Itinerant Svither

Starring Theric as Everyman and Death as himself

Lady Steed and I are away from home this week, and, well, nothing lends itself to metaphor like traveling.

Like many things on The List, I have never read Everyman--at least not in its entirety. Or at least not that I recall. But I don't really recall that much anyway. And that's not the point. The point is that Everyman is about as archetypal as you can get when looking back at the great religious traveling metaphors and so I will be plundering it.

(Curiously, I intended to write a post on the importance of the public domain yesterday and how current copyright law's stinginess is terrible for intellectual discourse, but didn't get to it. Consider this, in addition to a scintillating metaphor, a dry run at that as well.)

Courtesy of Veer.com was living his regular life, walking to and fro, neglecting his God in lieu of his work, neglecting his work in lieu of his family, neglecting his family in lieu of his ego, neglecting his ego with nothing like frequency.
    Enter Death.

    Death: THERIC.

    Theric: I'm busy.

    Death: LOOK AT ME.

    Theric: (Sighs.) What? (Turns to looks.) Oh. Shoot.

    Death: NO, ANEURYSM.

    Theric: So I wasn't being irrational when I worried about dropping dead of one of those things.

    Death: NO.

    Theric: Figures. (Hits "Save" on the computer.) Well, how much time have I got?

    Death: TIME?

    Theric: Yeah, you know, time. That stuff we got to do the stuff we got to do before you show up.

    Death: AH, THAT TIME. (Chuckles.) I AM HERE, AREN'T I?

    Theric: Mm. I see. Look, I hope this doesn't sound shallow, but would you be interested in being profiled on my blog? It might take a little while to make it right but I'm sure that y---


    Theric: The world already is overrun with blogging.


    Theric: I dunno. Overrun is overrun. It seems kind of like "unique" to me--can something really be more overrun?

    Death: SILENCE!

    Theric: Sorry. I think I'd heard you like quiet.

    Death: YES.

    Theric: Right.

    Death: COME.

    Theric: Right. Um. Shoot.

    Death: ANEURYSM.

    Theric: I know, I know. I'm just thinking.

    Death: THINK ON THE WAY.

    Theric: On the way, right, right. Um. I. Um. Hey! Say, Death?

    Death: YES?

    Theric: Are you good company?

    Death: COMPANY?

    Theric: Yeah, so myrie a compaignye and so forth?

    Death: I SHOULD SAY NOT.

    Theric: Ah, pity, pity. Say, could I bring someone with me? Someone who would not forsake me to his lyues ende in the waye of good company and so forth.

    Death: YOU TALK FUNNY.

    Theric: Writer.

    Death: AH.

    Theric: Anyway, what do you say?


    Theric: Are you serious? Wow. Anyway, I'm on it.
And so Theric logged into his Gmail account to see who was online and might be willing to take this journey with him.

Fortunately, luck was with Theric. Little green circles were next to Luck, Chums, Obscene Wealth and Good Works. He decided to pretend to be casual and greeted each with a "Hey." Four little chat boxes popped up on his screen.

Like normal, Obscene Wealth ignored him, but the other three were quick to reply.

Then, like petrified centuries being dragged over the dried vertebrae of a long-dead jackal, Theric heard Death tapping his fingers on his scythe. So he got to the point quickly, holding these conversations simultaneously:
    Luck: Wassup?
    Theric: Doing anything?
    Luck: Nothing that can't be set aside for you.
    Theric: Sweet. Look, I'm about to die of an aneurysm and--
    Luck: Die?
    Theric: Yeah, Death's here right now and--
    Luck: Dude, sorry. Me and Death....noway.
    Theric: He said I could take somebody along with me!
    Luck: I don't travel with Death. Nothing personal.
    Theric: It's personal to me.
    Luck did not receive your message.
    * * * * *
    Theric: Hey.
    Chums: Hey.
    Theric: I need a favor.
    Chums: You're there for me, I'm there for you.
    Theric: Death's taking me. He says I can take someone with me. You doing anything?
    Chums: Death? Can I come back?
    Theric: I'll check.
    He says NO.
    Chums: Hmm.
    Theric: He says I won't be coming back either, though.
    Chums: *thinking*
    Theric: What do you say?
    Chums: In fayth I wyll not come there If deth were the messenger For no man that is lyuynge to daye I wyll not go that loth iournaye. Not for the fader that bygate me.
    Theric: What?
    Chums: Sorry--typing too fast.
    Point was I can't make it. Not today.
    Theric: I bet Master Fob would come with me.
    Chums: Then ask him.
    Theric: He's not online.
    Chums did not receive your message.
    Theric: Crap.
    * * * * *
    Theric: Hey.
    Good Works: And I remember well when you helped your grandfather feed the cows in those cold winter mornings.
    Theric: Really? Thanks. Hey, I got a favor to ask.
    Good Works: Inasmuch as you have done it unto me, and so forth.
    Theric: Right. Great.
    Look, Death is here with me and he says I can take someone with me.
    Good Works: True. He's right about that. Who are you going to take?
    Theric: I'm on with you and Chums and Luck right now.
    Good Works: Luck? No kidding?
    Theric: Yeah, why do y
    Nevermind, he just left.
    Good Works: I knew it. Luck isn't quite like Chums or me.
    Theric: Will you come?
    Good Works: You know, I would love to. I really would. But I've been sick lately. In fact, I can't remember the last time we even talked.
    Theric: It has been too long....
    Good Works: If only you could help me, I would go.
    Theric: Hmm.
    Got it. What if I log into PayPal right now and give whatever's in there to the Humanitarian Fund?
    Good Works: Try it.
    Theric: Okay, I'm on it.
    There goes Chums....
    Man this Death guy's all over me!
    Good Works: He's not as patient as some of us.
    Theric: I'll say....
    It's done.
    Good Works: I can tell. I will go.
    Theric: Thanks. Meet me here.
    Good Works: Yes.
    Theric: Hooray!
    Good Works did not receive your message.
Immediately Good Works arrived. She suggested Theric do a bit of praying before they left. "Oh yeah," said Theric.

Anyway, to make a long story only a little longer, Theric prayed. And, knowing he was about to meet the prayee in a few minutes, he thought a little more about what exactly he meant as he formed the words. And as he thought about those words, he realized that too often had he frittered words, words which were among the greatest gifts the prayee had given him.

Theric was the sort to define his life by the words that filled it. And now, as he prayed, he realized that his pie chart of words had way too big a slice of Touting Theric and way too small a slice of Supporting Others.

Theric cracked his eyes and peeked at Good Works. She was obviously still unwell, $91.46 or no $91.46. He thought of how his words could have made her strong. How she was the only one who was willing to make this journey with him yet he had done so little for her.

Theric quickly closed his prayer, stood, and walked to her. He got under her shoulder, put his arm around her waist and helped her walk to the door. Death slipped ahead and gestured to a path that led from the door and disappeared into the unfathomable distance.

Good Works smiled and Theric took courage.
    Good Works: I will be fine, Theric.

    Theric: No I--

    Good Works: Theric, shush. I will be fine. But everyone is dying, everyday. All lives are but journeys to a single end. If now, at this moment, you find yourself strong enough to carry another, then you are strong enough to carry another each day along the journey. (Good Works gestures out the door and down the path.) Along that road are many who will need help to make the journey--some may even need to be carried. Will you help them?

    Theric: Of course, but--

    Good Works: Theric, no. Will you help them?


    Theric: Yes.

    Good Works: Good. Now, do you remember what I said in our chat?

    Theric: In our chat?

    Good Works: About the least of these?

    Theric: Yes.

    Good Works: Good. And I wasn't speaking of myself, you know.

    Theric: I know.

    Good Works: Good. So go, and do, (Beat.) and become.

    Theric: I will.

    (Good Works smiles, and exits.)

    Theric: I hope.


    Theric: I'm glad.


Last Week's Svithe

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Svithe Five: Svithes Alive!


I love me a good portmanteau. Such is the word svithe: a blending of seven and tithe. And if a tithe is the tenth given to God, then a svithe is the seventh given to God.

I did not make up this idea; I took it from the Sabbath--the one day in seven dedicated to God. The properly observed Sabbath would be a svithe.

In other news, I have an addictive personality. I don't say this to warn you against meeting me in person lest you lose control of yourself and lock me in your backwoods cabin in order to enjoy scintillating conversation the rest of your life. No, what I mean is that I tend towards addiction. (As if I didn't have enough reasons already not to try heroin just one time.) I will often spend too much time doing my current fancy at the expense of more important things.

I maybe might just maybe be addicted to blogging.

Part of my redemption is this svithing. Every Sunday I write a post that is intended to be godly. The idea being that I may do some good somehow someday for someone. Certainly the svithes a have better chance than posts about poop.

Sometimes I will not have much to say, but whenever I can be online on a Sunday, I will svithe.

I don't have specific goals for my svithing. I doubt that svithing will ever become a big movement or anything. I don't even know that those I write will do anyone any good. But I will try to create things that are, at least occasionally, virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy.

The problem of course is that I am one person. What if more people would, now and then, write something the only purpose of which was to spread faith and beauty? Or to ask questions of eternal import? Or to spread heart-wrenching but patently false stories about baby angels?

I am not trying to get all my friends to svithe. I am not trying to get the word svithe in the dictionary. I am trying very hard to keep my ego out of this. But I do suggest that we all take a moment and consider how we can use these forums we have been given to improve the world.

The implication I am inadvertently making is that all posts by all bloggers before this moment have been at best worldly and at worst base and evil. I don't mean to make this implication. If the blogs I followed did not provide my life with some beauty, I would not follow them (my addiction, however, might). What I am doing is making a distinction and suggesting an occasional aim at thoughts celestial. It may take many forms. It may be a witness or testimony, sure, but it may also be lists of unanswered questions that weigh on the mind, a tally of hopes and fears, a desperate cry for understanding from beyond, a simple statement of heartfelt fact.

Or none of these. Again: I am not trying to start a movement.

I will svithe: it feels like the right thing for me to do.

I just want to make clear that I have not trademarked the idea.

I wouldn't be a good Mormon if I didn't have proselytory dreams for this forum, but ultimately, that is not its purpose. Ultimately, I just want to add to the community and provide something of worth for my fellow travelers as we hurtle through space to our destiny.

And Lord knows I could use some help.

Last week's svithe.

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Svithe: Happily Ever After


(Note: About ten hours ago, I gave this as a talk in sacrament meeting. Everytime Lady Steed and I have spoken together in sacrament meeting, we have finished early. I was sure this would happen this time as well, so I tried to think of a couple places to expand. One of them, a song-and-dance routine, makes it into this version. The other does not.

(I ended up having to cut parts of my talk though--pretty much the whole Zion part, for instance--so this is much more comprehensive.

(I apologize for the lack of a consistent citation method.)


    Once upon a time there was a girl named Ella. Her mother and father loved her very much. But then her mother died and her father remarried and her new mother made her sit in the fireplace and wash the dishes every night. But then one day Ella—now called Cinderella, because of the ashes in the fireplace—lucked out and got to go to this ball where she met this guy Frederick Charming who fell for her and life was

    Sunshine, lollipops and
    everything that's beautiful is what they felt when
    They were together!

    So they got married and lived happily ever after. The end.

* * * * *

    Once upon a time, there was this girl named Snow White. Her wicked stepmother took things a step further than Cinderella’s and gave her a poison apple that knocked her out cold until one day this guy Jimmy Charming happened to be in the neighborhood. He kissed the comatose girl and thus woke her up. Then life was

    Sunshine, lollipops and
    Rainbows everything that's beautiful is what they felt when
    They were together

    So they got married and lived happily ever after. The end.

* * * * *

    Once upon a time there were these kids named Tom Thumb and Thumbelina. All their lives they had been almost stepped on, almost eaten by birds, and almost flushed down kitchen sinks. Then they met each other, fell in love, and life was

    Sunshine, lollipops and
    Rainbows everything that's beautiful is what they felt when
    They were together

    So they got married and lived happily ever after. No more problems. The end.

* * * * *

    This is how all the stories end. People get married and hooray, hoorah, life is easy and lovely and happy.

    But President Kimball says: “We have come to realize that the mere performance of a ceremony does not bring happiness and a successful marriage. Happiness does not come by pressing a button, as does the electric light; happiness is a state of mind and comes from within.”

    And now, if President Kimball doesn’t mind, I am going to turn his simile upside down. I am going to say that, in fact, happiness is exactly like pressing a button and having the lights turn on. To the casual observer it may seem simple enough, but the casual observer does not realize how much had to happen to get that light to work.
    First there were the thousands of hours Edison spent in Menlo Park trying and rejecting light bulb after light bulb, trying to find something that worked. Then, after he succeeded, he spent much of the rest of his life trying to get people to set up electrical matrices, to bring electricity into homes and businesses. He was extraordinarily successful, but that was only the beginning.

    For us to have electricity, dams must be built, coal must be mined. Turbines now rise up along hillsides and wires snake across the entire world, delivering a simple little thing called electricity to our homes, so when we hit the switch, the lights turn on.

    Happiness is a simple little thing too. But like the light bulb, behind happiness is endless work, endless effort.

* * * * *

    Once upon a time there was a girl named Sarai. She met a handsome young bloke named Abram and they got married. They did not live happily ever after--not exactly.

    They had to flee their home land. They were hounded by famine. They lived in Egypt and were separated by the king. They were ripped off by a dear friend and relative. They went to war. And all this time, what they really wanted, a child, was denied them.

    Their extended family was beset by anger and incest and destruction and quarrels. Then one day, a child was born.

    The next, the child was to die.

    Always there were struggles. Always there were challenges.

    Then Sarai, now Sarah, died.

    Twenty-eight years later, Abram, now Abraham, died.

    They were buried together.

    Their lives were filled with more trouble and strife than seems fair—especially for people who did their best and were looked to as examples of righteousness.

    But it is difficult to read the stories of Abraham and Sarah and get the sense that they spent their days moping around and complaining, wallowing in unhappiness. No doubt there were many days of misery. But I believe that they were happy.

    Joseph Smith learned that “Abraham ... hath [now] entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.” And we know that he is not there alone. We know that Sarah is there with him.

    They are living happily ever after.

    Just like they did here on earth.

* * * * *

    President Kimball says that “There is a never-failing formula which will guarantee to every couple a happy and eternal marriage.” Each ingredient is vital and necessary. And Pr. Kimball says that when both halves of the marriage follow this formula, no outside force can break in nor destroy.

    “The formula is simple; the ingredients are few....

    First, there must be the proper approach toward marriage, which contemplates the selection of a spouse who reaches as nearly as possible the pinnacle of perfection in all the matters which are of importance to the individuals. And then those two parties must come to the altar in the temple realizing that they must work hard toward this successful joint living.”

    President Packer has called marriage “the ideal pattern for human living … ordained of God.” Marriage is something to always look forward to. “Do not lose faith in marriage,” President Packer says. “Not even if you have been through the unhappiness of a divorce and are surrounded with pieces of a marriage that has fallen apart.” Or, I might add, if marriage seems too far away or too impossible. I have friends who have given up on eternal marriage, who see the facts of their lives incompatible with becoming “the pinnacle of perfection” for someone else. But never lose faith in the ideal of marriage. God has ordained it for everyone, and “One day,” President Packer says, “after all of the tomorrows have passed, there will be recompense. [And] Those who have been moral and faithful to their covenants will be happy.”

    When life aligns itself such that two meet and are wed, they must then focus on the rest of President Kimball’s formula.

    Part Two: “...there must be a great unselfishness....” For “true marriage is based on a happiness ... which comes from giving, serving, sharing, sacrificing, and selflessness.”

    President Kimball instructs that “Two individuals approaching the marriage altar must realize that to attain [a] happy marriage ... means sacrifice, sharing, and even a reduction of some personal liberties. It means long, hard economizing. It means children who bring with them financial burdens, service burdens, care and worry burdens; but also it means the deepest and sweetest emotions of all.”

    In other words, “sacrifice” is a bit of a misnomer. Marriage doesn’t require “sacrifice” so much as “investment.”

    Yes, admits President Kimball, “Before marriage, each individual is quite free to go and come as he pleases ... to make all decisions with self as the central point. Sweethearts should realize before they take the vows that each must accept literally and fully that the good of the little new family must always be superior to the good of either spouse.... Every decision must take into consideration that there are two or more affected by it.”

    In other words, those in a family must become one, as Christ and the Father are one. The family must become Zion. More on this later.

    Third [part of the formula], there must be continued courting and expressions of affection, kindness, and consideration to keep love alive and growing.”

    How many poets have called love a red, red rose? And so it is. But if marriage cuts the rose and places it in a vase and leaves it to look lovely this week, only to wither and die the next, then that rose of love will perish. Love is not one red, red rose, but love is a rosebush that requires water and pruning and care. Love is a rosebush that provides beauty each day all through the summer of our lives.

    The care this rose requires is simple. To say “I love you.” To listen and respond. To hold hands on the sidewalk and slip a Kiss on the pillow and to spend time alone in conversation where the only thing in this world that matters is the one you love.

    Then the rain will fall and the sun will rise and the rosebush will bloom, each and every day.

    “Fourth, there must be a complete living of the commandments of the Lord as defined in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

    There is a point to all this church stuff, and Elder Packer has told us what it is:

    “The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children can be happy at home and that the family can continue through eternity. All Christian doctrine is formulated to protect the individual, the home, and the family.”

    And I bear my testimony that following the gospel will draw us closer together, will make our families great impregnable castles that no evil can break through nor destroy.

    “With ... [the formula’s] ingredients properly mixed ... it is quite impossible for unhappiness to come, misunderstandings to continue, or breaks to occur.”

    So, to sum up those ingredients again, “First, ... the selection of a spouse who reaches as nearly as possible the pinnacle of perfection .... Second, ... great unselfishness. ... Third, continued courting and expressions of affection, kindness, and consideration .... [and] Fourth, ... a complete living of the commandments....”

    Now some of you, like my dear Lady Steed, may have totally blown the first ingredient and married a complete lunatic. Not to worry! The fourth ingredient, living the commandments, will save you.

    President Kimball taught that “it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.”

    This stands to reason. Someday, when we all manage to get our acts together and become Zion, when we all love each other and serve each other and there are no poor among us because we take care of each other, this won’t be very different from what we are trying to accomplish now inside our own families.

    The Proclamation on the Family calls families “the fundamental unit of society.” Zion has many meanings, but behind them all is the idea of a society wherein love is the operating term. If we are to become a Zion people, it can only be done if we already have loving Zion families. Loving Zion families will be the source of Zion.

    My family, your family, his family, her family--each family must be Zion.

* * * * *

    President Kimball taught us how to become Zion.

    Let me tell you a couple things he mentioned. See if they don’t also apply to marriage and family.

    • Building Zion require “sacrifice and consecration.”

    • “[We] must learn obedience and be developed in character.”

    • “[We] must eliminate the individual tendency to selfishness that snares the soul, shrinks the heart, and darkens the mind.”

    • “[We] must cooperate completely and work in harmony one with the other. There must be unanimity in our decisions and unity in our actions.”

    • “[We] must sacrifice whatever is required by the Lord. We begin by offering a “broken heart and a contrite spirit.” We follow this by giving our best effort in our assigned fields of labor and in our callings. We learn our duty and execute it fully. Finally we consecrate our time, talents, and means as called upon by our file leaders and as prompted by the whisperings of the Spirit. .... Whether a volunteer, father, home teacher, bishop, ... neighbor, ... visiting teacher, mother, homemaker, or friend--there is ample opportunity to give our all. And as we give, we find that ‘sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven!’ And in the end, we learn it was no sacrifice at all.”

* * * * *

    If we do all this, President Kimball promises that “we will find ourselves clothed in the mantle of charity ‘which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.’

    Well with him, well with his wife, well with their children.

    “Let us unite and pray with all the energy of heart,” suggests President Kimball, “that we may be sealed by this bond of charity; that we may build up this latter-day Zion, that the kingdom of God may go forth, so that the kingdom of heaven may come.”

    And so, I might add, that the kingdom of heaven may come to our homes. This promise is good for all: single or married, old or young, full of hope or fraught with discouragement.

    Because God our Father loves us, every one. He loves us, no matter our current situation. No matter our mistakes or our faults. No matter how slowly we seem to be achieving our goals. No matter how rejected we imagine ourselves to be.

    He is helping us write our life stories. And with that help, each one of us will live happily ever after.

    I leave that testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

* * * * *


Becoming the Pure in Heart by Spencer W. Kimball
Oneness in Marriage by Spencer W. Kimball
Marriage by Boyd K. Packer

Last week's svithe.

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Svithe: Success & Jealousy


Being somewhat talented in words can, I am afraid, make me a bit of a snob. I am ashamed of this. I am ashamed to admit that I probably would not have listened as I should have to Moses (who said, "I am not eloquent ... I am slow of speech) or Enoch (who described himself also as "slow of speech"). I admit that I am impressed by--not sophistry--but good wordsmithery. And so it is no surprise that one of my favorite speakers among current General Authorities is Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. In particular, I return to "The Other Prodigal" again and again, attempting to turn myself into a good person.

He begins by retelling the parable:

CAn you see the well crafted wisdom dripping?
Among the most memorable parables the Savior ever told is the story of a foolish younger brother who went to his father, asked for his portion of the estate, and left home to squander his inheritance ... in "riotous living." His money and his friends disappeared sooner than he thought possible--they always do--and a day of terrible reckoning came thereafter--it always does. In the downward course of all this he became a keeper of pigs, one so hungry, so stripped of sustenance and dignity that he "would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat." But even that consolation was not available to him.

Then the scripture says encouragingly, "He came to himself." He determined to find his way home, hoping to be accepted at least as a servant in his father's household. The tender image of this boy's anxious, faithful father running to meet him and showering him with kisses is one of the most moving and compassionate scenes in all of holy writ. It tells every child of God, wayward or otherwise, how much God wants us back in the protection of His arms.

But today we're not talking about that son.

...being caught up in this younger sonĂ‚’s story, we can miss, if we are not careful, the account of an elder son, for the opening line of the Savior's account reads, "A certain man had two sons"--and He might have added, "both of whom were lost and both of whom needed to come home."

I am that second son.

I was out in the fields working today, dutifully, as I have always done. And when I arrived home, caked in sweat and dust, I saw a party in full force, celebrating my brother who ran away and squandered his share of the family's wealth and who is now being treated like a war hero.

I am bitter.

Feeling unappreciated and perhaps more than a little self-pity, this dutiful son--and he is wonderfully dutiful--forgets for a moment that he has never had to know filth or despair, fear or self-loathing. He forgets for a moment that every calf on the ranch is already his and so are all the robes in the closet and every ring in the drawer. He forgets for a moment that his faithfulness has been and always will be rewarded.

No, he who has virtually everything, and who has in his hardworking, wonderful way earned it, lacks the one thing that might make him the complete man of the Lord he nearly is. He has yet to come to the compassion and mercy, the charitable breadth of vision to see that this is not a rival returning. It is his brother.

Holland calls this a "fictional affront." And he's right. The only reason I have become suddenly unhappy is "because another has had some good fortune as well."

I am under the false impression that, if my father loves my brother, he therefore loves me less. "But God does not work this way."

He does not mercilessly measure [us] against [our] neighbors. He doesn't even compare [us] with each other. His gestures of compassion toward one do not require a withdrawal or denial of love for [another]. He is divinely generous to [all of us].

The trick is to learn to feel that way about each other.

An example:

Fob began as a place where a few writers serious about the discipline could gather and help each other grow. And, I think, Fob has been a success. But I will make a few admissions here:

When Master Fob finished his third novel before I started my second, I felt like he wasn't leaving room for me in the marketplace.

When Melyngoch broke my heart on paper, I felt I might as well microwave my computer.

When Queen Zippergut read scenes that my wife laughed at more than she ever has at my stuff, I felt like fading away.

It's as if I think that the amount of talent God has given the world is limited, and every ounce of talent someone else shows is one more ounce that has been denied me.

Quoting Elder Holland quoting Henri J. M. Nouwen:

In a world that constantly compares people, ranking them as more or less intelligent, more or less attractive, more or less successful, it is not easy to really believe in a love [or a God] that does not do the same. When I hear someone praised, it is hard not to think of myself as less praiseworthy; when I read about the goodness and kindness of other people, it is hard not to wonder whether I myself am as good and kind as they; and when I see trophies, rewards, and prizes being handed out to special people, I cannot avoid asking myself why that didnĂ‚’t happen to me.

We are trained to compare ourselves to others, to find our worth in being more than someone else.

We shouldn't.

I'm glad to say that my fellow Fobsters have never struck me as being hateful towards each another just because they are also good. They've been quite good examples to me.

Among Elder Holland's recommendations for overcoming these prodigal tendencies are applauding the work of others and serving others. Fob has applauded me so roundly as to almost make me cry. They've selflessly helped me craft better work, leaving me better than I was.

This is Zion. These are the people who love you as themselves and find joy in your successes. When Master Fob became the first of us to make money, I don't remember us being ashamed of ourselves or hating him. And that's right--that is how God is with us.

To quote Nephi (whose personality I find annoying, but that's just me being wicked again),

Hath he [the Lord God] commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.

Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.

We are alprivilegeded. We are all equal candidates for salvation.

I know this is true. I still have many, many moments where I let another's success make me feel less, but I know this is a lie. I know God loves me like he loves you. And if I can learn to love you as he does, I can be truly happy for your successes--every bit as much as I am for mine--and I will do all I can for you. As you do for me.

Brothers and sisters, I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us--insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn't measure our talents or our looks; He doesn't measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other. I know that if we will be faithful, there is a perfectly tailored robe of righteousness ready and waiting for everyone, "robes ... made ... white in the blood of the Lamb." May we encourage each other in our effort to win that prize is my earnest prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Last week's svithe.

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