Personal Online Journal

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why Would a God Need to Suffer for Us?

I like this idea,
This comprehensiveness means that no one is beyond redemption, but also that no one can insist on their own version of justice outside of Christ’s. Christ says to one and all, “I will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” He says, “If ye will forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Christ is the only member of the human family who is in a position to make this demand of any and every person and enforce it.  (The Merits of Divine Responsibility - Morgan Davis)
Thanks Ray,

Thursday, December 26, 2013


“It’s important that we understand that questioning the things we do, believe, or accept is normal and part of the process that leads from youth to maturity, as well as from maturity to wisdom.” —(Michael R. Ash, "Questioning Is Part of Gaining Maturity and Wisdom", Church News, By R. Scott Lloyd, 14 Aug 2013)

I also like this quote from the article
“Critics may unconsciously or consciously take advantage of the natural inclination that most people, most of the time, will rely on the quick and easy answers,” he said. “The problem is that, more often than not, the issues are not simple. They are frequently complex, especially when we have to compare or understand the issues in context of time, circumstance, or culture. A lot more ink is required to respond to an accusation than to make an accusation.”

Questions make life meaningful. I heard someone say that to make scripture study meaningful. Come to it with a question or two. Questions are what started the LDS church.

It will be important to my growth to have some questions in mind as I continue my growth.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

We Are Nothing Without Love

This quote from Elder Osguthorpe has brought a lot to my mind.
The adversary’s goal was to take away our agency and thereby make it impossible for us to love, because it is impossible to love unless we choose to love. Love must come from within. It cannot be forced upon us. So for purposes of his own selfish aims, the adversary would have made it impossible for us to keep the first two commandments. He would have made us into nothing. ("What if Love Were Our Only Motive?", Russell T. Osguthorpe, BYU Devotional, Mar 8, 2011)
Why would we be nothing if not for the ability to love? Love is so valuable because it cannot be forced. It is the only thing that we can give that truly comes from ourselves. Everything else comes from the earth, our ancestors, in short, from God. Our ability to choose good from evil is a gift from God. Love is how we reward God for his trust in us.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

What if Love Were Our Only Motive?

This is a great talk that my bishop has referred to a few times. He tells several stories of pure love.
- A home teacher that sent a card every month for over 20 years. The receiver knew who to go to when his wife of 30 years passed away.
- A student that took an assignment that would receive no credit. He told them that as missionaries, they would challenged to meet many new people every day. They were assigned to meet as many new people they could, not just say hello but have a conversation. One student talked to 72 new people in a week. When asked how he did it, he said that he had to wait in several lines that week. He asked the one next to him in line if they would hold his spot. He then would go down the line and talk to as many people as were willing. He said that he met some people he thought would become life-long friends.

As he was finishing, he described the difference between the two plans before the earth was created.  I had not thought of them in these terms before.
Every act of the Savior on earth was done out of love. Even in the great premortal council His offer to the Father was motivated by love for others, while the adversary’s was motivated by selfishness. The Savior’s mission was to give us life by allowing us to choose to love the Lord and follow Him. (See Moses 4:1–3.) The adversary’s goal was to take away our agency and thereby make it impossible for us to love, because it is impossible to love unless we choose to love. Love must come from within. It cannot be forced upon us. So for purposes of his own selfish aims, the adversary would have made it impossible for us to keep the first two commandments. He would have made us into nothing. ("What if Love Were Our Only Motive?", Russell T. Osguthorpe, BYU Devotional, Mar 8, 2011)
My life has been changed by love. It has been the only meaningful positive influence in my life. Perhaps because it is one thing that cannot be forced. Only given. My wife and many others have influenced me for good. I hope to do so for many others. I hope to retain the gifts given to me by God through the loving children I have had the privilege to have in my life.


Here is a link to the part of the talks that goes with this quote.
What if all the words we spoke were motivated by love?
Every act of the Savior on earth was done out of love. Even in the great premortal council His offer to the Father was motivated by love for others, while the adversary’s was motivated by selfishness. The Savior’s mission was to give us life by allowing us to choose to love the Lord and follow Him. (See Moses 4:1–3.) The adversary’s goal was to take away our agency and thereby make it impossible for us to love, because it is impossible to love unless we choose to love. Love must come from within. It cannot be forced upon us. So for purposes of his own selfish aims, the adversary would have made it impossible for us to keep the first two commandments. He would have made us into nothing

Friday, December 13, 2013

Empathy vs Sympathy

The power of empathy is great. The voice is Brené Brown. She is the speaker from Ted that spoke about the connection between shame and vulnerability.

Four qualities of empathy from Theresa Wiseman (Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, Kings College London, London, UK) 
- Perspective taking - the ability to take the perspective of another person.  Or to recognize their perspective as their truth
- Staying out of judgement
- Recognizing and understanding emotion in other people
- Communicating your understanding of that persons feelings  
Empathy is feeling with people.
Empathy is a sacred space.
Empathy is a vulnerable choice. In order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling.
Rarely if ever does an empathic response begin with "At least"
"I had a miscarriage" - "At least you know you can get pregnant"
To silver line an expression of difficulty or pain.
Rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.

“Lord, I Believe”

"Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe"

Elder Holland gave a great talk in Apr 2013 called “Lord, I Believe”
In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. In the growth we all have to experience in mortality, the spiritual equivalent of this boy’s affliction or this parent’s desperation is going to come to all of us. When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. It was of this very incident, this specific miracle, that Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know. (emphasis in original)
It will be good for me to remember his counsel.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

If physical diseases were treated like mental illness

(click to enlarge)

This cartoon reminded me of a recent talk from Elder Holland
The Apostle Peter wrote that disciples of Jesus Christ are to have “compassion one of another.”1 In that spirit I wish to speak to those who suffer from some form of mental illness or emotional disorder, whether those afflictions be slight or severe, of brief duration or persistent over a lifetime. We sense the complexity of such matters when we hear professionals speak of neuroses and psychoses, of genetic predispositions and chromosome defects, of bipolarity, paranoia, and schizophrenia. However bewildering this all may be, these afflictions are some of the realities of mortal life, and there should be no more shame in acknowledging them than in acknowledging a battle with high blood pressure or the sudden appearance of a malignant tumor.
Another useful story about handling depression

The message to me seems to be we must be willing to face the shame, real and perceived of depression and its relations. Be courageous. Be gentle. Be persistent.

Race and the Priesthood

"There are relatively few things that 'the servants' collectively have said with one united voice over time – and I accept those things as God’s will."
I thought of this quote as I considered the recent posting on about "Race and the Priesthood".

I see in the centuries that the church has been here, a clearing away of the branches which bring forth bitter fruit (Jacob 5:64-65).  I see the Restoration continuing until the church and its people are wholly acceptable to the Lord.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

What is Real?

Alma 32 tells us that we can experiment on the words that have a claim to be from God.  Elder Bednar tells us that the Spirit can bring the truth unto but not into our hearts. Science can be real. But it certainly is not the only method to discovering what was, is and what will be.

Friday, November 22, 2013

First Vision Accounts

The LDS church has posted an explanation of the different accounts of the First Vision of Joseph Smith.

On fall break my two older sons and I read Joseph The Seer by Steven C. Harper.  It is a great, short read about the different accounts of the first vision and many other insight into the early history of the LDS church. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more the early beginnings of this church.

Listening to Shame

"Being vulnerable is essential to wholehearted living."

"You're like the worst vulnerability role model ever"

"Vulnerability is not weakness and that myth is profoundly dangerous"
Let me ask you honestly (and I'll give you this warning, I'm trained as a therapist so I can outwait you uncomfortably. So it you can just raise your hand, that would be awesome)  How many of you, honestly, when you're thinking about doing something vulnerable or saying something vulnerable, think "Vulnerability is weakness". How many of you think of vulnerability and weakness synonymously?  [short pause for hands to raise]  The majority of people. Now let me ask you this question; this past week at Ted, how many of you when you saw vulnerability up here, thought is was pure courage? [another pause for hands]  
Vulnerability is not weakness. I define vulnerability as "emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty" It fuels our daily lives.  

Shame drive two big tapes [scripts or sayings], "never good enough" and if you can talk it out of that one, "who do you think you are?"

Confronting shame brings vulnerability. Vulnerability brings power

A great Ted Talk by Brené Brown, "Listening to shame" (youtube)

"Shame is not guilt. Shame is a focus on self. Guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is 'I am bad'. Guilt is 'I did something bad' "

"Here's what you need to know. Shame is highly, highly correlated with addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide, eating disorders. And here's what you even need to know more, guilt is inversely correlated with those things."

Shame is organized by gender...
For women the best example I can give you is Aun-geli, the commercial. "I can put the wash on the line. Pack the lunches, hand out the kisses, and be at work five to 9. I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan and never let you forget you're a man."
For women, shame is "Do it all. Do it perfectly and never let them see you sweat."
For men shame is not a bunch of competing, conflicting expectations. Shame is one. Do not be perceived as weak. 
Here is where it starts making the connection from shame to vulnerability.
Empathy is the antidote to shame. If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgement. If you put the same amount of shame in a petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can't survive. The two most powerful words when we're in struggle: "me too"
Update 2017-06-05
"Shame verses Guilt - Brene' Brown"

Update 2018-09-18
Here is a nice summary from a FB Post

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The True Church

Scott Stover wrote an article on his personal resolution to some difficult history of the church.  This was part of his conclusion,
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and its leaders are not perfect.  They never were and they never will be.  To expect them to be so sets a thoughtless and dangerous precedent.  The church shines nevertheless
At the beginning, he told a story of him playing guitar at a festival. And how the results might have been different if the expectations of those there were different. He then said,
I think it is important to remember the concept behind this story when we consider the church itself.  Sometime in the last 20-30 years, the testimony “I know the church is true” became a common declaration among Mormons.  What does this mean?  I frankly think we do the church, its leaders, and ourselves a disservice with this particular declaration.  I think it is demeaning and reduces the church to a cliché – a caricature of itself.  I think in doing so we are setting the church up as a standard that it cannot meet.
I tend to agree with him. I do like the phrase, "the church is true". There is a comfort to it. It is the white to other blacks. But it may be setting us up to the wrong expectations.

Stover talks about the things the church does well and I agree with him. We sometimes forget the responsibilities we have as members of the church and as part of the human race in general. We have a duty to search out and live by good and true principles. The church have pointed out many of these. It have outlined a path to discover and master more and more good. It is up to us to learn about and put into practice the good and truth we find.

In the Joseph Smith Papers BYU TV series they talk about the difference between Joseph Smith's sermons and his revelations.
Narrator: The saints of the day considered [Joseph's] spoken word not as important as the written word of revelation.
Historian: A classic example is John Whitmer. Joseph uses his words to tell him that he wants him to be the historian of the church. John Whitmer doesn't want to do it. He says, "I'd rather not unless I get a revelation". Joseph then obtains a revelation which is section 47 of the Doctrine and Covenants and John Whitmer accepts it.
("Joseph Smith's Sermons", The Joseph Smith Papers. Starting about 3:34)
I think we all want to know what the Lord wants us to do. It makes it easier to follow if you know that. I remember a time when I was searching for what I wanted to do as a career. After several months, I came to the conclusion that the Lord would be please with many, many options. And that the Lord would not choose for me.

This applies to many other aspects of our lives. The doctrine of Christ is true. There are many other true principles taught by the church. It is more important that we live the truths we are sure of than to pick apart the stuff we are not sure of.

The scriptures give us a guide to go by,
And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. (D&C 68:4)

So what do you do when one of your church leaders asks you to do something? Do we follow them? If it is a good thing, then we should. Which it is nearly all the time. That does not mean we should not give constructive feedback at appropriate times and appropriate ways. We should not require that our leaders "get a revelation" for every request they ask of us. We are regularly instructed to get a confirmation from the Spirit that the Lord has called our bishop, stake president and the prophets. Once we get such a confirmation we should follow them.

Yes it is possible for them to lose their callings, but nearly all of them are doing good and we should follow them as the Spirit has confirmed to us.

It also means that each of us should seek the Spirit in all we do so as to lead as the Lord would have us lead.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Like a Broken Vessel

In October, Jeffrey R Holland gave good counsel about mental health.
In preventing illness whenever possible, watch for the stress indicators in yourself and in others you may be able to help. As with your automobile, be alert to rising temperatures, excessive speed, or a tank low on fuel. When you face “depletion depression,” make the requisite adjustments. Fatigue is the common enemy of us all—so slow down, rest up, replenish, and refill. Physicians promise us that if we do not take time to be well, we most assuredly will take time later on to be ill.
I love the promise he gives here.
Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says,10 we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

A Spirit-derived Assurance

"With a Spirit-derived assurance in place, you can go forward in the Lord’s work and continue deepening your relationship with your Heavenly Father while pursuing or awaiting answers. If you determine to sit still, paralyzed until every question is answered and every whisper of doubt resolved, you will never move because in this life there will always be some issue pending or something yet unexplained."
("The Prophet Joseph Smith", Elder D. Todd Christofferson, BYU-I Devotional, Sep 24, 2013)

He also quoted this from Alexander Pope
A little learning is a dangerous thing;
drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.
It will do anyone well to not stop with shallow learning.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Challenge to Become

In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something. (Dallin H. Oaks, "The Challenge to Become" Oct 2000)

I have a good friend that has become agnostic. One of the teachings of my church that keeps me here is the teaching of becoming. Becoming more like my Father in Heaven. I believe that I can overcome the mortal in me through Jesus Christ, his son. I can repent of my sins and be forgiven. I can be more. Evolve, if you will. To be like God. To obtain and retain the attributes of Jesus.

I have to say that my conversations with my agnostic friend are engaging. There is nothing that is off the table. Whether God exists. The unseen parts of the world.

I choose to believe because of the good I have seen in the scriptures and those who have become more like God by following them and the living prophets.

Are there mistakes in organized religion? Yes. More than mistakes. War and other disaster. I see these results as the twisting of pure religion, undefiled.

I have seen evidence of twisting in my own religion. There remains in it the authority of God. This authority allows us to covenant with God. A promise from those authorized to act in the name of God. These covenants help us to work towards sanctification.

This life is as a dark glass. We are not meant to know all things with surety. But we know enough. To recognize and follow the truth as we are presented with it. As we do, the light will grow brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Balanced Life

This passage keeps coming back to me from King Benjamin's final sermon.
And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order. (Mosiah 4:27)
And this quote from "Have No Regrets" Richard G. Scott. CES Fireside, September 1999.
Have you noticed that when you have determined to accomplish a very important task, many other good ideas for other things to do seem to come to your mind? If they are allowed to interfere, they will distract you from the more important objective. I have found help by writing down those thoughts as they come, promising myself that as soon as I finish the important task, I will attend to them in priority. That practice helps me stay focused on those matters which are essential. 
I believe there are times in your life when, because of your righteousness and your determination to do what is right, Satan will not be able to deflect you into serious transgression. He will switch then to the strategy of placing before you a banquet of good and worthwhile things to do, meant to distract you from those that are the most important and essential to accomplish in your life. 
Fortunately, as you pray for guidance, the Holy Ghost will help you identify those matters that are vital and necessary to accomplish above others. That means that at times you may have to set aside things that would be worthwhile and enjoyable to pursue--for those that are most vitally important for that period of your life.
A balanced life is where I am in between doing too little good and trying to do more than I have strength. Diligence is the key and not being distracted by lesser goods.

Friday, October 11, 2013

All My Strength

His father watched for a while, then came to his son and said, “You need to use all your strength to move a rock this large.”
The boy responded, “I have used all my strength!”
His father corrected him: “No you haven’t. You haven’t had my help yet!”
They then bent down together and moved the rock easily. 
("Drawing Closer to God" Elder Terence M. Vinson, Oct 2013)
This quote from Conference reminds me that all my strength includes those around me that willingly offer their strength to me in doing good. I can call on them and they will happily give their effort and heart and soul to my cause. And me to them.

Maybe this is what the Savior was referring to when he said, "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." (Matt 17:21) We must draw our will to His through prayer and fasting. Tap into power beyond our our own. Then we can cast out the demons in our lives.

It also means that we take the following kind of oath.
Art thou a brother or brethren? I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant, in which covenant I receive you to fellowship, in a determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your friend and brother through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in thanksgiving, forever and ever. Amen. (D&C 88:133)

The Law of Chastity Is Not Changing

The Law of Chastity Is Not Changing. Jeffrey Thayne. Oct 2013

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Responding to Heresy and Apostasy

A great post on Responding to Heresy and Apostasy.  I think it perfectly captures what I think the spirit of President Uchtdorf's Saturday address.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

I am a Mormon and I have questions

I am a Mormon and I have questions

I posted this article on Facebook and it generated a dynamic of comments among some of my friends that caused me to write this.

The fact that there will always be people that are willing to share their doubts publicly is a genie that is out of his box and cannot be put back in. We are responsible as parents and stewards of others to arm them with the ability to navigate the Internet age where the imagination of nearly every heart is public.

I have questions but that does not mean I share them with anyone. Why pull up the vegetable plants just to see if the roots are growing well? Some investigations can be destructive. We live in this life looking through a glass darkly 1. We do not know things with complete certainty.

Except there are whisperings of the Spirit of God that reaches beyond reason and facts. We must use all tools available to us including facts and reason. There is the ineffable though that whispers to my soul of the Good I see and have experienced. I hope to teach that to my children.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Steady Trouble?

"But if we have to be in trouble to want the Holy Ghost as a constant companion, then to have that steady desire we will have to be in steady trouble. There has to be a better way."
(“Raise the Bar” Brigham Young University–Idaho Devotional, January 25, 2005 Elder Henry B. Eyring)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Nephi's Keys to Understanding the Isaiah Chapters

1. Learn the manner of prophesying among the Jews
2. Have the spirit of prophecy
3. Know the regions round about (or the geography)
4. Live in the last days (2 Nephi 25:1-8)

(Nephi's Keys to Understanding the Isaiah Chapters by John Bytheway)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Calculus I Want

Calculus has been a theme of my writing here. Not the kind we normally think of. The awesome math one. This is another awesome concept that has just as much power. This kind means the character we build for ourselves from the live we choose to live.

I attended a Boy Scout training, Little Philmont today. For a lot of it, negative self talk ruled my mind.  You see, I did not have the best Scouting experience growing up.  I have long attributed it to myself.  And that is an accurate assessment.  I wonder if my negative self assessment of my scouting diligence is serving me today?  I am sure it does not.

If I believe that Jesus can do what He says he can do, then I know that he can heal me of the deficiencies I have in being a scout leader. That I can incrementally and sometimes, perhaps miraculously fast, I can serve the young men that I have been called of God to serve.

That is my duty to God. To learn what to do and how to do it. Act on my learning.  Day by day, week by week, year by year. Until I have become the man of God that includes the Scouter our prophets, seers and revelators have asked me to be.

Am I to be patient with myself? Yes. Am I to be diligent? Yes. Only time will tell what I have chosen for the next several years. And that result begins with a decision to move in that direction in the next days and weeks.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Buy Her Chairs

I great lesson to learn.
He "buys my chairs." It's one of my favorite scenes in the movie Phenomenon. Robert Duvall's character, Doc, is talking to Banes, a man who's having trouble with his woman: 
Doc:'s your lady love?
Banes: We... um... we broke up.
Doc: Really? That's too bad, yeah. Now George has a love at his side and she is sticking with him. You know why? Because he bought her chairs. That's pretty smart to me. You ever buy Lisa's chairs?
Banes: Doc's real drunk tonight.
Doc: Every woman has her chair, something she needs to put herself into, Banes. You ever figure out what Lisa's chairs were and buy 'em? 
"Every Woman Has Her Chair". I love this quote because I truly believe that every woman has that "something" that she needs to put herself into. And blessed be the man that buys her chair. (Phenomenon (1996), IMDB)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Edifying Communication

A great article about the dangers of using sarcasm. "No Corrupt Communication" Aug 2013 Ensign. Some quotes from it:

"Not all sarcasm is intentionally sinister, but it has a hypocritical edge because it requires us to say the opposite of what we mean."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

To be Willing...

In the sacrament each week, we witness to our Father in Heaven that we are "willing to take upon [us] the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given [us]" (D&C 20:77). Why does it say willing? Elder Oaks said the following:
It is significant that when we partake of the sacrament we do not witness that we take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. We witness that we are willing to do so. The fact that we only witness to our willingness suggests that something else must happen before we actually take that sacred name upon us in the most important sense. 
What future event or events could this covenant contemplate? The scriptures suggest two sacred possibilities, one concerning the authority of God, especially as exercised in the temples, and the other—closely related—concerning exaltation in the celestial kingdom. (Emphasis in original, "Taking upon Us the Name of Jesus Christ" Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Apr 1985)
Later on, he says,
Willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ can therefore be understood as willingness to take upon us the authority of Jesus Christ. According to this meaning, by partaking of the sacrament we witness our willingness to participate in the sacred ordinances of the temple and to receive the highest blessings available through the name and by the authority of the Savior when he chooses to confer them upon us.
And again,
when we witness our willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, we are signifying our commitment to do all that we can to achieve eternal life in the kingdom of our Father. We are expressing our candidacy—our determination to strive for—exaltation in the celestial kingdom.
what we witness is not that we take upon us his name but that we are willing to do so. In this sense, our witness relates to some future event or status whose attainment is not self-assumed, but depends on the authority or initiative of the Savior himself. 
Scriptural references to the name of Jesus Christ often signify the authority of Jesus Christ. In that sense, our willingness to take upon us his name signifies our willingness to take upon us the authority of Jesus Christ in the sacred ordinances of the temple, and to receive the highest blessings available through his authority when he chooses to confer them upon us.

There is power in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The power is to the sanctifying of our heart, mind and body. That we become holy, without spot. That we become his hands and feet to the serving of those around us. That we do what He would do if He were here. That we have the ability to preach by the power of the Holy Ghost that it might be delivered unto the hearts of the children of men. That those who will take in that teaching might benefit of the same eternal gift of life. And that we all are brought into his presence.

There are so many promises here. And it begins with the smallest of steps. Only to be willing to take upon us the name of the Son of God. Only to turn my heart and say, yes, I will do what is takes to receive the name of thy Son. To be His representative. To deliver the saving message and ordinances of the doctrine of Christ.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Which Part is Mine?

She was only a dairy man's daughter,
she was only a child of thirteen;
but the stars on the radio brightened her nights with a dream.
So she called up her best girlfriend Jenny
'cause she thought they would make quite a pair,
She said, "Let's you and me, try to sing harmony
at the amateur night at the fair."

But she only had the range of an alto,
so the part she knew best went to her friend.
And when Jenny's soprano drowned out the piano
they'd have to start over again.
And the dairyman's daughter would then say,

"Which part is mine?
and Jen, which part is yours?
Could you tell me one more time;
I'm never quite sure.

And I won't cross the line
like I have before.
So please help me learn which part is mine,
and which part is yours."

She grew up and got married to Bobby
kept him working on his MBA
they had two little redheaded children,
and one on the way.

Everybody said she could work wonders,
and she wondered what everyone meant.
She played so many roles, it was taking its toll
and she feared that her time was misspent.

So she opened her heart to her husband.
They discussed everything on her list.
from the kids, to the job,
to her feelings for her Bob.
But what it really boiled down to was this: She said:

"Which part is mine?
and Bob, which part is yours?
Let's review it one more time;
I guess I"m not sure.

And I won't cross the line
like I have before
if we just define which part is mine,
and which part is yours."

Every sleepless night knows many mothers
who are wond'ring if they've done alright.
And the dairyman's daughter knew
more than a few of those nights.

Had she given her son too much freedom?
Had she smothered her two teenage girls?
Did she spoil them too much or not trust them enough
to prepare them for life in this world?

So she opened her heart to the heavens
and she spoke of her children by name.
And the prayer that she prayed
that her kids would be saved had a very familiar refrain.

Which part is mine?
And God, which part is yours?
Could you tell me one more time,
I'm never quite sure.

And I won't cross the line
like I have before.
But it gets so confusing some times.
Should I do more, or trust the divine?
Please, just help me define which part's mine,
and which part is yours.

Did you hear me?
I can feel you near me.
It is the answer
that I've been longing for;

just to know you hear me,
and to feel you near me.
It's all the answer
that I've been longing for.

Did you hear me?
I can feel you near me.
It is the answer
that I've been longing for;

just to know you hear me,
after I've done my best,
and to feel you near me.
I know you'll do the rest.
It is the answer that I've been longing for!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

Be at the Forefront in terms of Expressing Love

Elder Quentin L. Cook in an emotional interview about a sensitive subject.
Clearly the hardest thing that I had when I was stake president is I was president when AIDS, the medical community first became aware of AIDS. We had a significant number of our men who found that they had AIDS, some of them had not been in the Church, the majority of them, a few had we found that we had seventeen men with AIDS and at that point there was no cure. And all seventeen of them ultimately died of AIDS while I was stake president. I learned some incredible lessons through that process, that as a Mormon community, it’s a loving and compassionate community. I watched Bishops who made incredible sacrifices to take care of some of these young men who were dying. I watched them try very hard to reconnect them with their families and to have their families take care of them, and again at that time there was no cure, and no abeyance of it. I watched them take care of each other. And I watched some of them, one of them comes to mind in particular, a returned missionary, in a single incidence of conduct, took it upon himself to take care of the most difficult situations, those that were the most ill, and he was the last one to die. I think the lesson that I learned from that is that as a Church nobody should be more loving and compassionate. No family who has anybody who has a same-gender issue should exclude them from the family circle. They need to be part of the family circle. Do we teach the Proclamation on the Family, do we teach Heavenly Father’s plan, do we teach the first chapter in the second handbook, yes we do. We have a plan of salvation. And having children come into our lives is part of Heavenly Father’s plan. But let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion, and outreach to those and lets not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender. I’m sorry, I feel very strongly about this as you can tell. I think it’s a very important principle. (Quentin L. Cook, video on

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Learn to be more Wise

"Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been." (Mormon 9:31)

The prophets of God are men. We must reason with our minds and listen to and follow the Holy Influence within us to confirm the truth we hear from them and the scriptures.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Why Do We Argue?

Good arguers are good at losing.

What do good arguers win when they win an argument?

Three models for arguing:
1. Argument as War
  - dominant model of all three, "arguments that have a lot of punch", "killer arguments"
  - has deforming effects
      - war elevates tactics over substance
      - magnifies differences making it US vs. THEM
      - The only foreseeable outcomes are: Glorious Victory and Ignominious Defeat
      - discourages deliberation, negotiation, compromise and collaboration
      - Learning = Losing

2. Argument as Proof

3. Arguments as Performances
  - with juries

Existing roles in arguments
- proponent: makes an argument
- opponent : opposes to the argument
- audience

Become a new kind of arguer
Be both the arguer and the audience.  Where at the end you look at the experience like an audience member might and say, "yeah that was a good argument.  We have gained because of this interchange"

It takes practice to become a good kind of arguer. One that can benefit from losing.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Reservoirs of Faith, Prayer and Scripture Study

Jeffrey Holland about his wife
About Pat, if I had a symbol for her, I'd be torn on these two symbols. It would either be her kneeling in prayer or her cuddled up, curled up, cozied up in a window chair with her scriptures. Maybe if I'm allowed two symbols,  she can read a while and pray a while. That's her, that's the real Pat Holland. That's the real item. I think that's a legacy. She earned it on her own. I guess we all do. At some point you have to go out there and say, "I can't get this any other way than from heaven". She certainly grew up in an environment where she knew prayer, she knew scripture and she knew faith.  That's a great thing to be able to see in any family and I can only hope that that would be the case for families today.
(Mormon Channel Conversations 22 36:15)
Pat Holland, speaking about a particularly difficult period of their lives
It's during these trials of fire that a true marriage is forged. It's a decision I think that you have to make as a couple. When you get in these moments, you have to decide you are going to both dig down deep and do what it takes to keep your marriage together. It was during those years that we said, "Okay, if we want a happy family, we've got to be a happy couple. And if we are going to be a happy couple, we've got to work on it. We need to do something for each other every week, with each other. If our children are going to be happy children, it's got to start with them seeing happy parenting. And then we put the children second and then whatever energy we had left over we gave to the church. We tried to do it all, but first and foremost it's each other and then the children and then the church.
Elder Holland adds
President Harold B. Lee came back at that time while we were there and gave a fireside on that subject and really affected our lives. He said so often we rush off to either deal with the children or serve the church or get our professions. And all of that needs doing. All of that has to take time. But he said, we are foolish to think that we can do any of that unless we take care of our own physical and spiritual strength. And then the very next step is as a couple. Just not go beyond that circle till you've got enough to give.  You can't expect some sort of reservoir to flow out to bless everybody else if that reservoir is bone dry. We really made a commitment to each other then that we'd make sure we were okay in our marriage and in our own spiritual and physical lives and then maybe we'd have enough strength to give. (41:21)
Sheri Dew quotes Pat, "If I were Satan and wanted to destroy a society, I think I would stage a full blown blitz on its women." A Quiet Heart

Monday, July 29, 2013

Family History - A Protection

Richard G. Scott tells about the protection that comes from Family History

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Find a truth in heaven, earth or hell

I want to say to my friends that we believe in all good. If you can find a truth in heaven, earth or hell, it belongs to our doctrine. We believe it; it is ours; we claim it (DBY, 2).

Sunday, July 21, 2013

In other words, light and truth

The Glory of God is (Not-Too-Much) Intelligence is a great article summing up intelligence as a Mormon.  I particularly like the description of having a high ceiling and low floor.  If you describe it in terms of academic or formal learning.

I love this comment by Ray
Yes, the title is correct – and it should be, if “not too much” means “an intellectualism which brings the person to obsessiveness or extreme pride and inflexibility”. There is a huge difference between “intelligence” (especially as our canon defines it) and “intellectualism”. 
I like the D&C clarification of “or in other words, light and truth”. That gets missed in many conversations about what it means to be intelligent within the framework of the Restoration – and it defines the heart of the tension between being intelligent and being an intellectual, as those terms are used most often by the top-level leaders of the LDS Church. Intelligence becomes about clarity and real understanding, not the accumulation of information alone. Thus, my father who hated formal education and rejoiced when he escaped high school can be more intelligent than many of the students with whom I studied at Harvard who could recite all of the information they had read in classes and debate with anyone but who had no clue what it all meant and had no clarity and real understanding of the subjects they had studied and the people around them. 
I think the Church, as an entity, encourages the type of intelligence described in the D&C – but, since it is comprised of individuals, that ideal gets emphasized, watered down or even rejected at each level moving throughout the organization. Thus, it’s difficult to make a generalized statement about “The Church” as a whole that is intelligent in nature without including a level of ambiguity that recognizes the tension of competing extremes and the widely varying mid-points most of us actually live.
And this comment by SilverRain
You lost me when you jumped from “intelligence” and “knowledge” to intellectualism. I’ve come to know quite a few intellectuals who are dumber than bricks. Intelligence isn’t just being well-read. It’s wisdom, wisdom to recognize a greater power and knowledge than yours, wisdom to apply what you learn to real life. 
“When [men] 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. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.” 2 Nephi 9:28-29 
That pretty much sums it up.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On Teaching Children to Question without Losing Faith

A complete quote from Papa D
For me and my kids, the most important thing isn't the questioning; it's the attitude behind the questioning. I question to learn, and I try to teach my children to question to learn.  
I draw a distinction between "doubt" and "uncertainty" specifically because I want my children to embrace the idea that it's ok to be uncertain - but I don't want them to have a "doubting spirit". In other words, I want them to be open to changes in their understanding - of everything - as they learn more, but I don't want their primary orientation to be one of disbelief. I want them to be willing to explore anything and come to believe whatever makes sense to them - but that is different than not being willing to explore some things because their primary orientation is negative and unbelieving.  
I'm not sure if that makes sense, but I think the biggest dis-service parents do for their kids in this regard (based on my years of observing parents who preach questioning and "debate" to their kids) is that they do so in a way that encourages their kids to disbelieve - rather than encouraging them to believe. 
I try to teach my children to question with the intent of discovering what they can believe (what they can accept as "true" at that time), not with the intent of discovering what they can't believe. It's the focus that matters most - the "direction of the objective", if you will.  
Let me use a specific example:  
I know someone who was raised to question everything - but it was done in a spirit of debate in which arguing and trying to convince others was the focus. This friend became very good at debating things - seeing both sides of something and making a particular argument well enough to win. He became a lawyer and was very successful - but, in the meantime, he lost his ability to really believe anything in particular. Whichever position could be argued most effectively was the position that was "right" or "true" for him. Hence, he ended up with an orientation geared toward justification, which led to all kinds of destructive beahvior, divorce and other complications in his current life. Right now, he can't shut down his "justification orientation" - and he does whatever he wants to do, since, subconsciously at best or automatically at worst, he can justify whatever he chooses to do in some way. He also can argue about it until anyone who questions him gives up and walks away, further re-inforcing in his own mind that he hasn't done anything wrong.  
His problem, as I see it, isn't that he started out with a disbelieving, justifying orientation (although that might be correct); rather, it's that he was tuaght that orientation and it was re-inforced throughout his childhood in the name of objectivity and rationality and open-mindedness. It wasn't a questioning orientation; it was something much more hard to quantify and name - perhaps a "win-at-all-costs" or "pride" or "purely intellectual" orientation. 
It's a fine distinction, I know - but it's a very important distinction to me.

Monday, July 15, 2013

We are the stuff of stars

From The Stuff of Stars
Gravity is needed to pull matter together so intensely that fusion starts and the star comes to life in the first place, yet it’s a remarkably delicate balance between the strength of gravity and the strength of electromagnetic and other forces that are required for a star to exist at all. 
Physicists have marveled at the delicate balance of fundamental properties that is required for stars to operate and make life possible.
We are the stuff of stars, but don’t stop there. Stars are the handiwork of a brilliant and loving God, or the result of unbelievably fortunate accidents. This is where a touch of faith comes in. Knowing through many personal experiences that a loving God exists, I lean toward stars as yet another brilliant product of His work rather than a crazy byproduct of randomness.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Why Hope?

We hear the phrase in the scriptures "faith, hope and charity". Gerald N. Lund had a calling to teach a monthly class on spiritual and temporal preparation. He was trying to figure out what to teach on. Here is an excerpt from his conversation with Heidi Swinton.
I had started to notice that more and more I was hearing people just talk about how tough life is for them right now. This was right when the economic crash came. We got people out of work. You are seeing retirees going back to work because they can't survive because they lost all their retirement.  
It was that and I met a man who'd been active in the church his whole life, had held a lot of positions in the priesthood and his basic response was, "you know what I've tried it all, I've prayed I've been faithful, I've served in the church, God doesn't hear my prayers. That means He doesn't care. I've had it. I'm through with it." and [he] left the church. That was the most dramatic.  
One day in fast meeting a fellow in our ward got up and basically said farewell to the ward. He said that they were going to be moving and he got quite emotional and he said that one of the the hardest thing he ever had to do in his life is try to explain tell his 16 year old son why they were moving in with Grandma.  
I was hearing all this kind of stuff, so I decided this one night I was going to do one of my classes on hope. We talked and asked, why is it faith, hope and charity? Frankly I used to think why isn't it faith, revelation and charity or faith and repentance and charity or faith, obedience and charity? 
Faith, yes I can see that. Charity yes, but why hope? And so as I started studying it, I started to sense that here was the answer to these problems. Why is it that some people...  You know we talked earlier about the strength of the pioneers and their faithfulness and so on but there are some that weren't. You don't have to read too far to find out the stories of drop out pioneers, who are facing no more difficult challenges than some of the faithful ones.  
So what makes the difference, why does one stay faithful maybe even strengthened by adversity where someone else says, "that's it I'm outta here", turns bitter and so on? That has intrigued me for a long time. It doesn't intrigue me any more. I know the answer.  
The difference is hope.  
I remember two or three conferences ago President Uchtdorf talked about hope and he defined it as trust in the promises of the Lord. He said hope is not knowledge, it's trust in the promises of the Lord.  
When you hear as I recently did of a woman who lost a teenage daughter to an automobile accident. She talked about the pain and the loss. Even now two or three years later, even the tiniest thing will set her off and she starts to cry for her loss. But she said, I choose hope. I know where she is and I choose hope.  
And I thought, "that's the difference. That's what brings the strength". And so, I decided to turn it into a book.  Probably the most difficult one I've written for some reason. A really great learning experience for me personally.
(59:33 - 1:04:20)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Marlin K Jensen Conversations

Here are some notes from the Mormon Channel Conversations Episode with Marlin K. Jensen and his wife.

A paraphrase from Conversations with Marlin K. Jensen

In a sense we've become defrocked   It is interesting to reflect on what we've become. With all the external expectations removed as a General Authority, what kind of people are we?

Elder Jensen quotes Henry Eyring to his son "In this Church you don’t have to believe anything that isn’t true"

"We know that Christ is the be all and end all of our existence. Trying to emulate his life and live His teachings and repent and be worthy of His blessings is really at the heart of our existence. It's a lifelong quest to become a Christian.  The church helps in so many ways, but agency is such a tremendous truth. We have to just want these things they have to be the desire of our hearts." (50:55)

He prefaces this statement with the idea of a final testimony. That this interview is probably his last general exposure because he will no longer be an active general authority. And that hearsay is not generally accepted in a court of law but statements at the end of life are accepted. (53:13)
    I didn't know what to expect when I came to Salt Lake as a General Authority 24 years ago.  I would really want the members of the church, the world really to know, how good my experience has been. How faith promoting to watch at close range, the men and women (one of which you [Sheri Dew] were one at one point in this church's history) who are of the highest caliber and charity and integrity who have given their lives to this cause without a lot of earthly remuneration; but are just tremendously devoted. I think it would be very difficult for anyone to understand how devoted, how serious this matter of the church is taken by those who are general leaders. And our experience has been just, overall tremendously positive and pleasing.

    I really know this is the true church. I know this is God's kingdom. I know this is how he wants us to live our lives. And I just hope that we can do a good enough job of that individually and as families that people who aren't yet of our faith will be able to see it and will want to investigate what it is that makes life what it is for us. So to have the chance to say that one more time with all sincerity and in contemplation of death, is a great blessing for me, thank you for it.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Supreme Court Marriage Decisions

Here is an info graphic that quickly summarizes why I support marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Here is a post that shows that any legal issues for same sex couples that be justly handled without changing the definition of marriage.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Man, Truly and Positively Empowered

Here is an article about sex and modesty I found enlightening. In the world we live in, we can choose to be afraid and powerless or we can choose to look past the stories we grew up with that do not serve Faith in our Lord.

There is a story about the author and a missionary companion and how they were differently affected by immodestly dressed women they encountered on their mission. His companion had spent several years living in Hawaii.
his normal sexual desire was disassociated from crippling anxiety and the feeling of losing control, of being everywhere surrounded by harm and threat. He loved girls, he said, and had always wanted to be with them regularly. But he didn't obsess over girls or think of them as sexual objects designed for his own titillation, to constantly flee from until you hopefully found the safe haven of marriage at some point in the future. He didn't think girls could directly and irrevocably cause inappropriate thoughts, but that such thoughts were just part of becoming an adult human being, and needed to be acknowledged and managed accordingly. He said he felt free. And that he was sorry for me that I apparently didn't.
It wasn't fair, I thought, that my companion never appeared to fight any battles, that he didn't even seem to know there was a war going on. He wasn't sexually promiscuous, but neither was he a eunuch. He was a man, it seemed to me, truly and positively empowered.
 I liked the last two paragraphs.
Two things, then, must be acknowledged. First, it is absolutely a reality for men and boys that sexual desire can feel overwhelming, all-consuming, and thus, unsurprisingly, frightening. I think this is at least one of the roots of the constant need to present virtue and modesty as acts of vigilance and courage–because fear lies at the heart of what we are trying to confront but doing a poor job talking about. My anxiety and feelings of powerlessness in the face of perceived temptation from the opposite sex on my mission were real; there was nothing untruthful about them. The same is true for other men (and women) in that boat, and it’s difficult to appreciate that fact if you haven’t set sail onto uncertain stormy seas in it. What was untrue, however (what remains untrue), and this is point number two, were the stories that had produced that anxiety and powerlessness in the first place. Stories about girls and women being centers of uncontrollable desire and lust that must look and act in particular ways in order to tame the beast within me. Stories about learning to be strong and courageous while surrounded by frightening temptation everywhere I turned, thereby transforming women around me into either enemies or potential enemies (should they choose at some point to not dress according to current acceptable standards, on my behalf). Stories that metaphorically and realistically banish or exile women from thought and place so I could feel safe and powerful. Stories that divided not just women against men in significant ways, but also women against women, in which women saw other women as potential insidious bearers of the seeds of destruction sown in husbands, sons, and fathers. 
It’s a daunting thought, to consider telling alternative stories about human sexuality, but because, as I am arguing, the problems are structural, the stories that have built the structure are due for a revision and overhaul. Many will be understandably concerned that a different narrative will simply cause us to devolve into wanton permissiveness and excess on the parts of both women and men. Honestly, I don’t know that that wouldn't be the case for some. The traditional stories are rooted in deep soil and might remain powerful for a long time. But it is an unalloyed good to be able to understand ourselves in ways that allow us as men and women to interact with one another in the bonds of love, confidence, and friendship, not fear, anxiety, lust, and distrust. More than any other thing, it will be a climate of fear, anxiety, and powerlessness that will create dependency in ways that lead to sexual addictions of various kinds, which we know are rampant in our communities. The ways we currently talk about sex an modesty are not accomplishing the healthy and empowering understandings of ourselves and our potential that are necessary for us to truly live together.
There must be a path towards a more healthy set of stories about modesty and the building of healthy relationships between girls and boys, men and women. A path that might minimize permissiveness and excess. I do believe that the companion's view is more healthy. Faith is always better than fear.

A friend of mine shared this article "Doctor Explains Why It’s Not Prudish to Encourage Modesty" This was my response. I was thinking of this post.
'Often what happens is “self-objectification”: the girl, or woman, assesses herself as an object on display for others. And the more public the setting, the more likely self-objectification is to occur.' 
To a certain extent this is cultural. I am reminded of an account of a missionary (Jared) serving in Guatemala. He had a companion who had spent several years in Hawaii. After a while being together, the Jared asked his companion how he did not seem phased by the immodesty of the Guatemalans.  
He chalked it up to spending a lot of time at the beach. He no longer saw exposed flesh as an indicator that the woman was trying to be sexy. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

A wonderfully intimate audio interview of Dallin H. Oaks and Kristen Oaks by Sheri Dew

Some great quotes from The Mormon Channel, Elder And Sister Oaks - Episode 9 

About His Mother 

Elder Oaks: I was truly blessed with an extraordinary mother. I believe she was one of the great, noble women of this dispensation. She had great faith and she was a very skilled parent. She had marvelous judgement in teaching principles but cutting slack for her children (including a difficult oldest son, which I was). So that we could work our own way into our life's values. She also had great, natural executive ability. She was simply a marvelous woman. (4:55)
The one thing that I remember best about my mother was that she did not lay down a lot of rules. She taught principles and then she told me what I wanted to do. Sometimes I went off to do what I'd been told I want to do without having a clear idea of why I wanted to do that. But she taught by incentives. (8:29)
Sheri Dew: I wonder what you learned about womanhood and motherhood from your mother.

Elder Oaks: I think the principal thing I learned is that a woman can do anything that a man can do. Nobody should assume that a woman is less qualified or less able or less intelligent than a man. Women have different things that they do by nature and there are some biological differences. But it was very easy for me in the legal profession, for instance, to take very seriously a woman law professor I had at the University of Chicago and women fellow students. So I grew up with assumptions that women were every bit as capable as men at a time when that assumption was not generally entertained. I owe that to my mother.  (13:27)

Circumstances that can Make You or Break You

Sheri Dew: You remained unmarried much longer than "normal". There are many people who are in circumstances that they wouldn't consider to be ideal. Not even circumstances that you want. And when you wait longer than normal to marry, or when you wait for children longer than you wish to wait. Or when things don't transpire in your marriage as you hope. Whatever the circumstances would be that are not what you would have chosen. Those kinds of circumstances can either make you or break you.

I wonder if you would think about those listening in our audience who are presently in a situation that isn't of their choosing. They they were married or they wish their marriage were stronger.   Or they with they had children and haven't yet been able to have them. Or they wish something were different. And actually, that's usually a lot of people. What would you tell them from what you learned during the longer than normal period of time that you remained unmarried.

Kristen Oaks: You know the waiting is really sanctifying. My friend always laughs. She said, "Before you were married, you wanted a husband. Now you're married, you want a patio. You just keep wanting." That's just part of it. It's a real truth though.

I'd tell anybody that Heavenly Father really handcrafts the situations that we are in. He loved me enough that He gave me opportunities. And any time I connected myself with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was blessed. From going on a mission, I had an education. I had a wonderful job. And I learned to be independent. Heavenly Father has to be your best friend because Sheri, when you're by your self you can't turn to anyone else. And it makes you a very different kind of woman...or a man probably. It was a great blessing to me and I didn't realize it. I didn't appreciate it at the time. (15:33)

On Avoiding Divorce

"The best way to avoid divorce from an unfaithful, abusive, or unsupportive spouse is to avoid marriage to such a person. If you wish to marry well, inquire well. Associations through “hanging out” or exchanging information on the Internet are not a sufficient basis for marriage. There should be dating, followed by careful and thoughtful and thorough courtship. There should be ample opportunities to experience the prospective spouse’s behavior in a variety of circumstances." (Divorce, Dallin H. Oaks, Apr 2007) (Conversation 20:27)

On Dating and Courtship

Elder Oaks: Men, if you have returned from your mission and you are still following the boy-girl patterns you were counseled to follow when you were 15, it is time for you to grow up. Gather your courage and look for someone to pair off with. Start with a variety of dates with a variety of young women, and when that phase yields a good prospect, proceed to courtship. It’s marriage time. That is what the Lord intends for His young adult sons and daughters. Men have the initiative, and you men should get on with it. If you don’t know what a date is, perhaps this definition will help. I heard it from my 18-year-old granddaughter. A “date” must pass the test of three p’s: (1) planned ahead, (2) paid for, and (3) paired off. 

Young women, resist too much hanging out, and encourage dates that are simple, inexpensive, and frequent. Don’t make it easy for young men to hang out in a setting where you women provide the food. Don’t subsidize freeloaders. An occasional group activity is OK, but when you see men who make hanging out their primary interaction with the opposite sex, I think you should lock the pantry and bolt the front door. 
If you do this, you should also hang up a sign, “Will open for individual dates,” or something like that. And, young women, please make it easier for these shy males to ask for a simple, inexpensive date. Part of making it easier is to avoid implying that a date is something very serious. If we are to persuade young men to ask for dates more frequently, we must establish a mutual expectation that to go on a date is not to imply a continuing commitment. (Dating versus Hanging Out, Ensign Jun 2006) (Conversation 24:04)

On Religious Freedom 

Sister Dew asked Elder Oaks if he thinks we can turn the tide. He said that he is not sure if we can turn the tide. But that we can place a stone in the stream that will crate enough calm for us to do our work. (About 45:00)

On Pornography 

Pornography also inflicts mortal wounds on our most precious personal relationships. In his talk to men of the priesthood last October, President Hinckley quoted the letter of a woman who asked him to warn Church members that pornography “has the effect of damaging hearts and souls to their very depths, strangling the life out of relationships” (Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2004, 60).
At a recent stake conference a woman handed me a similar letter. Her husband had also served in important Church callings for many years while addicted to pornography. She told of great difficulty in getting priesthood leaders to take this problem of pornography seriously: “I got all kinds of responses—like I was overreacting or it was my fault. The bishop we have now has been great. And now after 15 years my husband is trying to deal with his addiction, but now it is 15 years harder to quit for him and the loss has been incalculable.” 
Pornography impairs one’s ability to enjoy a normal emotional, romantic, and spiritual relationship with a person of the opposite sex. It erodes the moral barriers that stand against inappropriate, abnormal, or illegal behavior. As conscience is desensitized, patrons of pornography are led to act out what they have witnessed, regardless of its effects on their life and the lives of others. (Pornography, Dallin H. Oaks, Apr 2005) (Conversation 49:22)

Elder Oaks: I believe we need to be quite explicit in teaching young people (older people too for that matter) the effect of pornography, which is to drive away the Spirit of the Lord. In this mortal journey, viewing pornography is just equivalent to smashing your compass when you're trying to find your way through the dense woods or across the uncharted sea. The Holy Ghost withdraws; we are without its companionship; and that's a very serious matter; and a matter not understood by those who don't have the Holy Ghost or understand its influence. So Latter-day saint parents must teach clearly the effect of pornography and then love your children and talk to them.

There is too little parent-child talking in today's world. Too much texting by the young people.  And too much busyness by the parents.  That one on one time is precious and that's the time when you can sense that everything is not right. And that is the time when you can informally teach. And those informal teachings are a lot more powerful than pulpit or classroom teachings. (53:19)


Monday, May 13, 2013


"the most significant talks changed the listeners' way of thinking about an important subject."

Dallin H. Oaks, "Timing", Jan 29, 2002, BYU Devotional

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Truth, Responsibility and Love

Commencement address by Ryan T. Anderson 

"You will hear some claim a right to do whatever they want, provided it doesn’t harm others, by which they mean others who can complain about it. (Notice where this leaves the vulnerable, the marginalized, and the unborn.) You will hear others claim a right to fulfill their desires without consequence, without judgment, but with subsidies. (Just think of the Life of Julia.)"

"Children, too, bear responsibility, especially as parents grow old. Too many of us think it’s the government’s job to care for our aging parents and grandparents. But when scripture speaks of honoring your mother and your father, it doesn’t only mean behaving yourself when you’re a kid. It also means caring for your parents as they age: whenever possible, inviting them into your homes, rather than sending them to a nursing home. Viewing them as your responsibility, not just Social Security’s. The Psalmist implores, “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength fails.” Regent graduates: care for your parents." 

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Notes from "5 Scriptures that Will Motivate You to Action" By John Bytheway

Here are some notes from "5 Scriptures that Will Motivate You to Action" By John Bytheway

Awake and Arise

“And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled.” Moroni 10:31

Ponder the path of your feet

“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established” Proverbs 4:26

Improve my time while in this life

“And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.” Alma 34:33

This is My Work

“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Moses 1:39

God does not spend his time in idleness. 

"You were not created for a life of idleness. You cannot eat from sunrise to sunset or drink or play or make love. Work is not your enemy but your friend. If all manners of labor were forbidden to thee you would fall to your knees and beg an early death." (Og Mandino, ("The Greatest Success in the World", page 11)

Go and Do

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” 1 Nephi 3:7

Saturday, May 04, 2013

So when the Bible tells you to marry...

Mitt Romney: "Launch Out Into The Deep" - Southern Virginia University

At 5:44 "So when [the bible] tells you to marry, listen"

You can live an abundant life.

At 10:43 "children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward...Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them [Psalm 127:3-5]"

"Serving God takes us into the deepest waters of life"

"Hard work, ennobling work.  ...

On this topic of your career, I have some news that you may find disappointing: I don't think God cares whether you get rich. I don't think He hopes that your business will make a huge profit. I know a lot of religious people who think God will intervene to make their investments grow, or get them a promotion. Or make their business a success. 
But life on this earth is about learning to live and work in a place where God does not make everything work out for good people. We learn through our study, our effort, our choices and, yes, by our failures as well as by our successes. Your worldly success will partly be a function of your choices and capabilities, but it will also be subject to the vagaries of life and to chance.  
Fortunately, our relationship with God depends on none of that. It's entirely in our control. For He is always at the door and knocks for us. Our worldly success can't be guaranteed. But our ability to achieve spiritual success, is entirely up to us, thanks to the grace of God.  
The best advice I know is to give those worldly things your best but never your all; reserving the ultimate hope to the only one who can grant it. 
Now in addition to your marriage and children and your occupation and serving God and becoming closer to Him, you have some other unique opportunities to jump into the deep waters of life. 
You only live one life, don't spend it in safe, shallow water. Launch out into the deep. If you meet a person you love, get married, have a quiver-full of children if you can. Give more to your occupation than is expected. Serve God by serving his children. Seize any opportunity that might come along that will expand your mind and challenge your abilities.  
Living life to the fullest, venturing into the deep waters of life, promises an abundance of experience and joy. Forty years on, you'll smile with satisfaction, anxious for the next chapter in your life story. God bless each of you, and God bless this country. 

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

I Stand at the Door and Knock

I Stand at the Door and Knock - October 1963 This is Thomas S. Monson's very first talk as an Apostle, on October 10, 1963.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

If thou Art Merry

My sister in law and my wife have sparked a new craze in our house.

"If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving." D&C 136:28

Monday, April 29, 2013

Give it all to Him

“With a smile on my face, and a prayer in my heart with my whole world behind me my life’s about to start. Now I can’t count all the blessings that are waiting in the end,so I forget myself and give it all to Him.”

"It is what God gave you time for"

Having Children Enriches Your Life
"a whole other part of my heart that would open up"

From "Children", Neil L. Andersen, Oct 2011 General Conference
"[Fatherhood] is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for." (Rachel Jankovic, “Motherhood Is a Calling (and Where Your Children Rank),” July 14, 2011,

What is Friendship

A friend of mine on Facebook asked this question.  This is what I thought up as an answer.

A friend will tell you to get up off your butt when you need to hear that.  A friend will be there to tell you of your value when you are in the dredges.

The truest friend sees you as God does. I love how Brad Wilcox put it.  He was talking about an experience he had with a young lady. She was upset because she thought no one asked her on dates because she had her mom's eyebrows etc.  Brad said that 16 year old girls should not base their opinion of themselves on the reactions of 16 year old young men.  Neither should they look to the "say no to drugs" speaker that pumps them up at the student assembly telling the kids that they are so awesome.  Not the English teacher who says they are "challenged"  Not even their mom or dad who say they are so awesome.

We need to see what God sees in us. The Divine and the deep need for change in our lives. When we connect to God, there is no skewed view that you might see in the fun house at the carnival.  Or worse the more slightly skewed views we might get from our friends, enemies and ever one in between.  With God, we see ourselves most clearly.  We see every potential and every obstacle that keeps us from it.

The problem with see ourselves as God does, is that we see through a glass darkly.  We are imperfect and our own experiences and biology and sin cloud our perception.  In order to see more clearly we must repent.  We must rely on the grace of God to overcome damage in our lives that we did not cause. As we do, we see more clearly.

For me it has come in bits and pieces.  Line upon line.  It takes courage and time to see ourselves as God sees us. It is also the most amazing and liberating experience.

So what is a true friend?  One as close to God as you can find.  One who is loyal and friendly, courteous and kind.  And blunt and energizing.

That is why I love the LDS church.  It has a smattering of people in it that are like leaven to a loaf.  People who you love to be around because you hope they rub off on you.  People who really get the vision of Coming unto Christ.  Being perfected in Him.

There was a time that I felt lonely for Jesus.  My mind despaired as I thought of how Jesus could possibly be the friend to every being ever that needs Him. I gained hope as I thought of one way he might be able to accomplish this.  He might give power to those who become his daughters and sons.  Those who learn of him and walk in his ways.  Those who through the grace of God become like Him.

I want a friendship with someone becoming like Jesus.  I know that I am far from it.  I know that much of the time I despair because of my weakness and how far it seems I have to go,  But maybe I am in good company.  Nephi  and Mormon seem to esteem themselves in the same way I do.  Do not be confused.  I do not equate myself with them.  But if they felt such despair and found redemption, I know that I can, If I never give up.  Or if I decide to start again after I have given up.

My wife is one of the salt of the earth, the leaven of the loaf.  I hope to be that for her.  I consider her my best friend.  I hope my Facebook friend will find such a mate someday.