Category Archives: Global Church

Come Now, And Let’s Listen Together

Listening

Listening

Exquisite—That’s what it was. One of the most meaningful talks I’ve ever listened to was the one Neal A. Maxwell delivered as he was sustained as an apostle, “Notwithstanding My Weakness.” General Conference is an important time for any member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because we get to sit at the feet of a prophet and listen to the word of God. Like Mary of old, we want to choose “that good part”, and Elder Maxwell certainly helped us to do that. He spoke to anyone with recurring feelings of falling forever short. Maybe to each of us?

I was in the Missionary Training Center, getting ready to go to Argentina for two years to serve my mission. During General Conference, all of us missionaries wanted to take copious notes so that we might remember all of the wonderful ideas in these talks. Recordings were not generally available back then, and we knew that we’d be out of the United States by the time the text was available in the November 1976 Ensign. For Elder Maxwell‘s talk, after taking notes furiously for four or five minutes, wanting to retain quote after great quote, I paused to look around the room. All the other elders and sisters had already stopped trying to take notes and were just sitting there listening, hands and pens at rest, trying just to soak in the spirit of the rapid-fire, beautifully worded, carefully crafted text. It was like the lyrics of a song. I struggled for a bit longer to retain it all on paper, before I, too, gave up note-taking, rested my pen, and just sat and listened. It was an incredible moment for all of us. For weeks afterwards, nearly everyone said that their favorite moment in that General Conference was when they sat and feasted on Elder Maxwell‘s words, hands and fingers exhausted from trying to keep up. It was just sweet. Every time I re-read it, every time I listen to it yet again, I get emotional, just sitting — and remembering…

I invite you to read, watch or listen to the entire address from the October 1976 LDS General Conference. It is simply exquisite. It has something for all of us, and I hope you love it as much as I.

Putting The Fun In LDS General Conference

Putting The Fun In LDS General Conference

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Bonus Materials:

1. Great are the words of Isaiah, from which I take the title of this post: “Come now, and let us reason together…”

2. Article by Caleb Trujillo, “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice”: http://www.byui.edu/pathway/news-index/come-listen-to-a-prophets-voice

Article by Caleb Trujillo, 'Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice'

3. “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice”, Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

4. LDS Hymn 21, “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice”: https://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/come-listen-to-a-prophets-voice?lang=eng

5. Thoughts and experiences of various people on this topic:

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “Listening”—nature. berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-labor/7article/article40.htm
  • Photo, “Putting The Fun In LDS General Conference”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/conference-events/general-conference?lang=eng&start=41&end=80&order=
  • Photo, “Article by Caleb Trujillo, ‘Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice’ ”—www. byui.edu/pathway/news-index/come-listen-to-a-prophets-voice
  • Photo, Hemingway quote-Listen completely—izquotes.com/quote/82873 (Source/Notes:
    As quoted in: Ernest Hemingway: the man and his work, by John K. M. McCaffery, World Publishing Co., 1956)

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Hemingway quote-Listen completely

Are Mormon Woman Oppressed? Do Women Hold Positions Of Authority In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Our Family’s Answer.

Reader Question:
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who happens to be Muslim, said to me, “People are always asking me whether or not I feel oppressed as a woman in Islam. And I don’t! Are Mormon women oppressed? Do women hold positions of authority in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

Family Answer:
This truly is a good question. And my friend was asking in the best way possible—with a sincere heart and mind. It was a “clean question”, a phrase we use in our family to indicate a question free of any agenda. She had no intent to pounce on my answer; her question was in no way mean-spirited; she was not intending to entrap or embarrass me or the Church. She merely was seeking information and was simply an open book. It was refreshing to see her approach, because this question, being truly a good question, unfortunately is not always asked in such a constructive way. In our family, and as Mormons, we believe strongly that sincere, honest questions are always a good thing. To gather answers to this question, we talked to our adult kids, and here are the answers we gathered:

rocks on a misty beachAuthority to act in God’s name and the fullness of gospel truths were lost in the centuries after the death of Jesus (Bible, Amos 8:11-12, 2 Thessalonians 2:3). For example, Christ established important roles for women disciples—As the Lord’s Church was lost in apostasy, this pattern of discipleship was also lost (Julie B. Beck, Ensign, Nov 2011). After this apostasy, people noticed inconsistencies between what the current church taught and what they read. They protested against these errors and taught the truths they saw in the Bible. Various people were inspired by God to fight against various false doctrines, and little by little, many churches moved closer to the doctrines of Jesus Christ. This process also created divisions and sects that taught a variety of conflicting doctrines. When Christ restored His authority to the earth, He restored this authority to everyone, in all walks of life. Specifically for your answer, He restored His authority both to the men and the women of the world. Here are some of the ramifications. We hope that some are meaningful to you.

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1. Video by Sheri Dew: What do LDS women get? Are Mormon women oppressed?

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2. While serving on a Relief Society board, Lillian DeLong visited a rural area of Ghana. Her husband was in Priesthood meeting in another room, and she was in Relief Society meeting, each conducting leadership training. After it was over, a woman came up to Lillian. In her beautiful Ghanaian church dress, she shook her hand and kept saying, “This is a woman’s church.” Lillian asked, “What do you mean, ‘This is a woman’s church?’” And she said, “We have just been in the marvelous Relief Society that teaches us not only spiritual things but temporal things about how to make our lives and our children and our families better. And at the same time your husband is in the Priesthood room and he is teaching our husbands that the culture of the church does not allow for them to beat their wives and their children.”

And she said, “In this church, my husband and I get to go to the temple and we are going to seal our children to us. And I have seven of my eleven kids that are dead. And I want my children with me. This is a woman’s church because it protects me and gives me all of those things.” (Sharon Eubank, Director, Humanitarian Services and LDS Charities, “This is a Woman’s Church”, FairMormon Conference, Provo UT, 8 Aug 2014.

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3. In and out of the Church, Mormon women lead all the time; the influence of their leadership extends far and wide. As a global leader in the Relief Society, Sheri L. Dew taught us in Oct 2001: “Sisters, some will try to persuade you that because you are not ordained to the priesthood, you have been shortchanged. They are simply wrong, and they do not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. The blessings of the priesthood are available to every righteous man and woman. We may all receive the Holy Ghost, obtain personal revelation, and be endowed in the temple, from which we emerge ‘armed’ with power. The power of the priesthood heals, protects, and inoculates all of the righteous against the powers of darkness. Most significantly, the fulness of the priesthood contained in the highest ordinances of the house of the Lord can be received only by a man and woman together.” (Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, Chapter 8, “Blessings of the Priesthood for All: An Inseparable Connection with the Priesthood”, Page 128.)

I have learned for myself that women who know and live the gospel of Jesus Christ understand that “the priesthood of God is not owned by or embodied in those who hold it. It is held in a sacred trust to be used for the benefit of men, women and children alike.” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, as quoted in Daughters in My Kingdom, Chapter 8, Page 127.)

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4. Just as Isaac and Rebekah of the Old Testament put a lot of work into ensuring that their son Jacob and his future wife enjoyed the blessings of an eternal marriage (Julie B. Beck, Aug 2009, “Teaching the Doctrine of the Family”), my wife and I have put a lot of work into our marriage and into raising our kids. The two of us together are better than the sum of the two of us separately (Sheri L. Dew, LDS General Conference, Oct 2001, “It Is Not Good for Man or Woman to Be Alone”). As Isaac and Rebekah did, we want to be the man who has the keys and the woman who has the influence, working together as a two-are-better-than-one closely-knit team to see that we are prepared and to bring about the work that God wants us to do, equally yoked in our responsibilities as spouses and parents. “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers should help one another as equal partners.” (Family Proclamation.)

“The world does not know us, and truth…demands that we speak… We are not inferior to the ladies of the world, and we do not want to appear so.” (Eliza R. Snow, 6 Jan 1870.) While women do not hold the priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ, women leaders in the Church impact all of us. “The world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ.” (Daughters in My Kingdom, Page 3.)

Early in her life, my wife, Kim, nurtured a strong desire to be a woman of power and a woman of influence. She decided that she could do that most effectively by choosing to stay at home to raise a family. Her influence on our six adult children and on their families cannot be measured. That is influence; that is power. We are grateful for her wisdom to wield these skills in such a way as to have a true impact on society.

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5. Established in 1842 for women 18 years old and older, the Relief Society is the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world. The motto is “Charity never faileth”. President Julie B. Beck has taught us: “Relief Society should be organized, aligned, and mobilized to strengthen families and help our homes to be sacred sanctuaries from the world. I learned this years ago when I was newly married. My parents, who had been my neighbors, announced that they would be moving to another part of the world… This was before e-mail, fax machines, cell phones, and Web cameras, and mail delivery was notoriously slow. One day before she left, I sat weeping with her and asked, ‘Who will be my mother?’ Mother thought carefully, and with the Spirit and power of revelation which comes to women of this kind, she said to me, ‘If I never come back, if you never see me again, if I’m never able to teach you another thing, you tie yourself to Relief Society. Relief Society will be your Mother.’ Mother knew that if I were sick, the sisters would take care of me, and when I had my babies, they would help me. But my mother’s greatest hope was that the sisters in Relief Society would be powerful, spiritual leaders for me. I began from that time to learn abundantly from women of stature and faith.” (Daughters in My Kingdom, Pages 96-98.)

I have learned that the women of the Relief Society build faith and personal righteousness and help those in need. They have strengthened my family and my home.

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We hope this answers your questions and helps you to understand us better, to understand better how women hold positions of authority in the Church of Jesus Christ and especially how Mormon women lead others, all the time and in all they do.

And let us know how we may help you further! If you find that you have any questions about religious issues that you’ve been wondering about or that you haven’t been able to get good answers to, feel free to continue on discussion with us. It turns out that there are a lot of people with questions, and most of them have given up on churches as a source of answers. In our family, it is our experience that answers are out there, that God wants us to have them, and that they tend to be answers we like and have learned to appreciate. Working together with Heavenly Father allows anyone to find certainty in uncertain times.

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

woman running on a beach

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Bonus Materials:

1. “You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory,” Sheri Dew, President and CEO of Deseret Book Company, BYU Devotional Address, 9 Dec 2003, Read: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=984,
or Watch/Listen:

2. “Mothers Who Know,” Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President, LDS General Conference, Oct 2007, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/mothers-who-know?lang=eng#watch=video.

3. “Teaching the Doctrine of the Family,” Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President, Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Satellite Broadcast, 9 Aug 2009, http://theredheadedhostess.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/2009-beck-teaching-the-doctrine-of-the-family__eng.pdf.

4. “The Moral Force of Women,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson, LDS General Conference, Oct 2013, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/the-moral-force-of-women?lang=eng.

5. “What I Hope My Granddaughters (and Grandsons) Will Understand about Relief Society”, Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President, General Relief Society Meeting, Sep 2011, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/what-i-hope-my-granddaughters-and-grandsons-will-understand-about-relief-society?lang=eng.

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, rocks-on-a-misty-beach—www. org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng
  • Photo, woman-walking-on-a-beach—www. lds.org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng

——– End of WebCredits ——–

In What Ways Do Mormons Serve Others In The Community? Our Family’s Answer.

What Can You Do For Your Community?

What Can You Do For Your Community?

Reader Question:
Last weekend, a friend asked, “In what ways do Mormons serve others in our community?”  

Family Answer:
Good question. In our family, and as Mormons, we believe strongly that sincere, honest questions are always a good thing. To gather other answers to this question, we talked to our adult kids, and here are the answers we gathered:

1. Joseph Smith taught us that we are “to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church, or in any other, or in no church at all.” (Times and Seasons, 15 Mar 1842, Page 732.)

2. Here’s an example of how we strive to help others In the Church of Jesus Christ. A handful of women touched the life of a youth named Lynne when her stepfather died. Because she saw these sisters help at a critical time when she was a teenager, Lynne was determined to take her turn to serve when she grew older. As an adult, she shared this story.

“A young mother in my congregation, one of my friends, suddenly lost her only child, a beautiful three-year-old daughter, to an infection that took her life before the doctors were even aware of how serious her illness was. The other counselor and I went to the house as soon as we heard of little Robin’s death. As we approached the screened patio door, we heard the father (who was not a member of our Church) sobbing as he talked long distance to his mother. Looking up, he saw us and, still sobbing, spoke into the phone: ‘It will be all right, Mother. The Mormon women are here.’ My turn once more.” (Daughters in My Kingdom, Chapter 10, “Live Up to Your Privilege”, Page 178.)

3. In our family, we like to serve at the local community kitchen, at an interfaith shelter during the winter, at a senior center, or at a local food warehouse. We want to get out of our comfort zone to rub shoulders with people in our community in a number of ways. I think it’s particularly important to do this with people who aren’t like me. It’s important to us not only to write a check but also to donate our labor free of charge and to make new friends by sharing our time and our conversations.

We hope this answers your question and helps you to understand us better, to understand better how your Mormon neighbors serve in your community, and how you may help them out by serving together.

And let us know how we may help you further! If you find that you have any questions about religious issues that you’ve been wondering about or that you haven’t been able to get good answers to, feel free to continue on discussion with us. It turns out that there are a lot of people with questions, and most of them have given up on churches as a source of answers. In our family, it is our experience that answers are out there, that God wants us to have them, and that they tend to be answers we like and have learned to appreciate. Working together with Heavenly Father allows anyone to find certainty in uncertain times.

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

How Can You Have Fun Doing It?

How Can You Have Fun Doing It?

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Bonus Materials:

1. Get Involved In Your Community Service
http://www.mormon.org/values/community-service

2. What Can We All Do?
https://www.lds.org/topics/humanitarian-service/help?lang=eng

3. Mormon in America: A guided tour of an LDS Bishop’s storehouse
http://www.nbcnews.com/video/rock-center/48745343#48745343

There are bishop’s storehouses in many locations around the world.

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “What Can You Do For Your Community?”, from “Helping Hands Day Is A Community To Community”, The Davis Enterprise (Davis, California), dated 21 Sep 2014—www. davisenterprise.com/local-news/helping-hands-day-is-a-commitment-to-community/
  • Photo, “How Can You Have Fun Doing It?”, from “Helping Hands Day Is A Community To Community”, The Davis Enterprise (Davis, California), dated 21 Sep 2014—www. davisenterprise.com/local-news/helping-hands-day-is-a-commitment-to-community/

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Unthinkable, Impossible, Unfathomable, Unprecedented

In this Easter season, we in our family want all of you to know that we believe in religious liberty, in upholding a strong tradition of civil discourse with people who aren’t like us, and in expressing a heart-felt faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We say these things on our own initiative. We feel them deep in our hearts. They make us who we are. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow everyone the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

Mary With The Resurrected Christ

Mary With The Resurrected Christ

We are glad that the Savior was born in a stable, died and came forth alive three days later with a resurrected and perfect body that would never perish, never go away. It’s because of Him that we live where traditions of religious liberty have thrived. It’s because of Him that we can be a forever family. It’s because of Him that we have the freedoms we enjoy.

“I believe that in time, with patience and good will, contending constitutional rights and conflicting personal values can be brought into mutually respectful accommodation.”
Excerpts from Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ Constitutional Symposium Address 16 April 2014. (Time 5:10.)

It was unthinkable, impossible, unfathomable, unprecedented.
He was a carpenter, a teacher, an outcast, a leader.
Like all who preceded Him, He lived, and He died.
But unlike all who preceded Him, He rose from the dead.
He lived again.
He lives, and because He lives, we all will live again.
Because of Him, death hath no sting, the grave no victory.
We can start again, and again, and again.
Because of Him, guilt becomes peace, regret becomes relief,
despair becomes hope.
Because of Him, we have second chancesclean slatesnew beginnings.
There is no such thing as The End.
Because of Him:

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

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Bonus Material:

1. Our Forever Family

Our Forever Family

2. My Kingdom is Not of This World

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  •   Photo, “Mary With The Resurrected Christ”—www. .lds.org/bible-videos/videos/my-kingdom-is-not-of-this-world?cid=HPTH041714699&lang=eng

——– End of WebCredits ——–

The World, Bathed In Light

This is a photo-essay, a collection of images with a theme. A long post, but with reason. Just a gallery of pictures and paintings. Images of light. People and places around the globe, many of them in a religious light. All of them to me are spiritual. Source credits included. There are 64, and we hope you enjoy them. Click on an image to make it bigger!

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Monks releasing flying lanterns during Loy Krathong
in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Monks releasing flying lanterns during Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai, Thailand
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-TPDTLsq/A]
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 A monk lighting up candles in a pond during Visakha Bucha night
in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
A monk lighting up candles in a pond during Visakha Bucha night in Chiang Mai, Thailand
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-5hjBsMs/A]
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A monk slowly lighting up candles during Asalaha Bucha
in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
A monk slowly lighting up candles during Asalaha Bucha in Chiang Mai, Thailand
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-Sx7rh9D/A]
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Grand Palace upper terrace and statures of mythical creatures
in Bangkok, Thailand.
Grand Palace Upper Terrace and Statures of Mythical Creatures in Bangkok, Thailand
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple, in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple, in Chiang Rai, Thailand
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-QhqjSb3/A]
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 Home interior, Cairo.
Home Interior, Cairo
[Credit: From private collection.]
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A sunset captured from the dock of a ferry
from Corfu, Greece to the mainland of Greece.

[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-V2Fxkb7/A]
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Cityscape panorama in Brindisi, Italy.
Brindisi Panorama
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-rzC2grd/A]
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 A town of the Cinque Terre Bay of Liguria, Italy.
A town of the Cinque Terre Bay of Liguria, Italy
[Credit: http://www.understandingitaly.com/liguria-content/cinqueterre.html]
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Another town of the Cinque Terre Bay of Liguria, Italy.
Another town of the Cinque Terre Bay of Liguria, Italy
[Credit: http://www.touristmaker.com/]
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Basilica dei Fieschi in San Salvatore di Cogorno, Italy.
Basilica dei Fieschi in San Salvatore di Cogorno, Italy
[Credit: http://www.laterrazzasuifieschi.com/cosa-fare-cosa-vedere/la-basilica-dei-fieschi/]
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Family At Home in Accra, Ghana.
Family At Home
[Credit: http://www.lds.org/media-library/images/family-portraits?lang=eng&start=1&end=10]
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“Spruce Forest” («Еловый лес» or “Yeloviy Lyes”) (1892),
Ivan Shishkin, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
Spruce Forest (1892), Ivan Shishkin, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
[Credit: From print in Shishkin book in private collection.]
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“Valiant Warriors of Old” («Богатыри» or “Bogatyri”) (1898),
Viktor Vasnetsov, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
Valiant Warriors of Old (1898), Viktor Vasnetsov, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
[Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Die_drei_Bogatyr.jpg]
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Worshippers in the mosque in Muslim quarter of Xi’an, China.
Worshippers in the Mosque in Muslim Quarter of Xi'an, China
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Terracotta and flesh warriors in Xi’an, China.
Terracotta and Flesh Warriors in Xi'an, China
[Credit: From private collection.]
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 Mirrored walk, Parque Lezama in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Mirrored Walk, Parque Lezama in Buenos Aires, Argentina
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Behind a wall in Buenos Aires, a sublime house stood;
I knocked and asked to enter.
Behind a wall in Buenos Aires, a sublime house stood; I knocked and asked to enter
[Credit:  From private collection.]
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Turned out to be a house of God;
kind sisters gave me a tour of their chapel.
Turned out to be a house of God; kind sisters gave me a tour of their chapel
[Credit:  From private collection.]
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“Returning (Back to the Ranch)” (circa 1900), Ángel Della Valle
(“De regreso (vuelta al rancho)”).
Returning to the Ranch (circa 1900), Angel Della Valle
[Credit: http://www.arcadja.com/auctions/en/della_valle_angel/artist/403933/]
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Quintessential trees of unofficial sub-barrio Belgrano R,
in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Quintessential Trees of Belgrano R in Buenos Aires, Argentina
[Credit: http://www.latidobuenosaires.com/fotosbelgranorbarriobuenosairesargentina.html]
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Trees of Calle Melián, Belgrano R, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Trees of Calle Melian, Belgrano R, Buenos Aires, Argentina
[Credit: http://www.latidobuenosaires.com/fotosbelgranorbarriobuenosairesargentina.html]
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Avenida Santa Fe, Plaza Gral. San Martín, Barrio Retiro,
in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Avenida Santa Fe, Plaza Gral. San Martin, Barrio Retiro, in Buenos Aires, Argentina
[Credit: http://riowang.blogspot.com/2009_10_01_archive.html]
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Alpenglow of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, USA.
Mount Washington Summit In The Alpenglow
[Credit: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/portrait-or-landscape/]
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Mount Avalon in New Hampshire, USA.
The View From The Top. From Mt. Avalon To The Presidentials.
[Credit: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/portrait-or-landscape/]
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Female photographer waiting for sunrise
on Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, USA.
Awaiting Sunrise. Mt Washington, NH
[Credit: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/portrait-or-landscape/]
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Layers of color on Mt Washington, New Hampshire, USA.
White Mountain Layers
[Credit: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/portrait-or-landscape/]
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Crescent Lake at night in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Crescent Lake at Night in Dhaka, Bangladesh
[Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhaka]
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Festival of Japan, bamboo light.
Festival of Japan, Bamboo Light
[Credit: http://www.123rf.com/photo_12401506_festival-of-japan-bamboo-light.html]
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Golden field in Italy.
Golden Field in Italy
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-VMJ8DSf/A]
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Morning light during fall in Kentucky, USA.
Morning light during fall in Kentucky, USA
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-nQzfF3N/A]
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 Grotto in Cancun, México.
Grotto in Cancun, Mexico
[Credit: http://www.lds.org/media-library/images/international?lang=eng&start=21&end=30]
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Climbing the Great Wall at Mutianyu, China.
Climbing the Great Wall at Mutianyu, China
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Tuyoq village in Turpan, Xinjiang, China.
Tuyoq Village in Turpan, Xinjiang, China
[Credit: http://www.drokpa.com/PotD.php?image=/PotD/Turpan,-China—Tuyoq-Village-81.jpg]
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Canal along Pingjiang Road in Suzhou, China.
Canal Along Pingjiang Road in Suzhou, China
[Credit: at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Near-Pingjiang-Road.JPG
or info at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzhou]
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The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE (United Arab Emirates) is seen as a construction to ‘unite the world’, using artisans and materials from countries such as Italy, Germany, Moracco, India, Turkey, Iran, China, Greece, and the UAE.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is seen as a construction to 'unite the world'
[Credit: http://www.canvas-of-light.com/2011/03/photo-essay-sheikh-zayed-mosque-uae/]
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 In the ablution room of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE (United Arab Emirates), worshippers clean themselves in order to be in a state of purity before praying. It is decorated with marble tiles and a large fountain in the middle of the room.
In the ablution room, worshipers clean themselves in order to be in a state of purity before praying.
[Credit: http://www.canvas-of-light.com/2011/03/photo-essay-sheikh-zayed-mosque-uae/]
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The main prayer hall in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE (United Arab Emirates), features the world’s second largest chandelier (the largest one being in Doha, Qatar) hanging directly below the largest dome. It is ten meters in diameter, fifteen meters in height, and weighs nine tons.
The main prayer hall features the world’s second largest chandelier, ten meters in diameter, fifteen meters in height, and weighs nine tons.
[Credit: http://www.canvas-of-light.com/2011/03/photo-essay-sheikh-zayed-mosque-uae/]
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Natural materials were chosen for the design and construction of the Mosque due to their long-lasting qualities, including marble, stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics. Again, in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE (United Arab Emirates).
Natural materials were chosen for the design and construction of the Mosque due to their long-lasting qualities
[Credit: http://www.canvas-of-light.com/2011/03/photo-essay-sheikh-zayed-mosque-uae/]
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“Paris Street; Rainy Day” (1877), Gustave Caillebotte.
Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877), Gustave Caillebotte
[Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gustave_Caillebotte_-_Paris_Street;_Rainy_Day_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg]
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Interior window in Sainte-Chapelle, Paris.
Interior window in Sainte-Chapelle, Paris
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Country chic staircase, The Queen’s Hamlet at Versailles, France.
Country Chic Staircase, The Queen's Hamlet, Versailles, France
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Water mill, The Queen’s Hamlet at Versailles, France.
Water Mill, The Queen’s Hamlet at Versailles, France
[Credit: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-queens-hamlet-versailles-gary-tinnes.html]
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Winter at Caravan Sarayi, 15th Century roadside inn
on ancient Silk Road, near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan.
Winter at Caravan Sarayi, 15th Century Roadside Inn on Ancient Silk Road, near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan
[Credit: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/kyrgyzstan/images/tash-rabat-caravanserai-kyrgyzstan$1758-11]
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 Dome interior of Caravan Sarayi near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan.
Dome Interior of Caravan Sarayi near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan
[Credit: http://www.traveladventures.org/continents/asia/tash-rabat.html]
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Interior hallway of dome of Caravan Sarayi
near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan.
Interior Hallway of Dome of Caravan Sarayi near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan
[Credit: http://www.traveladventures.org/continents/asia/tash-rabat.html]
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Caravan Sarayi dwarfed by surrounding mountains
near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan.
Caravan Sarayi Dwarfed by Surrounding Mountains near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan
[Credit: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/silk-road-kyrgysztan/
(link no longer valid)]
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Top of the World in Lofoten Islands, Norway.
Top of the World in Lofoten Islands, Norway
[Credit: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/
(link may be invalid)]
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 Women from Nigeria.
Women from Nigeria
[Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nigerian_women.jpg]
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Jerusalem panorama at sunset.
Jerusalem Panorama
[Credit: http://www.actforisrael.org/blog/blog/?attachment_id=4738]
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Arches above Eastern Gate (Golden Gate) in Jerusalem.
Arches Above Eastern Gate (Golden Gate) in Jerusalem
[Credit: From private collection.]
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The misty mountains of Yangshuo and Guilin
in the Li Jiang river region of China.
The misty mountains of Yangshuo and Guilin in the Li Jiang river region of China
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Riverside hamlet on Li Jiang Near Yangshuo, China.
Riverside Hamlet on Li Jiang Near Yangshuo, China
[Credit: From private collection.]
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 San Diego Temple
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(Mormon temple or LDS temple in San Diego, California, USA)
.
Mormon Temple in San Diego, California, USA[Credit: 
http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/sandiego/gallery/download.php?id=780]
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Newlyweds with bright eyes and glowing faces outside a Mormon temple.
Newlyweds with bright eyes and glowing faces outside a Mormon temple
[Credit: From private collection.]
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Plaza de Armas at night in Cuzco, Perú.
Plaza de Armas at night in Cuzco, Peru
[Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Cuzco]
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Roof mosaic in the Tomb of Hafez, Shiraz, Iran.
Roof Mosaic, Tomb of Hafez, Shiraz, Iran
[Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Hafez]
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Tehran at night from Jamshidieh Park.
Tehran at night from Jamshidieh Park
[Credit: http://farrokhi.net/]
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Sunset over Granada, Spain.
Sunset over Granada - Spain
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-bLsqCbP/A]
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The Alhambra palace during sunset,
shot from the mirador de San Nicolas in Granada, Spain.
The Alhambra at Sunset ~ Granada
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-dppVjdR/A]
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The Plaza Isabel la Católica with a statue of
the Queen Isabel and Christopher Columbus in Granada, Spain.
Plaza Isabel la Catolica ~ Granada
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-9g5W2DG/A]
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The Sun Voyager (Sólfar in Icelandic) is a sculpture by
Jón Gunnar Árnason (1931-1989), an Icelandic artist born in Reykjavik.
The Sun Voyager (Solfar in Icelandic) is a sculpture Jon Gunnar Arnason (1931-1989), an Icelandic artist born in Reykjavik
[Credit: http://canvas-of-light.smugmug.com/Portfolio/i-VTJdqfv/A]
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Two nuns walking down a small street in the historic district of Cuzco, Perú.
Two nuns walking down a small street in the historic district of Cuzco, Peru
[Credit: http://kathyadamsclark.blogspot.com/2012/12/peru-photo-tour-recap-cusco.html]
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Zenkoji Temple, Nagano, Japan.
Zenkoji is a place for prayer, light, and enlightenment.
Although it is a Buddhist temple, all are welcome,
regardless of gender, creed or religious belief.
Zenkoji Temple, Nagano, Japan
[Credit: http://smba2010.blogspot.com/2010/05/saturday-may-22-2010.html]

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Hope you enjoyed this view through our lens
and the lens of many talented folks.
A brief and wonderful view of the world.
And what a wonderful worldview!

Mormon Speaks At Ecumenical Event; Chapel Walls Fail To Collapse!

(Please forgive the long post. It’s for a good reason: a local interfaith/multifaith group invited me to speak at an annual ecumenical event for interwoven faiths as part of Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity. For twenty minutes. It was my pleasure to say Yes. Here’ s the result, if you wish to read it. Enjoy!)

Christian Crosses At A Joint Service For The Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity

Christian Crosses At A Joint Service For The Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity

I’ve attended many ecumenical meetings, but this is the first time I’ve ever spoken at one. As part of my faith tradition as a Mormon, I’m used to closing sacred remarks “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Will it be OK if I do so this evening at the end? (Response: Unanimous and general Yes.)


We are always teaching. What shall we teach? With the 2014 theme of this event being “Has Christ Been Divided?” and the scripture reference of 1 Corinthians Chapter 1: verses 1 through 17, I’d like to quote verses 4 through 7:

4. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
5. That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
6. Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
7. So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jewish Quarter, Old City, Jerusalem

Jewish Quarter, Old City, Jerusalem

This past week, Rabbi Jeremy Schneider, the spiritual leader of Temple Kol Ami in Scottsdale, Arizona, and vice president of the Greater Phoenix Board of Rabbis, toured the Mormon Temple in the nearby city of Gilbert during an open house for the new building. In the recent edition of Jewish News, he teaches us:

In last week’s Torah portion, we read about Moses learning a valuable lesson from his father-in-law, Jethro. Jethro tells Moses to appoint judges who will handle the burden of judging the people from morning until night, taking only the most difficult cases for himself. Jewish sages note that Moses learns this valuable lesson from his non-Israelite father-in-law Jethro, a Midianite.

Our tradition asks the question based on this interaction: “Who is wise?” The answer, “One who learns from ALL people” (Pirkei Avot, Chapter 4: Mishna 1).

We are always teaching. What do we teach? What do we teach about God? As part of this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I have thought of my own powerful moments of communion with God. When I was a child and walked in to see my parents at prayer, I remember the whoosh of feelings of safety and security but mostly of sacredness.

Cairo, Home Interior

Cairo, Home Interior

My favorite memory of the power of a prayerful life is one at work. I knocked on a friend’s office door; normally, he responds quickly with, “Come in!”, and I open the door. Sometimes, I’ll hear water running in the office bathroom as he makes ablution, and I know not to knock at the door for a few minutes after he returns to his office. But this day I was distracted and failed to notice that my knock at the door from without brought no invitation voiced from within. Out of habit, I called him by name, adding the customary honorific suffix, and opened the door. I found my elderly friend kneeling lowly on his prayer rug. It was such a holy moment. I felt that I had entered a bubble – a bubble of spirituality – of spirituality established by my friend, as he created a sacred space for prayer. In a familiar whoosh of feeling, I was aware that I had missed the cues of the sounds at the sink. Having cleansed himself without as he focused on cleansing himself within, he was now talking with his Maker, expressing humility without as he voiced humility within. It was just like walking in on my parents at prayer. After prayers were done, we embraced; I apologized for disturbing a sacred moment. “Oh, I don’t mind. I am just doing my duty,” he said. I replied, “It is the duty of us all.”

When I think of my favorite moments of prayer, I will always see in my mind and in my heart an elderly man from Uzbekistan, with shoes removed from off his feet, kneeling submissively on sacred ground in his office, visible to none but to Him who sees all.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost

In Robert M. Edsel’s book, The Monuments Men, I recently found this gem:

Children live in a closed world, and young Harry [Ettlinger] assumed life as he knew it had gone on that way forever. He didn’t have any friends who weren’t Jewish, but his parents didn’t either, so that didn’t seem unusual. [In 1930’s Germany, he] saw non-Jews at school and in the parks, and he liked them, but buried deep within those interactions was the knowledge that, for some reason, he was an outsider. He had no idea that the world was entering an economic depression, or that hard times bring recriminations and blame. Privately, Harry’s parents worried not just about the economy, but about the rising tide of nationalism and anti-Semitism. Harry noticed only that perhaps the line between himself and the larger world of [his town of] Karlsruhe was becoming easier to see and harder to cross.

In September [1938], twelve-year-old Harry and his two brothers took the train seventeen miles to Bruchsal to visit their grandparents for the last time… Opa Oppenheimer[, Harry’s grandpa,] showed them, one last time, a few select pieces from his collection of prints… His art collection contained almost two thousand prints, primarily ex libris bookplates and works by minor German Impressionists working in the late 1890s and early 1900s. One of the best was a print, made by a local artist, of the self-portrait by Rembrandt that hung in the Karlsruhe museum. The painting was a jewel of the museum’s collection… Harry had never seen it, despite living four blocks away from it his whole life. In 1933, the museum had barred entry to Jews.

A week later, on September 24, 1938, Harry Ettlinger celebrated his bar mitzvah in Karlsruhe’s magnificent Kronenstrasse Synagogue… On October 9, 1938, they arrived in New York harbor. Exactly one month later, on November 9, [was] Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass… The Jewish men of Karlsruhe, including Opa Oppenheimer, were rounded up and put in the nearby Dachau internment camp. The magnificent hundred-year-old Kronenstrasse Synagogue…was burned to the ground. Harry Ettlinger was the last boy ever to have his bar mitzvah ceremony in the old synagogue of Karlsruhe.

Three generations of a Jewish family light a menorah during Hanukkah

Three generations of a Jewish family light a menorah during Hanukkah

But this story isn’t about Kronenstrasse Synagogue, the internment camp at Dachau, or even the Holocaust against the Jews… For when Private Harry Ettlinger, U.S. Army, finally returned to Karlsruhe, it wasn’t to search for his lost relatives or the remains of his community; it was to determine the fate of another aspect of his heritage stripped away by the Nazi regime: his grandfather’s beloved art collection. In the process he would discover, buried six hundred feet underground, something he had always known about but never expected to see: the Rembrandt of Karlsruhe. (Ibid, Pages 7-13.)

We are always teaching.

I was asked to share with you this evening the story of my own interfaith journey. I used to think that the work of interweaving faiths was about crossing lines, such as the lines that Harry Ettlinger saw between himself and the larger world of Karlsruhe. After years, I learned that I was wrong. Very wrong. I noticed that focusing on lines encourages designations of WE vs. THEY. So I started thinking instead about circles. Years earlier, when I was about eight years old, in our weekly family home evening, my mom had us memorize the poem Outwitted, by Edwin Markham:

He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

So I began to move beyond the Here or There of lines, or even the In or Out of circles, and instead tried to focus less on who was In and who was Out and to focus more on expanding my circle to include another. Despite a person’s flaws, for me the challenge became to see the good in them, to see what good I could find to help me be good, to help me be better.

For example, I lived in South America for a couple of years as I served a Mormon mission among the people of Argentina. I had been there just a few months, when I was straightening up the bookshelf in my room, picked up some pamphlets, and saw something flutter to the floor. I stooped to pick it up and found that it was a U.S. stamp. On it was the image of Thomas Jefferson. And I burst into tears. My immediate reaction was, “I’m starting to lose it‼” But then I started to realize why I had burst into tears. This stamp was from my homeland. It had been months since I had seen anything from home. And this was Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father, author of the Declaration of Independence in just seventeen days, who wrote the words, “All men are created equal,” who wrote, “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable,” which Ben Franklin changed to, “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” I think that everyone should spend a couple of years after high school in a foreign country; it can deepen one’s feelings of patriotism, even without them knowing it. It certainly did mine.

Gauchos a caballo (1900), Ángel Della Valle (“Gauchos on horseback”)

Gauchos a caballo (1900), Ángel Della Valle (“Gauchos on horseback”)

Then, as I lived among the people of Argentina, I learned to love them. I learned traditional Argentine folk songs from our local Mormon bishop, who played a wicked Latin guitar, and we’d sing with gusto like gauchos around a campfire. I learned the National Anthem and sang it with gusto at every parade and holiday. It surprised everyone around me, but my heart just wanted to join in, and not just sing, but to know the words and why they were meaningful. In spite of the day of the stamp, I began to wonder what I was going to do when I returned home and no longer could buy delicious Mantecol candy bars or drink amargo, a bitter, BITTER soft drink that I had grown to love.

At that point, I discarded the idea of circles in my interwoven faith work. I loved the people of Argentina not because they were all Mormons—They weren’t! I found that my core feelings of being an American remained at my center and indeed were strengthened. I loved extending my circle as far as it could go, only to learn that, really, I could extend it yet a little further. But the circle analogy didn’t seem to work anymore; it just didn’t seem expressive enough for what I felt. I had lived in Argentina for not yet a year, and I realized that I no longer felt like an outsider extending my circle. I was Argentine. I was American. Americans were my people, and Argentines were my people. I had developed a dual citizenship of the heart. Just as I had moved beyond the We/They of lines, I had moved beyond the concept of designating circles. I had learned that what was important for me was to develop feelings down deep. I would be happy in the United States my entire life. I now would be happy in Argentina my entire life, “perhaps until the day I die.” I had succeeded in making their lives my life.

We are always teaching. What should we teach? I suggest that we take a cue from my Muslim friend and teach about duty. We should teach about our duty to God. Anyone involved in the Boy Scouts of America, youth or adult, uses the Scout Oath to teach others “to do my duty to God and my country.” Part of our duty to God is to listen to Him, to see as God sees, to think as God thinks, to act as He would, to be a tool in His hands. The prophet Isaiah taught us:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales, Colombia

Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales, Colombia

I learned yet again to go beyond lines and circles, learning yet again the importance of feeling things down deep, when I hurried to help Felipe, whose wife and family had just died in a plane crash. I helped Arturo, his brother, as we stood and waited for hours in the heat, watching as officials opened each body bag they had carried from the helicopters to the basketball arena used as a temporary morgue, until, in the last helicopter trip of the day, the bags opened to familiar faces, and we were able to identify the bodies of their loved ones. Felipe wasn’t a Latter-day Saint; he was Catholic. I was from the United States, and he was from Colombia. He was athletic and an avid soccer player; my wife is the sportsman in our family. Despite our differences, Felipe and I bonded. Despite his being suicidal at the time, despite all the turmoil in his life that made him crawl into a shell and shut out the world, he would allow me in. This surprised me as much as it surprised his extended family, but in his darkest moments, they would come running to me repeatedly: “Come, Davy. Come quick. Felipe needs you again.” I’d hasten once more to his side—we’d sit, sometimes talk. He liked looking at pictures of my kids. But I felt that our hearts were in constant conversation, even in silence, and I could feel him taking strength from me, and I gave freely, for I knew that I had strength to spare. By connecting with those around him, with people for whom he cared deeply, he quickly learned to develop his own sources of strength.

Panorama Of Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales, Colombia

Panorama Of Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales, Colombia

Felipe asked me to be with him as he entered sacred ground, as he and Arturo returned to his apartment for the first time after the deaths of his wife and children. I was there when he entered the bedroom that he had shared with his wife, Amparo. Felipe just sat on the bed, and it was as if the energy just left him; he seemed like a beaten man, forsaken and alone. I looked over at the bedroom’s TV; on it, I saw a ceramic object and a stuffed toy, a plush lion cub, “Simba”, from “The Lion King.” A thought hit me to pick up the little Simba and to give it to Felipe to cuddle, which I did. Felipe pulled the toy to his barrel chest, doubled over as he sat on the edge of the bed, and just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. My first thought was, “Oh, Dave, you blew it.” But immediately on its heels came the assurance that, no, this was exactly what Felipe needed. We stayed quiet a few minutes and let time pass; eventually, he approached me and said, “Thank you, Davy.  That was perfect.” I’ll never know what that little Simba meant to Felipe and Amparo, nor do I need to know; maybe its only meaning was simply something to cuddle for the moment. Regardless, I followed an impulse when it occurred to me, and it appears it was the right thing to do. I had no need at the moment to be a tool in God’s hands, but Felipe was hurting, and God knew he was hurting and needed to heal some very deep wounds. And God trusted me to listen and to know without trying what Felipe was feeling down deep. It’s my feeling that on that day, I did my duty to God.

Interfaith experiences can even occur among people of the same faith. When I lived in another state, my congregation leaders assigned me as a home teacher (a volunteer shepherd) to a family with five young children. Jason and I had nothing in common, and our belief systems were vastly different, even though we were both LDS. For example, he held a cultural belief in the little people, such as leprechauns and fairies, and several of his tattoos bore an Irish Celtic theme, whereas my Celtic roots are Welsh, and the little people are not part of my reality. Despite his severe substance abuse concerns, this young father and I bonded easily, to the amazement of everyone in our congregation, including ourselves. I’d been visiting him for about a year, and he was working very hard to stay clean—he had recently developed a deeper desire to conquer his addictions, to really lick it this time. On one visit, we had just sat down to talk with Jason and his wife, when he interrupted, “How do you do it, Dave? How do you get us to feel these things?” After that, we opened our hearts to each other like never before, and our souls were knit together like David and Jonathan of old. It was as if we could read each other’s minds. Each time, we would plan our next visit, a week away or more often a month away, depending on what he felt he needed for support. Sometimes, in the dead of night, when the pull of drugs was strong and he was weak and needed to talk, he would just call me out of the blue and say, “Please come, Dave. I need your help. I need to stay clean.” These were some of my favorite moments. We’d sit on the stoop of his small house in the darkness, and we’d have the most amazing discussions filled with light. As we talked of truths at night (“Sweet Is the Work,” end of Verse 1), I remember many times thinking, “There is nowhere else on earth that I would rather be than right here, right now, on this stoop, talking with this man.” I could feel him taking courage from me, and I gave freely, for I knew that I had courage to spare. But I simply could not go to see him often enough, and I looked forward to each visit with all my heart. Eventually, he moved away, then I moved, and always I will miss our conversations.

Accra Ghana LDS Temple Grounds

Accra Ghana LDS Temple Grounds

We are always teaching. What do we teach? What do we teach about God? We teach that, as important as actions are, the feelings behind our actions are even more important. We teach that there is no We/They; we teach that there is no reason to expand our circle, because mankind is our circle. We teach the need to stand in holy places, to spend time there, to spend some quality time there on our knees, not just during this Week of Prayer but always, for Christian unity and for global unity. We teach that God doesn’t need just one of us, he needs all of us, and that if we work together as individual wires of communication with God, that interwoven together, we become a cable, and with cables, we may all build a bridge. And we teach that life is too short merely to go through the motions but that we must feel these things in our hearts. Each of us must feel these things down deep.

In closing, I’d like to share another of Edward Markham’s poems, this one entitled Anchored To The Infinite:

The builder who first bridged Niagra’s gorge,
Before he swung his cable, shore to shore,
Sent out across the gulf his venturing kite
Bearing a slender cord for unseen hands
To grasp upon the further cliff and draw
A greater cord, and then a greater yet;
Till at the last across the chasm swung
The cable then the mighty bridge in air!

So may we send our little timid thought
Across the void, out to God’s reaching hands—
Send out our love and faith to thread the deep—
Thought after thought until the little cord
Has greatened to a chain no chance can break,
And we are anchored to the Infinite!

We are always teaching. What shall we teach?

I say these things in the sacred name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thank you for your time tonight.

(By the way, the sponsoring organization was the local Mennonite Fellowship congregation, with additional support from the Bloomington, Indiana Unit of Church Women United. My earliest years were in Eastern Ohio in the middle of Amish and Mennonite country. We spent long hours at friends’ homes with no electricity, and my pre-school was a local Mennonite Bible School. Consequently, at this Week of Prayer event, many congregation members looked so dang familiar, even though we had just met. I felt very at home, they made us feel very welcome, and I’m glad I hung around until the last dog was hung for the warm conversations afterwards.  It was just plain fun making new friends of people from all sorts of backgrounds and faiths.)

Experts say that parents modeling how to practice faith is important, but that influence can be blunted if either parent doesn’t have a close relationship with their children

Experts say that parents modeling how to practice faith is important, but that influence can be blunted if either parent doesn’t have a close relationship with their children

——– End of Post ——–

Bonus Materials:

1. “Faith in the family: How belief passes from one generation to the next”, Article by Matthew Brown, Deseret News, Thu 26 Dec 2013

2. I Choose To Be Pure: Teens Of Diverse Faiths Speak Out On Purity And Chastity

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

3. Mormonism: A Christ-centered, Global Faith

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

4. Come With Us: Video for youth (see Moroni 10:32)

(Or same video at lds.org link.)

5. Mormon Myths and Reality

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “Christian Crosses At A Joint Service For The Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity”—en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Week_of_Prayer_for_Christian_Unity
  • Photo, “Jewish Quarter, Old City, Jerusalem”—carta-jerusalem. com/biblical-sites/old-city-jerusalem/
  • Photo, “Cairo, Home Interior”—Personal collection
  • Photo, “Three generations of a Jewish family light a menorah”—www. deseretnews.com/article/865593024/Faith-in-the-family-How-belief-passes-from-one-generation-to-the-next.html?pg=all
  • Painting, “Gauchos a caballo” (1900), Ángel Della Valle (“Gauchos on horseback”)—commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%C3%81ngel_Della_Valle_-_Gauchos_a_caballo,_c._1900.jpg
  • Photo, “Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales, Colombia”—www. hotelclub.com/blog/beautiful-cathedrals-south-america/
  • Photo, “Panorama Of Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales, Colombia”—www. hotelclub.com/blog/beautiful-cathedrals-south-america/
  • Photo, “Accra Ghana LDS Temple Grounds”—www. mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormonism-in-pictures-beauty-purpose-mormon-temples?cid=HPWE103013152
  • Photo, “Experts say that parents modeling how to practice faith is important, but that influence can be blunted if either parent doesn’t have a close relationship with their children”—www. deseretnews.com/article/865593024/Faith-in-the-family-How-belief-passes-from-one-generation-to-the-next.html?pg=all (NOTE: This image is not in the online version but only in the print version, Page P7.)
  • Photo, “Interwoven Faiths”—www. isna.net/. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is an independent, open and transparent membership organization that strives to be an exemplary and unifying Islamic organization in North America by contributing to the betterment of the Muslim community and society at large. ISNA is committed to freedom, to eradicating prejudice and to creating a society where Muslims can live peacefully and prosper alongside other Americans from all walks of life and diverse traditions and faith. Everyone is helpful, warm and gracious, and Dave loves visiting there.

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Interwoven Faiths

Interwoven Faiths

Being Brave: Pre-mortality, Priesthood Power, and the Family Proclamation

A friend just shared this Vocal Point video with me, and an entire post popped in my head. The song is “(I Want To See You Be) Brave,” by Sara Bareilles. I thought of my wife, Kim, of our six adult kids and their families. I especially liked the sign that reads, “When I talk to new people.”

As a Mormon, as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I  believe that we lived with God before we were born. True of anyone. And by celestial design, none of us remember — It was all veiled at birth. For eons before we came here, we studied hard, acquired knowledge, and learned skills, all with the goal of trying our guts out to live as God had taught and to do whatever we could to keep ourselves and others on the narrow path back to him. As we prepared with him for the moment of our birth, we knew that we would learn more from life on earth, because here we would be able to learn to walk not by memory, not by sight, but by faith, for the first time making decisions on our own in an environment where Heavenly Father was no longer around. As he sent us off, I wonder if he was singing to us a similar pre-lullaby message of “I want to see you be brave!”

This idea of a pre-existence changes many a perspective. I see my body not as mine, not to do with as I please, but as a temple of God, a gift from him, a house for my spirit now that I’m no longer with him. Such a view demands that I treat my body with respect and not with selfishness. The idea of a pre-mortal life and the idea of your body being a temple and not your own are ideas that permeate the popular post of Mormon blogger Seth Adam Smith, “Marriage Isn’t For You” (at his blog or at Huffington Post). His earthly father taught him, “Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.” While I heartily agree, I also counsel our kids as they head to the altar that marriage is so dang fun (for themselves as well as for their spouse).

These ideas and others are discussed concisely in the LDS Family Proclamation. These ideas help protect me, keep me be safe and secure. These perspectives, these teachings, are why families are so important. Families help us get ourselves back to God.

And in addition to giving us a family to help, God went further to give us another gift, both urgent and important. He allowed us to have a portion of his power. He gave us his priesthood, the authority to act for him, to do what he would do, if he were here with his ample arm around us, whispering what he would like us to know, to do, to be, to become. The priesthood of God isn’t for some and not for others — It’s for any of us, for all of us. It applies equally to people of any gender, in any country, of any position in life. For example, watch how Sheri Dew answers the great question: “In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what do women get?”

I can see how God sent ALL of us here well prepared, not just to thrive, but to fight to find our way back. When we’re unsure of the path, he continues to guide us. We call that prayer, and it works like a phone. With a bit of effort, it’s a two-way communication device. Beats a cell phone or Star Trek communicator with a stick.

Dieter Uchtdorf taught us to be brave against doubt when he said, referring to another’s phrase which was first penned in 1924: “It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” (See F.F. Bosworth, Christ the Healer (1924), Page 23, as quoted in “Come, Join With Us”.)

Most importantly, these perspectives shift my thinking, so that I tend to view life through a lens of patience and peace. These ideas give me hope and humility. Seth’s dad is spot on — It isn’t all about me. Sometimes, I don’t want my stinkin’ thinkin’ shifted, but if I learn to adjust my vision to a more godly perspective, I realize that it was short-sighted to fight the shift in thought. I hope it makes me a better husband, a better father, a better man, a better person. It helps me be brave.

From the lyrics of Brave: “Show me how big your brave is.”

Seeing Ourselves As Brave -- Being Brave For Others

Seeing Ourselves As Brave — Being Brave For Others

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Video, “Brave by Sara Bareilles—BYU Vocal Point (a cappella tribute)”—www. youtube.com/watch?v=XeX3r8j66Qk
  • Blog Post, “Marriage Isn’t For You”, Seth Adam Smith—sethadamsmith.com/2013/11/02/marriage-isnt-for-you/
  • Blog Re-post, “Marriage Isn’t For You”, Seth Adam Smith—
    www. huffingtonpost.com/seth-adam-smith/marriage-isnt-for-you_b_4209837.html
  • Document, The Family: A Proclamation to the World
    www. lds.org/topics/family-proclamation
  • Video, “Lean on My Ample Arm”—www. youtube.com/watch?v=iWn48w7vX80
  • Hymn, “Lean on My Ample Arm”, music, recordings, lyrics—www. lds.org/music/library/hymns/lean-on-my-ample-arm?lang=eng
  • Video, “What Do LDS Women Get?”—www. youtube.com/watch?v=-QYlDLChzig
  • Address, “Come, Join With Us,” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, LDS General Conference Oct 2013—www. lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/come-join-with-us
  • Illustration, Seeing Ourselves As Brave — Being Brave For Others—https://www. lds.org/media-library/images/primary/illustrations?lang=eng#children-barking-dog-778662

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