I just finished The Truman G. Madsen Story: A Life of Study and Faith. It is a remarkable biography. Truman was a prominent philosopher and theologian. He wrote and spoke constantly in all parts of the world. He had friends in all political and religious persuasions. He was a Latter-day Saint.
One unique aspect of Truman’s scholarly path is his acknowledgment of the first Latter-day Saint prophet, Joseph Smith. A 19th century man who lived only 38 years and yet brought forth volumes of words, (and volumes more unrecorded). An individual who prophesied and performed miracles, a man who stood boldly before enemies and earnestly before followers. For many, Joseph Smith’s doctrines dissolved an unfamiliar God, to a living, knowable being, who Jesus Christ intimately called, Father.
This resonated with Truman G. Madsen. He felt that knowing and pursuing our true relation to Deity was of utmost importance. He attributed to Joseph Smith’s teachings and revelations, his own discovery of his intimate path back to the Son, and with the Son, to the Father. Continue reading
A few weeks before the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton a U.S. Congressman from the Democratic Party stood on the floor of the House of Representatives and said: “We need to stop destroying imperfect people at the altar of an unobtainable morality.” You can read and listen to the gobbledygook speech for yourself.
Not every man acts and talks like Donald Trump. Not every man acts and talks
like Bill Clinton. Nor does every woman enable such men and discredit so many women like Hillary Clinton. Not every man commits adultery with multiple women. Not every man seeks sexual contact with a married woman. Not every married man flirts with women. Not every woman protects her husband’s immoral, hostile behavior while ignoring the consequences and sorrows of others, who were publicly displayed in his dishonorable path.
Morality is obtainable. It should be sought for diligently. It is reasonable to expect government leaders to be honest and upright in their personal lives. There are virtuous people who have grown in moral discipline. Many people have honored a life of fidelity in their marriage covenant. Continue reading
Current events draw attention to the national anthem, right to expression, and social injustice. Unfortunately not enough attention is drawn to police officers who day in and day out have to operate in an environment where societal calamities are escalating. In the fault-finding these days, I think we have forgotten that it is about the content of our character, not the color of skin. Martin Luther King Jr. was hoping it would be otherwise.
The national anthem has more than one verse. The fourth verse may be the most timely.
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave! Continue reading
“Religion has no monopoly on moral action, but centuries of religious belief, including institutional church- or synagogue- or mosque-going, have clearly been preeminent in shaping our notions of right and wrong.” A recent statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland as he spoke to several thousand participants at Brigham Young University Education Week.
There is an unquestionable force of faith—religious influence—that has inspired many men and women. Their works in art, with the pen, and in the gift to speak have illuminated the meaning of our existence. There is a great video piece in his address (about the 38 minute mark; link below) that provides some examples.
Pure religion, practiced by pure hearts subdues evil deeds. It pushes indifference aside and brings to the forefront meaning and moral behavior. Our current environment and social arrangements call for religious practices, expressions, and beliefs to be appreciated.
Another snip it from Elder Holland’s address puts forth this admission and logic: “Not to say that individual faith groups in their many different forms and with their various conflicting beliefs are all true and equally valuable; obviously they cannot be. Nor does it say that institutional religions collectively—churches, if you will—have been an infallible solution to society’s challenges; they clearly have not been. But if we speak of religious faith as among the highest and most noble impulses within us, then to say so-and-so is a “religious person” or that such and such a family “lives their religion” is intended as a compliment. Such an observation would, as a rule, imply that these people try to be an influence for good, try to live to a higher level of morality than they might otherwise have done, and have tried to help hold the sociopolitical fabric of their community together.” (BYU Education Week Devotional Address, 16 August 2016).
If you want to better understand what religion is and why it is important, listen and ponder his address: Bound by Loving Ties.
Religious freedom has been on my mind a lot lately. I have been trying to read as many books, articles, addresses, etc… as I possible can on the subject. It is a flammable current issue but a “fundamental right of paramount importance.”
I recently reviewed an address by Elder Lance B. Wickman, general counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His remarks brought an intelligent, yet cautionary perspective to the cause of promoting religious freedom. It was delivered in early July at the Religious Freedom Conference, sponsored by International Center for Law and Religious Studies at Brigham Young University. Here is a link to his address.
Promoting Religious Freedom in a Secular Age: Fundamental Principles, Practical Priorities, and Fairness for All. Continue reading
As a Middle East news correspondent in 1973, Peter Jennings was covering the war between Israel and Syria. One day an Israeli pilot was shot down and rushed to a Syrian hospital. Peter Jennings and his camera man boldly entered the hospital and without any resistance walked right into a room where a Syrian surgeon was operating on this Israeli pilot.
Mr. Jennings thrust a microphone at him and said, “How does it feel to be working on an Israeli pilot?” No comment from the surgeon. Again he asked “how does it feel to be working on an Israeli pilot? No comment. Frustrated at failing to capture a sound bite, he and his camera man exited to the hall. About ten minutes later the surgeon came out to the hall and took the two men to the window. He then said, “You see the home over there? It was bombed by an Israeli plane three days ago. My wife and children died. It could have been him. But I am a doctor.” Continue reading
My son is currently serving an LDS mission in Salvador Brazil. He left as an eighteen-year-old a few months out of high school. He has been on his mission now for 8 months. Though he is only allowed to FaceTime twice a year and correspond via email once a week, his mother and I have noticed a substantial change. His mental, emotional, and spiritual faculties are being developed and fine-tuned.
He now speaks fluent Portuguese. He speaks of service and faith in Jesus Christ. He is learning about loyalty and discipline. He is changing.
When he returns home in 16 months, will he recognize change in me? His mother? His brothers and sisters? How have I developed in my mental, emotional, and spiritual capacities? Will I be a better husband, father, and friend when he returns? Continue reading
in·clu·siv·i·ty (inklo͞oˈsivədē/): An intention or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.
Add this word (and it’s variations) to the other three the devil has hijacked over the years: diversity, choice, and tolerance.
Picture: A depiction of Christ helping the woman taken in adultery. He was asking her to change her behavior. Today, people fail to let Christ help them change, and rather, ask everyone to accept their behavior.
There is an interesting word that shows up in the scriptures. It is “wrest.” It means to “twist, distort, or pervert, in the sense of accommodating.” In our day, people have twisted, distorted, and perverted the words of diversity, choice, tolerance, and now inclusiveness. Why? So as to get accommodation for a life that is often contrary to the nature of righteousness. These words are popular among people who support the false idea of moral relativism. Continue reading
This short video, Life’s Drama, reminded me of my friend who sees over a hundred patients a week for medical care. He said we are dealing with a growing population who are prone to say, “It’s not my fault–I don’t want to feel anything–you owe me.” This six minute video addresses the “It’s not may fault” mentality that surfaces in all of us at times.
The article, ‘We Are Buying the Lie That Feelings Trump All Else’: Christian NFL Star Reflects on ‘Bathroom Bill,’ addresses the idea of our society living by feelings rather than divine principles,
and the results if we continue to do so. This professional athlete, Ben Watson, gives some logical insights. I appreciate his stand for truth and decency.
The Lord’s invitation to His covenant people is to be “peculiar… above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2). Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have recently spent the last two weeks addressing how members of the Church can be peculiar, above all the nations of the earth. Two specifically addressed the refugee crisis. (See Linda K. Burton and Elder Patrick Kearon.)
There seems to be a blending of two major, but distinct issues. It may be helpful to separate the issues of illegal immigration and the refugee crisis. Nations have the right and obligation to protect their sovereignty. Citizens’ social, economic, and physical well-being should be of utmost concern to leaders of nations. I realize that many in the political sphere are concerned about the sovereignty of the United States. I’m all for reasonably securing our borders and welcoming individuals through accountability.
But the humanitarian concerns should bluntly remind all of us that the Kingdom of God on earth has no geographical boundaries. If there are 60 million refugees in the world and half of them are children, we ought to seriously consider why a mother or a father would undertake to leave their motherland in dire circumstances without any guarantee they, or their children, will survive. Continue reading