Richard Alger

Personal Online Journal

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Disagree without being Disagreeable

"I recently spoke about how, as followers of Christ, we should live peacefully with others who do not share our values or accept the teachings upon which they are based. Following the Savior’s example, we can show loving-kindness and still be firm in the truth by forgoing actions that facilitate or seem to condone what we know to be wrong." (Dallin H. Oaks, Oct 22, 2014)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Other Ways of Knowing

We believe that doubt can have a powerful and tremendously useful and productive function in one's faith journey, but its something that we aspire to move through and beyond; not to wallow in endlessly. And then the idea "a crucible refines us", the scriptural imagery of a refiner's fire. There is something to be said for the way in which a crucible tries you but ultimately can strengthen you. (Terryl Givens, "Reflections on the Quest For Faith by Terryl and Fiona Givens", Fair Mormon Interview, YouTube 7:21)
It is a great interview of both Terryl and his wife Fiona about their book, The Crucible of Doubt. Questions are what started the Reformation and the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love the way he describes other ways of knowing besides rationality.
We are great admirers of science. I am personally. Our culture is today and we should be. Science has pioneered incredible new frontiers. It's been the spearhead of technological innovation and enhanced standard of living. The problem is when we come to think that science or rationality are the only, or the necessarily superior avenues to ultimate truth and knowledge. A little bit of reflection indicates that in our actual, lived experience, that's never the case.

We don't rely upon logic or rationalism or science for those decisions of greatest importance and moments in our own lives. We don't shape our moral responses on the basis of reason. We don't say for example that rape or child abuse is wrong because of some calculus of cost benefits. We intuitively, instinctively respond on the basis of moral intuition to those realities, as well we should. So our point is: Why in religion should we not also credit other ways of knowing. 

Art is another means that we give some examples of. Art can be much more powerful and effective in revealing and conveying truth, than any cold analysis of facts. Perhaps the greatest scientist of all time, Einstein, once said, "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." ( ) All we are trying to do is help in this work of rehabilitating the gift of intuition and spiritual discernment along side of science and rationalism.
(Terryl Givens, 19:52)
I had never thought of the Savior as an example of asking questions. Fiona explains,
The Savior is the model here. When we look at the garden of Gethsemane treatment by Luke, Christ looks at what's in front of him and he realizes the horror that it entails and he doesn't want to go there. So he asks God to please make a way for his escape. But God can't do that. He can't take the cup. There are billions of people, whose salvations rely on this particular event by this particular man who cannot be replaced.

What Christ does then is that, famous, "not my will, but thine, be done". We tend to breeze over that. What Christ is actually saying there is, "I understand that you may not be able to take this away but please give me a way to be able to endure it". He gives God room to answer his question in another way. And God is able to do that. God then sends an angel who comforts and supports the Savior through his agony.

I think that is the risk that we have to take. We have to open ourselves out to the myriad ways God may actually respond to our question. He may not be able to take that cancer away. That may be something He is not able to do so in our questing there is this trust element that God will somehow answer our question in another way. Help us be able to go through this.

That shows great risk. But I think it also shows that God is trying to talk to us in numerous voices. He is trying to help us see His hand print in various parts of our lives. So by not requiring God to answer us in the way we expect him to answer, we are more likely to receive answers to our questions in beautiful, miraculous and God-touched ways. (Fiona Givens, 34:20)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Spiritual Confidence before God

I loved the talk in General Conference on Sat afternoon by Elder Jorg Klebingat, "Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence"
Whenever the adversary cannot persuade imperfect yet striving Saints such as you to abandon your belief in a personal and loving God, he employs a vicious campaign to put as much distance as possible between you and God. The adversary knows that faith in Christ—the kind of faith that produces a steady stream of tender mercies and even mighty miracles—goes hand in hand with a personal confidence that you are striving to choose the right. For that reason he will seek access to your heart to tell you lies—lies that Heavenly Father is disappointed in you, that the Atonement is beyond your reach, that there is no point in even trying, that everyone else is better than you, that you are unworthy, and a thousand variations of that same evil theme. 
As long as you allow these voices to chisel away at your soul, you can’t approach the throne of God with real confidence. Whatever you do, whatever you pray for, whatever hopes for a miracle you may have, there will always be just enough self-doubt chipping away at your faith—not only your faith in God but also your confidence in yourself. Living the gospel in this manner is no fun, nor is it very healthy. Above all, it is completely unnecessary! The decision to change is yours—and yours alone.
Here are the "six practical suggestions that, if heeded, will dissipate these evil voices and restore to you the kind of peaceful assurance and spiritual confidence that is yours to have if you only want it."
1. Take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being.
2. Take responsibility for your own physical well-being.
3. Embrace voluntary, wholehearted obedience as part of your life.
4. Become really, really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly.
5. Become really, really good at forgiving.
6. Accept trials, setbacks, and “surprises” as part of your mortal experience.
I also liked this part,

acknowledge and face your weaknesses, but don’t be immobilized by them, because some of them will be your companions until you depart this earth life. No matter what your current status, the very moment you voluntarily choose honest, joyful, daily repentance by striving to simply do and be your very best, the Savior’s Atonement envelops and follows you, as it were, wherever you go. Living in this manner, you can truly “always retain a remission of your sins” (Mosiah 4:12) every hour of every day, every second of every minute, and thus be fully clean and acceptable before God all the time.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Anger Is an Indication of Weakness

Anger is not an expression of strength. It is an indication of one’s inability to control his thoughts, words, his emotions. Of course it is easy to get angry. When the weakness of anger takes over, the strength of reason leaves. Cultivate within yourselves the mighty power of self-discipline.  (Gordon B. Hickley, "Our Solemn Responsibilities", Oct 1991 )
This is the talk that helped Ken Niumatalolo make a goal to keep his temper in check. He is one of the people featured in #MeetTheMormons

Thursday, October 09, 2014

What your husband really wants

I agree with everything he says 

Five Compelling Ideas

Joseph was utterly alone in the Christian world in promulgating each one of those five ideas, with one possible exception.  Those ideas being that
[1] we believe God’s heart beats in sympathy with ours; that
[2] we lived with Him as pre-existent beings; that
[3] life is not a fall, but an ascent; that
[4] God has the capacity and the desire to save the entire human family (shared by some Universalists of the day); and that
[5] heaven is a perpetuation of those relationships we cherish here and now.
Now any one of those five ideas is sufficiently compelling, I think, to attract adherents, but put all five together and you have a unique combination that had no contemporary parallel. And I’m not surprised, that with those five doctrines at the core, that there have been few dissenters, once you embrace that original mosaic. (Terryl Givens, "Exclusive Interview with Terryl and Fiona Givens with the release of Terryl’s new book, ‘Wrestling the Angel’", Oct 8, 2014)
A few years ago at the time of the scandal relating to Mormons baptizing Holocaust victims, I was interviewed by a Jewish radio host in Philadelphia.  And his first question was direct and to the point. He said, “What are you doing baptizing my dead ancestors?”  And, Mormons tend to be very uncomfortable with the doctrine of baptizing the dead.  It seems weird, and it conjures up gruesome or rather strange images in the mind, and we tend to avoid that topic.  But what I said to this radio host on that occasion was, “Well, Mormons believe in a Heavenly Father who wants to save the entire human family.  And at the last day will provide a wedding feast to which He wants His entire human posterity invited.”  And I said, “Mormons see ourselves as putting everyone’s name on the guest list. And not everybody has to attend, but we feel everybody should be invited.”  His answer to me on air was, “What a beautiful idea. How do I get my name on your list?” Now, that explanation isn’t always going to elicit that response.  But that is an example of the fact that our theology is much more powerful and compelling and morally appealing than we have recognized, and I think we need to lead with that more often.(Terryl Givens, "Exclusive Interview with Terryl and Fiona Givens with the release of Terryl’s new book, ‘Wrestling the Angel’", Oct 8, 2014)


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Dominant, Expressive, Analytical and Amiable

Cross posted from here. Originally from Oct 2008.

In July, I attended a personality seminar run by Persogenics. I have done several personality, self helpy things in my life. Sometimes I get a little wary of this kind of thing. There are a few things I found useful from the seminar.

The workshop focused on improving the communication between people with very different styles. There are four patterns people use to communicate: Dominant, Expressive, Analytical and Amiable. Most people have a primary and secondary way of communicating.

One of the best stories was one the facilitator told of a rafting trip they went on as a company. It was a hoot to hear how the people of the different styles interacted with each other.

The bottom line for me were two things to remember per communication style. One was what the person of the style was to remember. The other was what others could keep in mind when communicating with the person. This is what I remember:

A dominant communicator should remember to ask not tell. Others should remember to take them seriously but not personally.

An expressive communicator should let others know when they are talking out loud. Others should restate what they heard them say. If appropriate, touch them to let them know you understand what they said. Paraphrase, playback.

An analytical communicator should let others know when they are thinking, "Let me think for a moment". Others should give them time (5-10 seconds) after asking them a question.

An amiable communicator should remember to speak up now, sooner is better than later. Others should ask to ask, "May I ask you something?"

This came up for my wife and I last night. It has helped us to avoid misunderstandings. It may help me at work too. It will serve me to remember these lessons.

Do You Think He Will Make You Be Together?

This morning, after I woke up my daughters, one came to me crying because they had fought and hurt each other. After trying to listen and then stopping to listen because their story seemed so long (i am sure i was impatient), I told them this.
Do you think you will be together forever if you don't like each other? Do you think Heavenly Father will make you be together if you don't like each other? Wouldn't that be a punishment? Do you want to be friends? Do you want to grow up and think, "I don't like my sister I will just keep away from her"
At this point my six year old daughter started to cry with real depth. I stopped her by saying, I only want you to remember two words, repent and forgive. All you have to do is repent and forgive. Then I asked her what she needs to do. She went on about forgiving, and I asked what the first word was. She didn't remember right away and I (being impatient) said "it is not a trick, it starts with an r"
I then went on to say that we should ask for forgiveness and forgive. I realized that it was a little tricky for a six year old who was very emotional and talking to an impatient dad. Asking for forgiveness is repenting. Forgiving is repenting from not loving each other as God would. So they are really the same thing.
I hate a fault. I avoid it even when it is better to have it out. As I thought about this experience, I thought of an LDS Facebook group I am in. And I thought about the true order of prayer we learn in the temple.
We must be willing to ask for forgiveness and forgive. We must repent and allow others to repent. Let's try to develop relationships of trust. That means we must be trustworthy and be willing to risk trusting others.

There are some pretty diverse opinions in the group. The thing am most sure of is that I do not have the complete vision that God has. I know that I have some things wrong. And that it will remain that way for a looong time. I believe in the doctrine of Christ.
We should all seek for the ideal stated in the explanation of the true order of prayer. I don't expect to reach this ideal in the group, or really in most communities, but if we work toward it, we can create a little Zion right where we are.