Monday, May 26, 2014

Notes on mercy, compassion, and being a good neighbor

Mercy is the compassionate treatment of a person greater than what is deserved, and it is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

“All things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them” (Moroni 7:24)

hears and answers our prayers
receive guidance from the Holy Ghost
healed from sickness through priesthood power

We can strive to rid our life of arrogance, pride, and conceit. We can seek ways to be compassionate, respectful, forgiving, gentle, and patient, even when we are aware of others' shortcomings.

Luke 10:27 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Alma 34: 15-16 the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.

And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.

Your neighbor isn't necessarily someone you get along with, or agree with. Rather, your neighbor is someone who you see needs/could use your help. You don't have to be best friends or even friends at all.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Plug for Church

Sometimes when I go to church the messages at the pulpit or elsewhere seem to jump out at me, following the train of thought where my mind is presently focused. Yesterday I found the confirmation and validation of some of life's lessons staring me in the face as I sat on the back bench of the chapel, quietly listening to the sermon.

I had walked into the late afternoon meeting feeling troubled about how utterly tired and sleepy I was after spending the previous day at soccer games, and hiking the face of the mountain. I was also feeling somewhat spiritually exhausted, almost tempted to stay home and sleep rather than catch the last sacrament meeting at the young single adult (ysa) ward near my parents' home. Skipping meetings is never something I contemplate; that I was considering it a rational option rather than going out of my way to make all of the meetings of the day was a bit worrisome, and telling of the state I was in. Had I been trying too hard the past year to understand those friends who find it extremely difficult to sit through the meetings, even the sacrament meeting, the most sacred and special meeting held? (Yes and no. Yes and no :)

My mind followed this train of thought as I walked into the chapel and sat down to join the congregation in singing the opening hymn, #27, "Praise to the Man". I continued to wonder if I was out of touch, and contemplated how it was that I had let my spirit weaken, during the blessing and partaking of the sacrament.

After the sacrament service a woman came to the pulpit and began to share a story of a strenuous yet rewarding summer in her youth, highlighting the payoff from pushing herself in the required morning exercises while others walked and didn't value that time. She wasn't expecting the morning exercises when she took the job, and didn't immediately appreciate the required exertion. However, as the training progressed, the activities during the day became increasingly arduous; the stamina and strength she had created during her morning exercises left her with energy at the end of each day to have fun out in the town. Those who were in the habit of starting out the day with a mild walk didn't have the energy for the activities after work.

And that was it. In my face. She was talking directly to me. Those were my thoughts exactly, about myself. I've been getting back into exercise, but am not yet consistent. And I haven't exactly spent much time in the sun as of late, so that was an obvious drain. My sister with five children had more energy than I; she has a small infant, and I only have myself to worry about. She wasn't out in the sun for as long, or on the hike with us the day before, but she was still out for some time--gardening and watching her children's soccer matches. She had the energy to give her children her attention, and to read them stories, while I was so tired and sleepy eyed from the activities the day before that I just didn't have the same energy or motivation. I wanted to spend some quality time with them, but ...


Sunday, May 11, 2014

the first principle


is hope.

not knowledge.* though we often hear of knowledge, we might be better off to speak of the first principle first, and the experiences that have led us to believe that that which is not seen is or may indeed be truth.

hope for something which is not seen but is true.

the seed of faith.

a particle of hope. a ray of hope. that something may be true, perhaps. or that you may find that something to be true. that something which is not seen. which leads one to act in a way that is in accordance with the perceived truth.

1 Peter 3:15

 ". . . be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: having a good conscience. . ."

what reason do I have to hope?

If the thing is not true then your hope is misguided. If learned from, then it is well worth the test--be it true or not. Without a test, wherewith do you hope? Low hope, manifest in such instances where no test is *planned, or when the test planned is overzealous or underzealous, or when you cannot present a reason for the hope within you, is less fruitful if at all. Thus it does not lead to knowledge.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Defender of the fatherless

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. (Psalms 82:3)

As a defender of the fatherless:

  • I cannot support any sort of law or agency that would take a child away from his or her living and capable father. A fatherless child is a fatherless child. Age and/or stage does not matter--sperm-->embryo-->baby-->child-->teenager-->etc. 
  • I cannot support the cause of any person that would take a child away from his or her living and capable father.
  • I will not support a law, agency, or cause that would define the identity of a child as disconnected from that of his or her biological mother and/or father. Every child is a child of a father and a mother--at conception, at birth and till death. I will not support anything that would attempt to destroy that identity.
  • I want for every child to know his or her father. It is not enough to know of his or her father.  
  • I believe fathers need to know and have personal responsibility for the care of the children-->in the traditional sense. As such, I cannot support the selling of offspring in whatever form, age or stage.

There are many today who, in the name of marital equality, and in the name of individual freedom, take children from their biological fathers and/or mothers in order that they might piecemeal a family of their own--in an unnatural sort of way. They may turn to sperm, egg, or embryo donors. Or they may request sexual favors using more intimate means--in order to generate offspring for piecemeal families. The intentions behind the sexual favors may be open or deceitfully hidden.

Identity, however, cannot be destroyed or changed. It is what it is. A child's genogram does not change, nor does anything else about the innate identity shared by the biological mother and father.

If one really understands the identity of a child and the responsibility of parents to their biological children, then the unnatural agendas used to create piecemeal families as such could only be identified as selfish. It is not in the best interest of the child--nor the biological parents who, I believe, owe their offspring their utmost care and concern. 

Why take a child from his or her father? Why disregard the identity of a child created at conception? Who do we think we are to say we can redefine nature? It is not so, nor ever will be. No child is a child of itself. A child will always be a child of a father and a mother. If a child's father is a living and capable human being, the child should not be fatherless, but should know his or her biological father. 

Those children who have been removed from their fathers for other reasons--death or incompetence of the father, etc.--are fatherless in the same right. Let us not exacerbate the problem of the fatherless by disregarding the natural identity of a child. 

If a child who has reached an adult age--18 to 21 years--removes him or herself from his or her father (and/or mother), then that is an entirely different situation. Yet I would not support the idea that such a situation is normal or desirable. 

Though the scripture specifically speaks of the fatherless, I believe it is a worthy cause to defend the motherless as well, in the same manner.

Father's Day Awareness

A couple of studies quoted by Ryan Anderson in his Daily Signal article "Celebrate Father's Day, Not Parent Day" (above) support the importance of recognizing and respecting the natural identity of a child: 

A study published by the left-leaning research institution Child Trends concluded: “it is not simply the presence of two parents…but the presence of two biological parents that seems to support children’s development.” According to another study, "the advantage of marriage appears to exist primarily when the child is the biological offspring of both parents."
Janice Crouse's recent article in the Washington Times, "New research reminds us why fathers matter: What's different about dads in kids' upbringing?" (above), validates the idea that fathers, and especially biological fathers, are irreplaceable. 

"The research is very clear," says Crouch, "that children definitely do need a father, and preferably their biological one, and not just any man. They need involved, hands-on fathering that cements the connection to the man responsible for their birth."

"There's nothing new about this need," she says, "but recent research has shown us some fascinating wrinkles on old themes. Fathers, the new research reveals, bring certain factors to parenting that are irreplaceable."

I know this is true. Perhaps I will have to come back to this post to share my experience with my fathers, my biological and step-father, to relate a more tangible example of the influence of the presence and absence of my fathers to you. But for now, know that I couldn't agree more with Crouse's final words:

"Mentors and father-figures are needed, but they are not sufficient to meet a child's need to experience the touch of their dad's hand, his unconditional love and his voice reassuring him or her, 'You are my son, you are my daughter . . . and I love you and am proud of you.'"

This father's day if you have an involved father that loves and cherishes you and you know it, honor him so that he can feel your appreciation. But don't forget those who are without fathers. If you have been given much, then it is upon you to give as you have been given:

Because I Have Been Given Much I Too Must Give...

Books to Read:

***I recommend reading the reviews on the books to get a well-rounded perspective on them before reading them, as well as checking the validity of the studies mentioned in them and in the newsletters. I quoted a few studies in this post but just haven't had time to look them up and check for their validity. If any of you have time I welcome your feedback on their validity in the comments. Otherwise I will get to it eventually. I apologize in advance if any of the studies are found to be poorly designed :) You never know :)