Friday, October 5, 2007


God has blessed me with the opportunity to see some marvelous statuary in my life. To actually see David, The Pieta, and Aphrodite is a rare privilege. I never cease to marvel at the beauty and grace which comes from a rendering with rough and ancient tools. Were these men who created them as flawless as the end result? Probably not, and as a result we have a much used and meaningful word in our vocabulary. Its foundation was no doubt used frequently in the appraisal of their work.

The word is “sincere.” Going to its Latin roots, we find it broken into two parts. “Sin” is basic—without. “Cere” means in many applications—wax. Thus the literal translation becomes— without wax. To understand the word we must return to the talents of the sculptor. Rather than discard a huge block of very expensive marble, if the artisan erred, he would fill in with wax. This worked well for concealment of the blunder until the work was exposed to the sunshine. The attendant heat outside in the clear warmth of day light would melt the wax and expose the blunder. Therefore, if the artist produced a faultless work it was described as sincere.

The positive component of the word is defined by the perfection which is implied, if we are faultless, there is no need for any cover-up. It would seem to reflect the characteristics of a life with Christ. Sunshine or shadow should be of no importance if our constant guide is truth. Have we as Saints, any need for any device to conceal who we are and what we stand for?

In our daily lives we are provided scriptural opportunities which were probably not available or recognized by the sculptors of old. If we make a mistake or commit a sin we have the advantage because we can confess to our Maker, seek forgiveness, repent and continue ever mindful of the necessity not to repeat that affront to God. Introspection then demands I examine my life and ask if I have been guilty of filling in an error or two with my own version of wax. Since it is never too late to seek repentance and forgiveness, it’s a healthy exercise.

Just as I lie down to sleep, I often review the various encounters I have had with others during the day. I try to take an objective look and see if my memory can detect any possible offense I might have made. I have a fairly quick mind and an even quicker tongue. As a result I often see things I may have done better. If hurtful to others, I try to express my awareness and apologize at the first opportunity. It is part of the discipline of AA and more importantly, a commandment from God. This double barreled approach has been invaluable in pursuit of both programs. If both are taken seriously, they eventually merge.

I seriously doubt that I will ever be comfortable describing myself as sincere again. It’s rather like identifying oneself as humble. We are, every one of us, a work in progress. We can, and should, strive for perfection. We should also be mindful of our humanity and beware of disclaiming sin while looking for our wax supply.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Latter Day Warriors

In a recent gathering of like minded Saints I was completely blown away by a very unexpected presentation. A United States Army Colonel was present and acknowledged the past military service of several of our group. Accompanying the individual recognition was a beautifully mounted certificate, a letter from the Chief of Staff of the Army and cosigned by Pete Green, the Secretary of the Army. This “dog face” was very moved by this expression, coming fifty-two years after separation from service.

The Marines widely advertise “once a Marine, always a Marine.” The other service branches, even though lacking their PR skills, also feel the same way. My brother, long ago discharged, is Navy through and through and proclaims it from the house tops. The presentation raised in me an emotional return to those days of arduous training, travel to foreign lands, and pride in the uniform and flag which I had sworn to defend.

The men and women who have shared this experience are inextricably linked to each other and to the memories they hold. We prefer to remember things which seem meaningless to others. I still use the last four digits of my service number as a PIN. I can see the faces of the men in my old outfit as well today as I could when I got on the boat to come home. I vividly recall that shouting “302” (302nd Comm. Recon. Bn.) would immediately assemble as many of my unit as were available to come to my aid, or I to theirs. We were not maudlin about it; we knew our responsibility and reacted. I well remember singing "Silent Night" on Christmas Eve in the Chapel of the Three Stones (named for an altar constructed from the rubble of a bombed Catholic and Lutheran Church plus a Synagogue) at Badenerhof Kaserne. This moment of peace in a formerly war torn land will never dim.

Today, our culture does not produce warriors automatically. They must be trained. In today’s world, the military tends towards increased specialization. Before that military occupational specialty is taught, however, young recruits endure 8 to 16 weeks of preparation to defend themselves and their country in a hostile world. The first job the drill sergeant faces is to relieve the recruit of the notions taught at home. We now live in an age where the slightest sign of aggressive behavior is squelched in the young. “Play nice, don’t fight!” These are the watchwords for our society. We ban dodge ball on the playgrounds, shun meritocracy at all levels of society, and try to feminize our young men to deny their God given inherent manhood. If it were not so serious, the label “baby killer,” applied to our armed forces by leftist "peaceniks," would be laughable.

The sworn enemies of the republic suffer no such restrictions. They teach their youth to be aggressive, ensconced in a false doctrine encompassing a warped moral code and then strap
explosives on them and send them off to a busy market place to die. International codes of conduct and treaties are useless in an atmosphere of terror. When faced with an enemy whose driving force is to approach his eternal reward as carnal pleasure with 72 virgins there can be no moral equivalent.

If any one believes that there is no rectitude in conflict, he had better open his Book of Mormon and re-read a couple hundred pages. Therein is documented so many armed conflicts in defense of the faith as to actually become tedious. Don’t take my word for it; try it. If that doesn’t do it for you, try the Inspired Version. The adversary has mounted assaults on the will of God since the earliest verses of Genesis. He is a tireless enemy and assumes many identities in his attacks. Over the ages, men of varying stripe have risen to answer God’s call. Their reasons and reactions to Him have taken many forms but none say it as succinctly as Moroni does in Alma 21:41: “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” You have read these words here previously and will no doubt see their appearance again. To me, they say it all. If you need a reason to take up arms, they are catalogued here.

My only regret about the military aspect of our get together was our failure to recognize the all volunteer force which stands today as a bulwark of the advancement of liberty in the world. These treasured men and women are due our gratitude, respect and continued support for their individual sacrifice. I have recently had the opportunity to observe them in action (6 days on the USS Fitzgerald, DDG-62 on a “tiger” cruise) and found them bright, energetic and wholly prepared to carry out their assigned duties. It even softened my attitude toward the Navy. If anyone is in need of our constant prayers, it is these fine young men and women.

I am very grateful to those who engineered the occasion which stimulated these recollections. As a result, I was forcefully reminded why I volunteered so many years ago. I am especially proud of my “brothers” who also took the same action. Today, in our dotage, none of us is looking for a fight. But, we, like Moroni, are more than willing to take his battle cry and say in today’s parlance, “Bring it on!”

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Reluctance Factor

The price of being an avid seeker of the truth is that of finding things you don't want to find: distasteful stuff that you'd rather sweep aside or relegate to the back of a dusty closet in your fervor to find the beautiful and the lovely.

Yesterday I was reading about Moses' commission to go back to Egypt and free the Jews. He came up with some pretty creative excuses as to why he should not take on this task, as well as his own idea as to who should go in his stead. Exodus 4. Turns out that Moses' brother Aaron got his own commission, that of spokesman for Moses; so it worked out quite well in the long run. The point is that Moses, during the transaction, demonstrated a degree of humility to the point where the Lord got rather irked with him.

Jeremiah had his own sorry excuse. "Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak; for I am a child." Jeremiah 1:6. God in His wisdom got around this pitiful reasoning, too. v.7-9. Here again we see a measure of humility and reluctance on the part of Jeremiah.

Leaping forward to the New Testament, we see a very young Mary, confronted by an angel of the Lord, receiving the rather startling news that she is to give birth the the Son of God. Luke 1. She answers by saying, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" Or words to that effect. The angel, of course, explains that the Holy Ghost shall come upon her and Mary's response is, "be it unto me according to thy word."

Of course, we can't forget Jonah, who really didn't want to face those wicked people in Nineveh. He ran like a scared deer and jumped on a boat to escape. We all know what happened to him. We can't forget Habakkuk, who cried a lot, Sarah, who laughed a lot, and Noah, who really didn't want to figure out all those cubits. These people had one thing in common: protest in the face of the Lord's commission, varying degrees of humility, and a reverence for God.

I can't find that in Joseph Smith. In reviewing the myriad first vision accounts I see reportage, as that of a newspaper article. But nothing of the awe, fear, wonder, amazement or reluctance that these early chosen people of God experienced. I grew up in upstate New York, a Baptist, and although I wasn't even remotely acquainted with the LDS, the RLDS, or any of the splinter groups so rank in the land, I was close enough to ground zero that some of the early story seeped into my gray matter over the years. I can't remember when I didn't have a mental picture of a poor farmboy kneeling in a grove of trees, with the light pouring through the canopy above, and some sort of personage—or two—addressing him. That was pretty much it until I started exploring the limitless materials on Joseph Smith, Jr., supplied by all manner of sources, and the vision I grew up with began to grow fuzzy around the edges. In fact, the further I delve into Joseph's story the less I see of the man of God and the more I see of arrogance and self-aggrandizement. "He talked incessantly about himself, what he had done and could do more than other mortals, and remarked that he was 'a giant, physically and mentally.'" Charlotte Haven, "A Girl's Letters from Nauvoo," Overland Monthly, Dec. 1890, p. 623. "I have more to boast of than ever any man had." LDS History of the Church, vol. 7.

Please, all you devout people whom I love as brothers and sisters in the Lord, correct me if I'm wrong. It is not my intent to offend or to hurt anyone. I have spoken with an acquaintance of mine who said simply, "Oh, I don't read any of that stuff; it's all from Satan." My question is, where do we draw the line? When do we seekers stop searching? When what we read offends or frightens us? When we'd rather not believe what we read? When it doesn't fit nicely into our collage of How it Should Be?

It seems that in every case of those called by God, the further along they got in their walk with Him, the more devoted and selfless they became. Not so Joseph Smith. He seems to have forgotten the subject of the message—Jesus Christ—in his involvement with the messenger—Joseph Smith. I wonder if that is not the problem with many of our hierarchy today. Some seem to be scurrying up the ladder, pulling various and sundry groupies, "followers" and admirers along in their wake. What will be there when they reach the top? Will it be Zion? Or will it be just a lonely way station on the road to perdition?

In His love and for His sake


Monday, October 1, 2007

Monday Morning Rant (7)

When I started the Monday Morning Rant it was my intention to get everything that was stuck in my craw out where I could deal with it. I didn’t anticipate a Monday Morning entirely devoid of irritating subject matter. With all the diverse opinion extant in the Restoration who could possibly be at complete peace?

I am! For once in my life I am positively elated by an experience so wonderful, so fulfilling that I just want to shout for joy. It involved meeting with friends from far flung locations with whom we have become aquainted. Do not expect further information about these individuals which would serve to identify them. No, unlike some, we did not meet behind locked doors, in secret. But we share the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ to the exclusion of all the stuff that has been added lately. Telling you their age would serve no purpose since they ranged from 24 to 81. They represented both sexes, some married, some single, but all deeply committed to Jesus Christ.

We met and were finally able to put faces with words and views towards the progress of the Restoration. We prayed together, sang together, shared testimonies, partook in the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, and rejoiced in the oneness that only shared belief can bring. Over arching this meeting was a sense of becoming personally acquainted with some very worthwhile people. I found myself constantly thanking God for the privilege of associating with these folks. The subtleties so often absent in cold words on a page were replaced by interpreting warm smiles, wry grins and an occasional frown to emphasize points of conversation.

We started sharing with one another in the early afternoon and carried on, some of us, until well after midnight. One of the delights was no evident desire on anyone’s part for self-promotion or insistence on some locally stimulated position or belief. The only evident agenda was the promotion of Jesus Christ and His church. I am absolutely convinced that further correspondence with these friends will be greatly enhanced by the experience.

To those who came, especially from long distances, at great inconvenience and personal expense, I offer a hearty thank you. The body was enhanced by your presence and your faith. To the locals who did the grunt work to make sure the arrangements and the planning were in place as hosts, another hearty thank you is called for. The only raised voices heard were either in songs of praise or an effort to enable those of us whose hearing isn’t the best to understand others' words.

We stopped at a branch on the way home to worship with fellow saints and heard a compelling sermon on "Establishing Zion," which seemed an appropriate finish to the weekend.

Come, rejoice with us. The Restored Church of Jesus Christ is alive and well and urgently seeking to do the will of the Master.

In His abiding love,

Jan and Cecil Moon