Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cleaning Up the Desk

I have made reference previously to the difficulties my brother, Craig, has faced in his struggle against cancer. The doctors have acknowledged that temporarily they need to alter his treatment regimen. They discontinued the chemo to allow some recovery for the side effects of that treatment. He will have home hospice care in the mean time. I urgently ask for the support of our readers through prayer. I truly believe that God’s intervention is his only hope. He has the bravado and the intestinal fortitude but he will definitely need Divine intervention to defeat this disease. Thank you.
Please do not misunderstand the inclusion of this blog reference. It will give you access to the speech which was given by Gov. Mitt Romney in response to requests for his views on faith and the role of religion in Government. Personally, I have other candidates which I back and hope to see in the oval office. That in no way prevents me from acknowledging the brilliance of his speech and his consequent awareness of the role of the Creator in our government. It would be my prayer that every candidate should share his views.
I printed that entire blog post from the center place board because I tend to give greater importance to words on hard copies than the fleeting images on the computer screen. As I pored over those eighty pages, several messages stood out.

Its overall theme was rigidity. Almost without exception, every poster had an unbending opinion of the truth of his cause. Oh, there was an excess of flowery language which hoped to cloak that rigidity, but, it was there nonetheless. I confess that I am probably guilty as well. While I don’t waste time mixing it up on that particular board, I have some very fixed concepts of my faith and the will of God. Regular readers of this blog are likely nodding their heads right now. My desire is that, in remembrance, I would be described as having a “steadfast faith.” Yes, I am stubborn in my understanding of Jesus Christ and if you choose to sway me on any particular, you’d best come armed with valid scripture and a demonstrable interest in my salvation. Your political interpretations will not be considered valid. In the ensuing conversation, be advised that at the first mention of either diversity or reconciliation my ability to hear ceases.

Toward the end of the postings there seemed to be an onslaught of offerings describing the various associations with social groups to enhance the quality of life for the disadvantaged. They ran the gamut from battered women, addicts, and the homeless, to drunks, wife beaters and the rest of the detritus of society. I make no argument that these people don’t need help but I find it unseemly that anyone would proffer this assistance as evidence of caring and love for humanity. It is a normal part of our obedience to Him. To “do unto the least of these” should be a standard, not an isolated circumstance subject to praise. As an example, in our twenty four years of marriage my spouse has been active in service in all five of the communities in which we have lived. In Houma, LA, Colorado Springs, CO, and Milwaukee, WI, she wrestled drunks at the local detox. Once we moved to Las Vegas, she found Hospice work more to her liking. She continues to serve in assistance to the aged to this day here in the Ozarks. I have never heard her offer this information as a validation of either faith or belief. I am thrilled by the evidence that my brothers and sisters are willing to share their time and talents in the assistance of these folks. I am certain that it does not go unnoticed by God and He is the only witness required. I don’t remember who said it but it is still true; virtue is its own reward.

Last, but definitely not least, is the issue of banning posts and persons from the center place board. This seems to be a highly arbitrary procedure. The copy I worked from provided the deleted posts and persons. I came to one inescapable conclusion; the more orthodox your belief, the more likely you are to be banned. I find this abridgement of liberty reprehensible. I happen to know personally those good and faithful individuals who were banned. I know them to be honest and straightforward. The monitors of the board were unimpressed and banned them anyway. At the same time, I witnessed specious accusations and criticism fall like rain with no interference from the administrators of the board. I saw attacks on Richard Price and Arthur Hawley in clear text contrary to the alleged rules of behavior. This sounds more like a procedure in some tinhorn third world dictatorship than a Christian endeavor. At the conclusion, when the heat became too oppressive, they deleted the entirety of the board. Typical, if you destroy the evidence, then it didn’t happen. Now you know why I don’t post. They would never post the first one.
Well, it looks like the desk is about cleaned up. Don’t worry, I’m sure something else will fall on it and require our mutual attention. Meanwhile, please pray for Craig and others. They all need the help which only God can offer.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

"Brother and Sister Price, Right On!!!"

This is the subject line of a former center place discussion topic which has since been removed. It is the board which contained the strong accusations against the Prices. In the Monday Morning Rant (15) I dealt with those and especially the aspect of the youthful son of one of the critics. I was advised that he was “only nineteen years old.”

A commenter noted the last comment, “don’t send a boy to do a man’s work,” pointing out that among others, David and Joseph Smith, Jr represented God’s use of youngsters to do his work. Not one to question God’s choices of servants to do His will I sought to find out if they were more accurately defined as men or boys.

Let’s take a look at I Samuel 16 (Inspired Version) to get a little background on David. Saul proceeded through the sons of Jesse to locate the one whose heart was with the Lord to anoint. The final choice turned out to be the youngest of the group. When Saul was looking for an excellent harp player a servant suggested David. He was described in verse 18 as follows: “Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him.” Later in I Samuel 17.34-36, while pleading with Saul to represent the Israelites against the champion offered by the Philistines, we read: “And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock. (35) And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth; and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him and slew him. (36) Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.”

Whew! There’s a day’s work. Slaying a lion and a bear at one sitting in chapter 17 seems to validate the assertion in chapter 16 that he was indeed “a man of war.” Being the youngest son does not necessarily mean one remains a child forever. Obviously he was younger than his brothers, but I can’t read this and see a callow youth. When compared to Goliath at 9’6” (six cubits and a span) he would look like a child regardless of his size. Young, yes; but, definitely a man. And, most important, imbued with skills acquired as a shepherd and enhanced by the Spirit of God.

Now, we proceed to Joseph Smith, Jr.. At the rough age of 17 years, 9 months, young Joseph received the announcement of the existence of the plates, the next day he viewed the plates and was told to wait. For whatever reason, it was four years to the day that Joseph was actually permitted to receive the plates. At 21 years, 9 months the work of translating the plates began. The young husband—he had married eight months earlier—had gained experience and maturity and apparently God found him ready. It was three years later in 1830 that the book of Mormon was published and in April, the church organized. Yes, he was young, but surely no longer a child.

Part of the comment I received to the Rant concerned the distribution of papers from older folks that were “utter nonsense.” I certainly agree. Having just re-read the eighty pages of the postings on that board, the evidence is overwhelming that it’s not just younger persons who choose to misunderstand the doctrines, laws and traditions of the church. There are comments there by some seasoned adults which border on the ridiculous.

In the final paragraph of the comment the observation is made that, “Often times those ‘most qualified’ lack certain qualities that the Lord requires to promote His standards (I Cor 1:27-28.)” I can’t imagine that the Lord has any problem evaluating who has the qualities He needs. “Most qualified” is a designation dreamed up by men. The further insinuation is made that the lad’s claims come as a messenger of God to correct me. While I can certainly stand correction on occasion, my experience with God has always been far more direct. He has consistently granted healing, direction and encouragement. These experiences have never been subtle or third hand. I always speak plainly to my Lord and He has always responded in kind. A full reading of Zion Beckons will reveal sin, forgiveness, repentance and, I hope, a sincere effort to be pleasing to God accompanied by an all out effort to do His will. Thankfully, I will only have One Judge.

This is the third time this year that some one from the center place, when faced with comment or inquiry, instead of responding with a logical argument, has questioned my status as a Christian. I noticed, reading the board, that the most popular posture when faced with facts and objections is to plead “hate” on the part of the questioner. Once the allegation of “hate” is established we are treated to a dreary paragraph or two about how much love they have for everyone. People who love don’t describe others as “haters.” They also don’t attack venerable servants who disagree with their opinions with false allegations and invective. I still haven’t seen anything which vaguely resembles an apology to Richard Price for his defamation.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Monday Morning Rant (15)

The “Rant” is the most difficult to compose just after the sacrament service on the first Sunday. I feel closer to Christ, His purposes, His teachings and the example of His life. I always feel more strongly the burden of sin and the desire to shake the remaining vestiges of my former life. The effect on me then is to refrain from being confrontational and to stifle my tendency to immediately retort to that which I don’t believe to be true.

One of the life lessons I have been taught through examination of Christ’s earthly life through the scriptures is His attitude toward false teachings. He confronted them directly, forcefully, and gave them the names they deserved. He was unimpressed by the office or the title of anyone working against His will. His teaching style was one to be admired and should be adopted by our modern educators. If one agreed with the truth he was blessed. Those teaching other than the truth were condemned and shamed. I don’t recall any offering of shades of gray. When doubt remained, He was quick to offer an illustrative parable. The Master was a great teacher but loath to countenance nonsense.

A good (and faithful) friend wrote me recently criticizing one of my posts about the dust up over published allegations against Richard Price. Since it was intended to be private correspondence I shall not reveal the source. This person, with a heart of gold, suggested that youth and lack of experience prompted the unfounded accusations. As a father of five and grandfather of twenty, I am more than familiar with just how stupid kids can be. Had it been one of mine I would have suggested that well known truism that one doesn’t pick fights with people who buy ink by the barrel. Nor does one disrespect a venerable elder with an impeccable history who has performed a generous service as publisher to the church and to its members. Had he been mine, I would have asked myself where I went wrong in his upbringing and made every effort to direct him to more righteous directions.

My friend also pointed to an apology which was printed on the center place discussion board. Since it is controlled by persons with the ability to censor the content and the length of exposure, I am not surprised that the entire posting was deleted. I think the apology would have been better directed to the aggrieved party by snail mail with the permission to publish it in Vision. It was so short-lived I never had a chance to see it, so I don’t know much about it. Again, is there no one to counsel this lad?

My friend also mentioned some other folks and their blogs. The suggestion was made that we are providing a divisive attitude within the body of Saints. It would hurry Zion Beckons to average thirty-five readers a day, so I don’t really see us as much of a force to influence the greater body. Mention was made that we should focus on the things we have in common and the goals we share. I certainly agree as long as that which we have in common, universally, is the love of Jesus Christ and the goal we have is the establishment of His kingdom here and now. I confess that anyone who strays from those criteria is subject to derision on these pages.

One final note on the matter concerns the willingness of a youngster in the faith to evidence such interest. I find that laudable even if I disagree. I assume that he was driven by some inner desire to correct what he felt to be a wrong. I certainly hope no one else would have put him up to it. Surely any adult would realize you don’t send a boy to do a man’s work.
Like any cancer patient, my brother Craig has had his ups and downs. As you know, the treatment can be as cruel as the disease. At the close of the week he suffered a seizure in the doctor’s office, which resulted in re-hospitalization and additional testing. It is very likely I shall travel again to Chicago soon to “help” out. Please continue your prayers as the issue is still in doubt. May God bless you all for your support.
In the midst of our eternal political season I find it difficult not to enter the fray. I had a recent entry on “Thinking”. Although I put a candidate’s name in the punch line I am sure you have figured it out that you can substitute any name you wish. It’s not my wish to intentionally offend.

Speaking of “offend,” have you noticed that a Holy Book now accompanies nearly all the Sunday appearances of the candidates? They all seem to manage a photo-op on the church (temple/cathedral/stake) steps. Generally they are shown gripping the hand of the pastor (monsignor/elder/prelate) and gushing over his timely sermon (homily/message/?) to the flock to which they pretend to belong. One wonders if they didn’t have a driver if they could actually find the church. If you find this question important I guess you’ll have to figure it out for yourself at election time.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon