Thursday, August 25, 2011


As usual, I am up in the night.  That's right.

I don't know anybody who tries harder than I do, with less results.  Or, so I've been telling myself lately.  My frustration level has been through the roof.  I'd better not bore you with the details.  Suffice it to say that lately, no, for as long as I can remember, every thing I touch seems to turn to crap.  It seems like I have the anti-Midas touch.

I subscribe to the notion that if you find yourself in a hole the best thing to do is quit digging.  I have have made Herculean efforts to do that.  Still, it seems the hole is digging itself.  It's as if all my previous digging created some sort of inertia that has become self perpetuating.

My pit of bondage keeps growing, exponentially.

Tonight I found myself complaining that my belief in Mosiah 7:33 has become sorely shaken.  The promise of relief from bondage was offered if I would turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart and serve Him will all diligence of mind.  I have accepted that it must come on the Lord's time table and in His own way.  I had hoped that my burdens might be lightened in the interim; but they only seem to get heavier.  So I beat myself up for having something less that full purpose of heart, something less than all diligence of mind.  Having lost my mind, its a wonder I can apply any diligence at all.

I went back and reviewed my service of the past several months.  I also examined my faithfulness and examples of my application of trust.  Both seemed to fall into the Second Mile category.  So why am I still sinking deeper into this pit of bondage and despair?

With no small measure of gnashed teeth and clenched fists, I seethed, "If I could sweat all the sweat, and cry all the tears, and bleed all the blood in the world, it still wouldn't be good enough, would it!"

To which the Spirit quietly replied, "That's right."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Movie Review - Lark Rise To Candleford

I've watched a lot of television my 61 years, and never have I enjoyed a program so much as BBC's Lark Rise To Candleford.  Adapted from Flora Thompson's trilogy by the same name, (which I am currently reading by the way) the series, in four seasons, depicts rural life in a village and neighboring hamlet of Oxfordshire, England of the late 19th Century.

This program demonstrates the obvious advantage of series television, for the development and history of each character can hardly be so well addressed in any shorter form of video entertainment.  Each character is rich in purpose, meaning, individuality and charm, and I loved them, every one.

The stories were heart warming, inspirational, credible and informative.  It was indeed a different time and place.  One which we would all do well to experience and appreciate.  Even in the late 1800's change was causing difficult problems and while different than the troublesome changes we are experiencing, much might be gained if we were to consider them from Candleford's distant perspective.

We all have wonderful roots in the working classes of our past.  It has done my heart good to gain a greater appreciation for what it is they did, that we might so easily ride upon their shoulders.  But, lest you think this a dreary proposition, don't be dissuaded, the charm, good cheer, courage and wisdom of these workers of the land are truly inspirational and often downright hilarious.

The casting was superb.  I cannot imagine a single character better cast by someone else.  The stories, festivals, culture and times literally came alive in every episode.

We got them through Netflix and felt it was a bargain.  We are hoping the kids might get together and give us the series to own, perhaps for Christmas.  We expect to watch it again and again!

Five enthusiastic Stars

The Interloper - Chapter One

There he is again, creeping through my subconscious.  Shadowy, filmy, lying opposite me in my bed.  Why is it he instead of Sweetie?  I reach, but he is gone.  I get up to find her at the computer, weary, but wide awake.  I wander back to bed to find it empty.  I crawl in and slip away from awareness.  Later, turning, I sense warmth beside me.  Startled, I strain to see in the ambient light, and relax; it is she, not he.  I close my eyes and it seems I see better than before.  There in the semi-darkness I see his shadow slip down the hall, or do I?.  Up, I search the house.  Nothing is amiss.  I have to pee and waking, I climb out of bed with a feeling of dread.  I can't go back to sleep so I read in hopes drowsiness will return before dawn.

I fall asleep in the recliner, covered, cozy.  Later, my back stiff, I move to my bed and find him lying beside her.  I reach for the bat I keep behind the bedroom door but turning back he is gone.  It has happened so many times before, I shake it off and climb beneath the covers and warm my cold feet near her warm ones.  Arising, I find the dishes done and suppose Sweetie has done them in the night.  

The church bells are ringing, it is seven o'clock, better get up.  I am surprised to find myself in the recliner, though I remember coming down to read.  My heart is sick and my muscles ache.  I walk to the kitchen.  Somehow, I am surprised the dishes need washing.  Something's not right?  Of course they're not done, we left them that way when we went to bed.  I wish I could go back to bed.


I've had this recurring dream.  Not quite a nightmare, but very nearly.  For years, I only remembered having had it previously, while dreaming it again.  I would awaken disturbed and out of sorts, but with no conscious recollection of what had strummed the discordant string I felt still vibrating in my soul.  I only know it reoccurred over time because when I finally awoke amid the dream, I knew what was going to transpire next; and it did.

Over time I have learned to observe my dreams from a vantage point near consciousness, but shy of wakefulness.  I don't know what to call this state.  It is rather like watching a movie.  I can observe the dream and be an outside observer of the action and still remain in the darkened theater of sleep.  I don't always get this privilege, but it happens often in my Interloper dream.

Sometimes I can even observe things in the wakeful world without waking myself.  In the case of the Interloper, this ability only enhances the agony and wonder of it.


I've named the Interloper.  I call him Echo.  Echo, because it's as if I never really see him, just the echo of him.  I know echo refers to sound, but in my dream he is an echo of light.  Its as though he's vanished just before I see him, but the vision is still somehow bouncing off the walls.  Sometimes it is not the walls; but the faces of loved ones.  It's as if there is a flash of delight in their eyes, that suddenly disappears at seeing me.  I can't tell if I really saw it, or just hoped I did.  Somehow, I sense a flicker of shock in them, like sucking a straw expecting soda and getting water.  Shock, and disappointment.  In my dream, it seems Echo precedes me everywhere I go.  And disappointment follows.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Book Review - The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life by Glenn Beck and Keith Ablow, MD

I have not been a huge Glenn Beck fan.  I don't watch much broadcast TV and so I haven't watched his show ever.  I've seen a few clips on YouTube and liked them.  The consequence is that I'd never heard of this book.

A couple of weeks ago Sweetie's cousin, Duane came for a visit.  He was carrying the book and shared a metaphor from it with me.  Something about following bread crumbs.  The bread crumbs notion really struck me and seemed to be an answer to my most current prayers and gave me insight into my most current frustrations.

Essentially, the book is about change.  Beck tells the story of his recovery from alcoholism and consequently, his meteoric rise to fame, fortune and remarkably settled happiness.  He tells it in a most insightful and candid way.  Interspersed with that story lie chapters by Dr. Ablow, who gives wonderful insight into what has and is transpiring in Beck's recovery story.

Glenn Beck and I both have experienced recovery through the 12 Step Model.  The book is full of clear hints of AA's influence.  What I have recently struggled with is that, for me, the 12 Steps have been helpful in accomplishing what I don't want to be, I just couldn't get past that to what I do want to be, beyond sober.

For that, for my quest toward a healthy, happy, productive future, The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life has hit the nail right on the head!  Years of addiction have kept me from my potential in real and painful ways.  I have not fully discovered who I am and what I am meant to accomplish in this life.  When I express this concern, my friends and family tend to play it down with lists of my accomplishments, trying to cheer me by reminding me of this or that good in my past.  While their intentions are great and appreciated, they haven't been much help.  I am 61 years old, and still often complain that I haven't got a clue as to what I want to be when I grow up.  I have always lived my life by default; by dealing as best I could with the things that happened to me.  Lehi says I was meant to act and not to be acted upon.  This book is teaching me how to act!

Years and years of inappropriately dealt with baggage have caused me to give up on so many hopes and dreams that I have quit hoping and dreaming.  All of my efforts were too intensely focused on doing battle with my addictive behavior that there was little energy for anything else.  As addictive behaviors are only symptoms of deeper causes and conditions, I was expending all my energies addressing the wrong problems. The 12 Steps were magnificent at helping me discover, deal with and surrender the real problems, the baggage, if you will.  But, where do I go from here?  How do I get back my possibilities?  How, at this age, do I move forward toward my full potential?  How to I learn again to hope?  To dream?  These questions are all answered, so powerfully, in this wonderful book!

In AA it is often said, "When the student is ready, the teacher will come."  I was ready.  So ready.  And sure enough, along came Duane, Glenn Beck and Dr. Ablow, right on time, with just the right answers.  Not just them either.  On the day I walked into the book store to find this gem I noticed a framed quotation hanging on the wall.  It was from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and said, "God is anxiously waiting to answer your prayers and to fulfill your dreams, but He can't if you don't pray and He can't if you don't dream."  I bought it and am looking at it now, hanging on the wall of my study.  I can hardly express what joy I have in having dreams again.

I have spent my life trying to appear to be authentic.  It was all a lie.  I did what I thought people would like me to do.  I said, what I thought they wanted to hear.  It was all a lie.  This great little book is helping me past that, helping me find my own truth.  Helping me to discover and live a congruent and authentic life.  It is telling me how to find that truth, not between it's covers, but deep within my own heart and soul.

Five Stars

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guest Post - From Duane's Journal - Healing the Wounded Soul

  Following are some notes I took from a talk given to me by Myke Weber while I was out visiting he and Booklogged. There is much insight in these notes and I pray the Lord will cause these insights to sink deep into the marrow of my bones, as it were.  Or, into the fibers of my spirit.  May He bless me that the Holy Ghost will be more active in my life so that I may remember, and have brought to my memory these things.  The CD was copyrighted in 2006. Here are the notes:

Healing the Wounded Soul
by Jack R. Christianson

    The speaker starts out by stating his intent in giving this talk.  It is found in 1Ne. 6:4: “For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob and be saved.”  This is also the intent of the Book of Mormon.  However, we as Spiritual Beings having a mortal experience all deal with heartache, tragedy, we are downtrodden and we all acquire wounds to the heart.  But we have a Savior and a Heavenly Father who are dedicated to “bring to pass the immortality and Eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39) and they have given us instructions as to how to avoid many of the vicissitudes of this life.  “And now, my son s, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Hel. 5:12).
    We all experience the hail and the storm and the wind in this mortal realm.  It cannot be avoided.  These are the things that help us, and sometimes force us, to dwell on how to do things better, how to have an easier life.  But the answer is in the same verse, if you are built on the foundation of Christ, you will still have trials; but those trials shall not drag you down into endless wo (torment, depression, etc) or the gulf of endless misery.  You shall be delivered from these things if you are built on the foundation of Christ.
    How do we build that foundation under us?  He have to come to know Christ; not only know Him but to communicate with Him and receive answers to current challenges.  We do have prophets in the church; but we all have the right to individual revelation and answers to our current situations.
    The speaker then shares with us an insight that was very powerful in his life.  To set the scene for the scripture, Moroni had just appeared to Joseph Smith in his bedroom.  After the revelation closed, the boy Joseph says, “I lay musing on the singularity of the scene, and marveling greatly at what had been told to me... when in the midst of my meditation, I suddenly discovered... (JS-Hist. 1:44)
    Musing is defined as “absorbed in thought; meditative.”  It is much like pondering – the word used in Moroni 10:3-4; the promise of the Book of Mormon.  Pondering is defined in the dictionary as “to consider something deeply and thoroughly; meditate.”  So, Joseph Smith was mediating, pondering, thinking deeply, going over the revelation thoroughly when he “suddenly discovered.”
    Now what the Boy Prophet discovered was the light re-appearing in his room.  But let’s look at the phrase a little differently, shall we?
    As we go through our lives and we are faced with how to proceed, or maybe a question of the right or wrong of a course of action.  Or, maybe we have found ourselves in a position in life where making the wrong decision could be catastrophic or harmful.  In other words, we really need the right answer.  As we take our problem or question to the Lord, we should meditate upon the subject matter.  As we think deeply, consider thoroughly, ponder and do our musing, we can “suddenly discover” the answer we were seeking.  We can get answers to current questions about our current life challenges.
    But, in today’s world we face tremendous challenges when it comes to receiving revelation.  We are being taught by the world – and it is not a coincidence – that we just don’t have time for pondering, meditating, or being still.  We are caught up in the noise and hustle of everyday life and we just can’t seem to find the time.  Yet, the Lord keeps knocking at our doors asking us to take time for Him.  The real sad thing is that as many of us use our Ipods, talking on the phone, playing games or any myriad of other things so that we do not hear the Lord knocking.
    With knowing that all this would be facing us, the Lord spoke in D&C 101:16, “Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.”  Notice that it says to “be still” to “know that I am God.”  What happens of we aren’t still?
    Elder Boyd K. Packer gave an address at the graduation of BYU Hawaii.  He said, “These are sobering times.  You are going out into a different world than when I was nineteen.”  Pres. Packer continued, “You won’t survive spiritually unless you know how to receive revelation.”  He followed these quotes with how Elijah of the old testament did not receive revelation in the thunder, the lightning, or the wind.  Elijah received revelation “in the still small voice.”  But the thing we often miss is that Elijah was also telling us is that the wind, the thunder, the lightning were all too loud for hearing the still small voice.  We all need to take time out of our lives to find the quiet; because what are we going to miss if we do not find the quiet?
    Elder Packer continued by saying that in our lives today we are never quiet; we are always moving.  He followed that by stating that Revelation comes in the quiet time.  Elder Packer mentions the quiet of the morning before your brain is caught up with the things of the world.  From personal experience and other statements by Men of God, I know sometimes that quiet time needs to be so quiet and separate from the world and it’s cares that you feel like you could almost leave this world and come nearer to God.  Sometimes the voice is that still and that quiet.  If you are not listening that intently, you might not hear the voice.
    The speaker then makes an extraordinary observation.  He says, “Most misbehavior come from being wounded.”  We have found that the statement, “Unfulfilled expectations bring negative results” is true.  When you place your father’s persona onto God the expectations are not fulfilled.  A wound is opened and the wound is made worse in the memory because of all the pain and insecurity associated with it.  I know that usually the wound, the pain, the humiliation all go together; but they can happen by themselves and over time combine to cause deep and lasting wounds in the heart and Spirit of the children of God.  It is the nature of this type of wound that it must be healed from the inside out.  This particular type of healing takes time; so, you must be patient as the wound heals.
    That is why the speaker as a Stake President stopped asking people to buck up and change and started to ask things like, “What is it that has caused such deep wounds, pain and anguish that you would act out like this?”  “What is missing from your life?’  “What needs do you have that are not being met?”  It follows the point that Glenn Beck makes in his book “The Seven” when he asks you to look at someone who has wounded you and ask, “What happened in this person’s life to cause them to be like this?”  I found a huge compassion when I asked what had happened in my own father’s life that had split his personality into seven different persons;  one of which beat me up physically, mentally, and spiritually.  This is the compassion that can come when we look not at the misbehavior but at the causes beneath the behavior.  Once we are healed, we can act from the higher platform of our being healed; from the higher platform of our greater understanding of what the wounded need.
    How are these wounds healed?  Let’s look at Jacob 2:7-8.  Here Jacob is calling the men of the church to repentance for the way they have been treating their wives and children.  “And also it grieveth me that I must use so much boldness of speech concerning you, before your wives and your children many of whose feelings are exceedingly tender and chaste and delicate before God, which thing is pleasing unto God’ (v7).  So, here Jacob is saying that the Lord desires women and children to have feelings that are tender, chaste and delicate.  Women and children are supposed to be this way, as God intended.  What have we done as a society to both our women and children?  But Jacob goes on, “And it supposeth me that they (women and children) have come up hither to hear the pleasing word of God, yea the word which healeth the wounded soul.”
    It is the “pleasing word of God” that “healeth the wounded soul!”  There is the answer.  But, I ask a question.  Is it enough to read or listen to the word of God to heal spiritual wounds?  To me that sounds too easy; and I believe Eternal Life is not easy to come by.  The Greatest Gift of God is not a free gift.  The scriptures tell us that we must overcome our carnal, sensual and natural (devilish) selves and become like God to receive that high gift.  So what is the answer?  How do we get the word of God deeply into the people?  What about immersing ourselves in the pleasing word of God?  Devoting our lives to being truth seekers and seeking the truth until we find it.  Turning over every stone on the beach until we find the treasure.  Turning our whole souls over to scripture study just like the Lord expects us to eventually turn our very lives over to Him?
    The speaker then revealed something to me that was awesome.  He said that Jacob, the brother of Nephi was an abused child and my whole mental picture of Lehi’s family changed.  Here we go: “And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my first-born in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness.  And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren” (2Ne 2:1).  Rudeness means, harsh, crude, course, or vulgar.  Being harsh, crude, course and vulgar causes wounds in the delicate natures of the children of God.
    Do you remember when Sam and Nephi came back without the plates the first time they tried to get them?  Laman and Lemuel beat Nephi so badly that an angel had to come break it up.  And when they were on the ship crossing the ocean, these eldest brothers tied Nephi to the mast of the ship and beat him.  This is harsh activity, this is a course life, this is a vulgar way to treat another human being, let alone a member of your family.
    Lehi’s family was not your typical family; it was an abusive family.  There were wounds in young Jacob’s soul.  But Lehi, in leaving his blessing upon this wounded child said this, “Nevertheless, Jacob, my first-born in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain” (2Ne 2:2).  Lehi went further and taught his wounded son that “redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth” (v6).
    Jacob, who learns to get real close to God (see 2Ne 2:4), lives to become the Prophet to the Lord’s people after his brother Nephi dies.  And what does he teach his people?  Although Jacob is very strong in opposition to sin, he teaches his people that it is the word of God that heals; it is the atonement of Christ and the blessings of grace which save men souls.  He teaches that tenderness, chastity, and delicate natures are desired by God in his people.  He teaches these things because he has lived them.
    In a meeting with President Faust that the speaker attended, the meeting was opened for questions.  The question was asked, “what are we going to do to overcome all the addictions we face in the world?”  Do you remember the statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer about behavior?  He said, “True doctrine understood changes attitudes and behavior quicker than the study of behavior.”  The study of behavior changes behavior; but that and true doctrine does it faster!  President Faust adopted a comfortable position with his mouth close to the microphone and said, “Get them to hold faster and tighter to the Iron Rod.  Next question?”
    At this point the speaker made if very clear that he was not saying that medicines were not necessary to correct chemical imbalances and so forth.  He reminded us that Elder Ashton said that faith and medicine work like the two halves of scissors to do delicate work.
    Again, the pleasing word of God heals the wounded soul.  But, we have to get that word in you and not just on you.  The word of God will heal and change you.  There is a healing agent in the scriptures that is like no other.  But, again it is not just reading the scriptures, it is getting the truth and insights found in the scriptures inside of you, so that you become changed from carnal, sensual and devilish to a Child of God.
    The Lord in D&C 84:57 says, “And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments (Bible) which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.”  From this statement I get that our scripture study should at least be concentrated enough to cause us not only to talk about the truth but to do, or live, the truth.  It is this kind of concentration that heals.  And when the healing takes place that which is holding the person back from obedience is removed.  If we can just get the wounded healed they will want to serve the King.
    Elder Faust said to get them to hold faster and tighter to the iron rod.  Nephi’s brothers asked him what the iron rod was and Nephi’s answer contains some pretty awesome promises.  “And they said unto me: what meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw that led to the tree?  And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction” (1Ne 51:23-24).  To hearken means to employ it; to use it.  And if we hold fast to the word of God we will not perish.  What a great promise.  And also we, by concentrating on the scriptures cannot, never mind being led away to destruction; but way before that we will not be blinded by the fiery darts of temptation.  That is a huge limitation on the power of our common enemy.
    Not only these great promises but we can lead and teach out of our own healed and changed hearts.  Remember, President Lee told us that we would never help another unless we re on higher ground than they.  We love, we nourish, we support and we are patient while the Lord heals the wounded soul from the inside out.
    President Hinkley asked the church to read the Book of Mormon in the coming year, while he was President of the Church.  In so doing he promised three things would happen in the lives of those who took up the challenge.  1) You would feel an additional measure of the Spirit of the Lord.  2) You would feel a stronger commitment to obey the commandments.  3) You would gain a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.  A little research showed that Elder Hinkley had made that exact promise in the exact words twice before becoming President of the Church.  Do you think the brethren want us to get into the Book of Mormon?  I am sure that one of the reasons the Prophets want us in the Book of Mormon is so the people of the Church can be healed: gaining a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God means you are coming to know the Healer.  What are we waiting for?
    Elder Russell M. Nelson has said, “Each individual who prayerfully studies the Book of Mormon can also receive a testimony of the divinity of the book.  In addition the book can help with personal problems in a very real way.  Do you want to get rid of a bad habit?  Do you want to improve relationships in your family?  Do you want to increase your spiritual capacity?  Read the Book of Mormon!  It will bring you closer to the Lord and His loving power...  He who helped the blind to see and the lame to walk can also bless you.  He has promised that those who live by the precepts of this book shall receive a Crown of Eternal Life.”
    The Book of Mormon is to teach us about the Great Healer.  What happens to the blind, the lame, the wounded, the weary, the downtrodden when they come in contact with the Creator of all things?  They are healed!  Why the Book of Mormon?  Because it can heal us no matter what our wounds.  Again, what are we waiting for before we jump in with both feet?  If you want to be healed of not being treated well, let the word of God get into you.
    It is often the case that we try to get others to comply with the truth we have found.  That is not our role or responsibility.  We cannot change others.  We can’t get them to read the Book of Mormon.  But we can love them, we can be tender, we can be delicate, and we can be chaste in our dealings with them.  In our relationships with others, especially our family, it doesn’t matter who is right.  What matters is what will bring the sweetness of the Spirit into our homes so that we don’t create wounds in the hearts of others, especially our children.  Fighting wounds children, always. We can and must not cause further wounds.  We can be examples of what God would want us to be.
    We come to know Him.  We separate ourselves out and we spend quiet time.  And in our quiet meditation and our pondering over the Word of God wounds are healed, ideas given, and solutions are found.
    Joseph Smith said, “If you do your duty, it will be just as well with you as if all men accept the gospel” (History of the Church, vol 1, pg 468).  Do your duty.  Live the gospel.  Love out of your own healed heart and it will be as though all men accepted the gospel; we won’t lose them.  On this same subject Joseph Smith said on another occasion, “All your loses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you live faithful.”  And then he adds this awesome declaration: “By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg 296).  I may not understand all that these statements entail; but I do understand enough to know that doing my duty and living faithfully is a small price to pay for all that is promised.
    D&C 50:7 seems to add more to the statements by Joseph Smith.  “Behold, verily I say unto you, there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power; but behold such shall be reclaimed.”  So, if one’s wounds, insecurity, or failings come because of the deceit of hypocrites, that person will be recovered.  To me that means that the truth will be made known to you and you are held guiltless for anything you did because you were deceived.  This is the mercy of Christ which allows all to be punished for their own sins and not the sins of others.
    This love of the Savior is everywhere demonstrated.  In 3Ne 17:5, the gathered multitude gazes upon the Savior with tears in their eyes and the steadfastness of their gaze let the Lord know that they wished He would stay.  He told them so and said his bowels were filled with compassion towards them.  He asked if there were any sick among them.  He wanted to heal them.  And the multitude went forth with their sick and He did heal them “that were afflicted in any manner” (v9).  And then He prayed to The Father for them; and so great were the things that He prayed that they could not be written.  He is the Great Healer.  He wants to heal us if we will only come to Him.
    He is our advocate with the Father.  He pleads our case before our Heavenly Father.  “And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean; that I may testify unto your Father and your God, and my God, that you are clean from the blood of this wicked generation; that I may fulfil this promise, this great and last promise, which I have made unto you, when I will” (D&C 88 74-75).
    Our duty, our level of concentration when learning of Him is laid out in these previous verses.  A pattern of behavior is laid out prior to Him making us clean.  This has significance for me because of my vision where the Lord tells me, “Duane, I have Power to Make You Clean.”  All of this is the doing of the word of God.  It is employing the word of God in our daily lives.  It is letting His word sink deep into the elements that make up our soul; and the soul is the body and the spirit.
    The speaker ended with an invitation; even an invitation from God.  It comes after the great destruction upon all the land in the Book of Mormon that occurred at the death of Jesus Christ, yet prior to his appearance to the people here in the western hemisphere.  The Lord rehearses unto those who were not destroyed by the destruction all the cities and souls that are gone.  He explains to the people who can hear His voice that it is because of wickedness and sin that the destruction and death has taken place.  Then the Healer invites His hearers to come unto Him, “O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?” (3Ne 9:13) Will you be healed?  Will you have the things that are holding you back removed?  Then study the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, like your life depends upon it; because your Eternal Life does depend on it.  (End of Notes)
    The purpose of this life is to come to know Jesus Christ, Him Crucified and why and for whom He was crucified.  You cannot learn about such things without revelation.  I define revelation as God speaking directly to you.  I have a knowledge that Heavenly Father set this life up so that we, each, individually, are responsible for our own lives.  We will be judged for our own sins and not anyone else’s.  We will also be blessed for our individual efforts to do, employ, use and obey the word of God.
    This life is a busy and noisy one; and a child of God seeking the truth, seeking to become like God, seeking to know Jesus Christ and Him Crucified needs to find quiet time.  Sleep less, get out of the city, go to the city park and block out the noise of the city.  Shut your windows and doors; do anything to find quiet.  And when the quiet is found do not let it go to waste; do not lose a millisecond.  Ponder, meditate, do your musing to that you can “suddenly discover” the right answer: the answer from the Lord.
    What a wonderful world it would be if we all could learn to do that.  The world would be so very different from the way it is now, if we do what we have to do to find the quiet time to commune with the Divine.
    This talk by Brother Christianson made a big impression on me.  I am one of the wounded.  I guess you could say I have been treated harshly, with much rudeness, a coarse vulgarity ran through my childhood.  Because of that example in my life, I have followed, for much of my own life, the same path. I exhibit some of these same traits.  There is something that is holding me back from being my best person, as Glenn Beck would put it.
    As I have read the Ablow and Beck book, a question of how to dig up those things holding me back has bothered me.  Brother Christianson’s talk tells me that if I would have these wounds healed I must immerse myself in the “pleasing word of God.”  As I do so, the Lord will heal those wounds.  But, in some way, during the healing process, those things that are holding me back will be removed through the atonement of Jesus Christ and I will be made whole.  It is my prayer that I will return to that chaste, tender, and delicate person the Lord would have me be so that I do not cause wounds in any of His other children.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review - Door To December by Dean Koontz

I really believe this is my favorite Koontz novel of all time.  That's hard to say because I probably said the same thing about the Frankenstein Series as well as the Odd Thomas series.

Still, this one really captured my attention from the first page and never let up until the last.

The interesting thing is, this novel was written by Koontz, and first published in 1985 under the pen name of Richard Paige.  It was the only Paige offering ever published.  Koontz has a little commentary at the end of the book explaining the practice and use of pen names, which was both informative and amusing.  Considering the passage of time and a much less mature author than today's Dean Koontz, it is quite remarkable that I liked it so much.

That said, I think if I had read it thinking Richard Paige wrote it; I feel quite certain that I'd have attributed it to Koontz before the 100th page.  It is so characteristically his; yet so very unique.  As always I loved his descriptive prose and the breezy, humorous, light, bright conversations between very interesting characters.

I'm not going to spoil a thing by telling you any about the story.  Just accept that this, like every Koontz novel, is thrilling, imaginative, almost credible and hugely entertaining.  How can an author take his readers to such dark places and leave them so enlightened in the end?  I think he answers that question nicely in the addendum commentary as well.

Five Stars

Monday, August 8, 2011


Note:  In recognition of the recent passing of Sister Cheiko Okazaki, and as an expression of gratitude for the deep impression she made upon my life; may I re-post from Commend Yourself to God an article I wrote referring to a great lesson she once taught me.  Thank you dear Sister for your heart-felt and God-inspired gifts to each of us. 

The wounds of manipulation destroy trust.  Lack of trust is why people don’t change.  Broken trust is a scalding, instant pain much like touching a hot stove.  We are reticent to ever feel it again and so we carefully guard against it.  No one likes the pain of disappointment that comes of broken promises and violated trust. We are quick to put up walls and barriers.  We put on oven mitts before coming near the danger again.  We shore up our defenses or cower down in our hidey holes and refuse to come out until we’re certain the coast is clear.  Is it any wonder we are so hard to reach? How are we to distinguish the trustworthy from those who’ll selfishly hurt us again?  No one wants to be vulnerable when the cost of a mistake can hurt so badly.  To attempt a change in our lives is to come out of our fortifications into that scary world.  It is hard to let ourselves become that vulnerable again.
While serving at the Detention Center, I had a remarkable compatriot.  His name is Darwin.  The youth just loved him.  More than a year after his being called elsewhere, the kids still inquire after him.  The thing that made Darwin so special was that he was vulnerable.  He hid nothing from them, including his tears.  It is a hard and vulnerable thing to weep in front of others.  Some will not understand.  Some with judge and tease and say hurtful things. Darwin has felt the sting of such unkindness many times, but he refuses to withdraw to a King’s X were he’ll be safe from that. Why?  Because Darwin knows that in order to draw wounded people out of the turtle shell of safety they’ve grown around themselves they have to trust.  Darwin also knows that trust begets trust.  He trusts the kids to keep his confidences.  He trusts them to not make fun of his weakness.  He takes a huge risk.  But, he thinks it’s worth it, because they sense that if Darwin feels safe out there, maybe they might be too.  They test the waters in Darwin’s presence and nothing happens, so out they come and bask in the sunshine a while.  When he’s not there, they usually draw back into their shells, but they risk it when he’s around because they know that even if they get stung, it will also sting Darwin and they’ll deal with it together.
I think that one of the greatest gifts parents can give their children is to be willing to be vulnerable in their presence.  My own dear Father had a difficult time being vulnerable.  He was a very capable accomplished man.  He appeared to me to be perfect so I could, in no way relate to him.  He, like most parents was also a manipulator and was the cause of much of my pain.  I never dared cry in his presence except when he took a belt to my backside.  In that case the wails and tears were indicative that he’d done his job.  I realize now that the society he lived in had manipulated him into conformity and that breaking out of that mold was just as difficult for him as it is for me. 
Long after my father had passed away, I had a sacred moment with him which is too special to describe here.  Let me just say that he came to me and showed me his weakness in a very vulnerable way. My discovery of his humility, humanity and willingness to expose his weakness to me, was quite possibly the most cathartic experience of my life.  How wonderful that the Lord, in his mercy, saw me holed up in my shell and chose to allow my father to be the one to come and draw me out.  I can only imagine how healing it was for Dad as well.
Once my father was able to show me a different pattern of parenthood, I began to be willing to trust my Father in Heaven as well.  I love a little story told by Cheiko Okazaki in her book Lighten Up!  There she describes a hypothetical situation in which Jesus might show up at your door for a visit.  He is welcome in the tidy part of the house but, in this story, kept from the kitchen where things aren’t just right.
I just went back and reread that chapter in the book.  It is not at all like I remember it.  It seems, that I have subconsciously, rewritten the story to more accurately reflect my own weakness and circumstance.  It rather amused me to discover how I had embellished her sweet simple story with details of my own.  Here’s how the story goes in my mind’s version:
I get a card in the mail indicating that Jesus would like to come visit me on the following afternoon.  I realize that I’ll be hard pressed to make all the preparations.  The note says he’ll arrive at 4:30 PM, so I assume he’ll want to stay for supper.  I look at my calendar and see that my evening is booked at the Detention Center and that my morning has something too.  I think I can get to the store on the way back from that morning engagement and will probably have time to clean up the messy kitchen and fix a meal in the remaining time.  I go about my life at little harried, a little worried.
My morning meeting goes long.  The lines are long at the grocery store.  As I come in the driveway a neighbor flags me down with an emergency across the street that requires my attention.  I make it into the house two hours late and some of the food has spoiled in the hot car.  I’ll have to go to plan B as I can’t fix spoiled food for the Savior.  I’m just rolling up my sleeves to tackle three days of neglected dishes when the door bell rings.  I rush to answer it and find to my horrified dismay that He has arrived early!
Flustered I escort Him to the Home Teaching Room, move the morning paper off the best chair and invite Him to sit.  I make a few apologies, mingled with excuses and ask if he’d like some refreshment?  I explain that I’ll be leaving Him there while I go tidy up a bit and get dinner on, whereupon, according to Dixon’s version, I hand Him a Bible to read while he waits.
Oh boy, now I have to stop and interject some explanation about Dixon.  Dixon is a Native American fellow who has spent the past two years as my companion at the Detention Center.  He was seriously injured in a drunk-driving accident years ago.  He spent eight months in a coma and now has some disability.  His left side is partially paralyzed and his speech is difficult to understand.  He’s especially limited in speaking long sentences and gets completely muddled with paragraphs.  The result is that he’s become a master of the one liner.
Dixon has a deep understanding of the gospel.  He has a grateful, happy outlook on life.  Add to that a superior sense of humor and a flawless sense of timing and you get, well, the best teaching companion.  My lessons became drum rolls punctuated by Dixon’s rim shots.
Such was the case when, telling the above story to the kids in DT, I came to that part where I was awkwardly seating the Savior of the World in my drawing room and attempting to see to his needs.  I was just saying how I was about to leave him there with a magazine when Dixon interjected, “ Bible!”
See what I mean?  With one word, Dixon summarized my whole message.  We laughed and laughed at the stupidity of thinking that we in any way could presume to meets Jesus’ needs, especially with something He’d given to meet ours!
Now, back to the story:  As I’m about to leave, Jesus asks if He might come into the kitchen and help!  “Oh, of course not!” I protest.  “I could never let you see my messy kitchen!”
He kindly explains that He’d rather help and that He’s good at it.  Still I protest, but He patiently persists.  Finally, I reluctantly agree.  I’m sure that when He sees the mess there will be recriminations, “This place is a pig sty!  How can you live like this?”
Instead, He quietly, patiently rolls up His sleeves and goes to work beside me.  In the end I imagine a pleasant afternoon of cooking and cleaning and pleasant conversation.
Actually, this story is not all imagination.  In order to recover from my addiction, I had to do exactly what I’ve described. All my life I had left the Lord alone in the tidy parts of my soul.  Never inviting Him in where He might do some good.  It was a difficult day when I swung to doors wide and meekly invited Him in to see the messy parts.  They were far worse than a few days’ undone dishes.  My “kitchen” was a filthy, stinking can of worms.  Still, there was no condemnation just an invitation to join Him in cleaning up the mess.  He is very good at what He does.
That kind of trust, that kind of vulnerability is not easy to come by. I think it is what the scriptures call being circumcised of heart; the willingness to become utterly vulnerable in order to become clean and enter the covenant.
Most of us consider confessing to be repentance.  In this story, I confess to the Savior that I have a messy kitchen, but that is of not use to me or Him.  It is only when I let Him far enough in to actually help with the clean up, that I am cleansed, comforted and forgiven.
So, if we are afraid and walled in, how do we get the courage to step out into the light and take the risk of trusting again?  I don’t know if there is a magic formula.  Some go there because they are smothering in their fortress and are driven out for air.  Others get exposed for who they really are and once exposed decide to face their humiliation and do something about it.  Others, finding someone they can truly trust, with whom their confidence has grown over time, may trust their confidant and accept an invitation to emerge from their prison/shelter.  Remember, manipulation has driven them there; manipulation will not bring them back.  No selfish effort on my part is going to initiate trust and vulnerability on the part of another.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Book Review - What The Night Knows by Dean Koontz

Again, Koontz masterfully contrasts light and darkness.  It is amazing, the awful realms he can show us; thus enhancing the absolute brilliance of the light.  As always, his work is abundant with amusing conversations, wonderful descriptions and delightful characters.

This is a fascinating story as well.  A police detective, John Calvino, is a survivor of a horrible series of murders that included his entire family.  Now they're beginning again and he must stop the perpetrator before he loses his wife and children, like he had is parents and siblings.

These past few years Koontz seems to be bent on understanding his religious experience.  He seems to be a believer, has wonderful insights into human nature and seems at a loss to explain the miracles that seem to pervade our lives.  While his conclusions in this case are interesting, even compelling, they are far from satisfying and satisfactory.  Too bad he doesn't have a deeper understanding of The Plan of Salvation.

Still, he does get some things in spades.  This, for example:
"She knew terrible things happened to the best of people, to people far better than she would ever be, even people as good and innocent as Minette.  But she also knew that the power of the imagination could shape reality   Every day she made real on canvas the scenes that would be otherwise confined forever to her mind; therefore it seemed a half step in logic to believe that the imagination might directly influence reality."
I like that.  It speaks of reality being created first, spiritually.  Sometimes, though, imagination gets tangled up in worry and confusion.  Here is Koontz's beautifully descriptive expression of that notion:
"Naomi found herself for once in a situation where her galloping imagination seemed tethered, pawing at the ground with its hooves, stirring up nothing but dust."
Having previously described the church as having evolved into an institution of social connection and social activism and service, Koontz makes this telling observation:
"They (the church) were embarrassed by the old-fashioned idea of absolute Evil, of Evil personified, but the answer to this wasn't a food bank, he would not save his family and himself by throwing food at this thing, not by giving it a cot in a homeless shelter, not by social action, what he need here was some really effective antisocial action ... a miracle..."
I liked the idea that in our world of uncertainties, of ineffective, even crooked politicians, of crime, of calamity; sometimes all we can do is quit trusting in "the arm of the flesh" and call upon God to put forth His mighty hand and intervene.  A rather old fashioned notion, to be sure, at least by popular standards; but a very real and effective one.

I never come away disappointed with a Dean Koontz novel.  I'll be sad to remove the Book Darts and return this one to the library.  I'd rather own it.

Five Stars
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...