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...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

There are not enough churches

I was at work the other day talking with my coworker.  Somehow the conversation turned to how many different churches there were.  It is true that in our world there are very many churches.  If we look at the Christian denominations alone there are about 38000.  In the world there are many more religions and they are connected in various ways through current affiliation or through history to other religions.  It appears that there are 19 major religions throughout the world of which Christianity is the largest making up about 1/3 of religious people in the world.    
My friend pointed out that there are lots of concerns and sometimes complaints about all the different churches.  Some people think there are too many churches.  This is where he took off on an unanticipated tangent.  He pointed out that in the Christian religions, and maybe others, the basis of the church is the home.  That is where the majority or religious teaching occurs through instruction as well as by example, typically of the parents.  Church attendance is actually a support to the teachings in the family.  Without the family teaching and supporting religion in the home there would not be churches he suggested. 
His view ultimately was that there were not enough churches in the world because every home needed to be a church in and of itself.  Over the whole earth that would make an estimated one billion churches.  I was intrigued by my friend's thoughts on the matter and have thought about them since our discussion. 
His assertion that the family is the center of the church (and he further asserted the basic unit of the country) agrees with the LDS religious teachings and the emphasis is properly put on religious teachings in the home.  My concern comes when I considered trying to unify so many teachings in so many different homes.  Each home surely teaches, represents and complys with religious teachings differently.  It consistent parental effort to to unify one home religiously.  Unifying several homes would be difficult.   If every home were left to itself with no direction or no authority from outside the home it would be easy to imagine a chaotic shizm in just about every possible doctrine and belief. Would any beliefs remain common among any sizable groups in such circumstances?  Don't they all need some connection to authoritive doctrine and teachings? 

I was thinking about the various religions and how each religious group often does little things that push away other groups and alienate themselves from others.  That certainly creates a feeling that we have unreconcilable differences.  On the edges of most if not all religious groups there are those who will allow their prejudices and/or feelings of superiority to lead to verble clashes and even violence.  I certainly would not want these negative aspects from history, and recognizable in current world situations, to increase by encouraging every home to be their own religion without authoritive direction from God.   

However; my frienid certainly is right that the family needs to be a place where religious observance is paramount, safe, and where religion can be peacefully taught and lived.  Where questions can be asked without embarrasment and improvement can be made without old ties holding us back.  I conclude that religion is centered in the home and attending church is an attempt to be and have support from a wider community of people with similar beliefs.  We do manage to create a sort of unity within many or most churches today.  It is when people view themselves as different from each other in religion that we have difficulty with unity--though there are certainly exceptions and great successes in this matter from time to time.

Perhaps it would help if we all would see that we come from the same God, that our Heavenly Father is the one that put us here within His plan for us.  Accepting we come from one God might lead us to find His foundational truths that are available now on this earth.  [If we assume he created all these different belief systems then he becomes the author of the discord that he frequently warns and condemns in his scriptures and through his prophets.]  So clearly The Truth should trump what we then must call traditions of our culture, our families or to whatever we have given our allegence.  Recognizing the one true God's hand today and our true relationship to him and thus each other might humbly enable us to join together and unify.  It seems too overwhelming and implausable until the Millenium, doesn't it? 

President Howard W. Hunter said in Oct. Conference 1991:
"In the message of the gospel, the entire human race is one family descended from a single God. All men and women have not only a physical lineage leading back to Adam and Eve, their first earthly parents, but also a spiritual heritage leading back to God the Eternal Father. Thus, all persons on earth are literally brothers and sisters in the family of God.

"It is in understanding and accepting this universal fatherhood of God that all human beings can best appreciate God’s concern for them and their relationship to each other. This is a message of life and love that strikes squarely against all stifling traditions based on race, language, economic or political standing, educational rank, or cultural background, for we are all of the same spiritual descent. We have a divine pedigree; every person is a spiritual child of God."

In that talk he quoted Brigham Young as saying:  “For me, the plan of salvation must … circumscribe [all] the knowledge that is upon the face of the earth, or it is not from God. Such a plan incorporates every system of true doctrine on the earth, whether it be ecclesiastical, moral, philosophical, or civil: it incorporates all good laws that have been made from the days of Adam until now; it swallows up the laws of nations, for it exceeds them all in knowledge and purity; it circumscribes the doctrines of the day, and takes from the right and the left, and brings all truth together in one system, and leaves the chaff to be scattered hither and thither.” (Journal of Discourses, 7:148.)

President Hunter further said:
"In the gospel view, no man is alien. No one is to be denied. There is no underlying excuse for smugness, arrogance, or pride. Openly scorning the pettiness and intolerance of rival religious groups, the Prophet Joseph Smith said in an editorial: 'While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, causes ‘His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.’ He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, ‘according to the deeds done in the body whether they be good or evil,’ or whether these deeds were done in England, America, Spain, Turkey, or India.' (History of the Church, 4:595–96.)

"Mormonism, so-called, is a world religion, not simply because its members are now found throughout the world, but chiefly because it has a comprehensive and inclusive message based upon the acceptance of all truth, restored to meet the needs of all mankind.

"In our humble efforts to build brotherhood and to teach revealed truth, we say to the people of the world what President George Albert Smith so lovingly suggested: 'We have come not to take away from you the truth and virtue you possess. We have come not to find fault with you nor to criticize you. We have not come here to berate you because of things you have not done; but we have come here as your brethren … and to say to you: ‘Keep all the good that you have, and let us bring to you more good, in order that you may be happier and in order that you may be prepared to enter into the presence of our Heavenly Father.’” (Sharing the Gospel with Others, comp. Preston Nibley, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1948, pp. 12–13.)

Maybe the peace that we desire in the world starts in the families and then to the churches and on to communities and eventually the world.  So if we could unite our families in belief and practice then eventually we could move that to the rest of the world.  That would change our world and life as we know it.  There is a calmness, a peace, a common hope among groups that binds them together in faith and practice.  Every family could benefit from that as could our world.

Maybe the word church, as we understand it in our culture and times, is a bit devisive.  Maybe 'every home a chapel' [rather than every home a church] would better communicate that each home could be a sacred and peaceful place for family members to dwell and to learn the values that will spread from each home into the surrounding world.

L.Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Appostles

In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, it is more important than ever to make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities. Families lie at the center of our Heavenly Father’s plan.

We will use all of the resources we have to encourage greater harmony, greater love, and greater influence in the Lord’s special designated unit—the family.

We need to make our homes a place of refuge from the storm, which is increasing in intensity all about us. Even if the smallest openings are left unattended, negative influences can penetrate the very walls of our homes.

We hope that by flooding the Church with family-oriented media, members of the Church will be assisted and encouraged to build stronger and better families. We hope it will cause a conscious and sustained effort in building an eternal family unit. An abundance of Church materials will be available for you from which to pick and choose useful ideas. At least by seeing family issues mentioned so often, we all will be reminded to focus our attention on the most important organization the Lord has established here on earth.

May it be our build a gospel-centered home, a safe harbor from the storms of the adversary. Let us again remember the promises and instructions from the Lord to His children:
“The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.
“Light and truth forsake that evil one. …
“And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.
“But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.”(D&C 93:36–37, 39–40)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Reception pictures of the wedding couple

The reception was held at the Springville Musuem of Art.  It was a beautiful place and turned out to be just the right spot for the reception.  Thanks to Josh's family for choosing such a great venue and for putting on a wonderful reception.  Once again all the pictures shown here are from MP Photography except the one above of the museum.  It really was a great night and will have lots of memories not only for the married couple but for the rest of us that were there as well.  I'll start the reception pictures with posed ones of the wedding couple.

And here are a few  of candid pictures of just Josh and Megan.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Guest Blog: An old mom helps a young mom

I have a friend who is the young mother of two active toddlers.  She posted this on her facebook page a few weeks ago:
Today is one of those days where I need to sit down and remind myself why I love being a Mommy.  Joey [her three-year old] was awful at the grocery store, and to top off the morning he poured liquid laundry detergent down the back of an elderly lady.  I've never wanted to crawl into a hole so badly.
"But at least the lady was sweet about it. She just said, "wow, I think I have enough to do a whole load."

Wow!  What an amazing gift that sweet lady gave my friend!  Instead of becoming angry or indignant, she took it all in stride.  She didn't rail at my friend and tell her what a horrible mother she was, or how she ought to watch her son more carefully, or anything like that.  Her response softened the blow and gave my friend the gift of encouragement to change her perspective on what was certainly already an embarrassing and difficult situation.  

I imagine the world would be quite a different place if we would all give gifts like that at every opportunity.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Unforgettable" reception highlight

A couple days before the wedding Megan and Josh came and ask me what song I would like to dance to when I had my father of the bride dance with Megan.  I looked at a list but had to choose "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole when I saw it was available.  It turned out to be one of the highlights for me at the reception.  It was fun to have a few minutes in the middle of everything to talk and have fun with Megan.  I don't recall what we discussed but the pictures indicate we were having fun.  There actually was one picture where Megan was staring at me with an alarmed look on her face but I am not putting that one in the post.  I wonder what was being said then?  At any rate it was lots of fun.  Of course the moment hopefully will not be forgotten.

I decided to put the version of the song by Natalie and Nat King Cole that has been done in recent years for your listening pleasure while you look at the rest of the pictures from that father/daughter dance.  I actually prefer the one by Natalie and Nat King Cole but it also is symbolic in a way as well since it is the father and daughter singing.  And by the way Josh and his mother were dancing too and looking like they were having an enjoyable time.   

Natalie and Nat King Cole: Unforgettable

It was a memorable and unforgettable moment for me!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Music #18: Chris Field: Ave Maria

Chris Field is a musician that is known for writing movie trailer music.  If you are unfamiliar with this genre you may want to go to here to learn more.  He has written trailer music for a lot of successful films including Yogi Bear, Nanny McPhee Returns, Twilight, Valkyrie, War of the Worlds, X-Men, Black Hawk Down and Harry Potter. And I left more than twice that many movies out, so he has done a lot of trailer music.  This is his first album.  Chris himself refers to his own music as having "a calmer uplifting feeling". 
Chris recently had a studio built into his home where he now does much of his music on computer.  He said he started learning how to make music on the computer about 8 years ago.  He says,"I was told as a kid by a teacher that there is never an end to learning music. It's true. I just keep on trying and discovering new ways to do things."

The album, entitled Subconscious, is described in these words on his own website: "Sub-Conscious is a neo-classical groove, with ambient and cinematic styles."  That is music talk for 'it is very cool sounding music'. Ha! 
Most of us have heard of the song Ave Maria and are familiar with it.  Nowadays it gets played a lot at Christmas time and is considered a very religious song to those from the Catholic church.  Since it has been associated with Christmas it has been been given a lot of different versions, as much of our Christmas music is nowadays, in a variety of music genres.  This version is very unique and in some ways becomes almost unrecognizable from the original.  It may well have you thinking differently about this song than ever before.  And if you are unfamiliar with this song, this version serves as a good introduction to electronic music.

Chris Field: Ave Maria (The video shows only the album cover throughout)

The rest of the album is quite enjoyable as well.  If you like this song you may enjoy the others on the album.  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Manly Man Training #20: Creating a world, creating a better You

While reading The Hidden Christ by James L. Ferrell, I came across his idea that the creation of the world is parallel to a man becoming more like our Savior.  In essence if we study the creation of the world and apply it to us as men, we can see that we go through stages in our growth and maturity to become like the Savior similar to the creating of the earth.  It is such an interesting idea to me and I have been considering it and thinking about it.  I'm still in beginning phases but here is what I came up with: 
Initially the earth empty desolate and dark.  It is like a man before he is touched by the light of Christ or a world touched by light from the sun.  When we allow ourselves to go toward Christ, the light, then changes start to happen.  When we insist on doing things "our way", being selfish and not caring what God has to tell us and how He wants us to live then we are dark and not growing spiritually.  So when the light is introduced to us as men we can choose to allow it to light the way before us and show us the way or we can turn our backs and retreat to the dark.   
On the second day the air or firmament was created which surrounds the earth.  The air may be like the spirit that can surround us when we turn to and follow the light.  As we go toward or trust in or believe in the light, and remain in the light of God, then we have increased opportunities to be taught by and protected by the Spirit.  So the firmament is comparable to increasingly having the Spirit in our lives to open our minds and to be instructed in Godly things and to increase our understanding of the purpose of life. 
On the third day water, soil and vegetation were placed on the earth.  Now with the air and the light the earth is being prepared to grow things.  Similarly when we have turned ourselves to the light and have the Spirit to instruct us we are now being prepared to grow and become something different than we have managed to make of ourselves.  On this day seeds are planted and begin to grow just like the seeds of the spirit can be planted in us and we can begin to see them growth spiritually as well.
On the fourth day the sun the moon and the stars were put into the sky in their designated rotations.  For us this may be comparable to being around light sources that nourish and encourage us in our growth.  This may include people in our church family, the Bishop and others who can guide us.  Some will help a little and some a lot as the need and the circumstance may determine.  Christ and Heavenly Father are the ultimate light, but other lesser lights can frequently help us, even rescue us when they are acting in God's behalf and we are in need of it.   
On the fifth day are the fishes and fowls created.  These may represent larger and greater gifts from God, maybe even a graduation from the milk (basic gospel principles) to meatier gospel principles.  More likely the application of the principles already learned lead us to increasingly important and difficult principles to incorporate into our lives.  As the earth began to be populated in preparation for mankind, maybe we become more prepared to be the hands of God to meet the needs of others.  Thus being His instruments in the world to help lead others to Christ.
Finally on the sixth day animals and then man and woman are placed on the earth.  This may represent that ultimately as we progress in the creation of a Godly man, just like the creation of the earth, that we become sons and daughters to Christ (who created the world).  In other words, we begin to resemble him in our growth and maturity such that we are recognizable as his followers or rather, sons and daughters.
Celestial room in the Sao Paulo Temple
Lastly the seventh day of creation or the rest comes.  We anticipate that our day of rest will come eventually where we will rest from daily earthly cares after the resurrection.  I suspect this rest will not be like an extended vacation but a ceasing of the daily struggle against sin that is a constant part of our life.  Our hope is to be in the Celestial Kingdom where God dwells but in order for that to become a reality we must become like Him.  Though that is not expected to occur totally in this life it is necessary that we begin to work or allow ourselves to be changed to a celestial being.  This work needs to start when we begin to understand the need for it.  It appears to be a lengthy process. 

So as Manly Men we need to work toward that goal and prepare ourselves with recognition of where we are in that process and where we still need to grow.  With that recognition we can make choices that move us toward God and away from worldly debilitating influences.  Keep up the good work!
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