Sunday, January 31, 2010


Have you ever wondered what it would be like for someone to have gone to sleep in 1950 and not awakened again until 2010? You can fill in your own way of manufacturing this unusual situation. It doesn’t matter whether they were – Rip Van Winkled – in a coma – or frozen in a cryogenic facility, they have been totally unaware of the passing of time and the circumstances of change. They just wake up in a world that has moved forward 60 years. For our imagined situation we will limit the pre and post experiences to Southern California with apologies to others who are not that well acquainted with life in this particular Garden westward of Eden.

When they went to sleep the road from Los Angeles to San Diego was a narrow winding road with a maximum safe speed of 50 mph with periodic slowdowns through small and sleepy surferless beach communities; they awoke to people making this same trip along an interstate freeway which at times exceeds 10 lanes accommodating the massive movements of motorists at speeds varying between, a lawfully minimum exceeding, 70 mph (and who knows how fast the inconsiderate idiot is traveling), at non-accident, non-rush hour times, not even having to slow while going through the most metropolitan of areas.

When they went to sleep individual communications with those outside the limits of hollering were confined to black, yellow or pea soup green dial phones which in most homes were found in only one location in the home and grounded by a cord. When one was away from home they could generally find a phone booth and for 10 cents they could make a local call. They awoke to a world where the right of passage for a child entering a grade in school somewhere between the 1st and 6th grades was the gifting of access to a personal wireless handheld device with the capability of unlimited applications. They awoke to a communications system where place and time offered neither limitations nor restrictions when reaching out to friends, family and businesses. One had to dedicate themselves to deliberately swimming against the tide if they were to remain outside the constant accessibility of the wireless world. A world where phone booths had gone the way of the dinosaur and could only be found on Antique Roadshow and in isolated corners of airports.

An extended thesis could be done on the creative technological and physical advancements which would have greeted our friend upon awakening after the 60 year drowse, but perhaps they would have been greeted by an even more shocking discovery as they came to a realization of the changes in social mores.

They went to sleep in a world where the dating process provided a social environment where one could encounter and develop a relationship which might lead to finding their eternal companion. They would have awakened to a dating world of a weekly lottery of rotating ‘soul mates’ where commitment was short, halting or non-existent. Strangers flitting from one temporary acquaintance to the next, which resulted in canned relationship statements said while stammering, stuttering or often totally ignoring expressions of fondness and love.

They went to sleep knowing that the ideal family was but a pretend world found only in the scripts of ‘Father Knows Best’. They knew that their own real home was not always such an ideal place, but there was usually a desire, which was sometimes actuated, to contribute to the improvement of the family’s deficiencies. Once again, after this 60 year lapse awakening to find that ‘families’ had become an increasingly transitory interchangeable cast of characters and locations, where adjustment was mandatory for an individual’s survival. The reading of a wedding invitation required a degree in genealogy to decipher the entanglement of relationships. The disclosure of the dysfunctions of the variable units of maturation had become a fast track to 15 minutes of fame where one could openly disclose gritty details on a daytime talk show.

They went to sleep in a time when the first time anyone graduated was after the successful completion of 12 years of schooling, where celebrations of marriage became significant only after the participants had come to the golden year of unity. They awakened in a world where they were expected to attend a multiplicity of graduations beginning with the transition from Pre-School into elementary school. A society where each year of wedded union was being recognized as if it had golden significance, and indeed each added year, in this strange new world did give reason for celebration as if it were to be the last.

I wonder if our post-slumber friend would take the time to look for possible reasons behind these dramatic social changes, or if they would just request to be put back into their hibernational state.

If they did take the time to investigate the events, which brought about the execution of the old and the creation of the new civilization they had just awakened into, it might be possible that some of the following points won't be found in their report.

This strange new world might be reported to be filled with inhabitants who honestly believed that it was ‘all about me’, and very little had to do with ‘you’ or ‘we’. Each individual seemed to be living in a one ring circus where they played the roles of master, act, and crowd.

This strange new world might be reported to be filled with dwellers who suffered from patience deficiency and required to have every desire fulfilled ‘now’ as if they had all captured the ‘Genie of the Blue Light Bulb’ who possessed the power to grant unlimited wishes. Everyone seemed to be daily going about the business of dealing, distributing, devouring and discarding stuff.

This strange new world might be reported to be filled with tenants who had become perfect in the living the doctrine of ‘loving thy self,’ but were found wanting when it came to likewise ‘loving their neighbors.’ All seemed to be living in a strangely interesting directional world where happiness could only be found if all positive reinforcements were aimed in their direction and all negative criticisms were sent in the direction of others.

This strange new world might be reported to be filled with citizens who found any quiet alone time boring and depressing; therefore, they saw them busily going about creating and surrounding themselves with an environment where there was a never-ending cyber generated world of artificial relationships, being able to create or destroy intimacies with people with whom they would undoubtedly never have a personal face to face exchange. Strangely while they were involved in this ‘reality world’ they were becoming less and less involved in real life relationships which seemed to be becoming of little consequence in their vision of what was required to become fulfilled as a person.

This strange new world might be reported to be filled with residents who found duplicity of beliefs a natural convenience for sustaining their vision of truth. Tolerance would be something that others must have for me and my way of life, while I retain the right to call your way of living one that is built upon biases of blindness and bigotry. My visions of relationships were to be understood and indulged, but yours were to be looked at with skepticism, cynicism and disbelief.

I am never going to be one who wants to completely return to the ‘good ole days’, and I recognize that the openness and more integrated society we enjoy today is in many ways far superior to what was. I also enjoy the creative improvements which have made it possible for us to have so much more re-creational time. I would just encourage us to once in a while pause and think about whether change is or is not an improvement on what was. We might consider for a moment whether all movement is or is not necessarily in a forward direction. Likewise, we might consider whether the need to be different does or does not result in us being better off because we made the change.

We might also take a moment to ponder whether in some instances it might be possible that looking to ‘what was’ may be a way to move toward making the world that some will wake up in in the year 2070 a more wonderful and blessed ‘what is to be’.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


In one life-altering moment the fisherman was called to leave his boat and nets and become a fisher of men. Having experienced similar life altering situations which move us from our comfort zones into something foreign to our regular routines, it isn’t difficult to empathize with the trauma Peter might have been experiencing as he heard the Master say “follow me”. Although he was well qualified and seemed satisfied with his trade, I'm sure he felt less than prepared to teach the Plan of Happiness to friend and foe, to family and stranger and must have inwardly cowered at the thought of the challenging call. I suspect he did a quick inventory and judged himself wanting, unlearned and ignorant just as each of us might likewise have done many times in our lives. Nevertheless, Simon left his nets and bolstered by a beginning faith in the Savior and sensing the faith that the Lord had in him, he took the first timid steps on the road to becoming the boldest of the Apostles.

What did Jesus see as he looked upon the heart of Simon Bar Jonah that enabled Him to make such an inspired summon? What did He sense beyond the mortal senses? Did Peter wear the look of extraordinariness? Did his voice have the sound of a true trumpet? Or did the Savior see standing before Him a rough stone cut out of the mountain hiding a glistening gem deep within?

Shortly after his call the transformation from fisherman to spiritual giant began. I feel confident that as Peter followed the Savior around the shores of the Galilee and down through the Jordan Valley he listened intently to the teachings which flowed from the Master Teacher. I wonder if memory of times spent listening to this same voice during a time now veiled, brought thrilling flashes to his soul as glimpses of the glorious days of that other world sprinkled his consciousness. Daily his thirst was quenched by the constant flow from Divinity as the true way of life was unfolded. He sat on the Mount and heard the Great Sermon. He stood in the synagogue as the prophetic words of Isaiah and Ezekiel were expounded and fulfilled. Surrounded by humanity in public places or in intimate seclusion along the shores of the sea, he allowed the living waters to flow unto him from the Fountain of Truth.

To Simon the scriptures were revealed by the Revealer and the mystery of the creation was unveiled by the Creator. The public accounts of Peter’s conversion are available as a matter of record. I am awestruck with wonderment, as I ponder the thought of how much refining must have taken place in those unrecorded hours as Peter walked those dusty trails side by side with the Messiah? How much polishing must have been done night after night as he and the ‘few’ broke bread with the Savior? What a blessing to have been one of the few in the history of mankind to have been able to absorb pure wisdom as it flowed freely, true and undefiled rather than the normal encumbering learning which most of us stumble through as we deal with the taskmasters of trial and error.

In the historical Peter we witness a sometimes wavering, but continually growing faith as he goes from those first faltering steps of a neophyte until he briefly walks on the waters of Chinnereth; a faith which increasingly expanded as he healed, as prison walls fell at his bidding and the dead came back to life. Through all of his triumphs during his mortal journey Simon seemed to retain the balancing characteristic of humility, acknowledging the well from who had sprung the living waters, recognizing his position as a conduit and the Lord as the source, eventually accepting the threats and persecution willingly bearing the cross which can come to one who decides to be an example of the Exemplar.

Because he yielded his will to that of the Divine, the metamorphosis took place and Simon the fisherman became The Fisher of Men. Peter was changed and became spiritual, prophetic, a man of God, upon whose shoulders the Savior could place with confidence the burdens of His Kingdom.

Oh youth of this noble generation where do you find yourself this day on your journey of faith? Do you feel the faith your Lord has in you as you take your first faltering steps? Is your humility sufficient to keep you in constant remembrance of your roll as an under-servant? Has the hour come when you yield to the petitions contained in the flood of prayers which have Heaven ward flown? Are you ready to become active participants in the royal priesthood? Will you yield to the Divine refining touches which will remove the unnecessary silt which surrounds the gem hidden within you? Can you as did Enoch, Moses, Nephi and Peter allow the seed deep within to germinate and grow until you no longer remain a tightly wrapped bud, but allow the light of the Savior’s glory to bring you forth as a beautiful fully developed bloom. Let us this day chose to be wise and elect to accept the Savior as the only Way to becoming all we can become.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


It is often hard to identify the intonation of voices, whether they have a lamenting or longing tone, when we hear people speaking of how quickly childhood passes and how fleeting are the days of youth. I wonder if it is because adults perceive these days as having sped by all too rapidly that we are often tempted to crowd as much as possible into the hastening days of our children and put as much as possible upon their plates. Whatever the reason we see each succeeding generation's wants being responded to in ever increasing amounts by overly solicitous parents. Each generation of fathers and mothers seem to expend ever increasing endless efforts and resources in providing clouds and spoons laced with silver to their offspring.

In spite of the frequent warnings given by inspired leaders that this activity and object led method of parenting will almost always lead to unrealistic expectations during adult years and put up hurdles which may be detrimental to unifying relationships which must exist if marriages are to survive; we continue to add storage rooms to house last weeks latest and fill garbage bins and second hand stores with yesterdays greatest. We continue to ignore the essential teaching of how to prioritize, by making sure our children do and have everything while turning our backs on inculcating the value of balance and well being.

Although there has to be some positives to the bottomless provider parenting philosophy, and there is nothing amiss in parents making sure their children find full and beautiful experiences as they go through the struggles of maturation; we must never forget that where childhood and adolescence are measured in years, adulthood is more often measured in decades. Many of us will live a decade in adulthood for each of our teenage years. We must never forget that with all our striving to make these youthful years memorable, it is more important that they become preparatory years. Therefore it seems, that parents, in all their getting and giving and rushing from one event to the next, should give thought and keep in mind that these formative years during the brief span called youth are but a prelude and preparation to numerous adult years.

I know that when one writes down some ways in which we might better prepare children for the majority of their mortality, there will be a temptation to add these new suggestions to the already crowded agenda. I would suggest that we might use the gift of discernment that is provided to well meaning parents, to make adjustments rather than additions in the limited time we have with our children during these important foundational years.

Therefore with the knowledge that I will be throwing feathers at golden calves I offer the following for thought:

We might consider spending less time being frittered doing the fleeting fun of fantasy lands and dedicate that time to teaching and practicing the true foundations of lasting happiness based on the eternal truths which have been provided by a loving Heavenly Father.

We need to help our children understand the true joy of constant and continual learning, helping them understand that learning is not just a system of hurdles which must be conquered in order to meet predetermined goals, eventually to be cast aside with the other encumbrances of youth. Hopefully instilling in them a lasting hunger, a consuming quest to find everlasting truths, an excitement for learning which will formulate and stimulate a desire to know the unknown and become acquainted with the known.

Amid the happy moments of play we need to help our children understand the joy which attends meaningful work and the fulfilling of stewardships and the attending accountability.

Since the days will inevitably come when the body will no longer glide effortlessly and seems to be unconditionally fit. We need to help our children understand that the body is not only here to serve us, but we are to serve it also and have an obligation to keep it in as good of order as possible. We must help them understand that there will be a tie between having a well fueled and well fed instrument and the enjoyment of the decades of adulthood.

We must help them understand that variations of emotions and reactions to external stimulus is a part of our passage and exists in the all lives, and can choose to be happy in this telestial societal environment or chose to dwell in a state of unhappiness. We are never in control of the stones which might be hurled in our direction we are only blessed with the direction of our reaction to these missiles which continually surround us all.

They need to be helped to understand that busyness does not always equate to joy, and that many of the higher joys and advancements which we embrace are found in quiet moments of isolated meditation and introspection.

We will leave a lasting void in the long years of the adult life of that child who is never introduced to the sublime feelings which can come when communing with Deity during the practice of prayer and pondering.

My prayer is that in some small way we might be stimulated to consider that the days we journey with our offspring in their youth, are but a precious few, which if not carefully monitored can easily be squandered on well meaning but short term thrill trails. My prayer is that we might spend more of these precious few days away from providing glitter and glitz based memories, and in activities which build important eternal foundational patterns for adulthood. My prayer is that somewhere in the carefree reveling days of youth there will be time set apart for the introduction of activities which will bring fulfillment to the decades of adulthood and then into the future stages of our existence. My prayer is that lasting happiness will be ours with those whom we love so dearly because we have been divinely led to spend these precious days as they have been eternally appointed to be spent.


Sunday, January 10, 2010


A long time ago at a time when I was still trying to decide whether Easter bunnies and Santa Clause were actual beings or not, I read a book about a world where there were no laws of nature except for the expectation that nothing would ever happen the same way twice. One morning you might get out of bed and your feet would be on the floor, but the next you might find your self walking on the wall. When you poured the milk on the cereal you never knew whether to hold the bowl above the carton, to the side or leave it on the table, since you never could anticipate which direction the milk would flow from the carton or if it would flow at all. Obviously for my young mind it was riotous to travel through the pages of this book as it took me through a non-typical day in this non-regulated world, and it was even more fun to let my mind go wild imagining what the possibilities would be like if I were actually living and going about the events of my own day in such a 'world'.

On occasion I still allow my mind to slip into a make believe world, but at this time of life I find my mind traveling through a much different world than that of those years of innocence. Sadly much of the world of my mind today is just as unreal as that non-regulated world I slipped into at times so long ago.

I would like to take you into this imaginary world for a few minutes just to see if it might start you thinking of a more if only for a few minutes.

I think of a world where ideas are shared, neither for profit nor gain, but for exploring the paths which might lead us all towards greater degrees of joy.

I think of a world where 'I' and 'mine' give way to a world of 'us' and 'ours'.

I think of a world where we value one another not by the height of the summit of our stuff, but by the depth of our integrity.

I think of a world where a person's beauty is not measured by the shape of their features and figures, but by the dimensions of their character.

I think of a world where relationships are not determined by borders, but are made universal by commonality and oneness of our earthly family.

I think of a world where pigmentation, status, education and other prejudices no longer build walls to protect exclusivity, but that we awaken to the realization that inclusive variety will brighten and stimulate our mortal journey.

I think of a world where people are less inclined to fine humor in the gross and demeaning, but discover that there is laughter enough to be found in the silliness which attends our feeble and the fumbling attempts at trying to figure what it is all about.

I think of a world where individuals finally admit to their shortsightedness and lack of real understanding and are moved to increase their efforts in moving towards the next horizon and the exploration of the realities that can be found in the beyond.

I think of a world where the confining restrictions of one's own self assuredness; yields to the possibility that there are whisperings of the Spirit which can bring hidden treasures of knowledge to each of us.

When the snap back to reality hits me and I am once again in the world as it is, I always take just a minute to think about where I am in the process of incorporating some of these principles I have been thinking about in the 'desire' compartment of my mind.

Although I always find myself drastically wanting I'm usually able to practice living in that to a small degree if only for few moments at a time.

I am constantly aware of the inabilities, inadequacies, and limitations we have in causing changes in others, so my quest will continue to be to extend the Beautiful World I sometimes think about into just a few more minutes of reality.

I would love to hear some of the 'thinkings' from the desire compartments of your minds, so that I could think about them and who knows, maybe even practice them for a moment or two. Who knows? If we all think about it long enough and practice some of these 'thinks' for a moment or two we might just wake up one day to find we indeed live in a Beautiful World.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


As we gain experience (a catch phrase for getting older) we have a tendency to spend a lot of time evaluating and trying to separate those things which are really important from those things which Elder Boyd K. Packer called 'fried froth' or of little to no importance in one's life. I have noticed that through the years a certain principle has been slowly making it to the top of my list of really important things.

That principle, which now sits in a lofty place in my hierarchy of values, is tossed about as we casually use the word RELATIONSHIPS in so many different ways. We read about what proper relationships should be and make resolutions to incorporate needed changes into our behavior, but crisis' cause old habits to take sway. We watch a tender movie where skilled actors present models which should be emulated and realize that our lives would have less conflict if we played our personal characters after such a model, but reality soon chases away these pretend moments. We see people who seem to have genuine relationship skills and wonder if our interactions would be different if we followed their example, but then rationalize that our circumstances are much different and less ideal than theirs.

Sadly, we know that most of us practice situational relationship behavior rather than relationships which are constant and correct. We have a relationship behavior which surfaces when we are trying to get another person to buy what we are selling. We have a relationship behavior which surfaces when we are courting. We have a relationship behavior which surfaces when we feel comfortable and confident with another. We have a relationship behavior which surfaces when we feel we are in a position of control and authority. We have a relationship behavior which surfaces when we are only in the presence of ourselves.

One of the principles that is most essential to being able to have a solid belief in Deity is being able to trust in the behavioral constancy of an Exalted Being. We must also be able to separate His unchanging ways and those events which happen because we misuse our gift of Agency. I have witnessed people's relationship with God and others change when life's events and someone's use of Agency brings about adversity or stifles ones desires. In April of 1994 Elder Russell M. Nelson said, "Only the comprehension of the true Fatherhood of God can bring the full appreciation of the true brotherhood of man."

What a wonderful thing to contemplate. Is it possible that along with all the striving to learn about and attempting to inculcate patterns of building, strengthening and edifying relationships, that I also must quest to have a constancy in the practice of these correct principles in all the variety of places with all the variety of people I daily encounter?

A personal list of building, strengthening and edifying relationship behaviors I desire to make constant in my interactions with my bothers and sisters which make up humanity:

1. Speaking with soft and soothing tones saving loud and harsh vocalizations for times of emergency.
2. Become so truthful that I never leave another wondering if a promise I have made will be fulfilled faithfully.
3. Make words of kindness and praise a natural and sincere part of my vocabulary.
4. Change critical comments into words of helpful encouragement.
5. Be genuinely interested in the welfare, interests and pursuits of others.
6. Leave others with the understanding that I truly regard their importance in my life.
7. Have genuine and unfeigned emotions; merry when rejoicing is appropriate and weeping when circumstances require it.
8. Develop a more cheerful attitude easily brought to laughter especially at our mortal bumbling - and most especially my own.
9. Put down any temptation which might arise to become my own publicity campaigner, the expositor of my many personal virtues.
10. Not allow the current behavior of others and the remarks they may say in their unguarded, challenged moments to affect the constancy of my own relationship behaviors.

Somewhere 'way back in my personal calendar of mortality I was told that any list longer than ten is a waste of both my time and that of others, so I'll end this shared list now with the understanding that my personal list is much more extensive.

I will also end these thoughts with the admission that my struggle for the development of constant righteous relationship interactions are 'way too fragmented and most often fall short of acceptability and are a long way from where I know they should be. But as the old Irishman once said, "ye lift me and I'll lift thee and together to Heaven we'll go."