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Monday, September 8, 2008

Global Warming and Polar Bears

Global warming is turning the polar bears green. It is unclear if this is happening naturally or if it is a mutation caused by the extreme temperatures in the Arctic Circle. But there is no question that polar bears are changing color.

The first green polar bear is actually housed in a Tokyo zoo. Make no mistake about it. The evidence is irrefutable. Green polar bears = Global Warming!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Virtue of Obedience

Obedience is best defined in connection with the context in which it is displayed. For example, obedience on the part of a prisoner to the rules of the prison is very different from obedience as demonstrated by a Latter-day Saint in deference to God. It is the obedience to the Word of God of which I speak and have used this post to elaborate on the symbolism and substance of the trait.

Obedience displayed by children of a Heavenly Father is the embodiment of love, appreciation and sense of humility and deference. These characteristics naturally come as a result of submitting to God and acknowledging that without Him we are nothing. Faithfully obeying commandments, scriptural teachings and the leaders that God has appointed on Earth is a way of honoring our Heavenly Father and acknowledging the infinite sacrifice that He provided for His children.

It is true that some mistake obedience for a lack of judgment, intellect or curiosity. They foolishly see their challenges to ecumenical authority as enlightened, noble or progressive. Worse yet, they mock and denigrate those members who seek to faithfully adhere to God's counsel.

The truth is that obedience is superior intellect, transcendent enlightenment and represents the epitome of wise judgment. Understanding these facts is simply a matter of recognizing what saints do when they obediently follow God. Showing obedience to God's omnipotence and infinite wisdom is to acknowledge that knowledge and truth come from one source and that source is God. Obedience naturally results from the earnest pursuit of following commandments diligently seeking to understand God's plan. Through such efforts, these Latter-day Saints grasp the depth of knowledge required to recognize that God's perception of truth is simply beyond their ken.

The life of the Savior and his eternal sacrifice is the single most powerful example of the importance of obedience. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus provided the example for obedience that is as unmistakable as it is poignant. The Savior of Mankind pleaded with our Father in the garden and sought His divine aid. The prayer recorded in the 26th chapter of Matthew provides a clear and unmistakable teaching regarding obedience:

39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and aprayed, saying, O my bFather, if it be possible, let this ccup pass from me: nevertheless not as I dwill, but as ethou fwilt.
Many will insist that obedience to God demonstrates a lack of enlightenment or is somehow intellectually weak. Still more will insist that God has given his children intellect that should be exercised in critically analyzing direction provided by ecclesiastical leaders. Latter-day Saints should be wise of such a ruse that can only lead to offense and apostasy. No good can ever come from attempting to sway other members of the church to oppose God's apostle.

With respect to the question of seeking answers to complex questions posed in our society today it is important to recognize that God has given us a great capacity for thought and analysis. Squandering such gifts is not only unwise but is contrary to the teaching in the Gospel. All men should seek individually and are entitled to receive answers to their questions but such illumination is provided only after men humble themselves and turn to God for answers.

Activities that are intended to contradict or oppose the stated goals of the first Presidency are at their inception foolish and ill fated. A better approach to take when such issues arise is to search one's feelings and determine what is at the core of the contention. As part of the analysis a man must be humble enough to allow for the possibility that he has strayed and that God's apostles and prophet would not be allowed to lead the church astray. With this understanding it is then appropriate to ask Heavenly Father for the inspiration necessary to understand His will rather than attempting to reshape Heavenly direction.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Latest in Blog Roll Technology

As if by answer to a prayer, the people at Blogspot have made a new widget that RULZ! The new feature is a welcome addition to my site and is one that I hope people will make use of. I have to admit the seemingly endless blog links that are posted on some sites are almost overwhelming and seem a bit pointless to me. Seriously, what am I going to do with those lists? It would be a full time job just to view all of the different blogs listed on some sites.

With the new feature I am thrilled to be able to add all of my favorite blogs and then display only the most recently updated blogs. Two very cool benefits occur to me initially:

1. Having these lists with a brief excerpt makes it look like I am more tech savvy than I am.
2. It looks like I have a connect with some of my favorite blogs.
3. I can avoid burning the extra calories required in visiting those different sites to see if they are updated. I'm not training for the Olympics!

To be fair, it's not the Jarvik heart but hey, I'm just a simple blogger.

Proof Texting

I read an extremely interesting post today on a blog that I frequent called Mormon Matters. It revealed something to me that I didn't even realize had been categorized. I encourage anyone who is a regular poster on the internet to read the insightful piece entitled "Proof Texting for Fun and Prophet" by Jeff Spector.

The fantastic article is well done and has important examples that illustrate the point he is making. Mr. Spector's article has caused me to do some personal reflection on how I debate on the internet and how I can improve my discourse. I have no doubt that the article will dramatically improve the manner in which I present arguments and hopefully enable me to identify when the tactic is being used to undercut a position I have taken.

Becoming a Training Professional

Throughout my life I have had a rich and varied set of experiences in the field of education/training and yet how I got to my current position comes down to a series of opportunities that rested on my ability to demonstrate skill beyond what any resume had the ability to reveal. Each opportunity to demonstrate these skills tapped into something within me is a strange alchemy of educator and entertainer. The VP that I report to at my company calls me an "Edutainer". I can't decide if this is exactly the moniker that I want to describe me but it'll do for now.

My very first opportunity to be in a teaching role was at church. I was asked to be the Sunday School teacher for 9-10 year old boys. A calling that is not to be taken lightly. Those boys are all grown up today and I wonder if they remember me. If they do I am sure they recall the odd manner in which I addressed the class, my strange demeanor and undoubtedly recall my completely bizarre methods. My experience with these boys was tiring but was also inspiring and enriching. At the time I didn't have any children of my own so I didn't relate well to the class. To be perfectly honest I was terrified of them. I thought they could see my inexperience and found me somewhat easy to cow into their demands - at least for a while.

In preparing my lessons I often found myself studying for long periods of time and cross referencing all of the scriptures that I would present. My initial lessons to the class were a chaotic mess. In order to correctly envision my stewardship of the class one must imagine a 19 year old holding various scriptures while trying to write on the board and attempting to interest the children in the depth of meaning so beautifully captured by the Apostle John. Simultaneous to the rich gospel message I was delivering were the hoots and laughter of boys standing on their chairs, banging on the door, attempting to pull scriptures from my hand and demanding the treats I had planned to give. This picture eventually devolved into my acquiescence wherein I would distribute the treats and enjoy the 75 seconds of peace soon followed by 20 minutes of hangman.

In short order I changed my tack with the group and took on a wholly new approach. Action would be met with action and I would get through the lessons. I insisted on a renewed reverence in the class and was committed to achieving it. With my newly adopted dictatorial style I quickly devolved into a kind of prison guard over a group of hardened felons that refused to participate. The new approach led to a form of chemical warfare from the boys who somehow seemed to be able to pass gas on demand. They also found hitting one another and throwing things (scriptures, bags, pens, etc.) at one another. I knew the approach had hit rock bottom when I ended one particular class with two of the students in a head lock that had been employed for nearly five minutes. My students not only hated my class but they hated me.

Exasperated and unable to find the right approach I gained inspiration from an unlikely source - the empty Relief Society room. I was at the church one evening for a Temple Recommend interview with the Bishop. There were a number of people in line before me so I went wandering around the church as I was wont to do. Upon entering the Relief Society room I was immediately overcome by the reverence that the room implied. The way in which it was decorated inspired me to use a completely different approach with my class.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Religion of Personal Relationships

Since the time my children were small I have always taught them about the gospel from the perspective of a man that grew up in darkness. I explained that my conversion to the church was my introduction to the Light and that distinction has been extremely evident for me from the day I felt the gift of the Holy Ghost. As I have raised my children in the gospel they have had the Light surround them from the moment of their individual births. This has had a number of inherent challenges that I want to address.

As children born under the Covenant they have been surrounded by people who know the truth about the restored gospel. In a sense they have always been in the Light. Because of this they have had significant challenges in developing a personal testimony in the way that I did and this type of life has its own set of very serious issues. These issues are apparent in the lives of many people who grow up surrounded by Temple worthy and faithful LDS members.

The testimonies of people that grow up as children born under the Covenant develop in a very different way. Like my wife, my children have a testimony that grows not in floods and torrents like mine did but in very small increments like drops of rain. Because of this slow growth they face very different trials that are incredibly difficult for me to relate to and extremely complex for me to help them with. My heart breaks for them as they struggle to understand the gospel and develop a testimony.

In examining the problems that my sons face I have asked them to borrow my testimony and believe that I love them. I have explained that as their father I would never lie to them or attempt to deceive them. As we have discussed their concerns I have pleaded with them to turn to God and ask Him to provide the witness that they require. Sadly, they have returned to me with the same questions and lack of understanding.

April explains that the way for members who grow up in the church to develop their testimony is to find it in many places and not simply wait for it to be revealed. The Spirit is waiting to touch each of us when we study the scriptures, when we provide service, when we pray and when we do all of the many things that God would have us do. Even in the seemingly small acts of obedience there is a testimony to be found. Following the prophet's counsel against seeing rated R movies, choosing our language carefully and surrounding ourselves with uplifting and positive influences are all essential steps in helping to build one's testimony. It is in these small acts that each drop of water comes and by looking for God in all of the many places that He waits for us that we become filled.

In this style of life the fact that the gospel is a religion of personal relationships is never more important. It is important to remember that the gospel is not only defined by God's love and plan for His people but is defined on a personal basis by his love for each individual child. As God waited patiently for me to come to Him and encouraged me throughout my tumultuous upbringing I have seen His hand in all aspects of my life. I know He loves me and I know He has intervened not only when my strength was waning but when my life was in jeopardy.

Unfortunately my sons have not had this experience. Part of the reason is that they have never had the need to cry out for help in the ways that I had to. In many ways I was lucky that I had such a desperate need for help. Perhaps the road that is always lighted is more of a challenge than the road that is entombed by darkness. I pray that my sons will find a way to discover for themselves the deep and abiding joy that comes only from a loving Heavenly Father and open their hearts to the endless joy that comes form living in His embrace.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Infantry Sword

This is the final image for the Infantry Sword. I added a little corona to the blade and my four year old said it doesn't look very good. But frankly I've never considered him much of an art critic.