Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Which Loved Best?


“I love you, Mother,” said little [John];
Then, forgetting his work, his cap went on,
And he was off to the garden swing,
Leaving her the water and wood to bring.

“I love you, Mother,” said rosy Nell—
“I love you better than tongue can tell”;
Then she teased and pouted full half the day,
Till her mother rejoiced when she went to play.

“I love you, Mother,” said little Fan;
“Today I’ll help you all I can;
How glad I am that school doesn’t keep!”
So she rocked the babe till it fell asleep.

Then, stepping softly, she fetched the broom,
And swept the floor and tidied the room;
Busy and happy all day was she,
Helpful and happy as child could be.

“I love you, Mother,” again they said,
Three little children going to bed;
How do you think that Mother guessed
Which of them really loved her best?

- Joy Allison (a cute video)

A Bell Is No Bell Till You Ring It




A bell is no bell till you ring it
A song is no song till you sing it
And love in your heart wasn't put there to stay
Love isn't love til you give it away


(song)

Seize Upon Truth

Isaac Watts

Seize upon truth where'er 'tis found, 
Among your friends, among your foes, 
On Christian or on heathen ground — The flower's divine where'er it grows.
Neglect the prickle and assume the rose. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

My Only Hope and Confidence

The Prophet Joseph Smith
"My only hope and confidence is in that God who gave me being, in whom there is all power, who now is present before me, and my heart is naked before his eyes continually.  He is my comforter, and he forsaketh me not.

I know in whom I trust; I stand upon the rock; the floods cannot, no, they shall not, overthrow me."

- The Prophet Joseph Smith

Sunday, May 14, 2017

If I Only Was the Fellow

If I Only Was the Fellow

While walking down a crowded
City street the other day,
I heard a little urchin
To a comrade turn and say,
‘Say, Chimmey, lemme tell youse,
I’d be happy as a clam
If only I was de feller dat
Me mudder t’inks I am.’

‘She t’inks I am a wonder,
An’ she knows her little lad
Could never mix wit’ nuttin’
Dat was ugly, mean or bad.
Oh, lot o’ times I sit and t’ink
How nice, ’twould be, gee whiz!
If a feller was de feller
Dat his mudder t’inks he is.’

My friends, be yours a life of toil
Or undiluted joy,
You can learn a wholesome lesson
From that small, untutored boy.
Don’t aim to be an earthly saint
With eyes fixed on a star:
Just try to be the fellow that
Your mother thinks you are.


(credit to Elreda Hughes for sharing this poem)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Common Source

Alexis de Tocqueville
"There is almost no human action, however particular one supposes it, that does not arise from a very general idea that men have conceived of God, of his relations with the human race, of the nature of their souls, and of their duties toward those like them. One cannot keep these ideas from being the common source from which all the rest flow." —Alexis de Tocqueville

Monday, April 10, 2017

Until I Find the Holy Grail

Sir Galahad

My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.
The shattering trumpet shrilleth high,
The hard brands shiver on the steel,
The splinter'd spear-shafts crack and fly,
The horse and rider reel:
They reel, they roll in clanging lists,
And when the tide of combat stands,
Perfume and flowers fall in showers,
That lightly rain from ladies' hands.

How sweet are looks that ladies bend
On whom their favours fall!
From them I battle till the end,
To save from shame and thrall:
But all my heart is drawn above,
My knees are bow'd in crypt and shrine:
I never felt the kiss of love,
Nor maiden's hand in mine.
More bounteous aspects on me beam,
Me mightier transports move and thrill;
So keep I fair thro' faith and prayer
A virgin heart in work and will.

When down the stormy crescent goes,
A light before me swims,
Between dark stems the forest glows,
I hear a noise of hymns:
Then by some secret shrine I ride;
I hear a voice but none are there;
The stalls are void, the doors are wide,
The tapers burning fair.
Fair gleams the snowy altar-cloth,
The silver vessels sparkle clean,
The shrill bell rings, the censer swings,
And solemn chaunts resound between.

Sometime on lonely mountain-meres
I find a magic bark;
I leap on board: no helmsman steers:
I float till all is dark.
A gentle sound, an awful light!
Three angels bear the holy Grail:
With folded feet, in stoles of white,
On sleeping wings they sail.
Ah, blessed vision! blood of God!
My spirit beats her mortal bars,
As down dark tides the glory slides,
And star-like mingles with the stars.

When on my goodly charger borne
Thro' dreaming towns I go,
The cock crows ere the Christmas morn,
The streets are dumb with snow.
The tempest crackles on the leads,
And, ringing, springs from brand and mail;
But o'er the dark a glory spreads,
And gilds the driving hail.
I leave the plain, I climb the height;
No branchy thicket shelter yields;
But blessed forms in whistling storms
Fly o'er waste fens and windy fields.

A maiden knight--to me is given
Such hope, I know not fear;
I yearn to breathe the airs of heaven
That often meet me here.
I muse on joy that will not cease,
Pure spaces clothed in living beams,
Pure lilies of eternal peace,
Whose odours haunt my dreams;
And, stricken by an angel's hand,
This mortal armour that I wear,
This weight and size, this heart and eyes,
Are touch'd, are turn'd to finest air.

The clouds are broken in the sky,
And thro' the mountain-walls
A rolling organ-harmony
Swells up, and shakes and falls.
Then move the trees, the copses nod,
Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
"O just and faithful knight of God!
Ride on! the prize is near."
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange;
By bridge and ford, by park and pale,
All-arm'd I ride, whate'er betide,
Until I find the holy Grail.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Illuminate

"Recall the new star that announced the birth at Bethlehem? It was in its precise orbit long before it so shone. We are likewise placed in human orbits to illuminate." - Elder Neal A. Maxwell


Monday, March 20, 2017

Face to Face

Lorenzo Snow
An experience of President Lorenzo Snow (1814–1901), as related by his granddaughter Alice Pond, “‘In the large corridor leading into the celestial room, I was walking several steps ahead of grand-pa when he stopped me and said: “Wait a moment, Allie, I want to tell you something. It was right here that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff. He instructed me to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents, and that I was to succeed President Woodruff.” “‘Then grand-pa came a step nearer and held out his left hand and said: “He stood right here, about three feet above the floor. It looked as though He stood on a plate of solid gold.” “‘Grand-pa told me what a glorious personage the Savior is and described His hands, feet, countenance and beautiful white robes, all of which were of such a glory of whiteness and brightness that he could hardly gaze upon Him. “‘Then [grand-pa] came another step nearer and put his right hand on my head and said: “Now, grand-daughter, I want you to remember that this is the testimony of your grand-father, that he told you with his own lips that he actually saw the Savior, here in the Temple, and talked with Him face to face”’ [Alice Pond, in LeRoi C. Snow, “An Experience of My Father’s,” Improvement Era, Sept. 1933, 677]” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow [2012], 238–39).

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Eternal Man



There is a delightful little book by Truman G. Madsen that beautifully frames questions that have for centuries perplexed great thinkers, philosophers, and theologians.  Madsen's Eternal Man is a masterpiece of philosophical erudition, but more importantly, it is a chef d'oeuvre of spiritual insight. 

It would be a gross understatement to suggest that Truman was a gifted scholar and teacher, or even that he was a prolific author and a profound thinker.  If you take the time to read Madsen's Eternal Man (also here, and here is a link to the pdf), you will begin to get a sense of just how remarkably gifted and spiritually insightful he was.  But what I appreciate most about this elegant and slender volume is the way in which it points to Jesus Christ, the author of all truth.  Enjoy.  






Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Mormon Christianity


What do you know about Mormon metaphysics?  Maybe you know a lot about it.  But if you are like most people, then it is probably safe to say that you know nothing about it.  No problem.  The best way to fill this lacuna in your education is to study the Book of Mormon.  The second best way is to read Stephen H. Webb's book Mormon Christianity: What other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints.  As a convert to Catholicism from evangelical protestantism, and as a prolific author and professor of religion and philosophy, Webb shares a uniquely penetrating perspective on Christianity from which Christians of all varieties may benefit.  Tragically, Webb shot himself last year after battling with depression, or, as I suspect, though I cannot confirm, after battling with "antidepressants." 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Few Great Passages from Shakespeare's Henry V










We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us;
His present and your pains we thank you for:
When we have march'd our rackets to these balls,
We will, in France, by God's grace, play a set
Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard.
Tell him he hath made a match with such a wrangler
That all the courts of France will be disturb'd
With chaces. And we understand him well,
How he comes o'er us with our wilder days,
Not measuring what use we made of them.
We never valued this poor seat of England;
And therefore, living hence, did give ourself
To barbarous licence; as 'tis ever common
That men are merriest when they are from home.
But tell the Dauphin I will keep my state,
Be like a king and show my sail of greatness
When I do rouse me in my throne of France:
For that I have laid by my majesty
And plodded like a man for working-days,
But I will rise there with so full a glory
That I will dazzle all the eyes of France,
Yea, strike the Dauphin blind to look on us.
And tell the pleasant prince this mock of his
Hath turn'd his balls to gun-stones; and his soul
Shall stand sore charged for the wasteful vengeance
That shall fly with them: for many a thousand widows
Shall this his mock mock out of their dear husbands;
Mock mothers from their sons, mock castles down;
And some are yet ungotten and unborn
That shall have cause to curse the Dauphin's scorn.
But this lies all within the will of God,
To whom I do appeal; and in whose name
Tell you the Dauphin I am coming on,
To venge me as I may and to put forth
My rightful hand in a well-hallow'd cause.
So get you hence in peace; and tell the Dauphin
His jest will savour but of shallow wit,
When thousands weep more than did laugh at it.
Convey them with safe conduct. Fare you well. (Act I, Scene II)

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We are in God's hand, brother, not in theirs.
March to the bridge; it now draws toward night:
Beyond the river we'll encamp ourselves,
And on to-morrow, bid them march away. (Act II, Scene VI)

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What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day. (Act IV, Scene III)

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Praised be God, and not our strength, for it! (Act IV, Scene VII)

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KING HENRY V

This note doth tell me of ten thousand French
That in the field lie slain: of princes, in this number,
And nobles bearing banners, there lie dead
One hundred twenty six: added to these,
Of knights, esquires, and gallant gentlemen,
Eight thousand and four hundred; of the which,
Five hundred were but yesterday dubb'd knights:
So that, in these ten thousand they have lost,
There are but sixteen hundred mercenaries;
The rest are princes, barons, lords, knights, squires,
And gentlemen of blood and quality.
The names of those their nobles that lie dead:
Charles Delabreth, high constable of France;
Jaques of Chatillon, admiral of France;
The master of the cross-bows, Lord Rambures;
Great Master of France, the brave Sir Guichard Dolphin,
John Duke of Alencon, Anthony Duke of Brabant,
The brother of the Duke of Burgundy,
And Edward Duke of Bar: of lusty earls,
Grandpre and Roussi, Fauconberg and Foix,
Beaumont and Marle, Vaudemont and Lestrale.
Here was a royal fellowship of death!
Where is the number of our English dead?

Herald shews him another paper

Edward the Duke of York, the Earl of Suffolk,
Sir Richard Ketly, Davy Gam, esquire:
None else of name; and of all other men
But five and twenty. O God, thy arm was here;
And not to us, but to thy arm alone,
Ascribe we all! When, without stratagem,
But in plain shock and even play of battle,
Was ever known so great and little loss
On one part and on the other? Take it, God,
For it is none but thine!

EXETER

'Tis wonderful!

KING HENRY V

Come, go we in procession to the village.
And be it death proclaimed through our host
To boast of this or take the praise from God
Which is his only.

FLUELLEN

Is it not lawful, an please your majesty, to tell
how many is killed?

KING HENRY V

Yes, captain; but with this acknowledgement,
That God fought for us.

FLUELLEN

Yes, my conscience, he did us great good.

KING HENRY V

Do we all holy rites;
Let there be sung 'Non nobis' and 'Te Deum;'
The dead with charity enclosed in clay:
And then to Calais; and to England then:
Where ne'er from France arrived more happy men.

Exeunt (Act IV, Scene VIII)

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Now, fie upon my false French! By mine honour, in
true English, I love thee, Kate: by which honour I
dare not swear thou lovest me; yet my blood begins to
flatter me that thou dost, notwithstanding the poor
and untempering effect of my visage. Now, beshrew
my father's ambition! he was thinking of civil wars
when he got me: therefore was I created with a
stubborn outside, with an aspect of iron, that, when
I come to woo ladies, I fright them. But, in faith,
Kate, the elder I wax, the better I shall appear:
my comfort is, that old age, that ill layer up of
beauty, can do no more, spoil upon my face: thou
hast me, if thou hast me, at the worst; and thou
shalt wear me, if thou wear me, better and better:
and therefore tell me, most fair Katharine, will you
have me? Put off your maiden blushes; avouch the
thoughts of your heart with the looks of an empress;
take me by the hand, and say 'Harry of England I am
thine:' which word thou shalt no sooner bless mine
ear withal, but I will tell thee aloud 'England is
thine, Ireland is thine, France is thine, and Harry
Plantagenet is thine;' who though I speak it before
his face, if he be not fellow with the best king,
thou shalt find the best king of good fellows.
Come, your answer in broken music; for thy voice is
music and thy English broken; therefore, queen of
all, Katharine, break thy mind to me in broken
English; wilt thou have me? (Act V, Scene II)

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God, the best maker of all marriages,
Combine your hearts in one, your realms in one!
As man and wife, being two, are one in love,
So be there 'twixt your kingdoms such a spousal,
That never may ill office, or fell jealousy,
Which troubles oft the bed of blessed marriage,
Thrust in between the paction of these kingdoms,
To make divorce of their incorporate league;
That English may as French, French Englishmen,
Receive each other. God speak this Amen! (Act V, Scene II)

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Keeping Faith in Provo


What is education?  What is the purpose of education?  Brigham Young taught that education is "the power to think clearly, the power to act well in the world's work, and the power to appreciate life."  

Is there such a thing as Christian education?  A Christian university?  What is the purpose of a Christian university?

The University that bears the name of Brigham Young (wiki) is the academic descendent of the school of the prophets.  What were the schools of the prophets?  What was the school of the prophets that Brigham Young's predecessor, Joseph Smith, organized?  



More recently, in his article Keeping Faith in Provo, Ralph Hancock, professor of political science, inquired whether or not the concerns of Spencer W. Kimball and Jeffrey R. Holland, are still relevant to the mission of Brigham Young University.  The answer to this question is ostensibly "yes."  But is Brigham Young University immune from mission drift?  If not, what is to be done?  These are good questions.