By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Thinking about conversion to the gospel and all that it entails gives me an interesting perspective on politics. So much of politics and government seems to involve efforts to force the people to behave in certain ways, to redistribute wealth, to control the economy, to control healthcare, and many other things. Although the ostensible purpose is to create a good life for the people, it really amounts to an effort to grab power and control for the elite few, who think they know better than everyone else what is needed. And wasn't that Satan's plan--to force people to be perfect and to gain power for himself?

Although most people are not likely to be evil at heart, forcing others to behave in certain ways does nothing to create a perfect society. A review of history shows how wrong these plans go. Look at the histories of Russia, China, and Cuba for three examples.

So what does this have to do with conversion? Conversion to the gospel changes people from the inside out, rather than from the outside in as communism, socialism, and Marxism attempt to do. Look at these scriptures from 4 Nephi 1

2 And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another....
15 And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
16 And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.
Does that not describe a truly good society that yet is free? There was no coercion, no resentment, no confiscation of one's goods to give to another. All was shared freely and willingly in love for God and for their fellowmen. That is the ideal and it cannot be forced.

Naturally enough, conversion to the gospel also cannot be forced upon people. It can, however, be spread by teaching and example, by love and patience. And is not this the best way, the only way, to develop a society of equality and justice and kindness and generosity?

As each one of us, individually and from the heart, becomes converted unto the Lord, Zion grows a bit stronger. As our example spreads to those around us, Zion grows a bit stronger still. We must live in a free society in order for this to take place. As He always does, God knows what He is doing. The plans of men, the philosophies of men, cannot replace the plan of God, our Heavenly Father, for all His children.

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What Would You Like to See in Mormon Literature?

Being very interested in both reading and writing, and being a Mormon, I am curious to know what you would like to see in Mormon literature. A Motley Vision has some interesting posts on various aspects of Mormon literature, but I just want to find out what types of writing you would like to see Mormons producing.

What sort of fiction would interest you? How about poetry? Essays? What sorts of subjects would you like to read and what sorts of treatments would you like those subjects to be given? Can you give any examples of books, LDS or not, that you would like to see written from a Mormon perspective?

For example, do you think a novel of manners, such as Jane Austen wrote, would make interesting Mormon literature? Or would you like to read sonnets with Mormon themes? What kind of themes? For non-fiction, would you want to read essays of the type that Joan Didion writes, but focused on LDS life? How about doctrinal books or history or biography?

Those are just examples that came to mind, but that will give you an idea of what I'm looking for. I am particularly interested in literature, but if you have some thoughts on art (painting, sculpture, etc.) or music, put those in the comments, too.

I'm not thinking that Mormons should slavishly copy what others have done, but I think it would be interesting to know what general types of literature or other art you would like to see and what you think would be interesting or important or both.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

More Reflections

I learned on Thursday that I have officially passed my second CPCU test! Celebrations all around! I only have 5 more tests to take. :o

I am enjoying my genealogy work. I still have a lot to do, but I am learning more all the time. It is not only interesting in a historical sense, but every little bit I learn about an ancestor makes them come alive for me. I feel I am gradually getting to know them--they who made my life possible.

I still fight the feeling of being overwhelmed by all I need to do. I am working at taking things a step at a time and planning out what I need to do. I am also setting priorities so that my time goes to those things that are most important. It is still hard for me, but they say that practice makes perfect!

It is hot and humid here which drains my energy. Storms pop up every now and then and I worry about the wheat harvest. The farmers need dry weather for a little while to get their crops out of the field. I hope they are almost done--early June is ideal harvest time for Oklahoma.

I have been reading more nonfiction these days. I still love a good novel, story, or poem, but essays are fascinating as well. I enjoy reading about nature and politics as well as observations on life and culture.

What are you reading these days?


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Random Thoughts

I took my second CPCU test yesterday morning. That's an insurance thing. CPCU stands for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter and is a professional designation. It's a worthwhile pursuit, though not an easy one. I don't know how I did--won't find out if I passed or failed for one to two weeks. If I don't pass, I will take it again.

In other news, I've apparently strained my right arm in some way. It hurts and I have to take Tylenol every 4 hours to live with it. I'm hoping that a bit of rest over the weekend will help. I don't think it's carpal tunnel--I certainly hope not!

It's also hot and humid in Oklahoma with storms popping up every now and then. We can use the rain, but not the storm part. And, of course, being Oklahoma, it's very windy some days. I suppose that keeps the heat from feeling so oppressive.

I ponder gospel topics, but haven't settled on one to write about on my blog. I have plenty of gospel interests, but narrowing down a topic to write about can be difficult. I need to practice writing skills more and write off the top of my head less!

I have entered what I know of my family into PAF on the "family tree" part, but still need to do the family group sheets. It is interesting to see where and when my ancestors lived. I think about what I know of history and what life might have been like for them. I regret that I haven't spent more time on genealogy, but at least I am working on it now.

I still study politics and think about how the gospel informs human society, or should inform human society. I believe there is a lot of guidance for us in the scriptures that can help us move toward living as God would have us live, Zion being our ultimate goal.


Monday, June 02, 2008

The FLDS Situation

While I do not believe all of the same things the FLDS do, their Constitutional rights have been trampled into the dust by the state of Texas. If this isn't nipped in the bud, it could happen to any of us--LDS, Catholic, poor, a certain neighborhood, or whoever the government might decide to go after--for any reason. The whole situation has been mishandled from the beginning. We need to be wary when the government, whether it is state or federal, starts overstepping its bounds.

Certainly, there was no need to take the younger children. And why not leave the children in their homes with their parents while investigations are made, if there is information received that warrants an investigation? These are not children in immediate physical danger. In fact, I would guess that the FLDS parents are better parents that many outside of their religion. There is a lot to consider, but there has been a lot of false information put out, and many are confused.

I am going to post some links if you would like to learn more about the situation, and I think it is an important situation. First up, here is a link to Guy Murray's Messenger and Advocate FLDS Texas Raid page. He is an attorney who has posted extensively on this subject and he covers it well. His posts contain a number of links to even more information and viewpoints.

Next up is a post from Naiah at Naiahdot called "The Maggie Jessop fan club". Her post contains links to three FLDS sites as well as links to a couple of specific essays by Maggie Jessop.

Finally, here are the three FLDS sites so that you can find out more about them. Of special interest are the essays on Truth Will Prevail. The other two sites are FLDS Truth and Captive FLDS Children. Whatever your feelings about their beliefs, these are people who are American citizens and who deserve to have their Constitutional rights upheld.

Wouldn't we want someone to stand up for us?

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Some Thoughts About Living the Gospel

I have been thinking about what it means to live the gospel. I don't have any hard and fast rules for such a thing, but I will share some of my thoughts.

Obviously, one has to know the gospel in order to live it. That does not mean knowing every detail and nuance, but it does mean knowing generally what the commandments are and what the covenants are. It means daily scripture study in order to understand how God deals with His children and to understand what is right and what is wrong. It means daily prayer--thanking God for His blessings and taking your problems and concerns to Him. As you do this, as you talk to Him and listen to Him, you will find that you understand more and more about what His gospel means and what He would have you do. You will also learn, as Sheri Dew has said several times, how He talks to you. You will learn what to listen for, what to look for, so that you feel more comfortable about when you've received an answer, or if it is just your own feelings rising up.

Those are basic things, along with meeting attendance and, if possible, temple attendance, that can give you what you need to live the gospel--knowledge, inspiration, encouragement. Add to that paying attention to our Prophet and other leaders and praying to understand what they've said and what you need to do. It takes patience and practice to do all of the above, but as you do them, you learn more and more and understand more and more, giving you confidence to feel in tune with the Lord as you live the gospel.

There is a lot more I could say about the basic things--developing humility, being obedient, having faith and hope and charity, and so forth. We all understand that there are a lot of areas we should develop concurrently and that it takes time to do so.

Among subjects I have been thinking about lately are things like applying compassion and charity in my political views and what I believe our government should be doing. I wonder if I am being too uncharitable when, for example, I believe that illegal immigration has got to stop. I can understand those who think we should let anyone and everyone in and help them, but I believe that is foolish in the extreme in this day and age of terrorism. It is also economically unfeasible. So do we let all in, even at the eventual cost of our country? Then where would people go?

We know that God wants us to be good stewards of the earth, but I do not believe that means putting animals and plants above humans. I do not believe that means we cannot use the earth's resources. God put them here for us to use. We are getting ourselves into an untenable position with regard to energy because we have overemphasized environmental concerns based on uncertain science.

I believe that God wants us to be charitable to people and to help those in need. I do not believe that such charity consists of hand-outs, except in emergencies or in the case of those who are elderly or disabled and will not ever be able to support themselves. What I believe is charitable is to temporarily help people with money or food, but to spend time and effort in finding out what they really need and help them overcome the problems that keep them from being self-sufficient. That can be education or training, sorting out legal problems, or simply learning how to manage their lives better. Those things aren't always easy, but they result in a person who can go on successfully with his life and, in turn, be charitable to others.

These are some of the issues I think about. What is it that God would have us do? Is it different in one situation than in another?

And so I meditate on these things and pray about them and look for things in the scriptures that apply to them. I try to exercise patience with myself because I realize that living the gospel is something that we learn to do better over time. We aren't perfect at it immediately upon deciding to live the gospel. I try not to think I have to be perfect before I can say or do anything. I try to be as merciful and longsuffering to myself as I believe God is toward me.

It just isn't always easy.


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