Sunday, July 6, 2014


Volume 1 of 'Thoughts for 100 Sabbath Days is now available on I hope you will enjoy having it in your homes!

Some years ago, as an introduction to a presentation I had been asked to give, I asked the audience if they had experienced a new thought recently. The expressions on their faces and the uncomfortable vibes which came at me were unexpected and in a strange way very rewarding, as I knew we were about to embark on a very lively discussion.

There were a few who responded with enthusiasm and excitement as they joyfully shared the new thought that they had recently been introduced to.

There were others who asked if a new twist on an old thought counted. I answered in the affirmative and they willingly shared the new twist they had been gifted with.

There was one who wondered if having received confirmation by an authority on a previously perceived uncertain belief could be counted. I remarked that such an experience must count double since it probably was coming from two sources.

Sadly, the majority in attendance either couldn't recall a recent encounter with a new thought or were unwilling or too timid to contribute.

One of my all-time favorite mentors, Hugh Nibley, with that elfish twinkle he got in his eye when he was about to say something which had brought joy to him, once shared a story of how after a lecture a student came up to him and with a challenging voice said, ‘I have never heard anything about most of the things you were talking about tonight.’ Rather than entering into a debate, Brother Nibley simply stated, ‘I hope not, why else would you want to listen to someone harangue for two hours. I would never sit and listen to someone for two hours if I wasn't going to glean some important new information.’

After my own presentation on the importance of constantly adding to our own stock of thoughts and having gained many new thoughts of my own that night, I was also rewarded with a whole basket of new directions I needed to take when thinking about the importance of continually adding to one’s bank of facts, knowledge and understanding.

It was exciting to see the many, who flushed by the excitement of their ‘added upon’ experiences, multiplied their joy by anxiously sharing with others.

One of the sad discoveries I came away with that night was that there are many among us who for one reason or another have placed self-imposed restrictions upon themselves which hamper and restrict the addition of new ideas in their lives.

As I drove home I pondered on the self-imposed restrictions that some of us place upon ourselves. We, for one reason or another, eliminate from our lives one of life’s most precious experiences and a great source of joy, ‘the continual process of learning’.

There have been numerous studies which track the reading habits of high school graduates and all of them seem to result in similar findings. There are about 1/3 of all high school graduates who never read a book after graduation. I have friends who consider listening to a lecture to be the highest form of unusual punishment. They seem to have enlisted in a secret society which has the motto, ‘I went to school to prepare, I am prepared, end of discussion.’

Earlier in my teaching career I had assignments in some communities where those who came to class were very uncomfortable with any ideas being shared which they hadn't heard from childhood and which hadn't been repeated in classes and talks for decades. Having to deal with a new idea or looking at a principle from another point of view was a very unnerving and uncomfortable process.

I am reminded of a short talk I had with my eldest son when he returned from school and his first day of kindergarten. I asked him what he had learned that morning and he quickly replied, ‘Everything’.

Sadly, some of us have deluded ourselves into thinking that we really have learned everything of importance. You do recall the best seller All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (Robert Fulghum). It seems the book, even though never having been read by this group, has become the Bible and Fulghum the prophet of those who now reject the idea of continuing to learn. We can feel confident that just like all bibles, their adopted bible also sits on a shelf and draws dust and their prophet’s words are never read.

Even their justification arguments are stale and repetitious:

How often have you conjugated a sentence since you graduated?

How many times have you had to use a geometric formula since you graduated?

Very little I read in the books in high school relates to real life, so why should I fill my head with more non-essential information?

How many conversations have you had in Latin lately?

Due to technological advancement this congregation of non-readers is now able to add mathematic fundamentals, spelling, grammar and writing in complete and coherent sentences to their list of the reasons why time spent in learning is a waste. After all what do we have fingers, calculators, computers, spell check and Wikipedia for?

(To be continued …)


  1. Bill,
    There's so much here. What to think; what to say?
    "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun."
    "Sadly, the majority in attendance either couldn't recall a recent encounter with a new thought"
    Sadly I confess that for this one time the majority, hitherto derogated as the mindless majority, may have stumbled upon a truth that those of us, so "eat up" with our creativity and love of inventiveness and learning ofttimes little acknowledge. Who was it, Newton, who acknowledged when praised that he stood on the shoulders of giants? It seems to me there is an argument to be made that our great creations are a result of the syntheses and refinements of that which came to us. We less add than extend. I know that that is the case in the computing explosion; and usually so in physics. Although it's a matter of interpretation as to what is or is not created, but. “There are no facts, only interpretations.”
    Friedrich Nietzsche

    "multiplied their joy by anxiously sharing with others"
    Solipsistic joy is faux-joy; it is rationalized, masked internal pain. It is misery in the robes of self-deceit. Joy may be obtained ONLY when one finds an outlet for sharing, giving to others. Giving measured by the motivation of the giver, e.g., the widow's mite, not the size or type of the gift.
    "All I Really Need to Know"
    Scientologists have as one of their bedrock concepts, stable datum. Over simplified: as long as one is able to maintain stability in one core area of his life he will be able to deal with change and insecurity in others. I am perhaps over obsessed with the idea that we are inclined to simplify our lives in inappropriate places, one being our openness to the "Word(s) of God. I have a profound belief in God's presence. If He's not here, I am sadly and hopelessly deluded. Since He's here, I should look for Him and listen to Him where He is; as well as where prophets say He was. Psychological projection being what it is, I project my conviction as to the importance of expecting to see God speak to us through His daily presence onto others. Many others seek Him ONLY by more constrained means.
    "After all what do we have fingers, calculators, computers, spell check and Wikipedia for?"
    Indeed, there are better and best ways to educate our youth and ourselves. As often do we old people stubbornly cling to antiquated and ineffective ways to educate as do young people resist learning helpful but not readily apparent subject matter.


    Paul Maddox

  2. I was one who did not receive it so thank you! My new thought or piece of understanding came through my visiting nephew who taught me how to download and burn on my laptop and load CDs into the CD contraption in the trunk of my car! So I can enjoy our MCO CD of To Be American and blast it to all the world!!
    Loved the recent pictures on Facebook. You both look great! Hope this finds you healthy and happy!😊

    Kathie Brooks

  3. Thx, I had not, but I did get them, just Thru Facebook. I'm looking forward to the continuation! Your "Thoughts" Always spur me on. Thoughts that I have no on else to try them out on...hence you get my jumble! Thx for putting up w/my ramblings! Bob & I had very wonderful, & very involved discussions, that's probably the thing I've missed the most, since he went home! FYI, there was a 6.9 Earthquake right near the Mexican/Guatemala board in the night, near the Temple in Chiapas State, Huixla/Tapachula area! That's where Bob came down with Hepatitis, & his comp was so bad, they sent him home...leaving Bob w/no comp, for almost 3 months, just 1 member to be w/him some of the time...the "hole" of the Mission! So poor, so humble, so dedicated once baptized, that they have a Temple, & 1 in Oaxaca, not too far away! Bob Loved those people!

    Patricia Walters