Thursday, March 22, 2012

Scripture Stories

I am not much for movies about serious things.  The Bible movies, like The Ten Commandments, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and The Big Fisherman are pretty weak.  The book is better.  I didn't even want to go to The Book of Mormon Movie because there is no way it could stand up to the book itself.  So I was a little concerned that the LDS videos about the life of Jesus would not be able to meet the appropriate standard.  Well, they do meet that standard.  I find them sensitive, complete, and they encourage The Holy Ghost to quietly testify of the truth of the message they tell.  I hope you will check them out and tell your friends.  The message is for everybody.

The painting is by Carl Bloch.  The subject is Jesus in Gethsemane receiving support from an Angel sent from His Father.  Gaye says this is His Mother.  

As I was standing by this large Bloch painting of Jesus at the Pool of Bethesda, I noticed this young woman reverently taking in the scene.  I felt the love of God reach out to her and comfort her with a promise that Jesus will heal her, too.  It was a learning moment for me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blog-ish Goals

Some will ask, "Why write a blog?  Why put your life before the world?"  Good question.  So I'll state up front that I do not intend to put my life before the world.  Readers of blogs, including and maybe especially this one, want to get something worthwhile.  The worthiness is measured in how well it meets that very goal of worthiness, and the terms of the worthiness are based inside the head and heart of the reader, even more than of the writer.  So here is what this blog will be about.  I hope you like it.  But if you don't, that is okay, too.  Go somewhere else to find what you are looking for.

I want to express my opinion and to ask some questions.  Questions are essential to the process of learning.  One might disagree with another person's opinion, but how one feels about something is okay.  Feelings are okay.

In fact, I will digress here for a moment.  I remember very few lectures from dental school, or even from my undergraduate education at Ricks College and BYU.  But one that I remember clearly was a lecture by one member of the prosthodontic department at the University of Washington Dental School.  (His name is not important, but I do remember it.)  That was the only lecture we had from that particular instructor.  It was about some obscure niche of what complete dentures are supposed to be about.  What I remember is five little statements at the top of the mimeographed lecture notes he handed out.  These are the five statements, and they have become part of my core value system

1.  I am responsible for my head.
2.  I am not responsible for your head.
3.  You are not responsible for my head.
4.  Feelings are okay.
5.  People are okay.

Feelings and opinions usually come from each individual's perspective, and I suspect that the perspective is a product of our life's experience.  Since we each bring a different tool box and scrap book to the discussion table, each of us is unique.  But we are also similar in many ways.  That brings up the question of which is more important, our similarities and commonnesses, or our differences and uniquenesses.  I suppose the answer to that one is decided by our individual comfort zones.

For example, I grew up in Rexburg, Idaho.  That lovely southeast Idaho town was predominantly Mormon, middle-class (has anybody ever really defined what middle-class is?), good people of European ancestry accustomed to living in the land of the cold wind, etc.  There was one older Black gentleman who lived in our town.  We all commented on his uniqueness every time we saw him.  I think he worked for the Union Pacific Railroad, but that doesn't matter.  When the racially charged activities of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's began to take up more space in the newspaper and more time in the nightly news on TV, I had no way to measure the validity of what we were seeing.  Frankly, I thought that there was not much those people had to complain of.  Anybody who wanted to could get an education, live by the rules of society, and move upward on the ladder of opportunity, economic or otherwise.

Then I went on an LDS mission to South Africa.  Suddenly I was part of the racial minority, but because of my European ancestry I was a part of the power majority.  Apartheid (that is pronounced apart-ate not apart-ide) was the rule of the land.  Sometimes missionaries are just teenage boys and they do and say dumb things.  I said some dumb thing in a letter to my dad about the ignorance of the Natives of South Africa.  (Native refers to the Black South Africans and European refers to the White South Africans.)  He wrote back to me (letters took a week each way, so it was two weeks later) and I could tell he was not smiling.  He counseled me sternly to change my attitude.  He reminded me that all human inhabitants of Planet Earth are children of the same God, and we are all subject to the redemption of grace through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  He told me I needed to learn to love all people of every race and culture, and that my future happiness would depend on my ability to do just that.  He got my attention, and I have tried to live my life according to his wise instruction.  So when I participate in a discussion of such matters, my opinion is driven by that background.  In that I am unique, and I am also similar to many others of broadly various backgrounds.

So here is what I want to do with my blog.

1.  Tell a story.
2.  Speak out on what I think is true and valid.
3.  Build a feeling of love and brotherhood among mankind, at least as far as my small influence will reach.
4.  Promote truth and beauty.  John Keats said truth is beauty and beauty, truth.  I think he was right.
5.  Encourage healthy and uplifting discussion among reasonable people.
6.  Add other goals as I learn more about what I am doing.

That was too long, but you get the idea.  I will express my opinion and encourage all to do the same.  But in doing that, we need to respect each other's opinions.  And we need to be willing, even eager, to change our opinions as new evidence or experience comes to light.

Forgive my mistakes.  Comment on anything that prompts your uplifting input.  Join me in trying to make the world a better place.

Random Selection

I read an interesting article in our local newspaper yesterday.  Coming from Associated Press, the title of the article was "Picking Perfect Bracket a Tough Numbers Game".  This is March Madness, when the NCAA basketball tournament dominates the news media for three weeks.This article quotes a math professor as pointing out that leaving some things to chance or random selection introduces incredible odds.

For instance, the article says, "If you were to stack the amount of paper it would take to fill in every bracket with every possibility among the 68 teams who will play 67 games over the next three weeks, it would not fit inside the universe.

"So says Michael Weimerskirch, a math professor at Augsburg College...But there's this small glimmer of hope.  Weimerskirch says you could simply start flipping coins.  The odds of finding perfection that way--by flipping a coin to pick the winner of every game:  1-in-100,000,000,000,000,000,000.  For those keeping score at home, that is 1-in-100 million trillion.

"Or, to put it another way:  You're just as likely to win Powerball three consecutive times as you are to picking a perfect bracket by flipping a coin."

Let me get this straight.  With 68 possibilities to start out with, the chance of ending up with the correct outcome by random selection is astronomically remote.  I would say impossible would be a realistic description of the chances.  It would not happen.

Yet, there are supposedly rational people out there who claim that the universe, the solar system, the biosphere, life, order, the miracle of conception and development and birth, and the emotion of human experience all came about by random selection.  That is a lot more than 68 elements from which the desired outcome is to be created.  So the real choices would be much, much slimmer than one in 100 million trillion.  Perhaps, as one wag put it, there really is more chance of a Boeing 747 coming out of an explosion in a junk yard, or all the dictionaries of every language coming from an explosion at a printing factory, than that this marvelous life we are living is the result of random selection.  Truly, the universe speaks of the handiwork of God.

Reason and plain old truth demand that we tell it like it really is.  The responsibility rests on those who don't want to give credit to some mysterious being out there in the ethersphere.  When God is not allowed to be part of the picture, then some other explanation must be devised.  Whatever explanation one comes up with, random selection is the most IRRATIONAL explanation possible.  Think about it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The First One

This is Barbara, a little orphan girl in Guatemala.  Spencer and I met her last year and everybody in the group wanted to bring her home.
2 year old Barbara
3 year old Barbara

Barbara is happier with Gaye

I have been to Guatemala 4 times.  Each time I feel greater love for these sweet people.  I just want them to have the Gospel.  And that is happening fast, too.  There are now 22 stakes in Guatemala City (many Book of Mormon students feel that is where the Land of Nephi was located) and another 22 stakes outside the city.  There are also 5 missions and 2 temples there.  These are Lehi's children, and the Spirit surrounds them.