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Posts Tagged ‘news commentary’

  1. The Maine Problem

    February 7, 2018 by Ryan

    Poor Tom Golisano. I read his story in the national news a few days ago.

    Tom purchased a vacation home in Maine, and now he claims that he cannot enjoy it because his Canadian neighbors are making life miserable for himself and his family.

    When he is not there, they hang out on his lawn. They scatter when he arrives on the scene to chase them away, but by then the damage is done and the yard is a complete mess – it is in no condition to play Frisbee on or have a picnic with the grandchildren.

    Tom has asked his local government officials to get involved. He would like his neighbors deported. Or at least evicted.

    What do his neighbors have to say about it when asked for comment?

    “Honk! Honk! Honk!” said one.

    “Honk! HONK!” replied another.

    Then they turned their backs and flew away.

    You see, Tom’s neighbors are geese. Canadian Geese.

    They like Tom’s property too. Their ancestors have been flying by and nesting in the area for a long time. They have no intentions of leaving.

    They are loud and messy. They relieve themselves on his lawn.

    What is a billionaire to do when he simply can’t enjoy his vacation home in Maine?

    Tom has decided not to pay his property tax bill anymore, until the city officials can control the geese.

    Good luck with that, Tom! You try not paying your taxes, and see what kind of actions the officials take.

    I’m just not feeling sorry for you.

    Here you went and bought a nice home in a place where geese live, and now you are upset because geese live there.

    Somehow that is the government’s fault?

    This fight is for the birds!

    Honk for Your Rights!

    You know why those geese fly in a “V” formation? “V” stands for “Victory,” Tom! I’m certain they do it just to spite you.

  2. Ye Simple Souls Who Stray – Wine, Oil, Refreshment

    February 3, 2018 by Ryan

    The headline intrigued me:

    Rising Utah liquor sales fueled by more non-Mormons, tourism

    How naïve I have been! To think that all this time, I believed that the Mormons were the ones buying up the booze!

    I must continue reading!

    In Mormon dominated Utah where alcohol is frowned upon, liquor sales keep climbing each year.

    I paused to check the byline! Right out of the gate, the writer has skillfully blended adverbs and a subordinate clause to the point  that I am unable to discern the intended meaning. Is alcohol frowned upon by Utah? Or by the Mormons?

    With my head still spinning by this challenging information, I continued reading.

    State residents bought nearly $428 million in alcohol last year to set another record, continuing a two-decade trend likely fueled a steady influx of new out-of-state residents and a thriving tourism sector.

    I pondered and reread the following…

    “…A steady influx of new out-of-state residents….”

    Are the residents relocating from out-of-state? Are they buying up liquor in Utah, only to return to their out-of-state residences? Or are they purchasing property in Utah so they can be considered a resident, but continuing to live elsewhere so they can still be considered out-of-state?

    My head was spinning.

    I checked the byline again. Was this author perhaps one of the high school students recently in the news for having his article removed from the school paper? Perhaps he had found a new rag to write for?

    Then, at once, all of these thoughts were superseded by a different quandary: How do they know that the potable purchaser’s piety is of the “Mormon” persuasion?

    I will admit to ignorance here. I have never been a patron of the Utah State Liquor Stores. As the article states, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints instructs its members to avoid drinking alcohol. As a faithful member, I do not know the manner of becoming a vendee of this establishment.

    I assume they ask to see one’s identification at the check-out line. I could guess that, from a government-issued ID, they could count the number of out-of-state verses in-state driver’s licenses to determine that statistic.

    But what about religious preference? Do they ask for this information too?

    I double-checked my Utah State Driver’s License. The closest thing I could find to a religious declaration was the spot for organ-donation.

    So how are the shopkeepers determining the religious statistic? Are Latter-day Saints presenting their church-issued “Temple Recommend” as a testimony that they have obtained to the age of accountability?

    Or, thinking more conspiratorially, is the state drivers license bureau inter-connected with the church’s membership record database? I’m sure that the National Security Agency must know!

    Believing I was on the trail of a much bigger, serious discovery, I reviewed the rest of the article. It presented a mundane recitation of how the liquor agency spends its money, and what the most popular beverages are. Unfortunately, it did not answer my question or explain how they can be confident in their consumer’s convictions.

    A scientific investigation should be launched immediately! Volunteers of all persuasions and residences are needed to make undercover purchases from the state.

    Come to think of it, the results of this investigation could give a whole new meaning to the concept of being baptized-by-the-spirit.


    Article Sited:

  3. A Cause of Much Sorrow

    February 22, 2015 by Ryan

    This week in the news  President Obama has been participating in the “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism,” and the threat of terrorists extremist fighting in the name of Islam. He made a point that “if we are going to effectively isolate terrorists, if we’re going to address the challenge of their efforts to recruit our young people.” Using lies and deceptions, they are seeking out young people and persuading them to their unrighteous cause. If there is a void in their lives, they seek to offer fulfillment by joining their organization.

    As I listened to this thought, the Gadianton Robbers of The Book of Mormon came to mind. From The Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 1:27-29:

    27 And it came to pass that the ninety and third year did also pass away in peace, save it were for the Gadianton robbers, who dwelt upon the mountains, who did infest the land; for so strong were their holds and their secret places that the people could not overpower them; therefore they did commit many murders, and did do much slaughter among the people.

    28 And it came to pass that in the ninety and fourth year they began to increase in a great degree, because there were many dissenters of the Nephites who did flee unto them, which did cause much sorrow unto those Nephites who did remain in the land.

    29 And there was also a cause of much sorrow among the Lamanites; for behold, they had many children who did grow up and began to wax strong in years, that they became for themselves, and were led away by some who were Zoramites, by their lyings and their flattering words, to join those Gadianton robbers.

    The characters, locations, and tools are different, but the story runs parallel. In the next chapter (3 Nephi 2:11-12), we see what happened:

    11 And it came to pass in the thirteenth year there began to be wars and contentions throughout all the land; for the Gadianton robbers had become so numerous, and did slay so many of the people, and did lay waste so many cities, and did spread so much death and carnage throughout the land, that it became expedient that all the people, both the Nephites and the Lamanites, should take up arms against them.

    12 Therefore, all the Lamanites who had become converted unto the Lord did unite with their brethren, the Nephites, and were compelled, for the safety of their lives and their women and their children, to take up arms against those Gadianton robbers, yea, and also to maintain their rights, and the privileges of their church and of their worship, and their freedom and their liberty.

    The war commenced, and after a couple of years, there was still no successful resolution. Mormon’s explanation was that “because of the wickedness of the people of Nephi, and their many contentions and dissensions, the Gadianton robbers did gain many advantages over them” (3 Nephi 2:18). They could not pull it together as a people and they struggle for quite some time.

    I’m not intending to prophesy or declare that this is exactly how history will repeat itself; but I do foresee that the struggle will go on far longer than it should. As a nation today, most people are not paying any attention to this problem while they push for a redefinition of marriage; make wink-and-nod jokes about drug use and pornography; and fill their minds with entertainment glamorizing violence and sexual messages. Like the Nephite people, our nation won’t be able to come to the unity and resolve necessary – and mostly to recognize the need for repentance, and to call upon God for support – to let it happen.

    I say that because I’ve read the book and seen how it turned out the first time around.

  4. Outrage!

    August 26, 2014 by Ryan

    Imagine that you are a school lunch cafeteria manager.

    Imagine that it is the first day of a new school year. There is confusion among everyone, as each person – student, staff, and manager – are trying to learn their roles.

    The bell rings, indicating that the last lunch service of the day is nearly over. For students, it means that they have 10 minutes to find their next class. For the lunchroom employees, this means that it is time to start cleaning up.

    Then, you, the lunchroom manager, are called to the serving line. There is a problem to deal with.

    You stop what you are doing and step forward. An eighth-grader with learning disabilities and diabetes, and her assigned aid, are standing in front of you.

    The situation is explained. The young lady was late getting to lunch because she was administering her insulin dose. The girl had reviewed the lunch menu, decided she wanted pizza, and taken the correct amount of insulin to account for the food.

    You look around. The leftover pizza, still in its boxes, have been put in the trash can.

    Lunch service is officially over.

    What would you do?

    “The girl insisted on having pizza,” said the news reporter. You, the lunchroom manager, feel compassion on the girl. It is the first day, and everyone is running around, confused and trying to find their footing in the new school year. You offer her some of the leftovers that had already been thrown away.

    All you need to do is take the top box off of the garbage can, open the box, and reveal the completely untouched pizza inside.

    Yes, you are breaking health regulations. But the young lady “insists” on being served the pizza that she had mentally and physically prepared to eat.

    If she doesn’t eat it, she goes away hungry with too much insulin in her system. If you can find an alternative option that can account for the same insulin dosage, you can offer it – but how long will that take and how effective can you be?

    Top it all off by recalling that she has less-than 10 minutes to get to her next class.

    The lunchroom manger gives her the slice of pizza. It is perfectly suitable-for-human-consumption, except for a technical rule.

    There is no pattern of misbehavior or rule breaking going on in the lunchroom. This is an isolated incident, taken out of compassion for the girl. The young lady, and her assigned aid, have presumably also learned the amount of time to plan for future lunchroom visits.

    Later, the girl off-handedly reports to a school administrator that she was served lunch out of a garbage can. It sounds disgusting and sensational to tell it that way, and so what else is a middle-schooler to do? It gets heads to turn and brings her attention.

    She also tells her mother.

    Her mother is “outraged.”

    The story is now all over the local media. The headline reads, “Parent outraged after diabetic student served pizza from trash.

    = = =

    out·rage ( ˈoutˌrāj )

    1. to arouse an extremely strong reaction of anger, shock, or indignation.

    I’ve heard the word “outrage” used in various forms in the news recently. One woman experienced outrage when she learned that photos of herself had been edited and were being printed in publications that she had not agreed to. Some communities felt outrage when police actions left dead people that they believe were innocent. Some nations felt outrage when other nations fired missiles into their cities, hurting innocent women and children.

    In another case, a mother experienced outrage because her daughter asked to be fed pizza for lunch, and her request was granted.

    In some cases, “outrage” may be justified because a person had no control in a situation. In other cases, the word “indignation” would be more appropriate.

    Indignation (ˌindigˈnāSHən/)

    a display of anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment.

    The choice to experience either reaction is made by an individual.

    = = =

    The lunchroom manager and staff receive training, crammed into their schedules before the next day’s food preparation and service can begin, so that they can understand the rules of food handling. Even though there clearly was no misunderstanding of the rules to being with. There was a compassionate “lapse of judgment,” as a district spokesman put it.

    The girl is reassigned a new aid, one that “is medically trained and knows more about appropriate carb counts.” Presumably, this is done so that the girl can continue not learning any lesson about time management and self-accountability. She can carry on, late to lunch again-and-again in the future, this new aid can conjure up what alternate foods can be served to the girl.

    Except that the aid won’t make the food appear. The lunchroom manager will then be privileged to drop what she is doing and bring her entire attention to the girl’s needs, preparing an alternate menu as her carb-counting helper dictates.

    The girl can go and be late to her next class. It will be the lunchroom manager’s fault.

    And the parent can continue to be “outraged” over that too.

    Sounds like a great plan to me!

    = = =

    Now, what I believe should have happened. The lunchroom manager, the parent, and perhaps the principal should have met in person or over a phone call.

    The parent should have thanked the lunchroom manager for serving her child, and promised to work with her daughter to better understand her role and responsibility in being on time, or at least in sending word to the lunchroom, before the bell rings, to save her a slice of pizza.

    The lunchroom manager should have apologized for not following proper protocol and assured her that it is not her regular practice.

    All should have shaken hands and agreed to continue on with life with a cheerful attitude, kindness, and compassion for each other’s difficult roles and responsibilities.

    Having been appropriately worked out, you and I should never have read this story online, nor saw it on the evening television newscast.

    It could have been possible, if the parties chose to do so.

    Compassion motivated one party. Outrage blinded the other.

  5. Robert Jeffress, I’m calling you out!

    October 13, 2011 by Ryan

    Robert Jeffress, I’m calling you out!

    You sir, are not a true Republican!

    I’m making my claim, right here before the entire world wide web! Now, go ahead and try to prove that you are!

    Hey, why are you shaking your head at me? I just declared before the world, with the authority that I possess because of my membership in the real Republican Party, that you, sir, are not a true Republican.

    Don’t you turn and walk away from me. I’m trying to pick a fight, and I expect you to stay here and finish it.

    What is that lame excuse you are offering? So you introduced a republican presidential hopeful at a campaign stop? You think that makes you a true Republican? Big deal!

    You sir, do not believe in the “historical” Grand Old Party. Rather, your views of the GOP have been tainted by big oil capitalists who founded your state, diggers of liquid gold. I know – I learned this from watching the opening theme song from an authoritative documentary on Nick at Nite titled “The Beverly Hillbillies”. What did your gold-striking ancestors do next? Headed straight for liberal California!

    You and your little faction of Texas Republican friends are not truly conservative enough to be called true Republicans.

    As if that were not enough, look at this fact: You work and live in the Dallas area. Your branch Republican headquarters is located in Dallas. That is the same city where President John F. Kennedy, a DEMOCRAT, was killed. Therefore, I declare by the power invested in me that you, and your fellow Dallas Republicans cult, cannot be correct. You are simply too close to Democrat history. It cannot be possible for you to think clearly and conservatively enough, shrouded by this tender Democratic memory in your midst. Why I bet that there is even a memorial there to the event.

    Don’t try to deny it. It is the truth. Search your heart. You know it is true.

    Oh, you may be good, moral people. You might talk conservative values.

    But take it from me. I am a true Republican. I know what I am speaking about.

    You sir, are not a true Republican.

  6. Marriage Rights and Wrongs

    June 24, 2011 by Ryan

    This writing will be an attempt to solidify many thoughts I’ve considered recently. I apologize if it doesn’t gel together completely. It has been on my mind and I wanted to get it in writing quickly.

    There has been some very emotional discussion about marriage recently, as another state has narrowly voted to accept marriage between two individuals of the same gender.

    Many are declaring that the “rights” of a minority are being affirmed and upheld in this decision. I caution anyone listening to consider that making up new “rights” is a very slippery slope to travel.

    Now that we all have open minds and embrace new ideas, how far do we want to swing that door of acceptable marriage practices?

    For example, is America finally tolerant enough to accept a man who petitions the government for recognition of his marriage to two women simultaneously? All of the parties are consenting adults, after all. All of them love one another with devotion, and seek to openly pledge that love before the world. How is it different than any of the emotional arguments that have persuaded us recently? The two women could now marry one another under the law, so why should we forbid a third party to enter the relationship?

    Or perhaps we should reexamine the behind-the-times thinking of age limits for the parties involved. If a fourteen-year old male wants to pledge his love to a sixty-two-year-old male, what should stop the two from joining in holy matrimony? Amend the example and make the younger partner into a female, and ask the same question?

    If you are shivering with repulsion on these ideas, then you are simply intolerant and bigoted. There can be no other explanation for your hatred and inhumane refusal to recognize the rights of these minority individuals. Are they not seeking the same happiness that you are entitled to? Should their right also be protected?

    My point in proposing these examples is not to advocate for them; rather, it is to open your eyes to the very real possibilities of what new marriage-defining may come next.

    So let me take you back to a discussion of basic rights.

    The largely accepted definition of marriage in European and later American culture has for centuries been defined as between one man and one woman. This definition likely came from religious preferences and teaching. Some would seek to dismiss any further argument or enforcement simply because of the religious definition. I again caution you to carefully consider that attitude.

    There has existed another religiously-based teaching for centuries. It is taught as a religious principle in many faiths that it is wrong to take the life of another human being. This religious ideal has found its way into American law. Should we now dismiss this too, simply because it has a rooting in religious tradition. Or is there wisdom in it?

    Apply the same question to the marriage debate. Recognizing that many religions stake a claim in the question, set all of that that aside and ask if it is beneficial? If a principle is of value, it should be able to stand on its own merit.

    A marriage between a man and a woman ideally will provide an opportunity for children to be born, raised, nurtured; and to grow to responsible adulthood. That is the ideal. This is probably the societal benefit expected when marriage was granted legal recognition and status.

    Some have argued that many marriages between one man and one woman fail frequently to fulfill that  purpose. Some marriages are entered into carelessly and recklessly from the beginning, and bear society no good. Many marriages suffer as years go by, and they fail. If your objective is to hold up examples of failure and say, “I want the right to do that too!” – then more power to you. The framework was available to the couple that they could succeed – that they didn’t was their own fault.

    The framework of traditionally-defined marriage does not allow same-gender couples to accomplish the same societal objective. It cannot.

    A counterfit $20 bill, though it be called a $20 bill, and painted to look like a $20 dollar bill, does not hold the same value as the genuine article.

    Psychologists are confirming in many studies that the nurture of a mother and the presence of a father in a home is beneficial to raising healthy, well-adjusted children. Yes, there are exceptions. Some children come from broken homes; some split time between homes with real parents and step-parents. Some come from homes with only one parent available. Some homes with both male and female parents are present but do a miserable job of parenting. There are always exceptions to the rule. If we are honest about what we know, we will acknowledge that no home will be perfect, but we know where the best chances can occur, and societies interest should be to encourage that framework and discourage the others.

    It will be interesting to see how and where this debate takes us. Religious freedom will certainly play into the debate. Will religious freedom be trampled by laws forcing the acceptance of new types of marriage? Will religious institutions that provide adoption or foster care programs be required to set their beliefs aside to accommodate secular policy? Will church-owned schools be forced to enact policies that contradict their stated religious missions?

    I read that some believe the acceptance of new marriage definitions will eventually be embraced upon the entire nation. As you might infer from my thoughts expressed today, it may take me some time and consideration before I do any embracing of the matter.

  7. I’m going to use the “N-word”

    January 6, 2011 by Ryan

    I must warn you… I’m going to use the “N-word” today.

    Does that offend you? Well, to be fair, I’m going to use several “N-words” in this piece.

    Here comes the first N-word… Are you ready?


    That is my humble opinion of the story.

    It seems that Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books in Alabama want to publish the books “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in a slightly edited form. He wants to make the following changes:

    Anytime the term “Nigger” is used, he wants to replace it with “slave.”

    Any references to ol’ “Injun Joe” will be changed to “Indian Joe” instead.

    “Half-breed” will become “Half-Blood” as a replacement.

    To that, I add my next N-word.


    I have to wonder what the motive is? Reasonably, it is to sell books. They believe that if they give these classics a politically correct scrubbing, people will be inclined to buy them.

    Keep in mind that Mark Twain himself admitted that “a ‘classic’ is a book which people praise and don’t read.”

    Well, I suppose, if that is what he believes will get more people to purchase his copy, and as long as he has proper copyright permission to do it, then God bless him – oh, wait, I think I’m not supposed to mention God anymore. That might offend someone too. But maybe he is right, and maybe there is a demand for such a reinterpretation of the work.

    What really bugs me is the fact that we have to talk about sanitizing the books in the first place. Are we that weak as a society that the word “Nigger” is so offensive that we just can’t handle it?

    (I’d call and ask Dr. Laura’s opinion, but strangely enough I can’t seem to find her show on the radio anymore)

    If that is the case, then shame on us. Shame on a people that are so weak that they cannot face up to historical realities.

    I feel bad for the reader that, whether knowingly or unknowingly, picks up this edition of either book and participates in a cheapened, lesser experience. That reader will have stolen from them the opportunity of enjoying the original.

    That is too bad. I’d like my children grow up without prejudices, and a healthy part of teaching that is to present them with the truth, as it really happened. Not edited or sanitized or hidden, pretending it didn’t exist. It would be appropriate to add an introduction explaining the historical context. Then present the original unfiltered version. Afterward, follow up with an open discussion what is different today and why.

    What stops the editors from further cleaning up the text, by changing Injun Joe into “Native American Joseph”? And what should we make of Huck Finn’s horrific grammar? If we are making corrections for our children, shouldn’t we correct the language usage mistakes that proliferate the tome? After all, we if don’t want them exposed to anything wrong, lets sanitize it all the way!

    As they read the new version of the story which would then be not nearly as much fun as the original?


  8. Ask Mr. Wizard

    October 10, 2010 by Ryan

    In my seventh grade science class, Mr. Robinson was an “unconventional” yet effective teacher. I still remember one particular unintentional lesson. It came as Mr. Robinson was attempting to illustrate, in a visual way, the molecular structure of water.

    He invited two young men and one young lady to stand in the front of the room. It happened that all three of these students were, in a seventh-grade way, among the popular crowd. He assigned labels to each – the boys as “hydrogen” and the girl as “oxygen.” He said that if these molecules were floating around in space, and through whatever forces found each other (and then, taking them by the arms, he positioned the boys on either side of the girl), they come together creating a bond and a new substance called water. H2O – one oxygen and two hydrogen.

    Then he asked one of the molecules to split, and separated all three. He asked one of the hydrogen atoms if he would like to pair up with either of the other molecules? Wanting to be cool among his friends in the class (and none of them having not quite reached the age where it was acceptable to admit to liking the opposite sex), the male hydrogen molecule took his place at the side of his hydrogen friend, saying he’d like to hang out with his buddy and go shoot some hoops. Mr. Robinson responded, ‘That’s very interesting. In nature, two of the same kind of molecules don’t combine together to become anything else.’ He then continued with the lesson, changing positions so that the oxygen and hydrogen combined together to form a hydroxide. The other hydrogen was free to remain alone, as a basic hydrogen molecule.

    It was, of course, Mr. Robinson’s side comment that I’ve always remembered. In nature, two of the same kind of molecules don’t combine together to become anything else.

    In light of a “controversial” statements made by Boyd K. Packer, a prominent leader of my church, I’ve had the opportunity to speak about and hear some arguments put forth by people who opposed his teaching. Let me summarize what he taught:

    He repeated the stance of the church, that we “solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God….” He then went on to teach, citing many scriptural passages, that each individual has always been free to choose if they will be obedient to revealed commandments (or not), and that the greatest happiness and fulfillment comes from obedience. He spoke clearly of pornography as a plague, and taught that will repel the Spirit of Christ in individual who participate in it. He taught that Satan has many substitutes or counterfeits for marriage, and that entering into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong. Then came his most controversial statement of all, which was that God, our Heavenly Father, loves us so much that he does not place preset sinful conditions, which are inborn and cannot be overcome. He then spoke powerfully of using repentance to overcome any obstacle.

    It seems the primary controversy comes from those who espouse that if two hydrogen atoms believe they should form a union, they should do so. They believe that they have valid medical science that shows that people who do so were forced into it – predisposed from birth to be wired that way.

    Interestingly enough, it was in a science class that I learned the opposite.

    Sounds like the (false) doctrine that Adam transgressed, so all are born in sin. I don’t believe that is so. We are born into a sinful world, and we are born with mortal, corruptible bodies (meaning they will age and die). The environment, physical or spiritual, in which one is raised certainly plays a part. There are ample examples in the scriptures where parents will be held accountable for generations of their children who were not taught correct principles, but the children will not be accountable for what they did not have opportunity to know and understand.

    We live in a world where the teaching of sexuality in general is more pervasive. Children, at a younger and younger age, are being taught it in ‘entertainment’ and by culture. I believe it is creating an artificial pressure for them to identify their sexuality before they even need to be concerned with such thinking. It is neither good nor useful. Yet it is reality, and I don’t foresee the spread of such influence retreating.

    Back to the church talk… I’ve heard it called dangerous, destructive, divisive, and delusional. People have pointed out that members of the church who struggle with these feelings feel trapped; especially youth who are repressed by their parents and leaders. I’m sorry it is that way. I wish that every parent and leader could be perfect and non-judgmental, as the Savior was. As I’ve reviewed the talk a few times now, I’ve still yet to find where any judgment is passed on individual, except for the judgment they will feel themselves for not being in compliance with the standards taught. That could be said of any behavior discussed in any of the other talks given at the same meeting or any other meeting. People who are not living in harmony with teachings are going to feel a pain of guilt. This particular one does happen to carry a stigma about it, and people who shouldn’t be throwing stones in the first place tend to toss them with a little more thrust for this issue. The church leader never advocated people to become judgmental and unkind to others. I suppose he could have mentioned treating others with kindness and love in all situations, but he could have mentioned a host of other things too. He only had about 15 minutes of time to speak and shouldn’t have had to repeat all of the basics that his Christian audience should already understand.

    Groups in the world now want the church leader to recant his words. They have not yet asked for him to also remove offending passages from the holy scriptures, but I think it is about as likely that he will do one as the other. The teachings are clear. If you believe they are true, then you ought to not fight them, but instead apply them (or continue to reapply them). This is not necessarily promised to be easy or instant. The message to me was that there is always hope, and always a way to be obedient. Those who employ the repentance process will find that nowhere are the generosity and the kindness and mercy of God made more manifest.

    I wonder if any of this will be on Mr. Robinson’s final exam?,5232,23-1-1298-23,00.html

  9. To Increase Mightily

    September 22, 2010 by Ryan

    There have been some sorrowful things in the news recently. One story particularly struck me. A man who once held great trust in his church and community misused that position of authority, and the results are nothing short of tragic. To satisfy his lust, he left a trail of victims – one whom he had directly hurt and misused, and many whom he indirectly wounded (his wife, children, parents, and family, and members of his congregations and classrooms throughout the years who had trusted his council and judgment).

    I stared for a moment at the photograph of him. He looked like the shell of a man who had self-destructed.

    Even more sorrowful – this story I’ve described could be about more than one individual, in more than one locale. I wonder, “Why is there so much moral decay around us, and why are so many individuals and families, including some in the church, falling victim to it, being tragically scarred by it?” Most days we all find ourselves assaulted by immoral messages of some kind flooding in on us from every angle.

    When Moses had the people assembled, he commanded them, “Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily. . . . Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” I especially like the phrase, “increase mightily.” I wonder just what that promise truly entails.

    Then, emphasizing the command, he told them what to do. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deuteronomy 6:3-9, emphasis added).

    Even today Jews wear phylacteries, where passages of the law are written on scrolls of parchment and enclosed in tiny boxes. They are bound on the left arm and on the forehead, as an ordinance of remembrance of the Mosaic law, and worn during the morning prayers. What a great physical reminder of keeping that commandment close to their minds.

    Thousands of years later, one of the scribes asked Jesus, “Which is the first commandment of all?” In response, Jesus didn’t issue any new commandment or profound truth. He repeated the same thing, almost word for word, as Moses had said. “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (see Mark 12:28-30).

    In the agony of their private realizations and recognitions of their transgression, most people in trouble end up crying, “What was I thinking?” Well, whatever they were thinking, they weren’t thinking of Christ.

    I think of the disastrous example of King David, and the man from the newspaper, and a close friend from my youth – and the lesson that I take from them all is that it CAN happen to anyone. What am I doing to prevent it from happening to me?

    The only real control in life is self control.

    As members of His church, we pledge every Sunday of our lives to take upon ourselves His name and promise to “always remember him.” So let us work a little harder at remembering Him—especially that He has “borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . . , [that] he was bruised for our iniquities . . . ; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5). Surely it would guide our actions in a dramatic way.

    I quote from Nephi, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, who was weighed down with sorrow. He answered his own cry by saying, “Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.” (2 Nephi 4:28)

    May the joy of our fidelity to the highest and best within us be ours as we keep our love and our marriages, our society and our souls, as pure as they were meant to be.

    (Some thoughts and lines of text in this posting were heavily borrowed from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s April 2010 General Conference “Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul”)

  10. The Koran, Taco Bell, and Right and Wrong

    September 11, 2010 by Ryan

    I’ve been observing the news with interest the past few days, as several stories are intersecting.

    The largest event is the 9th anniversary of the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. I still remember September 11, 2001 very well. I lived in the Mountain Time Zone, and was preparing to leave for work at about 9:00 am. In the 8:00 am hour, I received a phone call from a computer customer, who asked the computer question, and then incidentally asked me if I’d seen the news yet? I turned on the TV and learned what was happening. I drove to work with the radio playing, and became more and more involved with each moment. I remember that day at work being a very slow day. The few customers that came that day were somber. Confusion were abounding with every individual, as all of the comforts and conveniences each enjoyed and expected to indefinitely into the future were now in doubt. That day, and the days following, was a time when each individual turned to self-introspection. They questioned and clung their core religious beliefs, values, and guiding principles. Many who had none sought them out. For a time, we set aside our differences and stood firmly together as Americans.

    Nine years later, there is still a hole in the ground where the buildings in New York City once stood. In November 2006 I stood by and witnessed it. I remember the taxi driver being reluctant to take us there, when we answered where we wanted to go. To us, as tourists, it was one more attraction to check off on our list. To him, a native, it was a horrible and traumatizing memory. He almost tried to talk us out of it, saying “You don’t want to see ‘da hole.’” – yet he knew he would not talk us out of it. He had driven too many tourists to that place which he never wanted to see again. I especially sensed that when he offered that he would drop us off one block away, and we could walk over. He even agreed to wait for us there and, when we were done looking at ‘da hole,’ he would take us to our next destination.

    Our little group looked it over, and read the plaques and memorials that were setup. It was an accidental plot of sacred ground, in the middle of a bustling city of commerce and excitement. It hadn’t been intended as a sacred resting ground, but in a horrifying instant it was made such by a few who carried extreme religious beliefs.

    Which leads to the second big emotionally-charged event currently in the news… the planned Islamic center and mosque to be build about 2 blocks away from Ground Zero. In the 2001 attacks on the Trade Center, a cultural center and mosque 4 blocks away was damaged. The planners chose, rather than incur the expense of repairing that one, to use another piece of property 2 blocks away and renovate it to create a newer, better center. Plans I’ve seen describe this as a Muslim version of the YMCA – having a 900 seat theatre, athletic / recreation facilities, and room for prayer and worship.

    They meet the zoning requirements, and the facility would serve many good Muslim Americans who work or live in the area. Many Americans have taken it upon themselves to spout-off an opinion against putting a ‘Mosque’ so close to ‘Ground Zero.’ Although I admit that I may be wrong, I am for them building it.

    I belong to a religion commonly known as the Mormons. I think this allows me a unique understanding of how people, in general, are suspicious or fearful of what they don’t understand or believe.

    With every religion, including mine, there are some who take extreme positions. In my faith, there used to be a teaching that some men should marry multiple wives at the same time, under specific circumstances and by instruction from God. The mainstream church discontinued that practice about 120 years ago. But there are some who broke away from the main body, and continue to practice that teaching today. They call themselves “Fundaments Mormons,” but they represent an element that is extreme, fringe, and fanatic. Anyone trying to teach or practice that idea is excommunicated from the mainstream church. To me, on the ‘inside’ of the Mormon church, this makes perfect sense and is not an issue. Those outside the church generally group all people who profess to be Mormons into the so-called ‘Mormon Church,’ without any research or further thought. They form an opinion and move on.

    I think this same kind of thing has happened with the Muslims and the extremist Muslim believers who acted on September 11. I’ve observed that Muslims are fine people; I’ve been told that the Koran teaches good values, and I know that many people around the world have found satisfaction in following its ways. I have not read the Koran, but I’m certain that if I did, I would find many things to agree with in it, because the evidence is that people that follow it are largely good, honest, people; and many of them are fellow Americans.

    Now, I’d hate for someone to hear reports of some extremists who call themselves Mormons going on a terror rampage, and for the entire country to decide that Mormons cannot build anymore churches or temples because of it. And since I can feel that way about the Mormons, I can feel that way about the Muslims too. I am for more places that promote peace, prayer, and fellowship; and I am for them building where they want to build.

    Despite the fact that they might be fully in the right, and comply with all local laws, they won’t back down on their location choice. The only motive I see left in their continued attempt to build on this spot is to intentionally cause pain, heartache, anger, and contention in the hearts of other children of God who believe differently than they do. That, in all of my studies, is not something that Christ taught. I doubt it is something that the Koran even teaches. So perhaps in the name of peace, they ought to seriously consider relocating.

    That leads me to the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida. This little church of 50 followers identifies itself as a Christian group – yet there are many in the country doubting that they are truly founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Their pastor has spoken loudly and arrogantly about publicly burning copies of the Koran, the book of scripture which the Muslims hold sacred. Instead of encouraging his flock to read it, the pastor is encouraging them to torch it.

    I can think of nothing good that can possibly come from this. He will teach 50 followers that showing kindness is wrong. He is teaching 50 followers that trying to communicate and understand anyone who believes differently is incorrect. He is projecting an attitude that says ‘I am better than you.’ He also doesn’t seem to mind standing front and center for every microphone and camera that comes nearby.

    Again, I draw from my limited understanding and experience to draw some conclusions. My religion also believes in a book, which the rest of the world does not openly and whole-heartedly accept. I know that many times in the past 180 years, copies of The Book of Mormon have been destroyed in a vindictive manor – usually by those who have not read it and refuse to try to understand it. I expect it will happen many more times in the future. I’m disappointed, but it doesn’t bother me too much beyond that because the book is made of paper and ink. Its contents can be replaced, and its message is still the same.

    The Muslims, however, believe something a little deeper. I’ve been told that they don’t believe a copy of the Koran is simply paper and ink bound together, but that once the message of the Koran is printed on that paper, the book becomes a holy and sacred object. The destruction of that book becomes a tragedy. I remember a news report many years ago about Taco Bell switching to 100% recycled napkins, and Muslims being concerned that a Koran may have been recycled, and become part of a napkin, and now someone is wiping ‘Fire’ sauce from their face with the  sacred pages of scripture. I remember it being a very big concern at the time. They take the sacredness of the physical manuscript seriously.

    Now, if the Dove World Outreach Center is looking to conduct an experiment to find out what happens if you combine paper and fire, I can already tell you the result. The book will burn, there is no question about that. That leaves me to wonder what their true motive is?

    Despite the fact that they might be fully in the right, and comply with all local laws, they won’t back down on their activity. The only motive I see left in their continued attempt to burn the Koran is to intentionally cause pain, heartache, anger, and contention in the hearts of other children of God who believe differently than they do. That, in all of my studies, is not something that Christ taught. I doubt it is something that the Koran even teaches. So perhaps in the name of peace, they ought to seriously consider a different action.

    Isn’t the dove a symbol of peace anyway? And won’t a world outreach involve extending an olive branch rather than a stick on fire?