Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pictures from Temple Square

On my trip to Utah I was able to take a quick run through Temple Square in between picking up family members at the Salt Lake airport.  I enjoyed looking for some nice pictures and believe I found some.  The real pleasure was talking to a couple of Sister missionaries who found me in the midst of taking pictures.
Salt Lake Temple
Angel Moroni
Conference Center across from Temple Square
Assembly Hall
Zoom on the unique window
Seagull Monument
 There is so much beautiful architecture at Temple Square and this is just a taste.  Next time I'll have to take some additional pictures. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Guest Blog: One Nation Under God

This is something I think about nearly every school day.  I'm a guidance counselor in a public school, so I get the privilege and opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every school day throughout the year.  However, like many things which are repeated over and over, the words of the pledge can lose their meaning to those who speak them frequently and automatically.  I think many who recite the pledge do so somewhat robotically, able to frame the words without fully engaging their brains.  (I'm certainly capable of doing so!)
I have found that virtually everyone who says the pledge adds a comma (,) where it doesn't belong.  And this tiny little pause completely changes the meaning of the pledge.  Think about the power of a comma to change meaning.  Here are a couple of examples:

"We think we understand" versus "We think, we understand."
"We believe we can" versus "We believe, we can."
"God rest ye, merry gentlemen" versus "God rest ye merry, gentlemen."  (You can check out the different meanings of these two phrases through Mannheim Steamroller, which has produced a different song for each meaning!)

I've found that most people say the pledge like this, with commas--or pauses--marked by *:
I pledge allegiance * to the flag * of the United States of America*
and to the republic * for which it stands * one nation * under God *
indivisible * with liberty * and justice for all.

I think it would be more accurate and meaningful if it were spoken like this:
Jon McNaughton artist, click here to learn more about this painting.
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America *
And to the republic for which it stands *
One nation under God *
Indivisible *
With liberty and justice for all.
Most people pause after "One nation..."   It is such a common and widespread practice that people who are around me when the pledge is said always notice that I recite this line as one phrase: One nation under God.  That's how the phrase should be said.  And that makes a huge difference.

If we are "under God", then we defer to Him.  If we are "under God", we follow Him.  And I believe that if we defer to God and follow Him; if we truly strive to be "under God" and subject our wills to His, then we will find that it is actually possible to be a nation indivisible, to be truly united and unified. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What I've been reading #5

Elisha's Bones by Don Hoesel:
Elisha's bones is like reading a lost story of Indiana Jones.  Archeology is the path to some excitement and in this case into gaining some unexpected faith in God along the way.  A fun story to read and one that moves along at a fair clip to keep you engaged.  In Indiana Jones fashion it has you visiting several countries and going down several dank and dusty corridors before you find what you are looking for.  It is a fun entertaining book to read. 

Once again I am reading one of Orson Scott Cards Intergalactic Medicine Show on line magazines.  Not all of them are available on Kindle but this was the next one available.  Like I did last time i will write about each short story contained in the kindle addition. 

Vanishing by Peter S. Beagle
This is a story about a man who had a traumatic experience when he served in the military when the wall existed separating East and West Germany.  He inexplicably finds himself back there with only three other people, a Russian soldier, a German woman and her now adult son.  What ties them together is the woman and how all three had a part in her life.  Interesting healing story of men who carried around guilt and fear for most of their lives.  

The Sin Hypothesis by E.A. Lustig
This was an interesting story about a young woman who wonders what happens to the sins when a person is baptized.  She concludes that the sins are released into the water.  So she decides to test the hypothesis and how she tests that hypothesis is a unique story which could lead to some interesting thinking.  

Tekkai Exhales His Avatar by Tony Pi
In a world where people can connect to the web through avatars and live in it, a group of immortals have become the enemy of the government.  The government has one in prison and offers him release if he will help to catch another.  In the attempt the imprisoned immortal chooses 20 more years of imprisonment rather than to allow the government to kill AIs which have developed from the web.  

The Urn of Revalos by Rebecca Day
A young man was taken and is now a very low ranking sailor on a pirate ship.  When their ship is hired to transport the Urn and two mages his mage past becomes apparent and what results forces him to choose between being a sailor or a mage.  A fun little read that could make an interesting book.

The Man in the Tree by Orson Scott Card
A disappointing story about a family that goes for vacation to the same place under a tree that has bark on it in the shape of a man.  That night the oldest daughter and father see a man/boy come out of the tree.  Not too exciting and I seem to have missed the point but as usual it was well written by Orson Scott Card.  

Free Seas by David Lubar
A very short story about two teens who sneak on what they think is a cruise ship to find out they need to look twice before boarding. 

InterGalactic Interview with Tanith Lee
A so-so interview with a fantasy writer or many books.  I've never read anything by he,r although I've seen her books around, so I guess I wasn't too interested

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
This is an interesting book about a 13 year old boy that grows up in a society of Mages but is thought to be without any powers of his own.  This Mage society is in our world of the present time but they have minimal interactions with humans.  The boy learns that he does indeed have unique powers and as he learns to use them and matures as a person and begins to choose his behaviors instead of doing what he has seen around him he starts to develop into something great.  The book was enjoyable for the most part but does have the occasional swear word that OSC uses to delineate the character of the person or to show the immaturity of the person.  As usual OSC pulls you into the various characters life until you begin to care about them.  There are the occasional 13 year old bodily function humor as well.  This could easily have been a YA novel with a few minor changes. 

Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton
I really enjoyed the book and found it to be inspiring.  Honestly I enjoyed the movie better but found the book to be a great companion for the movie.  for one thing you can see which things actually happened and how they happened and which things were changed or put into the movie to make it more cinematically pleasing.  The story comes out even stronger about how her faith has helped her through a very difficult time in her life.  Her family is clearly a great support to her as well.  Finally surfing is really her preferred activity over almost everything else.  One part I enjoyed especially was a section at the end about how she wanted the movie to represent them very well and especially to represent her Christian beliefs well.  She expressed some concerns about modest in the movie as well as being as accurate as possible.  Bethany Hamilton comes across as a reluctant celebrity.  She is willing to do it to represent her Savior but not for herself.  I recommend this book. 

Reading is a great way to get relaxation and to learn and be inspired.  Movies and T.V. are more hit and miss, mostly miss so don't put all your eggs into the visual entertainment, let a book create a world in you mind so that you can see it more clearly. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday Music #14: Michael W. Smith: Freedom

Michael W. Smith is a well known and respected Christian singer.  He has a lot of excellent music that is listened to a fair amount around our house.  This song I am choosing to highlight today is significantly different than most of his other music.  Actually the whole album is instrumental and largely piano and orchestra music as opposed to his typical rock Christian songs.  When I heard the song Freedom from the album by the same name recently I thought it would be perfect to show on my blog for the fourth of July. 

Michael started writing songs at age five, although he dreamed of himself as a great baseball player until he dropped out of college and moved to Nashville to do his music. 

After receiving his first contract to write music he thought he was in heaven.  That is until one day when his attention was distracted from the music.  He wrote:  "Then one afternoon while I was working in my office, Deborah Kay Davis walked by.
I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. When she passed by, it was all over for me. I was blown away. Totally head over heels in love. I frantically picked up the phone and called my mother in West Virginia.
'Mom, I can’t believe it. You’re not going to believe this, Mom. I just saw the girl I’m going to marry.
'What’s her name?'
'I don’t know, Mom. I haven’t met her yet. But I gotta go. I’ll find out and call you back.'
My poor mother! She must have thought I’d lost my mind. But I’d never been so clearheaded in my life.
I left my office and went searching for this girl in the warehouse. Sherlock Holmes couldn’t have done a better job of tracking her down, and eventually I found myself standing outside the ladies’ restroom, waiting for her to emerge. She walked out. I introduced myself. We were engaged three and a half weeks later – and married four months after that!"
Michael W. Smith and wife
Michael started playing in a band that was asked to open for Amy Grant.  Her managers were so impressed with Michael that they decided to start a record company to get his music out there.  On his first record he wrote all the music and his wife all the lyrics.  From there he has come out with many records. 

Michael W. Smith and family
Michael has founded a record company, prayer groups and eventually a church.  He and his wife have had five children and now have two grandchildren.  Michael wants to be remembered as "a God-fearing man who loved his wife and kids well".

Michael W. Smith: Freedom
The Album

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Manly Man Training #18: Love your wife and strengthen yourself

A Doc Chritensen painting.  [Notice the elderly man to the right]
I have noticed something interesting about men and their church attendance the past few years.  Single men seem to attend church less consistently than married men.  Even men who are married but away from their family for work, training or other reasons attend less regularly.  I have observed many of these men coming less often despite having been a regular attender when they are with their family. 
On the other hand I have seen some very diligent men who come regularly without their spouse or family attending with them, but this is a minority.  I know of a man whose wife had Alzheimer's, another whose wife decided she didn't believe the gospel anymore and others whose wife didn't want or couldn't attend for other reasons.  What causes men who attend regularly with their family but less so when they are on their own?Why is it easier for men to participate fully when their wife encourages them but when she isn't a part of the motivation the men seem to find other things more important?  And then there are those men who are faithful even when their wife discourages them from attending?  How do we become a man who can respond to our wife's encouragement to do good but continue on doing good if that is absent?

So what does this have to do with Manly Men?  In last April Conference, Elder Walter Gonzalez of the Seventy said in his talk, "Love is a powerful influence to our hearts in our effort to be obedient....Love for a mother, father, or spouse can also inspire or obedience to gospel principles."  That came together for me due to noticing the activity patterns of men as stated above. 
What is it that we men need to do in order to assure that our personal testimony is strong enough to carry us through any times when we may not have our wife to attend church with us?  There are a variety of reasons including physical and mental illnesses that may keep our wife away from church regularly, irregularly or permanently.  Another is if our wife loses faith or gets a stake calling that keeps her visiting other wards frequently.  Possibly our wife could have a job that interferes with their attending church regularly. 

Speaking of the job, I have had a couple of occasions when I have had work that interfered with my church attendance.  I know it was hard for my wife during those times, but nevertheless she went to church and participated regularly.  Which brings up the companion observation that I notice that women--whose husbands are not members, are not faithful attenders or who are ill--much more regularly find their way to church.  What do we Manly Men need to do to match the commitment to the gospel that the women of our church often seem to have?

Surely it is acceptable to allow our love for our wife to encourage us to be more consistent in following the Savior by doing many of the things that we are instructed and directed by the scriptures and the leaders of the church.  That of course would include attending church, the temple, having family scripture study, home evening and prayers in the home.  Surely that is one reason we marry a righteous woman so that we can benefit from her influence to help us be a better man.
Wife helping husband reach higher
Ultimately we have to allow our wife's influence and our love for her to lead to the source.  The source is the Savior and we have to build our own reliance upon Him and relationship with Him so that if/when the time comes when we have to stand alone, that we can continue to grow in the gospel and not be retarded or derailed because we are weaker than we allowed ourself to believe.  Sure we want to follow Him with our wife always at our side but we must develop a testimony and desire to follow Him that can stand independent and alone if necessary.  In other words we need to love Christ. 

"Lovest thou me?"

"Follow me" (John 21:15-19)
As Elder Gonzalez continued in his talk: "Love is a powerful influence in our hearts in our effort to be obedient.  Love for our Savior inspires us to keep His commandments....The way we treat others reflects to what extent we follow our Savior in loving one another.  We show our love for him when...we make and keep covenants." 

Let us develop our love for the Savior separate and in conjunction with our wife, so that our wife and family can depend on us to be Manly Men even when she or they may not be able to provide the support and encouragement that may be desired.
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