Sunday, September 28, 2008
It's hard to deny the brilliance of the fairytale writers and their clever wordsmithing. Much like parables, great thought provoking truths are subtly disguised in story format, leaving the listener to ponder the intended message long after the tale is told.
One of my favorites is The Emperor's New Clothes, the tale of the prideful clothes-horse of a king who contracts with some tailors for the sewing of a fine suit of clothes. Playing on the King's arrogance, the swindling tailors convince the emperor that they are sewing an ensemble made of fabric so exquisite it cannot be seen by those too inferior to appreciate and recognize its value. The tailors bet that the pride of the king, his court, and his constituency, will prevent all of them from admitting that the only finery the emperor is wearing is his own sorry birthday suit.
And the tailors' ruse would have proven successful had a small child, untouched by the pressure to conform, not hollered out the truth that, though unuttered, was always obvious to all.
That pressure to conform, and the consequent tide of silent tongues, is not limited to fairytales. Ask the average Joe on the street what he thinks about the hot bed topics of our day and most likely his opinions are fairly traditional. If that's the case, why don't the polls on differing networks reflect this?
Has our fear of being labelled "unenlightened" or "unprogessive", caused us to keep our opposing points of view to ourselves, confessing them only in secret or anonymously? Or worse yet, have the "enlightened" and their glitterati spokepersons marketed their point of view so seductively that we too are beginning to see the fine tailoring of an invisible suit?
When did this happen?
Naked is naked no matter the political or intellectual spin. But right is right, and eternal princples like marriage retain their meaning only if we seemingly small voices holler collectively and call the world's bluff.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Lori Nawyn is an award-winning essayist and author of short stories whose latest offering is a beautifully illustrated, seven-page Christmas booklet entitled, Three Angels for Christmas.
Punctuated by three of her heartwarming Christmas card images created in her own signature style, the story within is a quick-read glimpse of a moment in the author’s life when the Christmastime loss of three dear loved ones challenged her ability to appreciate the intangible gifts Christ’s birth brings to each of us.
Like permitting a glimpse into her own journal, Nawyn invites readers to spend a few minutes joining her on her journey from innocent joy, to despair and back again. Intended especially for others who may be grieving lost loved ones during what is for some, a painfully difficult time of the year, Lori Nawyn’s booklet concludes with a discussion exercise and three principles she gleaned from her trials that could be used to facilitate thoughtful sharing.
Christmas card-sized and packaged, with an envelope included, Three Angels for Christmas provides a tender, empathetic holiday offering of hope for the sender who is seeking a special Christmas greeting for a harrowed heart.
Available through Brigham Distributing.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
One of the greatest talks I have ever heard was given by then Elder Holland who was then the President of BYU. Entitled, "The Will Of the Father In All Things", it really causes one to pause and examine his or her own willingness to "go and do the things that the Lord has commanded". He reads this oft repeated and ascribed to scripture and asks, "Really? Always?"
The questions put the principle of obedience front and center. I believe we could all quickly raise our hands and say that we "want" to "go and do what the Lord has commanded" and we desire to do them "at all times, and in all things and in all places", but most of us, me at least, would have to admit that I still have a ways to go. And for that I gratefully accept and embrace the Atonement of Christ.
Life is an interesting take-home test--an open book examination with the answers provided. Our job is to solve each of the problems, showing every step of our work, demonstrating that we not only know the correct answer, but that we can actually apply the principles necessary in order to achieve it.
Elder Holland points out that when Christ appeared to the people at the temple in Bountiful, they were probably still reeling from the devastation they had endured months earlier. Hungry for comfort and understanding, their expectations were likely deep and high. Waiting anxiously for the Lord's first directed words, they knew the first utterance would be critical. And what was it? A declaration of His obedience. . . "I have done the will of the Father."
I know what happens in my heart when I am more consistent in meeting this standard. You do too. There is mighty power in rightouesness. Imagine. It's staggering, isn't it?
Monday, September 22, 2008
I woke up and, as I usually do, I turned on CNN, even though I generally am ready to toss a sock at the screen five minutes into the first "unbiased" report. Today was no exception.
The topic was, of course, the economy, and the reporters were sharing comments one candidate made on revising the economy, Social Security, the banking industry, etc. over the course of his twenty-odd years in the Senate. Of course, the opposition was poised with sarcastic jabs and comical quips, pulling comments from another economic era and making snide humor about their wisdom in consideration of today's market.
Well you see, that's the thing about having a long political record where every interview, every speech, every stand before your colleagues is on the official record. People can pull things from one era and use them ten years later, whether they're still relevant or not.
Perhaps having the shorter political record may be an advantage. If there's not much on the record, then there's really not much recorded for anyone to refer to, criticize or question.
Hmmmm. . .
Friday, September 19, 2008
I'm thinking about getting a tool belt. And maybe my own hammer and some other cool tools to stick in it. Always one to avoid "tools of limited destruction", I think I may have changed my mind about such things. Now this is a cataclysmic shift in my universe, since anyone who knows me knows I'm far more likely to pound a nail with the heel of a shoe or a meat tenderizing mallet than to search for an actual, elusive hammer. (I refer you to my post of 6/18).
My friend, a mild-mannered woman who plays the organ and decorates cakes, mentioned that she was in the midst of a home project. Now mind you, previous to this occasion, I would have considered stitch-ripping the limit of her destructive bent. Not so today. I stopped by and from the street I heard pounding that rumbled from both the house and the garage. Following the thunderous hammer, I found her, hammer in one hand, long-handled chisel in the other, sabotaging her old tile floor.
She rolled her eyes and placed an apologetic hand on her head which was matted and white from the flying cement dust hanging in the air.
"Hi Laurie," she chuckled with a smile. "Come on in."
I was amazed at how much she had already accomplished. "You look like you're having fun."
"I am," she replied with a tease. "It's way fun and it's therapeutic. All my stress is gone."
"Can I try?" I asked. Moments later I too was slamming a hammer onto tiles, soon making a sport of it by attempting to crack or break something with each hammer swing. We pounded and scooped and scraped for a while, and then the job was done.
I can't adequately say how satisfying it was to see those tiles break away and to reveal another square of floor. Maybe it was the rush of adrenaline produced by good physical labor. Maybe it was the pleasure of completing a task. No... I think it was simply the satisfying and totally juvenile delight of being allowed to break something. Heck, it was fun!
And there's something to be said for the cathartic release demolition provides. My friend's stresses are unbelievable, and today, she was as delighted a child.
Happiness in the demolition of a floor. . . Who'd a thunk it?
Got Stress? Hang out at Home Depot in the chisel department and volunteer to help the next family that needs a ceramic floor remodel.
I highly recommend it.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
There's that old saying that goes something like, "It can turn on a dime". In other words, things can change suddenly, and if you, like me, have been watching the current financial news with some trepidation over the status of your retirement, or ability to ever achieve that status, you know how real the adage is.
Ponder the counsel we Latter-Day Saints have been receiving steadily for the past years--get out of debt; prepare, prepare, prepare; live within your means; save, save, save; lay in store. . . Now is the time we ask ourselves, "Did we listen? Did we follow their counsel?"
I wonder if more people than usual will make it a point to listen to more sessions of Conference this October. My guess is, yes. That would be a sad commentary on our spiritual motivations, but whatever brings us to the well, it's just good to gather there . . and to bring our neighbors along.
I keep thinking about President Hinckley. After Sister Hinckley's passing, he indicated how ready he was to follow her, but how as a willing servant, dedicated to the Lord's work, he vowed to exhaust himself in the work to which he was called for as long as he was needed. And work he did. He wore his life out in the Lord's service. And not without a cost. He endured the first hospitalization of his life, and surgery as well, to extend his life and service. And why? Perhaps because he saw the events about to unfold, and as the Watchman on the tower, he tried to remain at his post, warning, warning, warning for as long as he was able.
All those warnings and counsels? The Brethren were right, and they continue to be blessed with the ability to see "afar off". Will we be all right? Yes, if we heed the counsel we're given. All of it. And then we too can be Watchmen . . .for others who don't yet know what we Latter-Day Saints have been blessed to know.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
While visiting in Utah, my family went to supper at a Mikado's Japanese Steakhouse. We sat in the back where the "traditional dining" booths were and placed our orders. The party beside us, four young women and a young man, was loud and raucous--not just verbal, but table-pounding, yukking-it-up, hollering loud. One of my sons looked over at their antics and muttered, "They're drinking Volcanoes." Sad that he even knew that, I posed no more questions and simply watched on as another round of "Volcano paraphenalia" arrived.
Essentially, the imbiber perches a shot of liquor atop his chopsticks which are precariously set above a glass of beer. By pounding on the table, the shot falls into the glass and mixes, creating a foaming, volcanic concoction which they quickly chug. Got the picture?
So each Volcano is a beer and a shot, and our lively neighbors downed at least three such sets while we sat there, growing ever more loud and disturbing with each round. Our waitress was clearly concerned about the situation as was the group's waiter, but since one young lady, the presumed designated driver, held back, the waiter continued to honor the call for successive rounds.
This group had a designated driver. Sadly, I've seen groups chugging away who did not. But even if this group did arrange a tea-totaler for the evening, is that really reason enough to serve that much alcohol to a patron in so short a time?
What if the DD had been sleepy, or gotten sick? Can we assume this inebriated group would have waited for someone else to pick them up, or is it more likely that one of them would have "stepped up" and assessing themselves as able, volunteered to drive?
I don't understand laws which allow the open sale and consumption of alcohol in locales where the patrons drive to and from. Some might call it trampling on the Bill of Rights, (which I love and honor, mind you), but personally, I'd like patrons to surrender their keys before being served, and I'd like them to be retrieved only after the patron passed some sort of breathalizer test. At the very least, why aren't we limiting the amount of alcohol a person can drink at any given establishment? Sure, they can roll on to the next place and drink more, but wouldn't an establishment's drinking limit at least serve as a deterrent to some people, reminding them that they had already consumed the prudent max?
In a world far too aware of the cost of driving under the influence, isn't it ludicrous that we serve liquor and then watch people shuffle into cars? Are we crazy?
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I'm still out here in Utah welcoming our newest grandson, Christian Worthen, into our family, and today we received the exquisite news that Amanda and Nick will be blessed with a son when their baby arrives in January! Congratulations Amanda and Nick!
Friday, September 5, 2008
I'm out here in Utah right now, enjoying one of the most exquisite moments in life--the arrival of a new child, or in my case, grandchild. This beautiful little fellow, named Christian, is my third grandchild and the third child of my oldest son, Tom and his wife, Krista.
Always awed by the miracle of birth--that little pink lips, in Godly pattern, meet soft downy skin in perfect bows--and the thousand other small imprints of deity a newborn conjures, I was again overwhelmed by Christian's arrival. How grateful we are for him.
On the day little Christian was born, my daughter, Amanda, called to share the exciting news that she felt her own baby kick. Yes, we are about to be blessed yet again.
I am riveted by politics right now and, concerned that we are standing on a dangerous precipice, these babies and all the other children of the world, remind me of our obligation to protect them. But for a few days more, I'm setting aside my research on the War of 1812, I'm TIVO-ing the Republican Convention, (well, I did sneak in a speech or two) and I'm just revelling in the reason these things matter-our families.