Thursday, July 14, 2011

Who Rules?

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:)

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.