Reflections at Easter

Like much of the world recently, I was deeply saddened to see the great Notre Dame Cathedral burning. It is sad to see destruction of anything historical or culturally and religiously significant, especially something that has stood as a symbol for Centuries.

Some thoughts, or rather questions, came to me while seeing these reports. Could God have prevented this fire? Could God rebuild this great building? Then followed the greater question: Would God rebuild this building? Not the question of His ability, but Why? What would be the purpose?

Destruction of Human Creations

I have read this week, the words of our Savior about the Temple in Jerusalem being destroyed and raised again the 3rd day. (See John 2:18-21; Matthew 26:61, 27:40; Mark 14:58) We of course, know that he was not talking about the physical temple, but His own physical temple, His body.

Those who heard him however, expressed disbelief that such as magnificent structure that had taken so long to build could so easily be destroyed. We have heard other similar reactions to prophesy about destruction of great cities. History has shown us that, yes the great Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed after all.

The reality is that anything man creates out of the elements of this temporal world is impermanent and can be destroyed. As much as we, with scientific knowledge and technical skill, try to create buildings to be able to withstand earthquakes, floods, fire and wind, some still are destroyed.

The building of physical buildings and creating material objects is the work of humans. At times God has commanded His people to build Temples and other structures. Whether He could create them Himself is not the point – after all He created the mountains which served as temples. The purpose and function of a building is more important than design or beauty. Part of that purpose being the obedience and sacrifice and offerings from us mortals to create something in His name.

While living His mortal life, Jesus the carpenter built things with His hands just like we do. Jesus didn’t use His power to create material things. Instead, His mortal work dealt with individuals. He healed bodies and ministered to souls. People were the subjects of His great power, glory and love. That should be a testimony to us that we, His children, are His priority.

Easter Morning

That morning when Jesus rose from the tomb, gives perspective to our mortal experience – to creation and destruction, to life and death.

Through His resurrection bodies and spirits can be reunited and resurrected to a perfect immortal form. Through Him broken hearts are rebuilt and damaged souls healed. Through Him we can be restored to a sinless, pure, innocent state, able to live in His presence.

Ultimately, as significant as magnificent human creations may be to us, we are more important than buildings or objects to Him – the Creator of all things.

The Sky is Not Falling

I am reminded these days about a little story I was told as a child. Maybe children of later generations missed it? It was about a chicken – Chicken Little – who ran around in a panic saying “the sky is falling”. Now we have little chickens running around in a panic saying the world will come to an end in 12 years if we don’t radically change our whole way of life.

I have a few things to say to those panicking young people. I was young once too. I believed things I was told, especially by knowledgeable professors. However, through time, more learning and life experience, I have come to see many of those things as erroneous, misguided or even deceptive.

Some Perspective from the Dark Ages – the 1970’s

I was a College student back in the 1970’s – almost the dark ages. Actually it was kind of the dark ages. I remember going to school in the dark. Someone, I think wise politicians, decided that perpetual daylight savings time would save great amounts of energy. So we went to school in the dark during the winter. I even recall the Bell Tower on campus playing “Oh, what a Beautiful Morning” as we found our way to class in the dark. I never really understood how that was supposed to work.

I also dutifully car-pooled to campus. There were seven in our car-pool who drove from across town. I had a Volkswagen bug. Yes, we crammed seven bodies into that and drove to school. Why? Because we were told that we would run out of fossil fuel, likely by the end of the century. Yes, we were told there would be no more. It would be all gone. And these predictions were based on “science.”

Me and my VW in 1974

I also have recalled lately my Senior research project. It was titled “Attitudes of Weber County, Utah Residents Toward Government Intervention in Limiting Family Size.” I pulled it out the other day and read the summary of literature we studied at that time. It included lots of doomsday predictions. The world and its resources just would not be able to sustain increasing populations. We would all starve if something wasn’t done. And yes, there was discussion about forced – that means “anti-choice” – family planning measures.

I’ll share a little quote from the time defining Natalism as:

“The belief that individual couples have the right to have as many children as they please despite the scientific conviction that unchecked population expansion is by far the most potentially disastrous problem facing mankind in the middle of the Twentieth Century.”


(Silverman, Anna and Arnold. The Case Against Having Children. New York: David McKay Company, Inc.,1971 italics added)

What Has Happened Since

Somehow the disastrous problems facing mankind in the Twentieth Century did not destroy us. Overpopulation didn’t turn out to be the nightmare predicted. We haven’t all starved. Scientists were wrong, or at least not right. Maybe there was a reason we were deceived? Possibly it has more to do with politics than science?

The population hasn’t grown out of control without government intervention. Population growth rates have gone down. In fact, fertility rates in some countries have dropped below replacement levels.

The United States didn’t take steps to restrict family size. Legalizing abortion and changing attitudes accomplished that. Now we have young people too scared to have children because we are all going to die.

China did adopt and enforce – being communist made it easy to do the forcing – a one-child policy. Now four decades later, even they are seeing that it was not such a good idea. Not only did it destroy the family structure which took care of older parents, but the whole system is unbalanced, without sufficient young workers to sustain growing older populations.

We are not all starving to death. In fact, in the US we have a huge obesity problem. Yes, there are hungry people in the US and actual starvation in some countries. But that is not because we cannot produce enough food. This also, has more to do with politics. People are starving in Venezuela, while humanitarian aid is blocked from reaching them.

We have not run out of fossil fuels, but they are still the villain. It makes me wonder if this is just another attempt to shift power and wealth, because earlier attempts didn’t produce lasting results.

Power to Control Weather

I recently re-read the bible story of Jesus calming the seas. I recommend studying that one. (Matthew 8:22-27; Luke 8:22-25) My thought was this: Yes, there is one who can control the weather. He is the Creator. He has knowledge and power over the elements of this earth. He has power to change the climate. But He works according to laws and principles which may be foreign to scientific man. Those principles include faith and obedience. The elements obey Him. People don’t always.

The world mocks God and faith. Some laugh at the mere idea of appealing to God to temper the elements, as something primitive, uncivilized people would do.

The Choice to Believe

People, especially today, have made science and man their god. They willingly put their faith in scientists. The same kinds of scientists who misled us 40-50 years ago with their dire predictions. The same science that was used to convince us that tobacco was safe and that repeated concussions wouldn’t cause permanent damage.

People are willing to obey government over God. As if government really has our best interest in mind.

Why is it easier for some to believe the word of scientists and politicians than prophets of God? The world mocks prophets, but now people are paying attention to very similar “doomsday prophesies” from men in the name of science.

How consistent is it to believe that our world came into existence through totally random forces, yet we, puny humans, who randomly evolved from lower life forms, somehow have the power to control those random forces, change the course of nature and save ourselves?

I would not recommend totally disregarding science or attempts to be better stewards of this planet. We should use knowledge to make better choices and improve our environment. But why give in to fear-mongering and put blind trust in those who would ultimately cause more damage to our freedom and way of life?

Is there really a need to panic and rush forward with radical proposals that have not been well thought out? Some scientists have actually predicted that the proposed solutions may be more disastrous than the problems they supposedly address.

It seems reasonable to me that all things are in the hands of an omnipotent creator with a plan. Why then not appeal to Him? Why then not act consistently with His plan and laws? How could that possibly put us in a worse position?

The End

Yes, the world as we know it will come to an end. Not necessarily in the manner or the timing now being pushed by the hysterical chickens. The end has been prophesied since the beginning. It has always been part of the plan. The result will not just be an end, but also a beginning of a better world. Whether you are around to enjoy the better depends upon individual choice – whether to believe and obey God or man.

As the end of the world approaches, I don’t think we will be saved by solar panels. I believe our salvation will come as we individually choose to turn to the power of The Son.

Autumn Reflections

Seasonal Changes

I am fortunate to live in a place where there are seasons. I would say four, but that may not always be accurate here. Changes of seasons come with memories and feelings and expectations.

The coming of winter would be worse without the expectation of holiday celebrations. The shift from winter to spring is always welcome, especially after a long hard winter. Increased daylight and signs of renewed life bring excitement and hope. Where I live, the transition from spring to summer can vary – even from day to day. Spring often seems too short when we get hot days rather early. But with summer comes vacations, recreational activities, annual celebrations and reunions. So with this transition comes anticipation of enjoyment. Even with some dread of the end of a fun filled summer, the first signs of autumn are often welcome. Cool nights bring relief from the heat.

Autumn

Autumn

If I could choose the perfect weather it would be the “sweater weather” of autumn. I don’t enjoy sweating or freezing. I sleep much better on cool nights. We have occasional rainstorms which seem refreshing. Sometimes we have unusually warm days. Walks are much more enjoyable when not so hot.  And there is the beauty of the leaves turning colors and painting the landscape.  I find the colors of autumn very pleasant and comforting.

Autumn somehow seems an appropriate time to rest or not be so busy. For someone who was raised in a family of “do-ers” instilled with guilt feelings whenever not doing anything, that feeling has been most often suspended during lazy autumn days. Of course, there are those lazy summer vacation days of laying on the beach or sitting around a campfire. But then there is always a feeling of temporariness – a brief calm before returning to the rat race.

Autumn comes with mixed feelings. There is an overwhelming sense of impending change. Some of that may be sadness with the end of summer fun and the seeming death of nature. I have a desire to suspend time in autumn, to hang on to life as it is much as the dying leaves linger on the trees. I don’t want fall to end and with it bring the death that is winter.

Autumn Deaths

I associate Autumn quiet times with grief or loss. The change of season brings memories back to my mind. Many significant people in my life left this earth life during Autumn. At those times, everyday activities and projects seem unimportant and set aside for a time. What is left is time for memories and contemplation, accompanied by cool breezes wafting colorful leaves from trees to the ground. Somehow it seems appropriate to just sit and watch nature slowly changing. There is also a feeling of time standing still – and not wanting to move on – whether that be facing the coming snow storms, or facing life altered forever because of who or what will no longer be there with us.

My Grandmother died in October. One of my fondest memories of her was of an earlier October when I stayed with my grandparents while my parents went somewhere. It was General Conference weekend for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which always seems a little lazy sitting on the couch watching Church for hours. I remember watching Conference with Grandma while she knitted. Then we strolled around their huge yard enjoying the colorful leaves and pretty flower gardens. The family gathered and sat in that yard after her funeral.

My Grandpa died the first Saturday in November 1999. We had one of those rare, long, mild, and beautiful autumns. In September the leaves started turning beautiful colors and somehow we avoided the big winds which usually blew them all off the trees. We made it into November with plenty of red and gold leaves still clinging to branches, though many more blanketed the ground.

I remember that day started as an unusual Saturday void of plans. The soccer season was over and I faced a rare Saturday with nowhere to go. Being the do-er, I got out my scrapbooking supplies. Then I got the phone call, left everything and drove to the hospital.

The rest of the day was slow-motion. After we all left the hospital, we ended up back at Grandpa’s house. My Dad, the do-er, eventually resumed working in Grandpa’s yard, finishing up mowing and raking. I remember mostly sitting on the patio with my Uncle. We just sat quietly for some time, then started mindlessly shelling walnuts that happened to be sitting there. Memories of that yard and house drifted through my mind. It was really strange. I felt no guilt in just sitting and not doing.

Me sitting in Grandpa’s yard after his funeral

My Mom died the day before Thanksgiving in the year 2000. It didn’t snow that year until afterwards, so it still seemed to be Autumn. The shock of her sudden passing left me functioning in slow motion for some time. There was plenty to do with planning the funeral, but still many hours of sitting and remembering.

A New Autumn

So as I reflect on memories of autumns past and enjoy the beauty today, I wonder what lies ahead. This autumn comes with some excited anticipation of new life – a rare birth in our family this time of year. Maybe this will change the colors of the season for me – to associate the season with new life as well as death?

Autumn of My Life

As I have lived through many autumns, I have gained more of a sense that I am in the autumn of my own life. Behind me are many springs and summers – times of anticipation, excitement and enjoyment leaving good memories. Ahead I feel the approaching winter with some apprehension. Not that I dread death so much as the gradual diminishing of living, not just for me but for others I love. I hope I can continue to enjoy the beauty, the pleasant times, and the people in my life as long as my season lingers.

Autumn will inevitably come to an end and bring with it winter. But I have learned through the cycles of the seasons that spring will come again. So all those that I have lost in the autumns of my life will live again. That is something wonderful to anticipate.

Rest

Infant at rest

I find it interesting that God designed our physical bodies to need periods of rest. Newborn babies sleep a lot. There is nothing more sweet than a sleeping baby. And older people seem to sleep a lot too – they just aren’t as cute.

God made our earth revolve so that we have a period of darkness – a time conducive to rest. It is like the design of a revolving earth was made to fit the design of mortal bodies that cannot go non-stop for long without fatigue and break down. We have a daily reminder that we need to stop, shut down and rest. Our physical bodies need it. Our minds need it. There is wisdom in having periods of rest.

We all know how hard it is to keep functioning when sleep deprived. We move more slowly and perhaps clumsily. We don’t think as clearly. We can become irritable. If prolonged, a lack of sleep weakens our immune system and we are likely to get sick.

One significant thing about rest, however, is that it is not really restful until after a time of activity – of work. Every Yoga practice session ends with Rest. It is an important – probably the most important – and for many people the hardest part of the workout. We generally lay on the ground in aptly named “corpse pose”. This quiet rest allows our bodies to internalize what we have done and to kind of reset. Yet, without some kind of prior workout – or maybe just the stress of daily life – restful, relaxing yoga is not really that restful.

Too Much of a Needed Thing?

Too much rest is really idleness. Constant idleness makes rest less restful and can actually be fatiguing. I can find myself getting tired on holidays or times of leisure. It can be draining to passively go through life. Sometimes the “rest” we need is more in the way of a change. Sometimes a different kind of work or activity can be as restorative as sleep. This is why we humans recreate. We have hobbies. We go on vacations. We like social events and celebrate special occasions. These are welcome breaks from daily routines.

We are fortunate to live in a time and place where this is recognized with a normal five day work week and a weekend break from that work. Of course, some have different or longer work schedules. Retired people would seem to have perpetual weekends, but many of us even have a regular schedule of “volunteer work”, as well as the tasks of daily living. We have days, or parts of days, committed to others and still look forward to “free time” to do what we find relaxing.

A Day of Rest

God commanded us to rest on the Sabbath Day – His day. The Sabbath was given for our benefit as a period of rest. But one day of doing nothing will do nothing to restore us, either physically, mentally or spiritually. The rest intended is a rest from the world – from our daily worldly tasks, and from worldly activities that keep us from God. We shift our focus to spiritual things and worship God.

There is still work to be done on the Sabbath, but it is a different and better work – God’s work. We serve God by serving others – attending more to spiritual and emotional needs. Sometimes such work can fill our day, leaving little time for idleness and maybe even leaving us tired. But shifting our focus from ourselves for one day does much to restore our souls. When charity fuels our service to others, it also refreshes us.

My Blog Rest

I have been blogging for over three years now. Two years ago I started to write a “Word of the Month” . The idea was to focus on a particular word each month and write some of my thoughts about it. I made a commitment to myself to do this, which I take very seriously. It has been a challenge in the past for me to let go of something I have committed to, even though it does not seem to be working out well.

I started the “Word of the Month” about the same time I created a Facebook Page for my blog. My hope was to generate some thoughtful discussion about ideas related to these words. Though I appreciate the kind comments some of my posts have generated, the type of discussions I hoped for have not happened. I now have an archive of 25 posts consisting of my thoughts about 25 words. These will remain for future reference and potential discussion.

Interestingly there seems to be more interest in my genealogy blog, EgglestonRoots. At this time, I feel I should be spending more time getting genealogical information posted there. (I also did the same thing to myself there – deciding to write biography posts on ancestor’s birthdays – and have already had to scale back my commitment.)

I will continue to blog, writing Starkside blog posts when I feel impressed to speak out about something important to me. I will just not be holding myself to a schedule where I feel I must select some word and get something written and ready to post by the first of the next month. If the “Word of the Month” is something I began, it is something I can end. Or at least take a rest from for a time.

Flattering Words

I have been intrigued by the phrase “flattering words” used frequently in the scriptures. It is usually in reference to the tactics of Satan.

What is Flattery?

Flattery involves saying nice things – giving attention or praise to someone. Definitions suggest it is untrue or insincere, excessive or exaggerated. The intent is to please others, win their favor or approval, or ingratiate them so they will feel that they owe you something or need to reciprocate. It may seem to be a good thing to make someone feel better through compliments or praise, but at the heart flattery is dishonest. There is something false about it.

The real intent is not to build up, but to influence. There is an underlying attempt to manipulate, to get someone to do something or encourage them to follow. It is seductive – we trust the flatterer, conform and follow to receive more. Flattery pretends to be our friend acting in our best interest, but in the end it is self-serving on behalf of the flatterer.

Flattery can use partial truth – stating something we already believe, preceded by a seductive “if” and followed by “then you will. . .” With all of the #MeToo attention lately about inappropriate behavior, it occurred to me that this is precisely how sexual predators work. The are expert in using flattering words. “You are special” “I can make you a star”.

The real lie is not that we are inherently bad or worthless, rather than wonderful as the flatterer tells us. The lie is that doing the wrong things will bring us the approval, praise or attention that we seek.

Promoting Pleasure

What could be more flattering that encouragement to “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.” 2 Nephi 28:7

I had an interesting conversation when the question was asked “If you knew the world would end tomorrow, what would you do with your last day today?” Many of the comments were about “bucket list items”, like adventures, taking that last opportunity to some fun thing that they had always wanted to do. The flatterer would convince us that a fulfilled life is a life full of pleasure, and we would should not deny ourselves any enjoyable thing.

How self-centered to think that life should provide never ending opportunities for our entertainment and enjoyment. Never mind that many of those things which are presented as “pleasurable” come with some rather painful and unpleasant consequences. The flattery also comes with the promise that there will be no negative consequences.

Which leads to the next flattery . . .

. . . When God is inserted into flattering words.“God loves all his children just the way they are and wants them to be happy” so therefore whatever makes one happy is good, approved by God and should be encouraged. This is the kind of flattery which would cause parents to think they were good parents for allowing their children a steady diet of sugar, no schedule for sleep, meals or anything, and fully encourage dangerous play.

Preventing Accountability

As Satan flattered Cain with the idea that he could kill and have his brother’s flocks and no one would know, he flatters us that our sins, flaws and mistakes can be secret. Flattery also tries to convince us that we can do whatever we want and nothing bad will happen, results will always be in our favor.

Nehor, in the Book of Mormon used these very flattering words to lead the people astray: “all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.” (Alma 1:4)

One of Satan’s strategies to destroy agency is to remove accountability. The flattery is that we can do whatever we want without negative consequences. We can have pleasure without pain.

Pride & Popularity

Flattery plays to human vanity – the fault of pride. We all want to feel that we are okay. We love to hear “you are wonderful”, “you are beautiful”.

We are told to tell ourselves affirmations – to “Love yourself”, “celebrate your uniqueness”.  It is true that many of us have tendencies toward constant self-criticism and positive affirmations help counter that, however both can be manifestations of an unhealthy focus on self. When we don’t feel good about ourselves, we are especially vulnerable to flattering words, as if hearing from someone else that we are wonderful will make it so.

Pride really desires to feel that we are more than okay, that we are somehow better than others. “It is all about me.” Flattery feeds the comparisons of pride – to be smarter, more beautiful, more accomplished, more successful than others. It makes us feel that we are more than we know we actually are. But we want to believe that others think more of us, so we eat it up.

This kind of flattery prevents any real improvement. If we are okay – or more than okay – there is no need for change or progress. Add to that the flattery that rather than change yourself, everyone else should have to adjust to accommodate you, because you are perfect the way you are.

Pursuing Power

Connected to pride is the pursuit of power. If you are convinced of your superiority – you are smarter or better than others – you naturally should have power over other inferiors. Control, dominion and compulsions follow. Flattery convinces those with power that they are deserving and it is okay to use that power for their selfish desires rather than any sense of responsibility for the welfare of others.

Flattery lead to thinking that you are your own god. You are the supreme authority over self, and therefore not subject to restrictive rules or authority.

False Prosperity -Wealth Without Work

Connected to a lack of accountability is the flattering idea of gaining wealth without work. Lotteries make huge amounts of money by flattering us that we could become rich – and think that we should be rich. Pride causes us to compare with others and to envy and covet.

Such flattery leads people to seek the “vain things of the world” or “treasures” that really have no lasting worth. I find it interesting that “vain and foolish” are paired together so much in scripture.

Flattery about worldly wealth encourages dishonesty and deceitfulness – lies that ends justify means. Flattery feeds entitlement, the idea that you have some “right” to have anything you want and that you deserve any good thing that anyone else has. Flattering words fuel socialism – the promises of “free” things without mention of the real cost of loss of freedom.

Precepts of Men

The flattery here is in our own wisdom, or the pleasing philosophies of men. The result is in effect setting up things like science, “learned” experts, or even ourselves as god. We can create our “own truth” rather than acknowledge actual truth. We then can feel “authentic” when living by our self-defined reality. “Be true to yourself” is really code for “embrace your natural man”. Flattery convinces us that the natural man is our authentic self and should be embraced and affirmed rather than overcome.

All flattery is a tool of the adversary to shift our focus to ourselves, to the “vain things of the world” which bring no lasting happiness, and to draw us away from God, the source of all that is good.

Wisdom

wisdom

This world is so badly in need of wise men and women. My study of King Solomon for a Sunday School lesson led to much pondering about wisdom – what it is, how to acquire it, and the mystery about the lack of wisdom in our world.

wisdom of Solomon

Solomon’s wisdom – see 1 Kings 4:29-34

Solomon’s wisdom was a gift from God. God’s love is unconditional, but His gifts come with conditions. To have a gift of the spirit, one must be in a position to be sensitive and receptive to the spirit. Solomon’s gift came with several “ifs”, cautioning that he would lose it if he turned from God and from following His laws.

What is Wisdom?

Dictionary definitions of wisdom include learning & knowledge, but wisdom is in the use of knowledge – the power of judging rightly and following the soundest course of action. Wisdom begins with intellect, learning and knowledge, but builds on that with understanding and insight. It can come through experience as well as study, yet some may have vast experience yet still not get it.

Wisdom requires discernment – the ability to discern truth from error, for real wisdom is based on truth. It also involves the ability to know what things are of most importance and lasting value.

Solomon himself wrote many wise Proverbs (see Proverbs 1-9), but his wisdom was not purely intellectual. True wisdom is reflected in action.

Wisdom differs from being clever or cunning (see 3 Nephi 21:10), because those tend to be deceptive and self-serving. Wisdom is honest and true and benefits all.

Foolish and Vain

Frequently in the scriptures I see the terms “foolish and vain” paired together. (See Romans 1:21Titus 3:92 Nephi 28 ; Alma 39:11; Helaman 12:4Helaman 16:22;  We think of foolishness as the opposite of wisdom. Why is “vain” paired with foolish? What is foolish about vanity or vain things?

We think of vanity as being proud and self-serving. A vain person is conceited with an excessively and possibly unrealistic regard for self. There is something false or deceitful about vanity.

Definitions of vain also include things of no real value or significance, things lacking substance, anything empty, worthless, fruitless. Things that have an appearance of value or desirability, but no real substance. You might think of vain as a pretty puffed up outer shell that is hollow within.

In this sense the two definitions actually merge, as someone who is vain in the sense of being proud actually may have no real depth of character under a boastful exterior. The vain are all show with little substance.

There is vanity in thinking you are wise. Thinking one knows and understands already leads to pride and a resistance to learning, especially from the source of true wisdom. (

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. (2 Nephi 9:28; see also Proverbs 3:5-7)

Wise Judgement

To be vain is foolish – to put undue importance on things of little significance. Scriptures point out the opposite “plain and precious” indicating that things of most value are more plain than flashy. Wisdom can discern between things of lasting value and those of little worth and make judgments and decisions based on those most worthwhile.

Just as it is foolish to choose or pursue vain things, it is also foolish to base judgement on things of no real value. What could be more foolish than spending a lifetime acquiring stuff, having fun and seeking people’s approval? Yet, such superficial and insignificant, though outwardly appearing fashionable or popular trends are what much of the world bases judgement on.

Wise judgement is based on sound principles and unchanging truth. It requires an understanding of truth. It is based on standards that have stood through time and have been tested and proven.

The Mystery/Paradox

The Apostle Paul contrasted the wisdom of the world with the wisdom of God.

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: (1 Corinthians 2:4-7; see also 1 Corinthians 1:20-31)

The wisdom of the world is really foolish and vain. Those who are wise in their own eyes are really fools. Fools mock. The world mocks faith in God as foolishness, yet the wisdom of the world is based on vain things, and is really foolish.

The path to true wisdom is the plain and precious truths of the gospel and the Spirit which enlightens understanding. The simple and pure faith in Christ, which the world considers silly or foolish, is really the path to true wisdom. This is the great paradox.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a wise judge, put it this way:

“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools . . . and He has not been disappointed. Devout Christians are destined to be regarded as fools in modern society. We are fools for Christ’s sake. We must pray for courage to endure the scorn of the sophisticated world. If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

Where to Find Wisdom

The greatest wisdom comes from the source of all wisdom. James advised “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God” (James 1:5)

Gordon B. Hinckley said:

We need not look far in the world to know that “the wisdom of the wise has perished and that the understanding of the prudent has come to naught.” That wisdom for which the would should seek is the wisdom which comes from God. The only understanding that will save the world is divine understanding. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 500)

O be wise; what can I say more?

Honesty

Honesty

Some thoughts about honesty in a world of deception, relative truth, and rationalization.

Honesty & Truth

Honesty is an admirable virtue. It is an aspect of good character, an indicator of a good person. There are generally two aspects of honesty – honesty in speech and action. These are reflected in two of the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not steal and Thou shalt not give false witness. But honesty goes beyond these outward manifestations.

To be truly honest, there must be a clear standard of truth with which to be true. There are a plethora of laws dealing with all of the potential instances of dishonesty.

One could insist that it is the intent at the core of honesty or dishonesty that matters. If the intent is to mislead or deceive, that is clearly dishonest, while those who are misinformed may speak untruths without awareness. Deception is the presentation of opinion, belief, or perception as truth.

When we do not act in accordance with real truth – absolute truth – we are deceiving ourselves. We deceive ourselves first because we want to believe we are okay doing what we want to do. We then seek agreement from others to validate our own false perception and actions.

Continue reading

A Spectrum of Spiritual Disorders

Could we all be suffering from different forms of the same basic disorder – each falling somewhere along a spiritual disorders spectrum?

The Process of Change

I recently read a book about a woman’s personal story of overcoming and changing her life in a positive way. As I read, I was flashing back to another book that I read almost 30 years ago by a man sharing his story of personal change and overcoming.

Though their challenges were different, both of these people went through essentially the same process – a spiritual process of rebirth, a change of heart, a spiritual awakening, and an accompanying change of their lives. At the time I read the earlier book, I was involved with a Twelve Step program and this book was recommended as an example of that process. This man’s issues did not involve substance abuse, but his recovery process was the same as those who did. The Twelve Steps have been successful for people with a variety of addictions, including things like gambling and addictive relationships.

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Quicken

A Quick Garden

Quicken is a rather old-fashioned term. I recall years ago watching the film The Secret Garden and hearing the word “quick” used. The character was pointing out that the trees or plants were not dead, but “quick.”

This spring I thought about that as I watched what had previously appeared to be dead trees begin to again show signs of life – the beginnings of buds, then blossoms, then leaves. I recall my husband panicking sometimes in the early spring, worried that his beloved plants had died during the winter. It just took some time to see that they had not died. They were not dead, just dormant.

quicken vegetation

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My Truth, Your Truth, or THE TRUTH

My Truth?

I find myself cringing when I hear the phrase “speak my truth”.

Truth is something that exists – independent of any person. One cannot “own” truth, let alone define their “personal truth”. How can several people have different or conflicting truths and they all be true?

One can share their unique experience – maybe that is what they really mean? One can relate their particular perspective of something, which may be very different than mine. Psychotic people may be dealing with altered reality, but their perception does not change what is true.

Someone cannot create their own truth. And certainly no one should be able to force others to accept, validate or conform to a particular independently defined truth.

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