Sunday, September 20, 2015


It was so long ago that it seems like it could easily have been in another life time. It is also a marvelous tribute to the magnificence of our gray matter that I can recall something that happened so long ago.

The name of the teacher at Santa Ana Junior College has faded, but I do remember he was a member of the John Birch Society and the class was an introduction to philosophy. (I apologize to those readers of this Thought who will have to do a search to be informed on the John Birch Society, but that isn't the reason or the memory that I still carry from that class and that I am trying to get around to using as an introduction to this Thought.) The teaching I remember, after all these years, was that 95% of the world’s population is being controlled by 5%. I am not totally sure he used the word control, but I do remember the word was stronger than influenced.

Historically, it is interesting to note, when generations have been released from the control of totalitarian governments, it often takes two or three generations before their descendants really gain the confidence to make independent decisions. (Babylonian Kings, Egyptian Pharaohs, Roman Emperors, German Chancellors and Russian Premiers).

Sadly, after the passing of almost six decades and while trying to find exceptions to his statement or at least invalidate it to some degree, I have come to realize that most of us have to some degree voluntarily yielded our lives to that 5%.

As a more casual observer, I have watched humanity yield their freedoms in a variety of ways.

Students of all ages yield, not only to the information knowledgeable teachers impart, but also to their philosophical ideas, many times without testing the veracity of those views.

Subjects yield to individuals on the fragile foundation of political party allegiance, which in all probability became their party of choice because of their having previously yielded to the peer pressure of a 5 percenter.

Consumers yield their commodity choices to the powerful 5%, who buy their product loyalty through the costly promotion of fads, fancies, and fantasies.

Addicts yield their consciousness to whoremongers of mind numbing substances, while unconsciously subjecting themselves to a powerful 5% underworld.

All seem to yield to their own demons, seen or unseen, binding themselves with chains which become stronger and heavier, as the immoral 5% forges unfounded links of belief that there is no such thing as immorality.

If these realities, were just another case of the status quo of things in a mortal world, it would be tragic enough, but even more devastating is the understanding that comes when we realize that the 95% to 5% ratio we are surrounded with, is contrary to one of the most important eternal life principles which our Loving Heavenly Father has established in His Plan.

Whether we choose to call this magnificent Gift we have received through the Grace of God, Agency, Free Will or Free Agency or some other politically correct verbiage which is currently in vogue, sadly, we are probably more prone to give it lip service more than application during our lives.

Whether we credit the willing submitting of Agency to the naturalness of man, to despotic leaders, to our own weaknesses, or to the cleverness of adversaries, we seem to have a universal propensity to lay our gift at the feet of willing despots who seek to use it for their own gain.

Mournfully, we slowly come to the realization, that along with the marvelous Gift of Agency, the Eternal Plan of Heavenly Father also lays a heavy consequence through the understanding of the principle of personal responsibility and accountability.

Evidently, there will be no excusing of the conscious yielding of our Agency to another, whether they are teacher, politician, advertiser, drug dealer, personal weakness or even the devil himself, in order for us to be removed from the responsibility and accountability of our choices. The Plan seems to have taken away our right to use the excuse –
The devil made me do it – no matter what sheep’s clothing he might be wearing.

I become increasingly convinced that the Gift of Agency is one of the top principles which fall under the admonition that all must come to understand, that where much is given, much is required. Therefore, those of us who live in an atmosphere of relative freedom to choose during our lives which 5% we are going to follow, seem to be under greater responsibility to be wise in our decisions.

A religion teacher, Chauncey Riddle, at Brigham Young University once taught me, that there is no such thing as an inconsequential decision. The years have also taught me that there is nothing inconsequential about whom we allow to influence us during our mortal sojourn.

Perhaps those who sometimes irritate us because of their seeming inability to make a decision, may after all be worthy of some emulation. I don't advocate standing in a river waiting to see if the flood waters which were forecast are really going to happen, but it may be well for all of us to take more time to make a decision the next time we have a choice of who, what or where we may follow or go.

Just a little bonus Thought – I would never want to discourage anyone from making the Holy Spirit the 5% they choose to follow. That same religion teacher also taught that there will be more time gained through thoughtful, listening prayer than will ever be lost through having to repent of wrong decisions.



Sunday, September 13, 2015


During a large portion of the wonderful years we lived in Reno, Nevada, our home was on what was called a commercial half acre. There were many years when I was grateful that it wasn't actually a full half acre of yard to take care of. I seem to remember that during the years, an ample portion of our incomes went to buying larger and better grooming equipment to help keep things somewhat under control.

A section in the northeast corner of the backyard of our commercial half acre was always referred to as ‘the garden.’ It was always honored with this title, even though some years it was more a ‘receptacle for things,’ rather than a place where row crops sprung forth and brought harvested abundance. Sadly, all too often, it became a place where things ended up that didn't have any other place to go.

A perpetual part of ‘the garden’ was a large rock pile. Actually, it started out as two rock piles, one for large rocks and another for small rocks. These rocks seemed to sprout and grow in other places about the yard and when they were ripe for harvest, they would end up in one of the piles in ‘the garden.’ As the years went on and the piles grew larger they merged into what finally became one large rock pile. I always told people that there was ‘always’ something growing in our garden, without filling in some significant details.

The garden was also a small animal cemetery. Over the years we had solemn services for mice, birds, skunks and cats. We were a family blessed with cats. They brought their hunting prizes of mice and birds into the house to receive praise from the family, with never a thought that they would lower themselves to eat such crude objects. After an appropriate ceremony their trophies were buried in ‘the garden.’ When the cats finally gave up the chase, they joined their booty in ‘the garden.’

One of the most prominent monuments in ‘the garden’ was a 16 foot satellite dish. It was there because it was the only open space in the back yard where nothing seemed to be going on.

One year when I was actually digging, preparing and planting in ‘the garden,’ while kneeling in the ever diminishing area of soft soil, I looked down at the small bowl of moistened seeds near my knee, and I had one of those ‘what am I looking at?’ experiences.

I am sure we have all had those:

The kind we have when we lean back in our office or favorite chair at home and wonder if we are looking at the ceiling or the floor.

The kind we have during a graduation ceremony and we wonder if we are celebrating the end of a faded era or the bright new beginning of another.

The kind we have when someone passes from mortality and we wonder if we have been witnesses to a death or a birth, the ending of mortality or the beginning of the next phase life eternal.

Anyway, there I was looking at those seeds, wondering if by planting them with the mulched leaves, grass, decomposed mice, birds and cats which all shared that soil, was the beginning of their life or the ending.

The longer I pondered, the more I was left with the feeling that living things should not be limited by viewing themselves in a series of beginnings and endings, but as an everlasting continuum.

The thought came to me that the pain, agony and sadness we feel with passages, would be somewhat alleviated if we would view these occasions not in the framework of beginnings and endings, but as parts of a continuum.

I also thought that the ranking of phases in the continuum and exalting one above the other could be counterproductive to the fulfillment of eternal existence.

Should the plant actually envision that the blooming or the fruit phases were more important in its continuum than when it was but a seed?

Should the farmer actually conclude that the harvest is a more important time in his annual continuum than planting?

Should a child actually think that birth is more important in its continuum than death?

My kneeling and pondering brought me to suspect that we indeed might be able to lessen a lot of our sadness’s, anxieties and pains, if events in our passages were defined more in the lengthening of our eternal horizons than in the limiting confines of beginnings and endings. The thought even came to me that much of pride, selfishness and hatred could be lessened if our rush to compete and complete were viewed from the special limitlessness of life everlasting.

I think we should all pray for the day when mankind will realize that the changing dates on calendars can affect us only to the degree that our thoughts and emotions allow them to.

I think we should all pray for the day when we realize that the temporary honors which come in life will become less of a signal of what has been accomplished and more of directive indicating the way and the effort which must be given to the next step of progression on our continuum.

I think we should all pray for the realization that the happiness of childhood is not to be counted greater than the joys of being a grandparent.

I think that we should all pray for the understanding that experiences of mortality are not greater than the experiences of eternal life during our everlasting continuum.



Sunday, September 6, 2015


If we truly want to understand the wonders of sight
Do we find it through the eyes of artist, astrologer, and optometrist?
Do we begin to discover it in the first wondrous light seen by a newborn child?

If we truly want to understand the wonders of sound
Do we find it through the ears of musician, acoustician, and otologist?
Do we begin to discover it in the first startling sound heard by a newborn child?

If we truly want to understand the wonders of touch
Do we find it through the hands of masseuse, farmer, and neurologist?
Do we begin to discover it in the first tender mother’s touch felt by a newborn child?

If we truly want to understand the wonders of taste
Do we find it through the taste buds of chefs, dieticians, and physiologist?
Do we begin to discover it when the first drop hits the tongue of a newborn child?

If we truly want to understand the wonders of smell
Do we find it through the noses of perfumer, sommelier, and rhinologist?
Do we begin to discover it when the first whiffs enter nostrils of a newborn child?

When these and many like questions begin to be answered, we will be at the gate of understanding what the Savior meant when he said, “except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Fearfully, we may be becoming a generation like those in the days of Jeremiah who became a “foolish people, without understanding” or like those to whom Paul wrote in Ephesus who had “their understanding darkened being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them because of the blindness of their heart.” Will we become just another generation which has chosen to be a light unto themselves rather than to be led by the True Light?

Some years ago I read an essay by Neal A. Maxwell about the dangers of scholasticism. It was a warning to every generation about relying too much on the accumulated understanding of scholars and the rejection of those who realize their own immense limitations, and cease to look to the fountain of Eternal Knowledge for truth and understanding.

We should be grateful for those who have constantly been there to jerk upon the reins of our own self-importance when the growth of our mountains of philosophical minutia starts to bring aggrandizement to the personal measure of our stature.

We should be grateful for the realization which attends the reverence of the word Father in reference to Deity and the enlightening understanding which begins to trickle upon us when we view ourselves as His children.

We should be grateful for the realization that all that has been learned to this point of our existence is but a feeble beginning of a foundation which yet lacks much work and be grateful for the eternities which will allow us to build brick by brick an everlasting library.

We should be grateful for the limited understanding we have been able to gain that our accumulated knowledge amounts to but a few grains when compared to the Omniscience of Father, just as we have come to recognize the minuteness of this ‘pale blue dot’ when viewed as part of the vastness of the Universe.

We should be grateful for the view that each day is like a new birth, wherein each wondrous vista, each soothing melody, each silken thread, each savory bite and each delicate aroma, can be as if it had never existed before.