Sunday, October 27, 2013


Over the years during my teaching career, I was introduced to many different teaching systems, methods and tricks. One method which kept popping up periodically was the use of a continuum to stimulate student participation.

This was an easy method to set up since it only involved drawing a straight line on the board (I found you could do this equally well with chalk and marker boards) and then writing opposing words on either end of the line. It didn't really matter whether the positive word was on the left and the negative on the right or visa-versa, but I routinely would put the negative on the left and the positive on the right. For some reason having the positive on the right just seemed to be the way it should be for me. I have often wondered if it would have been different if my dominant hand had been the left.

Anyway, any pair of antonyms would work: evil---------------good, rich-----------------poor, selfish---------selfless, diligent-----------lazy. I think you get the idea. You can also see that the length of the line could also vary, although I usually tried to cover the width of the board with the two words and the line (obviously another personal preference). It was also helpful to put the words and line near the top of the board so that space was left to write comments below the continuum.

This last week I was thinking about and having a lively discussion with myself (I do this very quietly in my mind) which involved what was to me anyway, a very interesting continuum. You will immediately become aware this is a complicated left hand dominant continuum. The use of colored chalk or marker is optional.

Always Seeks Mentors---Occasionally Seeks Mentors---Bumps Into Mentors---Runs From Mentors


During our formative years we cry for our mentors, we crawl to our mentors and we are almost totally dependent upon our mentors and probably would have little chance of survival without our mentors. If these mentors did even an adequate job they will never be justly rewarded.

During the years of our formal schooling we find some mentors cool, some mentors boring, some mentors exciting and some mentors inspiring. If these mentors did even an adequate job they will never be justly rewarded.

It seems that after these two periods of life is when we begin to scatter ourselves along the Mentor Continuum.

We view those who in their minds believe that they now have a sufficient foundation upon which then can build without any reliance on any fellow workers, architects or tool makers. You can be the judge as to what end of the continuum they have migrated too. They no longer find any need to thank anyone, since no one has contributed to their wonderfulness.

We view those who prefer wandering in strange lands, as if they were some 16th century explorer, going to places where they believe no man has gone before. If they happen to bump into an indigenous person they might pause for a moment to nibble at their offerings, but shortly go on their lonely, reinventing everything ways. They have no one to thank, since they didn't really need the mentoring they had sipped and easily have forgotten the mentorer.

We view those who seem to have periods of hot and cold when they are either seekers or avoiders of any mentoring, sometimes feeling very self-sufficient and at other times feeling like wanderers in strange lands. With reluctance they will acknowledge that there have been occasional people in their lives who have contributed to their grandeur.

We also view those who find expertise in everyone they meet and who do all they possibly can to glean whatever the present mentorer might be willing to share, never having met anyone who wasn't a potential mentor. These are they whose prayers lengthen daily because their list of mentors expands continually.


To my parents who always responded to my cries, who helped me crawl over the rough spots, who fulfilled my basic needs and kept me alive and taught me the fundamental rules of survival, integrity, kindness and love.

To Mrs. Brown, Mr. Hill, Mr. Vorkink and ‘Pop’ Eidelson who represent the many wonderful teachers who taught when I was reluctant, who presented when I was prepared and who sacrificed so that I might be exposed to new and wonderful ideas.

To President Hobbs, President Bentley, President Foote and Elder Robinson who represent all those spiritual leaders who gathered me up when I was broken, helped me repair the cracks and made me feel new again.

To Leon Uris, Samuel Longhorn Clements, Amy Tan and James Clavell who represent all those whose writings have brought not only enjoyment into my life, but understanding and a broadening of my social awareness.

To Kathleen, Cevin, Sean, Troy, Brendan, Rynn and Erin who represent all those who have mentored me in the art and science of being a husband and father and brought me to the realization that building good and eternal relationships is the real purpose for our early existence.

To Tish Whitney, Don Monson, Julie Moore and Paul Maddox who represent all those who unknowingly and previously unthanked were there during critical times of my life and were examples, introducing me to additional skills and added to the fulfillment of phases of life as I passed through them.

To doctors Martin, Baker, Antonio and Lin who represent all those who have helped with the miracle of the births of children, restored health when it seemed impossible, made life’s ever extending days more enjoyable and mentored us to a broadened understanding of our physical bodies.

To Elder Dunn, Sister Dew, Elder Maxwell and Elder Holland who represent all those whose spoken and written words have enlightened me and given me the desire to climb new mountains in order to gain new vision.

To Plato, Justin Martyr, Thomas Aquinas and John Locke who represent those who have struggled to uncover the purposes of life and who have shared the results of their wrestlings.

To Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Philo Farnsworth and Konrad Zuse who represent all those who have through their inventive genius made it possible to sit in front of a screen and explore the world and bring the libraries of the world instantly to view, extending beyond imagination the number of mentors one can seek.

To Moses, Matthew, Paul and Nephi who represent all those inspired authors who have inscribed in Holy Scripture, for the eternities, the truths which help us all to follow those paths which help us to find joy and happiness in this life and forever.

To President McKay, President Hinckley, Elder Bruce McConkie and President Boyd Packer who represent all those living oracles who have identified the pitfalls and pathways of an ever changing world and enlightened the way we are traveling.

To Heavenly Father, Jesus the Christ and the Holy Ghost and all the attending angels whose willing grace looks past our frailties and tangents and are always there in our hour of need to strengthen, straighten, comfort, guide, uplift and inspire.

I am sure that your personal list of mentors and those who you would like to thank would include many people and areas I have forgotten to include or do not have space to include in this Thought. In fact, I invite you all to go to that quiet place in your minds and have a lively discussion about this left hand dominant continuum. The color of marker you choose will be according to your personal preference.

Always Seeks Mentors---Occasionally Seeks Mentors---Bumps Into Mentors---Runs From Mentors

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I have often thought that it would be well if some supreme regulatory agency was put in place to make sure all new inventions bore the same precautionary statements as we now find on medicines. I know, I know, they put warnings on toys about lead and swallowing and putting in noses and ears. I also know, that all are now screaming, yep, that is just what we need – another supreme regulatory agency.

However, even with acknowledging that we all have responsibility to monitor our choices and actions, I think it would be nice if some precautionary statements were put on the label of all new devices. No one would want to operate x-ray machines or perform heart surgery without understanding the lengthy list which outlines the risks and the proper precautionary procedures.

Therefore, why would we object to a label which warned us that reliance on keyboards, spell check and printers could result in the loss of penmanship, spelling ability and grammar? What would be wrong with calculators being labeled with the warning that, constant reliance on this machine will results in the loss of the ability to perform simple subtraction, addition, multiplication and division problems with pencil and paper. With more advanced calculators it would have to include the loss of the ability to do algebra, calculus and all those other types of higher math that 1% of the population used to be able to do on the blackboard or whatever they are called these days.

One of the areas of our combined creativeness which I believe needs to have bold words in blazing red written with the warning of PROCEED WITH CAUTION, are all those electronic devises which now fill our pockets, laps, desk tops, walls, book cases and night stands, which have come about as the printed circuits and transistors have become miniaturize and made indistinguishable from specks of dust. We are now able to be in a constant state of being plugged in. We go walking or jogging and we are plugged in for every joyfully/grueling moment. We have lost the knowledge of how to turn the noise devices off in our cars. Noise coming from the 22 speakers in the car is only interrupted when Bluetooth overrules. We go from den to kitchen to bedroom without ever losing a moment of dialogue. DVR makes it so that we never have to miss a hit, touchdown or basket. PROCEED WITH CAUTION – the constant plugging in to electronic devices may result in the loss of one’s ability to be alone with themselves. I am sure there could be additional precautions added, but for this thought I will concentrate on this one.

Isaiah may have been speaking to our day when in the fifth chapter of his writings he
lamented that there would be no place to be alone.

Along with the opposing thumb, I believe one of the great separators of humans from the rest of the animal kingdom is the ability to contemplate and try to come to understand a little bit about the meaning of life, to examine and evaluate our own position in respect to the rest of society, to be able to develop alternative solutions to life’s problems. It seems, if we were to lose the ability to be still and alone with our thoughts – a time to ponder – a time to meditate we would be losing one of the privileges and opportunities which contribute to the advancement of our species.

Before beginning his mission the Savior pondered, was tempted and discovered himself while in the desert for 40 days. Before His great Sermon on the Mount He prayed and meditated alone on a mount. Once again He who is example for all and to all, leads and the wise will follow.

This very thoughtful article was published in The Evening and Morning Star in June of 1832:

“What is called a vigorous and active mind seems, after all, to mean only a mind of which the thoughts are all subjected to the authority of its governing powers; and may therefore all be brought to bear, with their whole force, on the business in which it is occupied.

…Attention seems only another name for that state of mind, when all its thoughts are fixed and collected, and bent to a single point, and it is a power of attention much more than any original and native diversity of talents, which constitutes the intellectual difference among men.

Newton was accustomed to declare that ‘if he differed from his fellowmen he owed it to thought, intently and long, on any subject with which he was occupied.’ We must have all observed the truth of these remarks in the course of our various pursuits.

If we examine our minds at those periods when they are most vigorously and successfully exerted, we shall observe that all other objects are excluded from our minds, and that our thoughts are concentrated and engrossed by the task in which we are employed. If, on the contrary, we observe ourselves when our minds are indisposed, reluctant and inefficient, we shall find that our dominion over our thoughts is lost, that attention is dissipated and distracted by a multitude of unrelated images which float through the fancy and that all our powers are weakened and become discordant and divided…”

What a great loss we would have suffered if the creators and inventors who have brought so many enjoyable, helpful and convenient devices had been so plugged in and distracted that they would not have been able nor have taken the time to be alone, to ponder and be open to the enlightening visions of what might be.

We further ponder, what might be the loss to future generations because we didn't take the time to unplug and contemplate what might yet be.

PROCEED WITH CAUTION – the too constant use of this devise might…

Sunday, October 13, 2013


It doesn't take long when you are browsing in the self-help section of a book store. Whoops! That really dates me. As I was saying, as you are looking though the list of self-help books on your electronic reader, it doesn't take long to discover that every expert knows the ‘one and only’ right way to improve the miserable conditions of your life.

For one the solution is to be found by increasing fiber or decreasing sugar.
For another the solution is to be found by increasing exercise and decreasing couch potato time.
Yet another chimes in that only when we increase friends who give us positive feedback and decrease those who give negative feedback will we find our quality of life improving.
Then we read alternating views on oats, carbs, proteins, fruits, veggies and even the fabrics we wear.
We have even returned to the days of yore when cleansing of the dietary system was good and avoidance of such experiences would leave one unfulfilled.
We find books on the edifying effects of drugs, alcohol and whether I should increase my intake of Vitamins A, B, C and D or decrease there intake.
There is a whole section of how to improve your life by eliminating the harmful effects of the life easing inventions which surround us.

I know there has to be a little truth in some of these treatises and I suspect that there are many who have improved their emotional and physical states through the application of these writings. But, and it is a big BUT, I think that most of these efforts fall into that huge area which the apostle Paul referred to as missing the mark.
I realize that being sound of body and mind makes life’s journey healthier and happier. BUT, were we really sent here just to enjoy the trip, or were there greater purposes ordained for our mortality?

Let me suggest that we chose to come to earth to change our natures from Telestial (worldly – selfish – carnal) and move them towards becoming Terrestrial (kind – loving – gentle – good) and maybe even putting on a shade of Celestial (selfless – saving – spiritual – saints).

Less I become numbered among those who have a “one solution for all people at all times and in all places”, let me hasten to share some of my observations of human nature.

There are some who respond more rapidly to clarity and others to subtlety.
There are some who respond to sugary words and others who are moved by salty phrases.
There are some who learn by the mistakes of others and those who must try all things.
There are some who can be beat into submission and others who must be comforted into conformity.
There are some who find being good is just part of who they are and others who find it boring and must constantly fight to put on a little goodness.
There are some who will not move unless there is adventure involved and others who avoid all risk.
There are some who grasp concepts through reading while others are moved more rapidly by other senses.

We are individuals and have so been forever. The remedy to our earth-life adventure doesn't seem to be finding a universal formula, but finding a formula which universally works for each of us individually.

I am aware of the gospel principles which advocate – one faith – one baptism – one way and one truth. However, I don't think this necessarily means that there is but one way to gain that faith or one way to find truth. We, who believe in the efficacy of Temple ordinances for the dead, even accept that there is more than one way to receive the blessings of baptism.

I have found that for every positive in the gospel there is a corresponding negative.

Truth -------------- Error
Right -------------- Wrong
Believe ----------- Question
Light -------------- Darkness
Selfless ----------- Selfishness

I have also found that for some people striving to eliminate the negatives from their lives brings greater movement toward the goal of changing their natures. I have also found that there are some who advance more rapidly by concentrating on putting on the positive attributes of a higher nature. Then there are a multitude of combinations of the two spread throughout those who are attempting to become something better during their sojourn in the mortal state.

It is always interesting that the Savior in his sermon on the mount advocated that we become:

Poor in Spirit - but didn't tell us how to put on that attribute.
Meek - but didn't tell us how to put on that attribute.
Thirst after righteousness - but didn't tell us how to put on that attribute.
Merciful - but didn't tell us how to put on that attribute.
Pure in heart - but didn't tell us how to put on that attribute.
Perfect - but didn't tell us how to put on that attribute.

May I suggest that one of the real keys to our progress during this life, while we strive to gain more insights into what we should be becoming, may be in finding that formula for change which best fits our particular and peculiar nature.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Meet William L. Riley

We'd like to introduce William L. Riley, a new guest author on our blog. William Riley is a wonderful writer and a true inspiration to all those who are fortunate to hear his words. In an effort to get to know him a little better, we've asked him to tell us about his personal life, career, what inspires him to write, and more. The following are his words.

I was born in Pocatello Idaho on the 28th day of March 1939. My wife Kathleen and I were married in the Los Angeles Temple on the 6th day of July 1962. We are the parents of six sons and a daughter and the grandparents of 16 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

My formal education includes graduating from Garden Grove Union High School in 1957 and gaining degrees of Bachelor, Master and Doctorate from Brigham Young University. I have enjoyed a life time of personal study in a broad area of interest with an emphasis on the scriptures and ancient history.

Other than being a paper deliverer, Journeyman Lather and a salesman for Pillsbury during my youth, I have spent my entire professional life teaching in the Seminaries and Institutes of the Church Education System. I started teaching for CES in 1961 and other than the time Kathleen and I spent in Bogota, Colombia my teaching career with CES was uninterrupted for the next 45years. My assignments included teaching Early Morning classes in Westminster, Buena Park, Garden Grove, California and Reno, Nevada. My full time Seminary assignments were in Kearns and Tooele, Utah. MY assignments in the Institute were in Reno, Nevada and in Mission Viejo, California where he retired in 2006. After retiring I taught an adult education class in the Mission Viejo Stake Center for the next 5 years as a volunteer.

I have had the opportunity and privilege to serve in many callings in the Church which include, missionary in the Northern Mexican Mission, Stake Mission President, High Councilor and Bishop in the Reno North Nevada Stake. High Councilor and Stake President of the Reno Nevada Stake and Mission President in Colombia Bogota North Mission. While serving in other capacities I was also a regional advisor to the Young Single Adults in the Reno Nevada and South Orange County regions. I am currently serving as a Sealer in the Newport Beach Temple.

When I returned from my mission in Mexico my Stake President James Hobbs counseled me that every week of my life, whenever I didn't have a lesson to prepare, I should write a talk. He told me whether I would ever give that talk or not was not important, but that I should write it. During most my life there were not many weeks when I wasn't either teaching or speaking in church or at firesides, so the assignment was fairly easy to complete. When I was asked to give the spoken word for the radio show Sabbath Day Reflections which Carl Chamberlain produced in Reno, Nevada I was able to write a short talk most weeks of the year while also teaching several classes each day.

When I retired several things happened to aid me in being faithful to the challenge President Hobbs had given me 50 years earlier. First I joined Face Book and rapidly was reconnected with many of the wonderful missionaries we had served with in Colombia and with many former students. I also was joined on Face Book with most all of my children and several of my grandchildren. I thought writing these weekly talks would give me something to say to the wonderful people I had reconnected with, a way of keeping the creative part of my brain alive and it would enable me to be able to share with those I love some of the things I believe and hold precious. Since I was writing to my weekly talk, which I now was calling Thoughts for a Sabbath Day and which were being translated into the Spanish version called Pensamientos Para un Dia de Reposo, I decided to start emailing these thoughts each week to all my friends on Face Book and to others who avoid social media. This little project has now grown to where my weekly personal emails number over 3000 and are posted on my Face Book blog pages as well as my personal blogs. It is fun to see that the potential weekly readers of my Thoughts which came as a result of following the counsel of President Hobbs now has spread to many parts of the world including such places as India, Russia and Indonesia.

I was blessed with a questioning spirit unlike my wife who was blessed with a believing spirit. I have come to believe that either spirit can be a great aid as long as we are moved on a continual quest to come to understand truth. Those things which I know to be true include the understanding and knowledge that: we are offspring of Heavenly Parents, that Jesus the Christ is the Savior or the world, Joseph Smith is the prophet of the restoration, we are led by living apostles and prophets today and The Holy Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price contain the Plan of Happiness, Salvation and Exaltation. The truth I know most firmly is that what we know is far less than what we can eventually know if we continue faithful in the pursuit of coming to know the Characteristics, Attributes and Perfections of God.