Sunday, September 8, 2013


Long ago, in the days of yore, amusement parks had very few thrill rides. I remember there was usually a Ferris wheel, a roller coaster and maybe Tilt-a-Whirl. The Ferris wheel was mostly a series of stops for letting people off and on, the roller coaster was creaky but non-heart stopping and the Tilt-a-Whirl tilted but didn't really whirl.

In those days, which remain in the memories of fewer and fewer, the main attractions were ‘tossing something at something and win a prize games’ and ‘fun houses.’ The prizes for winning at the games were usually cheap little gadgets like Chinese handcuffs (I don’t think the Chinese ever used such a thing) and blocks which went up and down on their connecting bands. The really good prizes were impossible to win, so the throwing games didn't catch my attention much.

However, the fun houses for me were really a reason to go to an amusement park. All the houses, even though they had different themes like scary, funny and sick, were always full of surprises. Few of the youth will believe this, but in those days you WALKED through the fun houses. There were no little cars which looked like trains or cars to ride.

My favorite fun house was the House of Mirrors. Usually when you entered the House of Mirrors you were first met with a series of mirrors that were curved in various ways, so that when you approached them you were very fat, very thin or squiggly. After bending over laughing at how funny your friends looked you, entered into the main area of the House of Mirrors which contained a maze of mirrors set at various angles. The lights were dim so that it made it difficult to determine where there was an opening between the mirrors and where there was another mirror. You and your friends found great glee watching each other bang your heads into one mirror after another.

As I aged, one of my saddest discoveries was that life’s illusions were not only to be found in amusement parks, but were a large part of everyday life. The world became one gigantic House of Mirrors.

Most of the time when we see a reflection of ourselves we see the exact opposite of what the rest of the world sees when they look at us. I think one of the reasons that so many of us aren't really fond of our photographs is that we are looking at someone whose features are opposite from what we see daily in the mirror. Sadly, most of our friends seldom see the real us.

We grow to be skeptical of most people’s words because we learn that everyone has an agenda to promote when they open their mouths. As the joke goes - Question: ‘how do you know when a politician is lying?’ Answer ‘when he opens his mouth.’ Sadly, aging seems to make us feel like we are conversing with more and more people who sound like politicians.

When I was young hardly a week went by which didn't include reading a book about one of my sports heroes. Now the youth can't listen to or watch the news a single day without hearing of an athlete who has been hiding behind the mask of performance enhancement drugs or who has been acting like anything but a hero.

I guess I could find a level of contentment if illusion and deception were kept to the problems of this world alone, but sadly, almost daily we see an increase of the energies of evil as they seek to fulfill their declared purposes. “Verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world. And also Satan hath sought to deceive you that he might overthrow you.” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:2, 3) And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an “angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God. And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. (Book of Mormon – 2 Nephi 2:18, 19)

C. S. Lewis in his book Screwtape Letters indicates that the way to deceive men and lead them away from God is to tell them that there is no devil. It also seems that Satan is trying to be just as effective in deceiving men and leading them away from God by telling them there is no God.

In our day of technological enlightenment, Screwtape seems to have declared victory in convincing men that there is no devil and is now putting all his forces into likewise convincing men that there is no God.

Satan’s deceptive House of Mirrors always goes something along the lines of the following verbiage:
Say you that God is good?

Say you that God is all Powerful and all Knowing?

Why then does he allow so much evil in the world?

Why has so much evil been done in his various names?

Is not religion a ruse to control the masses?

Why do so many leaders of religions seek only their own gain?

As illogical as it may seem to judge the Perfectness of God by looking through the prism of imperfect men, that is exactly the argument which Satan has proffered to dissuade men of the existence of God.


I cannot judge the existence and goodness of God by the evil decisions and actions of men.

Nor can I judge the value of Religious tenets by the infidelity and inhumanity of those who say but do not do.


I am left to judge the reality of God’s existence, in my life alone, by the degree to which my belief alters my actions and decisions.

Also, I am left to judge religion by the degree that my desire to become a better and more loving neighbor is changed through living its teachings.


I will live so as to feel the promised joy associated with coming to know God.

And that I will live a life of love so that in every way all His children become my brothers and sisters.

My prayer is that we might somehow escape this devilish house of mirrors which we have entered into and as the ancient apostle Paul taught, “no longer see through the glass darkly.”



  1. ��can't wait to read your "Thoughts for 'This' Sabbath Day".
    The fellow I also fb with, Bill King, is the son of our old Reno neighbors: Marybeth & Bill King. His uncle, Mike Barrett passed away just about the same time as Betty Macarty, whose funeral is today in Aloha, OR=Marvia Drake's mom. Bill's family is very strongly Catholic & he really believes...but finds that he really likes a lot of what Shelli & I write/believe. I'm TRYING to give him the support he's looking for, without causing him additional heartache. He really Loved this uncle who was a 'rascal', marched to his own drummer..not so religious. Bill is having some health issues (I think depression) since the passing. Sorry to wax long here, just felt the need to share my concern for a fine young's 40ish! When did age creep in Bro Bill? Give my best to your beautiful Kathleen...always one of my favorite 'sisters'! I'll bet you're off to the Temple now. It's our Stake Conference this week-end. My HT is the Stake Clerk and downloads a lot of stuff to this wk-end. Happy Saturday!

    Patricia Walters

  2. Bill,
    As your stories testify, life is full of lessons. I believe God offers us spiritual truths through these experiences of ours if we but acknowledge them. Those of you who help us do so, bless us by helping us open our soporose eyes to avail ourselves to these blessings.

    "Sadly, most of our friends seldom see the real us."
    Sadly it is we who seldom see ourselves as we are, the real us. My son Ian is a photographer. He photographs models and actors, mostly wanna-be actors at this point in his career. To make ends meet he doing well what he likes less, weddings and other professional and group photos. Other than his camera, his primary tool is the professional version of Adobe Photoshop. With that wonderful tool, wrinkles may be removed; blemishes such as moles may be smoothed and enhanced, or removed; fat trimmed, weaknesses strengthened, etc. People are able to see themselves as they believe they are and/or as they would like to be seen. (At least more so than with the brutally honest camera alone.) God has blessed and cursed the devious, creative imaginations He gave men.

    "we learn that everyone has an agenda",
    little aware of our own. Who sells best? The used car salesman? The pharmaceutical salesman who promises with a pill or two a firmer, stronger body (or whatever :-), the politician hoping to retain office, the bishop or missionary? Where is the best training ground? The used car lot, the political road up, the mission field? That everyone has an agenda is an inevitable human condition. What that agenda is is partially an inheritance and partially a choice. It is the un-chosen and subconscious agenda that have the greatest potential for internal and external damage.

    "my sports heroes" One of my sports heroes, Charles Barkley, became so only for saying something like, "I am not your role model (not a hero); I'm a ball player." How much do we participate in our son's or daughter's inappropriate idols? We, grown children, continue to be drawn towards the wrong heroes.

    "“no longer see through the glass darkly.” "Remember the lilies" which beautiful as they may be, wither, die and return to earth. Have no care for that morrow, for it will surely come. Life does have an end date; after which I fear comes a reckoning.

    Your doggedly faithful disciple,

    Paul Maddox

  3. Another great thought...thanks so much for your "Thoughts". Have a wonderful week.

    Charlene Daniels

  4. Another great piece. would it be OK to pass it on to my list?

    Paul Hansen

  5. I had to respond to today's "THOUGHTS." My wife and I had been asked to each give a talk, in the same meeting, on the ten commandments. I took the philosophical approach and began my talk with Brother Joseph's commentary, in the King Follet Discourse, about knowing the character of God if we are to understand ourselves - and up you pop with a wonderful close; should I need it (I'm on the accordion end of the meeting) -

    thank you -

    Brandt Petersen

  6. So enjoyed this! As always, so much to think about and improve upon!
    Last Sunday I spoke to the subject of the Lord's tender mercies. A daunting challenge! I would like to share it with you because it is made up of thoughts from each of my kids.
    I am so grateful for my family and, since you know them, I wanted to share their thoughts with you. You have had a profound influence in my children's lives and I will be ever grateful that you were the voice to seal Kris and Daimen three years ago this November.

    My love and deepest respect to you both!

    Kathie Brooks

  7. I appreciate your THOUGHTS in this e-mail! I recognize truth when I see it, and I pray I'll also recognize falsehoods and who initiates them. We are indeed in a war against Satan and his followers ~~ and they recognize that their time on earth is coming to an end soon ~~ and it is their desire (no, their goal) to lead as many as possible (who have physical bodies) astray. They will use any means possible to achieve their goal.

    I was reading in the September New Era excerpts from a talk given by Elder Neil L. Andersen wherein he said: "In our day, in a very difficult time, the Lord promised the Saints, 'If my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place' (D&C 124:45). This is the Lord's pattern. We are not forced to obey; there is no compulsion. But if we will be attentive to their words, if we will be responsive and willing to change our behavior as the Holy Ghost confirms their counsel, we will hold fast to the iron rod and will forever remain safely on the path leading to the tree of life."

    So long as we follow our Prophets, we will be safe!

    Love you!

    Carla Johnson