Sunday, December 4, 2016

I See... World Peace

There is no better time to talk about world peas than Christmas. “Peas on earth, goodwill towards men!” How can we achieve world peas? The Mormon Third Eye has a plan.

First, it's important to understand what world peas really is/are. The intrepid Mormon Third Eye research staff learned from Wikipedia that peas were first grown in the Middle East in the 5th century BC; that you can make bioplastic out of pea starch; and that the annual 'Peasenhall Pea Festival' in the English village of Peasenhall, Suffolk attracts hundreds of visitors every year, with events such as Pea Shooting, the World Pea Podding Championships and National Pea Eating competition. There are at least 15 different major varieties of peas grown in the world today. China and India are peas leaders; America is a distant third.

Image result for peas

So... armed with this knowledge, how do we achieve world peas?

The first step is to admit that, just like international law, there is no such thing as “world peas.” Peas grown in China, India, and America are Chinese, Indian, and American peas respectively. The only chance for world peas is to have the UN decree that the ground where peas are grown does not belong to any particular country; it belongs to the world- kind of like the South Pole and the International Space Station. If the world can agree on climate change, world peas should be easy.

The second and final step would be to send huge shipments of world peas to war-torn areas of the world such as Iraq, Syria, and Detroit. Peas brings people together.

What a minute... I'm so embarrassed... I think most people are more concerned about another kind of world peace... hmmm....

Friday, December 2, 2016

I See... Lighting the World with my Mother's Love

The church has been challenging the world to “light the world” by following the Savior's example for the next 24 days leading up to Christmas. Today we were asked to honor our parents as the Savior honored his. The Mormon Third Eye will honor his mother, who passed away approximately two years ago last Easter, with excerpts from her eulogy. How will you honor your parents today?

"Her life, however, was so much more than the record. She was a wonderful, caring, hardworking, humble, faithful, fun-loving, diligent, and non-judgmental daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, caregiver, and friend to countless family and friends. She opened her heart and home to everyone, and we all have been blessed by her care.   

She led a life full of hard work, endurance, humility, service, and sacrifice for all who crossed her path, but especially for her family, friends, and coworkers.  Expressions of love, dedication, and devotion to her family were not trapped in the crucible of words- we always knew she loved us by her actions; by how she sacrificed for us.

“Mom suffereth long, and is kind; Mom envieth not, Mom vaunteth not herself, is not puffed up; doth behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;  beareth all things, beleiveth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Mom never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall pass away. And now abideth faith, hope, and Mom; but the greatest of these is Mom.”

Mom was Charity. How did she do it all? We honestly don’t know. She was always laboring with us and for us, often long before we woke in the mornings and long after we went to bed.  How did she toil all night taking care of other people’s babies in the maternity ward, then come home to take care of her own sick husband and her own babies? 

We all have tender and deep memories of her charity and devotion to family, all of which will certainly transform into legends as they are passed down through generations. Just as we now movingly recreate ancestors crossing the plains as handcart pioneers 150 years ago, our great-grandchildren will be sharing unbelievable stories of Mom taking care of six young children alone in a home in Concord for six weeks without a phone to talk to her husband working on the other side of the country, or working as a nurse struggling to pay the bills of six even younger children while her husband survived a heart attack to graduate from college in Logan. She always lost herself in taking care of others.  Even after Dad passed away and all her kids left town for browner pastures, she filled her home with missionaries and her “summer sons-“ a parade of homeless BYU students, usually referred by her children, who needed a place to stay while they earned money to finance their next semester. 

Mom was not a brain surgeon, a rocket scientist, a seasoned orator, an educated scriptorian, nor a master crafter. She was not a superhero that saved the world, but a supermom who, together with an honorable Dad, saved a family of seven children.  Later in life, as she witnessed her children go on missions, marry in temples, become successful doctors, analysts, executives, and most of all, mothers, she described it as “the big payoff.”  And maybe that is true. But she probably did not realize that as she became wrapped up in the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years of loaded diapers, clogged toilets, pre-teen bicycle accidents and teenage car accidents running into one continuous blur, she was actually fulfilling the scriptural invitation to bring souls unto Christ.

Perhaps Mom’s greatest gift to her children, her most lasting legacy, was her example. Growing up, there was never any question as to what was right and what was wrong. We were raised under a clear morality, which we pass on to our own children. Another great gift was the example of enduring, eternal love she had for Dad. We learned how to love and sacrifice for our spouses as we grew up watching how deeply she cared for and took care of her husband who was sick for much of his adult life. 

We honor the dead in the way that we live.  She made those around her better, regardless of their age and station in life. For Mom, love is an action, not just a feeling or an emotion of deep concern. To truly honor her, to ensure that she did not live and die in vain, God expects us to be better people because we knew her. In this vein, she would want us to resolve today to love deeper, live stronger, care longer and serve others with more heart and soul. This can be our gift to her, and perhaps the only one we can give her now that she can still enjoy where she is now; for I have no doubt that there is a way for her to observe us somehow and know that we are serving and loving others more because she once served and loved us."

Friday, November 25, 2016

I See... The Biblical Trump

"And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations."
- Luke 16:9

It's obvious that the Mormon Third Eye can't be current unless it has an opinion on President-elect Trump. The collective body of imperfect Old Testament prophets constitute a series of flawed men struggling with faith, fear, and anger management issues who God nonetheless entrusted to accomplish His work - “the immortality and eternal life of man.”
Image result for president elect trump
Looking through Old Testament eyes, I see in President-elect Trump a flawed charismatic man with a boatload of undesirable character traits who has accomplished much in this life by leveraging the talent of other people, and now has been entrusted with implementing relatively lofty constitutional ideals. I voted for him because 1) his currently proclaimed positions on social and moral issues such as abortion, marriage, personal responsibility and the nobility of hard work more closely mirror personal beliefs I consider to be rooted in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ than Hillary Clinton, and 2) the state of North Carolina would not let me write in a more acceptable alternative.

So... I'm going to take the Savior's advice and make myself “a friend of the mammon of unrighteousness;” a friend of President-elect Trump. As his friend, I hope he will rely on talents of the right people to maintain America as “the Promised Land;” a place from which the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ can flood the earth and bless all of God's children regardless of their identity or station in life.

God bless America and God bless President-elect Trump. Please... Please...    

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I See... What it's like to be Popular

I often wonder what it is like to be popular. I've never been popular. What would it be like to enter a room and be the center of attention? To turn heads and meet huge welcoming grins? This would never happen to me. Never. Or would it?

Last Friday night we embarked on a family outing to the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. As I sifted through throngs of happy fair visitors rushing to experience carnival rides and uniquely tasty food such as bacon-wrapped grilled cheese sandwiches (I loved them!), I noticed out of the corner of my eye that complete strangers were paying attention to me with bright smiles and turned heads. A few even followed me a round for a few seconds. Had I suddenly become popular? Were fans of the Mormon Third Eye coming out of the closet and finally recognizing me publicly as it's creator and author? Had my blog finally become famous? Was I... popular?

Not hardly. My fake fame was fleeting when I realized I was holding the cutest little girl in the world- my two-month granddaughter. She was the popular one turning heads and drawing smiles.

Oh well... it was still fun holding someone popular!

I See... Your Sunday Best

I grew up in the model mormon home with six lively brothers and sisters and parents who let their actions and teachings show how much they loved us. Of all the gifts they left us, perhaps one of the most precious was love and respect for the Lord's Day. One distinct memory was the requirement to wear our “Sunday best;” my brothers and I put on faded white short-sleeved shirts with clip-on ties, and my sisters wore their best dresses. Since then, I've always tried to look my best on Sunday; it's a symbolic outer reflection of my inner commitment to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, last Sunday I attended a special sacrament meeting where virtually no one, not even myself, were wearing their Sunday best. I should have been appalled and offended. Approximately 240 priesthood holders of all ages from two stakes in North Carolina were crammed into the LDS Chapel in Conway, South Carolina dressed in their “Sunday worst;” dusty work boots and dirty jeans with ripped leather work gloves hanging out the back pockets; stained, worn teeshirts decorated with the remnants of chainsaw dust; unshaven faces gloriously topped with creatively positioned bedheads. We were a mess.

But where were our hearts? We had all volunteered to spend a whole weekend in hurricane-damaged portions of Conway and Florence South Carolina clearing downed trees and destruction off of the properties of some of the poorest, disabled, and disadvantaged residents of the area. Like the Savior did for us, we did something for them they could not do for themselves; most likely the dangerously downed trees would have lied around their properties indefinitely had we not offered our help.
Inline image
So... there we were, 7:30 am on a crisp sunny Sunday morning, taking a 30-minute break from our labors to partake of the sacrament and receive brief reminders from a general authority about the blessings of service and sacrifice. And then we left to complete a few more work orders.

The Savior was challenged by Pharisees and scribes: “Is it ok to heal on the Sabbath?” In this case, I claim that while we were not wearing our “Sunday best” clothes, we were certainly giving our Sunday best.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

I See... The First Family Council

For church history buffs, it is always fun to trace the genealogy of church programs designed to bring us closer to Christ. Family Home Evenings became a church policy on April 27th 1915 (Monday night wasn't designated as the preferred time until 1970); Primary was adopted church-wide in 1880; the Scouting program of the church was started in 1913, three years after the Boy Scouts of America was established. While each one of these organizations possesses a riveting foundation narrative, the first family council beats them all. Why? Because without the key decision made at the first family council, we would not be here.
A family of four sitting together, looking at a painting of Joseph Smith from the Gospel Art Book.
The first family council was held in the pre-earth life, before the foundations of the world were laid. Our Heavenly Father called it because he had a big decision to make that would affect every member of his family; much bigger than traditional family councils held to discuss vacation plans, potential family moves, the division of labor around the house, etc.

In the first family council Heavenly Father introduced to us the Great Plan of Happiness, also known as the Plan of Salvation. According to this plan, we would be given the opportunity to come to earth and obtain a body. We would be given agency to make decisions about what we would do with this body; good choices would lead to more freedom, while bad choices would lead to physical and spiritual bondage. The decisions we made on Earth, combined with the grace of God, would determine how much we would enjoy the afterlife. Our Elder Brother Jesus Christ stepped forward and volunteered to be our Savior to make the plan work via the Atonement.

Another luminary in our pre-earth life, Lucifer, proposed an alternate plan. In his version, we would all still be given bodies and come to earth, but we would lack the power to choose. He would force us to make right choices and redeem us all, but his plan had a catch- he would receive all the credit and glory.

We all had a very important decision to make in that first family council. Two thirds of us chose Heavenly Father's plan; the other 33 percent supported Lucifer. As a result of that most important decision, we received bodies and agency, while Lucifer's supporters were condemned to endure eternity with as spirits. As a result of this very important decision, Lucifer's supporters now wander the earth trying to make life hard for us; they want us “to be miserable, like unto themselves.” The War in Heaven that rages on for the hearts and souls of mankind today had its origins in that first family council

So... the next time you hold a family council to discuss summer vacation plans that degenerates into a vicious shouting match about whether more time should be spent in Disney World or Universal Studios, try to remember that the first family council had problems too.  

Friday, September 30, 2016

I See... The Six Words That May Save Your Life

I know of six words, when used at the proper time in the proper order, may save your life. I'm talking about your eternal life in the presence of a loving Heavenly Father. But... before I tell you that story, I have to tell you this story.

Several years ago an errant young man came to visit his bishop in an attempt to clean up his life. He had runaway from his LDS home in his early teens, and spent the next few years living on the mean streets of a large city committing every sin imaginable. Now he was in his bishop's office pouring out his soul and earnestly seeking repentance and forgiveness. The bishop was, frankly, overwhelmed with both the enormity of the young man's past sins and the amazing change of heart he was witnessing. Was he a modern-day Alma the Younger?

The bishop delicately asked the young man what prompted him to turn his life around and start walking down the long road of repentance. Surely the answer would strengthen both their testimonies. “When I was at my lowest point, reeling spiritually and physically under the effects of riotous living,” the young man explained, “a voice in my head proclaimed 'this is not who I am.' And from then on, I had the desire and strength to make marvelous changes in my life.”

God made us to be brave, faithful, obedient, loving, compassionate, and kind; to be believing, charitable, spiritual, and humble. It is a part of the spiritual DNA we inherited from Him, and anytime we are not true to these God-like qualities we are less than we should be.

I have personally experienced the power of these words when I've been frustrated with life and been tempted to blame the Lord for my trials or be too hard on myself. “This is not who I am” are powerful words that proclaim our divine nature and protect us from sin and sorrow, much like it did for this young man.

I invite you to try it out the next time you find yourself sliding down the slippery slope of sin or overwhelmed with sorrow. They just might save you.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

I See... A Beautiful Day

The network was down.
My boss yelled at me.
I lost my password.
The doctor told me that my painful swollen left finger is full of “bone shards.”
The lawn mower quit working halfway across the lawn.
I forgot to take out the trash.
I'm behind at work and with seminary preparation.
I've been shut out of the database.
Traffic was terrible.
We had to pay for two, yes two new HVAC systems for the house.
It's 95 degrees and 90 percent humidity outside.
I enjoyed the privilege of rocking my two-week old granddaughter to sleep at the end of the day. She actually smiled at me! I know its probably just gas, because cognitively newborns don't know how to smile until they're at least two months old. But still...

What a beautiful day!  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

I See... How to Really Enjoy Your Next Visit to the Temple

The Mormon Third Eye is proud to serve as the unofficial remedial manual for modern Mormon members on how to get things done the right way in their own lives, homes and wards. In fact, approximately 10% of the Mormon Third Eye is dedicated to making Latter-day Saint life easier, with advice offered at all levels difficulty and capability, from the mercilessly mundane (how to deal with a bad dream) and seemingly silly (how to end any argument with your wife) to the unusually unique (how to keep your children morally clean before marriage)and sadly serious (how to know if your wife really, truly loves you). Now it's time learn how to really enjoy your visit nextto the temple.

Over the past almost 40 years I've either been serving in three temples (Seoul Korea, Washington DC, and Raleigh North Carolina) or visiting many more. The essence of temple worship is the opportunity we have to serve as “Saviors on Mt. Zion” and experience the joy that comes with doing something for someone that they cannot do for themselves. As we complete the saving ordinances for our ancestors, we are effectuating their release from spiritual prison and introduction into spiritual paradise while they await the joyful day of resurrection. Actually, the source of all the good feelings we feel as we serve others in any capacity anywhere anytime for anybody is the fact that we are doing something for someone that they cannot do for themselves. The atonement of Jesus Christ is the epitome of this principle- the only perfect man suffering for our sins and our sorrows, making the impossible possible- enjoying a stain-free eternity with our Father in Heaven. Can we even comprehend how happy the Savior must be as a result of this act of ultimate service?
The entrance to the Washington D.C. Temple, with a partial view of the water fountain out front.
Absolutely not. But we can have a taste of it. So... what if... what if... the next time you attended the temple, you did something for someone that they cannot do for themselves- an act of service for the dead AND the living?

Here is how you do it. The next time you go the temple to perform saving ordinances vicariously for your ancestors, take a completely immobilized wheelchair-bound recommend holder with you. To give them an opportunity to serve their ancestors, you will have to do everything for them. Everything. And you just might experience incomprehensible joy in the process.

This happened to me a few months ago during a temple shift. I was assigned to help an elderly man in a wheelchair complete endowment ordinances for one of his ancestors. All he could offer them was his body. I had to do everything else for him. Everything. And as I did so, I was infused with a quiet but powerful wave of peace and joy and love that is hard to describe.

I guess you could call it incomprehensible.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

I See... Grandbaby Lives Matter!

Black Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. All Lives Matter. What really matters? I heard an almost rational explanation of the Black Lives Matter movement a few weeks ago. A rather educated unofficial spokesman for the movement claimed that it's real purpose was an element of social justice- to highlight for civil society implicit and hidden biases against my brothers of another color. What matters more than life and death? Emphasizing the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of policemen charged with keeping the peace, for any reason, for better or worse, opens room in social discourse to consider this cause. Black Lives Matter movement members merely want our world to stop turning for a moment and think seriously about their problems.

We all meet moments in our lives that cannot be adequately explained; they can only be felt and believed. The world stops turning for us and we become completely and totally frozen in a sliver of time by the wonder and miracle of the moment. It can only be fully appreciated by personal experience. Moments of life and death, with missions and marriages squeezed in between, almost complete the catalog of experiences for many Mormon church members that have to be lived to be truly appreciated. Only our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can fully empathize with our challenges and sorrows through the miracle of the atonement. These moments matter.

So, I solemnly proclaim that Grandbaby Lives Matter. Why? Because I last Friday afternoon I held my first grandbaby for the first time. The world stopped turning for a moment and nothing else mattered. I can't put into words the joy I felt over the little miracle cradled in my arms. Only other grandfathers and the Savior know.

I want the world to know. Grandbaby lives matter.