Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Clash of Cultures

Our nation is a polyglot of cultures, religions, attitudes and other unique characteristics. Our history is replete with men and women whose individuality and independent nature forged a country far different from their homelands. Since they were not encumbered by kings and despotic rulers they were free to exercise their talents to the fullest. With no authority to provide for them, they developed a measure of self-reliance to provide that which had formerly been directed by the state. Given the God inspired government they formed here to guarantee liberty, they carried their self-reliance into their daily lives in every way. It was inevitable that they would also carry it into the conduct of their faith.

Pursuit of their concept of God was a prime mover in populating the nation. Many had suffered the tyranny of a state religion and longed to be free of those prohibitive chains on their faith. We have enjoyed our religious freedoms for so many generations we may have grown lax in our understanding of how it separates us from the “old country.”

Even in America, as Latter Day Saints, we are far closer to the realities of religious persecution in our past than most other church bodies. Certainly, others have suffered from time to time, but few have equaled the pressures the Saints felt through the middle decades of the nineteenth century. Our predecessors in the faith were not shy about professing their beliefs. Our ancestors, lacking our communication and information retention capacity, did an astonishing job, with God’s help, preserving the Holy word. There were occasions however, when the Saints had to deal with unruly mobs and fleeing members of the hierarchy, that retention of the exactitude of various pronouncements came out muddled or in some case, probably inaccurate. The original pages of the Book of Commandments were mostly rescued from the middle of the street.

They did the best they could with what they had, and persevered. The inherited grit which they gained from their predecessors coupled with their ability to deal with their own everyday hardships produced some very rugged individuals. As we look at today’s peoples in the church, we find some very strong traits which must be a result of that gene pool. These folks, when seen in person, don’t much resemble Clint Eastwood or John Wayne, but do when they express themselves. It is my privilege to know some of these people and I rejoice in the opportunity.

When they see their beloved church falling before the onslaught of political correctness and the perceived need of reconciliation, they rise up and call for common sense. They rebel at the notion that the appointed leaders should have the right to silence their objections to doctrinal interpretation in any way. When they seek guidance from above, it is from God and not a collection of functionaries in Independence. They do not prosper well in an atmosphere of false accusations and trumped up charges. Their primary tool is reason. Their weapon of choice is always truth.

From what source then come those who would have man lead the church instead of Jesus Christ. The claim is always that they are led by the Lord. The behavior speaks differently. Their fear of hearing from the faithful is akin to those in despotic regimes who stifle speech, abridge liberties and demand fealty to the leadership. One can only conclude that a great cloud of deception has fallen over a segment of the priesthood. The countries from which our ancestors came have fallen to a point well past agnosticism. They find our faith quaint and fail to understand the relationship between our God given form of government and the success of the nation. Their principal export is the social drivel which would be disastrous for our country and our church.

Our faith is a gift from God. Our entire belief system comes from the Almighty. Any lack of resistance to those who would usurp His will constitutes endorsement of the destruction of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ. Modern theologians decry any black and white evaluations and have allowed our concept of Christ and His church to diminish to a murky gray. Christ’s message is lengthy but clear. Without study and prayer the words can seem mysterious. Critics are always with us to derail any attempt to reason. But, the absolute fact remains, that Jesus Christ is the head of this church and as the scriptures clearly relate, He will continue to be regardless of the activity of foolish men.

Let us then rejoice that there are those among us who are possessed of reason. Let us give thanks to our Father that they are willing to endure the slings and arrows from the hierarchy to seek the will of the Lord. Let us support those who do not promote the church as a social experiment but rather as a means to define and achieve the ends our Savior proposes. Let us realize that a culture of individualism under the direction of and with the able assistance of our heavenly Master will produce the Zion we all seek.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Season of Thanks

After writing yesterday’s post, I continued to dwell on the reasons I have to give thanks to God. In the course of checking the postings—yes we do actually edit—I noticed the counter had logged over 3300 readers since its installation on July 24. Given the highly limited size of the audience and the narrow limits of the appeal of what is written here, Jan and I have cause to thank each and every one of you for your interest and occasional participation. You have provided encouragement and provocative thought as members of the Zion Beckons family. We give you the special thanks you deserve and praise God for your activity.

We have also shared some intimate details about ourselves and our families. Of course we treasure your acceptance of us—warts and all. Regarding the family matters, you have responded wonderfully to our prayer requests. Since I asked for your prayers for my brother, his condition has improved exponentially. He still has cancer but he is virtually pain free and gradually returning to his normal boisterous self. We will join him and his wife for part of the coming holiday near Chicago. We can hardly wait.

It is a never ending source of amazement to me that the Lord constantly demonstrates His willingness to bend to help us in our every need. We realize we are next to nothing in the grand scale of things but he consistently takes the time and trouble to bail us out. I am ashamed to say, He provides far more than we can ever give in return. Since it is not a “zero sum game,” we should gracefully accept His benevolence and rejoice in His love.

We associate with a group of other Saints who exchange messages about God working in their lives. Like all of us, they are subject to human physical breakdown and other difficulties. The testimonies of His activity in their affairs are a perpetual source of strength for all of us. The most significant aspect of their relationship is their willingness to turn the conduct of their existence over to the care and keeping of their Heavenly Father. I thank God for His interest, healing and encouragement in all our lives.

I am fully aware that “thanksgiving” should not be reduced to a seasonal occurrence. Given what we have all received; it should be a matter of constant concern. However, I appreciate that an annual event does bring a special reminder to us individually and as an historical point to ponder. Coming, as it does, just before the Christmas season, it serves as a focal point of preparation to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Considering the nature of the secular world, it’s possible I feel closer to Him in this season than I do surrounded by red nosed reindeer, gaudy lighting displays and the other trappings of commercial appeal. I may actually be turning into the Grinch.

My exploding Christmas list of grandchildren prevents me from ignoring the commercial holiday altogether. It started out as a clothing item and a toy for each. This has now been reduced to a toy each for those under ten and a personally selected article of clothing. We do not exchange gifts with adults. I felt I could not face one more daintily wrapped beribboned package of myrrh. Since I now have developed somewhat of a reputation for picking out stuff for kids—I do it, not Jan—I can’t stop. Oh well, there’s only twenty of them. The point is: once my heart is full of thanks giving, I am then prepared to go out and spread the love around.

Despite the ACLU, historical revisionists, and other killjoys, we still have Thanksgiving as a reminder of the providential nature of God. We can recognize His gifts and appreciate the generosity of others and pay due diligence to the pumpkin pie, cranberries, and, thanks to our good neighbors the Tysons, turkey. As my late stepfather used to say, “Everyone should have as much.”

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday Morning Rant (13)

The seasons have changed, the nights have cooled and the harvest moon is now history. This means the advent of America’s truly unique holiday—Thanksgiving. I say unique because, except for Canada’s watered down version, no other country gives much time to the ritual of Thanksgiving. It is strictly a New World occasion and I welcome it. It is an occasion to take time for reflection on that which stimulates our gratitude.

As Christians, we have no difficulty figuring out the proper Recipient of our outpouring of thanks. God rightfully is the object of our prayers since He has been the provider of all which have come to rely upon and enjoy. Unlike our ancestors, our bare survival is rarely mentioned in our prayers. Our offerings often make more reference to the groaning board at which we sit than appreciation of just keeping alive. Oh certainly we acknowledge the welcome presence of far-flung relation and other visitors and in addition to thanks we pray for their safety in their travels to and from our homes. This is as it should be, since their visit is welcomed and we enjoy seeing the family unit complete. Don’t read any criticism of the holiday in these words even if I express the need to expand our inventory of constant gifts from our Creator.

We, as residents of the United States, are and have been the recipients of the greatest God given document in the world. It is by virtue of the U.S. Constitution and the resulting government system; we can enjoy that which we treasure in our life. We tend to forget that France’s, Germany’s, Italy’s and Spain’s systems of government come nowhere close to equaling our constitution’s durability. In fact, their combined longevity comes no where close to ours. We often make the mistake of considering 1000 year old castles, towers, and bridges in foreign countries as indicators of their political stability. There is no relationship between these artifacts and successful government. Lacking this holy document, and its emphasis on human liberty, they cannot enjoy the nation state status of America.

Issues with a moral focus—drug control, abortion, gay relations, etc.—are ignored in an effort to remove the governing bodies further and further from the governed in ancestral Europe. There would have been no way for Eastern Europe to have suffered forty plus years of the Cold War if their system had been formed by God. Genocide, abuse, and deprivation of human rights are the product of systems not enjoying God’s guiding hand.

This great country is accused of every vile crime in the book but other countries manage to welcome our military to assist in disaster relief whether its source is nature or tin horn dictators. Foreign cemeteries are filled with liberty loving youth from our country who felt the call to liberate the oppressed. My only solace when I think of them is to realize they are now in the bosom of the Lord.

We are constantly reminded by the ACLU and other lunatics of the so called “separation of church and state.” Despite the fact it is nowhere mentioned in the constitution or other statute, they continue the fiction that separation of church and state actually exists. As we read the words of the founding fathers and subsequent leaders we discover a continuing dependence on Almighty God for direction and guidance. During the course of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln gave the flowing prayer to our Heavenly Father.

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
Abraham Lincoln

President Lincoln leaves little else to say. Enjoy the holiday. Enjoy the blessings of liberty. Praise our kind and loving God. Please pass the sweet potatoes.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon