So one of the big trends in YA books recently has been Dsytopian societies. Futuristic worlds that instead of being a paradise are seriously sick and disturbed in their belief systems. Honestly I have only read a few, but as with Utopian stories, the basic concept will be the same: there is something vastly wrong with society that must be fixed, which is usually a result of the current civilizations history. Essentially we right now, are in these books blamed for destroying our own futures. Our wars, our disregard for nature, whatever, seem to be the end of civilization as we know it and spawn a time that is considered "better" in regard to whatever the author thinks we are doing wrong and of course are worse because of the inherent humanity issues that we can't seem to escape.
One of the most well known series of these books is The Hunger Games. Now let's be clear, I love these books. I find them entertaining, engaging and fun as well as being thought provoking. They question our standards of violence and wonder just how low we might be capable of stooping to gain power. In part these books are hard to read. It is hard to accept the horrific things that some of the characters endure and I naturally question how realistic some of it is, even in a futuristic setting. One thing I really like is that these books are very real. There is a touch of teenage romance, but it really works into the character of the main heroine and how her experiences change her. It's a lot about coming to know herself and then having to deal with the consequences of her choices. Also, there is lots of moral, ethical debate stuff. So, all in all, good, not for young children, but good thought provoking books.
I just finished another series that started out well, but let me with a sour taste in my mouth. Uglies, Pretties, and Specials. Throughout the whole series there isn't much character development in that the main heroine spends each book being manipulated by those around her. This dysfunctional world is one in which everyone has government mandated plastic surgery when they turn sixteen, so they can then party, drink and goof off for the next section of their lives. While the books don't specify how long I get the feeling it is for the 20s and 30s. So the ages during which our current society expects people to goof off and do dumb things before "settling down" by age 40 or so. Clearly is does not extend to the whole population, but there certainly is a portion of it that lives this way. The heroine spends a lot of the three books just going along with whatever everyone is telling her to do. Most of the choices that she makes on her own are very self centered, even though she thinks she is doing something for someone else.
Once the girl manages to decide against becoming "pretty" she ends up that way anyhow in an attempt to help scientific research. Now that she is pretty and basically a "blonde" she has to break out of it. So the jump start to becoming aware, (which the author annoyingly calls "bubbly") is kissing. It is made clear through the second book that the key to becoming "alive" is to get an adrenaline rush. When that ends up not being enough for some they begin cutting themselves. This is where it all started to unravel for me. Very dark and disturbing, and while viewed as such in the second book, it becomes accepted by the "heroine" in the third book in order to be "icy". If nothing else were there to deter me, the authors persistent use of stupid words like these and adding -la and -wa to the end of peoples names when characters are talking to each other is sooo annoying! That would be enough to recommend that no one else read these.
Aside from the author's obvious opinions about beauty, plastic surgery and teenage morons, there are bigger issues. One the biggest deals that weaves itself through all the books is how we, affectionately termed "rusties" destroyed everything, most especially nature. We cut down trees! We ate animals! How could we do such a dastardly thing! Seriously? I'm sorry I never have been and never will be an environmentalist. I recycle. I turn off lights when they are not needed. I turn off water during teeth brushing. I clean up litter. I take care of the little bit of planet I live on, however I do not freak out about cutting down a tree, (especially if it could fall on my house!) nor do I ever spare a thought for my "carbon foot print." The authors agenda comes through loud and clear to me, but I am not sure it will be obvious to everyone.
My concern here is that young people who are impressionable will accept this as truth. They will read this and say to themselves, hmm, preserving nature and saving animals is more important than human life. Humans are bad. "Humanity is a cancer" (that one is actually in the book). The main character agrees with this statement and since that is who people are meant to identify with, I think that's a problem. Of course she is under the influence of messed up brain surgery at the time, but she never gets that fixed, she "thinks" her way out of it. Everyone else needs an injected cure to get better, but she can think her way out. Really? She is manipulated over and over, tricked by people she trusted and she is supposed to have some monumental brain powers to control her own mind? I don't buy it. Anyway, she goes through all of these surgeries, tries to help a rebellion against the government that is controlling everyone, accidentally starts a war between two large cities, then when she has fixed that, she goes off to live in the "wild" and threatens that if the people push out into the wild to far she will be there in her scariness to stop them again. So she ends up as the self proclaimed police of the world. The book ends with her little speech about how she'll be there if civilization every goes too far. It is such a jaded and obvious agenda! Nature should be cared for, but used, that is why it is there. It should not be wasted, but preserving animals and nature does not come before human lives.
So this is the big concern that is brought about with this type of book. What are the young and impressionable youth learning from dystopian stories? Is war bad? Yes. But is it sometimes necessary? Yes. Are there problems with our current society? Yes. Are we the root of all evil with our little societal issues? Um, No. I am scared that young people will be swayed to believe that. They will grow up with a view of revulsion towards humanity as a whole. They will be a part of a growing trend who has animal babies instead of human ones. I'm sorry but saying I have a new baby at home, should only mean a human one. There are too many people who seem to view people as a bad thing. To me that is just as disturbing as possible future dystopian societies. The difference is that the futures people come up with aren't real. The slanted view of humanity is. Maybe we should fix today's problems before we concoct tomorrows.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Onward and upward. Persia is now brought to the forefront, with Cyrus at the controls. Cyrus is described as a natural ruler, who was the greatest conqueror before Alexander. The key to this, Durant asserts is this:
He fully understood the first principle of statesmanship--that religion is stronger than the state.
Since I believe that a statesman does more than help run a government I might be inclined to disagree with that statement in part, but I don't because from the author's point of view a statesman is just that a man of the state. That aside, the part about religion really struck me. Durant brings up very clearly that Cyrus conquered many different peoples and that the reason he was successful in this endeavor was because of his support for their group religions. He allowed all the people he conquered to continue practicing their own religions, even to the point of using government money to assist them. There is a great truth here. For people in ancient days their religion was their culture. It was what defined them as a people and set them apart from others. Cyrus seemed to understand that if he took that identity from them he would in essence be killing them and who can be the king if there are no subjects to rule?
Now I look at this country today. When it was founded I believe the religion was stronger than the state. After all religion was the reason people came to this land in the first place, well, also the second and third places too. (think Jaredites, Nephites, then pilgrims) The main, group religion of our country has always been Christianity. There are many offshoots, different groups, but above all the majority of them believe in Christ. Those that don't hold a sacred belief in another god, or gods. Each religion has codes by which its followers are expected to live by. Some do and some don't. So why does that matter? Well, if those who don't choose to follow their religion religiously (i know, punny, but it just happened!) become more numerous than those who do, I fear for this country. I know without a doubt that this is God's country. It is a promised land given to us as long as we are faithful. I believe this extends outside of those who are of my own personal faith. I believe that God loves and accepts the prayers and good works of anyone who is as righteous as they know how to be. We need to band together as people in very ancient times did and draw on our combined and similar beliefs. We need to hold strong against the forces of those who oppose God and anything remotely related to Him, which by the way would be every tangible and intangible thing and concept ever created.
At some point, that no one knows, Christ will return to this earth. He will be crowned King and rule all people. Will he adopt the same principle that Cyrus used? Yes, yes He will. How do I know? Simple. Allowing various people to continue worshipping in whatever way they choose, even if you know its wrong, is allowing them their agency. Christ will never take our agency from us. We will always be free to make the wrong choice if we want to. I imagine that may be why Cyrus was so successful as a conqueror, he allowed the people their God-given right to choose for themselves. Just as Christ will.
So Who Rules? We all do. The whole point of agency is that we get to rule ourselves. So when I tell my kids "I Rule!", I'm seriously right:)
at 2:05 PM
Friday, July 8, 2011
Men are what they have had to be
Yes, yes they are. This particular instance was in reference to the staying power of the Jewish people during some of their trials. That's the section of civilization I am currently on. Next is Persia. It is fascinating and also difficult to read about things that I understand one way (the right way) and have them described as someone without religious belief sees them. I pushed through it and have a better appreciation for the truth of the scriptures and the damage that has been done to the bible over the centuries and by that to people's spirits.
We do become what we have to. When a task or a trial is placed before us we have the opportunity to rise to the challenge or whine about it. Honestly, if we don't rise to face whatever is placed before us and choose to become what the Lord would have us be, not only will we be unhappy, but we will probably suffer longer. Like until we do become what the Lord wants.
This is of course why people often counsel to never pray for patience, because you'll get it. Not in the way you want to get it, but in some other way that tests and pushes you beyond what you thought you were capable of withstanding. (This is also known as parenthood). The key lies in the attitude and choice. In the end of everything that's what it always comes down to. I think about it and talk about alot because not many people do. My kids have heard all my best lectures (I am a fantastic lecturer) about how it is in fact their choice to be annoyed by their siblings behavior. It can be horribly hard, but every moment we make choices about what we think, what we say, even what we feel. I was starting to feel really depressed the last few days. Since I have a history with that I have a marker by which I gauge the severity of my negative feelings. This was a bad one. That's all I'm gonna say on that, it was just bad. So on top of feel poopy myself, it wasn't hard to see that I was bringing the whole family down. (Yes, they all could have chosen to be unaffected by my sad behavior, but really they are just kids:)) So I decided last night that depressed time was over. I prayed it out with the Lord, which is the only way I have survived depression, and I am better today. Not whole and complete mind you, but better than I was. I chose to be positive. I chose to be what everyone around me needed me to be. I am what I have to be. (I think I feel another tshirt design comin' on!)
There is a country song that might offend some of the more puritanical people that I know, but the words go something like this:
If you're going through hell, keep on going
Don't slow down, if you're scared don't show it
You might get out before the devil even knows you're there!
I don't think my trials constitute anything as bad as all that, but there have been times when they did. But it's good advice no matter what, after all everyone goes through bad times, so I'll remember this and save it for that day.
Do what you have to do. Keep moving. Rely on the Lord. Life is going to keep moving whether you want it to or not, so you might as well enjoy the ride.
at 10:02 AM
Sunday, May 22, 2011
I would like to think that I am just as good about sharing as the next normal, average girl. But there are somethings that I tend to be rather possessive about, things like cookies, books, money, children, my husband; things I imagine most people are possessive with. I have learned the joy of sharing my books, but honestly I make sure my name is inside the book and that I have written down who has it, because otherwise I will forget and then lose my mind trying to figure out where that book went. And the husband thing, well, someone mentioned somewhere about the possibility of polygamy in heaven and well, I am just not sure that I would be the ideal sister wife type.
Anyway, the main focus today is kids. Some moms come to church with their newborn and pass the poor little thing around like the Relief Society clipboard. Seriously I have seen this happen! I on the other hand am well known for hovering like a rabid bear and nearly growling at those who come too near my infants. That does tend to wear off a little as they grow, but still I know I register far to the protective end of the parenting spectrum. This is in part due to my natural paranoia, which is totally justified if you watch the news today, and partly due to what I believe to my divinely given parental duties. I figure if Heavenly Father gave these particular spirits to me to watch over, then I am going to do my best to see that they come to the least harm humanly possible. At least I am not crazy enough to lock them in the house and cut them off from reality. Though it is tempting on occasion just to satiate my sanity . . .
Back on topic. So I most often say no when people ask or offer to hold my babies with the exception of certain individuals who have earned my trust. This is an unexpected response for most, but that's not my problem. So now we have Eliza. Most of the rest of my kids have been fairly stranger shy, and tended to stick close to home as it were, she is less shy, about a lot of things. She is more willing to just walk up to someone and sometimes climb into their lap if she feels so inclined. She actually pulled this particular stunt one afternoon at Anya's piano lesson. The man was a complete stranger, I had never seen him before in my life. He and his wife were waiting for their child to complete his/her lesson and to pass the time he was playing a game on his phone. Eliza decided she wanted the phone, so she turned on the dimples walked over to him and leaning into his lap began jabbering and pointing at his phone. The man nicely chuckled and thankfully did not give the little stinker what she wanted. After all she chews on everything! That's just Eliza. After that I was not all that surprised when she wandered across the aisle during Sacrament Meeting this morning and snuggled with an older gentleman in our ward. I don't know him well, but I do know that he has Alzheimer's, and lots of great-grand kids of his own, many of whom are in our ward. One of his children was sitting in front of us and when he saw Eliza sitting with his father and snuggling in her sweet way whispered to me, "Thank you so much. That will just make his day."
This is not the first time that I have realized over my well numbered child bearing years that I have more to share than I usually think about. I tend to worry that my child could be annoying to someone, or focus on how it's my child and therefore my responsibility, but on the occasions when I have a chance to let go of my precious little one and share them with someone, I need to take the opportunity. Letting someone hold my baby is a true sacrifice for me which is why the Lord has spent the last ten years teaching me this lesson.
I could tell by the older brother's smile that he loved holding her. Since she is my youngest and growing up way to fast, I am realizing how soon I might be the one missing sorely the days of a little one in my arms and maybe if I share now, then the Lord will bless some future young mother with the wisdom that I have been given. The wisdom of Sharing.
at 4:35 PM
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
I read "The Forgotten Garden" for book club last month. In summary it did not appeal to me, but one reason I am in this club is to expand my reading horizons, so I read it. Ever since then I have been trying to figure out exactly why I dislike the book. It was intriguing, well written, with deep characters. Today it came to me, this book is broken.
Just for background, there are 4 types of stories, according to Dr. DeMille.
Bent stories portray evil as good and good as evil, so basically these are never a good choice. Broken stories portray evil as evil and good as good, but evil wins. Whole stories are portrayed as good is good, evil is evil and good wins. While Healing stories can be either Whole or Broken, but what defines them is how they change the reader.
So as far as I am concerned "The Forgotten Garden" is Broken. This realization is a great relief to me for a few reasons. One I have a few good friends who love this book and usually our reading interests agree, so it's nice to know why I don't like this book and I am eager to see if my friends feel that my assessment is correct. The other reason is that this book got to be so depressing that I finished it faster than I would normally have just so I could get it over with. On the up side at least it was written well enough that it was easy to read.
My personal inclinations lean toward reading books that have some strife, but overall things end well. While the very end had a hope for the future, for all but one of the main characters there was only sorrow, or worse. I figure that life and reality is depressing enough that I don't want to spend my free fun time being depressed. So let's see if I can summarize the basics of how the main players, and thus the overall story, are Broken. (I am going to go into details that will ruin the book if you have not read it, in essence: Spoiler Alert!)
Cassandra is easily the least messed up character which is good since she is the one living in our current time and therefore would be the ideal character to relate to on a superficial level. She suffered from an selfish mother, but that seems to have been at least partly set off by the subtle love of the Grandmother who raised her. Cassandra also has the ghost of her deceased husband and young son figuratively haunting her as she struggles to forgive herself for their deaths, which by the way were not her fault, accidents happen.
Nell, Cassandra's grandmother, was found alone at age 4 on a dock in Australia with no clues as to who she was, where she came from, or even her real name. She learns of her adoption at age 21 and follows that knowledge with a complete destruction of her personal life pushing away anyone she ever felt anything for while completely shutting herself off from the world. Unhappy is a serious understatement. Near the end of her life, she begins to piece together the puzzle of where she came from, but never finds the entire truth before passing away. Seriously?
Eliza is in fact Nell's biological mother, who comes from a distressing past. Her mother in fact ran off from her wealthy home to marry a sailor, and escape her brother who clearly had incestuous feelings for her. Eliza has a twin brother who meets an accidental death around age twelve, a while after her mother has died from illness. I suppose she deals with things fairly well on some level, but attaches herself to her cousin so deeply that she is willing to do anything for her and I mean anything. Even to the point of being a surrogate and conceiving a child with her cousin's husband. Then willingly gives this child (Nell) to her cousin to raise as her own.
Now add to all this Eliza's uncle (Linus), who views his sister, niece and eventually grandniece/granddaughter inappropriately, a doctor who with Linus destroyed a young woman's chances of motherhood by performing an absurdly unnecessary medical x-ray, and various other minor players many of whom are just as goofed up. Eliza ends up dead and buried with no grave marker, while the rest of the unhappies whittle away their time being consumed with themselves.
In the end Cassandra learns the truth and discovers a hope for a new future. So I am a little torn, being that I am glad that she has new hope that she would not have found without this journey being taken, but with the sordidness of her ancestry, I have to wonder if some things are better left buried? If my history had even a tenth of the drama of hers, would I want to know? Or would it be better to forge ahead regardless of the past?
I suppose this is why it is good to read some Broken books on occasion, it sure does get you thinking.
at 12:10 PM
Saturday, March 5, 2011
I very thoroughly enjoy The Office. David and I watched all the previous seasons on Netflix to get caught up before the new season started last fall. It's just really funny. Now, to switch tracks a little, I was reading in Alma 5, when Alma hands the judgement seat over so he can preach full time. I don't know that there was a particular verse or not, but the whole feeling reminded me of this clip of The Office:
Ryan: OK, what's up?
Michael: Yeah, kay. I was just... After the presentation, just wanted to make sure, that vis-a-vie, that everything in the office is business as usual?
Ryan: Well it is business, but not as usual.
Michael: Yeah, I know I understand... we're making great strides and we're updating, but business as usual, no?
Ryan: No. [shaking head] We're throwing out the entire playbook, we're starting from scratch, we're implementing a brand new system.
Michael: Good, so, we're on the same page?
Ryan: No. We're not. Michael, I know exactly how much time and man power are wasted in this branch. This company is getting younger, faster, more efficient. You need to prepare yourself.
If you are all familiar with the show, you know this is very typical Michael. His character is just one of those people who exists in a world different from most people. I wondered while reading Alma speak to his people if we(the general people) are ever Michael to Heavenly Father's Ryan. How often does our Father in Heaven explain it over and over again, all through the scriptures and then over and over through his chosen prophets and apostles? How often are we "not on the same page" but like to pretend like we think we are?
I read the Book of Mormon everyday, I say my prayers and I honestly try to be the best everything I can be, but I still struggle. I doubt and I question. I wonder why me, even though I know I am really not supposed to wonder that. I ask Heavenly Father why I have to get sick right now, again, with everything else that is going on in my life. I ask for a blessing, just knowing that this will be the time that I will get to experience that nearly instantaneous healing relief. But it doesn't happen, and then the next day I read a conference talk that actually says:
Trust in God and in His willingness to provide help when needed, no matter how challenging the circumstance.
With even your strongest faith, God will not always reward you immediately according to your desires. Rather, God will respond with what in His eternal plan is best for you, when it will yield the greatest advantage.
It felt very much like I was being Michael. My Father in Heaven was telling me again what He has told me so many times before, but I still wasn't getting it. I still struggle with accepting the Lord's Will in all things. Ah well, I suppose that is why we have the scriptures and Conference talks, we really do need to be reminded again and again, so that we can get on the same page with the Lord.
at 6:56 PM
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I have never felt like I was the submissive type. Or maybe I was for years and then one day that changed and I have never been that way since. It's all a very long and involved story, my life that is, but suffice it to say that I think I was a fairly submissive child, but have become less so as I have gotten older. I tend to think of it as a negative thing, no doubt as a result of my experiences with it as a young child. But really it's a good thing. I know that and yet I still struggle to embrace it as a character trait I truly desire for myself. I was reading today and this is what struck me:
" . . . yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord." - Mosiah 24:15
Like I said, I'm not much of the submissive type, or the patient type and not always the cheerful type. I guess I have a lot to learn (no surprise there!). I am struggling with a medical issue that makes my life unpleasant. I recently, like last week, learned that there will be no change for the better in the foreseeable future. It affects every aspect of my life and for me is a great burden. There may be others who could shoulder it easily and never think twice, but that's why this is my trial and not theirs. I keep looking for what I am supposed to learn from this, hoping that once I learn my lesson something will be able to change. Unfortunately I am smart enough to know that may not be how this works. I don't understand the Lord's will. Frankly it is positively baffling at times. Some things make sense in hindsight, most do not.
I can't say that I have ever been patient or cheerful about submitting to my Father, but I have tried my best to submit my will to His. The best I can do is pray for guidance to know what He would have me do. In a recent talk I shared this thought:
So often in our lives we are asked and sometimes forced to endure trials that we cannot see a solution to. Sometimes even when we can see the end from the beginning we still can't find the connecting road to get us there.
Right now I feel like I am living in the first situation. I am forced to endure this trial with no end in sight. There was a time many years ago when I struggled deeply with depression, not just feeling sad, but dangerous depression. My mother in law loaned me a cross stitch that read: "In Time This Too Shall Pass." And it did. With a lot of effort and a fair amount of therapy I have my depression under control. That was a battle I could fight within myself. That was a mental difficulty, this is a physical difficulty. This is not something I can change or control with pure willpower. This is something else, this is something that will not pass. It's here to stay. And this is what my life will be like for the rest of my life. The thought brings tears to my eyes. So in all this, this desperation, how am I to find it in myself to cheerfully submit with great patience?
I suppose my usual answer will work. You just do it. I see something that I need to do, I know I am the only one who can, so the only thing to do is to do it. In my mind so many things are that simple, even when really they are anything but simple. I have the choice to submit to the physical, or to submit to the spiritual. It's going to be a very long and very hard road, but I won't be on it alone. I can't promise I'll be whistling the whole time, but I'll see if I can eek out a few smiles along the way. I guess with Christ in my corner, I can conquer anything.
at 3:23 PM
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how [exact] and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god: the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals; and yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
Hamlet: Hamlet Act II, Scene II
Man is great and man is dust. Literally we are rather equal halves of both. On the one hand we have bodies that were originally formed from the dust of the earth. On the other hand, our spirits which give life to our bodies are the offspring of the God of the Universe. I have just finished The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. I must admit great surprise on my part. I never thought I would read let alone like a book about war. Yes, I do thoroughly enjoy books about war between vampires and werewolves, etc, but that's not real! This is of course the major draw for me. I dislike unpleasant things that are real. I understand that war and violence are a part of this mortal life, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. So I don't. All that aside, I really enjoyed this book. Enough that I bought my own copy of it, before I finished reading it. Those who know me well, will understand what that means.
For those who are as unfamiliar with this book as I was before I heard the title at a book club meeting, it is about the battle fought at Gettysburg during the Civil war. It is told from the perspective of several of the men in charge, mostly generals. That aspect was mildly confusing, but I got to know so many different characters on such a personal level that it really brought out what war was like in that time. It's not like movies and fiction books, where there is a very clear evil bad guy and there are a few scrappy good guys who have to pull off a fantastic victory. Both sides believed themselves to be right and it is easy to see both sides of the argument.
The northerners in part were fighting to stop slavery. Some men were fighting simply because there was some excuse and didn't really care what the fighting cause was. The southerners on the other hand were not fighting for slavery. They were fighting to preserve their right to live as they chose. I have never and will never condone slavery in any form, but the concept of fighting to preserve one's rights rings true to the foundation of this country. So essentially everyone was fighting for equal rights for different groups of people.
I have been reading a lot of pre-civil war history in A History of Us, Vol 4, with the kids and the author makes the point several times that one major reason that slavery needed to be stopped was that once it is legal for one group of people to be denied basic human rights, it is that much easier to put restrictions on others as well. Limit the rights of one and you limit the rights of all. In the end that and the grace of God, is why the north won. This country could not continue if the very base of why it was formed was being dismantled one bit at a time. It was a hard lesson to learn, but that, like I tell my kids, is why it is so important to read about history. If we don't know where we've been, how will we know where to go?
At the beginning of the last day of the battle, the Union troops led by Chamberlain are resting and preparing for a day of battle. They notice the fight beginning at the far end of the army more than a mile away, they have been through great trial between exhaustion, lack of food, and long days of marching or fighting. Chamberlain is worried about his men, he is mourning the loss of all the men whose bodies he can see littering the field. He lost almost half of his men during the previous day's battle.
They were dwindling away like the sands in a glass. How long does it go on? Each one becoming more precious. What's left now is the best, each man a rock. But now there are so few. We began with a thousand and so whittled down, polishing, pruning, until what we had yesterday was superb, absolutely superb, and now only about two hundred . . .
I can only imagine that this is similar to how our Father in Heaven has and does feel so often. After the great war in heaven, the first of many refiner's fires, sifting through for those who were strongest, most able. Then continuing as we enter and endure this earth life. War is a perfect symbolism for life. The survival of the fittest. Those who are fastest and smartest survive in war. Those who are strongest and righteous survive in life. I don't want to be pruned away. I don't want to be one of those who is whittled off, one who didn't make it. I want to be faster and stronger and survive the refiner's fire of life.
at 2:08 PM
Saturday, January 22, 2011
My understanding of communism is that it is a governmental system in which everyone is forced to share all that they have in order to achieve a situation of social and financial equality. They choose people's careers, etc, for them in an effort to create the ideal society, or to have ultimate control.
Now contrast that with the Law of Consecration, wherein everyone shares and is equal to one another by choice. They want to give and they want to share and lift others.
If these assertions are correct, then the only difference between communism and consecration is the desire behind it. With one you have the desire to do it and with the other you don't. When people are forced to share and be the same, they naturally rebel. I don't know of anybody who wants to be told what to do and how to live all the time. It goes against the root of why we came to this earth. After all, if we are here to make choices, what's the point if we aren't allowed to make them!
Now add to the mix customs. The customs of a people are the general belief and standards that people choose to live by. In ancient days, the customs of the people were often based in religion.
When to this natural basis of a custom a supernatural sanction is added by religion, and the ways of one's ancestors are also the will of the gods, then custom becomes stronger than law . . .
When the "modes of thought and action" became intertwined with religious and in turn familial beliefs, they became the law by which people lived. We still have customs in other countries today that seem strange to us, but are part of their everyday life. We also have customs here that are are thought to be strange to others. Wherever you choose to live, their are customs to be followed or ignored. However if they are ignored, the persecution a person would encounter could be fierce. Doing something that is outside the "norm" can bring ostracization from our fellow men.
So how does this all tie together? hmm, that's a good question . . .
Here's my thought. If customs are what we choose to live by and laws are what we are told to live by, and if communism is us being told how we must live, and consecration is living the way that we know we should live . . . then we will find our "Utopian" society of consecration when the laws become the customs. When we start choosing to live they way we are told because we know we should and we want to do what's right, we will achieve what communism never could. Unity.
at 9:29 AM
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Define civilization. Sounds simple right? I don't think it is. In our day we think of civilization as lots of people, lots of technology and lots of conveniences. But for thousands of years it has meant something entirely different. The word has referred to a group of people choosing to live and work together towards a common goal, usually survival.
Yes, I have found something new to drown in. An eleven volume set of books called the Story of Civilization, by Will Durant. I bought this massive set of books, most of which near 1000 pages each, for David one year when he was really into history. Well, apparently he wasn't THAT into history, so they have sat on the shelf until I felt like I was mentally prepared for them and now to my joy, I am. So we begin.
With early people, i.e., Adam and Eve and descendants, the main occupation was hunting to provide food for the family. It was completely necessary to sustain life, as opposed to current times when Walmart hunts for us:)
We do our hunting by proxy, not having the stomach for honest killing in the fields; but our memories of the chase linger in our joyful pursuit of anything weak or fugitive, and in the games of our children-even in the word game.
Makes sense, doesn't it? Our society, at least here in the US, is so focused around games. Football, baseball, video games, etc, seem sometimes to hold a greater priority in people's lives than actually living. I have never really understood that. Probably because I grew up listening to my dad talk about how sports are just men(people)acting out their violent and warlike tendencies. You guessed it, he's not a sports fanatic. He is about staying healthy and encouraged us to go outside and play games, but organized publicized sporting events were not his thing. After having been married to a college football loving man for eleven years, I am still stumped. I watch my 10 year old son, while he watches football with his dad, throw his arms up and holler at the tv when something good happens, or something bad. He isn't mimicking his dad, they are like a synchronized team, who just happens to never have practiced their moves, but still are perfectly in sync. I'll be honest. I just don't get football. I know they are trying to get the ball from one end to the other. I even check a book out of the library from the kid's section to read and hopefully understand better as a way to show interest in what my husband loves. To no avail. Why is this play so great, but that one, which looked the same to me, so not great? Wow, so off track, the point is that there seems to be some kind of deeply subconscious ingrained need in some men/people, not all, to be a part of or watch the "hunt". Does that come from thousands of years of ancestors who lived and survived by hunting prey and occasionally enemies? Or is there some deeper spiritual need to survive, to endure and make it through and this is the only way they know how to express it?
I really don't know. Physical or spiritual? I would guess that it is a physical thing, though that would necessitate a very strong genetic indicator of good hunter versus lousy hunter and I don't know if there is any evidence to back that up. However since this is my own little world and I don't need to prove anything, I don't need evidence. :)
at 9:07 AM
Monday, January 10, 2011
Such a simple word to sum it all up. It's a little more refined than "That's all folks!" I have finished Walden. This was my second journey and this time I made it through. There was a lot to learn and a lot that I missed. I admit I definitely lost interest some in the sections about the depth of the pond, though from a naturalist point of view, that would be good information.
I love the way Thoreau ended this book. He summarized with a reminder that things are really not as they seem and there is so much more to people and life than appears on the surface.
The universe is wider than our views of it.
So it is. It is comforting to know that while my view is so limited, I have access to a source that is omnipotent. So many things happen in the world in general and in my own life personally that I really do not understand, that it is of great comfort to know that Someone does have the master blueprint. There is a reason for each and every triumph and each and every disappointment. Each one is an opportunity to learn and to grow. Every individual on this planet has the same chance to explore the last undiscovered frontier: ourselves. Self examination and introspection is one of the scariest and most enlightening endeavors. It's hard to do at first, but it can change your life if you really try and enlist the help of the Holy Spirit. For me, when something goes badly, I spend time having a conversation in my head with myself to figure what went wrong. It helps me to know what I need to change, and when I need to apologize occasionally. When we begin to understand ourselves, we are on our way to controlling ourselves and getting closer to our potential as sons and daughters of God.
Humility like darkness reveals the heavenly light.
We are children of God. We have the option to become like him if we choose. Sometimes I think I am not sure if I want to become like God. Simply put, great power has great responsibility. It frightens me the level of responsibility that is attached to even a fraction of God's power. One more reason I am glad to be a woman, I'll never hold the priesthood. I am so thankful that God's power is available to me, but I am also glad that it is not my lot in life to be accountable for how it is used. There is another quote by a woman who wrote a great book on teaching children self government. She said, "Be like the Moon." I love that. The moon reflects the light of the sun and adds beauty and order. People used to mark the passing of time by the cycle of the moon. I want to reflect Christ. I want to bring consistency and beauty to my little sphere of influence. If I can do that and a few other things in my life, I will consider it to be a successful experiment.
at 11:53 AM
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Isn't that just a really fun word to say? E-lee-see-um. It flows and it sounds pretty which is probably related to the fact the the actual place was supposed to be beautiful, and well, heavenly. So I just finished rereading Percy Jackson, the Lightning Thief, and I still love these books. It is nice sometimes to read something that is not as challenging, but still imparts great basic truths. So One of the biggest things that struck me this read through was this part when the heroes are in the underworld on their quest to put things right.
"There's a court for dead people?"
"Yeah. Three judges. They switch around who sits on the bench. King Minos, Thomas Jefferson, Shakespeare--people like that. Sometimes they look at a life and decide that person needs a special reward--the Fields of Elysium. Sometimes they decide on punishment. But most people, well, they just lived. Nothing special, good or bad."
Ok, now personally I can draw about a hundred comparisons between Greek Mythology and the Gospel, but this one is a little bigger. They just lived. How sad. I realized after I read that, that I don't want to just live. I want to do something! I want to make a difference and change something for the better. When my time of judgement comes as it must for us all, I want to be symbolically deemed Elysium Fields material. I want to live a good life.
But what does that really mean? I make lots of mistakes everyday. Some of which I continue to make for years at a time. For the most part, my heart is in the right place. In part my mistakes are made out of ignorance, or stupidity. Sometimes they are intentional, I just don't realize that I subconsciously meant to do something until after I have done it when it is naturally much harder to fix it. I have been through dark times in my life, bouts with depression and many of the same type of struggles that so many others face. Thankfully, the Lord has guided me through it all and led me to one simple truth of how to live that good life.
One day at a time.
Each and every moment of each and every day is a new chance to do it right. Many if not most trials and struggles carry over through many days, but every night I have the chance to go to bed with a good attitude and every morning I have the chance to look at the day with a positive outlook. It's a choice I make everyday. Sadly sometimes I choose wrong. But more often these days I am choosing right. I choose to be happy and calm. In my opinion despite my imperfections and mistakes, I think I am living a good life. Now things will be fine if I can just survive the next twenty years . . . .
As a side note, if you know anything about Greek Mythology, take a moment, if you haven't and compare things like Hercules with true history. Or the three different places you can end up when you die. Or the idea that there are children of god.
So yes, I love another kids book. I read the whole series with my 10 year old son. He loved them. The action is nonstop and the characters are faced with tough choices, and almost always make the right one. It's a great ideal for a young boy: a child of a god, with great potential and powers, who is constantly under attack from evil forces and fights for the right through all of it. Each child on this earth is a "demi-god", so let's teach them what that means and train them to fulfill their destinies.
at 5:04 PM