General Conference talks to be given in languages other than English

According to this story.

Church spokesman Dale Jones announced that speakers “whose primary language is not English now have the choice to deliver their talks in their native tongue.” He went on to explain that English subtitles will be shown on screens in the Conference Center and a live English interpretation will be provided for all other English-language broadcasts including staellite, cable, television, and the internet.”

This will be a great opportunity for speakers and members whose native language is not English to share and understand messages more powerfully, and will coincidentally give English-speaking members a little glimpse of what conference has always been like for non-English speakers.

Logistically, this announcement will mean some tricky changes for conference translators, who will now need people who can translate between, for example, Spanish and German instead of English and Spanish and English and German.

I think this is a great change.

Using Joy to Overcome The Pain Narrative

2 Nephi 2. 25More often than not, these days on the Bloggernacle there is a narrative among LDS people where pain is the central theme. I don’t want to diminish anyone’s trials or hardships. I also do not want to make light of the legitimate struggles we all have on a daily basis. However, when I see the subject of “pain” come up again and again as a narrative for how to live life, I am troubled. Life is hard and there are painful times, but I don’t think Heavenly Father meant for life to be an unrelenting painful experience.
The Book of Mormon teaches us that we exist and live so that we might have joy, from 2 Nephi 2: 23-25 we read,

“23…wherefore [Adam and Eve] would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”

Joy and pain go hand in hand, and we have to experience pain to understand and know what joy is, but today I want to focus on three ways we can use the Joy to overcome the pain narrative.

Finding Joy Amid Trials

As was just stated, life is meant to be joyful. Elder Richard G. Scott, in his talked called, Finding Joy In Life, said, “Sadness, disappointment, and severe challenge are events in life, not life itself. I do not minimize how hard some of these events are. They can extend over a long period of time, but they should not be allowed to become the confining center of everything you do.”

In other words, we cannot let our trials consume us to the point that we have nothing left of ourselves and our testimonies. Many times this is not easy, and is what Elder Bruce C. and Sister Marie Hafen termed, “severe mercy” (1). Severe mercy is when the Lord pushes and stretches us so that we can more fully take part in the grace of the atonement. Sister Hafen reminded us, “Reaching deeper into the heart of the Gospel is exactly what we should be doing when the storms are beating us down.” (2) Continue reading

Study: men need love and healthy relationships to be happy

I want to highlight a fascinating study of Harvard graduates that is discussed in this article. The study, which has taken place over 75 years, looks at the lives of 268 men and studies how their lives have turned out.

The conclusions?

When Vaillant crunched the numbers, he discovered no significant relationship between a man’s level of flourishing and his IQ, his body type (mesomorph, ectomorph, endomorph), or the income and education level of his parents.

The factors that did loom large, and collectively predicted all ten Decathlon events, had one thing in common: relationships. This rubric included:

*A warm, supportive childhood
*A mature “coping style” (being able to roll with the punches, be patient with others, keep a sense of humor in the face of setbacks, delay gratification, etc.)
*Overall “soundness” as evaluated during college years (resilient, warm personality, social, not overly sensitive)
Warm adult relationships between the ages of 37-47 (having close friends, maintaining contact with family, being active in social organizations)
*Vaillant found that the men who had the best scores in these areas during their youth and mid-life, were the happiest, most successful, and best adjusted in their latter years. This is the finding of the Grant Study that has emerged most prominently: “It was the capacity for intimate relationships that predicted flourishing in all aspects of these men’s lives.”

There are people reading this who are saying to themselves, “duh, nothing could be more obvious.” But hold on a second. I want you to stop and ponder how many General Conference talks over the years have emphasized these features. How many times have prophets and other speakers emphasized the importance of family, of giving time to your children, of loving your children? How often have they emphasized being patient and keeping a sense of humor during rough times? How often have they talked about the importance of doing your calling and your home and visiting teaching (which is, at the end of the day, about maintaining relationships)?

Indeed, if there is a primary message from General Conference it is: love God and Jesus Christ and love your fellow man. And it turns out that the people who actually do this are the happiest and most successful in real life.

Continue reading

The Waters Shall Fail – Get Prepared

Bridge Spanning Lake Oroville in 2011
If you’ve paid any attention at all to the news, you’ve heard that the west is experiencing drought conditions. People throughout the west are being asked to take shorter showers or landscape their yards in ways that conserve water. But in California, 80% of the water “taken” from the environment goes to grow food.

From pictures like these 1 showing record low water levels in rivers and reservoirs, we can see the drastic change in surface water levels.

What these pictures of surface water don’t show, however, is the loss of ground water from California aquifers, earth’s “water batteries.” California has lost an estimated 63 trillion gallons of water from her aquifers since the beginning of 2013. 2

Why does it matter? It matters because water is food. And California provides 50% of the food eaten in America. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Shocking before and after pictures of California drought reveal extent of the dry spell, UK Daily Mail, 27 February 2014, available online at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2569919/Shocking-pictures-California-drought-reveal-extent-dry-spell-relief-way.html, retrieved 29 August 2014.
  2. Adrian Antal Borsa1, Duncan Carr Agnew, Daniel R. Cayan, Ongoing drought-induced uplift in the western United States, Science, published 21 August 2014, available online at http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2014/08/20/science.1260279, retrieved 29 August 2014.

Casual about our testimonies

There was a time when many members took most every doctrine or teaching seriously.  Things were pondered and prayed over as individuals and families.  In the past, there were fewer challenges: television and movies were generally family friendly. The biggest problems in school were running in the halls and chewing gum in class. Marriage didn’t have to be defined as traditional or otherwise. Families spent time together, because that was the norm.

Now, we live in a day when the traditional family is in the minority, among divorces, living together and other arrangements. Many choose not to have children, or at least delay until later in life. As we all carry no fault insurance on our cars, we now wink at no fault divorces. Family friendly movies are harder and harder to find.

Worse, our members are succumbing to many of the things of the world, simply because of a casualness that has arisen in our ranks.  Many don’t think twice about watching an “R” rated movie, regardless of the strengths or problems in the movie.  Many do not think twice when their friends divorce, or marry for the nth time.  Temple sealing cancellations are no longer a rare event.

A bishop friend of mine told me that he was having to explain to youth that oral sex is sex. Sexting becomes a norm for many, as does other sexual intimacies.

In our casual view of the world and the gospel, do we spend too much time justifying the time we spend in and of the world?  Is being too casual with spiritual and worldly things causing  spiritual casualties?

When we watch R or PG-13 movies that are very sexual or violent in nature, how are they impacting us and our families spiritually?  When our quality time with our kids does not include quality prayers, scripture study or FHE, how does such casualness impact us?

In the Book of Revelation 3:15-16, the Lord spoke out against those who are lukewarm:

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Laodicea was a city without a source of water.  In the distance was Hieropolis, where hot springs bubbled forth, making the place a resort for aching bones.  On the other side of Laodicea was the city of Colosse, known for its refreshing cold springs.  Waters from both Hierapolis and Colosse were sent to Laodicea by a series of acqueducts, providing the city with water to drink.  However, by the time the water reached the city, it was neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm.

When we are casual about our lives and our spirituality, we are like Laodicea – lukewarm, because we have no internal source of life giving water.  We tend to lean on others’ testimonies and works.  Others do the hometeaching and visit teaching. Others, who are a source of hot or cold water, become bishops and Relief Society presidents and nursery leaders.  Casual people allow others to prepare their kids for missions, the temple, take them to seminary, and gain a testimony.

Why? Because their own source of living waters is dried up. The world fills them with worldly interests and awe, while they die of spiritual thirst.  There is no refreshment, when they must borrow from others’ testimonies.  Second hand spiritual strength is lukewarm at best, especially when delivered over long distances and with no inner source to strengthen it.

Sadly, this also holds true with our Sunday meetings.  Too many of them are filled with talks that have no spiritual resonance.  They are lukewarm, casual in nature, because the correct preparation was not made.  They may be filled with good humor and interesting facts, but be bereft of the spirit. How often do the hot and cold waters evoke a refreshing of spirit in our meetings?  How are our children to learn to receive revelation, if we cannot provide them with a source within ourselves?  And how will they recognize or hear the whispering of the Holy Ghost, if all our efforts are casual ones?