Thursday, July 12, 2012

Engaging, Capacity to Act and Feeling Love for Others

This selection comes from this talk.

6. We need always to make allowance in the kingdom for the fact that this is a divine church full of imperfect people! Indeed, “the net gathereth of every kind.” For instance, some members among us have an unfortunate and exclusionary condescension toward others, while other members have a quiet certitude that causes them to assert their testimonies humbly because the Spirit has witnessed to them; they witness to others to maintain their integrity; they tell others the truth of salvational things “as they were, as they are, and as they shall become.” These two kinds of members read the same scriptures, but one disengages, Jonah-like, almost with delight, while the other will not leave his post in “Nineveh” so long as there are any souls to be saved. Probably the differing response is rooted in the differing capacity to love. The presence of absolute truth or apocalyptic insights in one who lacks the capacity to love is likely to produce some behavioral anomalies. Love leads us into—not away from—Nineveh: into the fray, just as Jesus was involved with mankind, for as G. K. Chesterton observed, He carried his five wounds in the front of the fray.

Some want involvement without giving themselves. Some want the wonders of religion without the work—there is no way. Others want the thrills of theology without the hard doctrines—there is no way! When we are serious about change, it is “not enough to merely leave Egypt: one must also travel to the Promised Land!”

commentary: the above speaks of commitment and engaging others.  you either engage in service and the cause of helping others, or you don't.  the gospel is about action.  and what causes you to act?  keep on reading.

7. We must make place for the gospel and the Church more generously in our lives if we are to grow in our capacity to both feel and to act. Education, the media, and what we know from the scriptures have enlarged our circles of concern and feeling. But within each of our circles of concern, there is a much smaller circle of competency, and it needs to grow too.

C. S. Lewis observed, “The more often a man feels without acting, the less often he will be able to act, and in the long run, the less often he will be able to feel.” In countless ways the Church not only enlarges our circles of concern, but it also helps us to carry out the concerns we have. Significantly, Nephi, Paul, and Moroni—cultures and centuries apart—each observed that individuals and whole cultures can, by sin, reach a point where they are past feeling. Ironically, lasciviousness, which exploits sensuous feelings, results finally in a loss of a capacity to feel. In our own society the sad consequences of too much exulting in feeling—of sex divorced from love, and the emptiness of emotion without principle—will wash over us for generations. In the declining society of Moroni’s time, citizens were described as being without order, without mercy, without civilization, and past feeling after they had “lost their love, one towards another. …” (Moro. 9:5.)

commentary: love brings about wanting and desire.  love and desire should spur us to action.  but when we disassociate love and action, we begin to lose the capacity to feel.  when we don't feel, we don't care, when we don't care, we don't act and when we don't act evil triumphs.

8. We must be more quick to realize the enormous implications of the doctrine of immortality and how our knowledge of that reality will set us apart in this era. One can’t help but admire the cosmic heroism of those decent people who persist in goodness in spite of their agnosticism, but we still should see others differently because of this doctrine. Ours is no mere biological brotherhood with life as a brief encounter, but ours is a brotherhood that is fashioned in the realization that relationships will persist a million years from now, and more. Where we do not so relate to each other, we diminish the credibility of our commitment to this doctrine in the eyes of others. For a peculiar people, our friendships should be peculiarly rich.

commentary: to me, the above really hits home and answers the question - why the gospel?  if mankind is to become immortal, do we want immortal evil or immortal goodness running the universe?

In summary, we see the world, life, and death differently. This is not a random, mutant planet with people who will be enveloped in nothingness; it is a special place, a planet with a purpose, for, as Isaiah observed, the Lord created it to be inhabited. (See Isa. 45:18.)

We are all stewards, and we ought to approach this planet and its resources as carefully as Adam dressed the Garden. In seeking to establish dominion over the earth, it ought to be a righteous dominion. Still, this earth is not a place we need to be so reluctant to leave. As G. K. Chesterton wrote, Christian courage rests on a love of life that may need to take the form of a willingness to die; it is not the willingness to die that reflects a disdain or disaffection for life.

Without immortality there can be no real and lasting meaning to life. Jesus has not only immunized us against the lasting sting of the grave, but his teachings can also help us not to “look upon death with any degree of terror.” (Alma 27:28.) The same Jesus promised us, through one of his prophets, that if we could live according to his word, we would have, in this life, a knowledge of what is “just and true and render every man his due” (justice and discernment); we would live peaceably with others (peacefulness); we would rear our families without fighting and quarreling, teaching them to love one another (the capacity to love learned in happy homes); and we would care for the needy (a program for poverty). (See Mosiah 4.) In a sense, while others have the slogans, we have the solutions that, if applied, will carry us to “a state of happiness which hath no end.” (Morm. 7:7.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"A Cup of Maxwell" Series

I can't remember when it was - maybe when I was a recently returned full-time missionary - but I had this desire to read and study all the talks by Neal A. Maxwell.  The way he articulates the gospel clicks with me can causes introspection.
And so I decided to start a study series call A Cup of Maxwell in which as I read all his talks, I will copy some of the most thought and action provoking passages.

Now, all his talks deserve to be read in their entirety, and therefore, I invite the reader to click on this link or this link.

Let me kick off this series from one of his first talks ... one that I read today.

Referring to the gosple, he closed this talk with: With such a great message, can we afford not to be articulate in our homes and wherever we are? Passivity and inarticulateness about this “marvelous work and a wonder” can diminish the faith of others, for as Austin Farrer observed, “Though argument does not create belief, the lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced, but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it nourishes a climate in which belief may flourish.”

This is the main reason to read his talks: he articulates the "why" of the gospel so well ... and in the above quote, he articulates why we need to be able to articulate the why so well.

Friday, July 06, 2012

LDS Study Notebook and Ideas for Use

Jill and I upgraded our cell phones this week.  She went from a text phone to a smart phone and I upgraded to a bigger smart phone.  So, I've been playing w/ my new phone for the last few days.

Yesterday, I started tinkering w/ the Gospel Library app.  I set it up to synch w/ my LDS account.  As I was playing around w/ it to see how it works, an idea came to me: why not put all my scripture highlights into my virtual LDS "Study Notebook"?  I could also put a link, at the beginning of each chapter, to the respective Book of Mormon Inspection post (from my other blog).  So, as I read the Book of Mormon yesterday, I copied the highlighted parts from my physical copy to my smart phone and then synched it w/ my virtual "Study Notebook".  Unfortunately, a lot of the LDS web content was down yesterday - they must have had an outage or were performing some upgrades (more likely the former).

So, this morning I logged on to my LDS account, went to my "Study Notebook" and checked to see if my annotations were synched - they were.

Then another idea came to me: when our kids are adults or maybe when they enter seminary, I could share my virtual "Study Notebook" w/ them so they could see all the highlighted parts of my set of scriptures, along w/ the annotations I made.  Together w/ this and all my other blogs, they would have a spring board for their own study of the scriptures.