Sunday, May 30, 2010


With the proliferation of political propaganda being programmed upon us during the pre primary period (OK I’ll try not to do any more of that), I have been moved to ponder (whoops) on why those seeking for public office are so prone (I give up I can't resist the ‘p’ key) to negative campaigning. Poller’s and Statistician’s tell us it is because it is effective and brings the desired results. Today I would like to explore a few different possibilities as to why we see so much negativism as we experience and observe relationships during our daily routines.

Saul, of Biblical antiquity, exhausted all the means the powers of his kingship afforded him to disparage and eliminate his anointed successor. The more voracious Saul’s attacks on David became, the faster the followers of the young shepherd giant killer grew numerically. One has to wonder what the history of Israel might have been had it not been founded on this jealousy inflicted civil conflict. We ponder on whether Saul’s vehement tirades became stimulus to the fanatical dedication of the followers of David.

As the accounts of the life of Jesus the Christ begin in the New Testament we once again find the reigning powers made up of the foreign Proctors and the local Sanhedrin using all in their power to disparage and eliminate the Restorer of Righteousness. They challenged Him at the Temple and in the courts. They sought and bought testimonies of those who might speak evil of the Galilean. They eventually brought about His death using false testimonies in an illegal sequence of trials. They put Him to an ignominious death meant to shame Him in an absolute manner. With every blow aimed to bring Him down and prove Him to be a false prophet, His followers increased in numbers and devotion.

From the recorded events of Paul the apostle we observe the same pattern being repeated. Those in power positions were constantly throwing every negative proposition at his teachings and his mission in an attempt to stop the newly founded fellowship of the followers of the ways of The Christ from invading their synagogues and market places. The more the negative propaganda flowed forth the faster the adherents gathered to hear and embrace the doctrines of light and truth.

In recent history The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has also had a similar situation evolve as they introduce and construct Temples in new locations. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the city is called Frankfurt, Denver, Bogotá or Newport Beach the inevitable pattern seems to evolve. Negative propaganda flows, objections are mollified, construction is completed and then interestingly, attendance at local meeting houses increases and converts are baptized in growing numbers.

As Election Day in California nears I have noticed that as the frequency of political ads increase there is a proportionate increase in the negative vehemence of the campaigns. First off, I must state that these ads increase my reflexes on the remote, but since I've lost a lot of my quickness I am still able to identify the antagonists before the electronical leap occurs. Sadly, many times the new channel greats me with an equally negative political propagandizing commercial. Besides the obvious tactical error of providing the opposition with all kind of negative fodder which can be used after the primary elections are concluded, I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the only one listening who is turned off by negative political campaigning. It is almost like I end up casting my vote for the candidate who has been slightly less negative in their campaigning.

As I have pondered upon all this negativism and my attendant revulsion to it I have been brought to wonder if some of the following thoughts might be worth considering.

During my advanced degree seeking days it was constantly pounded into me that I was to examine every new thought and idea with skepticism and doubt. That only by this type of open investigation would I be able to eventually begin to approach reality. Even though the inquisitive part of my life up to that period had always been overloaded with an abundance of doubt I soon found that investigation by doubt became a bottomless pit from which I often found no escape. Although the pounding of the skepticism and doubt research methodology was constant and forceful, I sometimes bravely ventured out to explore ideas from the point of view of why they might be true and at least to my own satisfaction I discovered that I was often arriving at levels of truth that I felt were both valuable and somehow seemed as if I was remembering a teaching from another time in another place.

As I have spent the last five plus decades of my life studying and discussing ideas and thoughts with student/friends young and old, it didn’t take me long in this life path to discover that to most the discussion of sinning, sinners and damnation was attended by cloudiness filming over eyes and the slumpage of spines while centering on concepts of repentance, atonement and salvation brought brightness to eyes and an erectness to spines. Because of the accumulation of these results in the classroom and in more casual conversations I have moved more and more steadily to believe that by our natures we are ‘Beings’ drawn to and by optimism and positiveness.

During these decades I often found myself occupied in positions of stewardship which by their nature put me into multiple moments of counseling and giving advice. I was never totally comfortable in these situations, since I knew that all was not totally on track in my own development. Therefore, I found myself saying in my mind ‘who am I that I should…’ (I suspect it was during this time that I most fully gained gratefulness for the whisperings of the Spirit which added to my small stack a generous amount.) During these sessions whenever the stimulus for the meeting was the unwise use of the Eternal principle of agency, it wasn’t long before the realization came that this damaging decision was made during a time of some degree of depression and a lack of self worth. It became evident than when a person’s self image and self worth were at healthy levels they were prone to make better choices which led to growth rather than causing them to be rutted in repetitious ruination.

All of this has caused me to believe that He who is All Good, the Creator of the created, instilled in His offspring a nature of positivism and optimism, causing us to be filled the forwarding faith which stirs in us the Everlasting hope that existence is indeed Eternal and that the trial of mortality is but a small moment in our journey. I have further been caused to believe that it is the Adversary, he who desires our misery, who is constant and unrelenting in his attempts to fill our lives with negativism, pessimism and worthlessness.
Therefore, I conclude that the pathway of happiness leading to joy is paved with heaven laid beautiful polished tiles which help me yield to my Eternal positive nature.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


There are some events in our lives which by their very nature cause us to pause and pensively take a personal inventory on where we are and what brought us to this point. I remember as we sat as a family in the Reno Convention Center witnessing the high school graduation of our eldest son, out of the air thoughts which covered almost two decades flashed through my mind. Besides the wondrous things which had transpired in the family life of Kathleen and I, our family had increased to where it had maxed out to be composed of five sons and a daughter. It was a period where we made six major moves in three different states, and my personal life had gone from struggling student/construction worker to what would be a life long journey of eager learning and sharing thoughts with others.

The fundamentals of religion and philosophy seemed to change as rapidly as the cars on the freeways speeding by in a blur bearing their propagandizing bumper stickers. ‘God is Dead.’ ‘Do Your Own Thing.’ ‘I Found IT.’ ‘The Moral Majority.’

Automobiles were no longer called sedans, coupes, four doors and hardtops, but had been transformed into Cougar’s, Mustang’s, Dart’s and Malibu’s.

It was an age when parents ‘Spocked’ their kids and made every effort to make sure the offspring would be ‘OK’ since the parents were also ‘OK’, while all the time they were being assured of the futility of their efforts because the children as well as the parents would all end up suffering terminal cases of ‘Future Shock.’

Last year as we sat in the Lawler Events Center in Reno and attended the graduation of another grandson I reflected on the passing of another three decades of life. Our family now bragged of 17 grandchildren and we had made two more major moves which included a wonderful three years in the beautiful country of Colombia. I had ‘retired’ from my teaching career and became aware of my days rapidly being filled up with all kinds of new adventures.

Religion had now become a way for comedians to bring laughter to parishioners congregated in clubs and bars. Church’s were springing up to gain tax advantages. Sermons and sacred hymns were delivered into homes on flat screen HD televisions while the followers vegged in pajamas and snacked on sugar laden cereals.

Automobiles were now identified by undistinguishable letters and numbers. People on the freeway are seen waving at cars with similar alphabetical and numerical labels as if they had some kind of special bond.

Parents were now constantly being pulled between raising their children with ‘tough love’ and not doing anything which would damage the fragile psyche of the tender child. Children had learned to use threats of lawful retribution for any corporal punishment which might be administered.

In these moments of reflection I would hope we would always take a deep breath and pause long enough as change swirls around us to reflect on the value of being founded upon principles which we as well as future generations can depend and which will be the cement which holds societies intact.

It may be well to consider that no matter how wise and sophisticated our ever-expanding internet-fed ever-learning makes us feel, we will never be able to supplant the teachings of Jesus Christ as the firm foundation upon which to build a fitly framed world.

About peace: Peace will never be found universally upon this earth until each of us truly comes to believe, understand and act as if there is one universal family.

About love: Love in my life will only increase as I demonstrate my love to others through edifying, building and strengthening actions.

About success: Success will never be measured by the number of lives I control, but only by the number I serve.

About worship: The most sincere form of worship is done when finding and lifting those who are down-trodden and lost.

The next time we find ourselves in one of those activities which tend to stimulate reflection and contemplation on what has and is transpiring during the rapidly disappearing days of our mortality it might be well to let our thoughts sort through the man-made mountain of philosophies which have been tested, found wanting and cast aside after their 15 minutes of trial and then in that quiet moment ponder and resolve to seriously determine to reestablish the teachings of the Savior as the foundation of our experiences in the laboratories of our lives.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


This last week a couple of days before Mother’s Day I received a note from one of my FaceBook friends. To be honest he was a friend long before my FaceBook days. Anyway he asked me if I had any materials he might use for a Mother’s Day talk. I off-handedly sent him a note about using the women mentioned in the Bible to draw examples of qualities of motherhood and why we should honor them along with all mothers. Sometimes I have found in life that those remarks I say most casually are the ones which haunt me the most. For the rest of that day and during the ensuing days until this writing I have been drawn back to think about the historical view of women and their mostly unrecorded thoughts.

Since I have had the privilege to spend a lot of my days in the Scriptures and have also been blessed with the time to read extensively it would take me a long time to write a comprehensive review of all the women which have been mentioned in those readings, but I would like to at least take a moment to express my thoughts on that which has been passing through my mind the last few days.

First, let me acknowledge that the Scriptures as well as most of the writings we historically encounter concerning women were written for and about them by men. As I started my personal study program after retirement to read through the Great Books of the Western World it wasn’t long before I realized the great majority of the writers were male. It seems to me that the forward to that series needs to be changed from declaring that the writers represented the foundation of all Western thought, to say something like the writings found in these books represent the thoughts which have been developed though the male population of the Western world.

It took great tragedy in the life of Mark Twain before he would have the sensitivity to even approach the writing of the Diary of Eve. I suspect that even in his tragedy-induced sensitive later life when he wrote this charming little book, he was only able to begin to understand and to approach what Eve herself might have written about the events of the Garden and the events after this first couple’s expulsion. How would it change our thoughts of the jealousy-induced relationship between Cain and Able if their mother had written her feelings and probable overwhelming sorrows concerning the conflict of her elder sons?

I was several books into my Taylor Caldwell period before I became aware that the author was a woman. Once having made this discovery I returned to review her books which I had already read so that I could fully appreciate that as I read about Luke and his ministering to the ills of his patients I was reading the sentiments of one who was far more attuned to the nurturing and caring of the sick and needy. One has to wonder if it would have altered the way conflicts have been resolved over the centuries if the thoughts of the women of the New Testament had been preserved and made part of the foundation of our Western philosophy. I can't help but think that foundations of thought would be altered if not shaken if we were privy to the Diary of Mary as she was nurturing and raising the Son of God. How would it change my understanding if Mary Magdalene and the ‘other’ Mary had been able to tell the stories of their involvements with the Savior of Mankind?

As I have waded through the historical novels of James Michener I was once again exposed to the male adventurers, explorers, founders, rulers and criminals of cultures and societies, with only periodic attempts of an introduction to the female view. The irony of Michener’s writing is that even when the culture he was writing about was oft times matriarchal he wrote predominantly about men from a man’s point of view. I would have loved to have known what the women in his book The Covenant thought during the times of conquering and being conquered as they clung to life on the trade route between Egypt and the Fertile Crescent. I'm sure the history of the Islands of the Pacific would have had a different slant if somehow Hawaii contained the thoughts and feelings of the Monarchs of that developing society as well as the wars and the warriors.

As I have a tendency to exhaust a point I am trying to make, let me make a few concluding remarks about the accumulation of historical and other writings and the glaring absence of the contributions of women to that library.

Although I know that by using the word woman in this writing I run the danger of having brought about negative feelings in some who might read these words, I want to let you know that I chose the word deliberately because I wanted to express the belief that females add to males, that women add to men and vice versa. I strongly believe that our history would have been much more about meaningful relationships and less about conflicts if we had been exposed to a library complimented by the voices of ‘FE’ and ‘WO’ liberally inundated over the shelves and collections.

I earnestly pray that now that we live in an era when women’s voices are no longer censured by culture, they will make a synergistic contribution and not fall into the trap of making their voices sound as if they were but echoes of the baser tones which have for too long fallen upon our ears. One of the dangers of gaining equality is that we might take on the grosser parts of another rather than adding our goodness to the whole.

I can't help but think we might have had a kinder and gentler history if the voice of women had been recorded and distributed over the millennia. My hope is that as freedom of expression and the power of the pen, (I guess we can still use that phrase in this age of computers) have been won for the minds and hands of that part of our society far too long kept silent, that the generations of their posterity will shout with joy that their thoughts and words helped turn swords into plowshares and enabled the lamb to once again lay down with the lion.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Long ago and not so far away from our current home, at the time when I was a 14 year old teenager who had an elevated and unrealistic opinion of his value as a contributor to society, my ‘king of the hill’ position in my little pond of associates was threatened by of all things a Texan. Not that there is anything wrong with a Texan, but when compared to a cool Southern California cat there should have been no thought of the existence of the concept of competition. It wasn’t more than a matter of a few weeks before I started to notice the girly giggles which had once accompanied my entering a room were being stimulated by HIS entrances. My place at the top of the ‘choosing up teams’ was now more and more often being replaced by HIS name. Just when this was headed towards becoming a physical problem a strange thing happened. Little by little we discovered that we really liked being with one another and started to make movements toward becoming inseparable friends.

As I have had time to contemplate this transformation in the years when my own self interests have not been so predominant and my ego not so fragile, I have discovered that the old adage that ‘opposites attract’ may be true for transitory relationships, but doesn’t always hold true for lasting relationships. Although I am sure that the differences we have with others add to the contribution of the synergistic whole of our relationship, more and more I believe that lasting relationships are built on the discovery of commonality of interests and talents. I think that we are able to accept the weirdness of others as we come to discover that we have a foundation of sameness to build upon.

Using another old adage, ‘birds of a feather,’ to add to my feelings about the importance of commonalities in relationships, I want to explore this thought as it affects what I consider to be the most important relationship we need to develop while we are blessed to bask in the radiance of the sun as it shines down upon us in our mortal walk. With no desire to diminish the importance of commonality in building lasting spousal, parental, family and friend relationships, I want to spend a few minutes pondering the importance of commonalities in strengthening a relationship which at once is much more distant than Texas from California and yet as close as my next Heaven sent thought. That would be the relationship between we as strangers sent to a strange land and time and the Parent who sent us forth.

Since I seem to be driven to fill this page with adages let me add one more which I am sure has been delivered by most parents to their offspring. That would be the ever so true words that ‘someday you will understand.’ There is little doubt that as I have walked the paths where my father preceded me my understanding has increased as to what he was all about and I find myself emulating his actions and words.

Is it possible, therefore, that I was sent to mortality by a loving Heavenly Father to walk paths of parenthood and develop other meaningful relationships so that some day I might begin to understand more fully as He understands? Do I begin to gain some understanding of the totality of His Tender Mercies when I strive to follow His admonition to love even my enemies? Is it possible that as my nature begins in halting and small steps to move toward a closer resemblance of the character of Deity that each small movement toward commonality strengthens my relationship with Him?

Is it possible every time I show an act of kindness to another my relationship to God increases?

Is it possible every time I show tenderness with a developing child my relationship with God increases

Is it possible that as I am compassionate with one in need my relationship with God increases?

Is it possible every time I follow the path of good and eschew evil my relationship with God increases?

I believe with all my heart that each time we become involved in His work and His service, as my desires and performances in life become more common to His, our relationship strengthens.

Ezra Taft Benson expressed what I am trying to say in the following way: “The Savior declared that life eternal is to know the only true God and His Son Jesus Christ (John 17:3). If this is true, and I bear you my solemn witness that it is true, then we must ask how we come to know God. The process of adding one godly attribute to another, as described by Peter (2 Peter 1:2-8), becomes the key to gaining this knowledge that leads to eternal life.” Ensign, November 1996 p. 45

My constant prayer is that the blessings of Heaven will be poured down upon us to strengthen our faltering steps as we try to develop inseparable relationships with all whom we come in contact, but most especially as we move toward an everlasting relationship with our Heavenly Father who we must desire to emulate in every thought, in every word and in every deed.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Four hundred years had passed since the Lord through Joseph brought Jacob and his sons out of Palestine and into the fertile lands of Goshen. That ancient Pharaoh who had befriended Israel had long since perished and there had come unto Egypt a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph, a Pharaoh who feared the vastness of the people of Goshen. The passing centuries had provided ample time and opportunity for the cruel hand of power to drive independence and individuality from the hearts and minds of the descendents of once mighty shepherd kings who roamed the Palestinian plains.

The might of Supreme intervention was able to break the bonds from the arms and legs of enslaved Israel, but removing the shackles from the hearts and minds of this broken people would prove to be much lengthier and more difficult than the changing of a land to dwell in. The whip of the Egyptian guards had done its work and the independent, proud people of Israel had been domesticated and converted into a nation of slaves. Once Jacob’s posterity was removed from the demeaning dominance of the slave masters, the Lord was faced with the daunting task of removing the fetters from the understanding of Israel and placing them once more on a path which would build them to the point where they again would be worthy of wearing the crown and sitting upon the throne.

With heavenly bread and sweet flowing water He gave them sustenance and quenched their ever-present thirst. With a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night He guided their weary steps and patiently brought some illumination to the desert darkness and into the dimness of their minds. For forty years the Master Guide led the wandering nation, the Master Sculptor chipped and polished, honed and sanded. Unwaveringly He labored to prepare a people to enter the Promised Land which was eternally flowing with milk and honey.

In spite of all the nurturing, all the chastening and all the guiding, the new generation of Israel crossed the Jordan, not as a perfected people, but as a collection of individuals whose agency caused them to act in never ending verity, a neophyte nation whose faltering steps remained in need of abundant nurturing and constant teaching.

As I read and ponder the biblical account of ancient Israel and attempt to distinguish and assimilate the guiding principles the Lord distilled upon that meandering nation, I find that the task of identifying all the preponderance and variety of lessons becomes as difficult as trying to determine the number of potential apples in a single seed.

If I concentrate upon the patient guidance of the Lord, I may understand more clearly the multitudinous roles and responsibility of parenthood.

If I see the story as a type of my own wanderings in the wilderness of mortality I may have a greater vision of what I yet lack to qualify for entering into the Eternal Promised Land.

On examination of the trials which come with being a slave in Goshen, I might be able to understand more deeply the processes whereby I might begin to free myself from those shackles which hold me captive and beaten, controlled by ever-present earthly masters to whom I have yielded my agency.

It doesn’t take long before I am struck with the realization that the direction the scriptures can take me and the lessons they can teach me are uncountable and infinite. I also quickly understand that the principles are at once applicable individually and universally. The vastness of wisdom flowing from the scriptures makes me wonder way we so often find ourselves struggling in vain, despairing over the seeming unanswerable questions of life? Why can't we just accept that that same loving Father who guided His children over the burning deserts of the Sinai has also given us a cloud to guide us during our days and a pillar of fire to lighten our nights? It seems the root of our struggles and problems during our mortal quest lies not in the absence of inspired guidance, but in the absence of honest seeking and diligent following of the counsel of our loving Heavenly Father.

President Harold B. Lee stated: “I say we need to teach our people to find their answers in the scriptures. But the unfortunate thing is that so many of us are not reading the scriptures. We do not know what is in them, and therefore, we speculate about the things that we ought to have found in the scriptures themselves. I think therein is one of the biggest dangers today. (Ensign, December 1972 p.3)

The light is endlessly luminous, the pages are saturated with solutions and the answers to life’s endless questions are imbedded therein. All that is required is that we daily open our scriptures, read, ponder and pray for understanding. With the passing of time we will discover truth being added upon truth, understanding will be added to understanding, life will gain meaning, problems will be solved and our days will begin to be filled with joy.