Personal Online Journal

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.