Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bring Heaven to Earth

I have often heard people say "This situation in which I find myself is hopeless.  There is a relationship that has been damaged beyond repair.  Maybe in the next life it can be fixed." or  "Maybe in the next life I can overcome this personal weakness."  Stop it.  We are not to wait in idleness waiting for a savior to come and make everything better.  I have never believed that we can be miserable, unruly people here and suddenly become angels of light in the hereafter.  We work upward by degrees and we cannot expect things to be better for us then if we do not do our very best to improve our own spiritual matter now.

I know a man who was the vilest of sinners.  He harbored terrible addictions, abused his pregnant wife unmercifully which led nearly to her death, and profaned those things that were most innocent and precious.  He was violent and unspeakably cruel.  Through trial and misery he has broken the shackles of addiction, calmed his temper, learned to think of others before himself and humbly accept that he has done terrible things of which he ought to be ashamed.  The abused wife, though traumatized beyond being able to function in a romantic relationship with anyone, has acted as his therapist.  She has used the knowledge she has of his evil psyche in order to help rescue him from it.  This transformation did not happen after this life was over.  It happened here.

When we say "It can only happen in the next life" we are limiting ourselves and our own personal progression.  We are holding to pain, sorrow, and grudges because we do not want to swallow our pride or admit our way is imperfect.  We sometimes think we are powerful because of the pain to which we cling.  My friends, it doesn't matter if we are justified in holding to our grudges and anger or not.  Let it go.  Allow life to become heavenly.  Allow your own spirit to grow.  Allow your own better self to overcome the negativity within you and around you.  And someday, we will walk into heaven, not as a final destination that is unknown to us but as a familiar setting that we have always carried in our hearts.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Farewell, My Friends, For a Season

I have been intensely interested in Thoreau's Walden.  I have always believed in the merits of meditation, thoughtfulness, labor and the like.  Life's greatest truths exist in quiet and focused purpose.  Having two children and a job to maintain I probably ought not seclude myself in some distant region as Thoreau.  But it is a powerful experiment that I would like to attempt in my own life.  So am I moving?  No.  But until further notice I will walk away from "life" as we know it.

Our society is filled to overflowing with technology and the internet.  Newsweek recently published an article that discusses how internet addiction can lead to insanity.  I believe it.  So in an attempt to discover greater things I will walk away from most of my internet use.  My facebook account will be left active but I shall not log in.  The blog shall remain in existence but I shall post nothing further for some time.  Be it a week, a month, a year or more I intend to walk away from the stresses, demands and mind obliterating noise of the internet.  I shall still answer emails, as I must for work etc and feel free to reach me through that medium, though I may not answer for some time.  You can always catch me at etherealliving@yahoo.com.

In the meantime, I wish you good fortune and happiness.  I shall return to this blog full force, I imagine, after some indefinite period.  But while I am away, learn from the world around you and find happiness in all things before you. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What Makes Mormonism Different?

I hope that through this week you have come to realize one all consuming point.  Mormonism isn't all that different from accounts we read in the Bible.  How many world religions believe in prophets, miracles, temples, sacred rites, divine revelation, and even polygamy?  But Mormons generally carry the stamp of "weird" on their sleeves.  Part of that may be because we believe in modestly wearing sleeves, but that's another story.

The fact is, every Christian and Jew believes exactly the same kind of doctrine the Mormonism preaches.  We just aren't accustomed to it in our backyards.  We can accept Abraham because he lived thousands of years ago on the other side of the world.  We can accept the miracle of Jericho quite easily in part because so many have come before us to add their testimonies to its reality.  But when we come face to face with a prophet today, or in New York in the 1800s we stagger a little.  Believing such a thing would require we obey what the prophet says and let's face it, it is easier to drink a little with your friends on the weekends than live according to Mormon scripture and law.  If we consider that it is true then we are bound to change our behavior today rather procrastinate until later.  This is one of the main reasons that people, whether consciously or otherwise, resist it so profoundly.  It is a typical situation that when someone leaves the church they become spiteful and try to disprove and destroy it.  They become obsessed with it, because they want to convince themselves that there isn't breathing reality within its walls.   

It is a living religion meant for this day and this hour.  Several years ago the prophet at the time, President Gordon B. Hinkley, gave an address to the young single adults.  He said that no matter what happened in the future, we ought to be optimistic and never give up.  The date was September 9, 2001.  We all know what happened two days later.  The revelations, warnings, and blessings therein are meant for us right here, right now. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Inside a Mormon Temple

Many people naturally harbor a curisity of what transpires behind the guarded doors of a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  We have no secrets.  Let me give you the gist.  Firstly, a person does not enter a temple unless they prove themselves worthy by a checklist of moral standards.  These standards include not drinking, smoking, committing adultery, and the like.  In this society I fear that might be unfortunately considered an excessively high bar to reach. 

Once there, you are taught that God loves you and appreciates so much the sacrifices you made to be there.  You are encouraged to reach even higher, go even further heavenward, guard with greater fervor your language, thoughts, deeds and attempt to become as Christlike as possible.  You are promised happiness with your family in heaven if you endure to the end.  That's about it.  You may have heard about covenants, rites and rituals and that we don't discuss them outside the temple.  Yes, we hold them sacred. But they are in essence teaching tools.  They aid us in becoming more virtuous, Christlike and morally just.

One of the great beauties of the temple is that you check all your stress at the door.  Once inside you privately change into very modest white clothes to denote purity, and everyone being arrayed in white, there is no worry about what you are wearing, what someone else is wearing, and you cannot tell the difference between rich and poor.  You know you won't be approached by some drunken lunatic offering you a hotel room, and the setting is quiet and peaceful.  It is an excellent place to pray, meditate, regain inner peace, and love your God and all He has given you.

Mormon Undergarments

I am a very modest person and it has been interesting indeed to read news articles about Mormon nether clothing complete with headlines, arguments, debates and the like.  I have felt to say within myself "Is nothing sacred?  Do we really have to discuss underwear?"  But with politics being what they are, I suppose the answer is yes. 

Is it true that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints wear special underwear?  Those who have been to the temple do.  It is essentially a shirt with short sleeves and shorts that reach about to the knee.  Why?  There are many reasons and it really is a beautiful, spiritual thing.  Catholic priests wear sacred robes to illustrate their devotion to God.  Garments are the same thing, but we wear them under the clothes instead of outside.  It is a way of carrying our devotion to God with us at all times, in all things and in all places.  It separates us from worldliness and because we consider it sacred we wear clothes that are modest enough to cover it.  Therein is an interesting concept.  When people dress modestly they tend to behave modestly and with greater moral decency.  The garment tends to facilitate that because your outer clothes have to be modest in order to wear it.  No miniskirts, tank tops, or midriffs.  Nothing too low cut.  You choose clothes to cover the garment respectfully; you don't alter the garment to fit fashionable clothes.  It releases you from having to worry about keeping up with trends, really, and allows you to recognize that you are more than just a body, which in this society is a lesson we need to continually remember.  We won't learn it from the media.   A cousin of mine remarked "I could never take my garments off in order to commit adultery."  That is another benefit.  It keeps you straight arrow.  Instead of giving into mad momentary passion you have to make the conscious, painful choice to throw God to the side and follow a sinful path.  I couldn't do it either.

Now that the mystery is over, I am sure there is another question on your tongue - isn't that uncomfortable to wear?  No.  It took two days to get used to it and after that I wouldn't want to be without it.  And I am not without it.  Yes, you can take it off to shower, wear a one piece swimsuit (no bikinis allowed) and if you are married...you the get the point.  You can choose whether or not to wear it while working out or playing sports.  Most professional Mormon athletes don't wear it while playing because they consider it too sacred to get sweaty and dirty.  But other than that it is the first thing you put on, it is the closest thing to your skin, to your heart and helps you keep your priorities in line on a daily basis. 

Mormons and Polygamy

Here is a subject that often raises more than eyebrows.  I have rarely heard more anger, animosity, and accusation on any other religious topic.  Gratefully, there is a very simple answer to what tends to outrage honest, concerned people and also general naysayers.  We must first comprehend that no Christian or Jew ought to be among the ranks of people outraged with the polygamy of Mormonism.  If one can accept Jacob, David, and Solomon as men of God, then why not Brigham Young, who had fewer wives than David and Solomon and no concubines?  If one believes the Bible, one cannot have any logical issue with believing that God would institute it in another dispensation. 

That being said, let's discuss some history.  When Joseph Smith was preaching many of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were being murdered.  Mobs were burning members' homes, destroying their property, torturing their children and slaughtering their people in general.  Logically, what do you think happened?  When in a battle, a man will lose his life protecting women.  You may imagine that many men died in this manner.  So we were left with a great many women who by the laws of the time had no right to vote, hold land, et cetera and certainly were left in many ways unprotected if they were unmarried.  If you were a loving father watching his daughters left destitute, what would you do?  My point exactly.  The women were given as much normalcy and protection as they could possibly have.  Still don't believe me?  After the Saints fled to the Salt Lake Valley and established themselves, talks began between them and the United States government about Utah becoming a state.  The federal government said that they would allow Utah to be a state with normal rights to all things including religion if the Mormon people gave up polygamy.  Our answer?  If we are not going to be met with hostility, we do not need polygamy.  It was immediately revoked.  As we have heard of various groups practicing polygamy in recent years, I would like to make it clear that they are not of the Mormon faith.

Polygamy as used in this case was never meant to belittle women.  Women are revered in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  They are placed on a pedastal and described as angels.  The international leaders repeatedly remind women how special, precious and capable they are.  Women are part of a sisterhood of faith called the Relief Society which makes it its business to organize itself to aid people in need both within the confines of the church and without.   

Monday, July 23, 2012

Joseph Smith: Madman or Prophet?

I have never been one to try to demand that others believe in the same manner I do.  I believe we can all learn from each other.  I know that many have been wondering as to Mormonism of late, and I thought we might discuss rationally together the much debated topic of Joseph Smith.  This man claimed to see visions and talk to God.  What are the facts?  These are they as I see them.  Joseph had to be either a liar, madman, inspired by the devil or a prophet of God. 

When Joseph was seven he had to undergo a painful surgery.  He refused the alcohol offered him on moral conviction and endured the surgery fully conscious and without pain killers.  He underwent much persecution for his claim to see a vision from God which included his own physical torture, the death of his child, mass murder of his followers, repeated imprisionment, banishment, poisoning, betrayal and eventually death.  He might have stopped it all with the two words "I lied."  Whatever else, he obviously believed his own story.  He believed it with every fiber of his soul.  This was no liar.

Madman?  Well, let's discuss it.  I have studied him extensively and nowhere have I found the slightest symptom of potential madness save his religious conviction.  He founded a city, ran a business, led men on a daily basis, taught languages and religious texts, and maintained a calm demeanor.  No sign of mental diminishment has ever been laid to his charge except on the grounds of his religious beliefs.

Joseph was known for being profoundly kind.  He was kind to crying children in the street, he sacrificed his own personal assets to aid others in need, he taught from the Bible, he professed his love of Jesus, and immediately and continually forgave those countless who wronged him.  Is this the inspiration of the devil?  Judge for yourself.

Was Joseph Smith a prophet of God?  I will never tell you what to believe.  I do not wish to do so.  I respect you for the beliefs you have and whatever they may be, I always will.  But I know of myself independent of anyone else that he was a prophet.  I know that he translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God.  I know he opened a way for others to come nearer to heaven and revealed profound but simple truths that can take us to a higher level of happiness.  I know for a fact he was a great man.  I love him for who he was, what he did and all he suffered.  Decide for yourself, my friend.   I only hope this outlines with some clarity some of the more pertinent aspects of his life and to disabuse the public mind.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Conversion to Mormonism

Many of my readers know that I was born into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  But all people need to be inwardly convinced of the validity of an idea or religion if they are going to follow it passionately forever.  I am grateful to my brother for placing before me a stumbling block that ensured I seek truth independent of my upbringing.  My brother had a falling out with the church when he was 19 and began preaching anti Mormon propaganda.  He told me with no little venom that I only believed what I was taught because I was ignorant and overly submissive.  He didn't understand my nature.  I have always been a seeker of truth, not submission. 

Over the next two years I studied intensely anti Mormon literature.  Being very young I believed much of what I realize now were malicious lies.  I prayed often to whatever God might be listening, imploring this Deity to show me truth and I would sacrifice everything I had, even my family and home, to follow it.  My head clouded with lies against the church I concluded it must be false.  Then the thought came to me "Okay.  That is fine. But before you walk away, you must answer the question: Who wrote the Book of Mormon?"  It is a physical object and we cannot deny its existence.  At first I thought that the answer would prove simple.  But I could find no logical answer.  Joseph Smith was an untutored farm boy of only 23 years when the Book of Mormon was already in hand.  It is a book that all the great thinkers and teachers of the English language together could not have written.  It could not have been written by one person alone.  I struggled with this question and began mapping out what seemed the only logical explanation - that it was an extensive plot created by many people and with many authors ranging several generations...but then why would Joseph give his life to defend it?  Inspired by the devil perhaps?  Then why would it teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, requiring love and kindness toward our fellowmen?  At length I threw up my hands and declared that these ideas were absurd and the only really logical answer was the one Joseph Smith gave - that he translated an ancient record by the power of God. I felt calm and peaceful like God was watching me and had mercifully let me figure out the right answer on my own.  I am grateful He trusted me enough to allow me to pick this religion to bits and discover for myself the truth of it. 

And here I invite your comments, either here publicly or in private.  You may reach me at etherealliving@yahoo.com.  I realize there are many who do not believe as I do.  Read the Book of Mormon in its entirety with an open mind and then explain to me how it came into existence.  Convince me that it came of some other means than by the power of God and I will throw my scriptures into the fire.  Only let it be proven by logic and by plain reason, and not by anger and malice that so often follows after the church and seeks to destroy it for personal ambition or gain.  Anger finds its inspiration in arrogance and arrogance has no real place in cool headed logical argument.  I think you will not find another answer, but I look forward to hearing from you anyway.

Friday, July 20, 2012

It's Okay - Be A Different Kind of Mother

Let's examine this picture to the right, shall we?  Hmmmm...tattoos on face and hands, dyed hair, etc.  She doesn't seem like your typical, run of the mill milk and cookies mama, does she?  I'd like to introduce you to my sister, Coral Newberry and her new bundle of beautiful love, Violet.  I have long admired Coral's spirit and independent energy though our choices and behavior are often as different as black and white.  You generally wouldn't think of her as the motherly type if they saw her on the street.  You couldn't be more wrong.

Beautiful Coral is the excellent mother of five kids and has taken mothering to a kind of creative platform which I highly admire.  Walking through her house, you will not find perfectly dusted cookie cutter type organization with children behaving like perfect zombies of obedience.  You will find a home strewn with masterpieces of her own creation.  Canvases cover not only the walls but often the floor to say nothing of the massive murals in her children's rooms.  Ask for a glass of water and you will find your cup stained with acryllic paint, as she often uses them to wash her brushes.  You will find children who are valued as intelligent beings, familiar with Picasso, and allowed to make their own choices.  I might also add that she does crochet, cross stitch and taught me to make absolutely devilish chocolate chip cookies. 

Women in our society are often discouraged from becoming mothers.  We are often taught that being a mother means sacrificing who we are.  Untrue.  We take who we are and rejoice in our own divine natures.  We teach our children beauty, life, and all the amazing talents we have to offer.  God created you, His daughter, with powerful gifts.  Use the good you have and seek to destroy your demons that you may bring happiness to others and to yourself.  You don't have to fit a mold to be a mother.  I myself fell in love with learning at a very young age.  I didn't think myself patient enough to teach ABC to children.  But I not only taught that but how to read and instilled in my kids a love of studying.  I teach my children about historical figures I admire such as Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and William Wilberforce (look it up, people).  My house is not an art gallery; it is a university.   You can be a powerful mother.  Never fear your lack of ability - you have greater strength and potential than you think. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Informal Education

I have found myself both defeated and renewed in strength.  I have had no choice, I feel, but to forego my long held dream of attaining a Masters and PhD.  Barriers have set themselves in place in a manner I have no power to overcome.  So be it.  I sacrificed my GPA to defend moral decency against a professor who had none and from a dispute arising from my alma mater's dishonesty I feel I cannot pursue a formal degree in English without moving out of Tucson, which I feel would be irresponsible with regard to my young chidren who deserve stability and family nearby. 

When I was quite young I had dreams of being exceedingly intelligent.  I dreamed of being even a sage, attaining countless PhDs and teaching, surrounding myself with the blessed joy of learning and books.  It was my greatest dream, along with the desire of being a good person.  But God had a different manner of teaching me.  I have read enough to suffice for a Master's degree.  And indeed, the greatest learning and wisdom we can attain isn't found in the classroom.  Look out your window and you will find a grand and passionate laboratory of science and fact.  There exists truth in every leaf, every gust of wind and every blade of grass.  If you, like me, have not the opportunity to pursue a formal education, let these be your teachers.  Close your eyes and let the spirituality that exists in all things rise up to met you.  From the tiniest electron to the great star VV Cephei, truth exists.  Professors and doctors have not the monopoly on wisdom; indeed, I have met many who carried precious little of that commodity.

Truth exists all around us.  We embody more of it than we generally believe.  All things from the smallest to the greatest ultimately must bend the knee to the almighty Master and greatest Teacher.  Let us learn from Him, then, and continue an informal but truly marvelous education.  After all, universities come and go, empires rise and fall, but wisdom exists forever. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Penn State Knew

I realize that this is a heated debate and mine is only one voice in the great wave of tumultuous internet screams, but allow me to relate a story from my history that has colored my vision regarding this notorious matter. 

I attended the University of Arizona as an undergraduate and developed a great love for my professors there.  I sought to give them the benefit of the doubt in all matters and often held my tongue when I might have unleashed a tirade of logical evidence that might have floored them in front of their other students.  There was one in particular who from the beginning I wanted to like.  I desperately wanted to like this person and he also seemed to have a kind of respect for me.  I still want to respect him.  His class began fairly decently and little by little submerged itself into a foul, immoral, indecent den of deranged sexual exploitation of English literature.  By midterms I could barely contain my disgust.  Still I heaved a deep breath and plunged onward.  Long story short I received a D in that class because I refused to write the final paper which had to do with advocating child prostitution.  I argued with him privately regarding my right to exercise my religious beliefs and indicated that this proved contrary to everything I held dear.  As the paper was worth 60% of my grade he might have failed me.  I think he graded me as he did to get me out of his hair.    He was reprimanded by the U of A and he now teaches at Penn State.

Didn't they screen him first?  Didn't they glance at his published poetry which praises respect for human sexuality?  Methinks they knew and welcomed him with open arms because they recognized one of their own. 

I don't hate my former professor.  There was something in him that was extremely human and that humanity induced my compassion for him as a poor lost soul.   But while I can love him as a person I cannot be blind to the facts as they stand.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Validate Yourself

Take a deep breath with me.  Does it really matter what people think of you?  At the end of the day you have to ultimately live with yourself.  Make your mind and soul a soothing place to be.  Take a moment to enjoy your own breath, your own thoughts, your own peace and your own divine fire.  We all have inner strength.  I believe in your worth and power.  I know you are a strong and beautiful person.  You have unlimited potential.  Clear your mind and seek the good in yourself and in others.


You are a Product of Incest

Knowledge is power, my friends.  I am often surprised at how little people know of their genealogical roots and about certain other matters regarding them.  Let me make a statement of fact.  Even if we were to pitch the idea of Adam, Eve, Noah, and the flood out the door, there is no human being today that is not in some manner the byproduct of family marriage.  And surprisingly, that isn't a matter upon which one should become inflamed or disgusted.  Read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Martin Chuzzlewit by Dickens, or The Minister's Wooing by Harriet Beecher Stowe and you will find that even in the 1800s people so frequently married their relations that no one batted an eye.  Have you ever watched Gone with the Wind?  Ashley marries his cousin Melanie.  No one thinks it out of place.  Indeed it is said "The Wilkes's are always marrying their cousins." 

Well perhaps you have studied your pedigree back a hundred years or more and found nothing.  Not far enough.  Consider the Middle Ages.  For hundreds of years people lived in the same town marrying people in that town, scraping out meagre lives.  How many thousands of familial marriages took place?  In the last one hundred years this practice has fallen from vogue but many societies have even forbidden the marriage outside of a family for financial, political or religious reasons.  We cannot consider it religiously immoral - the prophet Jacob in the Bible who married two of his first cousins is only one example among many.

So why are we such prudish germaphobes?  I don't know.  Perhaps we think that mental retardation follows such a match?  I have familial marriages in my own line of extremely recent date.  Does insanity run in that branch of the family?  No.  But geniuses do.  I bring this up because believe it or not it has long been a topic that people around me have discussed and I have therefore had to deal with the question hundreds of times.  The only answer I can find to our general distaste for the practice is that society teaches us that it is weird or wrong.  But society has been mistaken before.  I personally reserve my horror for things that more powerfully merit it.

Discover the Whole Truth

Some months ago I expressed some interest and appreciation in a certain celebrity from an older era of television.  A friend, undoubtedly concerned for my innocence, warned me that this celebrity had been involved with horrific amounts of pornography and that I ought to exercise caution in my regard for him. 

Well, I appreciated that warning and upon some research discovered a profound history that I hadn't previously dreamed.  The celebrity had, indeed, found himself out of luck upon being severely typecasted after his most famous role.  As he could find no other work he turned to pornographic films and there are some who seem bent on publishing to the world his mistake in this regard.  His life seemed to take a downward plunge and he seemed confused about some issues.  He remained a kind, friendly, warm person and those around him bespoke his wonderful behavior toward them.  But he was human and things didn't seem to work to his favor.  He decided to try to iron out his life and create some stability.   One night he told the photographer who was involved with his pornographic work that it was over and he was not going to associate with him anymore.  The next morning found this celebrity murdered in his bed, his head smashed in with a camera tripod.  DNA tests of the time couldn't prove conclusively that the blood found in the photographer's car was an exact match and the alleged killer walked free. 

I have a hard time watching his movies now for the sorrow that befell this man and his brutal untimely end.  I think sometimes we hate evil more than we love good and we forget that no matter how vile a sinner a person may be, it is likely that he or she also has good points and personal griefs.  Certainly many who publish websites about this man seem wholly interested in blackening his name and their propaganda seems to work, as it surely reached the trusting ears of my friend. Do we take human weakness and trial into account when we judge people?  Do we give them the benefit of the doubt?  Do we cling to the negative in others, forgetting that good also exists?   Don't we all make mistakes?  Aren't we all human?  And what kind of merciful judgement would we wish extended to us?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Love Your Enemies

I had a very insightful English professor during my college experience who studied and taught very passionately literature pertaining to holy writ.  In discussing the Sermon on the Mount he voiced a truth that entered my mind with great power and force and which I have never forgotten.  In reference to loving one's enemies he expressed the point that a Christian should in his or her own heart have no enemies.  This disarmed and altered much of my thinking in that respect and I have from that day to this strived to create an atmosphere within myself that no matter what people do to me, I would view no person as my enemy. 

In striving thus I found that the gospel of meekness took new meaning and life.  If we love all people, we must want always what is in their best interest regardless of their behavior.  If someone strikes us, we have to consider ourselves high enough and near enough to God to realize that they are the one with the problem; the behavior illustrated their weakness and not our worthlessness.  When we recognize this we realize that we are the stronger one and we can then have compassion on the person who has offended us.  If a person insults me it does not diminish my personal worth unless I allow it to do so.   I can make the choice to say within myself "This is a person who is very miserable and that misery has caused him to stain himself with foul language and thoughts.  How much I would like to raise this person to a higher level that he may be happier!"

I have had the opportunity of late to watch over and pray for two people who have in the past been emotionally cruel, physically abusive and psychologically vile to me.  Never have they apologized, sought my forgiveness, or counteracted their damaging behavior.  If ever I had reason to describe a person as my enemy in every respect it would be these two.  But I have come to realize that their own mental attitudes have led them down to a living nightmare and in many ways their lives have wasted away.  I cannot help but exercise compassion on such men.  I invite you to open your hearts and join me in praying for these two anonymous, miserable people and perhaps for one or two of your own.

Let Them Eat Cake!

As some of my readers know I have struck a deal with my children that when they reach the seasoned old age of ten they will be able to paint their bedroom ceilings like Michelangelo painted the Sistene.  They have to design and construct their own scaffolding but they get to paint whatever they please.  I do not have the patience of a saint and part of me is rather cringing at the prospect of what might arise but nevertheless I have always believed that it  is not a parent's job to prove controling.  I frequently push myself to the limit, take a breath and then keep going in order to give my children as much freedom as I possibly can. 

I believe I have seen many families in which the parents have proven overly controlling about what the children wear, do, think, believe and the like.  I realize that such parents often do so out of love, but I have always wondered what these children might have done later in life had they had freedom to pursue their own course a bit more.  Where would Leonardo da Vinci have been if he submitted to the authority around him?  And how much worse off would the world be without his genius?

One thing we might do well to comprehend is that each person has his or her own divine fire and intellectual capabilities.  Mormonism allows baptism at the age of eight so that it will be the person's own choice and not coerced.  My daughter has informed me she refuses to be baptized.  She is afraid of the water.  Deep breath, Michelle.  Calm countenance.  It is after all, her own choice.  I will never cross her on that for I also want it to be done of her own volition.  In the interim I will let her refuse all she wants and continue to love and teach her.  Perhaps she will change her mind.  But even if she doesn't, she is not the less in my eyes.  She is just her own independent person.  Mormonism also usually suggests that young men serve missions at the age of 19.  My son has decided he doesn't want to do so.  That is his choice.  I will love him and set an example of love for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  If he catches that same conviction nothing in this world will stop him from serving a mission of his own volition.  My daughter has told me she isn't going to college.  Nevertheless, I am lovingly instilling a passion for learning in her.  Sometimes we need to remember that first and foremost people are individuals and not our creations to manipulate.

Just Be Yourself

I always advocate people being themselves in all aspects of life but I particularly see the merit of so being in terms of romance, which is precisely where we tend to see people behaving like their honest selves the least.  Often we stress so terribly about saying the right thing to the objects of our affections, wearing the right clothes, listening to so called "cool" music and the like in order to finally attain a true love that fulfills ourselves to the center. 

Am I the only one who sees something amiss in this idea?  If we are selling an image, what should we expect to gain in return except a shallow relationship that panders to that image but not the man or woman beneath?  We cannot expect a true romance if we are offering only the surface to those around us.

And in the later course of a relationship I find the injunction to be true to oneself even more important perhaps than in the earliest stages.  If we have to live a course that is wholly untrue to ourselves in order to maintain a relationship there is something unbalanced in that relationship and our beloved is not in love with us but in a false understanding of what we are doing and why. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

In 1776 these rights were self evident.  Today I sometimes wonder. 

First and foremost is the right to life.  All human souls should have the right to it, including the unborn children of this country's women.  Where is our patriotism if this, most precious and foundational of all rights, finds itself revoked when pertaining to the most innocent, unspotted and helpless citizens of our country? 

Give me liberty or give me death.  Give me the liberty to believe in and promote the basic solidifying elements that created this nation such as God, providence, miracles and hard work without being treated as an outcast of political and intellectual society.  Indeed, this right ought to ever be self evident.

I love to look through the eyes of Jefferson in regard to the pursuit of happiness.  What did he do to promote his happiness?  He created things. He studied. He planned and built Monticello.  Let's consider Benjamin Franklin.  He attempted self mastery and gained gratification in attaining ever higher wisdom.  How cheap it seems to think that our society equates pursuing happiness with seeking immediate gratification, financial handouts, and victimizing itself.  Never in the history of mankind has this led to happiness.  Happiness is in creating lasting and meaningful beauty in ourselves and the world around us.  Let us always remember our right and duty to pursue honest happiness. 

But the present and future can be what we make it.  Let us remember the constituents of our nation's founding document and redefine this year and always those rights that are endowed by a kindly and merciful Creator.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Late Term/Partial Birth Adoptions

There has existed for decades much contention and heightened hostilities between those that argue pro choice and pro life.  I recognize that we are all different, come from different backgrounds, and the like.  I am not trying to get on a soap box today and condemn those that defend the doctrine of pro choice.  But I do have a suggestion regarding one of the most heated issues pertaining to the realm of abortion.

Late term and partial birth abortions are, as viewed by pro life defenders, the most grotesque, heartless and vile aspects of the whole abortion argument.  It seems logical enough to me to think that those babies that are aborted at this stage have already a well running chance at survival if they receive proper care.  Thus the woman is no longer protecting her own body alone and defending her own rights alone.  Not many would argue that this unborn child is not indeed, at this point, a child already.

So here is the suggestion.  If a woman waits long enough to have a late term or partial birth abortion, she should be required to hold that child in her womb until the seventh month and then induce a birth, and the state will take the infant as an orphan.  The child will then be placed in the hands of social services who will find a permanent home for said child.  The mother does not have to care for the child or carry it the full term but would be responsible for carrying the baby until the seventh month under penalty of child abuse if she attempts to abort or injure the child from the time she would have chosen the late term abortion and the seventh month.  Make the woman responsible for the child as a child since it could at that time have a chance of survival.  Perhaps this isn't a complete answer but I feel it is a more humane and lenient compromise than our country presently entertains.  What say you?