Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
With events like the world cup, American principles are once again challenged and tested in our dedication to quality. The last world cup game for the United States showed a quality of the American spirit that is admirable and repeatable; to keep on fighting to the end regardless of how many times we may fail. Does quality still matter? The success of Wal-Mart and e-bay would lead a person to conclude that price, not quality, is more important to the majority of consumers.
Fast food is a constant diet where the dedication to a well constructed quality meal is suffocated by other time consuming priorities. So I wonder, has the pride of quality phrase “Made in the USA” faded because our nation has faded from a dedication to quality? Or does the USA still stand as a sign of quality?
Monday, June 21, 2010
For the highlights click here.
While I am not sure of any connection that can be made between communism and sports ability as China seems to have skills in gymnastics and other olympic type events, it would seem that amongst N. Korea's diplomatic issues of late, their soccer team is taking a pounding as well. Could you blame it on the fact that asia pacific nations are not as proficient in the sport as those in Europe. Sure. But, South Korea beat Greece (a european nation). So I am not sure that geography as much as skill and the love of competition are the winning factors.
As a world cup watcher, a fan of major league soccer, and the sport in general, I find it quite nice to see the counties come together again in the spirit of competition. It is nice to see men disciplined in their sport, with the ability to show they are dedicated to a physical art form without having to do so by violence and pounding on one another.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
For me, I hope to be known for my accomplishments, for how I served my family, my church service, and my contributions to society. I do not wish to be known for who or what I had sex with. In society there are quite a few labels that ARE placed on people based on sex. Pedophiles and rapists, are publicly recognized by their sex choices. Do gays want to be separated or segmented in society in similar fashion?
Saturday, June 12, 2010
In episode 11 of their podcast is mentioned something called the Demark Experiment. This was a study that was conducted and reviewed over the years to determine any correlation that might exist between pornography use and sex crimes. At first, the study concluded that free access to pornography and live sex shows decreased the amount of sex crimes. But it was only years later when the results were studied that the police reporting was wrong. In fact, the study showed that there was in increase in sex crimes where lower standards or regulations existed. These findings were replicated in all other parts of the world in which a similar study was conducted. In some parts in Australia there was a 6 fold increase in sex crimes where liberal policies were in place.
Some european countries have considered a ban on violent sex pornography, and other restrictions on live sex shows as a result of these findings. Even the United States has come to similar results with their own research. But, as of yet, no major changes have been made. But what is the role of the government, any government, with an issue like pornography? One could argue that pornography use is a personal or private matter and therefore does not involve the government, but the evidence seems to prove the contrary. The evidence also seems to support the idea that positive results can come from more restrictions on this issue. Positive, meaning fewer sex crimes.
As with many actions in society, this will probably not fix the issue completely. Crime will still happen, people will still rape, and pedophilia will continue. How does one sit in the face of proven results and not act?
Click here for additional article offering further research on this issue.
Friday, June 11, 2010
I've been doing some soul searching...... rocket and mortar attacks tend to do that to a person. A co-worker here handed me a dvd copy based on the book by Timothy Keller, "The Prodigal God - Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith." I recommend this to anyone interested in better understanding their relationship with God and Jesus Christ. As Latter Day Saints I think we have a tendency to dismiss insight from other faithful Christians - and I mean this as lay members, because I don't know of anyone quoted by leaders in the LDS church more than the writers of the Book of Mormon than C.S. Lewis. The Prodigal God was very insightful and I was touched by the spirit as some of the truths of the parable of the Prodigal son were expounded upon by Timothy Keller. It's pretty obvious that the younger son in the parable gave his life to "riotous living" and was therefore separated from his father - "God", but what was insightful was how the elder brother in the parable was also separated from God in that he was more concerned about his inheritence being squandered on his lost and found brother, than he was about his brother's welfare. How many of us as Christians behave as the elder brother?
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Quote 1) "Some of the responsible personal conduct that is necessary to save America is the kind of conduct that is enforceable by law and legal process, but much of it can only be encouraged. In the end, many of our most important personal, family, civic, and church responsibilities are entirely voluntary. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell said in his address at this Freedom Festival last year, "Our whole society really rests on the capacity of its citizens to give 'obedience to the unenforceable.'"
At a time when most of our public discourse concerns rights, it may seem strange to speak of responsibilities. But a democratic republic needs patriotic citizens who are fulfilling their responsibilities as well as claiming their rights. No society is so secure that it can withstand continued demands for increases in citizen rights without producing corresponding increases in the fulfillment of citizen responsibilities. Responsibilities like honesty, respect for personal and property rights, self-reliance, and willingness to sacrifice for the common good are basic to the governance and preservation of our nation."
Quote 2) "Church members who seek to use LDS doctrine as a basis for concluding that government infringements on inalienable rights have excused them from obeying the law seem to have forgotten the principle of following the prophets. Until the prophets invoke this principle, faithful members will also refrain from doing so. We remain committed to uphold our governments and to obey their laws."
In both quote runs the idea that we as citizens do have our rights, but we all have our responsibilities that accompany this. From the far right we see those complaining about the government infringing on their rights. With the left we see the promotion of a system that seeks to take away citizen responsibility and place more and more aspects of individual responsibility on the government. As in most things, we should consider where out loyalties lie. To country, or self? Are we more concerned about our rights, or our responsibilities?
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Even if you do not watch the show, I implore you to PLEASE watch this show on Friday and tell everyone you know to do the same. This is SO important!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
From my recent observations on the news, and my past experience living in the south, I observed a common situation with those whom are considered "poor" or lower/working class. A considerable percentage are seriously overweight. Not just the parents, but the kids too. We hear about taking care of the poor and the needy and that is a good thing. But there is rarely ever spoken of the idea that if these people are poor, then there should also be a measure of them taking care of themselves. How poor are they really when they are eating so much food that they are overweight? I know this idea sounds cruel and that is not my intention. But I do have an issue with a person having their house going into foreclosure and being obesely overweight. I have a problem with the children of low income parents spending more time eating than they are being educated. Perhaps there is a need to bring priorities back into alignment.
This title/topic also has another layer in reference to something less physical and more in a political/economical sense as well. The United States was once considered a great nation. Today I see a country where the government is getting fatter, yet we are spending more money than we are bringing in - we are a poor country governmentally speaking. Yet we are getting fatter. How can we as a people justify being fat and poor? Should we not seek to become a healthier nation? What is our priority as a country? Is it debt service, or is it is essential public services?
Monday, June 7, 2010
rivalries and/or new forms of authoritarianism."
But perhaps this bad economy is a good thing. How? Because people are happy to have a job, even if it is one that is short of their dream job. People are grateful to have a home, a car, and to have food on the table. In one way, this economy has helped some to see just how blessed they are with the things they have. While I am not suggesting that we accept mediocrity or not strive for something better in life. Settling is not a healthy practice in marriage, in employment, or in spirituality. Rather I am suggesting, in the pursuit of greatness, in this great crescendo that is a good life, we would do well to remember the good that we have been given/earned.
For me, I was always wondering why all my hard work had not left me with my house paid off, new cars, and all the little toys I wanted in life. Now I realize that doing work to its highest and best end is reward enough. Simply having and being able to work is its own reward.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Understanding that much of what people intend this phrase to imply, namely that a couple is willing to stay together through good times and bad, is a good idea in theory. In another sense, the two commit to staying together regardless the circumstances they find themselves in. But is that true? Is that wise? How much "worse" and what kind of "worse" are not detailed, but in my opinion, is very relevant to the marriage contract.
Of course, one would assume that couples would like to stay together through the good times, the "better". Experience has shown that the "worse" is unavoidable and therefore there is a need to make sure that one another is committed to not only sticking around through these tough times, but is also committed to minimizing these moments of "worse". Current divorce rates show that this promise seems to hold little water to people today as divorce rates have risen above 50%. Either people don't know how to be married, or they are unwilling to maintain this promise made at the marriage alter.
In order for people to get married today they must go and get a marriage license, a marriage permit of sorts where they pay their fee and then the government says "Okay, get married." Due to the social and public implications that marriage and family has on society today, would it be in line to make it so that, like obtaining a gun handlers permit, or a food handlers permit, or a license to practice medicine or real estate, that a certain amount of education should be required to obtain a marriage license? Would this help to explain the vows, the commitments, the legal ramifications of becoming married? Would this reduce the Las Vegas wedding "mistakes" and give greater emphasis on the importance of the marriage commitment thus improving the overall status of marriage in society today?
Perhaps the more understanding and education given to marriage the less likely marriage will be entered into under false ideals thus increasing the value of marriage in the minds and hearts of the people. In this way, this might reduce the number of individuals who seem to lack a necessary understanding of what it means to be together for better or worse.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Only by pride cometh contention” (Proverbs 13:10).
Research is clear. We humans are not objective. We gather data very selectively. We ignore or discard truths we don’t like. We see bias in others without seeing our own. We judge those we disagree with to be illogical. When we disagree substantially, we attack their integrity and character. We excuse ourselves and our friends for our weaknesses while emphasizing and exaggerating the (similar) weaknesses of our enemies.
Each of these failings is a well-attested tendency in human nature. They are a part of the human condition. They might be considered pride because, at their root, they lead each of us to believe that we have a privileged and superior view of truth. These tendencies cause us to diminish others’ views while trumpeting our own. Perhaps we suffer the highest form of pride when we imagine we are immune to these trappings of our fallenness.
The Natural Man is an Enemy to Other Men
Our narrow-mindedness and judging do not paint a pretty picture of humans. It is clear that, in the long history of this burdened orb, it is rare for groups of people to coexist peacefully. Resentment, bias, and misunderstanding are the norm. We humans are afflicted with terminal hardening of the categories--we draw lines that exclude people who are not like us dispositionally, religiously, politically, racially, philosophically, etc. while we show compassion to those we like and who agree with us.
The Book of Mormon provides a magnificent case study of this painful truth. When righteous Captain Moroni did not get the supplies and reinforcements that he needed, he jumped to malicious conclusions. He filled his innocent ignorance with vile supposition. He accused Pahoran of sitting on his throne in a thoughtless stupor (v. 7), and repeatedly suggested that he was negligent and wicked. He even hypothesizes that Pahoran might be a traitor. He accused him of idleness and iniquity and threatened to smite him (v. 30).
Wow! If this is the way the righteous deal with differences and difficulties, what hope is there for those of us who are less righteous?
As we know from our vantage point, at the time of Moroni’s tirade, Pahoran was back home dealing with an impossible insurrection in the best way he knew how. He was displaced and overwhelmed. His remarkable response broke the usual human cycle of recrimination. “And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart” (Alma 61:9). It is not easy to rejoice in the greatness of the heart of one who is attacking us. But Pahoran was not a common man.
Is this frank story included in the great Book of Mormon record in order to invite us of the latter days to be wiser than Captain Moroni? Did the Book of Mormon editor know that division and contention would be particular challenges in the last days? I don’t know. Yet I’m confident that God wants us to learn from the story.
Bringing Peace to Our Dialogues
King Benjamin’s warning applies to today’s world: “beware lest there shall arise contentions among you, and ye list to obey the evil spirit” (Mosiah 2:32). What Jesus said about doctrinal disputations must surely apply more broadly:
"For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away." (3 Nephi 11:29-30)
Imagine a world where contention was indeed done away! What an extraordinary thought! And what an extraordinary time it was when the influence of Jesus filled the people and changed their natures for most of two centuries: “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” (4 Nephi 1:15).
I worry about the contention that seems to define our time. Not only do we grouch in traffic but we scowl in our families. And our professional discourse seems to be reaching new levels of coarseness. The media are filled with hatemongering. E-mails flood our inboxes with accusation and harsh judgments of our political opponents.
Is this the way God would have us get to Truth? Is this how a Christian nation is supposed to settle its differences?
It seems that President Benson’s invitation is timely: “Think of what pride has cost us in the past and what it is now costing us in our own lives, our families, and the Church. . . . We can choose to humble ourselves by conquering enmity toward our brothers and sisters, esteeming them as ourselves, and lifting them as high or higher than we are” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Beware of Pride,” Ensign, May 1989, 4).
Jesus Himself set the lofty standard: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). When we are true disciples, we respond to attacks with love, blessings, and service. I’m afraid that true disciples are rare.
Examples of Modern Contention
In our families we often interpret misunderstandings as insults and harbor grudges—or we forgive and love. We choose between opposites. In our wards and workplaces we commonly chafe at the presumption and inconsideration of others—or we choose to be grateful for the good. In the political arena, we choose to vilify our enemies—and even impugn their motives—or we learn to listen more appreciatively to the views of others.
Let’s consider an example. Many people have been concerned about the new federal legislation related to healthcare. I admit that I have serious concerns about both the legislation and the process that got us the legislation. But, that aside, there is a true principle connected to the new law. That principle is the oft-repeated heavenly mandate to care for the poor.
God is clear: Our spiritual well-being depends upon our care for those who are hungry, sick, and poorly housed (see, for example, Mosiah 4:26). So if we have concerns about this legislation we can choose to focus solely on our disagreements or we can remember that in spite of those disagreements, we share an end-goal in common—to provide care for those in need—and be willing to build on that shared interest.
True principles should be honored in any solution. Yet one of the chronic human problems is that we narrow our vision before we begin our discussions. We cannot get to good solutions when we start a discussion with our positions already staked out and a defend-ourselves-at-all-costs attitude.
One of my favorite sayings is that it is a pretty thin pancake that does not have two sides. Thin indeed. The human danger is that we may identify those who disagree with us as enemies rather than identifying contention and judgment as the enemies. When we’re sure we’re right, we’re not very good listeners or learners.
Let’s consider another current example involving four individuals who recently received the 2010 Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
“In February 2009, amid one of the worst budget crises in California’s history, an imploding economy, and potentially catastrophic partisan deadlock, the state’s Republican and Democratic party leaders came together to address the financial emergency. After weeks of grueling negotiation, the legislative leaders and Gov. Schwarzenegger reached an agreement on a comprehensive deal to close most of a $42 billion shortfall, putting an end to years of government inaction and sidestepping of the difficult decisions necessary to address California’s increasingly dire fiscal crisis. The deal was objectionable to almost everyone; it contained tax increases, which the Republicans had long pledged to oppose, and draconian spending cuts, which brought intense criticism to the Democrats.” (News Release, May 24, 2010, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation)
In the process of attempting to come up with a bi-partisan solution, these officials had to withstand extraordinary constituent and party pressure. Reportedly they were attacked by the media and received a flood of angry e-mails including death threats. The two Republicans were ousted from their party leadership positions. Their proposal was not adopted and California continues to struggle with budget deficits that threaten to prolong the state’s financial crisis.
I am not a citizen of California and I do not know the worthiness of their proposal. But I am saddened that the efforts of leaders of both political parties to come together and problem solve in spite of their differences apparently ended in public anger and death threats instead of encouragement towards a fruitful dialogue and productive action.
Without Charity We are Nothing
When Jesus asked us to love one another, He did not provide an exception for those whose viewpoints do not align with ours. In fact, if we look to Him as an example, He made a point of befriending those like the tax collector whose politics were widely detested.
The scriptures tell us that even if we have all knowledge, if we do not combine it with charity it negates our knowledge. “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2). Without charity the position we are taking becomes worthless no matter how much we believe we are right—or may even be right!
As we interact with viewpoints that disagree with ours—whether in our family, our ward, or on the national political stage—do we make charity central to our approach?
Are we willing to listen respectfully and openly to opinions that are different than ours?
Do we desire to understand the perspective of others whether or not we agree with them?
Do we avoid speaking in insulting or inflammatory ways about people or positions that we disagree with so that we promote thoughtful and diplomatic discussion?
Do we exhibit charity in all that we do and say?
As an aside, I believe it is a mistake for policymakers to undertake major social experiments based only on their own best guesses about the effects of their policies. Rather than policymakers fussing and grandstanding in the process of creating their best guess of a good strategy, why not invite the test of various policy options in several states before settling on a national policy? This would take more time but we would be less likely to end up with unwise and untested policies riddled with holes and patches. But this is not my central point. I return to the beginning of this article: we humans are all biased and limited. I believe God deliberately designed us so that we can never get to sensible choices unless we listen to those who believe differently from us. God wants us to learn from each other—especially those who can bring different viewpoints to our deliberations. Charity is God’s mandate for fruitful discussions.
We who belong to His Church should strive to be examples to the world of this principle. When facing the important issues of our day, may we always choose an approach based on charity over contention.