Friday, July 15, 2016

Jesus Showed All Lives Matter by Focusing His Ministry on Specific Lives

This post is not a defense of Black Lives Matter. Seriously, it isn't, so please don't make it about that. It is a broad statement about the stupid meme that is going around Facebook saying Jesus made the definitive statement about all lives mattering when he died on the cross for everyone. 
Yes, he died for everyone. That is a fundamental tenet of Chrisitanity, and, ironically, Mormon theology affirms it even kore than most Protestant theologies. However, he did that by explicitly focusing his mortal ministry on the marginalized and rejected in his society. In other words, he showed that all lives matter specifically by highlighting and working to change the inequities of his culture that made some lives NOT matter - or, at least, not matter nearly as much. He made all lives matter eternally when they didn't matter equally within their politic and socio-economic system - but he also worked tirelessly to convince the religious and political authorities (and the citizenship, by extension) to change the views and practices that disproportionately disadvantaged and harmed specific people. He beleived it so strongly that he died for it.
That is indisputable in the Gospels, and it boggles my mind how some people don't understand it. BLM being a good or bad organization doesn't change Jesus' ministry at all. He showed all lives matter by valuing publicans' lives - and lepers' lives - and sinners' lives - and adulterers' lives - and, importantly, Samaritans' lives. 
Truly beleiving all lives matter, as a Chrisitan, means doing everything possible to make all lives as equally valuable and sacred and protected and honored and loved and served in every way as possible.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Sacrament: Honoring the Literal or Metaphor through Symbol

In a Gospel Principles lesson recently, I mentioned the Catholic idea of trans-substantiation, wherein the people literally ingest the body and blood of Christ. I said I know we view the sacrament symbolically but that the idea of "partaking of Christ" in a way that changes us is powerful and beautiful.

In that light, I love the idea of the sacrament table as Jesus' self-sacrificial altar (and as his final step in the process of perfection - "It is finished.") and the congregation as partakers in that sacrifice and similar pathwaybtonperfection - even though that image is grossly archaic and barbaric to our modern society. It's okay for me, specifically because I view the Garden and Golgatha suffering as representatively symbolic to begin with, so extending the former literal or metaphorical to a current simile doesn't bother me.

I can honor the literal view while not adopting it myself.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

When Jesus Said, "Love Your Neighbor"

When Jesus said, "Love you neighbor," he knew your neighbor would act, look, believe, and love differently than you do. That's the whole point. 

Love should have no boundaries, even when we disagree with others' choices, opinions, beliefs, actions, etc. 

We can't say we love everyone if we regularly speak in strident, aggressive, attacking words and tones - if we constantly talk in us vs. them language - if we wouldn't sit down with them over a meal or go on a double date or put our arms around them - if we refuse to respect them and their differing opinions - if we ridicule and criticize and assume stupidity - if we won't shut up and simply listen with a heart that is trying to understand. 

Want to show your Christ-like love - or develop such love? Seek out someone you naturally would shun and get to know them well enough to gain a friend - not by changing them but by really getting to know and respect amd accept them for who they are.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Learning to Hit the Curve Balls

Life is interesting, with opposition in all things.

Much of my life can be encapsulated as learning to hit the curve balls. As I have said in the past, the grandiose dreams of my adolescence and early adulthood lie shattered on the floor around me - but the mosaic we have created from the shards is beautiful and glorious to behold.

I have hit the curve balls adequately thus far, I believe - but I would like a fastball right down the middle this time, if that would provide the ultimate result that would be best.

Perhaps, however, fastballs right down the middle aren't what I need. Perhaps a steady diet of curve balls is my destiny. If so, I am okay with that - as long as what they produce continues to be wonderful and visible in retrospect, as is the case thus far.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Be a Light Others Want to Understand

We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.  
- Madeleine L'Engle 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Don't Avoid Life's Scars

"Maybe life isn't about avoiding the bruises. Maybe it's about collecting the scars to prove we showed up."
I came across the quote above today and immediately thought of the temple. Overall, I can say I enjoy serving in the temple greatly, but I recognize that there are bruises and scars for many who attend. 
My favorite aspect of the endowment is that you don't have to say or do anything from memory. Even if you forget everything completely, there always is someone to help you complete the play and enter the presence of the Lord. If you start and stay, you succeed. Every.Time.No.Exceptions. 
I admire those who collect scars and continue to show up, whether that is in the temple or any other aspect of life. I admire them more than they generally know, and I want to say that clearly and directly to so many of you whom I am blessed to call friends. 
God bless you for your perseverance as you collect your scars.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Tribute to My Wife during a Difficult Time for Her

I posted this originally a few years ago, and I came across it again today, while looking for something else.

The past three weeks have been hard on my wife, and I felt like I should share, once again, my gratitude for the amazing woman she is and the grace that brought us together so long ago.

We met – unplanned, unanticipated, unbidden – no idea what lay ahead. 

16 and 15 – too young and immature, right?  

Quick connection – recognized more instantly by me than her.

That piano bench, just a glance – future recognition of endless past.

Two years to dance, two years not so, then twenty-six years more –

College, children, heartache, joy – peace throughout it all. 

Where she starts – where I end – what is her – what me?

Looking forward toward unknown, enough simply to be.   

We Never Said Good-Bye

The program lasted twelve days; I dreaded its end for eleven days and twenty-three hours.  

We didn’t touch the entire two weeks.  We talked.  Oh, how we talked – hour after hour, minute upon minute, inseparable, the focus of whispered questions and gossip – sharing dreams for the future and experiences from the past.  She told me about her frustrations, her family, past crushes, a former boyfriend; I listened a lot and spoke a bit, content to be with her and moved by her.  I missed the dance – my only chance to hold her.  

We walked, side-by-side, still not touching, not talking about why we were going where we were going.  We ignored it – not intentionally, but completely, nonetheless. 
Her dad was waiting when we arrived.  I said hello, introduced myself, shook hands, exchanged brief small talk. He said they needed to leave to stay on schedule.  They walked away. So did I, not wanting to see her disappear. 
I learned later she turned and looked back.  I wasn’t there. She realized at that moment she really did love me. 
Thirty years and six children later, while writing about that moment, I suddenly realize we never said good-bye.  

We never said good-bye.  

The moment I dreaded never arrived. 
I will share this with her when I return home tonight and touch her for the hundred millionth time.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Star Wars and Church Membership: Balance and Opposition

There is an interesting element of the Star Wars theology, if you will, that parallels one of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon - and constitutes a non-doctrinal reason I am as active as I am (completely, including being a temple worker and coordinator). Interestingly, both the Star Wars element and the Book of Mormon verse tend to be simplified by most fans / members with whom I have spoken.

In Star Wars, there is a dark side and a light side - and there are subtle points when it is clear that the duality within each person is central to "balancing the force". In a real way, without the dark side there would be no true light side - and the light side eventually would become the dark side.

There is a Book of Mormon verse that says there has to be opposition in all things, but few people consider that enough to realize the implications of that all-encompassing wording. "All" things includes each person - and it also includes the LDS Church (and every other religion) itself. There MUST NEEDS be opposition in the LDS Church.

I stay, in one way, to provide balance to the LDS force - to provide opposition in all things - to keep my people diverse. However, I try to do so in a way that truly constitutes a balance - moderation - unity despite difference - charity - etc. I am NOT trying to be the one true voice that corrects and contradicts and, in the ideal end, converts and, in practical terms, silences opposing views; I am not convinced I understand everything well enough to be confident I am right and others are wrong in many cases, and I don't want my view to become the new, exclusive orthodoxy.

I just know balance and opposition in all things are harmed when I (and every other individual) is absent and/or silent - so I stay partly to help others feel comfortable expressing their own views, as well, even when I disagree with them.