Sunday, August 1, 2010
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
I love the idea of Godparents and intend on borrowing this practice from Catholicism.
If you want to read a whole article on it, read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godparent . If not, I'll give you my thoughts here.
The idea of community is one we're losing quickly (to our detriment), so I think that anything that can be done to increase a person's (in this case, a child's) community is a positive thing. The wikipedia article talks about how "the modern view of a godparent tends to be an individual chosen by the parents to take an interest in the child's upbringing and personal development." It says they act as sponsors for the child and guarantors of the child's spiritual upbringing. The article uses fairy tales as a means of relating meaning—essentially, godparents are helpers from outside the family who have a sincere and vested interest and involvement in his/her godchild.
The article also talks about the history of the godparent. Godparents were originally one who stood by a child who was to be baptized. They would act as voice for the child, declaring the child's faith. This person would obviously have to be in good standing with the church to be able to do so. They would also, as mentioned, assure the church they would look out for the child and raise them to be faithful. I realized the name is (probably purposefully so, but when you hear a name so often like "godfather" or "godmother" sometimes you forget to break it down) exactly what it is—that is, a "god"-parent. A person who is in relation to you, somewhat similar to Jesus (obviously on a different scale of magnitude). Think about it. This person acts as voice for a person who has not yet gained trust with the "authority" (God the Father, for the Jesus metaphor), but the voice is one who has walked the path and proved he is in good standing and can thus plead for the other. Because of the voice of this other, the child is given a chance. The advocate also guarantees that he/she will look out for the child, help raise the child in the right ways, and do everything he/she can to help them live with faith. When the title is truly considered, it adds depth to the relationship.
We should all have godparents. Probably, we should all act in this way towards everyone else, but it helps to have a title and be in a special role (social psychology says this helps us act in the way expected of us).
I don't feel the Catholics would mind any of us borrowing from this great practice. Find a godfather or godmother for your kid. Heck, find one for yourself! It will be something I definitely do carefully, really trying to be open to what the Universe tries to tell me about who would be best for my kid. It seems to me that our artists are often demi-prophets—that is, all of their musing seems to put them in touch with truth (For example, George Orwell, 1984); I don't think it's a coincidence that in fairy tales, it's fairy godparents who come to the rescue. Perhaps those stories are trying to teach us something about God. Perhaps those stories are trying to teach us something about the importance of that relationship and that role—that someday, when everything else seems to be going wrong, a person in that role can show up just at the right time and help save the day. Perhaps they're just stories. Either way, I'm in.
PS__(If I've gotten anything about this godparents practice and idea wrong and you know better, please let me know. I certainly have no intent to offend anyone if I am grossly mistaken in any of my facts and opinions.)
Sunday, June 28, 2009
This entry is the text from a speech I delivered at my church a few weeks ago on what Mormons (LDS/the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) call "the Priesthood," which is generally defined as "the power and authority of God, given to man to act in His name on earth." In a world where the distinctive lines between "roles" and "equality" have become blurred, the fact that the Priesthood is only directly bestowed upon men in the Church has frequently come under greater criticsm and outcry. This was my attempt to explain, in my thoughts, why things are the way they are. Non-Mormon readers may struggle with semantics, as the speech was written for a Mormon audience, familiar with sect-specific vocabulary. I am glad to answer any questions, if anyone has any. If the speech is helpful to you, I am glad; if any find it confusion or offensive, I'm always glad to have a discussion.
The Priesthood--A Call to Serve
As God’s crowning creation, it seems hardly congruent to think that He composed her to praise that which was, in comparison to her, but a prelude—or, said another way, for those in the mansion to be subservient to those who dwell in the peasant’s cottage. No, it seems far more likely that God intended it to be the other way around; and that man, in his fear of woman’s inherent greatness and obvious power over his heart, perverted the correct order of things through his physical superiority and by taking advantage of the tender natures and feelings of God’s daughters in a vain effort to place himself in the upper rooms of that great and spacious building that, actually men, the women never even entered! Here men scramble over each other to be nearer the elusive top that, ironically, will be the place of the greatest ignominy when the building suddenly collapses without warning, from the top story down.
This should give us some better idea of what the Priesthood really is all about.
We might think of the Priesthood as the shovel, spade, and other tools of the servant, or to employ modern metaphor, the file, polish, and mask of our Father’s Celestial Day Spa where He has employed us. As noted, things here have become perverse; we have mistaken our file for a sword, our polish for a scepter, and our mask for a crown and have taken over the whole place; how ironic when one considers the amenities are not even to our liking as they were not meant for us! I don’t imagine that when the Lord said that “the woman is the glory of the man” (1 Cor. 11:7), he meant that she should be like a show poodle! But rather, that man, through serving His daughters through the tools given to Him and in the ways prescribed, might enjoy the glow of the glory of the widow’s gratitude for a raked yard or a kind visit, or of the child’s simple expression of love and the title “daddy,” or most importantly, the tender touch and glances of a grateful and properly honored and enthroned spouse.
It seems to me, brothers, that women need comparatively little help on their way to godhood, as they have already been bestowed with the honor to be God’s co-creators and carriers of His most precious possession—His children. When God created woman as “an help meet for [man],” surly we cannot think this was the proclamation of their status or worth! But rather an admission of the imperfection of the other party! He might have said, “Well, my daughters are not in much need of a mortal experience beyond just obtaining the body, but without them, we’ll never get the men back.” It did not require the omniscience of God to observe: “It is not good that…man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18), and brethren, this was in man’s pre-fallen state! What an invitation to improve our natures, men! And it is clear from God’s creative order by what means we have been given to accomplish such a feat!
We can therefore comfortably infer that when God made the invitation, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your…husbands” (Eph. 5:22), He did not do so because He thought the men knew better! But rather, as the Lord said to Alma when men cowardly threw women and children into a fire: “behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.” Clearly, the Lord’s training program for those men who would be in His forces is no mere inflatable obstacle course! It is boot camp, and live fire is being used! We are in a position of real peril.
Thankfully, we have the Priesthood, for both armor and weapon. Only, in this mission, it is our carnal selves who have taken our potential selves hostage, and whom we must, therefore, search and destroy. How blessed we are to have a Captain who “tread the [battlefield] alone,” who died, pierced and bleeding, solitary and feeling deserted, with a death grip on the throat of that carnal self; who prevailed, even in death, and has now come back to fight the battle beside us over and over again. His life is the example of how the Priesthood is to be used as we serve. Little wonder, then, that it is called “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God” (D&C 107:3)! It is duly named for whose power it is, and therefore, who best understands and exemplified what it means to hold it. It is that very word “serve” that He wants us to pay special attention to as we do our duty.
Allow me to share a sacred experience of my own. I received an email some time ago from Laura Lund, who I had given a blessing to last summer before she left BYU for home to become the bride of a lucky young man. I had arisen that morning with the distinct impression that I should fast; so I did. About midday, I got a call from Laura, who I did not know. She said that she felt impressed to get a blessing before going home, but that her hometeachers were unavailable. I, recognizing the opportunity as the reason for the fast, agreed to be voice for the blessing. I now quote from her email:
You probably don't remember this…but one of the very first things Heavenly Father blessed me [with] through you…was that no permanent harm would befall me. Then I was blessed in upcoming events in my life as well as given insight to my potential future, which was humbling and powerful to hear. I thought the first bit about “no permanent harm” was a little unnerving, but I did not dwell on it.
A few weeks later I went to a resort with my fiancée’s…family. They took me mountain biking for my first time. I went down my first big hill too fast and when I came to the bottom…I did not turn sharp enough. My bike and I rode into the bushes and I flew over the handle bars and landed directly on my left shoulder.… We later found out that I had broken my collar bone into four pieces, but that it had broken in such a way that there would be no complications in the healing. I asked my fiancée later that evening after leaving the hospital for a priesthood blessing. I was told in the blessing that if I had not asked for the previous blessing (the one voiced by you) that serious damage would have happened to me in that accident.
I don't know how serious it would have been, but I do know that I was protected. I am so grateful, so grateful for the…power of the priesthood…. I am having a little girl in July, [which is] another reason to be grateful for that priesthood blessing….
I am so grateful, brothers and sisters, to have been able to participate in her life in such a way. I do not know what might have befallen her had she not heeded her prompting, but the important thing is that she did! And now one of God’s precious daughters gets to come into Laura’s arms and a loving home. Pondering on these things offers me such feelings as I cannot describe. Having these experiences helps me understand, to some degree, how God must feel for His children. And that, brothers and sisters, is exactly what I think the Priesthood is all about. D&C 84: 19-20 says, “And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.” If eternal life is knowing God perfectly (John 17:3), how can I ever expect to know Him if I have never been in His shoes, doing, in some small way that is my own, what He does, and feeling, in some small way that is my own, as He does? “without this no man can see the face of God…and live!”
A few verses later in D&C 84, The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood teaches us that “whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling…receive me, saith the Lord;… And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father's kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.” Paul called it being “joint-heirs with Christ,” but added this daunting caveat, “if so be that we suffer with him” (Romans 8:16). I would never be so blasphemous as to insinuate that anything we do or any sacrifice we make could ever be compared with the Savior, but when we understand what taking the Priesthood upon ourselves, just as Christ took it upon Himself to save all mankind, means about the Kind of Men we covenant to become, we will begin to understand more about who God is and how He feels. We will begin to suffer with our fellow brothers and sisters in our efforts to help them come to Christ so that they might be saved, and we will feel all of the love, and the pain (for pain is but the other side of the reality that is love) associated with that process, and therefore become joint-sufferers with Christ and thus begin to understand, in some way, more about God. Experiences such as the one I shared come now and again. More often than not, we are asked to simply do our duty—to stand guard through the night watch, vigilant though no enemy appears, night after night. It is only through these daily, personal triumphs that we can come to be ready for the decisive victories when the Lord sees fit to deliver one of our “enemies” into our hands.
Sisters, do not feel estranged from the Priesthood. My friend Sister Ozawa, serving in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, once wrote in one of her letters to me about her confusion about her connection to the Priesthood. In light of her current calling, the truth was easy to see. “You participate in the Priesthood as much as any Elder,” I told her. “It is simply an issue of division of roles.” (And as I mentioned before probably has a lot more to do with man’s needing it, and nothing to do with women not being good enough for it or important enough for it, or any of the other garbage the Father of Lies likes to banter about. We know precious little of the role of our Divine Matriarch, but we must not mistakenly interpret Sacred Silence for Secondary Citizenship in the Kingdom of God—any such premises are grossly false.) “You may not be able to actually perform the ordinance of baptism for a friend you teach who wants to come into the fold,” I continued, “but you will have ‘baptized’ that person far more than that elder who stands in the water. You may not actually lay your hands on that person’s head and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, but you will have everything to do with that person’s receiving the Holy Ghost, and taking advantage of that Priesthood blessing. In this way, you participate fully in the power and blessings of the Priesthood. Do not confuse position or power with participation.” Sisters, you, too, participate in the Priesthood, in whatever place you may be in, in life or in the Church. When your husband gives a child a Father’s blessing, is it not your faith that gives the blessing the wings and power to make it through the roof and into the chambers of heaven? Is it not your efforts day by day, your faith and your prayers, that a child is brought up in such a way that he or she can receive the blessings promised to them? Do not mistake position or power for participation.
Allow me to close with a quote from C.S. Lewis and a scripture. Said he, “Christian writers…have sometimes spoken of the husband’s headship with a complacency to make the blood run cold. We must go back to our Bibles. The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the church…and give his life for her (Eph 5:25). This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion” (The Four Lovers, C.S. Lewis). Christ is our Savior, but without the Church to help carry it out, His Atonement would do us no good. The two are inseparable, married and co-equals, who Christ receives not as a prized possession, but as the opportunity in whose service He will be glorified—“whose marriage is most like a crucifixion”—for our salvation is His glory.
This should give us some better idea of what the Priesthood really is all about.
Brothers, we have been blessed with the tools to participate in the salvation of those we ought to love most intensely and serve most devotedly. However, “we have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”
“the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and..the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.”
“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile”
“when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.” Brothers, “To be a man” ought to be synonymous with the title “Priesthood holder,” but merely holding the Priesthood never inferred true manhood, only the opportunity to develop it through its correct use. It will be our privilege brothers, to serve our families in a most sacred and wonderful way on the day of resurrection; it behooves us now, therefore, to learn lesson one—that is, as it ever has been, that we are “called to serve.”
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Those who know me best know I am at heart a dramatic, if I can nounify that adjective. Thus, in my “thoughtful states” I tend to get bombastic and didactic all at the same time. I recently saw a quote pinned up on a wall at school from Abraham Lincoln that says, “Die when I may, I want it said of me that I plucked a weed and planted a flower where ever I thought a flower would grow.” A powerful quote, no? It goes right along with my other favorite quote from Henri-Frédéric Amiel that says, “Life is short and we never have enough time for gladdening the hearts of those who travel the way with us. Oh, be swift to love! Make haste to be kind.” The cruelty of man to man always sickens my heart, especially when I myself am the perpetrator of such acts. When acts of violence and cruelty are witnessed, too many of us shrink, thinking, “I’m glad I’m not like that,” forgetting that it lies within all mankind to become so depraved! Kindness, gentleness, and love are those healing virtues so desperately needed by man, and also so difficult to cultivate! With all of this in mind, I include an entry made in personal journal while in a plane (one of the places I get most “thoughtful” I think due to the wide vistas available to view) on the second day of January, this year. Remember my flair for the dramatic; I can be a little verbose, but read through the fluff for the emotional content, for it was written from the heart. As always, my most immediate audience—i.e. the one who needs it most—is myself….
I sit on a plane with my fellow human beings, and the silent, dark earth passes on beneath us. We float over innumerable souls, evidenced by lights, grouped and huddled for fear of the lonesome dark-a mirror of the most basic of all desires, deeper than that of sustenance and pleasing environment, inherent in their creators—that of companionship.
Below me, countless scenes of the same kind play out on the human stage. As the lone lamp in the forest shines inconsequential and irrelevant when seen against the vast blackness from above, so the earth moves on its course through the cosmos. Scenes of love, scenes of villainy (whose heart is always fear), scenes of no consequence alike play and replay in their various forms, played out by their various actors, heeding the voice of one director or the other (love or fear), time and time again as they have been since man became man. And still we grasp and moan and cling! Still we fret over the torturing objects and circumstances that we ourselves have created and willfully submit ourselves to! Oh humanity! Open thy eyes! Do not grovel in the dust of ignorance! Arise! Ascend to the spiritual heights like the literal heights I now enjoy, with all the perspective it offers! So inconsequential your daily dealings, and yet you grasp after worthless money, fret over mere mortal matters, and grow indignant over trifling, petty dealings with those you ought to call brother and sister, for such they are!
Few are the things which shall endure and which we can thus cal “real;” all else must pass away and vanish—even the heavens themselves, though immortal they seem! How few are our days! Should they not then be spent in bringing about all of the happiness-happiness that is the only reasonable drive for man—that we can to our fellow beings, who, unaware, wallow in mortal mire?
“Life is short and we never have enough time for gladdening the hearts of those who travel the way with us. Oh, be swift to love! Make haste to be kind.”
Shared emotion (be it what it may), shared experience, shared wisdom, and most of all shared love—man, these by thy treasures! All else, but shadows and counterfeits! Place your hearts, your hopes, your passions upon them and your life shall not be in vain! Cling to any other prize, and dark shall be thy days and thy eye! For such shall vanish as smoke and your precious few days shall be spent in fruitless pursuit of that which you cannot obtain! Cross yourselves in these things! Arise, dear friends, and be men!