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January, 2013

  1. How We Deceive Ourselves

    January 21, 2013 by Ryan

    There once was a television show which I started watching. You might even be a fan of the same show. Despite running for a long time, it still remains a popular program. I tuned in for a few months. I found the characters witty, and the stories clever. Sure, some of the language they used could be considered “mild profanity,” and some of the dialog contained “adult situations” or innuendo. The show itself was a comedy, and each episode provided a short escape from reality.

    Entertainment should provide a relief from worries and woes.

    After a short time though, I noticed something. When I was going about my normal work and school, words which I had heard on that program were coming back to my mind. Those words and thoughts included some content that ran contrary to the sacred covenants which I had made in holy settings. These were thoughts that would make it difficult to stay spiritually minded.

    When I made the connection that these changes in my thinking occurred about the same time that I began watching the program, I stopped watching the program.

    Maybe I was lucky.

    Don’t get me wrong… entertainment should provide a stress relief from reality! And to tell a good story, sometimes you have to show confrontations of evil and good. I agree.

    The respected pioneer prophet Brigham Young said:

    “Upon the stage of a theater can be represented in character, evil and its consequences, good and its happy results and rewards; the weakness and the follies of man, the magnanimity of virtue and the greatness of truth. The stage can be made to aid the pulpit in impressing upon the minds of a community an enlightened sense of a virtuous life, also a proper horror of the enormity of sin and a just dread of its consequences. The path of sin with its thorns and pitfalls, its gins and snares can be revealed, and how to shun it.

    “Tragedy is favored by the outside world; I am not in favor of it. I do not wish murder and all its horrors and the villainy leading to it portrayed before our women and children; I do not want the child to carry home with it the fear of . . . the sword, the pistol, or the dagger, and suffer in the night from frightful dreams. I want such plays performed as will make the spectators feel well; and I wish those who perform to select a class of plays that will improve the public mind, and exalt the literary taste of the community” (Discourses of Brigham Young; selected by John A. Widtsoe; 1941; pgs 243-244).

    So what is my point to today? That the portrayal of violence, sexual permissiveness, and innuendo does make a difference.

    The consumption of violence, sexual permissiveness, and innuendo also makes a difference.

    I’ve recently been hearing the argument that “I watch violent movies, and I’m not going on a killing spree!” or “I play first-person shooter video games, and it is a great way to relax and unwind.”

    Well, maybe you think that you can sit on the shore, dip your toes in the water, and not get swept up by the current. I firmly believe that if you are embracing such an activity, and telling yourself that you are stronger or wiser or better than to be caught in any bad outcome – that this won’t hurt me in any way – you are not being truthful with yourself.

    The Apostle John taught, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (New Testament | 1st John 1:8).

    Even if a bad result really doesn’t happen directly in your mind and heart, your acceptance of the product is evident. As popularity in the product grows, society accepts it. The culture embraces it. As it is looked upon as acceptable, younger people will join in too.

    The portrayal of violence and immorality in music, entertainment, art, and other media has become constant and consistent. Society as a whole has come to accept the entertainment as harmless fun. The individual moral conscience that might tell people that such violence is wrong simply won’t exist for many people, because there is no voice to support it.

    Nobody expresses their shock that the movie depicted killing of innocent people, but they express their shock when individuals do so in reality.

    “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

    No man is an island. Your acceptance of violent entertainment will lead to the approval of others in your spear of influence.

    It only grows from there, like a snowball rolling down a hill.

    Why should advertising be placed in and around the violent product be expected to influence our thought and behavior, but the violent product itself be believed to have no effect?

    Society is beyond anyone’s ability to reign in the problem. However, as an individual, you can reverse the process in your own life, and your spear of influence can be felt by encouraging those around you to do the same.

    As I learned in my brief journey watching that television show, I can recognize that it was harmful and I can stop. I have control over my own life and decisions. Likewise, you have control over yours.

    As I once learned from an entertainment venue: “Real rewards await those who choose wisely.”


  2. Great is His Wisdom, Marvelous are His Ways!

    January 5, 2013 by Ryan

    There has recently been another senseless killing occur in our nation. Because it involved young children, it is especially hard to fathom how another human mind could be filled with such anger and evil as to perpetrate such a crime.

    I’m sure that none of the parents or survivors of that tragedy are followers of my blog. I’m fairly certain that they won’t find this writing in an Internet search, especially since I am intentionally not naming the location or people involved. Nonetheless, I’d like to share with them two principles that I firmly believe in.

    First: Our Heavenly Father is still in charge.

    Yes, He has the power to interfere with evil events of this world. Yet many times, He does not do so. That is likely because what we think is the best solution is not in line with what he knows is better. Please don’t be mad at Him for not stopping the events that occurred. Rather, keep in mind that “All things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things” (The Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 2:24).

    I don’t know what His purposes are for this particular event, or any other event for that matter. Your young loved one has returned to be with that God who gave him or her life. You are left to continue on in mortal life, with many broken dreams left behind.

    Remember what the wise King Solomon spoke to Israel at the dedication of their temple: “Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise ” (Old Testament | 1 Kings 8:56).

    According to all that He promised, there hath not failed one word. He has not promised anyone – devoted follower or not – that life would be free from harm. His own innocent Son was betrayed, beaten, hung, and made to suffer. In the eternal perspective, there was a purpose and a positive outcome for that event. Even if you cannot see it yet, please trust that there is a better “eternal perspective” for your life, and the life of your loved one too.

    Which leads me to my other point.

    Second: Jesus Christ Overcame Death

    “Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth, and rejoice ye inhabitants thereof, for the Lord is God, and beside him there is no Savior. Great is his wisdom, marvelous are his ways, and the extent of his doings none can find out. His purposes fail not, neither are there any who can stay his hand,” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:1-3) declared his prophet of the modern days, Joseph Smith Jr.

    Jesus Christ did suffer death, and did overcome death by being resurrected. The promise is that all will receive resurrection. Your loved one will live again, and you will also.

    A resurrection would not be an exciting prospect if it were destined to be lived out in a miserable existence. That is why it is especially comforting to know that Jesus Christ also suffered the sins of all, so that salvation – eternal life, or the quality of life – can come to those who believe on His name and receive His gospel. His grace is sufficient to provide that salvation.

    But what of your young one, whose life was cut short and may not have made covenants to be His follower? I assure you, as have the prophets, that your little one is not lost.

    Mormon said “I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike and partakers of salvation” (The Book of Mormon | Moroni 8:17). Joseph Smith Jr. taught that “Little children are holy, being sanctified through the atonement of Jesus Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 74:7) and that “all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven” (Doctrine and Covenants 137:10).

    I could summarize these two points by saying that, in the Eternal Wisdom of God, He did provide for your little one. He provided the salvation through His Holy Son, and the promise that all is not lost. Though the event of this recent moment is horrific, you may trust in His plan and purpose. There will be much more than this moment. There will be an eternal life to experience later.

    Let His comforter, the Holy Ghost, provide you with peace and reassurance. Have Faith. Approach Him in prayer and ask for that faith, comfort, and assurance. Live with confidence that what you can see now is not the final product.