Monday, October 17, 2016

On politics and elections and Matthew 16

My current work makes it foolish for me to comment in public forums on current American politics.  But I can post a comment here to articulate what has been going on in my head after reading JST Matthew 16.  And I think that's okay considering how few read this blog.

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  And now for a man to take up his cross is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments….Break not [abandon not] my commandments for to save your [political or physical or social or any other kind of] lives; for whosoever will  to save his [political or physical or social etc.] life in this world, will lose it in the life to come.  And whosoever will lose his [political, physical or social life], for my sake, shall find it in the world to come."

It is always a bad idea to vote for a candidate who directly advocates and personally embraces ungodliness and lust simply because you believe the hate speech directed at his or her opponent or fear the opposing political party or potential  future legislation.  Fear and hate are never good reasons for voting and they are definitely never good reasons for compromising one’s commitment to Christ and his prescription for godly behavior.

 A politician who revels in his or her ungodly behavior daily  in his interaction  with others, denigrating other human beings, will never listen to you as a constituent unless you excuse and justify or minimize his wickedness and actively or passively support it.  And I, as a follower of Christ, have made a personal commitment that I will not do that.

I have lived long enough to have learned that it is not the party platform that makes a political candidate reliable and responsible.  It is not his or her foreign policy proposals or his or her domestic agenda.  It is not how much I disagree with the platform of the opposing party or how much I am bothered by his or her opponent.  It is the candidate’s personal commitment to basic godly principles of civility, decency, and willingness to sacrifice for the good of others, his or her moral compass, that makes a candidate reliable and responsible.  That personal commitment to basic principles may not have led that candidate to the same political conclusions that I have made.  It may sometimes even lead him or her to sponsor  legislation that I think is short-sighted, or wrong, or downright stupid.  But that moral compass must be there if I am to have any hope at all that he or she will listen to constituents or work with opponents to craft legislation that supports the vision of his constituents, including me.

No political candidate is without sin.  None  of us are.  All them have done stupid things.  All of them have bought into some of the world’s lies. But some have developed moral compasses and others simply have not.

Never vote out of fear.  Always vote for people who show evidence of civility, respect, goodwill, and a moral compass in spite of their stupid mistakes and their political ideas that do not mesh with yours.   (I have never met a politician that I did not seriously disagree with on some point or other.)  People who show evidence of those qualities can be persuaded to look at truth and work with opponents and listen to their honest hearted, civil, engaged constituents who see things differently than they do.  People who don’t, will never be.

As a disciple of Jesus Christ I hope that I would not ever support, embrace, or even justify or excuse ungodliness and lust or reveling in breaking basic commandments of God in any situation in order to save my own life.  And certainly never, ever, in order to save the life of a political party.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

You can't ask someone to....

"I think one of the most important traits a leader can have is knowing as a leader you can’t ask someone to do something you yourself wouldn’t do.
"I think this starts with the simple things and still applies with the large things; from things like a dress code to things like expecting employees to stay late at the office. If you ask something of someone you aren’t willing to do yourself it makes your credibility and respect factor decrease"

HS:  "Knowest thou the 'condescension' of God?"  The 'coming down to experience with you' of God?

N:  "I know that he loveth his children".

1 Nephi 11:16-17

God is our model of leadership.  He is love, expressed in His coming to be and work with us, not just directing the work, but coming here and living the work, and the circumstances, and the limitations, and the requirements, and the struggles too.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Paul on Self-Deception

Thanks to the Scriptorium Blogorium, part of which is posted below, that made me chuckle because it hit so closely to something that Lewis and I had just been fussing over that morning.  Touché.

3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. (Galatians 6:3-4)

"When we think we’re something when we’re nothing, of course we lie to ourselves. And if we persist, we will also deceive other people.  But eventually we will be put to the test, and it will reveal our nothingness and disappoint both ourselves and others.

"Also, it is easy to get a cock-eyed notion of what we’re capable of when we judge others or mentally charge them with neglect or pride or some other deficiency.  So often we think, “I could do better than that.”  But so often we are ignorant of what is involved—of the challenges to be overcome, of the opposing forces to be balanced, of the negotiations to be made, of considerations to be taken into account, of the skills required. The only way to find out how good you are at something is to test yourself, to prove your own work.  That will turn into a humbling process.  Ultimately, you’ll know more about yourself and you’re less likely to deceive yourself that way again.

"We can be tested by the Lord through circumstances, and we can also test ourselves.

"The one time I remember saying, “I could do better than that,” I then tested myself and over the process of a year or so discovered that I had indeed been deceiving myself.  It was a painful experience, but I’m still grateful for having done it because of what it taught me about myself. It also taught me much greater respect for the person I had previously looked down on."

Monday, October 10, 2016

Use and Discard. Exactly.

The Deseret News nailed it:

"Trump’s banter belies a willingness to use and discard other human beings at will. That characteristic is the essence of a despot."

In my opinion it is this objectification and complete disregard for the dignity and value of not only women but any person or group of people who is not himself that is at the heart of one of the most horrendously concerning examples of narcissist and sociopathic behavior by a political figure in our country's history.

Link to the newspaper's editorial:  HERE

Friday, September 30, 2016

Two things that I appreciate

There are a couple of things that I always appreciate here.

One is the swirl of water vapor in the cabin of airplanes.  We fly to Ho Chi Minh monthly, so we have logged a lot of flying miles.  And usually, as the plane begins to taxi to the runway, the vents are opened to start air circulating in the cabin, and the humid air from outside comes swirling into the cooler cabin and we suddenly have lovely twirling clouds inside the plane.  I enjoy watching the patterns they create in the air.  Science is a lovely thing.

Another thing I appreciate is the flexibility and power demonstrate in the Asian squat.  Here is a photo of a man, who with his young teenage son, was working at his car and motorbike washing station.

Note the amazing flexibility demonstrated by the angle of his ankle joint. That looks like a 60 degree angle to me with the heel firmly on the ground .  That means wonderfully flexible hamstrings.  He subsequently made that angle even smaller when he leaned forward, putting his shoulders forward of his knees.  Wow.  You try it.

And people go from this position to standing up in one smooth movement, totally powered by leg muscles.  That's amazing leg strength.

I am always impressed by that flexibility and strength that seems so every-day to them.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Con = "Together" or "With", Sacrare = "To Make Holy"

Consecrate, Consecration

Fron the Latin "consecratus" past participle of the verb, "consecrare";
"Con", meaning together or with + "sacrare", meaning to sanctify, or to make holy

 Another way of thinking about practicing the concept of "consecration" as a way of life.

"I noticed how focused I was on each act, I sought to make every nail just right, and every cut straight and true. I wasn’t so much focused on trying to make everything perfect per se, but to do everything in a manner that made it sacred."   ~ Steve Reed

The difference between focusing on trying to do something "right", and focusing on trying to do something in manner that makes it sacred; dedicated to God.

It is no just giving up what you have to God, or just using what God has given you to further His work.  It is the process of you humbly seeking to make yourself, and all you have, and all the work you do, become an element of holiness and oneness with Him.

Steve Reed's writing on the subject:  "What if Everything Became Sacred"

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Teaching Real Faith and Discipleship

 “At their best, youth ministries attract and at least temporarily retain teenagers who might otherwise leave the church. But the relentless attention to teenage tastes ends up communicating that God exists to make us feel good.  [And so] Christianity operates as a lifestyle enhancement…And increasingly, Americans of all generations take it for granted that emotional fulfillment is one of the main purposes of religious faith…"

~ Thomas Bergler "The Juvenilization of American Christianity"

Some of our young volunteers have not been fooled, but some still struggle because they have not seen beyond "how it makes me feel", or "personal performance of church standards makes me feel good about myself" as the measure of faith, light, truth and discipleship. 

So today I am contemplating ways we can help them catch the vision of living a life of profound strength in Christ amidst the foundation shaking challenges of life; to see faith and discipleship as deeply personally transforming both our hearts and our actions; a force for strength and peace and love that makes us His committed and holy servants who are finding strength in Him through all things life brings, rather than seeing faith as a form of hoping for and expecting and depending upon divinely bestowed, indulgent and random, (or, alternatively, performance based)  gifts of happiness boosts amidst the vagaries of our lives.