Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review - Odds Are You're Going To Be Exalted by Alonzo L Gaskill

When I first saw this book, I thought the title to be a bit cheesy and left it on the shelf.  It sort of sounded like we were gambling with our exaltation.  Sometime later, I decided to give it a try and I'm so glad I did.  The uses of the term odds, has nothing to do with gambling and everything to do with statistical likelihood.

I'll be keeping this one just for the references.  Gaskill has found more quotations from prophets on the subject than I ever thought existed.  I've long held that the likelihood of Exaltation was greater than the typical Latter-day Saint suspects, but the author makes it plain that such a happy result is far greater than I ever anticipated.  

This is one of the most optimistic, hopeful volumes I've ever read.  Mostly that is true because it also one of the best treatments on the Plan of Salvation I've ever encountered.  God is intent on the salvation of all of his children.  He is a perfect parent.  He will succeed in His mission to bring His children home.  Gaskill makes it plain that every one who wants to go home to live with God will be afforded that blessing.  Even those who don't currently want to are likely to have a change of heart in that regard and the world was designed to make it so.  What a wonderful promise to the posterity of God, "For behold it is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  (Moses 1:39)  He is quite capable of accomplishing that task.

If you are doubtful as to your own possibility of reaching Heaven;  if you have loved ones who don't seem headed in that direction at all; this book is especially for you.

Five Stars

Monday, November 15, 2010

More Observations on the Utah Compact

A Dan Jones poll has indicated that the majority of Utahns are still determined to have an Arizona style immigration policy.  This despite the fact that the LDS Church stood in support of the Utah Pact on Immigration. (Read their statement here.) 60% of Utahns are LDS. I find it interesting that the LDS Church consistently comes down more moderately on the issues than her members do.  This says a couple of interesting things to me.

First, there is room for disagreement in the church.  As Joseph Smith put it, "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves."  That leaves the door open to them to misgovern themselves as well.  Outsiders tend to look at us as being in a very restrictive society in which we all march to the beat of the Brethren.  The present issue seems to indicate otherwise.  I don't expect anyone will be excommunicated for disagreeing with the Brethren on this issue.  After the close of WWI Congress was embroiled in a debate as to whether the United States should participate in the League of Nations.  President Heber J. Grant was in favor of joining the League, Apostle and Senator Reed Smoot was not in favor.  Smoot, of course had more influence in the decision and voted against America's involvement.  There was clear and obvious disagreement between these two, and several other, church leaders.  It did not adversely affect their relationship as members of the highest councils of the church.

The second, item of interest is the very apparent fact that the members tend to be more conservative than their leaders on a number of issues.  My personal impression, indeed my belief, is that not only do these men in the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve receive revelation; they are also astute, well educated and better yet, well informed on the issues.  Long experience has shown that we rarely get knee jerk reactions from Church Headquarters.  The last one I recall came during the Mark Hoffman forgery fiasco.  Lesson learned.  The Church's leaders are much more careful in their reaction to the events and circumstances that surround us.
My conversations with most radically right winged Latter-day Saints do not indicate that they are well informed.  They may be well indoctrinated by the likes of Glen Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, but rarely do I encounter one who has rationally considered the alternative or even more moderate point of view. For this reason I whole heartedly applaud KSL radio for dumping Hannity in favor of less inflammatory Jay McFarland.

This is not to say that I entirely disagree with the big three conservative commentators.  I just disagree with the "us vs them" approach that they seem to be fostering.  Seldom to I hear these or other conservative voices consider the consequences to the poor, outcast, alien and disadvantaged among us.  Their mantra seems to be focused entirely on how this all affects ME.  They not only defend big business, they are big business.  Don't get me wrong I am all in favor or free enterprise.  It's just that is becoming more and more apparent that big money is running this country, not citizens.

I was so grateful that thinking people stepped forward with the Utah Compact in a rational and well considered way.  In doing so they acknowledge the existence of serious problems, but cautioned us to avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water.  There are real people involved in these issues.  People who put their pants on one leg at a time just like we do.  Fathers and Mothers who love their children.  Children who want stable families and a chance to grow and an opportunity to succeed.  When we consider cleaning things up in this country, let us please consider the baby.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Utah Compact

Yesterday a distinguished group of Utah political, community and church leaders gathered to sign the Utah Compact.  I'd like to include my support for this important guiding document.  It is simple, clear and makes perfect sense to me.  I include it here:

A declaration of five principles to guide Utah’s immigration discussion
FEDERAL SOLUTIONS - Immigration is a federal policy issue between the U.S. government and other countries—not Utah and other countries. We urge Utah’s congressional delegation, and others, to lead efforts to strengthen federal laws and protect our national borders. We urge state leaders to adopt reasonable policies addressing immigrants in Utah.
LAW ENFORCEMENT - We respect the rule of law and support law  enforcement’s professional judgment and discretion. Local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code.
FAMILIES - Strong families are the foundation of successful communities. We oppose policies that unnecessarily separate families. We champion policies that support families and improve the health, education and well-being of all Utah children.
ECONOMY - Utah is best served by a free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity. We acknowledge the economic role immigrants play as workers and taxpayers. Utah’s immigration policies must reaffirm our global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state.
A FREE SOCIETY - Immigrants are integrated into communities across Utah. We must adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion. The way we treat immigrants will say more about us as a free society and less about our immigrant neighbors. Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill.  

I wrote some on this subject a week ago in and entry called Pray for Mexico.  While I acknowledge that there are real and serious problems with our nation's current immigration policies, I do not advocate punishing immigrants for our own mismanagement of our borders.  There is a lot of propaganda out there designed to alarm and prejudice the population.  Thankfully, some cooler heads are attempting to quell the storm with some sensible thinking.  The Deseret News did an important piece that is well worth reading.  In the article, Fact or Fiction?  The myths and realities of Illegal Immigration the subject is approached with level headed thinking that we all would do well to consider.

For me, the bottom line is people.  These immigrants, not unlike our own predecessors are real people, with real families bonded together by real love.  Real people, who've made enormous sacrifice to obtain that which we take, so clearly, for granted.  When we reduce them to statistics and demonize them based on the occasional bad apple; we do a disservice not only to them but to ourselves.  We have our own bad apples and apparently in much more common ratios than their detractors would have us believe.

So, I greatly appreciate the sensible, moderate approach of the Utah Pact and lend my full support to its tone and content.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Major Milestone in a Long Game of Catch-Up

Three years ago, while we were visiting Newfoundland, our basement flooded.  Loving family and friends rescued our belongings and moved them to our carport.  Yesterday, after all that time, we finally reclaimed the carport for our car.  I won't bore you with the details as to why it has taken so long.  Suffice it to say, it has been a long difficult road fraught with mistakes, setbacks, oversights and discouragement.  There remains a great deal of remodeling to do, but having come this far is representative of the direction we are going and comes as a great encouragement.

I look around the neighborhood and see my friends getting their homes and yard ready for winter.  That used to seem like a daunting task.  Now, I see keeping up as a whole lot easier than catching up.  I guess life is like that too.  I keep thinking it sure would be nice if I could just be maintaining, rather that struggling, so far behind.

As we conducted the yard sale and then hauled piles of stuff to Deseret Industries it occurred to me that had we not had the disaster, it is quite possible that all of this stuff would still be wedged tightly into every nook and cranny of our home.  Instead, having done without much of it for better than three years, we began to see what was important to us and what was mere detritus.  The disaster, while inconvenient and burdensome, has also been beneficial and enlightening.  Perhaps life is meant to be like that.  Perhaps if we were permitted to just carry on with the status quo, we'd never grow, appreciate the relative value of things.  Perhaps God intends to upset our apple carts once in a while to keep us on the move and to help us put things into perspective.

Perhaps it is also so with our own personalities.  We move through life accumulating baggage that we tuck away in the nooks and crannies of our psyche and we go along quite nicely keeping up the facade, making things look presentable to the neighbors so to speak.  Then something disastrous comes along to shake us to the very foundations of our lives.  We are emotionally put out on the street.  It is embarrassing, cumbersome, awkward and frightening.  Then, over time, we figure out how to put our lives back together.  We jettison baggage we hardly remembered we had.  We remodel, rebuild, tidy up, establish more refined priorities and while it seems like we're catching up, and hardly keeping up; we are making enormous improvements.

It's beginning to look like, in both cases, that the end result will be far better that it would have been had we just carried on as we intended.  A little disaster is just plain good for the soul.  Of course it included adversity, but then that's what adversity's for.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Book Review - Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans

Promise Me is only the second of Richard Paul Evans' books I've read.  I've enjoyed them both.  This one is my favorite.  The story has a fascinating twist that really took my brain out of it's comfort zone but in a pleasant way.  Any good novel makes us ask questions of ourselves and this one does that well.  The question in this story was far more troublesome however, than Evans made it appear.  So given it was an impossible scenario, it came off a little too incredible to sweep me off my feet.

I have no problem with impossible situations.  Especially when they point out conflict or problems that make me rethink my assumptions about life.  This story did that very well.  I could relate to the quandary and what a quandary it was.  I even liked how it turned out.  It was a great idea, but slightly underplayed, so it didn't give the full effect.

It is pretty tricky for a man to write a novel in first person from the perspective of a female protagonist.  I don't think many men could pull this off.  Evans aced it.

I guess if you like sweetness and lite, you'll like this novel better than I.

Still I recommend it for it was a fantastic idea.

Four Stars

Pray For Mexico

The past couple of days we've had a yard sale at our house.  It was a wonderful success and we became much less encumbered by stuff.  We got to meet a lot of nice people, most of whom we've never met.  Among them were a number of Mexican expatriates.  Many were limited in the English they spoke.  All were polite, friendly, warm and kind.  I wanted to get to know them, so I took to asking them to tell me where they came from.

One older gentleman hails from Ciudad Juarez.  Aware that Juarez is perhaps the most dangerous place in the Western Hemisphere, I expressed gratitude that he was here where life is much more safe.  He echoed my relief, telling me how thankful he is that he has been able to get his family away from all that.  Another couple came by. She was from rural Guerrero and he from Acapulco.  I asked if he was a cliff diver.  His eyes widened in cheerful wisdom.  "Too high!"  He exclaimed.  She, spoke better English and I asked where Guerrero was.  She told me it is a state south and west of Mexico City.  When I explained that back in the 70's we loved to spend time in Mexico.  She declared, "It is no longer safe!"
"Even in the South?" I asked?
"En todas partes!"
"I thought is was only bad near the border," I protested.
"It is bad everywhere, these days."
"How very sad."

Another fellow came from Southern Chihuahua.  "It used to be quiet in my home town.  Not no more," he lamented.  I used to risk a visit to my parents every year, but now they're gone, we don't go there no more."

My heart broke for them, and for Mexico.  These are wonderful people, who've left behind a wonderful place.  It is so very sad.

Petey in our Ward just got back from a mission to Tijuana.  I asked him how his mission was.  "I survived." he sighed.  It took me back again to the early '70's when we lived on the border.  The Tijuana District of the Church was set to become a Stake.  Trouble was, they had no building - not one.  Our Stake got wind of it and in one night raised enough money for our Mexican neighbor's portion of the building.  The next year, we did it again and again.  Now there is a Mission in that city.  Still it is a dangerous place.

So Mexico is in crisis with Drug Cartels killing all who stand in their way.  Sound familiar?  Sounds just like the Gadianton Robbers to me.  Was life any less miserable for the Lamanites?  When they concluded to destroy the Gadianton Robbers from among them they did it by preaching the word of God to them.  That's right, they used the word to change the hearts of their enemies.  I expect the good people of Mexico will follow that most singular pattern and sooner or later turn the plight of their country into glorious results.  Why do I think this?  Because Mexican's are the salt of the earth.  They have a goodness and sensitivity that is most remarkable.

Today in Fast and Testimony Meeting a sweet little eighty-three year old Mexican American woman went to the pulpit to bear her testimony.  How sweet and sure and simple it was.  During her testimony I had the impression that I would live to see miracles happen in that sweet land.  Most misbehavior comes of desperation.  I believe that most if not all, of those desperadoes would choose a more righteous alternative if they actually felt they had one.  The good news is that there is a better choice and we must labor and teach, trust and pray that such a blessing will come to our wonderful, sweet neighbors to the South.

Everyone I talked to yesterday was thankful to be here, in America, in relative safety.  They also all expressed the wish that it didn't have to be so, for they'd rather live and raise their families back home.  For more and more, though, this is becoming home as generations are born and raised this side of the Rio Grande.  That is okay with me.  Most are refugees from oppressive poverty, crime and corruption.  I see them as welcome, decent and honest neighbors.  To me they are just as welcome as the Irish, Polish, Italian and German immigrants who fled similar oppression 100 years ago.  Just as welcome as the Dutch and English who preceded them and the Asians who've come more recently.  We haven't run out of room in our cities and towns for them and they'd assimilate far better if we hadn't run out of room for them in our hearts.

I guess each group of immigrants had to struggle to get a toe-hold for themselves in the United States.  Need we make it harder for them?  Can't we make legal immigration simpler and less exclusive?

The Church is growing in Mexico by leaps and bounds.  Mexico currently has 221 Stakes and 32 Districts, plus 12 temples with one more announced.  Zion in Mexico is enlarging her tent and I have great hopes that the Saints in Mexico will indeed leaven the loaf.  Let us all remember Mexico and our brothers and sisters there, often in our prayers.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'll Be Voting, How About You?

I'll go over and vote today.  But I'll have a bit of stoic grimness in my countenance.  I will enter the booth and in every case I've studied, choose the lesser of to weevils.  I don't think any one is addressing the real problems with our country.  To me the real problem is career politicians.  Not a single candidate has expressed the recognition that the reason Washington is so bogged down is because our representatives are more interested in keeping their jobs and in establishing and maintaining their power bases, than they are in solving our problems.

We send them back there to do a job and they go back to keep it.  When I complain to them about it, they'll give me lip service, stuff like, "You're right, but because the system is so entrenched the only way I can really help you is to do the same."  Well, this go round, the people are fed up and they are giving limits to congress' terms whether they like it or not.  Trouble is, we're not fed up enough and are still sending too many of the scoundrels back.  And, it looks like the new comers are likely to continue to follow suit.

There are three things that can fix the mess in Washington, term limits, term limits and term limits.  If congress men and women knew that they had just two term to accomplish what need to be done and that then they would be returning to their homes and regular citizenship, they work on the problems instead of their careers.  Oh, there'd probably still be corruption, but we could deal with that.  What we can't deal with are representatives that represent themselves, using their constituents as mere fodder for their own personal objectives.

If they won't limit their own terms, I call upon voters everywhere, to do the limiting for them!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...