Unprocessed EQ lesson (-cum-svithe)


When I teach in Church, I often have a sloppy outline I work from. This is that. You're welcome to glean from it what you may (pun intended).


Let's bust out our scriptures.

Someone find and prepare to read the last half of Isaiah 58:3 and someone else find and prepare to read the last, oh, third of D&C 59:13.

Let's keep these scriptures in mind as we move on.

Berkeley Ward's feeding of the sailors in a time of rationing.

The expenditures of the Welfare Program---where does it all come from?

Last year our stake was $190,000 in the hole, FO-wise. Anyone want to guess which direction welfare payments are headed this year? I don't have data, but anyone want to guess? Will the stake give our more or less cash and food this year than last?

None of us have given as dearly as the widow who gave up her last mite. Nor, indeed, are we asked to. Nor, I suspect, was she.

If we were flooded with hungry, lonely sailors, would we be prepared to love and serve them?

What sacrifices are we willing to make?

If fast offerings don't hurt a little, are they still a sacrifice?

We're going to try something a little different today. (I'm not sure this should surprise you. I seem to have a defect in my personality manifested by the need to do things differently.)

I'm handing out a fact sheet now. On the right side is some interesting factual schtuff you're welcome to look at. But on the left side are the Welfare Program's Basic Principles.

The first one, you will notice, explicitly states the scriptural basis for this injunction. Someone look that up for us.

Let's read the principle, then the scripture.

Whaddaya think?

Okay. Now, here's what I want to do. We're going to break into group of two to four people and each will take one of these principles and I want you to find scriptures that illuminate your principle and enlighten our understanding thereof. Try to find two or three. Some will be easier than others. I'll give you a few minutes, then I'll ask each group to read their principle and share what scriptures they found and any minirevelations they had while seeking (and thus finding) within Holy Writ. And don't forget our opening verses and the connection with joy.

If I need more:


The natural disposition of man, as I have often remarked, is to be selfish, sordid, and grasping; to think of self, and self alone, and figure for personal advancement. But all the teachings of the Gospel are the exact opposite of this. We find that the requirements that are made of us to pay tithes and fast-day donations … and to contribute of our means to send the Gospel to the nations of the earth—these requirements chase out of the heart of man every selfish and sordid disposition. Instead of being selfish, the faithful Latter-day Saint is filled with the love of the Gospel, filled with a desire to contribute of time and means for the onward advancement of the kingdom of God. The Gospel, if we are faithful to the requirements that are made of us of a financial nature, takes the selfish, sordid man, and makes of him a generous, noble, free-hearted individual. … The Gospel fills us with a desire to leave the things of the world, if need be, to go to the uttermost ends of the earth, without one dollar of reward, for the benefit and salvation of our fellow men.

Let me warn the Latter-day Saints to buy automobiles and to buy the ordinary necessities of life when they have the money to buy them, and not to mortgage their future. … I want to say to you that those who discount their future, who run into debt for the ordinary necessities of life and for the luxuries of life, are laying burdens upon themselves that will come back with compound interest to cause them great trouble and humiliation.

I believe that people are blessed in proportion to their liberality. I am not saying that they always make more dollars, perhaps, than the other man. But so far as an increase in the faith and in the testimony and the knowledge of the divinity of the work in which we are engaged, men that are honest with the Lord in the payment of their tithing grow as men never grow that are not honest. There is no question in my mind. Moreover, I am just foolish enough to believe that the Lord magnifies those who do pay their tithing and that they are more prosperous, on the average, than the men who do not. I believe that to those who are liberal [with their donations] the Lord gives ideas, and they grow in capacity and ability more rapidly than those that are stingy. I have that faith, and I have had it from the time I was a boy.

We must be honest with the Lord. The great trouble is that there are many people who, as they grow and increase in the things of this world, set their hearts upon them and lose the Spirit of the Lord. Therefore, that which is counted by the world as success is failure; because if a man starts out for a prize and he fails to secure it after laboring nearly a lifetime for that prize, certainly his life has been a failure. I know many individuals who, when they made small sums of money, were absolutely honest with the Lord, and paid one-tenth of it. But when they made large sums of money they paid all the way from one percent, instead of ten, up to two or three percent. What is the matter? Why, the appetite for money grows upon a man, increases and strengthens unless he is careful, just as much as the appetite for whiskey. It gets possession of him, and he loves the money instead of loving it only for the good that he can do with it. He does not estimate properly the value of things.

I heard a story of a brother (I have forgotten his name now) who attended a meeting in the early days. President Brigham Young made an appeal for donations to send to the Missouri River to help the Saints gather to Zion. He wanted everybody who could afford it, to give an ox or a cow or any other donation. One good brother jumped up and said, “I will give a cow.” Another brother got up and said, “I will give a cow.” The first brother had two cows and a large family; the other brother had a half-dozen cows and a small family. And, so the spirit [of the devil] came over the first man, [saying,] “Now, look here, you cannot get along with your large family; you cannot possibly get along with one cow. Now, that other man has got a small family and six cows; he could just as well give two or three and still get along all right.” As he started home, he walked four or five blocks, all the time getting weaker and weaker. Finally he thought, “I guess I won’t,” and then he realized the difference in the spirit that was tempting him and the one that had prompted his promise to the President of the Church that he would give a cow. Here was a spirit telling him to fail to fulfill his obligation, to fail to be honest, to fail to live up to his promise. He stopped short and turned around and said, “Mr. Devil, shut up or just as sure as I live, I will walk up to Brother Brigham’s office and give him the other cow.” He was not tempted any more.

here should be in the heart of every man and woman, the cry, “I am going to live. There is nothing given to me but time in which to live, and I am going to endeavor each day of my life to do some labor which will be acceptable in the sight of my Heavenly Father, and if it is possible, do a little better today than I did yesterday.”


Second, we need to appraise our own lives. How well are we listening to the Spirit? Are we living according to the eternal truths and doctrines of the restored Church of Jesus Christ? Can we effectively appraise the needs of others by the prompting of the Spirit? It impressed me that Muhammad Yunus must have been prompted by the Spirit when he organized a very unusual bank in Bangladesh, which some have said was the beginning of microfinance. When Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his efforts to help the poor, was asked what his initial strategy would be, he responded:

“I didn’t really have one at the time. I simply began trying to help with my own funds, then went to the banks and asked them to get involved. They refused for several stated reasons, and thus my strategy began to evolve into: ‘Whatever the bankers did, I simply did the opposite.’ The bankers would only lend to the rich. I would only lend to the poor. The bankers would only make large loans. I would only make very small loans. The bankers would only lend to men. I would only lend to women. The bankers would only lend if there was collateral. I would only lend without collateral. The bankers required extensive paperwork. I only made loans that even an illiterate could understand. The bankers required their clients to come to the bank. I took my bank to the village.”5

It should be noted that the banks expected a high rate of loan defaults. Yunus expected and experienced almost none. I understand that Mr. Yunus’s bank has provided more than $4 billion in loans and is entirely self-sustaining. Surely the Spirit of the Lord guided this noble effort.

Ben Franklin: “We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we’ve selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make.

Those who believe there is one God who made all things and who governs the world by his Providence will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who hold in reverence that being who gave them life and worship Him through adoration, prayer, and thanksgiving will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who believe that mankind are all of a family and that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who believe in a future state in which all that is wrong here will be made right will make many choices different from those who do not. Those who subscribe to the morals of Jesus will make many choices different from those who do not.”

Here's the choice facing us, to quote Zechariah---

Zech 8:18 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; The fast of the fourth month . . . shall be to the [Berkeley Ward] joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.

The fast of the fourth month will be upon us when next we meet. What choice will we, on that day, make? And assure you, brethren, that it is, "in a very real way, . . . the most important choice we will ever make."

testimony amen


this svithe on thmusings
last week's svithe


This Life Is Good (there's a svithe in here somewhere)


It hit me the other day as I was walking home from work that these are my good old days. Sure there are imperfections, but my life is about as good as it can be.

A few things triggered this realization:

    Most immediately, it was seeing the corkboard. There's a corkboard on our street that one of the neighbors maintains that anyone can put a note on. Currently there's one about shameless makeup manufacturers and one that suggested I have a good day. How cool is it to live in a neighborhood where neighbors leave notes saying their band is playing or their dog is missing or they're old enough to babysit now?

    Before I left campus I passed a group of students--about half of whom I taught last year--and they all shouted out heys and hellos to me and waved and said good things about me to their friends.

    Earlier in the day, I had a student randomly stop by whom I had arranged not to be in my class this semester because last semester he spent half his time yelling at me and preventing other students from working. Never had I been so sure someone was about to hit me. But he dropped into my class of a sudden and told everyone to be good and that I'm his favorite teacher. I can't imagine what his relationships are with his other teachers.
And that doesn't even get to the good times I spend with the Big O and Large S, throwing balls around every afternoon and having them run to the door happy to see me when I come home.

Seriously. When will life be better than now?

I may not be able to afford to always live in this neighborhood. My job may not always turn out okay. My kids may not always be 90% hugs.

But right now life is good and I'm making deposits in the memory bank. In general, I'm optimistic that next week will be as good and that the years get better, but no matter what happens, life is good now.

this svithe on thmusings

last week's svithe


The Mad Svither: PR Officer for The Better World


Or not. Whatever. The title of this post is just in reference to intristin shtuff at church today.

What I want to talk about today is past svithery. Specifically of the thericonian variety. I don't intend to talk about your old svithes today, even if they are among my personal favorites.

What I'm doing here is discussing some posts I've written that I still remember well. And whether or not that's a good thing. It's all part of my nearly-a-thousand-posts nostalgia fest of late.

Itinerant Svither (The Weekly Svithe - Thmusings) is probably my overall favorite--though I may feel such just because Tolkers said nice things about it. And because it makes me look culturally literate.

The Circumcised of Heart -or- A Svithe on Semen (The Weekly Svithe - Thmusings) on the other hand, is the svithe I thought would be my final downfall. Isn't it funny how impossible people are to predict?

Success & Jealousy (The Weekly Svithe - Thmusings) I am glad I wrote early. I have linked to it many times because it provides a lesson I need frequent reminding of.

The Parable of the Drunk Driver (The Weekly Svithe - Thmusings) was what I imagined most of my svithes would be like when I started doing this. In fact, such posts have been quite rare. I don't know what my point is.

A Deceptive Svithe (The Weekly Svithe - Thmusings) is proof that I will never be the best celebrator of Mothers Day.

Stone Soup Svithe (The Weekly Svithe - Thmusings) is an example of how we can learn from others. I think this nonmiraculous explanation of the feeding of the five thousand is one of the most beautiful and Christian things I've ever heard.

Ecclesiastical Svithery (The Weekly Svithe - Thmusings). I'm only mentioning this one so I don't forget to write my book someday.

That Kind of Movie (The Weekly Svithe - Thmusings) is one of the svithes in which I reflect on the intersect between art and faith etc. (And if I were an academic I would now be using the word liminal in a sentence instead of writing a parenthetical.) These questions matter to me and help explain why I spend to much time at A Motley Vision. Because the exploration is only beginning.

Axe & Svithe (The Weekly Svithe - Thmusings) --- sometimes the subtleties need to stay behind.

Shvythe (The Weekly Svithe - Thmusings) --- because sometimes I am.

The Infinite Svithe (The Weekly Svithe - Thmusings), because it's fun to express religion mathematically and I really don't do it often enough.

Priestcraft in Svithery (The Weekly Svithe - Thmusings) comes last because I probably just broke that rule in a most egregious way.

I'd better keep up this svithing till I actually learn something, don't you think? And maybe, maybe, someday I will.

this svithe on the weekly svithe
this svithe on thmusings
last week's svithe




Last week I safely and easily shared a Churchmade video. This week, at Church, I compared angels to germs. So I'm thinking that letting someone else do the svithin' for me would be wise.

So I swung by lds.org to see what was on their front page and I found a link to the Mormon Messages YouTube channel.

Well that was easy.

The only question is, what to share?

Obvious answer: the one with aliens:

I was hoping for something more on how angels are like germs, and this totally paid off! Mothers are like aliens! I knew it!

Hmmm. Time for me to get more serious.....

Next week: a look at svithes past. We'll see where that takes us.

In the meantime, see this svithe on thmusings or revisit last week's svithe one more time.


Svithe: Create


I first saw this on Segullah and since then have noticed it several other places. It was apparently given at a women's meeting as it skews female about halfway through, but I still like it and I'm going to treat it universally as it's playing on one of my favorite themes. So in case you've missed it, President Uchtdorf:

this svithe on thmusings
last week's svithe