Friday, April 15, 2005


On Constant Truths

I thought I would start this blog by looking at some of the conference talks -- here is one grabbed at random. The talk has been edited down to its basic ideas and my thoughts are mixed in:

"Constant Truths for Changing Times" by Pres. Thomas S. Monson
"We cannot afford to be complacent. We live in perilous times.... We are acutely aware of the negative influences in our society that stalk traditional families...."

I'm impressed by Pres. Monson's use of the word "stalk" as it indicates a purposeful design against the traditional family. The wild animal that stalks its prey intends to destroy and/or devour the victim, the stalk has no trivial or innocent aim. Like the wine used to inebriate the Lamanites so that the Nephites could infiltrate and take the City of Gid, the destructive influences are "strong, having been prepared in [their] strength." (Alma 55:13)

"We, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, must stand up to the dangers which surround us and our families. To aid us in this determination, I offer several suggestions..."

A prophet, seer, and revelator offers counsel to resist the evil influences. We won't find anything new in this counsel. So why are we hearing it again? Because we're not faithfully following the admonitions already given and we're still vulnerable.

"I begin with family home evening. We cannot afford to neglect this heaven-inspired program. It can bring spiritual growth to each member of the family,... As President Gordon B. Hinckley and his predecessors have stated, "The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place nor fulfill its essential functions." ... [FHE teaches] gospel scholarship, faith, prayer, love, service, obedience, example, and kindness."

Amazing that such a simple program could bring such benefits. If it's so simple, why are we not faithfully arming our families in this way? Is it lack of faith? Is it lack of character? Is it just too hard? (See 1 Nephi 3:5) Or is it too simple? (See 1 Nephi 17:41)

"Next, I address the subject of debt... It is essential for us to live within our means."

Debt, one of the precursors to the visit to the divorce lawyer. Debt attacks families--if it doesn't drive them to divorce--it puts them in bondage and reduces their ability to serve and consecrate to the Lord and building Zion.

"I would say to each mother, each father-be a good listener... And to you children, talk to your mother and to your father."

Could I get him to shout this in my oldest daughter's ear? Pres. Monson made a similar statement in his address at the Womens' Conference. My daughter thinks any questioning of her whereabouts and activities is an interrogation designed at invading her privacy and further ruining her life. (She really is good, but after she turned 13 (she's 16 now) her meaningful communications have significantly declined). Of course, all my children and my wife would point out that I'm not a good listener (in their opinion).

"Mothers, share household duties. It is often easier to do everything yourself than to persuade your children to help, but it is so essential for them to learn the importance of doing their share.
"Fathers, I would counsel you to demonstrate love and kindness to your wife. Be patient with your children. Don't indulge them to excess, for they must learn to make their own way in the world.
"Parents, help your children set goals concerning school and careers. Help your sons learn manners and respect for women and children."

How often I have seen remarkably good people with children that are utterly worthless for service, taking care of themselves, or making and keeping commitments. The parents provide all and do everything without requiring sacrifice and effort on the part of the children as well. There are great people who just don't see that they are building serious character flaws into their children -- just like the old wedge left in the tree.

"Parents, live your lives in such a way that your children will find you an example worthy of emulation... I admonish all families: search out your heritage. It is important to know, as far as possible, those who came before us. We discover something about ourselves when we learn about our ancestors.
"I emphasize how essential is the work we do in the temples of the Lord for our kindred dead.
Remember that ofttimes the wisdom of God appears as foolishness to men, but the greatest single lesson we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and a man obeys, that man will always be right."

Family History and Temple work -- turning the hearts of the children to the fathers and vice versa -- again emphasising the eternal importance of the family.

In regards to financial security:

I liked your point about being in a position to consecrate and contribute to the building of the kingdom. It seems to me that there is a spectrum of this in the church. At one end, there are those who take and take and take and never get out of their needs enough to serve others (this applies in both financial and spiritual things). On the other end, there are those who give and give and give without ever allowing others to serve them (not too infrequently becoming disaffected as well). There is a good balance to be struck in life, as well as in the church, with our giving and receiving, recognizing that the church is a congregation devoted to strengthening the members as a whole. I relate this to the law of consecration in terms of our being willing to give unto the Lord, as well as to receive the atonement and rely on His grace as well. These relationships work best as two way streets.
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