Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why Am I Doing This?

I know, I know - I already posted about why I started this blog, and how important it is to share the "good news" of the Gospel.

But on a personal note, there are other reasons that I am doing this.

1) I do love to write. I feel my greatest expression comes through my written words - I am far better at communicating via writing than through speaking. Indeed, it is one of my few gifts.

2) The topic of this blog - my religion - is so central to my life, such a key aspect of who I am - that I really need this opportunity to expound on it. What I believe truly defines who and what I am, how I live my life, how I relate to others, and my place in the universe. My religion is the focal point of my existence; to not express myself about it would be like being a musician and never playing a song.

3) This blog constitutes a sort of window to my soul. All are invited to peer within and see what makes me up. As of tonight, I have finally gotten around to inviting my friends and family to view this. It's like an invitation to get into my head and heart and take a look around. It is my hope that this will enable stronger bonds to be formed with others through this intimate sharing and bearing of my soul.

4) It is critical that when we have something beautiful and wonderful and life-changing that we share it with others. There are people in my life who I care about very much. It is my hope that by thus sharing, they can benefit from my experiences and beliefs, maybe gain something from it, take something away for themselves that can enrich their lives. And it can be done in a non-confrontational way, just sharing through writing and reading. I don't hold forth these things for the sake of debate, merely to share and hopefully to bring a measure of happiness to others.

5) If only one person in the world comes unto Christ as a result of my blog, then it will all have been worthwhile. I may never know if I have any kind of impact, but at least I will know that I tried.

So, again, I welcome you to my blog. If you haven't been following along, I suggest you scroll down to the bottom and start at the beginning, working your way up to the top to the latest post. I've only been at this for a few weeks, and only posted seven posts so far (though a couple of them are a little long).

I hope that the things I write here will have some meaning to you.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Death and the Eternal Perspective

Our family has suffered a tragedy: Jean's youngest brother, James, was killed two days ago in an accident. He was 28.

Times like this cause us to reflect on mortality and the existence that transcends this life.

Two excellent perspectives are found here and here.

Knowing that our loved ones continue to live, beyond this life, can bring comfort, even though we know it will be a long time before we see them again. But the knowledge that we will see them again helps to mitigate the sting of death.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What's This All About, Anyway?

It occurs to me that I jumped into this whole blogging thing without taking the time to set the context for this blog. I know I explained what inspired me to start the blog, but I never really explained, in basic terms, what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is (other than the church to which I belong).

I want to step back for a moment and just give a basic overview - a kind of "layman's" description for those who know NOTHING about the Church. Admittedly, most people have heard of the Church (many call us "Mormons," though that is not our actual name), but many people's understanding doesn't go much beyond, "no smoking, no drinking, and pairs of clean-cut missionaries knocking on doors."

So, here are the basics (just typing from memory here):
  • In 1820, at the age of 14, Joseph Smith received the First Vision, in which he was visited by God, the Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.
  • An angel (Moroni) delivered golden plates (like a book of metal pages) to Joseph Smith and from the plates he translated the Book of Mormon.
  • In 1830, Joseph Smith organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS for short). Members of the Church are called "Saints."
  • The members suffered much persecution in the early days.
  • On June 27, 1844, a mob murdered Joseph and his brother Hyrum. Joseph was only 38.
  • Starting in 1847, the Saints migrated west under the leadership of Brigham Young, 2nd prophet of the Church, and settled in Utah.
  • Nearly two centuries later, the Church has grown to more than 13 million members in hundreds of countries around the world. (By comparison, there are currently about 13 million Jews in the world). About 6 million members of the Church reside in the United States. (By comparison, about 5.3 million Jews live in the United States). I only mention the Jewish population as a reference point, since numbers in the millions can be hard to comprehend.
  • In Utah, 72% of the population is LDS.
  • The 16th President and prophet of the Church is Thomas S. Monson.
  • There are currently about 53,000 missionaries serving in the Church, all around the world.
  • The Church's official scriptural cannon includes The Bible (Old Testament & New Testament) - we use the King James Version, the Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, the Book of Doctrine & Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. We also consider the words of the prophets, from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson, to be scripture.
  • The Articles of Faith provide a basic summary of our beliefs.
  • We are very family-centered. The recent Proclamation on the Family (1995) provides the Church's official perspective on the importance of the family.
  • The Church is set apart from typical Christian churches by our belief in a Godhead comprised of three distinct individuals: God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ (both of whom have glorified bodies of flesh and bone) and the Holy Ghost (who does not have a body); and our belief in ongoing revelation from God (he did not stop talking to us 2,000 years ago). Additionally, we believe that a Great Apostasy occurred after the deaths of the original apostles, and that the true priesthood authority has been restored (in 1829). We also believe that good works must accompany faith, we must endure to the end to be saved, and that families can be forever.
  • But most importantly of all, we believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Jesus is my personal Savior - he suffered and died for me, to pay the price of my sins, and he was resurrected on the third day. The Church has issued an excellent brief on our belief in Christ.
  • We believe in healthy living and trying to live a morally clean, honest life.
  • Members of the Church can be found in politics, the entertainment industry, the sciences, education, arts, literature, and many other areas of life.

So, those are the real basics. I will talk more about some of these things later, but I just wanted to give a brief overview to put all this in context. Now that you have some idea about the Church, I must go to sleep, as it is after midnight!

My Family

My Family
THIS is what it's all about. (July 2013)

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