Sunday, January 30, 2011


This last week I have been contemplating the fascinating and remarkable mathematics involved in the doctrines and principles of Heavenly Father’s Plan of Happiness given to His children as guidelines for their mortal sojourn.

As one learns of the mysteries of the eternities their list of things unknown increases.

Capacity to love increases in a direct ratio to the increase of the number of people we love.

Faith in things unknown increases as knowledge of things known increases.

As the time spent in compassionate service increases there is a corresponding increase in personal compassion.

Giving fills one with the understanding of the abundance of their blessings.

Paying an honest and full tithing increases personal prosperity.

Restrictions in one’s diet increases health and longevity of mortality.

Lessening of the wants of life decreases the length of our needs list.

Increasing appreciation for what others do makes one less demanding.

Knowing about nations heightens the importance of home.

An increase in testimony of the unseen God makes all else in life seen more clearly.

Being a stimulant of happiness to others fills one with joy.

Close and rewarding relationships in the family increase the feeling of universal kinship.

Awareness of the magnificence of Deity increases personal humility.

Understanding of gospel principles helps one sort out the confusion in the world.

I invite all to add your ponderings to this list of the fascinating and remarkable mathematics found in the doctrines and principles of Heavenly Father’s plan of Happiness. I would love to make that list my thoughts for next week’s Thoughts for a Sabbath Day.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

PURE RELIGION (continued)

James in his epistle to the twelve tribes said: “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions and keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:26, 27

In some edited remarks by Marvin J. Aston we read: “At no time did Jesus Christ encourage us to spend time participating in damaging, destructive criticism. His message was to encourage us to seek, learn, and share all that is praiseworthy and of value as we associate with our fellowmen. Only those who are vindictive and cantankerous participate in ferreting out and advertising the negative and unsavory.

Whether accusations, innuendos, aspersions, or falsehoods are whispered or blatantly shouted, the gospel of Jesus Christ reminds us that we are not to retaliate nor contend. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

This religion is not to retaliate, or to exchange in kind, evil actions or unkind statements. Pure religion encompasses the ability to cherish, to build up, and to turn the other cheek in place of destroying and tearing down.

To keep ourselves unspotted from the world requires taking charge of and ruling our lives from within, accepting responsibility for our own actions, and choosing the role of peacemaker rather than retaliator when those around us are critical or spread false propaganda. It includes being aware that God’s work on earth is done by human beings, all of whom have some weaknesses. It encompasses the ability to look for the good accomplished rather than being disillusioned when human failings surface. It includes resisting the urge to proclaim such weaknesses so adamantly that the basic good is overshadowed and testimonies waver.

One who practices pure religion soon discovers it is more rewarding to lift a man up than to hold him down. Happiness is bound up with helpfulness. Those who fail to protect someone’s good name, who take advantage of the innocent or uninformed, who build a fortune by pretending godliness to manipulate others, are missing the joy of practicing pure religion.

Pure religion is having the courage to do what is right and let the consequence follow. It is doing the right things for right reasons. To be righteous or serving or loving or obedient to God’s laws just to earn praise or recognition is not pure religion. General Conference, October, 1982

If we were to take even a cursory look at the teachings of Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Islam, Hinduism or any or all other isms we would find a cooperative validation of these admonitions that we diligently move ever closer toward universal agape based relationships.

Ultimately and universally we have been admonished to act lovingly toward one another.

We are all taught to spend meaningful time in thought about whether we are on course and cease to worry whether others are wandering in the wilderness.

We need to stop our inquiries into other’s belief systems from being a muckraking search for weaknesses.

It would be better if we ceased demanding that others see only the positive in the principles we espouse.

How can we straight-facedly desire that others investigate the rightness of our doctrines, while we unceasingly search out the dark secrets of our neighbor’s dogmas?

When others point out flaws in our principles do we make an honest search to find a better way or do we defensively pour fuel on the fire by pointing to the glaring problems in their religious exercises?

The prophet Joseph Smith taught: One of the grand fundamentals of ‘Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may…I want to see truth in all its bearings and hug it to my bosom.”

Matthew records at the beginning of his record, the following teaching of Jesus the Christ: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?” Mathew 5: 43-46

John records that as the disciples gathered to partake of the Passover meal often referred to as the Last Supper with Jesus that among the many things taught that evening was the counsel: “This new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John13:34, 35

Sunday, January 16, 2011


It doesn’t take long when one is observing a group of preschoolers in a room full of ‘educational’ toys to identify the ‘alpha puppy’ in the middle of the mess. This child will be sitting in a mound of toys solemnly declaring a challenge, through the dreaded stare, to any kid who might desire to play with that which has been claimed. In the room we can also observe children who have managed to abscond with a toy of lesser importance who have retired to a corner to secretly enjoy their meager holdings. You won’t really need to look for those children who have been deposed of the ‘alpha puppy’ status they enjoy within the safe walls of their own homes where the only people they have to contend with are their ever yielding parents because their cries of protestation will be easily heard by construction workers two blocks away.

We move forward a few years in order to observe the elementary school environment. The ‘alpha doggy’ is now determined by an interesting combination of height and or weight. This ‘advanced growth’ person decides what games are to be played and who will be on what teams. It is no accident that the team they are on, on a daily basis seems to win whatever game has been appointed for the day. Those who tire of the unfairness or non-democratic way of this particular ‘in-group’ soon find themselves in a group of cast-offs where another self-appointed ‘alpha doggy’ repeats the behavior learned in the rejected-group. These ‘alpha doggies’ are also in charge of the seating arrangements during the lunch hours. We will also witness some who have either tired of having to always conform or were never considered worthy to be included by the ‘alpha doggies’ in any of the groups, who find themselves spending a lot of time on the ‘outs’ and who find solace in reading or sulking. Administrators are constantly adjusting lunch hours or building a sheltering fence around the kindergarten kids or putting the 6th grade in a middle school along with numerous other ‘adjustments’ in an endless attempt at equalizing opportunities as they strive to keep older students from dominating younger.

We fast forward our observations to the high school and find that the ‘alpha dog’ system still exists, but now the groups seem to be more sophisticated and more permanently defined. They are now called clubs, gangs, social groups or best friends, but the same dynamics which existed when we were observing ‘puppies and doggies’ exist in the ‘alpha dog’ world of high school. The main difference we find at this age is that now we seem to have more mobility between groups and the groups we are in seem to be more or less of our own choosing. Once we are in a group it isn’t long before an ‘alpha dog’ immerges. Since some maturation has taken place we now have elections to determine who will decide agendas and schedules, but the results always seem predetermined by a strange indefinable thing called popularity. Even though in most cases we seem to have more freedom of movement from group to group and the choosing of which group we will be subjected by, we still observe many of the dynamics which existed during previous eras of our life.

As we observe the days of maturity, we all pride ourselves about how we have chosen the right pound in which to reside and how our ‘alpha hound’ is the wisest and most capable and will lead us to the enjoyments which are coveted in life. To be sure we now have a great deal of self-will which we use in determining the size, location and climate of our ‘run,’ but just as surely as we were before we will in one way or another be controlled by the ‘alpha hound’ we have chosen or who has chosen us. We now find a great deal of our time is spent barking at the other ‘dog packs’ and degrading and pointing out the faults of their erroneous ‘alpha hounds,’ letting any who might listen know how right we are and how wrong they are.

With a great deal of remorse we observe that this self-segregating hound mentality is most pronounced with those who profess to be practicing religion. It is remarkable that we can only sniff out faults and failures with the tenets and dogmas of other denominations, but we can endlessly bark out the correctness of the doctrines and principles which we have chosen to follow. As we read the interpreted and acceptable Holy Words of our group we can easily see the need for repentance and change in all others. Those of other deluded pounds are always the tares while any inspired person can surely identify us as the wheat. They all look like wolves while we have the sweet countenance of lambs. They are branches which need to be pruned and burned while we bring forth nothing but good fruit.

All this howling about others being false followers is done while we contentedly sit by the warm fire and read from Holy Books about how a true adherent will go about building others and tearing down walls of bigotry. We read how the good disciple will go forth to strengthen others and keep from putting stumbling blocks in their way. The Good Books instruct us to be a light for one another and refrain from illuminating the blindness of our neighbor.

In spite of all the self-appointed ‘demi-dogs’ ultimately we are all searching for truth, for the one ultimate source of light and life. No matter in what ‘pound’ we have found sufficient shade to make us feel satisfied, we need to stir once in a while in an attempt to move closer to that which will bring us inchingly closer to ‘things as they really are.’

(To be continued)

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Having spent most of my life involved with the educational process either as a student or as a teacher, I have observed the complex process of learning with fascination. Because most of my teaching has been in the area of religion the process of learning which transpires between the Lord and His prophets has been of particular interest.

I read with a good deal of awe the overwhelming object lessons the Lord presented as He tried to impress mortal beings with the importance of having a magnified and eternal view. On several occasions He opened visions of the Heavens and the entire history of the world so that He might stimulate His prophets to learn their lessons sufficiently well in order to be able to convey them to their congregations. He caused the waters to cover the mountains of the earth, He caused bushes to burn without consumption and He caused the earth to stand still. The list goes on and on of the majesty of His marvelous teaching models.

One of my favorites, found in the Pearl of Great Price, tells of the prophet Enoch being shown the days of his grandson Noah’s generation. While watching he glances at the Lord and to his astonishment he sees that his God is weeping. We can see that through the use of this dramatic object lesson the Lord was indeed trying to demonstrate to Enoch the serious consequences of individual and societal choices. What a wonderful revelatory side lesson was learned as Enoch understood that his God was a Heavenly Father who manifests great passion for His children, even when their disobedience to His desires has reaped disastrous consequences. Enoch witnessed his Heavenly Father’s sorrowful suffering even though His children were drowning in the floods of water built up by self-generated storms of iniquity and immorality.

Another segment of the vision which was opened to Enoch was the reaction of Satan to the tragedies of Noah’s generation. This devilish being was also having an emotional reaction. The self-appointed Beelzebub, stimulator of deceptions, lies, wars and abominations was laughing and showing forth boundless merriment as he witnessed the misery and suffering of nearly an entire generation. It was one of his moments of triumph as he glanced upon the fruits of his efforts to make all miserable like unto himself and take away their agency as was always his plan for Heavenly Father’s children.

In like manner, the Lord used an elaborate object lesson to demonstrate to Moses another eternal truth. After opening up the history of this earth from beginning to end and denying Moses’ request to see the WHOLE picture of all of God’s creations, Satan is allowed to come to Moses and tempt him by trying to convince Moses of his own power and glory. Moses, having just witnessed the magnificence of the power of the Lord, dismisses Satan as a being of nothingness and left the poor devil shaking and trembling in his fit of defeated anger.

It doesn’t take too many of these dramatic presentations for us to begin to realize that while our Heavenly Father rejoices when His children receive blessings as a result of making right choices, that other being finds mirth and merriment as he sees us fall into the consequential misery and suffering which comes as a result of improper use of our agency.

As I have pondered upon these overwhelming scenes which were opened to the spiritual minds of the ancients and the lessons to be learned, I have almost, in certain moments, been tempted to repent and align myself more closely with the admonitions and commandments of the Lord. To be sure, the thought of bringing joy to my Heavenly Parents, to some degree, moves me toward making righteous choices. However, that which really makes my Irish, Welsh, English, American blood to be stimulated toward choosing the good is the thought of that evil beast getting a belly laugh while witnessing the self-imposed suffering and misery I have brought upon myself because of stupid, silly and weak decisions. As I couple these thoughts with the suffering I have undergone because of the lessons being taught in the proverbial school of hard knocks I am impressed with an ever accelerating notion to live a life more in tune with the Plan of Happiness.

I have also found that repentance makes us feel better. Repentance seems to open the pores of our souls to freshness and new light. Repentance unclogs the mind and throws out unneeded trash. Repentance eliminates time-consuming retracing of wandering steps and gives us the opportunity to walk on paths of straightness and narrowness. Repentance removes chains formed by unhealthy habits allowing the unshackled to find new bursts of energy which lead to growth. I have definitely become an advocate of the process of repentance and recommend it to be tried by all of Heavenly Father’s children.

Just a thought. Perhaps we might be more prone to repent if we stop and ponder the personal happiness we gain through troding righteous paths, envisioning how our good choices bring joy to our loving Heavenly Father while the misery which engulfs us from our sin-induced sorrow brings merriment to that fallen one. May the Lord aid and bless us to make eternally wise choices as we renew our efforts to bring gladness to Him whom we wish to please.

Scriptures: Moses 7:35-49, Moses 1:4-22, Alma 42:10-16, Alma 42:23-27, Luke 24:47, 2 Corinthians 7:10, Romans 2:4

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Not too long ago Kathleen and I were on one of our visits to the local big box store and we were uninvitedly made part of an interaction between two sisters. I would guess their ages to be 10 and 13. There was a brief tussle followed by this dialogue.

Older sister in a rough tone of voice: “You are so rough, that’s why nobody likes you.”

Dad interjecting very quickly to the younger sister: “I like you!”

Younger sister responding just as quickly: “Dad likes me and I like me.”

When I was young and on those occasion when I was exercising my right to self-pity my mother would recite the little ditty, which I grew to detest, (and now find myself repeating) “nobody loves me, everyone hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms.” I wish I had had the self-confidence of the big box store younger sister; as she went skipping down the aisle, I had the definite impression that that sallying sister would never feel like she needed to ‘go eat worms.’

As we continued on our shopping errand I couldn’t help but think that the argument of the younger sister could have been greatly augmented by also including her Heavenly Father as one who likes her. As the Apostle Paul said so long ago: For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, UAdd a Note Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38, 39)

As I ventured into the world of Face Book this last year the principle of being pro-active in relationships was amplified many times as I saw my ‘friends’ grow and grow and grow as they responded to my requests. It was wonderful to see the marvels of our age reconnect me with people who were significant in my life several decades ago. It was also wonderful to connect with those new ‘friends’ who would add humor, adventure and wisdom to my life. I had discovered another avenue which would leave me with no reason to be a worm eater and have abundant communications which indicated that there were ‘friends’ who liked me and whom I liked and made me like me just a little bit more. It also became overwhelmingly apparent how easy it was to end relationships. The clicking of the delete ‘X’ next to an unwanted ‘friend’ dramatically symbolized how easily relationships can be discontinued, or even worse, destroyed.

Not too long after the sister scene in the big box store, Kathleen and I were enjoying a football game in which one of our grandsons was playing. In spite of the repeated announcement over the speaker system in the stadium that all parents were to remain in the stands and not venture onto the field, there was one ‘PRIVILEDGED’ parent who thought that this announcement applied to everyone but HIM. As the game went on we watched the side show in which this man demonstrated HIS high level of obnoxiousness to the underpaid referee who ejected HIM from the field he wasn’t supposed to be on in the first place – next HE yelled HIS offenses to the coach of our grandson’s team who supposedly was HIS good friend who likewise reinforced the admonition to get off the field – finally upon retreating to the stands HE had a confrontation with a lady who suggested that HE wasn’t setting the best example for HIS two or three year old son, HE promptly quieted this well intentioned lady by telling her that if she didn’t shut up HE would be more than happy to shut her up – before His obnoxious behavior ended He had made sure that no one in the stadium liked Him including those embarrassed ‘friends’ who had come to the game with HIM. Looking at HIS sulking posture I have a suspicion that HE probably didn’t like himself very much either by the time the game finally ended. Amazingly, HIS little boy who stayed at HIS side during the whole ordeal still looked at his dad with eyes that expressed the unsaid words, “I like you.” There will always be someone! If the apostle Paul was right the little boy wasn’t alone on that night and any obnoxious nights which might follow.

We sometimes catch a glimpse that unlike the warlords of Face Book who evidently have the ability to completely eradicate any evidence of our existence on their site, or ourselves, having the power to delete our account on their site, none of us have the power in spite of all the ranting, rebelling and raunchiness we might do to drive away the love of our Heavenly Father. Although we would all qualify for the role of the prodigal and have spent our time in our own way eating with the pigs, we have the assurance that our Heavenly Father will always have his arms extended to receive us when we repentantly return.

I will be forever grateful for the unconditional love of Everlasting Beings, but I believe that the world I live in would undergo a needed and wonderful change this year if more of us stopped relying solely on the Eternal Love extended from our Heavenly Parents as the ‘like of last resort’ and tried a little harder to keep people on our ‘friends list’ and stopped doing those things which would result in a deletion.


Attempt to become the person I would like to spend time with, by being more edifying, strengthening and building of others.

Strive to make relationships positive and progressive, by making sure my words are tempered with pleasantness.

Bring into this new year those parts of the old year which are good and praiseworthy, leaving behind those which brought pain and frustration.

Keep my life invigorated and energized by making sure I include meaningful events which are re-creative.

Demonstrate my gratefulness to the productiveness of my forefathers by dedicating myself to active production which will benefit my progeny.

Return the love which freely flows from Heavenly Father by walking on the path of happiness he has marked for his children.

Scriptures: Ephesians 2:4, 1 John 4:10, 16, 12, 7, 11, 20, 21, Deuteronomy 30:6, Deuteronomy 10:12, Romans 5:8, Doctrine and Covenants 112:11, Romans 13:9