Friday, June 24, 2011

Spiritual Education

We are spiritual, as well as mental and physical; and our education, to be complete, and fully satisfactory, must take into account the demands of the spirital nature of man, and provide for religious instruction. The man whose mind and body alone are trained is not necessarily a safe citizen. . . . Spiritual education is the best known means of causing men to use their powers for human good.
-John A. Widtsoe, "Right Education as a Force in Obedience to Law," Improvement Era, November 1922, 74-75.

The man whose mind only has been trained may be likened to the ship with great engines and a huge propeller ready to drive the ship forward, but without rudder, hart, compass, or definite destination. When we add to the man, so trained, spiritual training, then it is as if we add to the ship, with its wonderful machinery, a compass, a chart, a rudder, and a dependable intelligence which controls the whole machinery, above and below deck, so that the vessel may reach a safe haven, according to a definite purpose.  
-John A. Widtsoe, id., 77.

The love of truth must be fostered if men are to travel the road to happy useful life. Unless you have learned to love truth your colege course has been in vain. Amost the prime purpose of college training is to enable men to distinguish between that which the powers of men have found to be true, and the inferences . . . that are drawn from such facts of observation. . . . Men must cling to truth at whatever cost. That must be the constant, most important teaching of the schools.
-John A. Widtsoe, "Serve you 'Won Generation,'" Improvement Era, July 1938, 393.

Spiritual perfection, under the true laws of God, should be the aim of all men; the trained mind and the vigorous body may be used in winning such perfection. The will for righteousness transcends in importance, any intellectual accomplishments. It is for the development of the greater power that the Church Schools have been established.
-John A. Widtsoe, "The Church School System," Improvement Era, August 1923, 865.

I feel like I've lost a little of the savor of learning new truths and applying them for the benefit of anything but getting babies to sleep or avoiding tantrums. I hope I can revive it as I teach my kiddos so that they can catch it.

This also makes me reflect on my legal education at BYU. In law, it seems so easy to subjectify truth; it makes me want to reexamine the role of truth in law practice. Maybe I'll get really ambitious and write some really profound article and get it published in the Clark Memorandum. Maybe I'll forget about it entirely. And now I'll have this post to remind me later and make me feel guilty if I've done the latter =).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Walk as children of light.

Over the course of my adult life I feel like my threshold for appropriateness has steadily climbed higher while the available entertainment has become increasingly smutty. It makes for a sparse selection. Luckily I'm not too big on TV or movies anyway (I'd rather do something). Anyhow, reading Ephesians 5 reminded me why I really should remain aloof from all of these things. It lists various sins that are unbecoming of saints, exhorting,

Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.   
Ephesians 5:7-12 (emphasis added)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Be ye kind.

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed up unto the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice;
And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:31-32

I really needed to read this the other day. I think I'm going to memorize it so I can recite it to myself. Now, I don't think I would describe myself as malicious, but I also don't think it's a huge secret that I can be pretty moody. I'm sure my mom and siblings could attest to that; looking back I can tell I was that way even when I was little. And the worst part about me during a bad mood is that I'm usually convinced that I'm right about whatever I happen to be dwelling on during said mood.

I was in such a mood when I read this, and it certainly was humbling. More often than not, I just need to forget about whatever it is that I am brooding over and follow the commandment (yes, commandment) to be cheerful and kind and to direct only positive feelings toward others. I remember being a teenager and having an argument with my sister. Because she knew it would get my goat, she threw out, "You're only hurting yourself if you get mad; you can't control what people do, you can only control how you react." This was the worst possible argument because it totally disregarded my legitimate reason for being mad at her, and it was totally true. But really, most things that we get irritated or even angry over don't matter enough for us to dwell on. It doesn't matter who was right or wrong or what should have been done; it matters that we love God and love others and maintain good relationships with them. This is especially true with our families, with whom we spend the most time and therefore have the most run-ins, but who are the very most important to our spiritual welfare and eternal progression.

 I also think this scripture is particularly potent because it reminds us that God forgives us "for Christ's sake" - Christ, who forgot Himself completely, gave His whole life, then suffered and died so that we could be forgiven. It is because of His love for us and for all of the people with whom we associate that we can be forgiven.


Can ye be angry, and not sin? let not the sun go down upon your wrath.  Ephesians 4:26, JST

See that ye love one another; ... learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires... And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.  Doctrine and Covenants 88:123, 125

Perfectness and peace sounds a lot nicer than a bad mood. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011



I'm giving a lesson in MiaMaids on temple marriage in a couple of weeks. The feeling in these videos is so starkly contrasting to me; I hope they feel the same way.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Chosen Generation

As youth in the Church we are told repeatedly that we are a chosen generation, that there are more temptations and more trials than in the past, and that we have to be stronger than generations past. I think that there is truth in that, but I also think youth can sometimes excuse themselves in their behavior because things are "so much harder nowadays." This quote from President Hinckley in his famous "6 Be's" talk is refreshing:

Of course you face challenges. Every generation that has ever walked the earth has faced challenges. We could spend the entire evening talking about them. But of all the challenges that have been faced in the past, the ones we have today, I believe, are most easily handled. I say that because they are manageable. They largely involve individual behavioral decisions, but those decisions can be made and followed. And when that happens, the challenge is behind us.

- Gordon B. Hinckley, "A Prophet's Counsel and Prayer for Youth," 12 Nov 2000.

So true, particularly here in the U.S. There are plenty of people in the world that struggle with basic necessities like food and shelter, but most of us in the U.S. will never, in our poorest conditions, be at that state. Mostly we need to worry about our own choices. When we stay in control of our own behavior, life is generally pretty smooth!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sow, sow, sow.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

-Galatians 6:7-10

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

-Psalms 126:5-6 him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.

-Proverbs 11:18

Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall also ye reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.

-Doctrine & Covenants 6:33

Considering thyself.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

-Galatians 6:1

This takes me back a few (okay, several) years. I have always been blessed with really good friends. My patriarchal blessing counsels me to be selective and associate with people who have my same standards. In high school, about half of the people I spent my time with were LDS, and the other half might as well have been for the good influence they had on me (otherwise, they probably wouldn't have hung out with us). In college, pretty much every free moment was spent in a church-related activity (Institute, IWA, LDSSA, Relief Society, FHE, dances, callings, and other activities - they sure are good at keeping young adults too busy to get in trouble), and all of my friends were the same way. Then came a mission, then BYU Law (where I knew all of about 5 people who weren't members of the Church), then marriage and kids (which means I generally only hang out with moms from my wards).

Often I feel that the real challenge is finding someone who doesn't have my standards with whom I might share, and on occasion I've questioned whether I should try to find new circles of friends. But there is a danger in that, and I've seen it claim people I've known and loved. If you jump into a circle of people who are spiritually malnourished, it can turn into a black hole - sucking the light and life out of you. Thus Paul warns that we can't forget to maintain ourselves as we try to reach out. If, on the other hand, you draw someone with a spiritual hurt into a strong circle of good friends, they are easily uplifted and restored. I saw that multiple times in my group of friends at Long Beach State. They were amazing, and loved and lifted anyone who would come. So I suppose I want to have that again. It will require being in one place long enough to make like-minded friends (when will that happen?!?!), and then to reach out together to some who may need restoring. Kind of like this.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Our Savior was obedient even when it meant great physical and emotional pain, even when it meant being whipped and mocked, even when it meant that his enemies would torture him while his friends abandoned Him.

-Elder Water F. Gonzales, CR April 2011

I too often fail for much less.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Paul on Measures.

For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure... Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly...

2 Corinthians 10:12-15

I need to study this further. It has been too long since I've slept for me to feel like I've captured the message. But I do think I caught the gist; Heavenly Father has set the rule by which we are measured. Measuring ourselves by any other standard--especially by comparing ourselves--is unwise. It creates ill feelings and false pride, and distracts us from becoming in fuller measure what our Father wants us to be.

A Cheerful Giver.

"But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work..."

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Not usually a grudging giver, but often lean toward doing things "of necessity" instead of doing them cheerfully. I'm generally pretty cheerful when I sign up, but then get bogged down in the execution, ignoring that last part about abounding in good works through grace (not through worry!).