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    In Defense of Perfection

    I’ve been observing two things (one good and one bad) being conflated into a single topic and then dismissed altogether. This is much like the proverbial baby being thrown out with the bath water and I want to take a shot at expressing my thoughts about it.

    In one way, I see a true principle under attack by its meaning being diluted and reassigned to something negative, the final effect being that the principle itself and it’s true meaning are frowned upon.

    I’m talking about the word perfection. Read Full Post

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    Born of God?

    And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? … And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?

    Many sit in the restaurant socializing without ever taking advantage of the feast, and it appears that this has always been an issue. Membership and association is not nor will it ever be conversion and salvation. I see far too many members of the Church bickering, blaming, and complaining over superficial things concerning their fellow saints. Why are we so impatient with those that are closest to us? While frustration is the easiest reaction, it is a corrosive attitude to sustain.

    If faith and repentance are the first principles of the gospel (Article of Faith 4), perhaps forgiveness and patience are the 3rd and 4th principles. As we struggle along our own paths, may we remember that others are doing the same. As we ascend to higher vistas of understanding, may we remember how lowly our own prior perspectives once were. Every time we grow impatient with another, remember the hundreds or thousands of times that others were patient with us.

    Many claim to follow Christ and forget where that path leads. Hint: it isn’t one free of sacrifice, betrayal, offense, abuse, ridicule, contempt, false accusations, and crucifixion. The atonement provided us the opportunity to change, to receive the Mind of God, but we still must suffer each other.

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    A Modern Parable: The Bull and the Jackrabbit

    I love the modern parables that often appear over at jrganymede.com. They often feature common animals such as bulls, parrots, rabbits, etc. Over time, I’ve started to see patterns in these parables of which animals represent different aspects of our society. Symbolic teaching is awesome because of how versatile it is so I’ll let you read it and come to your own conclusions. I love seeing this kind of commentary, I think it’s brilliant and fun. This recent one has to be one of my favorites.


    The bull and his herd mostly ignored the jackrabbit who sometimes also grazed on the meadow. They would not turn aside from him, however, so he sometimes had to scamper out of their way. He resented having to move. “They should move away from me,” he thought, “I consume less and am closer to the earth.”

    One day the jack-rabbit began the unnatural practice of digging burrows in the field. They gave him a refuge so he did not have to get out of the way. Best of all, [it] inconvenienced the cattle and even caused one cow to break her leg and be put down. He was delighted with the outcome, though he was also sure that it was not his fault.

    The bull in particular became quite angry about the jackrabbit’s burrows. Though the bull never did any real damage to the agile creature, the jackrabbit still took the scorn personally. Brooding on these wrongs, as he supposed, he quite naturally fell in with the coyote, who also had angered the bull with his sneaking ways and nips at calves.

    The parrots also soon took up the cause of the coyote and the jackrabbit. All over the fields and the meadows, they squawked that the bull had an unreasoning hatred for the coyote and the jackrabbit. “Why,” they said, “the bull’s anger has gone so far that it has even led to coyote nips at calves and dangerous jackrabbit burrows. The bull is dangerous.”

    One day the coyote killed the jackrabbit and devoured him.

    And the parrots squawked louder. They said the bull had caused the jackrabbit’s death, after one fashion or another. “The bull hated the jackrabbit. The jackrabbit was killed hatefully,” they said.

    When a hound, sniffing the remains, said the scene smelled of coyote to him, the parrots flew around him beating his face angrily. The coyote was friends to the jackrabbit, they said, and equally hated by the bull. And besides, when killing the jackrabbit, they said, the coyote was acting like a bull.

    Moral of the story: The media and memes talk nonsense.

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    “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”

    – Abraham Lincoln

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    JRNL Rootstech video with yours truly

    A little taste of our experience at Rootstech this year. You’ll see Nick Jones, my business partner and I’m in there too! Check out JRNL.com if you’re looking for a great journaling solution. Keep your eye out in the next few weeks, we have some major updates coming along with the ability to import social media content, it’s gonna be awesome!

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    “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

    – Joseph Campbell

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    The Parable of the Crack

    crack

    © Sark & Associates, Inc 2015

    There was once a craftsman who built a fine house.

    As the years went by it served him well until one day he noticed a crack along the ceiling. He was disappointed to see this flaw in his otherwise exemplary work and quickly fetched his ladder and some spackle and went to work sealing the crack. A few days later, he noticed that the crack had reappeared. In frustration he Read Full Post

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    Abram and Zimri

    I heard this story as part of a high councilman’s talk recently week and I thought I’d share it. This version was obtained from a 2010 Liahona article by Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

    An old Jewish legend tells of two brothers, Abram and Zimri, who owned a field and worked it together. They agreed to divide both the labor and the harvest equally. One night as the harvest came to a close, Zimri could not sleep, for it didn’t seem right that Abram, who had a wife and seven sons to feed, should receive only half of the harvest, while he, with only himself to support, had so much.

    So Zimri dressed and quietly went into the field, where he took a third of his harvest and put it in his brother’s pile. He then returned to his bed, satisfied that he had done the right thing.

    Meanwhile, Abram could not sleep either. He thought of his poor brother, Zimri, who was all alone and had no sons to help him with the work. It did not seem right that Zimri, who worked so hard by himself, should get only half of the harvest. Surely this was not pleasing to God. And so Abram quietly went to the fields, where he took a third of his harvest and placed it in the pile of his beloved brother.

    The next morning, the brothers went to the field and were both astonished that the piles still looked to be the same size. That night both brothers slipped out of their houses to repeat their efforts of the previous night. But this time they discovered each other, and when they did, they wept and embraced. Neither could speak, for their hearts were overcome with love and gratitude.

    I feel like this is how people would conduct themselves in Zion.

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    The Second Eve

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    For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive… And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit…The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. (1 Cor. 15:22,45,47)

    If Jesus can be considered a “second Adam,” then would there also be a “second Eve?” I propose that Jesus’ mother Mary might be the best candidate and I’ll explain why.

    Valarie Hudson Cassler proposes that the two trees in the garden of Eden could respectively represent Adam and Eve, and I think that’s a legitimate interpretation to draw from the symbolism. I’d like to present another scenario where there two trees are actually representing four people instead of just two. This can be done by considering Read Full Post

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    Calvin and Hobbes

    This is a great little video about Bill Watterson and his comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.

    I grew up reading this strip in the newspaper and was heartbroken when I read the last one; it was like an old friend had died. I cut out the last one from the Sunday newspaper like it was an obituary. I still remember Calvin’s last line, “Let’s go exploring.”

    It was Bill Waterson’s Calvin and Hobbes that inspired me to want to become a Syndicated Comic Strip Artist, and it was Bill Watterson’s contentious relationship with the Syndicate that made me change my mind. I pivoted from comic strips to illustration and graphic design, and it just so happens that it was a couple cartoons that initially landed me my biggest client and launched my career.

    This morning, I happened to run across this old comic strip I did back in high school (probably during some math class). It’s pretty terrible, Read Full Post

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    Passion and Suffering

    Being a grinning fool who jumps up and down on a sofa proclaiming his passion for the world is not enough. Passion demands suffering. Freely accepted suffering. And the endurance of that freely accepted suffering until the end. If you cannot deal with that side of passion, you are not truly passionate. Of course, most people opt out of passion when they begin to suffer. It’s understandable, especially in our pleasure-pumped world. In fact, it’s perfectly reasonable; after all, reason is the nemesis of passion. Say your marriage has become dull or boring and efforts to bring the passion, the desire, and enthusiasm back have gone nowhere. Reason will tell you to call a divorce lawyer and find your happiness elsewhere whereas passion will demand you stay and endure. The same goes for writing or anything for that matter. Real passion starts where suffering starts. Be strong enough to endure and you will understand the meaning of passion. The mystery will be solved; the hidden truth, revealed.

    —Francis Berger, 2013

    Found this great quote on a post over ar Gently Hew Stone.

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    The Parable of the Two Debtors

    Jesus once told a parable about two debtors. The first debtor owed the king 10,000 talents, but when the time came to pay up, he didn’t have the ability to. The king commanded that this debtor’s whole family and property were to be sold to pay the debt. But when the servant pleaded for more time to pay, the king had compassion and forgave the entire debt. Nice king.

    A little later, this same debtor went out to find a man who owed him money. He took him by the throat and demanded payment for the 100 pence he was owed. This man begged for more time to pay but was instead thrown into prison.

    Well the king found out about all this and wasn’t too happy, he delivered this debtor over to “tormenters” until he was able to pay everything he owed.

    How much?

    So that’s the story, but it doesn’t really hit home unless you have an idea of what kinds of monetary sums we are dealing with here.

    The second debtor owed the first one 100 pence. Back then, 1 pence was about a day’s wage or roughly $180 in today’s dollars Read Full Post

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    The Benedict Insurgency?

    “Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you–there is no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper;” (D&C 71:9) and perhaps this is might have something to do with why.

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    The Motto of the Church of Latter-day Saints

    The Constitution of our country formed by the Fathers of liberty. Peace and good order in society. Love to God, and good will to man. All good and wholesome laws, virtue and truth above all things, and aristarchy, live forever! But woe to tyrants, mobs, aristocracy, anarchy, and toryism, and all those who invent or seek out unrighteous and vexatious law suits, under the pretext and color of law, or office, either religious or political. Exalt the standard of Democracy! Down with that of priestcraft, and let all the people say Amen! that the blood of our fathers may not cry from the ground against us. Sacred is the memory of that blood which bought for us our liberty.

    JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.,
    THOMAS B. MARSH,
    DAVID W. PATTEN,
    BRIGHAM YOUNG,
    SAMUEL H. SMITH,
    GEORGE M. HINKLE,
    JOHN CORRILL,
    GEORGE W. ROBINSON
    (March, 1838).

    Notes:

    I thought it might be of use to point out the difference between the following terms:

    Aristarchy (live forever): A body of good men in power, or government by excellent men.

    Aristocracy (woe to): A form of government, in which the whole supreme power is vested in the principal persons of a state; or in a few men distinguished by their rank and opulence. When the supreme power is exercised by a small number, the government is called an oligarchy. The latter word however is usually applied to a corrupted form of aristocracy.

    While it seems that this wasn’t actually ever adopted by the church (it’s kind of a long motto and very politically oriented), it’s significant that it was liked enough for Joseph Smith and several other important men to put their names to it.

    Screenshot 2016-05-15 20.11.13

    Original document here at the Joseph Smith Papers.

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    Why Are Some Sacred Accounts Remembered Differently?

    Alma the younger had an incredible conversion experience that has parallels to Saul of Tarsus’ conversion in a couple of interesting ways. Both involved a heavenly messenger appearing while they were traveling about, and they both told slightly different versions of their stories at a later time. I compare this to my own personal experiences and Joseph Smith’s various first vision accounts.

    Saul’s Encounter

    Saul’s experience was first told this way:

    And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. (Acts 9:4-8)

    Later, when he is recounting his experience to King Agrippa there are some slight differences:

    And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. (Acts 22:6-10)

    Both accounts start out almost exactly the same but the second account adds “of Nazareth” to Jesus’ quote and excludes Read Full Post

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    Offense of the Hard-hearted

    “…the hearts of the people began to wax hard, and that they began to be offended because of the strictness of the word…”

    Alma 35:15

    I was listening to Alma 35 this morning on my way to work and this line stuck out to me. In today’s understanding the heart is more of a feeling thing, we distinguish it from the thinking done by the brain. We find the word leb translated as heart often in the Bible, it’s from lebab which is the organ in the middle of your chest.

    Anciently the heart wasn’t just for feeling, leb means, “very widely for the feelings, the will and even the intellect; likewise for the center of anything.” So with the Nephites, their feelings, wills, and intellects were waxing (growing or passing from one state to another) hard, and they were beginning to be offended because the word was strict (or accurate; exact).

    Twice we get the sense that this was gradual, it happened over time. The strictness, exactness, accurateness of the word did not offend them at one point, it didn’t until their feelings, wills, and intellects became hard and unbending.

    I think this rings very familiar to the present day.

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    What does it mean to “live after the manner of happiness?”

    2 Nephi 5:27 includes this intriguing verse that is always a delight to ponder.

    Manner: 1. form, method; way of performing or executing. 2. Custom, habitual practice. (source)

    Sometimes I think of happiness in terms of how I happen to feel at the moment, but that attitude seems kind of reactionary doesn’t it? Is happiness something that is out of our control; ultimately how much say do we have in the matter?

    The Nephites seemed to take things into their own hands and make happiness a deliberate pursuit, they had a method. Read Full Post

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    Rage Against the Machine via Junior Ganymede

    This is an interesting read from MC over at Junior Ganymede. The original post can be viewed at it’s source here, but I’ve included the entirety of it here below:


    My oldest will be old enough for Kindergarten in the fall. The small talk question of the moment from our fellow parents is, “Where are you enrolling him?” In our school district, that’s more than a geography question. It’s a big district with more or less open enrollment, and they’ve done an admirable job of making sure there is an abundance of options. Gifted programs, foreign language immersion schools, charter schools with a patriotic focus, etc.

    He won’t be going to any of those, however. As we’ve anticipated since before he was born, he’s going to be homeschooled.

    “So, if you don’t mind me asking, why are you homeschooling? Is it for academic or moral reasons or what?”

    No one asks these questions of parents who send their kids to the Japanese immersion school. Only homeschool inspires such curiosity. I don’t mind answering, though. The real answer to the “academics or morals” question is “both,” although I usually focus on the academic side when answering the question. That part is easy enough for people to understand. (I’ve found that my leftist acquaintances are still put off by the idea until they find out that my wife is a former teacher with a masters’ degree. Her teaching license allows them to retain their prior stereotype of homeschoolers as Read Full Post

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    Our Part in Prayer

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    I was driving with my daughters on the way to school and we were in a rush and had to pray in the car. My 8 year old offered a prayer and asked, “please bless us to do good in school and to make good grades and to be nice to people.”

    I took the moment to point ask her to reflect on what she was asking God to do for her. I told her that is was ultimately up to her if she was nice to people or wanted good grades. God won’t suddenly make you nice or magically give you good grades. I needed to illustrate a different approach. Well, I shared 2 accounts with her that came to mind from the scriptures; the first is from Nephi’s account. I’m not driving so I have the luxury of including the actual text here:

    But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound. (1 Nephi 7:17)

    Nephi expresses his desire for deliverance, but he doesn’t expect it without Read Full Post

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    LecturesOnFaith.com gets a little facelift

    Screenshot 2016-05-02 23.43.17

    I decided that it was time to readdress the home page of LecturesOnFaith.com, it was looking kind of homely. I’ve been wanting to spruce it up for some time now but never really got around to it.

    What inspired me was attending an Elders quorum class in my previous ward where the presidency had been teaching from the Lectures on Faith for their first Sunday lesson! We were on Lecture 3 and I was just about to lose my mind at how awesome it was to get to study an entire lecture in church! Realizing that people were using this resource made me want to make it a better, more inspirational experience.

    So I made a big focus area on the home page and put some of my favorite excerpts from the Lectures in there and made them rotate after several seconds. I also added big buttons that link to the Lectures and made them very prominent (I’d like to create some custom icons for each lecture one day). I adjusted the titles I gave to the Lectures so that they are more uniform in length. Now everything looks nice and neat, but I’m sure I’ll think of more updates in the future.

    I love having this as a side project and hope to always keep it available for people to enjoy.

    Screenshot 2016-05-03 00.36.53

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