Sunday, November 30, 2014


I was musing over some past writings and came across one which reminded me of an evening when I was working with our fourth son, Brendan, as he was memorizing some lines from William Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice.

“The quality of mercy is not strain’d, it droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven upon the place beneath.

It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes, ’tis mightiest in the mightiest: It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown.

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power the attribute to awe and majesty, wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings: but mercy is above the sceptre sway: it is enthroned in the hearts of kings: it is an attribute to God himself: and earthly power doth then show likest God’s mercy season’s justice.

Therefore, Jew, though justice be thy plea, consider this, that, in the course of justice, none of us should see salvation.

We do pray for mercy, and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.”

(Act IV Scene 1)

I have always appreciated words of wisdom well written, but as I listened to Brendan repeat these melodic phrases over and over, Shakespeare’s message sang powerfully into my soul.

I had taught and believed for some time the reality of the Savior’s atoning act, but on this evening the power of His grace and the futility of all I do, without that merciful act, resounded to the core of my existence. My search for salvation was totally dependent on the submission of the Son to the will of the Father.

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved , after all we can do. (Book of Mormon – 2nd Nephi 25:23)

What an enlightening discovery that giving mercy is the use of power, a power which generates greater power. Satan has labored to persuade man that it is through dominance and force that we gain power over others. The truth which rings in our hearts is that we gain real power when we free others from obligations and burdens which might encumber their relationship with us.

Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things. (Book of Mormon – Jacob 4:7)

The merciful man doeth good to his own soul. (Old Testament – Proverbs 11:17)

By mercy and truth iniquity is purged. (Old Testament – Proverbs 16:6)

Can it be, that in the same merciful way the Savior became the master of all mankind, to a much lesser degree we gain a portion of this peculiar power by lightening the burdens of our neighbors through our miniscule merciful means.

I suspect, if we totally understood the extent of the change which would come upon our lives as we learn to emulate and exercise our pittance of the quality of mercy, we would study about mercy, we would practice mercy and we would gratefully receive the mercy extended to us from others.

My prayer is that, not only during this season when thankful words spill forth as if supplied by an everlasting horn of plenty, but each day as the morning sun wakes us to another day and as we joy in the privileges and opportunities of each day, and again as we prepare to lay our heads on freshened pillows we will remember:

“The quality of mercy is not strain’d, it droppeth as the gentle rain from Heaven upon the place beneath.

It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes, ’tis mightiest in the mightiest: It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown.

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power the attribute to awe and majesty, wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings: but mercy is above the sceptre sway: it is enthroned in the hearts of kings: it is an attribute to God himself: and earthly power doth then show likest God’s mercy season’s justice.

Therefore, Jew, though justice be thy plea, consider this, that, in the course of justice, none of us should see salvation.

We do pray for mercy, and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.”

(Act IV Scene 1)

Sunday, November 23, 2014


In the talk which made up last week’s Thought, President Benson reminded us that “Unity is impossible for a proud people, and unless we are one, we are not the Lord’s.

Before we get too far along in discussing some possible resolutions for what President Benson called the universal sin of mankind, let me remind you of my pre mission relationships with the small group of Mexican Americans who attended Garden Grove Union High School in the latter part of the 1950’s. At best it would be described as indifference, but it would probably more properly be defined as disdain.

I hasten to tell you that prior to entering the mission field in Northern Mexico, I had spent six months at Fort Ord, California. During that long and illustrious active duty career I was taken under the wing of a Master Sargent whose heritage was from Mexico. My prejudices had been softened by this good man, but in no way was I wiped clean of the pride in my Mormon whiteness.

I likewise hasten to inform you that in the empty nest part of our marital life together I have been accused by my dear eternal companion of having a positive prejudice towards my Central and South American brothers and sisters. What can I say; I am still a work in progress.

Once the miracle of being able to stammer in Spanish had occurred, along with a more friendly relationship with the doctrines of the gospel and the scriptures, it became obvious as I was teaching the beloved people of Mexico (as I recall it took about 1 ½ weeks for them to become beloved) it became most apparent who was the student and who was the teacher in our relationships.

One of the important doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is that Heavenly Father, Jesus the Christ and the Holy Spirit are three separate and distinct beings. (John 17: 11, 21, 22) But in the teaching of this doctrine it was also very essential to understand in what way they are one. That being, that they were one in all the attributes, characteristic and perfections which attend the office of Deity.

Over the years I have become aware that it is this oneness which President Benson indicated was the antithesis of pride and the only solution to the calamities which attend the prejudices which result from a people blinded by pride.

I think I have been around long enough to guess what just went through your minds. Here we go with a dreamer of impossible dreams, spouting idealism's which can never be obtained.

Just a quick reminder:

The people of Enoch became one – a people of Zion. (Moses 7:18)

King Benjamin led a people who were wrought upon by the Spirit so powerfully that they had no disposition to do evil. (Mosiah 5)

Fourth Nephi is a short historical record of a large nation or humans who became one and maintained their oneness for three generation.

I suspect when all the books come forth from the dust and are opened to our understanding these groups will be added upon and we will realize that the possibility of becoming one having eschewed the sin of pride, has transformed many of our brothers and sisters into Zion-like societies during the time that the sons of God have resided hereon.

Doctrine and Covenants section 105 verses 4-5 give us a quick primer on how to put off pride and put on the attributes and characteristics necessary for us to overcome our prejudices and become ‘everyone, brothers and sisters all.’ “Ye are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom; and Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom.”

Well, why didn't you just say so – how could anything be easier – all we have to do is live by same laws which God’s live by.

I don't even pretend to know even a few of the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom, but in my elementary stages of learning about that law I have come to understand a few things that I need to be working at rather constantly.

I also hasten to say that I have come to realize that the only person who I have any real chance of changing is I.

A few behaviors I can get started on which I feel I can control if I so desire:

Love my brothers and sisters for what they are and not what I feel they should be

Be aware when others say things about their brothers and sisters that they couldn't possibly know to be true

Be careful not to say anything about my brothers and sisters that I couldn't possibly know to be true

Even when I know something is true – if it is going to be hurtful to a brother or sister – maybe I should hold my tongue

Be more aware of actions and intents – rather than on ethnicity, social status or power rankings

Never forget that it is kindness that turneth away wrath not anger

Be quicker to judge and change my own behavior and less demanding that my brothers and sisters be more diligent in changing theirs

Try to have my actions controlled by love and not by anger

Some advanced behaviors I can be aware of and work on when I am feeling especially spiritually strong:

Live by every word of God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness

Sincerely petition my Father in Heaven for his help in putting some of his attributes and characteristics into my life

Try to be more aware when His counsel comes through the whisperings of the Holy Spirit

Replace my pride with humility

Look for opportunities to be charitable

Live so that once in a while someone will see the light of Christ which I am trying to hold up

Work more consistently on acquiring the attributes of – merciful, publisher of peace, pure in heart, meek, virtuous, temperate, patient and diligent

I am pretty certain that I will not live to see the lamb lay down with the lion, but in the mean time I can try just a little bit harder to make sure I am not about the business of putting rocks and shads in the path of ‘everyone, my brothers and sisters all.’

Sunday, November 16, 2014


For part two of the principle of the Universal Brotherhood of mankind, which has become an important part of what I am and what I wish to become, I share with you some excerpts from a landmark talk given by Ezra Taft Benson, who was then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in the General Conference held in April of 1989. (To be able to read this entire talk – including the scriptural references – it can be found in the May, 1989 Ensign)

Beware of Pride

The Doctrine and Covenants tells us that the Book of Mormon is the “record of a fallen people.” Why did they fall? This is one of the major messages of the Book of Mormon. Mormon gives the answer in the closing chapters of the book in these words: “Behold, the pride of this nation, or the people of the Nephites, hath proven their destruction.” And then, lest we miss that momentous Book of Mormon message from that fallen people, the Lord warns us in the Doctrine and Covenants, “Beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old.”

Three times in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord uses the phrase “beware of pride,” including a warning to the second elder of the Church, Oliver Cowdery, and to Emma Smith, the wife of the Prophet.

Pride is a very misunderstood sin, and many are sinning in ignorance. In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride—it is always considered a sin. Therefore, no matter how the world uses the term, we must understand how God uses the term so we can understand the language of holy writ and profit thereby.

Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.

Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of “my will and not thine be done.” As Paul said, they “seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.”

Our enmity toward God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended, and sign seekers. The proud wish God would agree with them. They aren’t interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s.

Another major portion of this very prevalent sin of pride is enmity toward our fellowmen. We are tempted daily to elevate ourselves above others and diminish them.

The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. In the words of C. S. Lewis: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.”

The proud stand more in fear of men’s judgment than of God’s judgment. “What will men think of me?” weighs heavier than “What will God think of me?”

Fear of men’s judgment manifests itself in competition for men’s approval. The proud love “the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Our motives for the things we do are where the sin is manifest. Jesus said He did “always those things” that pleased God. Would we not do well to have the pleasing of God as our motive rather than to try to elevate ourselves above our brother and outdo another?

When pride has a hold on our hearts, we lose our independence of the world and deliver our freedoms to the bondage of men’s judgment. The world shouts louder than the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. The reasoning of men overrides the revelations of God, and the proud let go of the iron rod.

Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves. Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up. It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous.

Selfishness is one of the more common faces of pride. “How everything affects me” is the center of all that matters—self-conceit, self-pity, worldly self-fulfillment, self-gratification, and self-seeking.

Another face of pride is contention. Arguments, fights, unrighteous dominion, generation gaps, divorces, spouse abuse, riots, and disturbances all fall into this category of pride.

Contention in our families drives the Spirit of the Lord away. It also drives many of our family members away. Contention ranges from a hostile spoken word to worldwide conflicts. The scriptures tell us that “only by pride cometh contention.”

The scriptures testify that the proud are easily offended and hold grudges. They withhold forgiveness to keep another in their debt and to justify their injured feelings.

The proud do not receive counsel or correction easily. Defensiveness is used by them to justify and rationalize their frailties and failures.

The proud depend upon the world to tell them whether they have value or not. Their self-esteem is determined by where they are judged to be on the ladders of worldly success. They feel worthwhile as individuals if the numbers beneath them in achievement, talent, beauty, or intellect are large enough. Pride is ugly. It says, “If you succeed, I am a failure.”

Pride is a damning sin in the true sense of that word. It limits or stops progression. The proud are not easily taught. They won’t change their minds to accept truths, because to do so implies they have been wrong.

Pride adversely affects all our relationships—our relationship with God and His servants, between husband and wife, parent and child, employer and employee, teacher and student, and all mankind. Our degree of pride determines how we treat our God and our brothers and sisters. Christ wants to lift us to where He is. Do we desire to do the same for others?

Pride fades our feelings of son ship to God and brotherhood to man. It separates and divides us by “ranks,” according to our “riches” and our “chances for learning.” Unity is impossible for a proud people, and unless we are one we are not the Lord’s.

Pride is the universal sin, the great vice. Yes, pride is the universal sin, the great vice.

Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion. I repeat: Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion.

We must yield “to the enticing’s of the Holy Spirit,” put off the prideful “natural man,” become “a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord,” and become “as a child, submissive, meek, humble.”

That we may do so and go on to fulfill our divine destiny is my fervent prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


I don't know if it is the contentedness which seems to have filled my soul during my eighth decade of life or if it is the fact that I don't have a stoop to sit and ponder on, (that is a porch for you young folks who might be reading this and have no idea what a stoop is – that would probably mean everyone under the age of 40), but I’ve become comfortable with spending a few hours each day reading what is happening in the lives of friends through the medium of Face Book
Are you ready – here comes the ‘but’!

I find that a day seldom passes:

Where my contentedness is not rudely interrupted by some form of contention

Where the counsel of prophets has been ignored and people refuse to disagree without being disagreeable

Where different opinions on political principles seems to give license to spew forth personal character offenses upon others rather than seeking for a common ground to stand upon

Where religious differences determine the value or lack thereof of a person’s words and life

Where differences of pigmentation are referred to negatively rather than the beauty which comes from variety

Where differences of life styles and physical characteristics are spoken of in biblical terms, reserved in former times for lepers, forever broadening the gap between neighbors, rather than following the counsel of prophets that we are to be continually seeking for inclusion

I have lost the reference, but I know it can be found in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “It grieves us that there is no fuller fellowship; if one member suffers we all feel it; by union of feeling we obtain power with God.”

When I was in High School in Garden Grove, California, the dominant clique was white. I use the word dominant, but there were definite schisms within the dominant group. There were rich kids, popular kids, middle class kids, poor kids, hoods and sissies, who all fell under the umbrella of the dominant white group. Members of our small Mormon kids group at times were included in one of the other white sub groups and at other times were excluded. However, we in no way suffered the damnation of exclusion which the Latino and Asian students had to endure.

There was a time when one of my best friends was a brilliant Asian young man. Occasionally, I would be with him when some ugly epithet spewed from the mouth of one of the dominant group. The irony was that his family was the largest land owner in the area served by Garden Grove Union High School and probably much wealthier than any of those who prided themselves as being in the rich kids sub group of the dominant white group.

There were several times during my four years of high school when war was declared in the parking lot adjacent to the school. In those days there was always room in the parking lot for war, because there were few students who had a car or who were able to drive their parent’s car to school. Anyway, the participants on one side of the war varied from hoods, to jocks, to etc., but the participants on the other side of the war were always the Latino group. The lopsidedness of the participants made it so that the relatively small group of Latinos who were part of the Argonauts in those days eventually had to band together as they went from class to class and to and from school.

I tell you this sad tale of my high school years, so that you will understand two things. First, I never once went out of my way to befriend or even say anything nice about anyone in the Latino group and, second, I wondered about the inspiration connected with my call to serve in the Northern Mexico Mission when I was 19.

I am sure that it is because of the time I spent as a young man and the time Kathleen and I were privileged to serve in Colombia as not so young people that my prejudices have evolved to be so strong when it comes to the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of the inhabitants of this small sphere.

I am grateful that I daily understand and appreciate more the words of the well-traveled Will Rogers when he said ‘he never met a man he didn’t like.’

(To be continued)

Sunday, November 2, 2014


There is still time to order your copies of Thoughts for 100 Sabbath Days by going to and searching the book by its title. It would make a wonderful Christmas gift!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014: Rejection should seldom be the barometer by which truth is measured!!

Thursday, June 26, 2014: Soap – Use frequently to remove the grime of daily living!!
Repentance – Use frequently to remove the stain of errant choices!!

Friday, June 27, 2014: Those who measure their importance in life by their material accumulations – have probably missed the real purpose of existence!!

Monday, June 30, 2014: The bumper sticker reads - a bad day at golf is better than a good day at work – maybe there should be and asterisk statement which says - * a bad day of golf is a bad day!!

Tuesday, July, 1, 2014: The philosophies of men will never be profound enough to change Eternal truths!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014: The fountain of pure revealed Truth dispenses a very small stream – which has a tendency to become contaminated as it flows through mortal minds!!

Thursday, July 3, 2014: As the years multiply – pain and stiffness will become a lingering reminder of the glorious days of your youthful agile athletic life!!

Friday, July 4, 2014: Whether you had glorious days of a youthful agile athletic life or not – pain and stiffness WILL become a lingering reminder that your years have multiplied!!

Monday, July 7, 2014: Although a great shot may result in a par – most pars are a result of a series of good shots!! I think there may be a broader lesson for life – I hope you can discover it!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014: Life becomes real when we finally realize – that wealth, position and popularity do not define a fulfilled life!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: During ones experienced season of life – one of the things which fill you with happiness is looking back on life and reviewing all the joy which came from being able to do things in the season thereof!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: Trying to force joy by doing things after their season has passed – results in frustration and pain!!
63. Thursday, July 17, 2014: We should all be grateful that memories linger – when functional ability no longer allows repetition!!

Friday, July 18, 2014: Enjoy every minute of every day - there comes a time when the days speed by so rapidly that it becomes more difficult to notice the wonders of the passing moments!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014: True love should not be easily turned away because of the mistakes of those we love!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014: When we really try to eliminate mistakes – it is a demonstration of true love!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014: Ultimately it is our own decision as to the places we go and the people we choose to go with!!

Friday, July 25, 2014: Where we decide to go today and the people we go with - will have a tremendous impact on future places we go and the people with whom we go!!

Monday, July 28, 2014: The difference between a professional golfer’s game and the game of a geezer golfer is about the same as the difference between love and attraction – they both have some things in common, but the end result is like comparing the Grand Canyon to a wallow!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014: I am sure you have noted that questions answered always seem to create more questions – hence small children are right on when they forever continue to ask 'WHY??'!!

Monday, August 4, 2014: There are many ideas our brains come up with which need to pass through our hearts before we speak or act!!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014: Warning!! – Kindness is a disease which can be quickly spread!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014: If you have recently been infected with kindness – keep spreading it by giving someone a hug!!

Thursday, August 07, 2014: One must be cautious when approaching someone who combines meaningful listening skills with sincere hugging – they may get infected with terminal kindness!!

Friday, August 08, 2014: Everyone should be aware that when they meet someone who has an understanding heart, meaningful listening skills and who also gives sincere hugs – they are in danger of being infected with the life changing disease of kindness!!