Thursday, February 27, 2014

Laugh With Me

Sometimes it is worthwhile to call out bullies, even relatively harmless internet bullies. So, since this particular bully finds himself unable to allow the entirety of this exchange to post on By Common Consent, I post it here, if for no other reason than to show that he doesn't intimidate me. In fact, I find the whole thing pretty funny.

My comment was made on a thread unfavorably comparing Mormon service to Pentecostal service. Normally, I skim over those kinds of posts but don't bother commenting because they are all too common and all too typical. But this one had a really good message, I thought, behind the dig at the Mormons and how we aren't good enough. It was contrasting service as a duty and ministry, which I feel is a powerful and poignant lesson. Unfortunately, because of the way it was framed, it almost immediately devolved to the plebeian and predictable critique of Mormons and how we're not charitable enough. Because of the good message, I thought I might say as much and counteract the trend by mentioning that Utah is known for generosity.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The "Frozen" Bandwagon; Whereon Sitting, Our Bums Get Cold

A flurry of criticisms, cross-criticisms, and reasoned posts about the movie Frozen have been spinning around like a swirling storm in the wake of the movie's acclaim. This movie deeply disappointed me, not because of any hidden agenda or scary subtext, but because it wasn't enough. The plot was 100% predictable, I knew exactly what was going to happen before it did, and with such a stunning playground of deep relationships to utilize, it lived far below its potential. (Note: my prediction for the next step is a sequel about Anna's marriage and a love interest for Elsa, which will only ruin it more.)

And yet, despite my disappointment in the outcome, there are a few places that the glorious potential of the storyline peeks out, just to show us what we're missing. I don't want to harp on the disappointing parts, I want to explore that great part, and maybe contradict some of the concerns.

Friday, February 14, 2014

For God Loved the World; Pain and Valentine's Day

This is my daughter's newest favorite song. It has long been one of mine as well. I think it has one of the tenderest aspects of doctrine in the Gospel. This year, that same daughter is making the decision to be baptized. It is something filled with mixed emotions for me, most of which I don't want to get into. But on this day, when we celebrate love, I want to celebrate both loves which changed my life: the love of God and the love of my children.

I am far from perfect, especially right now. It has seemed, especially lately, that the church is leaving me behind. I don't feel a part of it. I don't feel a part of the Lord's Kingdom. And that hurts. If I could put my finger on one thing I want more than anything else, it is to feel like I belong, like I'm part of accomplishing something good. And I don't.

But as I wrote some time ago, I feel as if the Lord wants me here. Nearly four years later, I still don't know why. Not much has changed. I have a burning testimony that the Gospel is true, I just don't know how I fit into it. And I'm watching my precious child, with many of the same self-critical personality traits that I have, prepare to make this huge covenant. I'm proud of her, and terrified for her.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Oatmeal Solution

When reading others' discussions on gospel topics, especially those that people struggle with, I find it fascinating to see just how much our internal biases affect how we can listen to the Spirit. Most of those common issues are not problems for me. I've prayed about it and received answers that satisfy me, ways of looking at mortality, the Church, and God's dealings with His people which give me patience and a bit of a sense of humor about the whole thing. But many people struggle perennially.

While those aren't problems, I've been struggling in the same way with personal answers. It's as if I feel that an answer is out there, I'm just incapable of hearing it, no matter how I wrack my mind and heart. As a silly example, it is as if I hate breakfast cereal and am praying over breakfast to know what is healthier to eat, a doughnut or Cheerios. The whole time, the Spirit is trying to tell me to eat oatmeal, but I just don't have a paradigm for it.

Watching others makes me wonder how often I do this, and how to get around it.

For what sorts of problems are you waiting for an "oatmeal answer"?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Whistling in the Dark

Imagine you are swimming in a deep and turbulent ocean. Nearby is a good-sized boat, and on the boat are people cheering you on. It will be over soon, they cry. The shore is only a few hundred feet away! This is such a rough sea, the captain of the boat hollers. Aren't we glad we're in this together? You'll get there, I know you will!

Meanwhile, your arms are somewhere past exhaustion. Your mind is shutting down, and all you can think is to keep moving. You've lost all sense of trying to move somewhere, all you know is you need to keep paddling your arms and legs because the alternative is stopping. And while part of you thinks stopping sounds pretty restful, and maybe not that bad, you know in your deepest heart that stopping is giving up. You're not going to give up.

The people on the boat are rocked with the same waves that are swamping you. They are nice people. They are cheering you still, telling you what a great swimmer you are, how they don't think they could swim as well as you are. Every once in awhile, one will express the wish that they were able to throw you a lifesaver. Unfortunately, they are struggling to hold on to the railings so they won't be washed overboard. You get it, you're not upset by it. But you still kind of wish they'd stop cheering you on and let you concentrate.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Prodigal Daughter

"Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf."
—Luke 15:29-30

This parable of the prodigal son has long troubled me. Partly for the same reasons it troubled the elder son. The younger was lazy, wasteful. He didn't care about his father's example, teachings, or entreaties. While the older son labored diligently to honor his father, it was the younger son who received honor simply for coming home.

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