Love Makes a Family and Other Lies

This morning for our family devotional I felt prompted to take a slight detour from our regular Book of Mormon reading and read the Family Proclamation.  I found out a few days ago my older son was having a lesson on families today.  The school district we live in has partnered with a prominent LGBT activist group to teach “kindness, tolerance, and diversity”.  That’s not really their goal though.  Their goal is to introduce and normalize LGBT propaganda to young children.  There are plenty of programs out there that teach tolerance, kindness and diversity without an LGBT focus  I found out about this group and their program at the parent night which was held the first week of school.  As much as we all hate going to those things, it was a good thing I went, and noticed in the display of books on the teacher’s desk of the curriculum materials from this group.  Friends, pay attention, and be “that parent”.  I’ll share my experiences meeting with the superintendent of the school district about this program in a later post. Continue reading

Fall of the Berlin Wall 30 Years Later

Ten years ago today, I wrote my first post for The Millennial Star as a regular contributor. I wrote about the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (see that post HERE).  Today is the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Wall.  As I usually do on November 9th, I’ve spent some time thinking about that momentous event, and its impact on my life.  I’ve been thinking about my exchange-family and friends in Berlin.  We’ve sent messages this week celebrating, remembering, and giving thanks that, that wretched wall is gone.

As I wrote ten years ago, I served a full time mission behind the Iron Curtain in Bulgaria.  When I was there, the dreary grey of communism still stuck on all of the buildings.  People struggled to meet their most basic needs of feeding and clothing their family.  Sometimes basic food items like bread and meat were scarce. Inflation was rampant, sometimes the exchange rate even changed several times a day.  You didn’t change your American Dollars until the minute you needed to buy something it was so out of control.  With the rise of socialism’s popularity in this country, I find myself saying to anyone who promotes socialism to talk to me after they’ve waited in a bread line or 14 — believe me, it’s not as fun as you might think. Continue reading

Misunderstanding v. Stupidity

Detail from Goethe’s novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther

In 1980 a Mr. Hanlon wrote, “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

“Stupidity” is such a modern and offensive term. As I dug into the history of Hanlon’s Razor (as it is now called), I tumbled across a much earlier version, written by Goethe in 1774:

Misunderstandings and lethargy 1 perhaps produce more wrong in the world than deceit and malice do.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1774). Die Leiden des jungen Werthers or The Sufferings of Young Werther (in eng). Translated 1907 by Bayard Quincy Morgan. p. 14.

Do we give each other the benefit of the doubt, allowing that there might be a mere misunderstanding rather than intentional malice? Are we too lazy to find out the underlying details?

This matters to me because I care about Joseph Smith. I find that the root of today’s “faith crisis” fad within the Church of Jesus Christ can be found in what people think about Joseph Smith. In my view, these sufferors and those wishing to minister to them fundamentally misunderstand what happened in Nauvoo in the 1840s and they don’t bother trying to really find out the details. Using a facile and unchallenged version of Church history, then, many attribute malice and deceit to Joseph Smith.

I assert that when one understands the full history of Nauvoo, it is impossible to see Joseph Smith as either malicious or deceitful.

Returning to Hanlon’s Razor, it is widely accepted that “you can’t fix stupid.” When we are guided by Hanlon, we are led to depair when seemingly malicious incidents occur. But if we are guided by Goethe, misunderstandings can yield to information. In Goethe’s world It becomes possible to exert oneself and overcome lethargy or sloth.

We can fix the wrongs of the world. It isn’t easy. But it can be done. So whether your challenge involves misunderstanding regarding the restored gospel, disagreements over climate change, or inability to speak civilly about anything with family at the holiday table, we can change this world from a cesspool of hate and anger towards a concensus of understanding and love.

Continue reading

Notes:

  1. The German term in the original is Trägheit, meaning “possessing the property of being slow.” I think a better word in the translation would have been sloth.

Live In Thanksgiving Daily

Image result for gratitude

I feel like this year has been a slog thru the trenches of life for me and my family. One of the things that has helped me this year as I have navigated some pretty big trials is to be grateful and to show gratitude is hand writing thank you notes. I bought a big box of thank you cards in the spring when I was recovering from a broken foot and spent time each day writing thank you notes to people that had come into our home to serve me and my family. It felt good to hand write a card, to stick a stamp on it and wait for the mailman to take it away. I love a well written thank you note. Its something we need to bring back, don’t you think? (The only answer is yes here).

Sister Bonnie D Parkin, former Relief Soceity General President said of gratitude,

“Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God’s love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence. “Live in thanksgiving daily,” said Amulek, “for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.”

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to concentrate on gratitude in our family — even more than I already make my kids do — they roll their eyes most days, because I won’t let them complain until they’ve told me three unique things they are thankful for. Usually by the time they get to the second thing, their gripe is dampened, or gone altogether. I hope you will join me and my family in our daily thanksgiving, and comment here on my posts as I make them. I’m inviting you to reach deep inside and think and ponder on the things you are thankful for. I’m also inviting you to share that gratitude with those in your circle — and beyond just social media, which is fine, but let’s take it to the next level which is connecting with people. Reach out to the people in your life and share the spirit of gratitude with them I feel like if we can be grateful ourselves and encourage others to also be grateful, we might be successful in diffusing some of the angst in our respective circles, with the hope that we might all be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit in the process.

Happy November!