre Manent (the adjective “equal” has overwhelmed the noun “liberty”)
· Equality as spiritual ideal = perfect community, ZION?
· But removed from moral & religious context, equality has no content, no rudder

Liberalism as Equality minus Moral Liberty
· Modern liberalism vs. limited constitutional government
· Zion grounds equality equality in moral & spiritual UNITY: ZION works from the inside out (the state works from the outside in)

Critique of The Liberal Soul
· Challenge is not that we have too much confidence in traditional morality
· Counsel from Apostles and Prophets clearly contradicts the New Liberalism
· E.g. Family Proclamation, Elder Oaks, Elder Christofferson, etc.
· “A God who makes no demands…” – Christofferson

To love liberty truly is to embrace the true boundaries... To love liberalism well, one must love it conservatively

R. Davis

(For a prior discussion of his book, see here.)
Practical Political Scientist
Practical, Welfare, Economic State Liberalism – In Line with the Gospel
Church’s mission: “Care for the Poor and the Needy”
Government as a supplement to caring for the poor and the needy / Government is a tool
Church welfare system vs. Government welfare system - Complementary
Family and Community Resources / Church welfare system is a supplement
Enormous burden to the Church without the government
Goods: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Grants, Loans
Embrace economic liberalism rather than opposing it
Ezra T. Benson (speaking as an individual, not espousing Church doctrine) / Cleon Skousen
We accept services from the government, but say that government is bad
Social Justice = Idea that we treat other people at an equal level, considering those who are most vulnerable to get the most attention, women, religious minorities, racial and ethnic minorities, homosexuals (LDS were considered a persecuted minority before)
How will government policies help the poor?  How do we balance the playing field?
“I am not being dogmatic… I have seen the opposite though.”
Diversity, celebrate political and other aspects of diversity
“Be sensitive” to those who are liberal
“Tone” – venue, time for political discussions
The Liberal Soul is an attempt to fill a hole… to show that there are other people that think differently (Left) – open discussions

Hancock and Davis

- Shared truths, common ground
- Both against extremist economic libertarianism (Glenn Beck, Cleon Skousen, etc.)
- Democratic Party and Republican Party (economic, and political)
- How can you be a Democrat and be LDS? (A question that Davis responds to in his book)
- Social issues
- Self-Reliance, moral self-government cannot be taught by government (Hancock)
- LDS are much too complacent about the pursuit of wealth as a way of life

Questions from the audience

- White middle class – tendency toward Republican party?
- Church welfare system is so effective, why? More effective than overarching welfare system by the government, too large, detached?
- Transparency in government?
- What do you think that the government or Church welfare systems could change to improve the care of the poor?
- Do you know of any particular points in the Republican platform that go against Church doctrine? Davis' response = Gun control, Republicans are willing to be neglectful of the poor

A couple of thoughts from Church Leaders that came to my mind:

- "Now, lest I be accused of proposing quixotic global social programs or of endorsing panhandling as a growth industry, I reassure you that my reverence for principles of industry, thrift, self-reliance, and ambition is as strong as that of any man or woman alive. We are always expected to help ourselves before we seek help from others. Furthermore, I don’t know exactly how each of you should fulfill your obligation to those who do not or cannot always help themselves. But I know that God knows, and He will help you and guide you in compassionate acts of discipleship if you are conscientiously wanting and praying and looking for ways to keep a commandment He has given us again and again." - Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
- “Even with the universally accepted desire to help the poor and needy, the Lord concurs in our goal but warns, “But it must needs be done in mine own way” (D&C 104:16). Otherwise, in our efforts to help, we may actually hurt them. The Lord has taught us the need to promote self-reliance. Even if we are able to help, we should not give or provide what they can and should do for themselves. Everywhere it is tried, the world learns the evils of the dole. Truly God knows best.” - Elder Stanley G. Ellis
- “This peer pressure tries to change a person’s attitudes, if not behavior, by making one feel guilty for giving offense. We seek respectful coexistence with those who point fingers, but when this fear of men tempts us to condone sin, it becomes a “snare” according to the book of Proverbs (seeProverbs 29:25). The snare may be cleverly baited to appeal to our compassionate side to tolerate or even approve of something that has been condemned by God. For the weak of faith, it can be a major stumbling block.” - Elder Lynn G. Robbins

Concluding thoughts:
-A lot depends upon one's view of human nature
-For an interesting prophecy from a non-authoritative source, see here

Hanging by a thread?

A Play Proposal

The young C.S. Lewis
"One might imagine a play in which the dramatist introduced himself as a character into his own play and was pelted off the stage as an impudent impostor by the other characters.  It might be a rather good play; if I had any talent for the theatre I'd try my hand at writing it.  But since (as far as I know) such a play doesn't exist, we had better change to a narrative work; a story into which the author puts himself as one of the characters.

We have a real instance of this in Dante's Divine Comedy.  Dante is (1) the muse outside the poem who is inventing the whole thing, and (2) a character inside the poem, whom the other characters meet and with whom they hold conversations.  Where the analogy breaks down is that everything the poem contains is merely imaginary, in that the characters have no free will.  They (the characters) can say to Dante only what Dante (the poet) has decided to put into their mouths.  I do not think we humans are related to God in that way.  I think God can
The not as young C.S. Lewis
make things which not only--like a poet's or novelist's characters--seem to have a partially independent life, but really have it.  But the analogy furnishes a crude model of the Incarnation in two respects: (1) Dante the poet and Dante the character are in a sense one, but in another sense two.  This is a faint and far-off suggestion of what theologians mean by the 'union of the two natures' (divine and human) in Christ.  (2) The other people in the poem meet and see and hear Dante; but they have not even the faintest suspicion that he is making the whole world in which they exist and has a life of his own, outside it, independent of it.

It is the second point which is most relevant. For the Christian story is that Christ was perceived to be God by very few people indeed; perhaps, for a time only by St Peter, who would also, and for the same reason, have found God in space.  For Christ said to Peter, 'Flesh and blood have not taught you this.'  The methods of science do not discover facts of that order." C. S. Lewis, The Seeing Eye, pp. 231-232

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Divine Analogy

"Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God because He said so.  The other evidence about Him has convinced them that He was neither a lunatic nor a quack.  Now of course the statement cannot mean that He stands to God in the very same physical and temporal relation which exists between offspring and male parent in the animal world.  It is then a poetical statement.  And such expression must here be necessary because the reality He spoke of is outside our experience...
A man who is both a good son and a good father, and who is continually urged to become a better son and a better father by meditation on the Divine Fatherhood and Sonship, and who thus comes in the end to make that Divine relation the norm to which his own human sonship and fatherhood are still merely analogical, is best receiving the revelation." - C.S. Lewis, The Language of Religion

C.S. Lewis Says No to Drugs

C.S. Lewis
"Finally, in all our joys and sorrows, religious, aesthetic, or natural, I seem to find things (almost indescribably) thus. They are about something. They are a by-product of the (logically) prior act of attending to or looking towards something. We are not really concerned with the emotions: the emotions are our concern about something else.  Suppose that a mother is anxious about her son who is on active service. It is no use going to her with the offer of some drug or hypnotism or spell that would obliterate her anxiety. What she wants is not the cessation of anxiety but the safety of her son (I mean, on the whole. On one particular wakeful night, she might, no doubt, be glad of your magic.) Nor is it any use offering her a magic which would prevent her from feeling any grief if her son were killed: what she dreads is not grief but the death of her son.  Similarly, it is no use offering me a drug which will give me over again the feelings I had on first hearing the overture to The Magic Flute. The feelings, by themselves- the flutter in the diaphragm- are of very mediocre interest to me. What gave them their value was the thing they were about.  So in our Christian experiences.  No doubt we experience sorrow when we repent and joy when we adore.  But these were by-products of our attention to a particular Object." - C.S. Lewis, The Language of Religion

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Simple, Naked Truth

"All I want is to get the simple, naked truth, and the whole truth...

...If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly, Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it."

Sunday, October 5, 2014

184th General Conference Notes

184th General Conference Notes

Saturday morning
  • President Monson:
- Radio, television (1949)
- temples (170)
- missionaries (88,000)
- members (15 million +)
  • President Boyd K. Packer:
- genealogy story, TG in the scriptures: Jesus Christ
- general conference, 94 languages, 100 + countries, 3,000 stakes
- atonement, grace, mercy, guilt erased, deep reverence
- spiritual strength of individual members
- unity, battle against evil, we need every one
  • Lynn G. Robbins:
- which way do you face?
- Isaiah – fear ye not
- remember the right order of the 1st and 2nd commandments
- Joseph Smith and Martin Harris – persuasion of men
- courage of Daniel, Esther, Mormon, Moroni, Nephi
- “courage” – C.S. Lewis
- “hit bird flutters”
- déjà vu
- the Savior always faced His Father
- Korihor was deceived
- the Savior pleased His Father
- Jesus Christ is the only person who never forgot which we he faced
  • Cheryl A. Esplin:
- sacrament
- turn the heart and will to God
- Christ’s enabling power, healing and cleansing power
- Grace
- Self-evaluation
  • Chi Hong Wong (Cantonese):
- rescue
- effort to bring people to be healed
- physical and spiritual healing, “their faith”
- assist the Lord in His mission of saving souls
  • Elder D. Todd Christofferson:
- Henry V
- entitlement culture, blaming God, government, others, etc.
- “The real manifestation of God’s love is His commandments”
- grace – enabled to develop a Christ-like character, willing agreement
- justice and mercy
- Christ came to offer repentance
- moral relativism
- resenting the law of gravity does not prevent the person who steps off of a cliff from falling
- personal responsibility is a gift
- accountability for talents, abilities, etc.
- story of man who wanted corn husks removed
  • President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
- worlds without number
- a century ago only the Milky Way Galaxy could be seen
- new instruments, Hubble telescope
- focusing Celestial light
- greater light, glorious vistas
- modern technologies would be mocked by prior generations
- the Lord’s work of light and truth
- the Savior is the way
- 1. study the scriptures with a sincere desire to discover truth 2. consider, ponder, fearless, grateful       3. ask Heavenly Father 4. do God’s will, real intent, test them in your own life
- Apostle Paul – natural man receives not the things of God, things spiritually discerned
- readiness to receive more light, depth or height
- not for perfect people, but for being perfected in Christ
- no sign saying your testimony needs to be “this tall”

Saturday afternoon 
  • Elder Dallin H. Oaks:
- New commandment, simple, but difficult, legacy of love
- intercessory prayer, leaven
- no disputations, contention of the devil
- loving kindness, firmness in truth
- “bigots” and “fanatics”
- public discourse: examples of civility, disagree without being disagreeable, be wise in explaining, no contention, Golden Rule
- members not allowing children to play with children of other faiths?
- politics – no personal attacks, show civility for differences of opinion
- *kindness is powerful, love enemies
- live peacefully with others, love of God and of all men (2 Ne. 31:20)
  • Elder Neal L. Anderson:
- Joseph Smith, good and evil spoken of him
- defectors always tell more about themselves (Elder Maxwell)
- offer kindness, bless them that curse you
- private and public character unimpeachable
- good tree -> good fruit
- be strong in your own testimony first (adjust your own mask first)
- 1. Find scriptures in the Book of Mormon to share with others 2. Read the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, record it in your own voice
- know brother Joseph again
  • Tad Callister:
- Ben Carson, math, Yale, Sonya, Detroit ghettos, too much TV, neurosurgeon
- Library
- parents, teach the doctrine of repentance
  • Jörg Klebignat:
- personal interview with Jesus Christ, restoring spiritual confidence, eliminate Satan’s lies that try to separate you from God
- apply Atonement, 1. Take responsibility for your own life, and your own spiritual welfare 2. Take responsibility for your own physical well-being, body and mind, healthier diet, spirit in charge 3. Embrace voluntary obedience, Abraham Lincoln – do good, feel good, “causualness never was happiness” 4. Become really good at repenting, happy, joyful repentance, don’t procrastinate, 5. Become really good at forgiving, no excuses or grudges, 6. Accept trials, acknowledge and face your weakness, please God
  • Eduardo Gavarett (Español):
- Yes Lord, I will follow Thee
- Jesus is the Good Shepherd
- Sacrifice
- Enoch, walking with God
- Come unto Christ, inner change
- Feed the desire to be a better disciple of Christ
- Knowledge -> perseverance -> action
  • Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
- compassion to the poor
- “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”
- bless the poor, poor in heart, poor in condition, impoverished and disadvantaged, homeless
- “foxes have holes”
- “God is not overly preoccupied with percentages”
- Mother Theresa, done what she could
- All beggars, King Benjamin, obtain and retain a remission of sins
- President Monson – slippers
- Do what we can
  • Elder L. Tom Perry:
- come to know Jesus
- Matt. 13
- 2 Ne 32
- Let us be certain that our example sustains the Lord’s plan
- example, parents
- mother, women who make the house a home
- no price tag on the role of mothers – Hinckley
- father, most important calling in time and eternity
- capture teaching moments
- Helaman 5:12

Priesthood session
  • Elder Quentin L. Cook:
- Counsel about decisions
- Law, Schulz cartoon, Lucy, failure to catch the ball
- Decisions determine destiny
- Rise above rationalization
- Refuse evil, choose good
- Dating
- Ordinary decisions, workaday world, moderation, balance, wisdom
- Evil: pornography, digital cruelty, video games, foolishness\
- *Arthur Brooks – fake lives
- “Will this make you a better person?”
- foolishness, obsessed with every new thing
- intellectual pretention
- Paul on Mars Hill - > Athens (no church, no epistle, no return)
- Athletics, Merlin Olsen (14 consecutive Pro Bowls)
- Strive for greater discipline
- Goals, seriousness of purpose
- Valiant, celestial
- Good, better, best
  • Craig C. Christensen:
- gain own testimony, like Alma
- hunger and thirst after righteousness
- redwood trees -> various stages of development
- constant nourishment\
- Alma 32, more experiences with the Spirit
  • Dean M. Davies:
- medicine, science, technology
- wars, disasters, earthquakes, disease
- vigilant and valiant
- Philippines typhoon Hyann
- Carpentry, plumbing
- “open thine hand wide”
- fasting (Cf. Elder Holland)
- Isaiah 58
- industry, thrift, self reliance
- become more like the Savior
  • President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
- “Is it I?” beginning of wisdom and lasting change, beginning of personal revelation
- dandelion weed in lawn vs. lawn full of dandelion weeds
- cast the beam out of thine own eye
- bank robber with lemon juice on his face
- evaluate our own performance, see ourselves as we truly are
- we overestimate the value of our own performance, and underestimate the value of others
- blessing and opportunity to improve ourselves
- outside vs. inside
- hearts, self-justification and narcissism
- look inside your hearts
- people becoming disengaged from Gospel principles
- where is my treasure? Rooted and grounded?
- Dedicate time and creativity in bringing happiness to marriage
- Look deeply into our souls
- Examine life, see ourselves clearly
- Blindness to our own human weakness, blind
- How can we shine the pure light of the Gospel into our souls? The words of the prophets, ancient and modern, are an effective mirror
- Broken hearts and teachable minds
- “Yes, my son. There are things that I can help you with.”
- Humble yourself before God
  • President Henry B. Eyring:
- Aaronic priesthood
- Preparatory, probationary state, prepare to meet God
- Show me does more than tell me
- “Our success in the priesthood will come in proportion to how much we love”
- increase of love -> love was already there in the first place
- God honors potential: “Upon you my fellow servants”
- Trust
  • President Thomas S. Monson:
- the Bismark
- indestructible? Circling without rudder
- harness energy
- undeviating purpose
- lighthouse of the Lord

Sunday morning
  • President Eyring:
- Revelation
- I will go and do
  •  Elder Russel M. Nelson:
- prophets
- sustaining prophetic authority
- pray for the prophet, defend his good name
- prophets, seers and revelators – 15 men, unanimity
- governance of the Church
  • Carol F. McConkie:
- one prophet
- “as if from mine own mouth”
- Elijah and the widow of Zarapheth
- Will, wisdom, timing of the Lord
- Following the prophet is always right
- Proverbs 3:5
- The words of the prophets are like manna to the soul
- Only prophetic wisdom
  • Elder Robert D. Hales:
- final testimonies of the prophets in each dispensation
- eternal life – know God the Father and Jesus Christ
- personal revelation
- beauties of God’s creations
- not as I will, but as Thou wilt
- the Father and the Son
- pattern in the scriptures of testifying of the Father and the Son as distinct
- united in purpose, equally dedicated in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man
- Joseph Smith
- seek a testimony of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, by the Power of the Holy Ghost
- Remember, remember (Hel. 5:12)
  • James J. Hamula:
- Passover meal, sacrament
- no more animal sacrifice
- spiritual death passes over
- Gethsemane, Calvary, Arimathea’s tomb
- sacrament in the America’s
- the sacrament needs to become more holy and sacred to us
- resurrection, with whom will we live after we die
- remember the body and the blood
- sequence of bread first, and then blood
- no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God
- Alma the Younger
- washed their garments in my blood
- repent, recommit
- receiving anew the Spirit, cleanses from sin and transgression
- the most important event in time and eternity is the Atonement
- remember and claim the blessings of this supreme act of grace
- remember and live the doctrine of Christ to be sanctified and faithfully endure to the end, grace for grace, in the same way that Jesus did
- deeper desire and more earnest purpose
  • President Thomas S. Monson:
- Abraham 3 – prove them herewith
- Agency, experience, good and evil, bitter and sweet
- Decisions determine destiny
- He did not send us here without direction and guidance
- Perfect example of Jesus Christ
- “Come follow me” “The works that ye have seen me do” “What manner of men ought ye to be?”
- endure to the end
- walking as He walked, not just where He walked
- Jesus walked the path of disappointment
- “O Jerusalem”
- Jesus walked the path of temptation, but resisted, and did not succumb
- Jesus walked the path of pain, Gethsemane, Calvary
- Opportunity lost, power misused, loved one’s choices
- D&C 29 – agents unto themselves
- Bitter sorrow, but also great happiness
- We with Jesus can walk the path of obedience
- “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams”
- We like Jesus can walk the path of service
- Jesus walked the path of prayer
- The Lord’s prayer * and the prayer in Gethsemane
- Be merciful, humble, righteous, pure in heart, peace makers, stand up bravely for our beliefs, let our lights shine, be morally clean in thoughts and actions, more important to lay up treasures in heaven, parables, good Samaritan, talents, lost sheep
- Strive to place Christ at the center of our lives
- No other choice in life can make us what He can
- Gustave and Marguerite Walker – home was a heaven on earth, Spirit radiated
- Proverbs – ponder the path of thy feet
- The Savior’s example provides a framework for everything we do
- His path will bring us safely home

Sunday afternoon
  • Elder M. Russel Ballard :
- Colorado River - safety instructions: 1. stay in the boat 2. always wear a life jacket 3. always hold on with both hands
- challenges, physical and mental health issues, dashed dreams and hopes, crises of faith
- Lord's help: boat, supplies, life jackets, experienced river guides
- 1. stay in the boat: ship Zion (Brigham Young), calm weather, whaling boats, drowning, God is at the helm
- How do we stay on the old ship Zion?  Continuing conversion, increasing faith in Jesus Christ, regularly / Can ye feel so now? / Experienced river guides = apostles and prophets, local leaders
- mission presidents, keep eyes on the leaders of the Church, never follow those who think they know more than Heavenly Father and his prophets
- Church leaders do not live in a bubble / they travel the world and visit leaders of nations and religions, as well as the humble and poor ("out of a bubble more so than most people")
- "We're not out of touch"
- 2. Always wear a life jacket, and 3. Hold on with both hands - counsel and direction of the prophets are like a spiritual life jacket / become men and women of sound understanding
- "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 121).
- Satan tempts us to become distracted from the simple and clear teachings or questions and doubts
- Bear one another's burdens, all people, including Church leaders
- stay in the boat, use life jackets, hold on with both hands, avoid distractions
- if any has fallen out of the boat, we will seek you, find you, and pull you back
  • Elder Richard G. Scott:
- Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, transgression, opposition, sickness, sadness, joy, knowledge of good and evil brought into the world
- tried and tested, agency, accountability, peace, turmoil
- the Savior, Atonement to help with every difficulty we experience in mortality
- struggles with temptation, pain and sadness - purpose in being tested, tried and stretched
- sometimes we are more aware of the negative things in mortality than the positive things
- there must be opposition in all things
- we must take time to actively exercise our faith to invite the positive, faith filled
- tools -> habits -> peace
- 4 tools (evaluate your personal use of each tool, and how to make better use of each one of them): 1. prayer - converse with Heavenly Father, and family prayer 2. scripture study - feasting on the word of God, is more important than anything...  Do it!  Challenges are an important part of mortality - scripture study develops strong faith, peace, and understanding of God's grace 3. weekly family home evening - not just an after thought... don't let anything else become more important than the time together at home, strengthen family bonds, and talk to each other, and have a "marvelous time together" 4. go to the temple... no more peaceful place than in the temples of God, use temple recommend often, schedule a regular time to be in the temple, ponder the ordinances, pray and seek to understand their meaning "The temple is one of the best places to learn about the Atonement of Jesus Christ" - challenges help us to become more like our Heavenly Father, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ helps us to endure them well

Carlos A. Godoy (Portuguese):

- moments of great decision
- Elder Uchtdorf, errors in a few degrees
- will the blessings promised in your patriarchal blessing be fulfilled?  look at blessings of future and evaluate how you are living in the present
- changes necessary... decisions between what is good, better and best
- how can we ensure that we are making the best decisions?  1. consider our options with the end in mind (eternal perspective)
- I have a work for thee Moses, my son, lead the Children of Israel
- Lehi, dream - his mission to lead his family to the promised land
- The Prophet Joseph Smith completed his mission of restoring all things
- What does the Lord expect from each one of us?
- 2. Be prepared for the challenges that will come, the best paths in life are rarely the easiest... are we willing to pay the price?  Leave our comfort zones?
- seek additional education
- we are children of Almighty God, and he has a plan for us
- God wants us to grow and achieve our potential
- expand your knowledge both intellectual and spiritual
- 3. Share this vision with the people we love - our choices influence others
- just because things are going well doesn't mean that we shouldn't consider if there is something better
  • Allan F. Packer:
- forgot to take the cover off of the hatchet: lesson, distracted from other things
- seeking the Kingdom of God leads to joy and happiness
- frequent small corrections are easier and less painful than large corrections
- qualifying for exaltation is like traveling to a different country, we don't set the requirements
- the Church helps, but cannot do it for us
- God set the requirements for exaltation
- spiritual passports, stamps
- changes that will help us all be better prepared
- "The ultimate end of all activity in the Church..." - Packer - living the Gospel in the home
- renewed emphasis on family history and temple work - an offering in righteousness, a book
- we without our ancestors cannot be made perfect, neither they without us
- don't fight the change, embrace it - for our deceased ancestors and ourselves
- welding together of families
- Hymn - rise up O saints of God
  • Hugo E. Martinez (Español)
- "He who serves in some things is good for something..."
- The Savior focuses on the individual
- remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God
- personal ministry = discovering needs and then attending to them (first observe, then serve)
- President Monson - service, the good samaritan, go and do thou likewise
- water, personal ministry
- recognize the voice of the Master, be a good example, under-shepherds, weak and simple, fishers of men
- work for the dead, keep a journal, hearts of the living toward the living, and toward ancestors, linking the family in eternal bonds, become saviors on Mount Zion, instruments in God's hands
- in marriages and families, friends, and fellow man, true disciples of Jesus Christ
- inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these...

  • Larry S. Kacher:

- rip tide experience in Oman
- Europe - skiing... came to Provo, Utah - current of the Lord, Gospel current
- where do we turn for answers?
- "Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter?"
- little children... accept the simple truths of the gospel
- honest inquiry
- we must never think that our choices influences only us
- don't rely only on secular knowledge to answer questions
- live the Gospel every day, a pattern of love and harmony, respect for the priesthood
- create a strong, steady current of righteousness
- are the currents we choose to follow important?  Do our examples matter?
- Are my decisions firmly planted in the rich soil of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
- never trifle with sacred things

Elder David A. Bednar:

- to people who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ
- devoted disciples = valiant missionaries
- "Go ye therefore and teach all nations"
- not trying to sell you a product, no prizes or bonus points, not seeking to increase the numerical size of the Church, not attempting to coerce, we are inviting, pray to know
- I already believe in Jesus.  I'm not sure if God exists.  ?  Bring all that you know is good, true, praiseworthy.  Come and see.  Does it enlarge and enrich?
- 88,000 full time missionaries
- not just a sense of spiritual duty, but a reflection of how important these truths are to us
- why so forthright?  Family experience - 2 boys, injury- cleansing and soothing, parable
- it's not unusual to share with others things that have helped us
- The Book of Mormon, Lehi's dream, fruit sweet
- Enos - my soul hungered
- importance of experiencing in our lives the Atonement of Jesus Christ
- absolute truth exists - testimony
- awkward, abrupt, relentless... simple desire to share these eternal truths
- come and see

  • President Thomas S. Monson:
- gratitude, thanks
- strengthen the feeble knees
- honesty and integrity
- examples of righteousness, lights to the world
- become more valiant disciples