Sunday, January 31, 2016


It is one of those events which will seldom be erased from memory during our lives. Kathleen and I sat transfixed in front of the television as we were transported with minuscule delay to the streets of Paris, France, where terrorists were maiming and murdering revelers who were beginning their weekend.

The vision of lines of ambulances loading up mutilated and deceased bodies would be vision enough to indelibly sear our minds, but interestingly, for me it was an event on the morning following which made these mind branding moments.

I arose early, at least 4 am is early for me, and prepared to drive to Newport Beach to do my sealing assignment at the beautiful stubby steepled Temple which we have grown to love so very dearly.

It wasn't long after I had settled into the process of doing ordinances for the deceased with some very dear brothers and sisters who have become Temple friends that I realized that name after name which we were acting as proxy for were people who were born in France during the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

I don't usually have an emotional struggle when I am performing sealings, but the rapid events of the previous night's horrors and the beauty of what was taking place in that peaceful, sacred sealing room in the Newport Beach Temple added up to cause more than a few moments where composing hesitation was needed.

During the remainder of the morning at the Temple I had time to contemplate and wonder about the meaning of it all.

There was no doubt that the perpetrators of the terrorist acts in Paris, France and those of the Ordinance Workers surrounding the alter in Newport Beach were motivated by belief in what was perceived to be a truth.

There was no doubt that both those who acted in the name of Allah and those who acted in the name of Elohim had done what would be considered acts of good and acts of evil during their lives.

There was no doubt that firm convictions brought both groups to their appointed duties on Friday night as well as Saturday morning.

History bears witness that those professing all different faiths have wrought both good and evil upon their brothers and sisters in the name of their God.

I don't think I came to any ultimate conclusions during my ponderings that Saturday morning, but I was able to make a partial mental list of what I, as a struggling believer in my faith, should be doing.

I would strive never to allow my personal beliefs or feelings to be a springboard to make my brothers and sisters around the world feel less than a son or daughter of God.

I would strive to control the slippery instrument in my mouth so that it did not speak ill of another simply because their political, racial or religious beliefs might be short sighted in a different way than my own shortsightedness.

I would strive to expand my understanding that our Father In Heaven has not revealed all to His children and that as I make an effort to gain a glimpse beyond the veil which presently shrouds my vista, I, along with all of our Heavenly Parents’ children, will make mistakes and come to erroneous conclusions.

I will strive to bridle my passions in such a way that as I witness or become victim to the errors of others it will not keep me from attempting to adhere to the virtues I have made covenants to live.

As with most mind searing events, even when they are amplified by subsequent equally rememberable happenings, the continual advancement of the calendar will also cause these to be stored and only brought to remembrance on certain yearly dates or because of a like event memory stirring moment.


I do hope that whatever soul searching resolve we may have made during this or any traumatic event will become habitual and not be lost in the fogginess of forgetful minds.

I do hope that the virtuous tenets of all religious texts will win all our souls and overpower those verses which might springboard baser tendencies.

I do hope that we will find ways to lighten our brother’s and sister’s loads, to help them see the true light more clearly, and that for us they will never be counted as strangers.

I do hope we will be counted among those who lift, strengthen and edify and not among those who destroy, devastate and decay.

The thought which filled my mind, as I left the Newport Beach Temple that Saturday morning was that what had been done for my French brothers and sisters
in The Lord’s House that morning was indeed THE BETTER PART.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


I don't make a regular habit of doing so, although as you read this Thought you might get the idea I do, but there are times in my life when I see a mark on my body which brings back to my awareness an event that was accompanied with pain and left a scar.

My oldest visible scar is a jagged irregular thing on my right wrist which my body has retained for 70 years. This one became a mortal reminder of an event which occurred when I was seven years old. Between our home on North Arthur Street in Pocatello, Idaho, and the Church House (that’s what we called them in those days) was what appeared, to adult eyes to be a vacant lot, but in the eye of a brave young adventurer it was a depository of boulders left by a Giant who would one day come and fling them with a sling whose pocket was made of an entire cow hide. One day as I was bravely jumping from one boulder to another I made a ‘rare’ slip and fell between two of the Giant’s pebbles. My right wrist came into contact with a broken soda pop bottle (another word which lost its place in vocabularies a long time ago) or the remnants of a flask the giant had flung in merriment. I soon found myself in the comfort of the Queen of our Palace (mother) who wrapped my wrist in a towel and then applied some Iodex, a sterile pad and a very tight wrapping of adhesive tape. And hence, 70 years later, I retain the jagged reminder of my adventure in the Giant’s pebble ground in my right wrist.

Another very old scar was acquired when I was in my early teens. The inspiration for the event has been lost due to disconnected neurons in my brain. Somehow my cousin Ron Sheldon and I thought it might be a good idea to play chicken on our bicycles. It was before we had a television, and the only show I ever watched at my friend’s house was the cartoon show of Beanie and Cecil, so that couldn't have been the source. Anyway, there we were on Chestnut Avenue in Long Beach, California, riding like knights on steeds toward each other seeing which one would chicken out and turn aside. Before disclosing the results I have to make sure everyone understands the makeup of a Schwinn bicycle. They had fenders which covered the front and back tires, so that you didn't get mud in your face and up your backside when you rode through puddles. Those who frequent the beaches of Southern California have seen replicas of these relics on the walking/biking paths along the beach. Anyway, we had somehow gotten the turn out direction confused in our dumbed down teen minds, because even though we both turned chicken at the same time, we turned into each other’s paths rather than away. The resulting crash left a two inch gash into the front of my left shinbone about 5 inches above the instep of my foot. The front fender of his bike had proven to be an adequate lance. Once again my mother applied an ample smearing of Iodex, a sterile pad and a very tight binding of adhesive tape. And hence, six decades later, I retain a scared indentation.

There were lesser reminders of having made ‘interesting’ choices during my life. Such as a piece of pencil lead which is still faintly visible between the pointy and middle finger of my left hand. There are some dramatic scars which came because of necessity such as the one left from an appendectomy, and a knee replacement. There are scars which remind me of the days when I worked by the sweat of my brow as a wood, wire and metal lather. (Look it up on the internet, it would take too long to explain.

I suspect I am not unique with having tales to tell about where unnatural markings which appear on our bodies came from. I, likewise, suspect that I am not unique in being able to identify times in my life when my soul was scarred by some silly choice I or someone I was acquainted with had made.

For just a brief moment as I was writing this Thought, my mind lingered on the promises of the Savior that though His Atoning Sacrifice, Mercy and Grace the scars made to our souls would be removed, remembered no more and made incorruptible, but I resisted going there, because I believe, at least during mortality, it is good for us to have reminders of the spiritual pain we may have caused ourselves or others because of having made wrong choices.

My obsession about keeping a daily journal for most of my adult life would be an easy way to bring remembrance of my having strayed from the straight path and brought pain to both myself and others, but I find it is seldom necessary to rely on that physical crutch.

Just as when I see children trying to do things their little bodies are not capable of or hearing about teens that are making brain hampered choices or when someone is talking about a similar surgery as I have had, I don't need to check the scars on my body to feel empathetic pain. I, likewise, don't have to repeat bad choices to experience remembrances of spiritual pain I brought upon my soul and perhaps hurt to a brother or sister.

It is at those moments when I am grateful that the Creator put us together in such a way that all through our mortal adventure we would have seen and unseen reminders of choices which it wouldn't be healthful, helpful, wise or righteous to repeat.

I never again jumped from boulder to boulder in a Giant’s pebble pile.

I never again entered into a game of chicken.

Sadly, there have been times when it took several wounds to my soul before I reached the ‘never again’ status.

Hopefully, experience and wisdom will lead me on the path where the soul seldom or at least with less frequency receives self-inflicted wounds.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Some weeks ago I decided it was time to get back to working on my guessoirs. When you take on the task of writing your personal history in your eighth decade of life, the product doesn't turn out to be your memoirs, but your guessoirs. Anyway, as I was rededicating myself to get my guessoirs into a printable format, I decided to use the wonderful photo albums Kathleen has organized and accumulated during our lives to clear some of the fog from my brain cells. This wonderful tool has been remarkable in bringing back into clarity many events which I had been unable to stumble onto as I wandered through my cloudy past.

One of the events which was brought back into focus was my last appearance on stage as a very limited amateur. This personal swan song production took place when I was bishop of the Singles Ward in Reno, Nevada. For some reason the producers of this production thought it would be a good idea to cast me as a character in the musical ‘The Order is Love.’ The unusual thing about the part I was asked to play was that this role involved a member of the community who hadn't been able to assimilate all of the tenets of the Word of Wisdom. In particular he still had a bit of problem with abstaining from alcoholic beverages.

If you are not familiar with this musical it centers around a small town in Utah called Order Ville, where the economic system introduced by Joseph Smith was being experimented upon. There were a few other attempts to institute what Joseph called The United Order in the pre statehood days of Utah, but none of them lasted very long.

Hugh Nibley taught that a child is fond of attempting to use a tool before he is prepared. It can easily be said that the inhabitants of those small communities in Deseret, (The name given to a large mass of territory of which the state of Utah was but a small portion) were attempting to use tools of which they had little knowledge or skill to use.

Basic principles and understanding of the United Order:

1. Everything belongs to the Lord.

2. The inhabitants of the earth are to be stewards over that portion of the earth over which the Lord has placed them.

3. Recompense is not dependent upon skill, education or position, but on the circumstances of each family, their needs and wants. Needs of every family in the community will be equally met before wants of any unit will be considered.

4. The Church becomes the custodian of all titles to properties and stewardships are allotted to families according to their abilities. Stewardship were to be established by a fee simple document for their stewardship.

5. All common property not allocated as a stewardship was to be used to support the poor of the Church, especially those who were unable to care for themselves.

6. All surplus above that which was needed for the needs and allocated wants of a family was to be turned over to the Bishop to further care for the poor, widows, orphans and to support those who were giving full time to the ministry of the affairs of the Church.

7. A Sacred Treasury was eventually to be established to safeguard those funds derived from publication of books and other materials.

8. Another General Treasury was to be established to safeguard those special gifts which came to the Bishop by those who were especially successful in magnifying their stewardships and returned more than that which was deemed to be surplus.

Beyond the rules and regulations establishing the United Order, there were many fundamental gospel principles which a person must have donned in their lives before the United Order could ever be successful:

1. The Lord is no respecter of persons.

2. All the inhabitants of the earth are the children of God.

3. All must be esteemed as my brother or sister.

4. Agency must constitute the basis of all choices.

5. No individual’s contribution or skill is to be valued or recompensed above another’s.

6. The interest of my neighbors should be as much a concern as that of my family.

Although they are never mentioned in the revelations of the latter-days concerning the establishing of the United Order, it soon becomes apparent that some characteristics of the human family need to be eliminated and replaced with attributes more closely aligned with those which our Heavenly Father intended us to develop.

1. Pride, slothfulness, envy, prejudice, malice, desire for recognition and all other ‘self’ characteristics detrimental to the establishing of a Zion Society must be stripped off by each individual.

2. Love, compassion, dedication, charity and an overwhelming desire for the advancement and betterment of the whole must be added to our attributes.

During my cognizant years I have been able to more fully appreciated the privilege of listening to living Apostles and Prophets. I have heard them say such things as, ‘the church as a whole is closer to living the United Order today than any previous time in its history.’ They have pointed to the Welfare Program, the Humanitarian Efforts, the Perpetual Education Fund, the Foundation for Small Business and many other programs which are supported by the ‘surplus’ or offerings of the members of the Church as indicators of how many have had their hearts changed toward the principles needed to establish the United Order.

There have likewise been many discourses given to calm the troubled waters which many find themselves upon, as they make comparison of the United Order and such isms as communism and socialism. The bottom line of those calming discourses is that Agency will always be the basis of all participation in the United Order and it will never be establish by force.

As I look back upon my swan song as a thespian playing the role of a drunk in the musical ‘The Order is Love,’ I suspect there was a lot more type casting going on than was ever suspected by those who had chosen their Bishop for such a part. Just like my drunken alter ego who had chosen to only live parts of the Word of Wisdom, I find myself in the eighth decade of my life still being sifted and tried as I pick and choose those characteristics which I will strip from my being and those attributes which I know I should be adding.

In the end, whether we ever live in a community established on the principles of The United Order or not will be of little consequence, but it will be of consequence whether I have used my agency to try to inculcate those principles into my life.

Sunday, January 10, 2016



Sunday, December 20, 2015

Monday, August 03, 2015: Considering the infiniteness of promised reward – perhaps we should be more willing to accept and live the meager requirements –
our Heavenly Father has outlined for us!!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015: Because of the law of agency – ultimate responsibility and accountability – will always be a very personal reality!!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015: The ultimate use of agency – has and always will be – the submission of our will to the will of our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son!!

Thursday, August 06, 2015: Be careful where you place your feet – because they point like arrows to your future!!

Friday, August 07, 2015: In spite of careful preparation – the twists and turns of life will often bring unexpected situations!!

Monday, August 10, 2015: Trying to find – a better or quicker way to salvation – than the gospel outlines – is like trying to beat a jet airplane from America to Europe – by attempting to swim the Atlantic Ocean!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015: It is more difficult to be distracted – if we are always focused on the goal!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015: In many instances – questioning and doubt – are the first steps – which will lead a sincere seeker – to seek after solutions!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015: We have all been given a variety of seeds – which we can plant or nourish – it is up to us – which plants we will treat as weeds and – and which we will cultivate unto maturity!!

Friday, August 14, 2015: There are some seeds which can only mature – in the garden of your own soul – such as peace, happiness, patience and love!!

Monday, August 17, 2015: No other person – has sufficient resources, power or intelligence – nor can such a person be found – who can reach into another’s soul – and nurture seeds that will mature within a neighbor – such plants as peace, happiness, patience and love!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015: Heavenly Father, Jesus the Christ and the Holy Spirit – are the only beings who have sufficient resources, powers and intelligence – to enter into the gardens of our souls – and nourish the seeds of peace, happiness, patience and love – so that they mature and flourish!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015: It is important – that each of us – strive not to put poisons into the environment – of those around us – who are trying to nurture seeds of peace, happiness, patience and love in the gardens of their souls!!

Thursday, August 20, 2015: Luckily – the Lord will surround us – with a bounteous number of neighbors – who are in need – so that we will have ample opportunity to learn how to serve!!

Friday, August 21, 2015: As we are striving to learn – line upon line – we should not allow our impatience – to cause us to fail – by trying to jump to line 31 when we are currently on line 16!!

Monday, August 24, 2015: There is a basket of joy – which will attend our progress – if we trust in Heavenly Father – to determine when it is time for us to move to line 17 from line 16!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015: Stagnation in our progress – will come automatically – if we allow ourselves to become content with line 16!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015: Periodically I need to evaluate – whether the life choices I have made – are worthy of emulation!!

Thursday, August 27, 2015: One of the true tests of a personal testimony – comes when I cannot keep from sharing it with a neighbor!!

Friday, August 28, 2015: Asking a person with a testimony not to share it – is like asking a fish to live out of water!!

Monday, August 31, 2015: Although a testimony can be shared – it can only become the possession of another – through their efforts!!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015: Too often our good intentions – are spoiled by distractions of lesser value!!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015: The success of a marriage can often be evaluated – by counting the number of times spouses – use the words we, us and ours – rather than me, I and mine!!

Thursday, September 3, 2015: It is often difficult to judge – what comes first – an increase in the attributes of kindness and love – or – an increase in
the belief in the universal kinship of humanity!!

Friday, September 04, 2015: Knowledge expands more rapidly – when it involves – both the depth and breadth of a subject!!


Sunday, January 3, 2016


For a very long time I have harbored a fantasy wish which would have changed all of our lives dramatically. My wish was and continues to be that when men long ago started observing the regularity of the relative movements of the sun, moon and earth and most especially when they started to calendar those movements into days, weeks and months, they would have had the good sense to have the first day of the first week of the first month on the day we now refer to as the 20th day of March.

It makes far greater sense to me to begin the year when everything is springing into life rather than as it currently is when most everything is dead or dying. Just let your mind drift for a second or two into my world (any longer could prove extremely dangerous) and think how much better you would feel about making renewal resolutions when the smells of leaves, grass and blossoms are bursting upon the senses rather than trying to set goals looking out at the gritty remains of last week’s snow storm.

As things stand now on our mistakenly oriented calendar it is with great difficulty that I stir myself out of my semi-hibernated state and scribble a few lines which will become obsolete long before the rest of nature springs forth in new beginnings.

If you haven't caught the vision yet I have many reservations about trying to make renewed efforts about the girth of my middle, the depth of my breathing, the accrued value of my holdings or any other resolution I might have failed in completing during the last year, during a time when all of the rest of God’s creations have pretty much shut down as they had been foreordained to do.

Even though I will continue to be convinced that the calendar gurus got it all wrong, I am a devout convert of the necessity of taking time to sharpen our saws in preparation for future forests which need trimming and houses which need building.

I am so convinced of the need for reevaluating our lives and giving ourselves a quick kick in the emphasis that I don't think the process of rearranging the priorities of my life should be undertaken in the darkness of the shortest days of the year. This process needs to be brought into the time of the year when the tilting of the earth is once again providing warmth and sunshine. (I apologize to my wonderful friends of the Southern Hemisphere where all of these references of mine are completely the reversal of your experience.)

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that an important undertaking, like deciding on goals which will affect the quality of my future, is worthy of a day other than one that is closest to the shortest day of the year as they are currently calendared.

A lengthy day or two like the first few days of spring would provide me with the light necessary to make a quality list of resolutions as I witness the rest of nature renewing itself.
During this enhanced time of enlightenment:

I would have sufficient time to clarify the philosophies which I desire to have my life founded upon.

I would have sufficient time to weigh the consequences of each goal prior to making that particular goal permanent with pen rather than in its preliminary pencil form.

I would have sufficient time to better understand the impact my resolution might have on family and friends.

I would have sufficient time to set apart moments of downtime, pleasure, joy and re-creation which would give stimulus to the effort needed to complete demanding resolutions.

I would have sufficient time to evaluate the personal impact of successful completion of each resolution.

I would have sufficient time to evaluate the personal impact of failure in fulfilling each item on my list.

I would have sufficient time to seek and hear the counsel of wise and understanding loved ones before planting seeds which will need to be nurtured and cared for on their way to fruition.

I would have sufficient time to examine the experiences of those who have attempted the passages I am pondering passing through.

I would have sufficient time to diligently seek the confirmation from a loving Heavenly Father and receive His peaceful reassurance.

Woe – the genius of the calendar developers just came clearly into my mind. If I start on January 1st and frame my resolutions with sincerity, unhurriedly going through all the processes, considering and reconsidering the consequences of my resolutions, I should easily be ready to vigorously go forth with my well laid plans about the 20th of March and I will be totally in sync with all of God’s creations.

I only hope the remaining nine months will be sufficient time to renew all I will have so meticulously resolved to do.