About Me

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I'm a single Mormon Democrat, an NPR & BBC news junkie, a dog lover, opera buff, bookavore, migraineur, knows just enough about technology to be a danger to myself, fan of James Bond and Godzilla. 

Micah 6:8; D&C 11:20 

"do justly, walk humbly, judge righteously."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Advent Day 7 - December 7

Moroni 7: 28

For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.

Yes, I am still making my way through the Advent. Yes, I am quite behind. But I have made a promise to myself to do a blog posting for each of them. (Hopefully, before Christmas.)

For he hath answered the ends of the law...

Christ came to fulfill the law of Moses. Many Christians forget this. He came to answer for our "crimes" or sins. So he "answered" the law by giving his life for us. This was a great and terrible sacrifice He made for us. 

He claimeth all those who have faith in him...

This is a great promise and, though we have responsibilities, there is little He asks in return. Just faith. Not just faith that He lived. Not just faith in His sacrifice. But faith that He will deliver. Faith in things unseen. 

...and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing...

This seems to be one of those chicken-and-egg things to me. Do I have faith in him because I "cleave unto every good thing" or do I "cleave unto every good thing" because I have faith in him. Funny, huh? I'm an opinionated sort of person and sometimes I have opinions that clash with statements from those in authority in or out of the church.  And I usually come back to my test. Is what I am being asked to do or believe in "a good thing"? 

Doing "the good thing" isn't just a way to get back to Heavenly Father. In the end, we want to go back to Heavenly Father because he is "a good thing".

...he advocateth the cause of the children of men...

According to Merriam-Websters on-line dictionary an advocate is:
  1. one that pleads the cause of another
  2. one that defends or maintains a cause of proposal 
  3. one that supports or promotes the interests of another.
I think that Christ would pretty much fit the bill for any of those, but the one that is most pertinent is the first one. Christ pleads our cause - salvation - to Heavenly Father for us. And, as such, our retainer - such as it is - is faith in Him and staying true to our covenants. A small price to pay, really, considering the price He paid.

...and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.

That is our goal. To dwell eternally in the heavens with our elder brother and our Heavenly Father.

I testify that I have faith in Jesus Christ. That I know that he died for my sins. He died for all of our sins. And by following him, and emulating him, we can return to our Heavenly Father in heaven.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Advent Day 6 - December 6

Mark 16:5 

And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

"He is Risen"

Much more of an Easter message than than of Advent. I love the fact that the first to get the message of Christ's resurrection would be the women. What's more, it is the women that come up early that morning to attend to their teacher after his death. The men are absent. The women are putting their grief aside to do that which is right by their teacher. Because of this they are given the message first. They are the first witnesses to his resurrection.

Being a witness is a vital thing. There are witnesses to his birth in the Manger. And who witnessed his birth? The great and mighty men of the world? No. The witnesses were livestock and the shepherds. Shepherds - common men. Again, when he committed his miracles, they were among the common and the poor. 

Even in our own Church, the Prophet Joseph Smith had witnesses. And they were not the great and mighty men of the world either. They were hardworking average men. 

Back to the ladies. It is highly significant that it was women that saw him first. Women were not even allowed to testify at this time. Yet, Christ came to them first. What a great message.

Advent Day 5 - December 5

3 Nephi 1-11

1 And now it came to pass that there were a great multitude gathered together of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land Bountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place.

2 And they were also conversing about this Jesus Christ, of who the sign had been given concerning his death.

3 And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause the hearts to burn.

4 And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.

5 And again the third time they did hear the voice; and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.

6 And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:

7 Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name -- hear ye him.

8 And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.

9 And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:

10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.

11 And behold, I am the light and life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.

How would I react if the Savior came to my community? Would we react the way the humble Nephites did. I'm not so sure. Additionally, I'm not sure my community is ready for Christ's appearance.

It is humbling to know what Christ has done for us. But we need to realize that it is not a one way street. He expects us to meet us halfway (or even a quarter way). We need to be ready for him.

As it lays out in the start of this progression, first the Nephites had to open their ears to hear him. How many of us have closed our ears to the promptings of the Spirit? Then we have to open our eyes to see Him. And finally we have to hold out our hands to greet Him.

How does this apply to our lives? I think one thing is to apply it practically. Redemption isn't about going to church every Sunday and paying our tithing. These acts can become habits. Things we just do. We need to apply Christ's principles in every aspect of our lives.

Do we see the poor and the sick and the humble and meek? Or do we avert our eyes and pass them by? Are we listening to the Holy Spirit? When it prompts us to take action do we? Or do we rationalize a reason not to?

I know many times I think I ought to do something. I may talk about why something must be done, I may feel and hear the Spirit telling me it needs to be done. But when it comes down to it, I excuse myself. I'm too busy. I'm not fit enough. It's too much work.

So, in this season where we put Christ at the center of our celebrations, ask ourselves do we incorporate Him into our daily life?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tucson Safety, Aurora Movie Theater, and the Clackamas Town Center

I was going to continue doing my Advent postings. But yesterday's shooting and the tweets and Google+ postings I've seen have convinced me I should say something about it. Many of the people that follow me on Twitter or Google+ probably think I'm a bleeding heart liberal who thinks all guns should be banned. You couldn't be more wrong.

The shooting yesterday affected me on many levels. (1) Again??; (2) In Oregon? Western Oregon? (3) Can't we do something about this?

So, I want to make this posting as a conversation starter. I want to hear from liberals and libertarians, progressives and conservatives. But I don't want to see any hostility. No foul language. Let's keep it nice.

Full disclosure: I don't like guns. They make nervous. They scare me. But I also believe - barring a change in our culture and/or technology - that they are needed on some level. 

Okay, I'm going to start this blog by asking questions and making statements. These are only my opinions. These are things that occur to me, they are perceptions I have. 

(1) What is wrong with closing the gun show loophole? Yes, it won't solve the problem. But it will stop certain people getting guns. It will close off one leakage. 

(2) I believe that handguns, rifles, and shotguns should be legal. I believe that guns are a good self-defense tool. They are also needed for hunting. But these other weapons? The ones that are only used for slaughter or urban warfare? I don't think they should be accessible by the general public.

(3) Stockpiling. Why? Are there laws that track this? If there are, why aren't there bells and whistles ringing when these people stockpile guns? 

(4) Mental Health. Now, I don't know if there a feasible way to make sure that people with serious mental health issues can be stopped from getting guns. I don't know about the Clackamas shooting. But James Holmes and Jared Loughner definitely had issues. 

This is not just a gun control issue. If we had a better system for taking care of people when they have mental health problems, we could stop a lot of these issues before they become public safety threat.

(5) State v. Federal. I'm not up on this. But how many of these attacks are aggravated by the fact that laws and databases vary from state to state.

(6) Gun Culture. I feel and perceive that many of the pro-gun people are too emotional about guns. In a way, it reminds me of how pro-choice women feel about keeping abortion legal. They will stand up for all guns, all the time. It is frightening to hear some of them talk. People feel that they need their guns for some level of status or power. This needs to change before much of the violence to stop.

It is a sense of powerlessness that leads to these slaughters. These really bad ones are hardly ever a strictly criminal activity. The perpetrator seems to feel he is the victim and this is the only way they can make themselves heard. 
In the end, I'd like to say that I'd like to see an open and honest discussion on this. It is a public health issue at this point. We need to take the National Rifle Association out of the conversation. At one point, the NRA was about public safety. They were focused on gun safety. Now, they are more about making sure the gun industry continues to make money. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Advent Day 4: December 4

2 Nephi 2:9: "Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved."

Firstfruits. Another example of how Christ is the sacrifice that fulfilled Mosaic law, thus paying for our sins. Because he fulfilled the law, we moved on to a new law. 

Another thing it puts me in mind of is tithing. We pay our tithing as another form of sacrifice. As another form of "firstfruits". Tithing isn't just a commandment, or an ordinance, it has real value. Our tithing goes to help build the temples. The temples help to further the work. The eternal work. There is no telling how many souls are saved because of the work we do in the Temple. 

Allow me to tell a personal story. A personal testimony as it were. When I first joined the Church, I had no real testimony of baptisms for the dead. I didn't really believe in it. It sounded strange, peculiar, irrational. But I believed in the Book of Mormon. I believed it was true. So, I figured when it was time, God would show me the truth. 

So, I went to church. I went to Gospel Essentials class. I read my Book of Mormon. I looked for anyway to learn more. When I was offered a chance to go to the Seattle temple with the Young Adult ward to do baptisms for the dead, I thought it would be a perfect chance. So, I went.

Still, no real testimony. But, no testimony against. So, I felt it wasn't time yet. Every thing else felt very true, so I remained patient. A couple of years later I got my recommend and went for my temple ordinances. A beautiful and spiritual experience, but still no real testimony of baptism for the dead. 

Then, years later after working on my genealogy, I got to do the work for my four grandparents. I remember being baptised for my maternal grandmother, who had died when I was only 3 years old, 

and - oh! - the feeling that overcame me. It was the single most spiritual experience I have ever had. I felt that I was in the presence of my grandmother. A person I cannot remember at all. It was wonderful. 

I had my testimony. After all, it was true. And my patience was rewarded. Just like all our patience will be rewarded if we just endure to the end. By putting our faith in  Christ, all will be rewarded.     

Advent Day 3: December 3

Matthew 15:30: "And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were  lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet: and he healed them:"

I think during this Christmas holiday season, we need to slow down and remember what our Savior put first. He didn't avert His gaze when He passed the less fortunate, the homeless, the disabled, the sick, the elderly, the poor in body. He didn't pass them at all. 

We need to remember that this Season isn't about buying presents, putting up the tree, finding the ugliest Christmas sweater, going to parties, etc. It's about remembering Christ and His message. He asks us to follow His example. 

Remember, in Matthew 25:40, "...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Remember being Christian isn't so much about helping your fellow Christians, it's about helping your fellow beings. Those that you despise, or look down upon, this is when you should help the most. For only by helping those that you are uncomfortable around will you grow the most.

I challenge you all to do the most you can not only this holiday season but year-round to help those that need it. 

Feed the hungry.

Quench the thirsty. 

Be hospitable to the stranger. 

Clothe the naked.

Heal the sick.

Visit those in prison.

Let the light of Christ shine out on your fellow man. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Advent Day 2: December 2

2 Nephi 26:3: "And after the Messiah shall come there shall be signs given unto my people of his birth, and also of his death and resurrection; and great and terrible shall that day be unto the wicked, for they shall perish; and they perish because they cast out the prophets, and the saints, and stone them, and slay them; wherefore the cry of the blood of the saints shall ascend up to God from the ground against them."

At first glance, not a very cheery or Christmas-y piece of Scripture. But Nephi lived at a time of much contention and dissension amongst the descendants in America. I guess he was practicing a little hard love. But he is prophesying the good work. He is prophesying that the Savior won't just visit those Jews in Jerusalem and Israel, but also those across the sea in America. They too will be given signs of His birth and death and resurrection. 

He also prophesies that justice will be given and will be hard. That God will not forget the murders of His saints and His prophets. 

There is a lesson there. Think of all the prophets and saints that have given their lives for His work. I am not only thinking of those like the Prophet Joseph Smith, who died for the Gospel. But the others who died because they were doing the right thing. Because they died standing up for the widows and the orphans like the nuns that died in Guatemala and El Salvador, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor, who died defying the Nazis. They too will be remembered by our Heavenly Father. 

We all will be remembered if we only stand up for Him and His desires for us. As it says in Zechariah 7:9-10, "...execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother. And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let not of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart."

It is my prayer that we all incorporate that in our every action and thought.  

Advent Day 1: December 1st

The Savior has many names. In this verse, he is called Immanuel, Hebrew for "with us is God". What a great statement that is. It isn't so much that Heavenly Father sent him down here to suffer and die for our sins. But also to live. Christ has just as much in common with us as he does with God. We, too, could have been perfect as he was. And we can be again. 

Christ was with us. He showed us the Way. He was given to one of us to be raised and nurtured. God could've sent Him down fully adult. But what was really important was the journey. That is important to remember. It is how we live our lives, how we treat our brothers and sisters on this Earth, how we treat the gifts that we have been given that is truly important. How we handle temptation. I believe that it is the journey that is important, not the destination.

Also, this particular Scripture shows us that God keeps His promises. Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah (according to Elder Bruce R. McConkie) from 735-720  B.C. This means that it took nearly 8 centuries for this prophecy to be fulfilled. Think about that. Would we have the patience to wait for the same amount of time? We must have faith that the Lord will remember us and bless us if only we have faith in him. 

I testify that I have faith in my Lord and Savior. That I believe that He has my interests at heart even if I do not truly know what those interests are. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent, Being a Mormon, and My Testimony

As a Mormon, I am not the best at being open about it to those around me. I rarely bear my testimony even amongst my own congregation. I dislike trying to proselytize to my faith, even if I believe that my neighbors would benefit from the experience of being a member of the Church. 

This is not to say I do not have a strong testimony not only in the message of the Church, but also in the truth of the experience of Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove (The First Vision). I do. I just am not a very aggressive or assertive individual. Also, I believe that my faith, my spiritual experience is a personal journey. 

But I can testify of my own faith. Recently, during the nasty political season, I discovered many people that I communicate with on-line do not understand how I can believe not only in a Supreme Being, but specifically be a Mormon. I tried my best to explain a little here, a little there. 

But, recently, I came across a great blog posting on the Mormon Women on the Advent Season

She provided several scriptures from the King James Bible and the Book of Mormon to celebrate Advent with. As I was walking my dogs this morning...

I realize that this would be a great subject for a blog and an opportunity to not only bear my testimony of the Savior and the restored Church of Jesus Christ, but also my personal vision of my faith.

I hope that I will not offend anyone. I am not trying to proselytize at all. But I welcome all polite comments. Stay tuned... and I hope everyone has a wonderful and joyous Christmas Season!