Sunday, May 17, 2015

I See... the Dam(n) Truth

(WARNING: there is a select term in this blogpost which sounds like a cussword, but it's really not because I'm not using it that way.)

Several years ago I took some nieces and nephews on a dam trip. We toured the Hoover dam complex and learned about the history of it's construction. It was a great dam story. At the end of the day, we had forged some precious dam memories.

Since that dam experience I have relished recounting several engaging stories of that dam visit voicing the word “dam” in carefully constructed contexts, allowing me to sound like I'm cussing without actually cussing. My wife thinks it is infantile; a sister-in-law giggles wildly; and everyone else who knows me is somewhat intrigued witnessing a good Mormon boy using such coarse language so recklessly.
Nevertheless, I have struggled for almost eight years now to find a legitimate, inspiring reason to include my dam story in an approved doctrinal context worthy of a MTE dam blogpost. Impossible, you say? I think not. Read on, for the Mormon Third Eye specializes in the impossible. I learned the truth about damnation, the damn truth, in Seminary.

In our study of the Doctrine and Covenants, we ran across several seemingly harsh promises of damnation for those who do not accept the saving ordinances of the gospel: “And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned (D&C 68:9).” In terms of our potential for eternal progression in the highest order of the Celestial Kingdom, “damnation” or “to be damned” means to have our progression stopped-we loose the opportunity for eternal increase. Just like a dam stops the progress of flowing water, our failure to accept the saving ordinances of the gospel stops our progress in this life and the next, and we become “damned.”
Image result for hoover dam
The damn truth is that many of us dam the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ and potential for unlimited happiness behind huge concrete walls of pride, disobedience, anger, and all varieties of addiction, and in the course of our own personal dam construction damn our own souls now and in the next life- eternal damnation.

I think this is the best dam blogpost I've ever written. Regular MTE readers, what do you think?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

I See... What Mothers Want

After 55+ years of thorough experiential on-the-ground research and evaluation, the Mormon Third Eye can confidently announce that it knows what mothers want on Mother's Day. The results are almost shocking; how did we get it wrong for so many years?

When I was young, the bishop would have the ward thank mothers by having them stand up during sacrament meeting and be recognized in order according to how many kids they had birthed, with the smallest families first. I was one of seven so my mom was usually one of the last to sit down . How would that play in today's meetings? Times have definitely changed.

Mothers do not wish to be worshiped as domestic goddesses; they are innately aware that they, like every other son and daughter of God, fall short of the glory of God. Characterizations of what the perfect mother should be only traps them in a prison of their own guilt of what they aren't doing, or if they are doing it, they're not doing well enough.

Mothers are not seeking perfection through their own works. All they want is to be loved. Why? Because new discoveries on doctrines of motherhood depicted in the scriptures reveal that they are really charity- the pure love of Christ.

Try exchanging the word “charity” with “mother” in the following famous scriptures:

1st Corinthians 13:
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not mother, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not mother, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not mother, it profiteth me nothing.
4 mother suffereth long, and is kind; mother envieth not; mother vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 mother never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I44-46 know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, mother, these three; but the greatest of these is mother.

Moroni 7:44, 47:
44 If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have mother; for if he have not mother he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have mother.
47 But mother is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

These scriptures, appropriately modified, absolutely exactly describe mothers across the millennium of time. It's like they're talking about my own mom! So... to celebrate Mother's Day, why don't you show a mother some charity? I'm certain she'll recognize and embrace it. For her, it should be like looking into a mirror.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

I See... Saving the World

Rarely does the Mormon Third Eye tackle a topic as taxing as saving the world. If you can't save the world, what else matters?

Just last Friday afternoon I was one of the millions of minions in North America who flocked to theaters across the country to be entertained and inspired by the new superhero blockbuster “The Avengers: the Age of Ultron.” Eight superheroes with various wonderful powers fought off the essence of evil to save the world from total annihilation. The movie had it's desired effect on me. I left the theater excited, inspired, and motivated; I wanted to save the world.

But how? Unfortunately, on the way home reality sunk in. In the sprawling mass of clogged left-hand turn lanes, pollen-laden air attacking my sinuses, and practical discussions on how much time we would spend tomorrow battling evil weeds in the back yard, I realized that the world that had just been saved was just fiction emanating from the clever minds of writers, directors, and actors. The world I lived in had real challenges with evil and needed to be saved too, but without the fabricated superpowers exercised in the movie. Even as a human I was pretty weak in the superpower/talent department. I don't possess any of the traditional athletic, musical, or entrepreneurial talents that most of humanity looks up to; I've been focusing mostly on keeping promises and making good decisions. What could I do?

It was then I reached into my wallet for my secret weapon- a secret weapon the none of the Avengers possessed, yet had the potential to bestow upon even puny mortals power to save worlds past, present and future. I pulled out my Temple Recommend.
I use my temple recommend to serve as a volunteer temple worker every first and third Saturday mornings. The prophet Joseph Smith taught that “these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.” The work I do in the temple and the life I must lead to remain worthy of a recommend makes me a willing and active participant in saving those who have gone before me, those currently with me, and those who will come after me.

I spent the morning after viewing the amazing Avengers movie in the temple saving mankind by administering saving ordinances for my kindred dead. I left the temple excited, inspired, and motivated save mankind in the real world with the power and authority of God.

It doesn't get any more “super” than that!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

I See... Unlikely Paths of Revelation

The Mormon Third Eye specializes in viewing unlikely paths of revelation. We always know that the source of it is God; however, in his creative and infinite wisdom, he occasionally uses the “weak things of the earth” as the chosen path to make his point. I was a witness to one unlikely path last week in early morning Seminary.

As the early morning seminary teacher, I know everything- or at least I'm supposed to. I've been an active member of the church who has been studying the gospel for the past 40 years as a hobby. I thought I had read and heard every possible explanation and analogy for precious gospel principles in 1500+ meetings over the decades, but I was wrong.

We were studying the Lord's Second Coming in the Doctrine in Covenants; specifically, the reasons why we know the exact day of his return. One thoughtful young seminary student expanded my horizons with the following analogy: “It's like this- movies are exciting and demand and keep our attention when we don't know the ending. If we knew the exact day of the Second Coming, our life of preparation for it would be much less interesting and exciting, right?”

“Right!” I replied excitedly,which prompted pondering in my own heart for a moment- “ I can't wait to see how the movie ends!”  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I See... Proclaiming the Gospel

The Mormon Third Eye loves to adopt literal looks at foundational gospel principles with multiple applications. There is no inspired invitation more expansive in scope and sanctity than the charge to all those who have been blessed by the love of the Lord to Proclaim the Gospel.

In the most literal sense, the gospel is proclaimed through proclamations. The most popular and relevant proclamations of our day are “The Family; a Proclamation to the World,” issued in 1996, and “The Living Christ,” issued in 2000. The Lord commanded Joseph Smith via D&C Section 124 in January 1841 to compile the very first proclamation in the latter-days, and had him address it to “all the kings of the world, to the four corners thereof, to the honorable president-elect, and the high-governors of the nation in which you live, and to all the nations of the earth scattered abroad.” Due to the demands of establishing Nauvoo, building the temple there, and constant challenges with persecution that eventually took his life, it was not formally completed and issued until April 1945, several months after his martyrdom.

After learning about that first proclamation issued over 170 years ago in our early morning seminary class, we decided to create a proclamation of our own- a proclamation by the Garner Ward early morning seminary class to Garner Ward members- a statement of belief in principles and teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

This moving proclamation motivated me to write and post a proclamation of my own beliefs. Stay tuned- you'll be able to see it here via the vision of the Mormon Third Eye next Sunday.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I See… Goin’ Drinkin’

Discriminating readers should have never expected this headline; however, the Mormon Third Eye rarely conforms to expectations. After 55+ years of being “dry” I’ve decided to go drinking with my buddies. Since most of my buddies are likely to be fellow Mormons, including seminary class characters, initially this decision may appear to be wildly shortsighted and misguided. The key is what, where, and with whom.

I have learned via various vocational after-hours social functions where liquor flows freely that seemingly measured and mainstream coworkers magically loosen up and become exponentially engaging after only a few drops of alcohol. I’d liked to think that the elixir unlocks their inner interesting self trapped under layers of lifestyle bureaucracy, but the empirical observer in me is tempted to conclude that it is merely the liquor talking.

However, my LDS crew of all ages, which encompasses the range of young nursery stars to seasoned temple workers, tends to be naturally entertaining without the assistance of alcohol. Where can I meet them for a tall glass of fun spiked with small doses of morality?  I’m going to belly up to the bar at the Root Beer Saloon!

Root Beer Saloon

The Root Beer Saloon is a youtube channel  housing a playful, creative collection of film shorts produced by a seminary-aged youth that satisfies my hankering for a heapin' handful of humor much more quickly and thorough than a cold beer ever could.  

What does a superhero do on his day off? You’ll find it here. Ever tried a bottle of bacon-chocolate soda? These guys have. What if you had superheroes in YOUR early morning seminary class? Well, it’s not here yet, but…  

See you there!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

I See... Someone Else's Words

Happy Easter!

For the past 403 Sundays, Mormon Third Eye readers could turn to this blog and trust that they could read something original and enlightening. However, today's readers will become witnesses to history, for the first time in seven and one-half years of MTE, there will be a post with no... original... content.

I've always struggled with finding the right words that accurately depict the depth of gratitude I have for my Savior Jesus Christ and the sacrifice he made for me. The Holy Ghost has born witness to my soul in undeniable ways that because he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and died on the cross, I can repent of my sins and endure my daily challenges. Just as he rose from the dead on the third day, I can rise from the ashes of my own sins and look forward to resurrection and eternal life in His presence with my family, but these words don't even scratch the surface of wonder and gratitude that consumes my soul. It's very frustrating. How can you express powerful principles of the gospel that are bigger than words?

We all instinctively know the answer. It is the spirit, not the words themselves, that bear witness of the truth. In this context, my own words are not big enough to convey my spiritual knowledge, but the words of other great men come close; Joseph Smith and Bruce R. McConkie. So, I invite you to carefully read their testimonies, and embrace the emotions that will fill your heart, for they come close to expressing the emotions of my heart. The words may not be original, but feelings are:

joseph-smith-82822The prophet Joseph Smith:

"And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God." (D&C 76:22-24)

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie:

Elder Bruce R. McConkie“And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person.

I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.

But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.”(The Purifying Power of Gethsemane, April 1985)

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I See... The Monument to the Unknown Member

We are all familiar with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Such monuments exist in several countries to memorialize the unidentified warriors fallen in battle. Their emptiness reminds us of lost names, lives, and loves.

Image result for the tomb of the unknown soldier

In countless LDS chapels and classrooms around the world there are too many empty pews and padded chairs that stand as monuments to unknown ward and branch members. Their emptiness reminds us of lost names, lives, and loves, possibly the fruits of missed Sunday morning handshakes or home teaching appointments,or perhaps rooted in years of personal spiritual neglect. We can pray, plan, visit, invite, apologize, fellowship, and show forth love in a myriad of means and ways, but in the end a loving Heavenly Father respects our moral agency and leaves it up to us to choose to obey and enjoy the blessings of church activity. Given the opportunity, what will you choose?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

I See... Transforming Evil into E-ville

There are two types of evil in the world, and before we launch on a quest to turn one kind of it into another, we must be able to tell the difference between the two.

E-ville: This type of bad behavior is overwhelmingly easy to detect. Villains in Disney fables are e-ville. The famous Canadian mountie, Dudley Doright, will always save sweet Nell from the sinister clutches of the e-ville Snidely Whiplash. E-ville is as bright as the moon and as prominent as the painful pre-teen pimple. When Satan boldly tempted Jesus to misuse his godly powers for personal relief, satisfaction, and gain, he was exercising e-ville in most undeniable ways. When referring to this type of heinous handiwork, it is critical to pronounce it correctly. Repeat after me- “Eeeee-ville,” slow and sinister, like you really mean it. It is important to savor every syllable as it smoothly tumbles out of your mouth. There is no doubt here- this is bad.
Image result for dudley do right
Evil, on the other hand, is delivered quickly and quietly, with so little emphasis and energy that it may be difficult to even determine what was said. This type of bad behavior wants to masquerade as anything other than what it really is- tolerance, neglect, rationalization, etc. Nephi accurately described it as chains that slowly, almost unknowingly lead us down to hell (2nd Nephi 28:22)  The world is literally bathed in this type of behavior. Much of it flies under our righteous radar yet floods our homes in the form of oversexed entertainment accepted as exemplary, or perhaps as routine tasks pursued on sacred Sundays. Repeat after me ten times quickly: “evle evle evle evle evle evle evle evle evle evle.” If you say it quickly and often, it will be hard to know what you're referring to. Doubt and disguise is at the core of this dimension of deviance.

If evil and opposition has to exist in the world, and it does, the righteous quest of every latter-day saint should be to agressively turn “evle” into “e-ville.” Clearly identifying the enemy- e.g., pornography as the single most sinister sword slicing up the plan of salvation into insignificant body parts, or unwarranted criticism of doctrine and authority robbing fragile testimonies of their spiritual foundations still under construction- allows us to overcome it. It is time to choose.  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I See... the Voice of Evil

I have seen and heard the voice of evil, and it is... Siri!

Yes, you read it right. I have empirical, undeniable evidence that Siri, that omnipresent artificial thinking voice that roams around our Iphones with the answers to everything, is actually the voice of evil. Let me explain.

A few weeks ago my wife and I were preparing to attend a special couples fireside with Elder Todd D. Christofferson as the main speaker (you can read more about that here). These preparations included synching complex schedules, which led to a few uncharacteristically frosty verbal exchanges between us. As soon as I realized my need to confess and forsake the sin of being impatient, I dictated to Siri a quick message to be sent to my sweet wife. It was supposed to be an apology, coupled with the hypothesis that perhaps the adversary is working on us overtime because he knows that learning from the feet of an apostle would thwart his evil designs. Instead, it came out like this:

Siri, in the process of analyzing the context of my verbal statement and moving it from speech to text, made the command decision that it was, in fact, the adversary- the evil one, Lucifer, Satan , etc.

Another possible explanation for Siri replacing the “adversary” title with her own name is that it was trying to fulfill latter-day prophecies contained in 2nd Nephi 28:21-22, which predicts thatwe would be taught from all sides of society that there is no devil or hell.

A third option could be that I slurred pronunciation of the word “adversary” in my verbal command to Siri, and it automatically defaulted to what it deemed to be the next best word- “Siri.”

In any case, those of us who carry Iphones around need to be extra careful. We now have cause to wonder- which side is Siri on?