Tag Archives: Being Brave

Lessons Of Leadership From Sacrificing To Save Hobber

Father's Day

Father’s Day

Quotes on leadership that I find well-suited to Father’s Day:

Kaladin held his side, feeling the blood there. Straight laceration, only about an inch long, not wide enough to be of danger.

It was his father’s voice.

Kaladin panted. He needed to get to safety. Arrows zipped over his head, fired by the Alethi archers.

Some people take lives. Other people save lives.

He wasn’t done yet. Kaladin forced himself to his feet and staggered to where someone lay beside the bridge. It was a bridgeman named Hobber; he had an arrow through the leg. The man moaned, holding his thigh.

He checked the other two. Hobber was smiling openly. He was round-faced and lean, with a gap between his teeth and short, black hair. “Thank you,” he said. “Thank you for saving me.”

Kaladin grunted, inspecting the man’s leg. “You’ll be fine, but you won’t be able to walk for a few weeks. I’ll bring food from the mess hall for you.”

“Thank you,” Hobber whispered, taking Kaladin’s hand, clutching it. He actually seemed to be tearing up.

That smile forced back the gloom, made the aches and soreness fade. Kaladin’s father had described that kind of smile. Those smiles weren’t why Lirin had become a surgeon, but they were why he’d remained one.

“What are you up to, Kaladin?” Hobber asked just as Kaladin got a flame started.

Kaladin smiled, standing. “Have a seat.”

Hobber did just that. He hadn’t lost the near-devotion he’d shown Kaladin for saving his life. If anything, his loyalty had grown stronger.

[Quotes from Brandon Sanderson’s outstanding novel, The Way of Kings, Pages 267, 313, and 403. Yes, it’s a fantasy novel. It’s also a treatise on loyalty and leadership. Yes, everyone should read it. Try it; you’ll like it!]

I apply the above quotes to leadership of a family, quotes that hold a key to quality parenting: If you give up your life for a time to spend it parenting your kids as if parenting were a full-contact sport, then they will recognize your role in losing your life in order to save theirs. Their loyalty to you as a parent will only grow stronger as they grow to recognize your sacrifice, grow to understand it not as an intellectual exercise but as something to choose as a model for their own behavior. You will see them pay their devotion as you see them give up their own life for a time, in order to spend it parenting their own kids.

Family At Home In Accra, Ghana

Family At Home In Accra, Ghana

To me, the above quotes not only apply to Fathers’ Day but teach us important truths about leadership. D. Todd Christofferson teaches us more on loyalty and leadership:

I speak today of fathers. Fathers are fundamental in the divine plan of happiness, and I want to raise a voice of encouragement for those who are striving to fill well that calling. To praise and encourage fatherhood and fathers is not to shame or discount anyone. I simply focus today on the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles—husband and father.

David Blankenhorn, the author of Fatherless America, has observed: “Today, American society is fundamentally divided and ambivalent about the fatherhood idea. Some people do not even remember it. Others are offended by it. Others, including more than a few family scholars, neglect it or disdain it. Many others are not especially opposed to it, nor are they especially committed to it. Many people wish we could act on it, but believe that our society simply no longer can or will.” [David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem (1995), Page 62.]

As a Church, we believe in fathers. We believe in “the ideal of the man who puts his family first.” [Blankenhorn, Fatherless America, Page 5.] We believe that “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” [“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, Nov 1995 Ensign, Page 102, or Nov 2010 Liahona, Page 129.] We believe that in their complementary family duties, “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” [Family Proclamation.] We believe that far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.
[D. Todd Christofferson, “Fathers”, Apr 2016 LDS General Conference.]

I agree with him.

A Father Dances With His Daughter In Their Home

A Father Dances With His Daughter In Their Home

“And now, my son, this was the ministry unto which ye were called, to declare these glad tidings unto this people, to prepare their minds; or rather … that they may prepare the minds of their children to hear the word at the time of his coming.” [Alma 39:16.]

Mike, Brian, Brendan, Kyle, Kevin, Todd, Bob, this post is for you. Thank you for helping to lead the way.

Family Studying Scriptures Together

Family Studying Scriptures Together

Please note that these quotes on loyalty and leadership apply equally to motherhood and fatherhood. They particularly apply to both of them in equal roles as complementary leaders, specifically as wife and husband leading together in the joint venture of parenthood.

Canoeing On Hampton Lake, North Carolina Is A Great Way To See Fall Foliage

Father And Child Canoeing On Hampton Lake, North Carolina—A Great Way To See Fall Foliage

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Bonus Material:

Watch/download the video, “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father” at lds.org or at YouTube below:

I love the words of the narrator as we focus on his wedding ring at Time 2:53 and the kid at the door watching his parents pray at 2:34. When I walked in to see my own parents at prayer, I remember the whoosh of feelings of safety and security but mostly of sacredness.

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

  • Photo, “Father’s Day”, from private collection
  • Photo, “Family At Home In Accra, Ghana”, www. lds.org/media-library/images/family-portraits?lang=eng&start=1&end=10
  • Photo, “A Father Dances With His Daughter In Their Home”, www. lds.org/media-library/images/father-daughter-dancing-1018852?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Family Studying Scriptures Together”, Aug 2013 Ensign Magazine, Page 3, photo illustration by Cody Bell
  • Photo, “Fathers Providing A Sacred Moment In A Holy Place”, photo by: Masood Bhat/Kashmir Headlines—kashmirheadlines.in/kashheadlines/11222013-ND-getting-ready-for-prayersa-group-of-people-making-ablution-to-perform-prayers-in-historic-jamia-masjid-srinagar-photo-by-masood-bhat-kashmir-headlines-3452.aspx
  • Photo, “Father And Child Canoeing On Hampton Lake, North Carolina—A Great Way To See Fall Foliage”, www. lovethesepics.com/2013/10/ american-the-beautiful-in-autumn-peak-fall-foliage-dates-for-48-states-50-pics, photo by Watson Studios
  • Photo, “Growing Old Together Amid Autumn in Seattle, Washington”, www. lovethesepics.com/2013/10/american-the-beautiful-in-autumn-peak-fall-foliage-dates-for-48-states-50-pics, photo by Rachel Sarai

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Growing Old Together Amid Autumn in Seattle, Washington

Growing Old Together Amid Autumn in Seattle, Washington

Lessons Of Leadership From Candle Flames

A quote on leadership that I find well-suited to Mother’s Day, that I dedicate to all women, following the lead of Sheri Dew, who dares to ask women everywhere, “Are We Not All Mothers?”:

“ ‘Candle flames,’ ” Litima continued. The selection was from The Way of Kings, read from the very copy that Gavilar had once owned. “ ‘A dozen candles burned themselves to death on the shelf before me. Each of my breaths made them tremble. To them, I was a behemoth, to frighten and destroy. And yet, if I strayed too close, they could destroy me. My invisible breath, the pulses of life that flowed in and out, could end them freely, while my fingers could not do the same without being repaid in pain.’ ”

Dalinar idly twisted his signet ring in thought; it was sapphire with his Kholin glyphpair on it. Renarin stood next to him, wearing a coat of blue and silver, golden knots on the shoulders marking him as a prince. Adolin wasn’t there. Dalinar and he had been stepping gingerly around one another since their argument in the Gallery.

“ ‘I understood in a moment of stillness,’ ” Litima read. “ ‘Those candle flames were like the lives of men. So fragile. So deadly. Left alone, they lit and warmed. Let run rampant, they would destroy the very things they were meant to illuminate. Embryonic bonfires, each bearing a seed of destruction so potent it could tumble cities and dash kings to their knees. In later years, my mind would return to that calm, silent evening, when I had stared at rows of living lights. And I would understand. To be given loyalty is to be infused like a gemstone, to be granted the frightful license to destroy not only one’s self, but all within one’s care.’ ”

Litima fell still. It was the end of the sequence.

[From Brandon Sanderson’s outstanding novel, The Way of Kings, Part Two: The Illuminating Storms, Chapter 26 “Stillness”, Pages 368-369. Yes, it’s a fantasy novel. Yes, everyone should read it. Try it; you’ll like it!]

Flaming Red Fall Foliage In Grantwood, Missouri

Flaming Red Fall Foliage In Grantwood, Missouri

I think that Dew would agree that this quote applies to Mothers’ Day, this quote that teaches us important truths about leadership. After all, she has said:

Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women.
[Sheri L. Dew, “Are We Not All Mothers?”, Oct 2001 LDS General Conference.]

I agree with her.

Kim, Whitney, Mary Lynn, this post is for you. Thank you for leading the way.

Certain Women, Supporting A Friend Who Happens To Have Leukemia

Certain Women, Supporting A Friend Who Happens To Have Leukemia

Please note that this quote on candle flames applies equally to fatherhood and motherhood. It particularly applies to both of them in equal roles as complementary leaders, specifically as husband and wife leading together in the joint venture of parenthood.

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

  • Photo, “Flaming Red Fall Foliage In Grantwood, Missouri”, www. lovethesepics.com/2013/10/american-the-beautiful-in-autumn-peak-fall-foliage-dates-for-48-states-50-pics, photo by Thomas Hawk. Mary Lynn would love it!
  • Photo, “Certain Women, Supporting A Friend Who Happens To Have Leukemia”, www. lds.org/ensign/2017/05/general-womens-session/certain-women?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Family Prayer In Mongolia”, www.lds.org/ensign/2017/04/the-war-goes-on?lang=eng

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Family Prayer In Mongolia

Family Prayer In Mongolia

Answers Of Courage From Unexpected Sources

"Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning." --Winston Churchill

“Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning.” (Click on image to enlarge)

Sometimes, we ask why life doesn’t turn out the way we expect.

Or for any topic, sometimes, the answers available to us have little or nothing to do with the answers we want.

It’s times such as this that test our mettle. What we do at times like this can determine our level of courage.

Esther, Queen of Persia, decided to show courage at such a time as this:

Watch/download on Mormon Channel or via YouTube below:

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

  • Header image, “Courage”, www. lds. org/media-library/video/2013-03-004-courage?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning”, quote from Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, www. slideshare.net/ssuser63877e/famous-quotation-the-courage
  • Painting credit, “Queen Esther”, by Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), www. lds.org/media-library/images/queen-esther-old-testament-792485?lang=eng.

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Esther, Queen Of Persia, Book Of Esther, Old Testament, Holy Bible

Esther, Queen Of Persia, Book Of Esther, Old Testament, Holy Bible

Do Your Worst!

Edmond Dantès, portrayed by James Caviezel

“For the happy man prayer is only a jumble of words, until the day when sorrow comes to explain to him the sublime language by means of which he speaks to God.” [Alexandre Dumas in his masterpiece, The Count of Monte Cristo (completed in 1844).]

For some, sorrow is the teacher of this sublime language; for others, a storm is the teacher. Some in our family have been taking major tests and qualifying exams this year. For some, success is quick. For others, success will come later than expected or preferred. For everyone in our family, life has explained to us in new ways the importance of this sublime language. Here are more of the words in the language to which Dumas refers:

Albert Mondego (Albert de Morcerf), portrayed by Henry Cavill

Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome, Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you, as Albert Mondego, the man.

Storms teach. But the master teacher is what we see as we look into the storm.

Quote from Time 1:00-2:03 of a clip of the birthday toast from “The Count of Monte Cristo” (2002), on YouTube below (or entire movie, with or without subtitles.) :

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Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk

Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk

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

  • Header, Ukiyo-e Woodblock Print, “Great Wave Off Kanagawa”, Hokusai (1829-32)—en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa2.jpg, with further info at en.wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa
  • Bonus photo, “Edmond Dantès (Jim Caviezel) And Abbé Faria (Richard Harris), Imprisoned In Château d’If” —www. imdb.com/media/rm1540921600/ch0010200
  • Photo, “Edmond Dantès, portrayed by James Caviezel”—www. pinterest.com/pin/105764291222980072/
  • Photo, “Albert Mondego (Albert de Morcerf), portrayed by Henry Cavill”—henrycavill.org/en/filmography/best-known-as/perfect-book-boyfriend
  • Photo, “Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk”—fanpix.famousfix.com/0671183/012040677/the-count-of-monte-cristo-2002-picture.html
  • Photo, “Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”—www. pinterest.com/pin/120541727497864394/

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“Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”

“Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”

Heroes, Superpowers, and Kindness

When I think of superheroes, I think of Maren Halversen.

We don't have to agree on anything to be kind to one anotherI am lucky to have learned from a leader in kindness. Maren was a friend in high school. Down Syndrome never kept her from trying anything. She was the first student with Down Syndrome in the state to have been integrated into the regular school system. When I moved to her school in 8th Grade, I was young and awkward. I remember that she always said hi to me. Maren always gave me good reasons to be kind.

At our 10-year high school reunion, Maren saw me from a distance and came running up and threw her arms around me. It was fun to introduce her to my wife. But it wasn’t until later as I reflected on the reunion moment that I recognized the real lesson at work here—that all along, Maren had been the leader. She had taught me to be kind. She had taught all of us well, and we had been following her lead. Why did I think that it might be the other way around? I was glad that I finally learned to see with better eyes than that. And, again, as I reflect now on that reunion moment and the strength behind her hug, I hope that—maybe, possibly—that I saw with better eyes than that even back in high school. After the reunion moment, I think that I simply had finally learned to recognize it. Again, Maren had lead me to that point.

As we all celebrate other reunions, I hope we take time to see and to recognize the real leaders in our lives. So often, they are not the ones clamoring for attention. So often, true leaders simply lead quietly, maybe even without realizing it. As Maren did. I think that was her superpower.

We can all be superheroes. What is your superpower?

The Superpower Of Listening Closely

The Superpower Of Listening Closely

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

  • Header photo, “Children Playing Around The World: In Vietnam, a small girl helps another to ride a bike by leading from behind”—expofotomiami.org/30-magicas-fotografias-de-ninos-jugando-alrededor-del-mundo/
  • Photo, “We don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another”—Image with quote, from Twitter quote of Yahya Adel Ibrahim of Pemberton, Western Australia—twitter. com/yahya_ibrahim/status/587185223076487168
  • Photo, “The Superpower Of Listening Closely”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/
  • Photo, “Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/
  • Photo, “Young Man With Superpowers”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/

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Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?

Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?

Young Man With Superpowers

Young Man With Superpowers

What Parenthood Has Taught Me About God: How He Relates To Me, How I Relate To Him

One of my sons just became a father. Words cannot describe how happy he and his wife are. His hopes for his son are unbounded. It started me thinking about my relationship with God.

Good:

Sometimes, Life Takes Us By Surprise...

Sometimes, Life Takes Us By Surprise…

Over the years, life has taught me that God wants me to come as I am. He wants me to learn to be happy regardless of my circumstances, problems or pains, successes or failures. If I’ve got mud on my face, He’ll take me that way. If it will make me happier, He hands me a washcloth. While He may not care about the mud of dirt, He wants me to avoid face planting in the spiritual mud, and He patiently stands by and welcomes me back each time I’ve hit the mud puddles again. Importantly, He expects the same of others around me, encouraging those with ears to hear to welcome me back as well. As I receive the washcloth over and over, eventually I can teach myself to face plant only when there’s a good reason (like when it’s actual mud of dirt and there are grandkids around who need to be taught by example to love playing in the mud).

Father working with son in gardenI have learned that God wants me to let go of my past, to let go of the ungodly, unrighteous things I’ve done when I was pushing Him away, when I was singing not His song but rather my own discordant one. He wants me to be comfortable showing up, participating with gusto, practicing over and over, without putting on a false front or prettying myself up first. I can come and sing, mud, sour notes, and all.

Better:

Sunday-go-to-meetin' Clothes For General ConferenceMore importantly, I really think that God also wants me to put my best foot forward. When I don my Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes, I show respect for God by putting on the best that I have, whatever that is for me.

Best:

father and three of his children work together to wash a carMost importantly, God wants me to keep on keepin’ on. He doesn’t want me to get stuck.

He doesn’t want any of us to get stuck.

father dances with his daughter in their homeThe enemies of God try to convince me that I can’t improve or shouldn’t improve, that I’m a lost cause, that there’s simply no use in trying, that it’s silly to learn the dance and sillier still to try to hear the music. I’m here to tell you that they’re wrong. Real life begins when I decide to progress, to progress continually, to progress towards Him. God wants me to get off my duff and to get moving in His direction. And according to His principles. He wants me to know that He’s beside me, as I learn to improve, as I learn the joy of the dance. Joy isn’t an emotion; it’s a decision. As I keep practicing with joy in my heart, God is especially thrilled when I go beyond just the dance steps and start to hear the music. How sweet the sound!

father in Portugal sits with his children in their living room to read from the scriptures togetherSo open your mouth and prove how people can change. I’ve changed. My family has changed. We all can change. We all can keep changing. For the better.

God wants to lift us up. Let Him.

We are all His children.
What may we do today to show up, act like His children, and join in the dance?
What may we do today to improve?

father in the Philippines plays with his daughter while she is on his shoulders

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Bonus Materials:

1. “Times when families laugh together are among the most precious times a family can have.” —Mister Rogers

2. Video, “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father”:
Watch/download at the lds.org link or via YouTube below:

3. Read, watch or listen: Wilford W. Andersen, “The Music of the Gospel”, Apr 2015 LDS General Conference.

4. Read, watch or listen: Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best”, Oct 2007 LDS General Conference.

Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud

Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud

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

  • Header photo, “Children Playing Around The World: In Indonesia, playing with a water buffalo friend with rays of sun through foliage”—expofotomiami.org/30-magicas-fotografias-de-ninos-jugando-alrededor-del-mundo/
  • Photo, “Sometimes Life Takes Us By Surprise…”—www. popmommy.com/pop-culture/5-questions-casey-from-tlcs-quints-by-surprise
  • Photo, father-working-with-son-in-garden—www. lds.org/media-library/images/father-talking-to-son-1080483?lang=eng
  • Photo, Sunday-go-to-meetin’-clothes-for-general-conference—www. lds.org/media-library/images/general-conference-october-2011-898865?lang=eng
  • Photo, father-and-three-of-his-children-work-together-to-wash-a-car—www. lds.org/media-library/images/philippines-family-washing-truck-1343760?lang=eng
  • Photo, father-dances-with-his-daughter-in-their-home—www. lds.org/media-library/images/father-daughter-dancing-1018852?lang=eng
  • Photo, father-in-Portugal-sits-with-his-children-in-their-living-room-to-read-from-the-scriptures-together—www. lds.org/media-library/images/portugal-study-studying-books-scriptures-families-1418772?lang=eng
  • Photo, father-in-the-Philippines-plays-with-his-daughter-while-she-is-on-his-shoulders—www. lds.org/media-library/images/daughter-on-shoulders-1119081?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud”—inpho.ie/; Morgan Treacy is an outstanding Irish photographer, acclaimed for his sports photography and especially for his action shots of rugby
  • Photo, “Proud New Dad”—from private collection

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Proud New Dad

Proud New Dad

What Matt Brown Teaches Us All About Commitment

Faith, Discipline, Excellence: The Extraordinary Matt Brown

Faith, Discipline, Excellence: The Extraordinary Matt Brown

Matt Brown is a wrestler. And he’s a man of commitments. Penn State’s Mike Bacior explains. Let’s look closer:

Commitment is (a) a promise to do or give something, (b) a promise to be loyal to someone or something, and (c) an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.

Let’s take these in reverse order.

  1. Restricts your freedom of action:
    Once I commit to go to a certain medical school, I also limit my options. While in school, my schedule may not be my own. I can’t poke or prod people in fun anymore. I am no longer free to walk by an injured person on the street without taking action. “The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt.”—Rollo May, The Courage to Create, Page 21.
    .
  2. commit-to-give-hands-upA promise to be loyal:
    Once I commit to think for myself, I also have to take responsibility for mistaken thoughts. But through making these mistakes, I learn to have my own voice, to be loyal to myself. The mistakes are not nearly as vital as having thoughts of my own. “It’s not so important that you have correct thoughts as that you have thoughts!”—Arthur Henry King (see also his reading list).
    .
  3. A promise to give:
    Once I commit to give my hand in marriage, I also promise to do many things. And I promise not to do many things. Many of which have much to do with (1) and (2) above. “Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love.”—Erich Fromm

Matt Brown is a man who commits. He loves winning. He loves wrestling. He loves his faith. He loves his wife.

I have learned to practice the three lessons above. I think for myself. Rather than embrace my fear of commitment, I commit and embrace the accompanying restrictions on my freedom of action.

One thing I love about my six adult children is that they have learned these same lessons. Wrestling helped. Or maybe they learned it from rugby, football, or lifeguarding. Maybe they do it because they saw that their mom and I commit. Regardless, they apply these same lessons every day. They are committed to their families, to their faith, to themselves, to becoming their best self. And like Matt, they have found that by giving of themselves, they find themselves. Each day, they put away their fear and choose to commit.

commit-man-diving-off-cliff

Some people try to get you to fear commitment. Many know the blessings of commitment. Matt Brown is one of many who know.

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Bonus Materials:

Julie Beck describes women who know to commit and who lead others to commit. Read, watch or listen. Julie B. Beck, “Mothers Who Know”, Oct 2007 LDS General Conference.

Matt Brown on making choices to use time wisely.

 

Matt Brown, Committing Yet Again

Matt Brown, Committing Yet Again

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

  • Header photo, “Faruk Şahin (US Army) Throws Mark Rial (Gator Wrestling Club) at USA Wrestling World Team Trials, 31 May 2009”—www. armymwr.com/news/archive/news.aspx?nid=116
  • Photo, “Faith, Discipline, Excellence: The Extraordinary Matt Brown”—onwardstate.com/2015/03/06/faith-discipline-excellence-the-extraordinary-matt-brown
  • Photo, commit-to-give-hands-up—owelpapel.wordpress.com
  • Photo, commit-man-diving-off-cliff— livebold.org/the-ultimate-life-experience
  • Photo, “Matt Brown, Committing Yet Again”— pennlive.com/sports/index.ssf/2015/03/ncaa_finals_breakdown_penn_sta.html
  • Photo, “Decide. Commit. Succeed.”— bringingbackawesome.com/commit-to-you/#sthash.VrGzM2PO.dpbs

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decide-commit-succeed

Who Is Herding Whom? What Do I Allow To Herd Me?

Australian Cattle Dog Herding A Cow

This week, I was talking to a friend who’s a gardener. We talked about what she does to fight local garden predators, such as rabbits and deer. They have a lot of land, and she has a cattle dog to keep the deer clear of the garden. Last week, she came home to find him lying down among the deer, some of which were lying down with him, and some of which were standing and munching her early garden greens. When the dog saw her and her husband, he started and quickly stood up on all fours, with a definite demeanor of guilt on his face. The dog glanced up at his deer friends, back at his masters, back at the deer, back again at his masters, clearly took a moment to make a decision, and then started barking at the deer to run them off. She said that if they had had a video of it, the absolute look of guilt on the dog’s face would have won them first prize on America’s Funniest Home Videos. My friend said that one deer was more aggressive than the others, nipped at the dog, and started chasing him around the garden. My gardener friend said simply, “That is one dead deer.”

Dog Herding SheepHow often do we put ourselves in the position of the dog? The shepherd expects a shepherd dog to do certain things. A dog is to herd the sheep, keep them together, and keep them in the pasture rather than in the hinterlands where they don’t belong. Making friends and laying down with wayward sheep may be fun for time but such haphazard fun is unlikely to continue when the shepherd comes around.

Dog Herding DucksEver notice how, after we have just a bit of fun lying down with the deer that we’re supposed to run off, some of those same deer have the nerve to chase us around the pasture? And here we thought they were friends! When we try to take control of the situation as we should have from the start, the deer show their true colors by nipping back and giving us the run-around. Some friends! Maybe the shepherd knew all along what he was talking about. Who knew?

Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin

The next time I hear the siren call of one of my pet temptations, maybe I’ll consider this story of my friend, the gardener. I may not want to follow her lead by shouting, “Kill Bambi!” or “Death to the deer!” But I may wish to consider being just as tenacious in shooing away the temptation. Maybe I’ll allow for the possibility that the good shepherd expects me to do certain things for a good reason. And who knows? I might find that supporting the shepherd by being steadfast and immovable might well be its own reward. And I may feel a bit more in control of my own life.

German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherd Dog

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Bonus Materials:

Read, watch or listen: Mary Ellen Smoot, “Steadfast and Immovable”, Oct 2001 LDS General Conference.

Read or listen: David Bednar, “Steadfast and Immovable, Always Abounding in Good Works”, Ensign, Jan 2008.

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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

  • Photo, “Australian Cattle Dog Herding A Cow”—us/muay-thai-thailand/balance-inequality-muay-thai/attachment/australian-cattle-dog-herding-a-cow
  • Photo, dog-herding-sheep”—www. dailypuppy.com/articles/how-to-train-a-herding-puppy_802.html
  • Photo, dog-herding-ducks”—thelife-animal.blogspot.com/2012/03/border-collie.html
  • Photo, “Rin Tin Tin”—www. com/lifestyle/arts-culture/stories/rin-tin-tins-life-and-legend
  • Photo, “German Shepherd Dog”—www. com/german-shepherd-dog/
  • Photo, “Gary Larson’s The Far Side: ‘Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.’ ”—www. philipchircop.com/post/9178910566/what-is-your-birthmark-gary-larson-creator-of
Gary Larson's The Far Side: 'Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.'

Gary Larson’s The Far Side: ‘Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.’

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Selfless Gifts, Simple Gifts

When I think of Christmas stories of being selfless, I don’t have any personal stories of great import. That may be a good thing. I think of fairly normal things. Like when I was in college and got a bunch of friends together to walk the halls of retirement homes singing Christmas carols and sharing cookies, simply because my family had always done that, and I missed it. Service was just a part of our upbringing.

Or my first Christmas when I lived in Argentina, and the culture was so different — December falls in summer on the other side of the equator, so I had a decision to make. Would I choose to focus as did many North Americans on the fact that there were no Christmas colors (such as red & green), no carols, no decorations, few Christmas trees, no gift giving (since gifts are given two weeks after on Day of the Three Kings, January 6), few Christmas stories, just beer and fireworks? Or would I instead choose to focus on the fact that Argentine culture simply differs from mine, that people celebrate differently than I, that I should go and enjoy the dancing, learn to love polkas and chacareras as much as they, see beyond differences between Papá Noel and Santa Clause to see the similarities their roles represent, and just sit and enjoy the eating and talking and eating and talking ’til the wee hours of the morning? Enjoying cultural differences was just part of my upbringing. So was deciding to love other people as they are. As I made the less fleeting decision, I made their experience my experience, made Argentines my family, made their stories part of my family story. And now I miss those times, actively miss the differences, sorely miss the people.

I think one of the best things I can do at Christmas is to learn to get outside of myself and make the season not about me but rather about the people around me. If it’s about me, the season may be frenzied and unsettling. If it’s about others, I may find my days merry and bright.

My mental and spiritual state can be independent of the culture, the geography or the weather. I can bring my own mental snow, mental flocking, mental glowing white candles. I have learned that a white Christmas isn’t just an ideal; it’s a state of mind.

 

Other selfless Christmas stories below. Enjoy!

A young boy gives selflessly to another child in need:

 

John Rhys-Davies retells the story of Luke Chapter 2:

 

John Rhys-Davies explains the importance of the Christmas story:

 

Cloverton Hallelujah: Love the chords, and I applaud the holiday lyrics which magically upgrade this gorgeous ballad with Cohen’s discordant words into something we love to sing. Thank you, thank you, Cloverton, for the wonderful music!

Here’s the audio:

Here’s the video with audio muted:

I love the changes in the lyrics, and I find this verse particularly meaningful:

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah

 

The first gift of Christmas wasn’t from a store. What does love mean to you? Life? Peace? Or hope?

(Or watch/download same video at mormon.org link.)

 

From our family to your family — This season and always, may you have many selfless moments and simply find magic in these moments!

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

 


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 ——–

Blunder or Blessing? Culture or Covenant? What Does Marriage Mean To You?

Couple In LoveOur son, Todd, is getting married next month. Reactions of friends are all over the map, but generally speaking, most people respond positively to his announcement. Independent of poll results, Todd is getting married for the best reasons I know: He chooses Adrienne. She chooses him. He wants to give his life to her. They trust each other and choose to build a family together.

Couple In Love2Reaction to our daughter’s wedding announcement was often less positive. For example, when I called my aunt to tell her that Whitney was engaged and to invite her to the festivities, she immediately censured me and told me that I had to put a halt to the wedding plans, that I must tell Whit that she was making a terrible mistake—She hadn’t even finished college yet! I explained to my aunt that I felt that Whitney, as a woman, was capable of making up her own mind and that I supported her in the decision.

Couple In Love-Kyrgyz Bride And GroomMy Central Asian friends are more open to the culture of marriage. The notes of congratulations I’ve received from Central Asia are full of warm wishes for Todd and Adrienne and of prayers for happiness and lots of children. Upon greeting others, it is culturally important to my friends from the region to establish a rapport, which is done in many ways, including the asking of personal questions. One way to set at ease all conversational partners is to ask questions about family and marital status, which is considered conversationally neutral if everyone in the discussion is of the same gender. Once, a scholar from Central Asia was thoroughly enjoying a deep discussion with a student of Central Asian languages at a major university, when the scholar asked the student, “Are you married?” The student was incensed, abruptly ended the visit, and walked away. Describing the situation later, the student exclaimed, “I was so offended by the question. Why would they ask that? It was so rude! The conversation was just… over.” Not exactly conversationally neutral in modern Western culture. Conversationally speaking, the American student considered the question to be a threat. How did we get so prickly about marriage?

Couple In Love3For years, marriage has been associated with strong commitments and strong emotions. Ellis Peters illustrates the clear difference between a mere marriage of culture and a marriage for love, in her novel, The Leper of Saint Giles. I love the series of Medieval murder mysteries solved by a Benedictine monk named Brother Cadfael, but this one in particular is one of my favorite books. Peters skillfully uses a pitiable person to teach of commitment to family, to illustrate how marital vows and family bonds extend beyond personal desires and individual preferences to include mutual choice.

Couple In Love4I think that our modern culture’s resistance to marriage is rooted in a cultural resistance to choose commitment. Why open oneself unnecessarily to getting burned? Over the years, Kim and I have deliberately engineered deep discussions with our kids to educate them regarding commitment. As Mormons, we have worked hard to defend ourselves against resistance to commitment by teaching our family to have faith that marriage can extend beyond death, that families can be forever, and that there are solid and fun reasons to continue to work together even when times are tough.

Marriage well prepared for is a blast! Todd and Adrienne are well prepared. We wish them the best.

View More: http://pictureamomentintime.pass.us/adrienne--todd

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Bonus Materials:

1. Explore the topic of marriage:
https://www.lds.org/topics/marriage?lang=eng

2. Home and family:
https://www.lds.org/topics/family?lang=eng

3. Families come first:
http://www.mormon.org/values/family

4. Mormons and eternal marriage: http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/mormon/marriage/

The Leper of Saint Giles, by Ellis Peters

——– End of Bonus Materials ——–

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

  • Photo, Couple in Love—kaileyraephoto.blogspot.com
  • Photo, Couple in Love2—kaileyraephoto.blogspot.com
  • Photo, Couple in Love-Kyrgyz bride and groom—www. friendasia.or.kr/wizboard.php?BID=latestnews_out&titles=&titlenum=&mode=view&UID=122
  • Photo, Couple in Love3—kaileyraephoto.blogspot.com
  • Photo, Couple in Love4—kaileyraephoto.blogspot.com
  • Photo, Couple in Love5—from private collection
  • Cover Illustration, The Leper of Saint Giles, www. bluepixie.com/2012_02_01_archive.html
  • Photo, Couple in Love6—from private collection

——– End of WebCredits ——–

View More: http://pictureamomentintime.pass.us/adrienne--todd

Modern 20-somethings: Explorers Or Procrastinators?

Over the years, our societal culture has embraced delayed adult development. To me, it indicates a certain lack of faith. Could it be that many parents fail to teach their kids to step out in faith?

Debating

Debating

Our daughter Whitney has always been wiser than her years and taught us repeatedly about stepping out in faith. She excelled at debate and won many awards in high school. She was going to be a senator, and she would have excelled at that, too. Then suddenly, she stopped. I was stunned. She explained, “Dad, it makes me hard.” Seeing that that was an unwise development, she no longer felt good about it, and she decided to employ her time elsewhere. She had talked with her Maker about it and chose to step out in faith in a new direction.

Leonard Bernstein said that to achieve great things, you need a plan and not quite enough time. Clinical psychologist Meg Jay teaches us about what she calls the benign neglect of adult development: “So what do you think happens when you pat a twenty-something on the head and you say, ‘You have ten extra years to start your life’? Nothing happens. You have robbed that person of his urgency and ambition, and absolutely nothing happens.” She continues:

So when we think about child development, we all know that the first five years are a critical period for language and attachment in the brain. It’s a time when your ordinary, day-to-day life has an inordinate impact on who you will become. But what we hear less about is that there’s such a thing as adult development, and our 20s are that critical period of adult development. But this isn’t what twenty-somethings are hearing. Newspapers talk about the changing timetable of adulthood. Researchers call the 20s an extended adolescence. Journalists coin silly nicknames for twenty-somethings like “twixters” and “kidults.” It’s true. As a culture, we have trivialized what is actually the defining decade of adulthood.

It’s a bold message. Here’s why she’s bold:

And then every day, smart, interesting twenty-somethings like you or like your sons and daughters come into my office and say things like this: “I know my boyfriend’s no good for me, but this relationship doesn’t count. I’m just killing time.” Or they say, “Everybody says as long as I get started on a career by the time I’m 30, I’ll be fine.”

But then it starts to sound like this: “My 20s are almost over, and I have nothing to show for myself. I had a better résumé the day after I graduated from college.”

And then it starts to sound like this: “Dating in my 20s was like musical chairs. Everybody was running around and having fun, but then sometime around 30, it was like the music turned off and everybody started sitting down. I didn’t want to be the only one left standing up, so sometimes I think I married my husband because he was the closest chair to me at 30.”

Where are the twenty-somethings here? Do not do that.

I’m glad our kids decided to skip the kidult decade. Instead, they decided to pass GO, collect $200, and become adults. They stepped out in faith in choosing a career. In choosing to date as well as to hang out. In choosing a spouse. In choosing to start having kids. In choosing to stop having kids. In choosing to stay married even when times get tough. Our kids are ready for all of these decisions. They were ready for these decisions before they turned 20.

Familia en la Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal, los Estados Unidos Mexicanos

Family in Mexico City (México, D.F. or Federal District), Mexico

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Bonus Material:

1. See Meg Jay’s presentation here on video, or interactive transcript in a variety of languages. In it, she states revealingly:

Too many thirty-somethings and forty-somethings look at themselves, and at me, sitting across the room, and say about their 20s, “What was I doing? What was I thinking?”

2. A recent line of ads is from AT&T, “Embrace Your Fear Of Commitment”. Note that AT&T ironically labeled the video: “I Heart Freedom”. This is not freedom; this is selfishness. This is choosing to share your life in a friendly adolescent way and adamantly refusing to share your life in a family adult way. Delayed adult development oozes from the text of the ad:

“Marriage is a No-go,” states Joshua in the 30-second version of the ad, which is no longer available, since AT&T decided that they no longer wanted to be married to the shorter version of the ad.

The Woodstock woman says, “It’s not that I have a fear of commitment. It’s more like, uh, interest in exploring all of my options. I have a commitment to that. I have a commitment to exploration.”

Sounds good, but here is Meg Jay on the above ideas: “I’m not discounting twenty-something exploration here, but I am discounting exploration that’s not supposed to count, which, by the way, is not exploration. That’s procrastination.”

3. A related video, at least in my mind, is from Sir Ken Robinson in his presentation, “How Schools Kill Creativity“, or see interactive transcript. It reminds me of a saying in our family that you can’t let schooling get in the way of your education. Some of the most important things we must learn in life we will learn outside of formal education.

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Photo, “Debating”—digitaldebating.idebate.org
  • Photo, “Family in Mexico City (México, D.F. or Federal District), Mexico”—Ensign Magazine, May 2014, Page 96
  • Photo, “Couple in Love”—Personal collection

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Couple in Love

Couple in Love

Teach Others To Recognize Temptation

Is temptation real or imagined, internal or external? Is there such a thing as a devil or Satan, or is such a concept pure fiction? Is God real?

Tea SetI knew an incredible woman in Mendoza, Argentina. Hermana Montanini was quick, intelligent, inquisitive, ready to speak her mind, a new member of the Church of Jesus Christ and willing to ask tons of questions. We started teaching a second woman, Hermana Re, who happened to live across the street from Montanini, and although they didn’t know each other, they became fast friends. Hermana Re struggled with part of our law of health, the invitation to abstain from drinking tea. She really enjoyed her tea. She shared her struggles with Hermana Montanini, who taught her about temptation in a way that we had not yet considered. “Have you ever prayed to Heavenly Father and felt that your words just bounced back down from the ceiling and never got through to Him? I promise you, that if you give up your tea, you will find that it will free you to communicate more effectively with God, and he will reward you with a closer relationship with Him.” Hermana Re put Hermana Montanini’s words to the test, gave up her tea straight away, and discovered for herself the enhanced interconnection with God that had previously eluded her.

Plato on Victory Of Conquering SelfTemptation for me is a win-or-lose thing. When I succumb to temptation, I lose and become timid. I defeat myself. When I conquer temptation, I boldly conquer fear. I am victorious over myself. As a Mormon, I believe that within me, within each of us, is the natural man, which is an enemy to God and wars against the spiritual man, also within each of us, who invites us to become as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, in every way the opposite of the natural man.

If God is real, does He care that we choose His ways over other ways?

My son, Todd, thinks that God cares and that we have a responsibility to teach others about temptation. Todd works as a manager at a city pool. One of his coworkers asked for time off for a family gathering. After being granted the time off, she happened to share with Todd that she also planned to go to a band concert during the time off. In a fun way, Todd let her know that his mom taught him that any intent to deceive is a lie and that he expects her to share the whole truth next time and not just part of the truth. They shared a good laugh and decided that she hadn’t been as honest as she could have been. This will allow them to communicate as friends and as co-workers without him having to say each time, “Is there anything else you wish to share with me?” Todd feels that he successfully found a way to teach her about the need to avoid temptation at work when it comes to telling the whole truth.

Temptation is a battle. A battle with self. The arena is the arena within. It is as real as confidence, as real as bravery, as real as love.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, …who at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
—Theodore Roosevelt, as posted in the NCAA Hall of Champions, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

I have learned for myself that temptation is indeed very real, that Satan exists and tries with every power he has available to distract and deceive us, and that God is real and cares that we choose His ways. If we love God, if we listen to Him, we can emerge triumphant every time.

Plato on Knowledge And Virtue

Plato on Knowledge And Virtue

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Bonus Material:

1. Harvard Business School innovation expert Clay Christensen teaches us these same concepts in his YouTube video, “Teach People to Detect Temptation”:

2. John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) reads The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis. Screwtape is a senior devil teaching the basics of tempting humans to junior-devil-in-training, Wormwood:

3. Carlos Fusco, President, Brazil Fortaleza East Mission, says of the people in his area: “Our country has so many youth. It’s a young country. They are thirsty for something different than what the world is presenting to them.” How thirsty are you?

——– End of Bonus Material ——–

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

  • Photo, tea-set—www. facebook.com/TurkmenSuratlar
  • Quote, Plato-on-victory-of-conquering-self, www. quotesvalley.com/quotes/victory/page/52/
  • Quote, “Plato on Knowledge And Virtue”, www. quotespedia.info/quotes-about-knowledge-knowledge-becomes-evil-if-the-aim-be-not-virtuous-a-3027.html
  • Quote, “Aristotle on Courage To Conquer Self”, www. quotespedia.info/quotes-about-courage-count-him-braver-who-overcomes-his-desires-than-him-who-conquers-his-enemies-a-1903.html

——– End of WebCredits ——–

Aristotle on Courage To Conquer Self

Aristotle on Courage To Conquer Self

Beyond Dirt, Beyond Opposition, Beyond Bullying

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936 by Dorothea Lange

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936 by Dorothea Lange

Bullying begins early, especially when faith is involved. My friend who shoved my face in the dirt was one of many. In elementary school and junior high, when kids learned I’m Mormon, they would often ask how many moms I had. I remember wondering how much they really knew about the birth process.

I have Muslim friends, Catholic friends, Jewish friends, friends of many faiths, all with experience getting their faces shoved in the dust. Gritty, tough, beautiful faces.

 

Dirt and faith go together. Opposition, criticism, and antagonism are companions to truth. Whenever the truth is revealed with regard to the purpose and destiny of mankind, there will always be a force to oppose it.

Faces Of Kevin At 3 Years Old

Faces Of Kevin At 3 Years Old

When our son Kevin was three or four years old, an older sibling had a soccer match after a week of rain. At the side of the field was a narrow 25-foot-long puddle. Kev quickly learned that if he ran and threw his body on the ground in just the right way, he could slide the entire length of the water. Before long, the families around us began to watch Kevin instead of the game. One photographer mom missed her son’s only goal of the season as she focused her lens on Kev. “Gotta set priorities. Look at that face!” she said, kept snapping shots, and gave us copies of her images later that week.

Dirt and Faith on the Mexican Baja

Dirt and Faith on the Mexican Baja

Years later, Kevin’s face was again caked with dirt, this time from the dry dust of Tijuana, made a bit muddy by the ample sweat of his brow. He loved working closely with friends from Mexico as they labored to teach the truth. At one point, weeks of opposition and criticism were taking a heavy toll. His close friends were truly discouraged, and it weighed heavily on his heart. Kev decided to rip his bedsheet in two and scribbled on his Title of Liberty, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children”, and fastened it upon the end of a pole. He called his flock of fellow laborers together to encourage them and, in his strong voice, shouted in Spanish, “Whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and promise with me that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.” After signing the rent cloth, Kevin invited them to sign. They all did. And their courage was restored. People started really talking with these young men once again, sharing feelings down deep and listening to them, as the weeks of opposition and antagonism evaporated, leaving only the local dust on their tired, smiling faces.

Look for the biggest dust cloud billowing above the most dirt, and you’ll find that it’s being kicked at someone standing for the truth. Sometimes, no one stands with them.

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing, persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny many defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited very clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”—Joseph Smith

Bullies will always assemble themselves. Why? Because someone is teaching the truth, and the truth will always be opposed. Time to labor harder, time to work smarter, time to smile that feel-it-deep-down smile…

Two men looked up from prison bars,
One saw the mud, the other saw stars.
—Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Defying Opposition

Defying Opposition

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Bonus Material:

Many of these thoughts are inspired by Lawrence Corbridge. Read, watch or listen to his entire address, “The Prophet Joseph Smith”, Apr 2014 LDS General Conference.

A Father's Gift, Liz Lemon Swindle

“A Father’s Gift”, Liz Lemon Swindle

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

  • Photo, “Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936 by Dorothea Lange”—www2. artsmia.org/blogs/new-pictures/category/mia-photo-exhibitions/
  • Photo, “Dirt and Faith on the Mexican Baja”, from private collection
  • Quote, “The Standard of Truth,” Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, Volume 4, Page 540, from the Wentworth Letter, just before the Articles of Faith
  • Quote by Dale Carnegie, www. goodreads.com/quotes/420532-two-men-looked-out-from-prison-bars-one-saw-the
  • Photo, “Defying Opposition”, from private collection
  • Painting, “A Father’s Gift”, by Liz Lemon Swindle. Swindle tells us that this tender painting portrays the love of three fathers. Our heavenly Father entrusted the twins to John and Julia Murdock. When Julia died after childbirth, Brother Murdock entrusted them to Joseph, who brought them to Emma. Emma had just lost her own twin babies within hours of their birth. Joseph and Emma loved and raised the twins as if they were their own. See www. ldsart.com/p-10603-fathers-gift.aspx. Dave adds: To me this painting is about how a loving God follows opposition and trials by restoring smiles.
  • Painting, “Hope”, by Liz Lemon Swindle.  See www. world-wide-art.com/art/Liz_Lemon_Swindle.html. Peter and John were no strangers to criticism and antagonism, which had cost them dearly. Swindle teaches us about illustrating a tender moment just before their faces learn to smile again:

When Mary came to the tomb, she found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. She ran to the disciples crying, “They have taken away the Lord…and we know not where they have laid him” (John 20:2). Peter and John immediately ran to the tomb.

What did they think as they ran? Were they simply curious to see for themselves? Did they fear, like Mary, that their enemies had stolen the body? Or did they remember His promise, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”?

The decision that faced Peter and John that Sunday morning is the same decision that faces each one of us today. Will we doubt? Will we hope? Or will we know that He lives? I know that He lives.

  • Photo, “Smiles After Opposition”, from private collection

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Hope, Liz Lemon Swingle

“Hope”, Liz Lemon Swingle

 ···oO0···

Smiles After Opposition

Smiles After Opposition

How Taking Out The Trash Made Me A Better Man

I remember when I was in Ninth Grade and on a campout with friends, we went on a five-mile hike with all our equipment. We were on a dusty country road, and one kid got off the beaten path and was walking through the brush at the side. He stumbled upon a pile of magazines, which he quickly discovered were discarded pornographic magazines. As one of the wilder ones among us, he immediately let out a whoop and called everyone over to him to share in the pleasure of his treasure. While most of my friends stayed on the road, a few joined him in looking through the pictures. I remember distinctly having to make a decision. Did I feel this was right, or did I feel this was wrong? I quickly decided that this was not just wrong but very wrong, and I chose not to join the boys combing through the trash pile. When our adult leaders learned of the experience, they suggested that we go back and load the pile of trash into the back of a station wagon, which we did, and most of us were glad to discard it more appropriately. We felt that removing the pile was the right decision.

ctr-ring-with-bibleIs the concept of right and wrong something you support, something you couldn’t care less about, or something you simply find confusing? Is it possible for any of us to find an answer? In my faith tradition, we have a concept of “Choose The Right”. As kids in Primary, our children’s organization, we receive small rings – CTR rings for Choose The Right. The overall principle of right and wrong is that God is the author of right things, that decisions abound, that each of us may receive guidance from God, and that He will help us to choose the right path. I think that, while at times God may not feel strongly which decision I make, at the times when He does, as a loving Father in Heaven, He tries hard to let me know. If I listen, I can choose the right.

I’m not the only one who thinks there are unequivocal rights and wrongs. St. Augustine of Hippo taught us, “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.” And I love this gem of hope from Henry Eyring.

I have learned for myself that right and wrong actually exist and that God blesses us liberally when we choose the right.

Just As This Man Points The Way, So Does Our Heavenly Father...

Just As This Man Points The Way, So Does Our Heavenly Father…

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Bonus Material:

1. “We all tend to approach decisions about right and wrong in one of three ways.”
—Margaret R. McLean, Director of The Applied Ethics Center at O’Conner Hospital and Director of Health Care Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California. Read more of her three ways.

2. Read, watch or listen to President Henry B. Eyring, “A Priceless Heritage of Hope”, Apr 2014 LDS General Conference.

Education And Family Scripture Study Help Us Learn Right And Wrong

Education And Family Scripture Study Help Us Learn Right And Wrong

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

  • Photo, CTR ring with scriptures—www. lds.org/search?query=ctr+ring&x=0&y=0&lang=eng&collection=media
  • Quote: “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”―St. Augustine of Hippo, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine_of_Hippo, as quoted in www. goodreads.com/quotes/tag/right-and-wrong
  • Photo, “Just As This Man Points The Way, So Does Our Heavenly Father…”—Ensign, May 2014, Page 25
  • Photo, “Education And Family Scripture Study Help Us Learn Right And Wrong”—www. lds.org/topics/family-history?lang=eng
  • Photo, “A Loving Family Helps Us To Choose The Right”—kaileyraephoto.blogspot.com/

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A Loving Family Helps Us To Choose The Right

A Loving Family Helps Us To Choose The Right

 

Movie List For Fun And To Build Up And Inspire? Our Family’s Answer.

ocean-big splash at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area in OregonReader Question:
Dave, can you please provide a list of movies that your family has enjoyed over the years and used as you raised your kids? Our family would truly appreciate whatever guidance you choose to give or films you might suggest.

Family Answer:
Thanks for your question. Sincere, honest questions are always a good thing.

To gather an answer to your question, we talked to our adult kids, and here’s the list that we gathered. Note that this will be a living list, a living post, that we will add to over time as we remember other films or learn of new ones that we wish to include.

MormonPanorama Movie List for Encouraging Strong Families (for a general audience unless otherwise marked – parents are encouraged to view beforehand and judge for themselves):

12 Angry Men (1957) — being brave; best for older youth or adults
13 Going on 30 (2004) — being good beats being mean any day
A Cry in the Wild (1990) — breaking barriers
After Earth (2013) — learning to trust yourself
Akeelah and the Bee (2006) — learning to trust yourself
Aladdin (1992) — learning to trust
An Affair to Remember (1957) — discarding doubt
Anna and the King (1999) — breaking barriers
Anne of Avonlea (1987) — learning to trust
Anne of Green Gables (1985) — learning to trust
Avatar (2009) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
Babe (1995) — out-of-the-box thinking
Bambi (1942) — being brave
Beauty and the Beast (1991) — progression
Ben-Hur (1959) — progression
Brigadoon (1954) — breaking barriers
Casablanca (1942) — discarding doubt
Charade (1963) — being brave; best for adults
Chicken Run (2000) — being brave
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) — fun
Deja Vu (2006) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
Dumbo (1941) — learning to trust
Elf (2003) — learning to trust
Enchanted (2007) — learning to trust
Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998) — breaking barriers
Fantasia (1940) — culture and fun
Fantasia/2000 (1999) — culture and fun
Father Goose (1964) — breaking barriers
Fiddler on the Roof (1971) — learning to trust
Field of Dreams (1989) — learning to trust; best for adults
Finding Neverland (2004) — breaking barriers
Fireproof (2008) — forgiveness; best for older youth or adults
Frequency (2000) — repentance; best for older youth or adults
Gettysburg (1993) — being brave; best for adults
Gigi (1958) — fun
Gods and Generals (2003) — being brave; best for adults
Gone with the Wind (1939) — Americana
Groundhog Day (1993) — progression; best for older youth or adults
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) — breaking barriers
Henry V (1989) — learning to trust
Hereafter (2010) — learning to trust
Hitch (2005) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
Holes (2003) — keeping promises
Hook (1991) — progression
Hoosiers (1986) — breaking barriers
How the West Was Won (1962) — breaking barriers
How to Train Your Dragon (2010) — out-of-the-box thinking
Ice Age (2002) — breaking barriers
In the Heat of the Night (1967) — breaking barriers
Inception (2010) — out-of-the-box thinking; best for adults
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) — breaking barriers
Invictus (2009) — breaking barriers
Invincible (2006) — breaking barriers
Iron Man (2008) — breaking barriers
Iron Will (1994) — breaking barriers
It Happened One Night (1934) — breaking barriers
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) — progression
John Carter (2012) — breaking barriers
Kate & Leopold (2001) — breaking barriers
K-PAX (2001) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
Lady and the Tramp (1955) — learning to trust
Lady in the Water (2006) — finding your role in life; best for adults
Ladyhawke (1985) — learning to trust
Les Miserables (1978 with Richard Jordan) — progression
Man of Steel (2013) — learning to trust
Mary Poppins (1964) — progression
McLintock! (1963) — breaking barriers
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) — Americana
Men in Black (1997) — progression
Men in Black 3 (2012) — progression
Miracle (2004) — breaking barriers
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) — learning to trust
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008) — breaking barriers; best for adults
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) — fun
Nanny McPhee (2005) — progression
Newsies (1992) — breaking barriers
North & South (2004) — breaking barriers
Ocean’s Eleven (2001) — breaking barriers; best for adults
October Sky (1999) — breaking barriers
Oklahoma! (1955) — Americana
Old Yeller (1957) — being brave
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970) — seeing people deeper
On the Town (1949) — fun and romance
Operation Petticoat (1959) — breaking barriers
Patton (1970) — breaking barriers
Pay It Forward (2000) — breaking barriers; best for adults
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) — fun
Pride and Prejudice (1995) — breaking barriers
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) — learning to trust
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) — breaking barriers
Ratatouille (2007) — progression
Rear Window (1954) — learning to trust; best for adults
Ring of Bright Water (1969) — breaking barriers
Rudy (1993) — breaking barriers
Sabrina (1995) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
Saints and Soldiers (2003) — breaking barriers
Scrooge (1970 with Albert Finney) — learning to trust
Secondhand Lions (2003) — breaking barriers
Sense and Sensibility (1995 with Emma Thompson) — breaking barriers
Sense and Sensibility (2008 with Dan Stevens) — breaking barriers
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) — breaking barriers
Seven Samarai (1954) — breaking barriers
Shadowlands (1993) — learning through practice what you preach
Sherlock Holmes (2009) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
Shrek (2001) — importance of layers in parfaits
Signs (2002) — breaking barriers
Silverado (1985) — breaking barriers
Singin’ in the Rain (1952) — progression
Star Trek (2009) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
Star Wars (1977) — progression
Stargate (1994) — breaking barriers
Starman (1984) — breaking barriers
Stranger Than Fiction (2006) — breaking barriers
Surf’s Up (2007) — breaking barriers
Swiss Family Robinson (1960) — being brave
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) — being brave
The African Queen (1951) — being brave
The Avengers (2012) — learning to trust
The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) — learning to trust
The Black Stallion (1979) — being brave
The Blind Side (2009) — treating people as they may become
The Bourne Identity (2002) — breaking barriers; for older youth/adults
The Bourne Legacy (2012) — breaking barriers; for older youth/adults
The Bourne Supremacy (2004) — breaking barriers; for older youth/adults
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) — breaking barriers; for older youth/adults
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) — learning to trust
The Dirty Dozen (1967) — learning to trust
The Fugitive (1993) — being brave; best for adults
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) — being brave
The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980) — being brave
The Gods Must Be Crazy II (1989) — being brave
The Great Escape (1963) — breaking barriers
The Great Race (1965) — breaking barriers
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) — learning to trust
The Incredibles (2004) — discarding doubt
The Iron Giant (1999) — learning to trust
The Jungle Book (1967) — learning to trust
The Lake House (2006) — breaking barriers
The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) — learning to trust
The Lion King (1994) — learning to trust
The Little Mermaid (1989) — learning to trust
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) — being brave
The Magnificent Seven (1960) — breaking barriers
The Maltese Falcon (1941) — being brave
The Mark of Zorro (1940) — being brave
The Mask of Zorro (1998) — learning to trust
The Miracle Worker (1962) — breaking barriers
The Mission (1986) — forgiveness
The Muppet Movie (1979) — fun
The Music Man (1962) — learning to trust
The Other Side of Heaven (2001) — breaking barriers
The Parent Trap (1961) — learning to trust
The Princess Bride (1987) — being brave
The Rescuers Down Under (1990) — out-of-the-box thinking
The Robe (1953) — breaking barriers
The Secret Garden (1993) — learning to trust
The Sixth Sense (1999) — believing in others; best for adults
The Sound of Music (1965) — progression
The Sting (1973) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
The Sword in the Stone (1963) — out-of-the-box thinking
The Taming of the Shrew (1967) — learning to trust
The Village (2004) — breaking barriers; best for older youth or adults
The Vow (2012) — steadfastness; best for adults
The Water Horse (2007) — being brave
Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) — seeing people deeper
Timeline (2003) — breaking barriers
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) — being brave
To Sir, With Love (1967) — learning to trust
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) — breaking barriers
Toy Story (1995) — progression
Toy Story 2 (1999) — progression
Toy Story 3 (2010) — progression
Treasure Island (1950) — progression
True Grit (1969) — breaking barriers
Tuck Everlasting (2002) — breaking barriers
Up (2009) — progression against odds
Vertigo (1958) — learning to trust; best for adults
Wait Until Dark (1967) — being brave; best for adults
West Side Story (1961) — breaking barriers
What’s Up Doc? (1972) — seeing people deeper
While You Were Sleeping (1995) — learning to trust
White Christmas (1954) — fun and romance
White Fang (1991) — breaking barriers
Wizard of Oz (1939) — progression
You’ve Got Mail (1998) — progression

What we were looking for in movies for kids as they grew up:

  • Films that have tons of material to discuss – especially about what is right and what is wrong and how to resist wrongs that are embraced by so many others around you.
  • Movies and videos (YouTube, etc.) that build up rather than drag down, that uplift and inspire.
  • We avoided films which stated that our moral standards are silly or which encouraged us to become less than we should be.

We hope this answers your question and helps you understand us better and how to become a more effective family, create strong citizens, and have fun with our young adults.

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

ocean-Hawaiian beach

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

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The Power Of Great Art!

The Power Of Great Art!

Reading List To Encourage Intellectual Exploring? Our Family’s Answer.

oceans-rialto-beachReader Question:
Dave, can you please provide a list of books that your family enjoyed and used as you “encouraged lots of intellectual exploring by reading widely”? Our family would truly appreciate whatever guidance you choose to give or titles you might suggest.

Family Answer:
Thanks for your question. Sincere, honest questions are always a good thing.

To gather an answer to your question, we talked to our adult kids, and here’s the list that we gathered. Note that this will be a living list, a living post, that we will add to over time as we remember other titles or learn of new ones that we wish to include.

MormonPanorama Reading List for Creating Strong Families (for children, youth, and young adults). These are for a general audience unless otherwise marked, and parents are encouraged to read beforehand and judge for themselves.

What we were looking for in books for kids as they grew up:

  • Books that have tons of material to discuss – especially about what is right and what is wrong and how to resist wrongs that are embraced by so many others around you.
  • Literature that builds up rather than drags down, that uplifts and inspires.
  • We avoided literature which stated that our moral standards are silly or which encouraged us to become less than we should be.

We hope this answers your question and helps you understand us better and how to become a more effective family, create strong citizens, and develop better young adults.

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

oceans-emerald-island-beach

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

  • Photo, ocean-rialto-beach—www. lds.org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng
  • Photo, ocean-emerald-island-beach—www. lds.org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng

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They're Fermenting Rebellion...

They’re Fermenting Rebellion…

Let The Storm Rage On — Committing To Fight The Good Fight

Quick: What do you think of when you hear this word? “Ordinances.”

Okay, that may be a bit strange. Try this one: “Covenants.”

What went through your mind? Good? Bad? Ugly? Modest? Fight? Commitment?

Sometimes (often?) I feel a need to fight against expectations. At times those expectations are of good behaviors, at other times of bad. In the movie “Frozen”, the character Elsa seemed to feel much the same way:

Not everyone appreciates her the way I do, but I love the way Idina Menzel sings. To me, the good in this song is inspiring. But not the bad. In the song, good and bad are juxtaposed, in opposition to each other, just as they are in life. And as in life, I thank Heaven for the bad. By Celestial design, the bad helps me to recognize, appreciate, and embrace the good. Some of the lyrics:

I don’t care what they’re going to say.
Let the storm rage on.
Cold never bothered me anyway. (All good.)

…the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all. (good)
It’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through. (good)
No right, no wrong, no rules for me. (bad) I’m free. (good)

Let it go, let it go. (good) That perfect girl is gone. (bad)

Good, bad. Bad, good. What the heck does it matter? Well, according to the prophet Isaiah, it matters a lot:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness…

“The emphasis on truth as the way things really are suggests that it contrasts with the way things seem to be, no matter how convincing that deception may be. One such truth is the reality of evil. As Isaiah pointed out, at the heart of moral relativism is an inability or unwillingness to recognize evil.”
Daniel L. Belnap

Dave, what does this good-evil stuff have to do with ordinances? I thought you’d never ask. Ordinances in any faith community help us to shun evil, to choose the right, to commit to be good. It draws a line in the snow. It draws a line in the sand, in the dirt, on the concrete.  A bar/bat mitzvah means “son/daughter who is subject to the commandment, to the law of God”. The first pillar of Islam is kalima shahadah, meaning to promise/testify/witness my word to God. Christian baptism is a covenant with God to repent, to be clean before Him, to accept Christ’s invitation when he said, “Come, follow me.” Ordinances and covenants are a two-way promise: We promise to follow God; he promises us certain blessings.

One thing I really, really love about being a Mormon is that my faith is full of ordinances. At eight years old, I was baptized. At twelve, I was ordained to the priesthood. At twenty-four, my wife and I were sealed for time and all eternity. Then our family gets to go to the temple together and do it all for others. Over and over. Each time, each ordinance, is a line in the snow/sand/whatever. Each is an additional level of commitment and reverence to God. Throughout life, we all make decisions. Ordinances help. They help us choose the right. They help us witness to God and to others that we will choose good over evil.

So, do what Elsa did. Do what you think is right. Be brave, and do it your way. Stay modest. Thumb your nose at a world that wants you to take your clothes off, and keep them on. Instead, yank off the gloves, and pull no punches. Stretch your powers as far as they can possibly go, and then stretch them a bit more. Say what is on your mind and in your heart.

FIGHT. Commit. Draw lines with ideas. Fight the good fight. Fight the good fight of faith.

I don’t care what they’re going to say.
Let the storm rage on — Good never bothered me anyway.

Elsa Ready To Fight

Elsa Ready To Fight, Gloves Off

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Bonus Material:

1. Just like Elsa has powers she must learn about and learn to control, so do we. Listen or read Elder Ronald A. Rasband’s address regarding ways to tutor ourselves in having our hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another, entitled, “Building Spiritual Power in Priesthood Quorums”. (Length of audio: 16:18.)

2. Listen or read how God’s covenant with Abraham blesses us all. (Length of audio: 12:36.)

3. Read more about moral absolutes contrasted with moral relativism in an address by Dallin H. Oaks, “Religious Values and Public Policy“, Ensign, Oct 1992.

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

  • Illustration, “Else Ready To Fight, Gloves Off,” www. moviefanatic.com/gallery/frozen-elsa-idina-menzel/

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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

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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

Women of Power, Women of Influence

Don't Be A DummyThis morning, I was struck by this thought-provoking sentence: “I don’t know one of [my own circle of girlfriends] who doesn’t have feelings of lingering discomfort regarding her own sexual past.” I read this in a footnote to a talk in a recent LDS General Conference interestingly titled, “The Moral Force of Women.”

The entire two-paragraph context by author Jennifer Moses is good:

So here we are, the feminist and postfeminist and postpill generation. We somehow survived our own teen and college years (except for those who didn’t), and now, with the exception of some Mormons, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, scads of us don’t know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily. We’re embarrassed, and we don’t want to be, God forbid, hypocrites.

Still, in my own circle of girlfriends, the desire to push back is strong. I don’t know one of them who doesn’t have feelings of lingering discomfort regarding her own sexual past. And not one woman I’ve ever asked about the subject has said that she wishes she’d “experimented” more.

Don't Short Change YourselfIn fact, the entire WSJ article is good, and not only because it stirred up a strident response. (See “Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That?”, Jennifer Moses, Wall Street Journal, 19 Mar 2011, Page C3). Here is a selection from the address that referenced Moses’ article:

[In the view of many in the world, in sharp contrast to God’s view,] there has long been a cultural double standard that expected women to be sexually circumspect while excusing male immorality. The unfairness of such a double standard is obvious, and it has been justifiably criticized and rejected. In that rejection, one would have hoped that men would rise to the higher, single standard, but just the opposite has occurred—women and girls are now encouraged to be as promiscuous as the double standard expected men to be. Where once women’s higher standards demanded commitment and responsibility from men, we now have sexual relations without conscience, fatherless families, and growing poverty. Equal-opportunity promiscuity simply robs women of their moral influence and degrades all of society. In this hollow bargain, it is men who are “liberated” and women and children who suffer most. (“The Moral Force of Women”, D. Todd Christofferson, LDS General Conference, Oct 2013. )

In his address, Christofferson also teaches us the importance of appreciating everyone’s influence for good, regardless of the ways they work all day: “A pernicious philosophy that undermines women’s moral influence is the devaluation of marriage and of motherhood and homemaking as a career. Some view homemaking with outright contempt, arguing that it demeans women and that the relentless demands of raising children are a form of exploitation. They ridicule what they call “the mommy track” as a career. This is not fair or right. We do not diminish the value of what women or men achieve in any worthy endeavor or career—we all benefit from those achievements—but we still recognize there is not a higher good than motherhood or fatherhood in marriage.”

Are Your Standards ShrinkingIn a second footnote are cited important words from another address: “If being ‘selfless’ means a woman must give up her own inner identity and personal growth, that understanding of selflessness is wrong… But today’s liberationist model goes too far the other way, stereotyping women as excessively independent of their families. A more sensible view is that husbands and wives are interdependent with each other… The critics who moved mothers from dependence to independence skipped the fertile middle ground of interdependence. Those who moved mothers from selflessness to selfishness skipped the fertile middle ground of self-chosen service that contributes toward a woman’s personal growth. Because of these excesses, debates about the value of motherhood have, ironically, caused the general society to discount not only mothers but women in general.” (“Motherhood and the Moral Influence of Women”, Bruce C. Hafen, World Congress of Families II, Geneva, Switzerland, Plenary Session IV, 16 Nov 1999.)

Some may assume that these thoughts refer to virtue, to dressing modestly, or to the value of a working woman, rather than viewing them as a related whole. For me, the issue here is one of influence and of power. Women wield power and influence in diverse ways, and everyone should appreciate good work, independent of where a woman chooses to do it. I have learned for myself that, regardless of our views, it is selfish to say unkind things. We can learn to use our power and influence to build rather than to belittle, even if a person makes choices we would not make for ourselves. Women should not limit themselves to roles that others define for them. The far-reaching effects of the power and influence of women is well described in and certainly not limited to the why-do-we-let-our-kids-wear-immodest-clothes article by Jennifer Moses, Matt Walsh’s …Me?-Ha!-I-WORK! post, Sheri Dew’s two-are-better-than-one talk, or Julie Beck’s mothers-who-know address. “The world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ.” (Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, Page 3.)

Early in her life, my wife 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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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Poster, Don’t Be A Dummy: A mannequin wears whatever the world is selling. Your standards are higher than that.—www.lds.org/media-library/images/mormonads/dress-and-appearance?lang=eng#mormonad-dont-be-a-dummy-1118328 [Church standards of modesty apply equally to all genders.]
  • Poster, Don’t Short Change Yourself: The way you dress advertises your standards. Send the right message. (See For The Strength Of Youth, P. 8.)—www. lds.org/media-library/images/mormonads/dress-and-appearance?lang=eng#mormonad-short-change-1118313 [Church standards of modesty apply equally to all genders.]
  • Article, “Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That?”, Jennifer Moses, Wall Street Journal, 19 Mar 2011—online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748703899704576204580623018562
  • Address, “The Moral Force of Women,” D. Todd Christofferson, LDS General Conference, Oct 2013—www. lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/the-moral-force-of-women?lang=eng
  • Poster, Are Your Standards Shrinking? If it’s too tight, too short, or too revealing, it doesn’t fit church standards. Don’t stretch your standards to fit the world’s. (See For The Strength Of Youth, P. 14-16.)—www. lds.org/media-library/images/mormonads/dress-and-appearance?lang=eng#mormonad-standards-shrinking-1118383 [Church standards of modesty apply equally to all genders.]
  • Address, “Motherhood and the Moral Influence of Women,” Bruce C. Hafen, World Congress of Families II, Geneva, Switzerland, Plenary Session IV, 16 Nov 1999 —worldcongress.org/wcf2_spkrs/wcf2_hafen.htm
  • Blog Post, “You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?”, Matt Walsh—themattwalshblog.com/2013/10/09/youre-a-stay-at-home-mom-what-do-you-do-all-day/
  • Address, “It Is Not Good for Man or Woman to Be Alone”, Sheri L. Dew, LDS General Conference, Oct 2001—www. lds.org/general-conference/2001/10/it-is-not-good-for-man-or-woman-to-be-alone?lang=eng
  • Address, “Mothers Who Know”, Julie B. Beck, LDS General Conference, Oct 2007—www. lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/mothers-who-know?lang=eng
  • Book, Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society (2011, Intellectual Reserve, Inc., United States of America)—www. lds.org/relief-society/?lang=eng

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