Sunday, February 23, 2014


Some years ago an article appeared in the daily newspaper in Ann Landers’ column. She had received a letter from a woman which moved me beyond the usual casual perusal to a rather lengthy period of meditation.

The woman had written seeking the answer to an earth-shaking dilemma. She wrote that she had unwisely entered into a pact with her husband to quit smoking since the habit they shared was irritating the allergies of her young son.

Her husband was honoring the pact, but she had decided to go underground with her addiction and returned to the self-destructive nicotine needs which she enjoyed before the baby had come along and she had unwisely entered into the pact with her husband. As soon as her husband went off to work she secreted herself in her garage or basement to satisfy the cravings which long ago made non-smoking an almost impossible choice.

The reason she was writing Ann was to obtain her approval of a more permanent and less sacrificial solution she had devised.

The query of this pillar of motherhood spewed forth in the following words: Did Ann Landers think that it might be better to put her son up for adoption, naturally, into a home where the parents refrained from the use of tobacco, so that she and her husband might return to the open pleasures and enjoyments of their cigarettes?

Ann finished that day’s article blasting the woman with her opinions on the woman’s totally selfish self-centeredness. Ann Landers’ final statement in that day’s article to the misguided soul who had put a weed in a priority position over a human life, (and Ann may have been right) was when she counseled the woman’s husband to choose to keep the son and discard the wife.

I will leave this ridiculous tale and write about the direction my intense pondering took me after reading this article.

In this brief column we find capsulized how individuals in our self-absorbed society are conditioning themselves to solve problems so as not to cause inconvenience or detours from what they perceive to be the independent rights of the selfish self-centered life.

The plague is not to be contained with the individual’s abuses. We find families, communities and nations succumbing to the sickness of selfish self-centeredness. Some have described this disease with the words: As long as I get mine I don't really care what grief it might cause you.

We witness governments attempting to cover up mismanagement and faulty decisions by extending national indebtedness and levying overburdening taxation.

We find fewer and fewer of the world’s population gaining more and more of the world’s wealth while more and more of the world’s population find fewer and fewer beans on their plates.

We witness an up to date society rampant with promiscuity and immorality, attempting to cover their lack of restraint by decrying the intolerance and suffocating restrictions of their forefathers.

We see church buildings with dwindling congregations because free will has become an individual right to the extent that no religion has the right to impugn or suggest that there might be Universal God given laws.

We find preaching of the Word of God being replaced by entertainment and colossal concerts in order to attract an audience whose individualism is easily offended and never questioned.

We find the bonding which once held families as the single most important unit of society being replaced by unbound masses which become selfishly separated as individually they seek to add to their own materialistic mountains.

Fearing what I am about to say will drift ghostly by ears long ago shut up to any words which might threaten one’s right to selfish self-centeredness, tremblingly I offer the following observations.

The time may be ripe for a national recall of our methods of problem solving. Since we have only been in universal slavery to our selfish self-centeredness for a few decades, hopefully we will be able to reroute our course before our self-indulgence and unwillingness to account for our actions turns our reluctant limpid resolves into rottenness.

The hour is nigh, if not long spent when: Officials elected to serve the populace must eliminate their self-serving cover-up posturing and begin to act with responsibility and vision.

The hour is nigh, if not long spent when: Being elected on the direction the wind might be blowing and braying platitudes which please the masses might magnify votes, but it will never build nations.

The hour is nigh, if not long spent when: Walking the tight rope of trying to be all things to all people may improve popularity ratings, but by and by it breeds a doleful society unable to resolve current issues while continually mortgaging its future.

The hour is nigh, if not long spent when: Society must once again realize that indulgence of transgression speeds nations toward the results of an equation which states that acceptance and covering up of immorality always multiplies itself at an alarming rate careening towards correctional self-destruction.

The hour is nigh, if not long spent when: Churches must stop trying to compete with the entertainment industry and return to the day when congregations filled pews to feast upon the goodness of the Word, were buoyed up with a reason for resuming, found a refuge of stability based on eternal truths and were sustained in a belief in an existence which extended beyond the grave.

The hour is nigh, if not long spent when: Families must turn from constantly glancing at the glitter and glow of the trinkets of the commercialized channels and seek the eternal truths upon which eternal relationships are based.

The hour is nigh if not long spent when: We likewise need to quickly look to our priorities in life. It might just be that because of our selfish self-centeredness we are nearer to losing it all than we realize.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


I am a sincere believer in the need we have as travelers on this speeding train of life to slow down and sometimes even come to a complete stop in order to activate the processes of rejuvenation and re-creation in our lives. We need to open up time which allows our senses to be stimulated by the wonderful smells of nature, let the beauties which surround us fill our natural lenses, take time to touch the textural differences of things and to leisurely taste of the tantalizing buffet which surrounds us.

However, one of the best ways to accomplish a relief from the rigors of our regimens comes from a more difficult to access inner sense which, sadly, we all too seldom activate.

Long ago on the northern deserts of the Sinai Peninsula, the Lord gave a formula to Israel which would enable a whole nation to go through the refreshing, rejuvenating, re-creating and regenerating process of rebirth. The Lord in His infinite wisdom wrote into the Law of Moses a system of sabbatical years during which celebrations of universal forgiveness of accumulated encumbrances took place.

As in so many areas of human development, once again we find the Lord’s Law given to Moses standing at the rostrum in the role of schoolmaster. Is not the Lord marking on our slates of learning the marvelous principle which, if applied as individuals as well as communities and nations, can have the same rejuvenating effect on us that it had on ancient Israel?

The principle of forgiveness entails a washing more than a wiping which radically rids whatever encumbrance another may have written upon our hearts, heals the deepest wounds and brings reconciliation to separated kin.

The principle of forgiveness was never intended to be a principle of condescension toward others.

The principle of forgiveness, if properly lived, becomes a liberating and cleansing act which not only allows the forgiver to be more sensitive to the beautiful smells which surround them, to see with greater light through their lenses, to touch all things created with greater tenderness and to taste with greater satisfaction, but also frees one’s soul and opens their being to vistas of the stimulating possibilities of growth.

When I truly forgive my neighbor and lift the burden of responsibility of past deeds from another’s ledger the weight upon my own shoulders diminishes dramatically.

When I forgive another, I, at the same time lift from my own life, hours, sometimes years, of worthless worry about something which was rendering a portion of my life into counter-productiveness.

I will find I will have put off an equal if not greater burden from my own life, which will now free up hours and years which can be used in useful pursuits.

As I begin to erase the scars and wounds of mistrust and hatred for another, I will find myself being healed and I will begin to feel whole within and without.

As I strip myself of the false armor of imagined and un-necessary battles, I will find myself unencumbered, more prepared and fully fitted to participate in the daily skirmishes of life.

It will be an illuminating experience to see the increased velocity of my character growth.

I will find myself more girded with the armor of self-assurance and self-mastery.

I will be more fully fortified and able to ward off the lashes as I encounter future insults.

Future offenses will find it increasingly difficult to pierce my reinforced suit of mail.

Another wonderful miracle which will attend the rebirth which comes with forgiveness is that as I become less susceptible to the stings and jibes of my fellow wanderers, I will find myself becoming more open to the recognition of the strengths of others. I will find my world and the life I am living a more positive place and experience.

It has been my experience that those who cannot recognize the benefits of applying the principles of forgiveness are those who have not nor will not apply them.

I am convinced that once someone has experienced the marvelous, refreshing newness of life which accompanies a forgiveness experience and having recognized wherein the new found regeneration was formulated, they will set out to become a forever forgiving person so that the accompanying joys might be constant and increasing.

May we all be so inclined to love ourselves sufficiently that we might give ourselves the gift of forgiving others and thereby become blessed celebrants of the Lord’s sabbatical law!

Sunday, February 9, 2014


The years I had the privileged of teaching covered the major part of the majority of my days. There were some days when either my presentation or the subject matter made it difficult for the students to keep their minds from wandering or their eyelids from drooping. There was always one subject that I knew that no matter how inept my presentation might be there would be no difficulty holding the attention of the class members.

The transfixing subject could go by many titles: Signs of the Times – The Second Coming – The Reign of the King of Kings – When He Comes Again – The Marvelous Millennium, etc., but the increased attention level was always evident.

In my early years I found myself, when teaching this subject, titillating students by stressing the carnal, contentious and evil conditions which would spread across the nations making the destruction of one third of life on the planet justifiable. As the years passed and with the changes which come from the maturation of aging and experience, I found my emphasis shifting toward what the two thirds who would survive the events when He comes again would need to be like in order to be spared the devastation
It has become increasingly evident that the activities of the world’s populace long ago crossed the line of being evil enough to qualify for the cataclysmic conditions which are prophesied to accompany His return to reign.
The problem doesn't seem to be that there isn't enough wickedness; the problem seems to be the lack of a righteous generation among whom He could dwell and could move towards becoming worthy to live while He reigned for that joyful 1,000 years.

Neither does the problem seem to be that He has set the standard for that righteous generation so high that it is unattainable. He isn't requiring that perfection be reached; He just needs a people who have put off their telestialness and put on terrestrialness, or in other words, a people who have repented of their evil ways and desire to become good and honorable.

The number requirement doesn't seem to be overwhelming either. He isn't requiring that 100% or even 75% become good and honorable, but has set what seems to be an attainable 66%.

Many people read the climactic chapters in the Book of Mormon (Third Nephi) when the Savior comes among the descendants of Lehi in the same way I taught this subject in my early years. They put an emphasis on the wickedness of the people who were destroyed at His coming and allow that part of the story to overshadow the important part of the story about those who were left to hear His wonderful message and what they had done to qualify for the privilege of sitting at His feet and hearing His words.

If the Book of Mormon is really the book, as Joseph Smith Jr. proclaimed, which would bring us closer to Jesus Christ than any other book, surely the emphasis must be put on those people who were consumed with the desire to prepare to be good and honorable enough to be in His presence and not on those whose desires were to be carnal, criminal and contentious and who were on the road leading to destruction.

Latter day scriptures refer to the best of the good and honorable in those Last Days as a Zion People, a people who have reached a level of righteousness compatible with having the Son of God living among them. They are not a group of perfected people, but a people who no longer desire to do evil and desire to do good continually. Not a people who have overcome all, but who have planted their feet firmly on the path leading to the Tree of Life and who hold firmly to the Rod of Iron to help them remain steadfast in their quest.

The record of those who greeted the Savior in the Americas as recorded in the Book of Mormon indicates there was a great variation in the degree of goodness and honorableness of those who were safely maintained during the devastating destruction whose history was recorded on those golden plates. There will likewise be a great variation in the degree of goodness and honorableness among those which will attend His second coming in the Last Days.

We are assured that those who listened to the Savior’s words in the Americas had not completed the perfection process. After the Savior returns to dwell with His father we find in Fourth Nephi that the process of repentance or becoming righteous enough to dwell with God continued.

As Elder Bruce R. McConkie was fond of stressing, it is not as important as to where we are on the path towards perfection as to the constancy of our positive progression on that path. As Nephi of old proclaimed we must be pressing forward.

A brief examination of the process of pressing forward would find us striving to enlarge our hope, expand our faith and increase our charity. The Sermon on the Mount on the Plains and at the Temple in Bountiful all make us aware that being good and honorable would include amplifying the attributes of humility, empathy, thirsting for righteousness, meekness, mercy, purifying our hearts and being peacemakers. An examination of the mini-Zion society in Fourth Nephi in the Book of Mormon adds dealing justly, living in a universal spirit of kinship, honoring everyone’s right to the blessings of freedom, equalization of the goods of the world so that no one wants, adherence to the laws and ordinances of the Lord and having the love of God in our hearts.

Their continual striving and the desire for positive progression on the path which leads to the Tree of Life resulted in the development of a people who were happier than any who had been created by the hand of God.
Like the proverbial chain which can be no stronger than its weakest link. The preparation of a people prepared with the continual desire to be righteous will only come to pass as each of us presses forward in an effort not to be that weak link.

Who knows, maybe there are 65.99% of the world’s population who already have their feet firmly fixed on the path and are holding hard to the rod of iron and who continually desire to be good and honorable and are only waiting for me to enter the group so that the long promised day might come when we too will enjoy all the promised fruits of happiness.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Not so long ago Kathleen and I entered that phase of our lives where programs such as Jeopardy have become part of our evening’s television viewing. My mind is definitely not as quick as it once was and I would never be able to physically out buzz those quick, bright young contestants. Even so, I am amazed at the amount of information that seems to be stored in our gray matter just waiting for the proper stimulus to bring it into our consciousness again.

This is just one simple example of the continual amazement I have with the human ability to bring forth the seemingly endless amount of diversification of ideas they have stored in their minds.

A few nights ago, when I was not really thinking of anything, it seemed like out of nowhere a story from my youth about a wrinkled old man came rushing back to my consciousness. In my mind’s eye I envisioned the wonderful illustrated book which showed this funny bewhiskered old man who happened upon a rather unusual bowling game, and while enjoying the company of some equally unusual little people, he imbibed a strange brew. (I suspect imbibed is an embellishment of the development of my vocabulary and not part of the original story).

As my mind rushed forward I was reminded of the similarities between this story and its later counterpart of a young man who slept in space for five centuries before awakening to his strange new world. The only difference in the two stories seems to be that upon awakening, Rip Van Winkle found himself in a frightening, cruel world where he could find little or no acceptance, while Buck Rogers awakens into a beautiful modern world where he becomes a universal hero. (For those generations which came into mortality after the 1950’s and 1960’s, you might have to ask parents or grandparents to find out who Buck Rogers was – if they don't know, just think of him as a prequel to Star Trek and Star Wars).

Now my mind really went a wandering. What is it that causes us, in a world where we are continually aging, where there seems to be so little time to accomplish all that we desire, a world where we fight with all means available to cling to life, we seem to fritter away countless hours? It seems that one of life’s great dichotomies is, in this world where time is a premium, a great deal of our allotted time is exhausted in trying to find ways to escape from our realities and somehow waken into some bright and new tomorrow.

It almost becomes mind boggling how sophisticated we have become in our ability to subdue our realities through chemicals and electronics. We have simultaneously acquired an insatiable fetish to make our bedrooms and beds more grand (with adjoining sitting or exercise rooms – and we label them suites so that others will know of our wonderful uncommonness), which seem to be symbolic of our desire to no longer live in the present. When our minds aren't being numbed artificially we escape to our slumber palaces hoping to be transmitted to some dream world where our problems will dissolve and from which we will awaken and come forth renewed, reinvigorate and rejuvenated into a bright new tomorrow.

We think upon how our society has become fixated and exhaustively works to open up free time; time which often is then lost through our escaping from reality either through artificial numbing or walling ourselves up in our massive space capsules.

Our mind races to the question, ‘Why?’ ‘Why when life is so short and precious, do we spend so many hours trying to imitate Rip and Buck?’

The thought springs to mind, that surely by now, after all our experimentation, we must realize that upon awakening from self-induced or natural slumber there will be no new life welcoming us into thrilling new frontiers. The life we left before our nap will be there to greet us.

Now see what the Neurons bring to thought: “Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known.” (Doctrine and Covenants 60:13)

And from the preacher: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest…For man also knoweth not his time; as the fishes that are taken in an evil net…so are the sons of men snared in an evil time when it falleth suddenly upon them.”(Ecclesiastes 9:10, 12)

And one last prescription for success in life: “Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread” (Proverbs 20:13)

One more thought in closing – maybe ere we sleep again it might be well to remind ourselves, life is for living and those who are most often awake and productive will be blessed with greater joy.