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