Wealthfree svithery


The Bible (et al) has a lot to say about the transience of wealth --- thieves, moths, rust --- riches becoming slippery that they can't be held --- that sort of thing.

Now, I don't want to be misinterpreted and have people thinking I'm judging others, but current events demonstrate just how slippery wealth can be. Viz:

    ...the fortunes of the 1,000 wealthiest people in the UK have fallen more than 50% from £412.8 billion in the list for 2008 to about £200 billion. The value of some assets, including hedge funds and property firms, has been shattered by as much as 90%. *

To say nothing of the schmucks with ridiculous mortgages. Or the poor folks who've had jobs evaporate.

Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.

This other stuff has a definite shelf life.

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Merry Christmas Svithery


It's a shame that the name of Scrooge has become synonymous not with rebirth or the Christmas spirit or with a broad love for all, but with stinginess and greed and heartlessness. Isn't the whole point of the story that he left those things behind? That he became a new man?
    He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old City knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and, knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
So for Christmas this year, I say let's look through our memories for names that have been unfairly Scrooged and say, like the man whose -mas this is, "I will be merciful . . . and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."

I think He would like that as a birthday present.

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Svithing my way out of a funk


I am in a funk. Not a deep, inescapable funk --- more like a sandy hill that, when a silent moment passes, you find yourself at the bottom of again.

This weekend I watched American Me. A student brought it for me to watch, saying I had to because it's just so great. I expected some "fun" violence* but all I really saw there were some brutally simple shankings.

I'm not going to argue that American Me is not a good movie. It was. But it is depressing me to no end. And it looks like the Mexican Mafia wasn't too pleased with it either, which suggests to me that they saw it more in the way I did. (Allegedly, La eMe killed two of the film's consultants. But I haven't found a decent source for that, just a lot of repetition.)

There's nothing glorious or beautiful about this film. And there's nothing here that feels like exaggeration or lies. The horror of this film lies is how damn real it feels.

American Me spends most of its time in Fulsom Prison with the leader on the Inside of the Mexican Mafia. On the assumption that if you haven't seen the film you aren't going to, let me talk about the final sequence:

A family sadly watches the next generation getting sucked in to gang life, but as they watch the kid getting tattooed on the hand by his friends, they look at their own hands and see the identical tattoo.

A brother, on instructions from gang leadership, kills his beloved younger brother.

The films protagonist gets stabbed more times than Julius Caesar, by his 'friends.'

The newly tatted boy does some inhalants in the front seat of the car, then leans out the window and starts shooting into the random pedestrians on the street.

More and more.

It just gets uglier the more I remember it.

The main character gets out of prison and the first time he's with a woman he flips her over and anally rapes her because that's the only way he knows.

What kind of humanity is this?

I don't agree with people who say our world is as wicked as it ever was or ever will be. Look around --- the world is filled with charity and kindness. We're not sleeping on our swords.

But there are segments of our population that are sleeping on their swords, their shivs. There is evil in the world and it sucks in younger brothers and makes them stab someone in the throat while their watching Woody Woodpecker.

Lady Steed and I are reading through the closing chapters of the Book of Mormon. The glorious visit of Christ is past and basically all that's left is the examples of humanity descending into American Me-like depravity. These chapters don't just give us the horror of our capacity for evil, however; they also share with us the Lord's desire to bless us when we return to him. All is never lost with Jesus.
    O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!
I pray that this powerful depiction of evil will serve to return me to that Jesus who stands with open arms to receive me. I pray that each of us will recognize his willingness to accept us and gather us in. It's not too late.

It's not too late.

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Svithe equals.....

Mentions of Christ over total word count.

Someone asked me recently how I, as a Christian, can accept extrabiblical scripture. I have many answers to this question, but here's one in Nephi's words:
    And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

As a Christian, I like that attitude and I want to know more.

Here's a fascinating stat: the Book of Mormon (according to the formula above) mentions Christ more frequently than even the New Testament. Hard to believe, isn't it? I mean---the whole New Testament is about Jesus Christ.

But then, so is the Book of Mormon. That's its whole job, to convince us that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.

(Incidentally, I have to believe that were this only the Gospels v. the Book of Mormon, the Gospels would win. But I don't have numbers for that.)

Anyway, that's why the Book of Mormon --- and I why I think any Christian would do well to check it out, even if it seems unbelievable. I, a Mormon, enjoy the occasional Lutheran prayer book or Presbyterian hymnal. I grant you I've never read one cover to cover (usually because I've mostly perused them while visiting their services; I love visiting other religions' services), but I do find beauty and worth in them.

Jesus would never tell us to shun others who strive to follow him --- Didn't he say that "he that is not against us is for us"? --- even if their path is called Baptist or Catholic or something other than what we call our own. And I think the Book of Mormon offers most of his sweet truths to us.

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Svithing Pure Religion


The first paragraph in a recent press release from the Church:
    For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and many others, the biblical apostle James’ definition of pure religion is more than a platitude. It is an extremely practical way to approach personal, family and community challenges. James’ understanding of this principle is expressed in this way: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
Thanksgiving is a good time to think about Pure Religion. Me, I spend a lot of time utterly failing in this camp. I'm not the world's best sharer. Within my family, sure, but outside? I have a lot of growing to do. Don't expect me to sell all my crap and give the proceeds to the poor anytime soon. I've had too many bad experiences with beggars to trust them anymore and if I gave a buck to every kid who asked, I'ld soon be in the hole. And debt isn't precisely what deity has in mind for me, I don't imagine.
    Latter-day Saints take this interpretation of pure religion very seriously. Being a person of faith is something you do within the context of a world full of suffering, not just what you say or believe. Genuine and frequent charitable acts, though, are not enough on their own. They need to be enacted by individuals who are trying to live morally upright lives, or are striving to keep themselves “unspotted from the world.”
In other words, the best 'charity' is committed by the charitable. Christlike acts by the Christlike.
    Many Latter-day Saints feel this desire to reach out to the downtrodden — James’ widows and fatherless — and find that the two elements of his pure religion exist in a symbiotic relationship. Learning Christ’s teachings and reading about the way He conducted Himself motivates individuals to look for ways to engage with others the way He did. And serving those in need functions as a refining process — humbling the server, bringing her or him closer to Christ and His example.
It's cyclical. Act more charitable to be more charitable. Not hypocrisy, practice. Thy present becomes thy future. My present'll become my future.

Something like that.

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Of all the things I am grateful more, one is topmost on my mind: Lady Steed.

Lady Steed and ThericThe most immediate impetus for this decision is Mr Fob's beautiful post on the occasion of his anniversary. The second, in good Puritan fashion, is guilt.

Two Friday's ago it was our 100th Lunaversary and I had been making plans. (And what better event to make plans for? Lady Steed would never see it coming --- it would be a grand romantic gesture. Just arrange a babysitter and --- )

Yeah. Then I completely forgot. In my favor, that was one of the busiest weekends of our life, but how can one forget the number 100 which, in our base-10 counting system, is among the most significant numbers we have? I screamed in agony as I sat reading, suddenly realizing that I had forgotten. I ranted and raved, cursing myself.


Because Lady Steed deserves a good 100th Lunaversary. She deserves a lot of things I'm less than perfect at delivering.

So for my svithe this week, although I've failed my wife, neither she nor God have failed me and I thank them.

    And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, . . . [it] shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting . . . .

My love, it's a wonderful journey.

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Svithing a Grudging Agreement with Thoreau


I don't like Thoreau. I think he's a moron and a hypocrite.

That said, I still like the call for simplicity is a good one.

Walden Pond via WikipediaSo does Elder Perry. Last Conference, he gave a bit of Thoreauvian sprachin; some of it was in that charming but sort of silly forced metaphor we see a lot in Conference and the Ensign, but I still think the call for simplicity is, if anything, more timely for ever. And so I will try and swallow my irritation with Thoreau and quote this one line from Elder Perry's talk: "Just before Thoreau died, he was asked if he had made peace with God. He replied, 'I was not aware we had ever quarreled.'"

(Yeah, whatever, Thoreau. Anyway,) that sounds like a good goal for any of us. And simplicity is a dandy path.

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High-fantasy svithe


Something peculiar happened during my nap this afternoon: I dreamed in high fantasy. I've never done this before, best I can recall A sorceress, the priestess of a pagan cult, served as the most frightening villain. The heroes had infiltrated a city glowing like embers at midnights to ... who knows what. But it was a risky business they were up to. Once in the city, its glowiness dissipated and it looked quite normal. One of the heroes was peeved because his contractor culture could have easily built this city for them at half the price.

I have no idea what the point of this dream was, or even if it had one while I was dreaming it. Is the average dream only given plot and structure as we remember it? Discuss.

But for all its pointlessness, it had some marvelous images and set pieces. Like a really crappy movie with awesome effects.

But nothing in this dream, best I can recall, was borrowed from real art or real life. It was all new, cut from whole cloth. And I did it without even trying. Which magic all people do all the time.

The creative potential of the Children of God is staggering.

Let's not waste our gifts.

The city is burning, the sorceress is stalking, the time is far spent.

And tomorrow we die.

Carpe diem is a religious principle.

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another late svithe


(this time because our internet was on the blink)

I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.

last week's svithe


A feminist svithe (requesting your comments)


Turning on the computer yesterday merely to write my svithe seemed to be missing the point of svithing entirely, so I help off till today to write this one up.

Part of the reason the computer never went on is related to why it was barely on on Saturday.

We drove to Santa Rosa on a separate but equal path with Fobbie and Foxy and their children to rendezvous with Queen Zippergut and her daughter, visiting from England. Some of the items of discussion during that visit led to talking between me and Lady Steed and we didn't get to sleep till four the next morning. This was wonderful and not to be regretted at all.

One thing that we ended up talking about was this post by Bored in Vernal which I had been meaning to talk with Lady Steed about for a while. In brief, she agreed that your average day at church is very male-centric what with a mostly male hierarchy and so forth. I mean---the Book of Mormon in 99.9% female free. How can church meetings not lean heavily on the male paint-of-view?

This is something I've been thinking about at school a lot lately, as, let's face it, your average English-class curricula is heavily male and heavily white.

The Mormon doctrine of sexual equality seems pretty clear to me, but in practice? I don't know.

I would like to hear -- especially from the ladies -- you all's take on these topics: the maleness of church, Mormon sexual equality, et cetera.

Your thoughts?

Note: This svithe posted a week late.

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Svithing the difference between direct and indirect objects


Here's something.

I don't know about you, but I associate Hymn #19, "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet," with the prophet. What with it having become traditional to "spontaneously" stand and sing it when one walks in the room. We stand and sing "We thank thee, O God, for a prophet / To guide us in these latter days."

But since I associate singing this song at prophets, lines like this confuse me:
    We thank thee for every blessing
    Bestowed by thy bounteous hand.

    We’ll sing of his goodness and mercy.
    We’ll praise him by day and by night,
    Rejoice in his glorious gospel,
    And bask in its life-giving light.
These aren't the sort of things one sings to a human being.

The fact is, the vast majority of this song is only barely connected to prophets. It's a song of praise to God. Thanks, God, for that prophet and all the other cool stuff you give us. That sort of thing. It's not a song to the prophet or praising the prophet. It's thanks for the prophet.

And all the other cool stuff we've been given.

Like the gospel.

And it's life-giving light.

We thank thee, o God, for a prophet.

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The Big O's part in today's Primary program (a svithe)


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General Conference


President Monsons conducts.

While the choir sings, we enjoy looking for Lady Steed's old boss, Joseph. He's in there somewhere! We don't see him every conference, though.

The Church's new media streamer seems to be a success! In the past, we've always had to ditch video and stick to pure audio, but this time it look's like we'll get a lookeeloo. Very exciting (And means I should be able to catch everyone's name.)

President Monson

(the audio and video keep getting off then realigning --- it may not be perfect, but it's an impressive leap forward)

1700-voice choir! Wow!

"he honored that prayer" meaning God said yes; how do you feel about that?

(uh-oh....are we going to lose video?)


(we just switched to pure audio. sigh)

He welcomes us. I'm thinking we lost 30 seconds.

(Why can't we have Korean-style broadband!!!!!))


Elder Perry! (I didn't hear him announced....)

Don't let the bad moments get the better of us!

Call for optimism!

Robert Browning: "The best is yet to be."

(for a second I thought he said he was going to quote Robbie Burns and all I could think was oh boy)

they went to Walden Pond (the Walden Pond?) to recenter

(Yep, that one.)

(Stupid Thoreau.....)

(I'm going to try not to reveal my opinion of Thoreau during this talk on thinking happy thoughts.)

Lady Steed: "Must be nice not to have any dependents. Only be responsible for yourself."

---spirit and body is soul of man
---Word of Wisdom (which used to be WoW before this crazy World of Warcraft thing)
---blessings that accompany that Word
---"'The Lard has commanded you to take good care of your body'" (love the accent)
---no inhalents, kids

---simple, modest
---affects our behavior and the opinions of others
---inviting the Spirit of the Lard....or not???
---joke: trying to make three dresses out of material enough for one
---men's clothing getting sloppy too
---casual dress leads to casual manners
---using clothes to attract the wrong kind of attention? shame on you!
---great and spacious building

---or, HOMES
---no debt! (idjits....)
---live within our income, save for rain, stay from debt, economy & frugality
---don't pay interest, earn it

---skip aside the oil question to....
---Spiritual Fuel!
---emulate the five virgins
---"'in righteousness there's great simplicity'"

(we lost audio!!!)

may we be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost
may we prepare ourselves to accomplish the ultimate test of mortality (return to our Heavenly Father)


Sister Allred (I thought I would have video to support this bit of memory--provide a first name, for instance. Alas.)

Okay. Allred is obviously her married name.

(LS says she sounds like Ricky Ricardo.)

(lost sound again....)

She's running to a book. I don't know which one. Shall we guess the Book of Mormon? David Copperfield?

they get baptized; her mom gets interested too; family all dunked

missionary work became her passion (possible fashion?)

(lost sound)
(taking a long time to come back this time)

do missionaries realize the far-reaching impact of their work?

how can we assist in missionary work?
1. have clear understanding that God loves all his work
2. (blame the Big O, but I don't know)

(lost sound)

(LS just found an old credit card of mine from before we were married that I never took the sticker off of; expired 2001)



Elder Anderson

we have days feeling inadequate ill prepared

part of the victory of Disciples of Christ is what we do when these feelings come

progressing through mortality

not knowing everything can still be knowing enough

know God loves you

choose faith

(sorry for the paucity of notes---IU'm on baby duty too)

Jesus will make everything all right


Elder Aidukaitis

"he converted himself"

a Lithuanian-Scottish-Brazilian (!)

(just learned 'The Mormons' will be on PBS again Monday)

read and act on the promise of the book of mormon

(don't know more --- been battling baby)


Elder DH Oaks

something he says is the foundation of our testimony (I'm off like a hero today....)

Ah! The sacrament!

which makes sacrament meeting the most sacred one of the church
(only one familes attend together)
(unless you've had to remove a screaming S, that is)

(lost sound)

(uhoh...literal bowels....))

our manner of dress up for mention again

lightmindedness? straight out

the sacredness of the sacrament, performance thereof

white shirts
---signifier of temple clothing


Elder Uchdorf started talking while I was in the bathroom


with faith a charity, you can make a stool

scriptures written that we might have hope (Paul)

hope that, through Atonement, et cetera, through our faith in the Savior

overcoming the tempation to lose hope

even Moronee still believed in hope!

not good: doubt, despair, failure to care for our fellows

despair kills ambition, deadens heart, pollutes soul . . . .

hope like a beam of sunlight

(it's *****in' cold in our room)

a firm hope! a lively hope! a hope glorifying God through good works!

things we hope for, things we hope in
look beyond the horizon of mortality

hope leads to good works
we learn to cultivate hope the same way we learn to walk: one step at a time

commit to keep the commandments of God

"'we find within us an invincible summer'"

without faith there is no hope
faith comes of hope
for faith is the substance of things hoped for
faith critical for both hope and charity
and when faith is eroded, hope is there to uphold us
faith/hope braces our resolve even without expectation of reward
the stronger the one the stronger the other
things we hope for lead us to faith
the things we hope in lead us to charity

never give in , never surrender (isn't that from Galaxy Quest?)


(it's hard to be reverent when the pray-er won't stop smacking)



ooo! a Primary choir!

Elder Eyring conducts

the audio's not playing along, so we're trying video again

they just released our old stake president from the seceond Seventy

that was a short set this time!

fifteen minutes in and video crashes again --- Mormon time, everybody

Elder Wirthlin

We're arriving late due to technical difficulties. (back to audio-only)

we all have suffered

no one is shielded from grief and sadness

how we deal with things is of greater effect

stupid cupboard doors.........

"getting lost was not an unusual occurance for us"

we ended up in Anaheim once....

blind-dating the babysitter

increased compassion

autism saves baseball

if we do our part, He will step in

he will comfort, uphold, strengthen

we can


Elder Holland

No one's more beloved than Elder Wirthlin, for living the sermon he preaches.

On Adam & Eve: as they arrived into morality, they expected troubles
but worse than that, being distanced from God

in times of special need were sent angels to reassure them of the closeness of heaven

seen or unseen, they are always near

(this will replace the decade-old Elder oaks talk on angels for referencing when this subject comes up)
(or, more accurately, supplement it)

we all spend time in dark and dreary places

"global distress"

angels came to Christ when tested by angels in the wilderness --- even he was in such a need

Has the day of miracles ceased? Or have angels ceased to minister unto men? Et cetera? Nay. For it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto us.

tales of angels dispatched

not all angels are from the other side of the veil
some of them walk with us, reside near us, gave birth to us, married us

heaven never seems closer than when manifested in people so good and so pure that no other word than 'angelic' seems quite right

crazy kid on horse

(hey! the Big O is paying attention! he predicted the figure would be an angel before it was mentioned in the story!)

(that was a weeper)

testifying of angels heavenly and mortal

God never leaves us unaided, nor shall he

let us try to also be a little more angelic ourselves


Elder Caussé

the importance lattdaysaints attach to the search for knowledge
which is a principle of salvation

(excuse me while I come and go, warming up beans)

the principle of knowledge often misinterpreted

trying to find God sometimes done in unnecessarily complicated ways

Jesus never went for overly complex language (although claiming simplicity in every expression would be, ah, oversimplifying, no?)

The Little Prince

the eyes are blind; you have to seek with your heart

he's speaking foremost to to converts (although implicitly, not with a bald announcement preceding)


Elder Corbridge

the bread of life

I am the light of the world
he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness
but have the light of life

he that believeth in me shall live, never die

I am the way the truth and the life
no man cometh unto the Father but by me

he is the way, every other way, any other way, is madness

the well of living water: either we drink and never thirst more, or we don't and foolishly remain thirsty still.


plan of father implemented by son that we may have holy ghost

no other gods before me

only god can bless us
only he can sustain us
only he can beat our hearts and give us breath

everygoodthing depends on our getting and maintaining the gift of the Holy Ghost

the higher the standard the fewer can reach it?
not in the gospel
this is not a human endeavor

consider what is God's glory

LIFE is hard, not the gospel
but life is also simple: two choices: follow the Lord and be endowed with his power (or not, being the other choice)
and which way is easier?


Elder Christofferson

looking forward to our day
bringing about the latter-day glory



Zion iz Zion because of the citizens

if we would establish Zion at home, we need to rise to that standard

we will become of one heart and one mind as we get inline with the Savior

our individual efforts to be the pure in heart

the celestial law, the gospel law

covenants of love and consecration and fidelity

lustful media and their attendent eviiiiils (he's obviously been reading this blog)

to become not merely good, but holy men and women

to give up the summer cottage in Babylon (Maxwell)

we control our means and resources, but account to God for the stewardship


Elder David A Bednar

meaningful evening and morning prayers and connected to each other****************************

we know better, but do we always act according to what we know? (no)

prayer becomes meaningful as we remember our relationship to deity and remember we should be crying unto the Lord always in all things

expressing gratitude --- even in time of tragedy and thus desiring gifts for others

the power of thankfulness in meaningful prayer

recommendation: periodically give prayers in which we only thank (ask for nothing) try only to communicate or gratitude with all our hearts

praying with others, for others good too
both those we love and those who despitefully use us

the vision came in a response to a prayer for others

Jesus offers a good example of praying for others with real intent in the Intercessory Prayer

imagine what it would be like to hear the Savior of the world pray for us

do those we love and serve hear us pray for them?
if not, the time to repent is now
emulate the example of the savior
this will make our prayers become more meaningful

prayer becomes more meaningful as we counsel with the Lord in all our doings



Priesthood - Scott
Priesthood - Scott
Priesthood - Scott, Jensen, Hamula
Priesthood - Hamula, Uchtdorf
Priesthood - Uchtdorf, Eyring
Priesthood - Eyring, Monson
Priesthood - Monson
Priesthood - Monson



well, the audio's not working so we're starting out with the video; but in 15 minutes it will undoubtedly lock up, and by then the audio-only feed had better be working or we're screwed.......

President Eyring

promised blessings to the Saints

yearning for joy
desires to grant us the sacred wish for unity
cannot be granted to us as individuals
is not solitary / must be seeked for with others

how better an FHE when a child bears witness of the savior
feeling our hearts being knit together

when discussion turn from a discussion of what is true to who is right, ceasing to speak about the issues but about themselves (the debates?)

[we keep switching from a to a/v, trying to get one to work consistently]

[and some people say the pioneers had it hard! hmmph!]

unity starts from recognizing the truth we share --- which is always more important than our differences
(or at least should be, right?)

The children of God have more in common than they have differences.
The Lord can help us see and value what another person brngs that we lack.
Sometimes that difference is just the help we need.

Speak well of each other

(it's unfortunate that 'forge' has those two meanings --- because it was an excellent word choice, but I misinterpreted his meaning at first --- which made it an awful word choice --- crazy words.....)

The bishop's not perfect?!?!?!?!

because their hearts were knit, they were magnified in their power

sustaing with all our hearts, together move in power wherever God would have us go, be what He would have us be

the Lord's promise that we may have the righteous desires of our hearts re: unity


Elder Robert Hales

remember that Jesus himself was despised and rejected of the world
and those who came to him too

the incomparable Christian response: Father forgive them for they know not what they do

when we resist feeling of anger, we stand with the Savior

resisting such is not weakness, but Christian courage

seasons of negative publicity tend to lead to our success

"a reasuring word to one who has made a negative [blog] comment" (much better than lashing back in anger --- man those Mormons make me angry --- not that I then lash back at them.....I hope.....)

bible-bashing drives the Spirit away

as true disciples, our true concern should be other's welfare

oo! cactus! (porcupines don't shoot.....)

just walk away

a mu lih kee yu ?

I am doing a great work and cannot come down.

(i'm babyholding)


Bishop McMullin who was just at our stake conference

the supernal capacity to bear children in our image

the Chinese official's Fast Offering

a form of prayer only available under the hands of those authorized

(bye baby)(nap time)

faithful elders are commissioned to do what the Lord would do

and janice is not seventy with eleven grandchildren (miracle!)

(he looks so pained, and has from the beginning; as if it is all he can do to keep from bursting out in tears)

Christ did all he was ordained to do

he is the God of Israel, he is the living Christ (anointed)

whosoever livetha and believeth in my shall never die


Sister Dalton

I took that "we do hard things" motto from Celia, and I've been using it at home and at school with great frequency
I'm all about doing hard things now.

flag of virtue

have the moral courage to stand alone

Amalakiah's getting of Lehonti is brought up again! This is obviously a good metaphor for the moment.

(I should incorporate some of these quotes into my next eros post --- I wonder if they'll be online by then....)

change the world! through virtue!

focus on the flesh instead of faith, consumers of vice rather than guardians of virtue
(I wonder if 'vice' and 'virute' would be paired so frequently were it not for alliteration)

"'the will to win means nothing without the will to prepare'"

Awake! and arise! and lay hand on every good thing!

arise and unfurl a banner to the world, inviting the ole world to return to virtue


Elder MR Ballard

time keeps on slippin slippin slippin into the future

church growth

missionary work in South America was announced and began in 1925
there, the Church is an oak, not a sunflower (prophecy fulfilled)

none of this missionary work was easy

1000000th missionary

no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing

the little church with a handful of members has grown grown grown

every continent, clime, country, ear (coming)

what we are asked seems rather little and paltry, doesn't it? maybe that's what makes it hard

carry on! the rich tradition! of devoted committed LDSaints!

until "The Work Is Done"


President Tommy Monson

CHANGE (tis the season!)

most changes take place subtly and slowly

the difference between our lives is only in the details

learning to distinguish between what is most important and what is not

don't wait for when you have time to do what you want to do; do it now

He admits to being a showaholic! I knew it!
(I wonder if he saw WALL*E?)

there is no tomorrow if we don't do something today

circus balloonah, the circus story
but Dad took them notwithstanding
a good lesson, isn't it?
I could certainly use hearing it again.

what's most important is the people around us --- let them know we love them (as Elder Scott said last night)

never let a problem-to-be-solved become more important than a person-to-be-loved

left with what-ifs and if-onlys

with only TWENTY-FIVE words for thy family EVER, what would you say?
---These things are important temple marriage mission college press on set goals write history take pictures twice a year [and 6 words left over! efficient!]

as i have loved you, love one another

(why are women more likely to remember Our Town than men?)
(that would be a good one to teach.....)
(maybe with spoon river.....)

enjoy life while you live it, every every minute

what is most important in life goes handinhand with gratitude for our blessings

both abundance and lack-of-abundance are always there in our lives as parallel realities: which will be choose to recognize?

heaven on earth

behold he rejoices not in that which is given nor in who gives it (tch tch)

tremendous desire to participate in every life experience despite her handicap

[I should be doing more things while I can still function as a moderately young person]

light reflected in the bubbles of the dishwater

Jesus, Master, have mercy on us

as they went they were cleansed

and one turned back and with a loud voice glorified God, giving him thanks

and he was a Samaritan

were there not ten? where are the nine? none are returned save this stranger.

against none is His wrath kindled save against those who confess not his hand in all things (ie, everyone)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. Answer and I will come in.

Who was this Man of Sorrows? Who was this King of Glory? this Lord of Hosts?
our master our savior our god

Go and do thou likewise

Keep My Commandments

the divine gift of gratitude

joy in the journey


[save for a couple spittles, thie video worked well this time; we were behind a couple minutes when we went back to it and are even further behind now, but still---close enough]



[computer crashed; trying to load back up; lost 15m so far]

President Packer (but no sound)


Joseph Smith to court 200 times without conviction

between tech problems and food and kids I really have no idea what's going on --- something about being citizens?

I don't have any sense of the chronology here, but now he's on the Utah War

[is he wearing an earpiece and mike?]


Elder RM Nelson

Patterns of the Shopper
---wise shoppers study carefully and want the very best
---some shoppers look for bargains
---some splurge and get crap
---some steal

now apply to marriage --- good marraige? bad? marital shoplifters?

'conjugal living'

to declare as an apostle of the Lord that w-m marriage is sacred and ordained of God, with temple marriage at the top

salvation is an individual matter; exaltation is a family matter

did he say "party in the holy temple"? if so, I wish O had let me catch the context as well.....

all Church stuff is a means to the end of exalted families

The Family is Central to the Creator's Plan

celestial marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than any other possible relationship

they twain shall be one flesh

marriage not just a principle but a COMMANDMENT

Moses 1:39

eternal marriage not just husband and wife, but a partnership with God

children are an heritage of the Lord

[screaming baby]

[I like his tie]

some marital options are cheap, some are costly, some are cunningly crafted by the adversary

Good news! cheap choices are upgradeable!

[I can't decide if upgradable needs an e which reminds me to apologize for not typing this in something that alerts me to mistypes]

married to the right person in the right place by the right authority and to obey those commandments


Elder WD Oswald

What is this jump-the-rope thing you speak of? [Hey! That doesn't look like Elder Oz and his wife!!!]

to the rhythm
the swinging rope

Look at her go!

as she
to the rhythm
the swinging rope

teaching is at the center of all we do

on teaching teachers

carefully watch able teachers, review worldwide training meeting on teachering


annointed with the Holy Ghost and power

[video's been working hitchless, now that it's going]

from the BofM:
Nephi, Alma, sons of Mosiah.....
good teachers all
teaching with power and authority of GOd
sent as messenger direct from God
to JS, otherwise untutored and untaught

teach from the scriptures

the act of pondering on the scriptures invites good stuff into our lives

know your students by name, use the scriptures, invite to ponder


[Ah. Elder Uchdorf is conducting.]

[during the congregational hymn I'm checking out this video player and---hey!---you can already watch old sessions! that's pretty fancy]

Elder Gavarret

it gets cold in the Uruguayan winter

[he sounds just like my friend Armando, who is actually from Mexico City, so I find it kind of surprising how identical their accents are]

meanwhile, back in Peru.....

the battle for reactivation

1700 back

therefore give unto us, oh lord, um, shoot. something.

Brother Vargas's journey back home

unto the least of these my brethren? done unto me.

man's return after many years away, returns after a mere invitation to the small flame still inside his heart

in the service of your fellow beings? in the service of your God.

seek after those who are not here with us today

even one soul....even one........

help return them to Christ

the love of our Father and Savior

gave love gave Son that we might come back home


Elder Carlos A Godoy

[this guy reminds me so many people, all at once]

the search for a remarkable story
not a necessary part of a testimony

the voice of the Spirit is neither loud nor harsh, but a perfect voice of perfect mildness that can pierce the soul and cause the heart to burn --- remember Elijah!

if we are preoccupied, we may not feel Him at all

Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.

a desire to believe
a desire to believe
a desire to believe
a desire to believe
a desire to believe
a desire to believe
a desire to believe
a desire to believe
a desire to believe
a desire to believe

a set of experiences and feelings, mostly small, that leave no doubt that the seed is a good seed

it begins to be delicious to me

even when we lose the details, the results of our experiences make us who we are, with the testimonies we have

the power of the priesthood, restored and blessing


Elder Cook of the 12

driving in the snow (!)
ill-prepared for a June snowstorm
in Donnor
hoo boy

Hope ya know we had a hard time.
(as are our prayers, si?)

we will prove them herewith to see if they will do all things whatsoever they are commanded
sometimes the things the best for us seem the most bitter

best of times, worst of times

evacuating Nauvoo

"'he was my last child, and he lived only four hours'"

"'we are not going to suffer any more than is for our good'"

challenges, difficulties, problems, losses


whatever the source of the trial, they cause pain and suffering for those whose they are

the rain falls on the just and the unjust
but not all clouds result in rain

the reassuring doctrine of the Atonement
the Savior takes our sufferings upon us

we will have years lean and plentiful

if we are prepared, we shall not fear

one form of preparation is keeping the commandments
if not, we shall be cut of from His presence

clearly, having the Spirit is a necessary preparartion

the SIN of INgratitude (pretty dang bad)

even when 'havin a hard time'

Man. Every day could be my last.

remember that Christ knows me/you/us personally


God and his Anointed are there in our hard times

"'find someone who is having a hard time and do something for them'"


President Monson (encore)

Nice conference, everybody!

may we long remember what we have seen

God will bless us and be with us as we strive

may we be good citizens

[benediction would be the proper term for this?]

those who are hungry and destitute

help us serve
we are nearly always among the first on the scene

[O: Is this Sunday? Oh. I thought this was just a practice talk. Do they have practice talks?]

"God bless you, my brothers and sisters."

Dr Faustus chose to ignore God and follow Satan (ed: in a rather literal way); led to lamintation

eternal anguish from eternal separation may be worst, but eternal togetherness with eternal joy is pretty great

Farewell, till we meet again, in six months.

Lord's blessing evoked upon us each

'Behold, I stand at the door and knock.' Let's listen for his voice. And let us open the door. And let in our Savior.


[the end]



On Thmusings:

On The Weekly Svithe:

General Conference Svithetaculars on Thmusings
176.0 176.5 177.0 177.5 178.0 178.5


General Conference Svithetaculars on The Weekly Svithe
176.0 176.5 177.0 177.5 178.0 178.5


Svithing Page One


The current First Presidency message, President Eyring speaks on unity, being one.

This sense of Zion can be hard to develop, but obviously it is founded on love and thinking the best of each other. I excerpt one paragraph, then leave the rest to you:

    If we are to have unity, there are commandments we must keep concerning how we feel. We must forgive and bear no malice toward those who offend us. The Savior set the example from the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). We do not know the hearts of those who offend us. Nor do we know all the sources of our own anger and hurt. The Apostle Paul was telling us how to love in a world of imperfect people, including ourselves, when he said, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:4–5). And then he gave solemn warning against reacting to the faults of others and forgetting our own when he wrote, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

this svithe on thmusings
last week's svithe


Svithe regarding living prophets


Not often in my life have I had occasion to Follow the Prophet when it wasn't relatively simple and already consistent with my intellectual understandings.

But a faith that never leaves the intellect's comfort zone is a faith untested.

And so I have decided to obey.

this svithe on thmusings
last week's svithe


Uncle Zed's Svithe


"There are three principles in the law of progress, all of them important: First, there must be an exercise of the will by the candidate for progression. He must be willing to advance and have a desire to act for himself. That is the principle of free agency. Second, he must be willing to receive help from a higher source; that
is, he must place himself in a condition to receive life and light from the source of life and light. Third, he must be unselfish, willing, eager to share all good with others. The lack of any of these will prove a serious hindrance. We see this everywhere in the world.

"Coming back now to the application I mentioned. If it is God's work and glory to labor for those below Him, why should not we, His sons and daughters, follow His example as far as possible in our sphere of action? If we are ever to become like Him we must follow in His steps and do the things which He has done. Our work, also must be to help along the road to salvation those who are lower down, those who are more
ignorant and are weaker than we."

Thank you, Uncle Zed. Not exactly PC, you dirty old hick, but probably good advice all the same.

this svithe on thmuzings
last week's svithe


Svithing because I can


Did you read Uncle Orson's column in Mormon Times last week? I'm going to quote shamelessly.
    . . . as I came to church last Sunday, I . . . [found] three scraps of torn paper, each about an inch square, lying near the main couch.

    The fact that there were only three scraps suggested that some adult had frantically picked up all the other scraps but missed a few. I instantly pictured some mom, loaded down with a paper-tearing toddler, a baby in a carrier and a huge diaper, toy and snack bag, dragging her burdens away from the couch, only to notice the scraps she had missed and think, I just can't set anything down to clean those up. Somebody else will have to do it.

    That somebody else was me.

    How did I know it was my job? Because the scraps were . . . there, and I saw them.

    I bent over. I picked them up. I walked 10 steps to the garbage can tucked up under the never-used coat rack, deposited the scraps and then walked into the chapel just in time to help the usher open the folding curtain to the pass through and help set up chairs because somebody had decided not to put any back in the overflow after the youth dance in the cultural hall the night before. . . .

    My calling in our ward is not "foyer trash police" or "guy who interrupts the other ward's gospel doctrine class in order to get chairs out from under the stage in the cultural hall," but I did those jobs this past Sunday.

    Because they needed doing. Nobody cared that I did them. The only reason I remember is because I knew I was going to write this essay.

    We sometimes think that our callings consist of the slot that we've been assigned to fill -- the job that gives us our ward identity.

    But that's not so. Our calling is to do whatever needs doing that we have the authority to do. . . .

    Do you want to see the Kingdom of God on earth? It's there in our chapels and classrooms and foyers, and it consists of ... us. Friends and fellow-servants in his house.
Here's to picking up the scraps of paper we see.

Here's to holding the door for the person behind us.

Here's to grabbing left-behind bulletins as we walk out of the chapel.

Here's to doing out part.

this svithe on thmusings
last week's svithe


In line for a svithe? Just look around.

Holy Donuts. Get it?.

No we didn't have donuts today, but church was good. We had a marvelous rendition of "Adam-ondi-Ahman"--voice and guitar; we had an unusually provoking lesson on the war chapters of Alma; our new bishop told us to make friends with each other; Lady Steed performed some service after the meetings. Nothing spectacular maybe but very nice.

I'm reminded of President Eyring's recent talk in which he encouraged us to notice our daily gifts:

    I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.

    More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.
Go us and do us likewise.

Um. Or something.

this svithe on thmusings
last week's svithe


the leaving-the-petri-dish svithe


The Big O went to a daycamp this week and, presumably, had a good time. (He asked to go again next year.) Yesterday he committed his first verbal monstrosity.

Lady Steed talked to him about it and later she told me. His first week and he's already picking up things from Outside the Home.

This is something small, of course, and he was innocent of any intentional wrong-doing, but it's a lesson to me of what's to come and how little control parents have over children's hours away.

I'm very much a libertarian and a teach-correct-principles-let-them-govern-themselves kind of guy, but now I realize what that means, to let your children go off alone into a new world where they will make mistakes and require a savior.

And it was only one week.

this svithe on thmusings
last week's svithe


This svithe cannot defile you


Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

As I was recently reading in an article I will be blogging about later, the issue is choice. It is our choices that defile us (or exalt us), and as we are agents unto ourselves, we can't blame our friends, family, environment or luck for who we are.

For it's not what goeth into the that mouth defileth us, but that which cometh out of it.

For what cometh out of it is entirely up to us.

(Unless you have the rotavirus, I suppose, but I imagine that's an exception.)

this svithe on thmusings
last week's post


The “What’s this world coming to when a jazz musician can be made a bishop?” svithe


. . . many in the community and even at the university
still dismissed jazz
as, at best, an unsophisticated
art form and, at worst, an immoral and evil influence.

“Jazz has long been associated with evil environments and
evil lifestyles,” says Smith. But he has a different take . . . .

It has been a struggle, at times, to convince others. Smith
recalls a conversation between two BYU students after he
received a new church calling: “What’s this world coming
to when a jazz musician can be made a bishop?” But Smith
believes the Spirit can be conveyed through the toe-tapping
music. “In graduate school, I’d be sitting in the middle of
a jazz class, and I’d feel the burning of the Spirit so
powerfully and it would puzzle me,” Smith recalls. He later
found quotes by Brigham Young about the duty of the elders
of the Church to gather truth from whatever source and bring
it back to Zion. “I felt I had that mission to a certain
extent—to bring to Zion the wonderful aspects of jazz and
practice them in a wholesome lifestyle.”

. . . . “Ray has a profound faith, and he’s really a model
Christian . . . . He is able to very convincingly show that
the music’s got nothing to do with an unseemly lifestyle,
that the music stems from Heavenly Father, a manifestation of
all things good on the earth—passion and joy and power and
romance and heartbreak.”

The ward I grew up in just changed bishops and rumor has it our ward is about to undergo a change in leadership as well. The bishop in my parents' ward was called while we lived in the ward and I was in a position to watch him closely as he took on that mantle. He was a great example to me and his release makes me consider what I've done with my life since that time.

I think this is a true principle: Live worthy to be called to X position. Not because you will be called or you aspire to be called, but because if the Lord did call you, wouldn't you like to be ready?

(Sorry for the second person. As always, I'm just talking about myself.)

The article quoted above, which I only recently read, brought this to mind again. Here in Berkeley I can't imagine that what's-the-world-coming-to problem (yay, berkeley!), but I can imagine someone in a crazyheaded profession like jazz (or fiction) being the recipient of leery gazes in wards here and there.

Orson Scott Card has written about the responsibility of Mormon artists to try and fit in. And this is where I'm heading today: the need to be part of the community. Not necessarily for the individual's sake, but for the community's sake.

This is part of building Zion: being willing to sacrifice what we selfishly view as our "identity" in order to serve and be served.

It's not just jazz musicians and semen svithers who can come off strange, everyone is weird--just some people live lives that don't emphasize that fact so much. But if we cherish our weirdness more than gospel, we will never arrive at the feet of Christ.

This is a lesson I'm constantly trying to teach myself. Believe me, I find it very easy to be peculiar. But I'm still capable of minimizing that peculiarity to be part of the peculiar people. Which is where I want to be.

Because I believe in Jesus Christ. And I believe he's anxious to redeem me from my sins. And that's a heckuvalot more important than being outrageous.

The good news is the two aren't mutually exclusive.


this svithe on thmusings
last week's svithe


Sunday School Svithe (part three of three)


I ran out of time without ever even getting close to talking about this section of our lesson (Alma 17-22). You you get a World Premiere today, baby.



Differing Missionary Styles


Ammon is bound and taken to the king.
Alma 17:22-25
How do Ammon's actions as a servant reflect on his claims to the king?
How do his actions affect his missionary opportunities and success?

Aaron walks into a synagogue and things don't go well. The people say they
don't believe the prophets or in Christ and he starts quoting scripture
from prophets about Christ. Net result: prison.
(Alma 21:5-9)
Now, I don't doubt that it was indeed Aaron's lot "to have fallen into the
hands of a more hardened and a more stiffnecked people", but his manner of
proselytizing couldn't have helped.

How does Aaron's missionary method change between prison and Lamoni's father?
Starting with the obvious answers, WHY did he change?

How did his "opening of the scriptures" change from time one to time two?

Starting with the obvious answers, what are the lessons here for us?

(does this tie back into our discussion on guile?)
(can we define 'guile' in missionary terms?)

this svithe on thmusings
last week's svithe


Sunday School Svithe (part two of three)


Sorry this is late---we never did get around to turning on the computer yesterday. so we had a nice digital-free shabbat. This week's post is a continuation of last week's, notes from my Sunday School lesson on Alma 17-22.

Since last week's post, I've heard a few comments on my lesson, and the main one--a little surprising--is that it was 'funny.' You wouldn't really get that from the notes. I didn't plan any jokes......

Anyway, here's the second of the three lessons I prepared. We ran out of time and only barely touched on this one, but there's some interesting stuff. I used the Blue Letter Bible for my vocabulary research (what word[s] were translated intoguile). If you're not familiar with it, it's a great tool.



-John 1:47 (dolos)
+2 Cor 12:16 (dolos)*
-1 Thess 2:3 (dolos) seems to say the opposite of 2Cor12
-1 Peter 2:1 (dolos)
-1 Peter 2:21-22 (dolos) Christ was without guile
-1 Peter 3:10 (dolos)
Revelation 14:5 (dolos)


-Exodus 21:14 (ormah)
-Psalms 32:2 (r@miyah) Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
-Psalms 34:13 (mirmah)
-Psalms 55:11 (mirmah)


-D&C 124:20
-D&C 41:9,11
-D&C 121:41-42**

*Some translations suggest that this is a continuation of Paul listing the ways he had supposedly taken advantage of the people. They way I read it myself is that he is saying that if he tricked them, it was not for their money but, you might say, for their souls.

This is a further likening to Ammon. Upon first meeting Ammon, it's clear that Lamoni's father expects that he, Ammon, is after wealth. With a bit of squinting, we could guess that Lamoni started with that assumption as well. A bit of swordplay and Ammon, like Paul, has apparently found a sneaky way to riches. But, in fact, all his guile is used for is in freeing his brethren and helping his buddy Lamoni.

**This one is particularly interesting to me. In a list of attributes of your good priesthood man, guile
is explicitly excluded. And this is the same God that had Joseph translate whatever word was in the Book
of Mormon as 'guile.'

How do we choose to understand this?

Or, perhaps, what was it about Ammon's and Paul's "guile" which makes it okay?

My guess: charity.

Also, consider this: Ammon had a chance at guile with Lamoni's father and all he did was ask favors for friends. And what result did this have?

Within moments of trying to kill Ammon, he says:
Alma 20:27 And I will also grant unto thee that thy brethren may be cast out of prison, and thou and thy brethren may come unto me, in my kingdom; for I shall greatly desire to see thee. For the king was greatly astonished at the words which he had spoken, and also at the words which had been spoken by his son Lamoni, therefore he was desirous to learn them.

So Aaron and presumably Muloki come to visit the king and they offer to be his servants (they've learned from the Ammon playbook). But the king will have none of that.

Let's read. We have an Aaron, a king and a narrator. Please share a mike, folks. And read with gusto!

If you want to follow along, Alma 22:2-18.
Pay close attention to the startling lack of guile on the part of the king. I'll be asking you what we can learn from him and how we can apply those lessons.
    Narrator: And it came to pass that he went in unto him into the king’s palace, with his brethren, and bowed himself before the king, and said unto him:

    Aaron: Behold, O king, we are the brethren of Ammon, whom thou hast delivered out of prison. And now, O king, if thou wilt spare our lives, we will be thy servants.

    King: Arise, for I will grant unto you your lives, and I will not suffer that ye shall be my servants; but I will insist that ye shall administer unto me; for I have been somewhat troubled in mind because of the generosity and the greatness of the words of thy brother Ammon; and I desire to know the cause why he has not come up out of Middoni with thee.

    Aaron: Behold, the Spirit of the Lord has called him another way; he has gone to the land of Ishmael, to teach the people of Lamoni.

    King: What is this that ye have said concerning the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, this is the thing which doth trouble me. And also, what is this that Ammon said—If ye will repent ye shall be saved, and if ye will not repent, ye shall be cast off at the last day?

    Aaron: Believest thou that there is a God?

    King: I know that the Amalekites say that there is a God, and I have granted unto them that they should build sanctuaries, that they may assemble themselves together to worship him. And if now thou sayest there is a God, behold I will believe.

    Narrator: And now when Aaron heard this, his heart began to rejoice, and he said:

    Aaron: Behold, assuredly as thou livest, O king, there is a God.

    King: Is God that Great Spirit that brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem?

    Aaron: Yea, he is that Great Spirit, and he created all things both in heaven and in earth. Believest thou this?

    King: Yea, I believe that the Great Spirit created all things, and I desire that ye should tell me concerning all these things, and I will believe thy words.

    Narrator: And it came to pass that when Aaron saw that the king would believe his words, he began from the creation of Adam, reading the scriptures unto the king—how God created man after his own image, and that God gave him commandments, and that because of transgression, man had fallen. And Aaron did expound unto him the scriptures from the creation of Adam, laying the fall of man before him, and their carnal state and also the plan of redemption, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, through Christ, for all whosoever would believe on his name. And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king. And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said:

    King: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.

    Aaron: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.

    Narrator: And it came to pass that when Aaron had said these words, the king did bow down before the Lord, upon his knees; yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried mightily, saying:

    King: O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day.

    Narrator: And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead. But don’t worry, everyone! Things work out! He’s not really dead! Not till chapter twenty-four, anyway! Back to you, Brother Jepson.
Well? What do you think of the king?

What does it mean to be willing to give up all your sins to know God?

Why do you think the king offered his sins? To Ammon he offered half the kingdom.

How can we be more like the king?

When SHOULD we be more like him?

This is something I want to know.

this svithe on thmusings
last week's svithe


Sunday School Svithe (part one of three)


If you're at Church with me right now, you already know that as this post is magically hitting the web, I am teaching Sunday School. I prepared three lessons for this hour and expect to get through at least two of them. For the next three weeks (unless something interrupts me), my svithes will be my notes for these three lessons. Starting with the first.


On how stupid we can be in ignoring what we feel to be true, et cetera


Ammon's put with the flocks (which, given the life expectancy, makes you wonder about the daughter offer)

When the bad guys scatter the flocks, here is the servants' assumption:
We will all get killed

Ammon's solution seems so obvious (gather the sheep) that we wonder how they could never have thought of it before

Possible reasons
Afraid the bad guys will kill them (problem with this?)
Afraid it cannot be done (problem with this?)
Basically, their feelings about the balance between their skills and the task at hand (comments?)

Q: How is the servants' response similar to the reactions of the Nephites as Ammon recalls them in Alma 26:23?

How do our spiritual capabilities sometimes fail to match our opinions thereof?

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Matt 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
2 Nephi 4:19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
Alma 34:15 And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.

So in the end, does it MATTER if our spiritual capacities fail?
Could the servants of Lamoni have collected the flocks if Ammon hadn't been cutting off arms?

Which brings us to Ammon's pov. (Please emphasize the first 20 words.)
2 Nephi 2:8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

WHY is Ammon off in the land of the Lamanites, anyway? Why is he there?


Let's return now to the convert of Ammon's that Mormon found most interesting: Lamoni.

He's heard the story, he's got the pile of arms at his feet, he's wondering what the heck is going on and----

I'm changing the subject entirely. Don't raise your hands, but how many of you shut off the water while you're soaping your hands?

Turning it off while brushing my teeth was easy to grasp onto and easy to implement.

Soap on handles, slipperiness, messiness of cleaning, etc.

And what about the lengthy showers I was once known for?

With the recent water restrictions, I began to fear exceedingly, lest I had done wrong in wasting so much water. My conscience pricked me and I now use about three gallons per shower.

Sometimes, we don't listen well to the Light of Christ, or the Holy Ghost. It doesn't occur to us (or we won't LET it occur to us) that taking long showers or not gathering the sheep or killing our servants isn't the best path to take.

Let's look at Lamoni:
18:4-5 --- And now, when the king heard these words, he said unto them: Now I know that it is the Great Spirit; and he has come down at this time to preserve your lives, that I might not slay you as I did your brethren. Now this is the Great Spirit of whom our fathers have spoken. Now this was the tradition of Lamoni, which he had received from his father, that there was a Great Spirit. Notwithstanding they believed in a Great Spirit, they supposed that whatsoever they did was right; nevertheless, Lamoni began to fear exceedingly, with fear lest he had done wrong in slaying his servants;

Plainly, deep inside, Lamoni had always known this was wrong.
How often are we the same? How often do we require a big something to get us to make a change we already know needs to be made?

(stories? examples? thoughts?)

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This svithe is totally gay (or, you know, not)


Two weeks ago in my parents ward, the bishop read the First Presidency's letter on the proposed marriage amendment here in California. The bishop said he would let us know as soon as he knew what we would be asked to do. The speakers touched on the urgency of the issue and its connection to the evil in the world.

Last week the letter was read in our current ward with an introduction from the bishop, in essence, explaining that sometimes callings cause you to do things you really would rather not and we don't always understand why we're asked to do the things we do. Followed by a testimony wondering not about the definition of marriage but why the letter contained so little we-still-love-you.

The stake president bore his testimony later in the meeting and never mentioned the marriage issue, but did say that God loveth his children, a soft reference to the recent pamphlet.

The people most vocally against the amendment keep reminding us how well Prop 22 passed, 61.4%. Personally, I don't think that's a super-mighty showing. Plus, it was eight years ago. A lot has changed in California since 2000. I don't see the amendment passing.

But whether it will or not is a different question than whether or not it should.

The first thing I think of whenever this issue comes up is something Orson Scott Card said at Endercon. He was addressing issue of "Is this bad for children?" and said that heterosexual divorce had damaged more children than homosexual marriage ever would.

But it's not really about children, is it? It's about the morality of homosexuality.

Personally, doubting than many people "choose" to be gay, I find it troubling to call it a moral issue at all. I didn't choose to be white. How can being white be a sin? (Critical Racists take note.) And it also seems to me that by allowing marriage between gays and lesbians, many of the alleged immoral excesses will fall into the same range we see among randy heteros.

Having many gay friends, I have a hard time closing doors on them. Granted, I don't see marriage as a constitutional right (more extraconstitutional--like my right to chew bubblegum--only more impactful on my life and happiness), but I also don't see who it's going to hurt. I'm rather utilitarian in my feelings here. If it doesn't hurt anyone and makes some people happy, why not?

On the other hand, I have faith in the teachings of my church and I have to recognize that if I accept a) that God knows more than me and b) the First Presidency knows more about God's will than I do, then c) how can I deign to reject counsel that claims that Godly genesis? Who am I to second-guess God?

For most moderns, this dilemma reveals how little religious people are capable of thought and how beholden to the old men and dead books who do their thinking for them. But that's because they don't recognize the source of faith, which is outside of me and my little brain. Don't accept that, fine--I'll never convince you otherwise--but at least don't thoughtlessly dismiss my testimony that it is true.

For now, my thoughts on the issue center much on the scripture quoted at the beginning of the pamphlet mentioned above:
    I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.

And I never will. And I really don't have that much control over which things I do understand and which things I don't. And that means I have to make decisions based on uncertainty.

But that's normal. That's life. Being a Saint doesn't give me access to the Absolute Right Answer to Every Question. And if it did, what kind of life would that be?

God doesn't like telling us what to do--not in the detail work.

Another thing I've been thinking about, courtesy of Brigham Young:
    I refer you to the exhortation you have heard so frequently from me . . . . You may know whether you are led right or wrong . . . . I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.

Well, that's a lot more quote than I needed, and meaty enough to deserve it's own svithe. So I'll just stop here and take a nap.


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This week’s svithe: “The City of Enoch”

The Enoch Letters, image from Amazon.

I imagine Elder Maxwell didn't view his little book as a proselytory text to be sent out into the world to convert souls unacquainted with Mormonism. Yet the bulk of the book consists of just such letters: Mahijah is writing his friend Omner about the glorious new religion he has discovered that makes all things clear and fills his heart with love.

Maxwell, as Mahijah, is not writing my neighbor, he is writing me.

I am a Saint, or should be. I know what is expected of a Christian, or I should know. I am living a life informed by gospel truths. Right?

Sure. You bet.

But as I read Mahijah's descriptions of Zion and how the people eschew self-agrandizement, I hang my head and realize I want praise. As I read Mahijah's descriptions of Zion and how the people work hard all day every day for the glory of God, I realize I am yet lazy. As I read Mahijah's descriptions of Zion and how the people care more for the fullness of their neighbor's plate than their own, I realize I am still greedy and selfish. If a visitor to town steals my cloak, I probably won't chase him down to give him my coat also lest he be cold. I am much to attached to my material goods.

I doubt Elder Maxwell was trying to make me feel inadequate, but this book provided a needed wake-up call to me. Granted, I'm still not awake--I'm not ready to give away all I own that another may be comfortable and I may see the face of Christ, but at least I can realistically appraise how far I've yet to go.

The hypothetical concept of giving away all my goods because it is more important to me that we have no poor than that I keep my precious doodads has always seemed pretty easy to me. This book made me recognize how difficult it was. I dreaded the day Mahijah would have to give up his beloved ruby--I knew it was coming and he didn't and I felt his pending pain.

But there was no pain. It was just a little rock to him and he was prepared to give it away.

I am not prepared today to give up my sense of thgenius or my hours spent reading worldly tomes. But perhaps if I am willing to take the baby steps the lord provides me, perhaps then I too can be like Mahijah and give up even my ruby.

It only took him 300 years.

I think I should be able to match that.

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Svithe: on sacrifice


I've been thinking about sacrifice and it came up in Church today. In particular, I often come back to this statement from Joseph Smith:
    "Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation."

Being interested in salvation myself, I have to recognize a necessary corallary, viz. If I am not willing to sacrifice all things I will never have the faith necessary unto life and salvation.

I'm reminded of Lamoni's statement:
    O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day.

I like to broaden the traditional definition of sin. I think I often broaden it beyond its true scope, but I do it anyway because I find it helpful to me.

Am I willing to give away these sins?
    The sin of waiting till the last second because I know that effort will still be sufficient to impress people.
    The sin of needing to be clever.
    The sin of thinking I don't have to serve here if I served there.
    The sin of doing enough--or even more than enough--but not all that I could possibly have done.
    The sin of self-importance.
    The sin of typing silly lists of sins and calling it self-analysis, pretending it will make me a better person.

Those might be a pretty good place to start.

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