Richard Alger

Personal Online Journal

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

We Are that We Are

When Moses was talking with God, he asked him who should I say sends me? God answered I Am that I Am.

I postulate that we are who we declare we are. As our word accords with our declaration the reality becomes more solid.

A declaration of independence created a freedom of all men. It first was created in the hearts of those who heard it and were moved and inspired by it. It became real in our physical world when abolition entered into the heart of someone. That human took a stand and inspired others to the vision. A war started and / or ended with the idea. The emancipation proclamation declared it again in a new form.

The civil rights movement declared specific rights of voting and employment and accommodation. Today those rights do not exist only in word or law but in the hearts of our societies.

I declare that the only barriers between humans and societies of humans are created in our language and the world it creates.

I invite you to try on the idea that you are not separate from your spouse, family, friends or community. That you have connections seen and unseen. That if you abandon the barriers between us that do not work, you will realize a unity a harmony and a beauty before unknown to us.

I was promised that we would become unmessable. Unmessable is that nothing messes with the vision of health, strength, sanity and power we want. The creation of we creates an unmessable power.

I invite you to be one with those near you. I invite you to join the we that includes me. I invite all of us to consider that we can create unity between all merely by declaring and agreeing that it is so. We are because we say we are.

We are not deterred from our vision. Our vision is to be unrelenting in our commitment to each other. That we are committed to getting each other what we want even though our individual stories may seem in contradiction to each other.

We are unstoppable.

I am committed to God above all else. I become one with God as Jesus becomes one with the Father. I become one with what I name "We".

Next comes my covenant with my wife to join with her outside of anyone else. I create my primary human relationship. I say that in words. That my word is realized in what I do. That I honor my word to her. I become one with her. She agrees. Our words together become a sacred agreement I call "We". The we of our marriage joins the we of heaven.

Next is my family. Our 10 children. I invite and declare my family to be part of our we.

Next is our job as part of my covenant to provide for my family. "Our Job" means the job we have as a couple. I am open to accepting contribution from my community and to contributing back.

We are unstoppable.

Next is my extended family. My parents and parents in law. My siblings and their families. My wife's siblings. I invite and declare all to be part of our we.

Next are my friends. I invite and declare all to be part of our we.

Next are my communities. My community of my local congregation at church we call a Mormon ward. My community of my Landmark Advanced Course we call Transformers. I include all my communities. I invite and declare all to be part of our we.

Next organizations.
Next societies.
Next the world.
I invite and declare all to be part of our we.
We are one because we say so.

We are unstoppable.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Sea Change in the Relationships of Gays and Mormons

I am open to the possibility of a sea change in my reality. I had a conversation with a good friend on Saturday. A new, good friend who happens to be gay. This is what I wrote after talking to him.
I pretend I know the truth about being gay when I don't. The result is that I don't have anyone close to me that is gay. I am keeping myself from the access of one way I can find out what is real about being gay. About what the word marriage means in connection to those that are gay.
Wow. This floored me. I am not yet willing to accept this statement. I am willing to try it on. Consider it. Investigate such that my tests for truth will bear out if it is true or not.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Working by Faith is Working by Words

There is power in words. When we honor them, the power is much greater.

There was power in the words of Thomas Jefferson when he said "all men are created equal". Nearly a hundred years later, because of these words and the power of those that believed them, Lincoln declared the emancipation proclamation.

In 1963, the power of these words were expressed by Martin Luther King Jr. in his "I Have a Dream" speech.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have no less power with my words. By honoring my word, by keeping my promises, and following through on my commitments, my actions become aligned with my word.

God created the heavens and the earth by His Word. (Heb 11:3) The Word is one name for God. (John 1:1). It is not only his name. By the words he spoke he created all things. God is perfectly aligned with His word. He cannot lie. His honor is his power. (D&C 29:26)

When I work by faith I am working by my words.
what are we to understand by a man's working by faith? We answer: We understand that when a man works by faith he works by mental exertion instead of physical force: it is by words instead of exerting his physical powers, with which every being works when he works by faith--
(Lectures on Faith, Section 7:3, Page 63)

Our words create our reality. What kind of life do I want? One where my actions are in harmony with my word. I am a creation of God imbued with the power to create.

What will I do with this power?


Monday, July 20, 2015

Talking Past Each Other

So often we talk past each other instead of listening wholly to what is shared.



I like the introduction to this video. It shows Mormon missionaries and an Evangelical talking to each other as if the other were mannequins. Taking time and effort to understand first brings great treasure.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I would not have believed it myself

No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don’t blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself. ("The King Follett Sermon", Joseph Smith, Apr 7, 1844)
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Thursday, July 09, 2015

We Refused to Marry Marriage Itself

"Gay Marriage Happened Because We Refused to Marry Marriage Itself" caught my eye because it captured an idea in few words; an important idea. I do not think that the content of the article is clear enough.
Tucker closes the book by posing a question: Will we honor marriage or will we create a “kind of ‘state polygamy’ where women congregate around the major source of wealth — the government — while men slink off into their separate quarters to pursue a fading warrior culture — played out this time on video games”? Will we honor the most noble aspect of human nature — one that doesn’t come “naturally” but requires work and rules to make us flourish?  
In short, will we insist on the ideal of a girl for every boy, a boy for every girl — and a mother and father for every child?  ("The Evolution of Marriage" Ryan T. Anderson, May 17, 2014) 
There are a few norms that marriage has meant in the past but not so much recently.

Permanence. Marriage is intended to be a lifetime commitment.

Monogamy and exclusivity. Marriage means sexual and emotional intimacy commitment to your husband or wife.

Alignment with procreation. Marriage means a public, ceremonial joining of a wife and husband with the idea that they raise the next generation. So that their children will have the best environment to learn compassion and capability in society. Connected with this alignment is the support that comes from grandparents and great grandparents in the raising of children. And the reverse in the care of parents by the children or grandchildren. It is a commitment that spans generations.

If we are to regain the benefits of traditional marriage, we must be willing to marry again to the institution of marriage. That means we uphold the norms that have been so beneficial to so many. We must insist on the ideal of a girl for every boy, a boy for every girl — and a mother and father for every child.

Filled with Life and Energy

“If you go to bed at 10:00 and get up by 6:00 a.m., things will work out for you.”
(Gordon B. Hinckley, in Sheri L. Dew, Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley (1996), 166–67 As quoted in "Filled with Life and Energy" By Randal A. Wright)
I remember a story about John Bytheway. He had decided in high school to write a book for young people on how to survive their early years. After years as an adult he still had not done it.

As I remember there was a cassette tape from I think Spencer W Kimball. He set that as the alarm clock on his tape player. He woke up, rewarded himself with a delicious orange juice and went to work early. In the hours before he was to start work, he wrote his book, after several months he had a manuscript. It is from this decision and his commitment to it, developing discipline, that John created the career and life he now has.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

In the quiet heart is hidden...

In all the expressions about Gay Marriage in the last few days, none has touched me more than a couple of posts that one of my FB friends referred to. Ben Schilaty is Mormon and Gay. He believes in the LDS church and has chosen, so far, to stay single and celibate. He shares about one of his friends who wanted to go to a conference for gay mormons. He was touched that she wanted to walk in his shoes.  He shared about how transformational it was for him to have his two best friends respond with love and compassion when he was honest with them. I love how he concludes,
The hymn "Lord I Would Follow Thee" sums up what I have learned in the second verse: "In the quiet heart is hidden / Sorrow that the eye can't see" (Hymns #220).  We very rarely know of the burdens being carried by those people we interact with every day because our deepest sorrows are often hidden away in our hearts. ("Time to Be Honest about Being Gay", Jan 5, 2015)

I hope that I would be as kind and compassionate as Ben's friends.

Is life meaningless?

"Life is empty and meaningless and it is empty and meaningless that it is empty and meaningless." "Meaning" here refers to invented meaning, this is not an ultimate philosophical or religious declaration but a "distinction," a tool. (Landmark Education/Abd/Glossary)
This is the shortest explanation I have read about the phrase that is a major punch line of the Landmark Forum. I don't think that they are trying to knock organized religion or philosophy. The point is that humans are made to find meaning in everything, sometimes to our detriment.

Here is a pretty good explanation from what seems like a Landmark Forum leader, Jane Wright. What is lacking in her explanation is a concrete example.

I have four brothers, two older and two younger. They all wrestled in high school. The summer after my 7th or 8th grade, I went to a couple of weeks of a wrestling camp. We did exercises in a heated room in the gym. Going for 2-3 minutes wrestling is about the hardest physical thing I have ever done. It is incredibly intense, painful and exhausting. At some point in the camp, I remember deciding that I did not want to wrestle.

Now there are many things I could have made that mean for me. That I was (or am) weak. That I am not a man. To me, the camp reminded me of the many times my older brother practiced wrestling on me. I did not enjoy it. He was always bigger than me and would always win. It is fun to win. It makes sense that he would want to practice what he learned. It didn't make sense to practice on our oldest brother, since he would always win. So, I became his guinea pig. Often I became a possum so he would stop. Later I learned to be a wolverine and cause pain or threaten pain by any means available to me.

There are two parts of my story, what happened and what I took from what happened. I could have created many other variations of meaning for me, both healthy and unhealthy. This is what I think Landmark is trying to help its participants to get. Now, the irony of me trying to assign meaning to this distinction blares in my face.

It was a hard discovery for me. Rationally, I could see this pattern in my own history and of others. On the other hand, I have dear spiritual beliefs that are very satisfying to me. They have helped me create meaning in my life. I believe them to be independent of my experience. That they exists whether or not I believe them.

Again, the irony that I believe that my meanings are the true ones is not lost on me. I have learned some humility in my beliefs. There are fewer things that I know for sure. And, to be honest, even the things I hold onto dearly I am not as sure of as I used to be. That is OK with me, because I believe that I will eventually know all that actually is.

I believe that life is supposed to be uncertain. That it allows us the chance to live according to the morals (or ethics) we have learned to be good and true. That we are able to choose our own set of values to live by. And that this choice is part of what we create for ourselves not only in this life but later and forever. Again the irony of the meaning I have created for myself is not lost on me.

What was taught to me after the "life is meaningless and empty" was soothing to me. It is how I can create anything I want in that emptiness. I choose to believe because I choose to believe. I see good from my beliefs. I choose to believe them because I see positive results from having them in my life and my family and friends.

So you can assign whatever meaning you want to from the Landmark assertion, "Life is empty and meaningless and it is empty and meaningless that it is empty and meaningless." Humans cannot help giving meaning. This is what it means for me, today.