Friday, September 30, 2016


I started using the Ponderize App. It is awesome! It even gives you a reminder each week to change your scripture. I am finally doing it consistently.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Rough Thoughts on Freedom

From an old notebook I picked up to use again. Dated May 6, 2013.

Society often rejects whatever is hard or makes people feel bad.


  • Abstinence or Word of Wisdom--"It is pointless to teach because teens will do it anyway, or it is too hard to expect people not to participate."
  • Nuclear Family--"Some people don't have it, and we don't want to make them feel bad, so we shouldn't talk about the idea."
Many also want to exclude any views that include or are founded on religious principles. But why should an opinion of a professor or the producers of Glee be more persuasive than God's commandments? Belief in their philosophy has no more foundation than my belief in a Biblical deity.

People want to be "free" from standards and ideals that decry their behavior and that call for change. But what kind of freedom is that? Freedom from home? From aspiring to greater things?

Paul said: 

For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
What fruit had ye then in those things...?
But now being made free from sin, and become servants unto God, ye have your fruits unto holiness, and the end everlasting life."
         =Romans 6:20-22

President Packer, in April 2012 General Conference, said, "Life was never intended to be easy or fair." We can't water down our message with the idea that somehow we will be violating other's freedom because we teach something that is not immediately attainable for all. But we must consider each one through our individual ministry so that all can receive the portion of the Word that is theirs.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Safeguarded in the Centre

Deeper sense of sin, clearer views of the Gospel, warmer love to Christ,—these are the safeguards against backsliding. Strive and pray for these. Do not keep Christ on the surface; let him possess the centre, and thence direct all the circumference of your life.

-William Arnot, The Parables of Our Lord.

Arnot on the Seed in the Thorny Ground

The earthly affections in the heart which render religion unfruitful in the life are enumerated under two heads,—“The care of this world,” and “the deceitfulness of riches;” the term riches includes also, as we may gather from Luke’s narrative, the pleasures which riches procure. Both from our own experience in the world and the specific terms employed by the Lord in the interpretation of the parable, we learn that all classes and all ranks are on this side exposed to danger. This is not a rich man’s business, or a poor man’s; it is every man’s business. The words point to the two extremes of worldly condition, and include all that lies between them. “The care of the world” becomes the snare of those who have little, and “the deceitfulness of riches,” the snare of those who have much. Thus the world wars against the soul, alike when it smiles and when it frowns. Rich and poor have in this matter no room and no right to cast stones at each other. Pinching want and luxurious profusion are, indeed, two widely diverse species of thorns; but when favoured by circumstances they are equally rank in their growth and equally effective in destroying the precious seed.


 It was where the seed and the thorns grew together that the mischief was done. If the grain is permitted to occupy alone the heart of the field, the thorns that grow outside and around it may constitute a hedge of defence, not only harmless but useful. There is a place for cares, and for riches too,—a place in which they help and do not hinder the kingdom of God. Kept in its own sphere, the lawful business of life becomes a protecting fence round the tender plant of grace in a Christian’s heart. Permit not the thorns to occupy the position which is due to the good seed. Not as rivals within the field, but as guards around it, earthly affairs are innocent and safe. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

-William Arnot, The Parables of Our Lord.

Talmage on Homemaking (Mary and Martha)

By inattention to household duties, the little touches that make or mar the family peace, many a woman has reduced her home to a comfortless house; and many another has eliminated the essential elements of home by her self-assumed and persistent drudgery, in which she denies to her dear ones the cheer of her loving companionship. One-sided service, however devoted, may become neglect. There is a time for labor inside the home as in the open; in every family time should be found for cultivating that better part, that one thing needful—true, spiritual development.

-James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ.

Talmage on Prayers, Delays, and Good Gifts

There must be a consciousness of real need for prayer, and real trust in God, to make prayer effective; and in mercy the Father sometimes delays the granting that the asking may be more fervent. But in the words of Jesus: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"

-James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ.

Talmage on Miracles and Human Agency

The procedure throughout was characterized by deep solemnity and by the entire absence of every element of unnecessary display. Jesus, who when miles away and without any ordinary means of receiving the information knew that Lazarus was dead, doubtless could have found the tomb; yet He inquired: "Where have ye laid him?" He who could still the waves of the sea by a word could have miraculously effected the removal of the stone that sealed the mouth of the sepulchre; yet He said: "Take ye away the stone." He who could reunite spirit and body could have loosened without hands the cerements by which the reanimated Lazarus was bound; yet He said: "Loose him, and let him go." All that human agency could do was left to man. In no instance do we find that Christ used unnecessarily the superhuman powers of His Godship; the divine energy was never wasted; even the material creation resulting from its exercize was conserved, as witness His instructions regarding the gathering up of the fragments of bread and fish after the multitudes had been miraculously fed.

-James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ.

Twain on "sharpening our edges"

When an acre of ground has produced long and well, we let it lie fallow and rest for a season; we take no man clear across the continent in the same coach he started in—the coach is stabled somewhere on the plains and its heated machinery allowed to cool for a few days; when a razor has seen long service and refuses to hold an edge, the barber lays it away for a few weeks, and the edge comes back of its own accord. We bestow thoughtful care upon inanimate objects, but none upon ourselves. What a robust people, what a nation of thinkers we might be, if we would only lay ourselves on the shelf occasionally and renew our edges!

-Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad.

Twain on Esau and Forgiveness

Who stands first—outcast Esau forgiving Jacob in prosperity, or Joseph on a king's throne forgiving the ragged tremblers whose happy rascality placed him there?

-Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad.

It goes to show how far Esau had come that he recognized his erring youth and didn't fault his brother for taking his place as the rightful heir of their father's birthright. That is something that Laman and Lemuel could never forgive.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Frankl on Freedom

From Man's Search for Meaning, p. 132

Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.

More Frankl on Meaning

From Man's Search for Meaning:

What is demanded of man is not, as some existential philosophers teach, to endure the meaninglessness of life, but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms. Logos is deeper than logic. 
-p. 118

At any moment, man must decide, for better or for worse, what will be the monument of his existence.
-p. 121

One of the main features of human existence is the capacity to rise above such conditions, to grow beyond them. Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible, and of changing himself for the better if necessary.
p. 131

As we see, a human being is not one in pursuit of happiness but rather in search of a reason to become happy, last but not least, through actualizing the potential meaning inherent and dormant in a given situation.
-p. 138

As to the causation of the feeling of meaninglessness, one may say, albeit an oversimplifying vein, that people have enough to live by but nothing to live for; they have the means but no meaning.
-p. 140

You may of course ask whether we really need to refer to "saints." Wouldn't it suffice just to refer to decent people? It is true that they form a minority. More than that, they always will remain a minority. And yet I see therein the very challenge to join the minority. For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.
p. 154

Frankl on Being Questioned by Life

We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life--daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.

Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 77.

Frankl on Suffering

If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.

. . . 

Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and concise picture of it.

-Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 67 and 74.

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.

-Id., p. 105.

But let me make it perfectly clear that in no way is suffering necessary to find meaning. I only insist that meaning is possible even in spite of suffering--provided, certainly, that the suffering is unavoidable. If it were avoidable, however, the meaningful thing to do would be to remove its cause, be it psychological, biological, or political. To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.

-Id., p. 113

Frankl on Attitude and Agency

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. . . . It is this spiritual freedom--which cannot be taken away--that makes life meaningful and purposeful.

-Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 66-67

Dickens on Being True

He was simply an staunchly true to his duty alike in the large case and in the small. So all true souls ever are. So every true soul ever was, ever is, and ever will be. There is nothing little to the really great in spirit.

-Charles Dickens, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, p. 29.

Tolstoy on the True Life

From The Gospel in Brief

We must understand the true life, what it is. The true life is brought to light always in the lost being brought back to where they belong; in the awakening of those who slept. People who have the true life, who are restored to the source of their being, cannot, like worldly men, take account of others as better or worse; but, being sharers of the Father's life, they can take delight only in the return of the lost to their Father. If a son, who has gone astray and left his father, should repent, and return, how then could the other sons of the same father grudge at the father's joy, or themselves not rejoice at the brother's return?


The true life of the fulfilment of the Father's will is not in the life of the past, or of the future, but it is the life of now, the life which all must live at this instant of time. Therefore one must never relax the true life in them. Men are set to watch over life, not of the past or the future, but the life now being lived; and in that, to fulfil the will of the Father of all men. If they let this life escape them, by not fulfilling the Father's will, then they will not receive it back again; just as a watchman, set upon a night-long watch, does not perform his duty if he fall asleep even for a moment; for in this moment a thief may come. Therefore a man must concentrate his strength in the present hour, for in this hour only can he fulfil the Father's will. And that will is life and blessing for all men. Only those live who are doing good. Good done to men, now in this hour, is life, life which unites us with the common Father.

Tolstoy on Christianity

From The gospel in brief, p. 231-232

I consider Christianity to be neither a pure revelation nor a phase of history, but I consider it as the only doctrine which gives a meaning to life.

Anna Harriette Leonowens on World Religions

From The English Governess at the Siamese Court, by Anna Harriette Leonowens, p. 122:

We are prone to ignore or to condemn that which we do not clearly understand; and thus it is, and on no better ground, that we deny that there are influences in the religions of the East to render their followers wiser, nobler, purer. And yet no one of respectable intelligence will question that there have been, in all ages, individual pagans who, by the simplicity of their doctrine and the purity of their practice, have approached very nearly to the perfection of the Christian graces; and that they were, if not so much the better for the religion they had, at least far, far better than if they had had no religion at all. It is not, however, in human nature to approve and admire any course of life without inquiring into the spirit of the law that regulates it. Nor may it suffice that the spirit is there, if not likewise the letter,--that is to say, the practice. The best doctrine may become the worst, if imperfectly understood, erroneously interpreted, or superstitiously followed. 

And from p. 124:

Many have missed seeing what is true and wise in the doctrine of Buddha because they preferred to observe it from the standpoint and in the attitude of an antagonist, rather than of an inquirer. To understand aright the earnest creed and hope of any man, one must be at least sympathetically en rapport with him,--must be willing to feel, and to confess within one's self, the germs of those errors whose growth seems so rank in him. In the humble spirit of this fellowship of fallibility let us draw as near as we may to the hearts of these devotees and the heart of their mystery.

Battlefield of the Heart

From Life of Pi by Yann Martel, p. 93:

The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.

Doing No Harm

More gold from Uncle Tom's Cabin, p. 282:

"One should have expected some terrible enormities charged to those who are excluded from Heaven, as the reason; but no,--they are condemned for not doing positive good, as if that included every possible harm."

"Perhaps," said Miss Ophelia, "it is impossible for a person who does no good not to do harm."

Training of Children

From Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe:

"Since training children is the staple work of the human race," said Augustine, "I should think it something of a consideration that our system does not work well there."

Anger and Agency

FYI I am trying to stop letting things pile up on my (physical and electronic) desk, so here come a random assortment of things I noted on my Kindle.

We lose power and risk our agency when we allow anger to influence our decisions and control us. Example from the Book of Mormon:

For behold, his designs were to stir up the Lamanites to anger against the Nephites; this he did that he might usurp great power over them, and also that he might gain power over the Nephites by bringing them into bondage.

-Alma 43:8, referring to Zarahemnah

The Rule of Law in the Eternities

How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment?

Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man.

Now, if there was no law given--if a man murdered he should die--would he be afraid he would die if he should murder? 

And also, if there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin.

And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature? 

But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.

Alma 42:17-23

Before judging those who didn't believe...

The actuality of the messiah's status as the chosen Son of God, who was with the Father form the beginning, a Being of preexistent power and glory, was but dimly perceived, if conceived at all, by the people in general; and although to prophets specially commissioned in the authorities and privileges of the Holy Priesthood, revelation of the great truth was given, they transmitted it to the people rather in the language of imagery and parable than in words of direct plainness. Nevertheless the testimony of the evangelists and the apostles, the attestation of the Christ Himself while in the flesh, and the revelations given in the present dispensation leave us without dearth of scriptural proof. 

-James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Trials, Questions, and Faith

A good quote from Keith H. Meservy out of the OT Student manual:

“It is difficult to live with tension, but mortality—where we see through the glass darkly—is filled with it. There are always ultimate answers to what may appear to be meaninglessness or inexplicability in our lives, though these are not immediately apparent to us, the Lord however, has promised to supply them—eventually (D&C 121:28–32; 101:27–35). Any individual who insists that a good religious belief must explain all of life’s contingencies if it is to be believable and acceptable, should re-read Job or take counsel from Elder Harold B. Lee who affirmed:

“‘It is not the function of religion to answer all questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give courage (through faith) to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status. Therefore, take heed of yourselves, and as a wise world thinker once said, “If the time comes when you feel you can no longer hold to your faith, then hold to it anyway. You cannot go into tomorrow’s uncertainty and dangers without faith”‘ (Church News, source not quoted).” (Keith H. Meservy, “Job: ‘Yet Will I Trust in Him,’” pp. 139–53.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mine Integrity

Often I've heard and cited Job's declaration, "til I die I will not remove mine integrity from me." But I never really looked at the context of the chapter, and assumed that Job was referring to the fact that he refused to renounce his faith in the face of his adversity. While that is true of Job, this particular declaration doesn't exactly come in that context.

In chapter 27, Job is in the midst of defending himself against his friends, who repeatedly insist that Job's woes must be a punishment from God and that he needs to repent. Job goes on, "My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live." (Job 27:6) Job is saying that he won't remove his integrity in the sense that he won't give in to the temptation to second-guess his life, to fall into self-reproach, or to assume that God was punishing him when he had committed no great sin. He was whole through His redeemer, and his virtue endowed him with confidence.

I can certainly learn from that example, as confidence is not a strong suit of mine. Are false modestly, second-guessing, and questioning the trials I receive all forms of "remov[ing] mine integrity from me" or denying the Atonement in my life? Trials come in large part because that is what we signed up for when we came to Earth. Of course there are things that we should learn form our trials and ways that we should be refined, but if we are on the Savior's path we needn't feel that we are less that whole because our trials might seem punishing.