Saturday, February 9, 2008


A wonderful, faithful friend in Christ sent this to me and I felt the need to share it. I love “Maxine” because of her trademark acerbic, no-nonsense approach to the important issues which face us all as people and especially as Christians. I would pity Satan if he ever came in direct contact with and attempted to influence her.

Do we know Maxine? Fortunately we do. She has had many names over the years. Her first, for me, was Nellie Mae (Burke) Moon. She was my paternal grandmother and lived alone (widowed) on Rainbow Drive between Waterloo and Cedar Falls, Iowa. As the oldest congregant in her church, she had laid more than one cornerstone for each new building project. Since she didn’t drive, she was dependent upon the city bus service to get to church on Sundays and Wednesday evenings.

In the fifties, when automobiles significantly replaced the city bus for most of her neighbors, the municipal powers decided to severely limit the service and exclude Sunday bus service altogether. They had already discontinued the inter-urban trolley which ran behind the property and she felt extremely threatened by further assaults on her only means of getting to church. Her decision was clear.

She went downtown to city hall and found the mayor’s office. She was informed that he was out for a while and might not return for an hour or two. Whereupon, she said she’d wait and went into his office, found a seat, laid her purse and umbrella on the floor and ignored his secretary when she told her she couldn’t do that. They were then faced with the problem of removing a ninety plus-year-old woman who had drawn herself to her full 5’1” height and was armed with an umbrella. Wisely, they decided to let the mayor deal with it.

When he “returned” in far less than the predicted hour or two, he was faced with a very determined constituent. She carefully explained the projected hardship the discontinuance of bus service would entail for her and her beloved neighbors on Rainbow Drive. It is reported that he attempted to explain the fiscal aspects of bus service but found no sympathetic ear. In wisdom, rare for any politician, he agreed to influence the council to rethink the changes. For lack of a more substantive argument, I attribute his change of heart to an act of Christian charity and not the presence of the ever threatening umbrella.

She was a “piece of work.” As a child I was privileged to be a frequent visitor and experience a woman who had an unequivocal love of the Savior. We used to describe such people as “salty.” Her King James Bible, worn, stained, and falling from its bindings was her constant companion. A physical connection to the Lord, Jesus Christ, it was always near at hand. Humor, caring, and wit were gifts she readily acknowledged and shared with others. Even as a child I had no question about where she stood regarding her precious Redeemer. He was her all. I freely admit that her influence and constant testimony were and continue to be a constant example to me.

As I visit my own and other congregations, I can easily see “Maxine” in the pews. Their ministry, since it often has an influence beyond even the priesthood, has a profound affect on the church as a whole. The seeds which they plant, through their faith, love and diligence, grow in the hearts of our youngest to become the strength of the church. May God bless them.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Friday, February 8, 2008

Pride and/or Prejudice?

Note: How quickly news becomes old. Since the writing of this post our token Mormon has dropped out of the race. The observations are still relevant.

As the old line goes, “it’s a fine mess you’ve got us in now Ollie.” After Super Tuesday I can only conclude that the pride and arrogance of politicians and the barely hidden prejudices of the American voters has risen to the top.

Obviously I am disappointed that the Democrat race has turned into a contest of victims. The choice is between Hillary, the helpless, abused wife who wears her emotions on her sleeve versus the poor downtrodden black, Obama, with grandiose schemes and little experience. This picture could not be farther from the truth. These two are both cunning politicos in their own right and perfectly capable of processing an acceptable campaign. The aides and advisors in both camps are running into themselves with polls, demographic charts and new ads to entice the ignorant voters. For the "great unwashed” at least they only present a choice of two so that in depth knowledge of candidates and policy is unnecessary. The greatest advantage of having half the states in some sort of state of declaration is that they have winnowed the field to the apparent finalists. Now the choice can be made on the basis of individual voter prejudice.

The Republicans can now sit back and watch the donkeys self-destruct over a victim oriented struggle and reap the rewards. Not so fast! On the contrary, their struggle has an even deeper meaning. In the lead is a bona-fide military hero with an assertive attitude toward the Middle-East and in possession of very little else outlined in the party platform. Following close behind are two guys who want to re-visit Nauvoo, an overlap of faith and politics of classic proportions. Both profess to be Christians and question the motives of each.

As a Book of Mormon believer, I view all of these folks with a measure of disgust – both Democrat and Republican. On the one hand, the Democrats reach into the depth of the souls of the voters to reawaken old grudges and raw prejudice. Neither candidate should accurately be seen as typical of the “class” they represent. Obama is in no way representative of the oppressed black which is popularly paraded as disadvantaged. Born in Hawaii and raised a Muslim in a foreign country, he enjoyed a privileged education here and, for his age, a measure of success in Illinois and national politics. No one in his background picked cotton or felt the sting of a lash. As an example of an oppressed minority he is sadly lacking.

His counterpart, the woman from Illinois—or is it Arkansas?— or possibly New York?— is not coming at you, shyly wiping her hands on an apron and brushing away the tears which are a result of a lifetime of toil raising kids and meeting a household budget. Quite the contrary, she started as a socialist activist Yale graduate who helped to engineer the defeat of the West in Viet Nam. She later participated in the duplicitous Watergate prosecution and the rest is all too well known to those who care to admit knowledge of it.

For both, I guarantee their every action will have an undercurrent of race and gender which will permeate the ensuing campaign. For those of us who know and understand them, it will be a sickening performance.

Ah, you say, he’s obviously a Republican. You are sadly mistaken if you think I would ignore the elephant in the room. With the Democrats, it’s a misdirected struggle for raw power. With the Republicans, it’s worse. At the second tier level (McCain appears to have far more votes) Romney and Huckabee are concentrating on convincing the electorate that they alone have the “ear of God.” The abject hatred of everything “Mormon” is more than evident in a quick glance at the polling results. Granted, the Brighamites have supplied plenty of ammunition for the opposition. They offer a wealth of “cheap shot” opportunities. Interestingly, I have attempted to determine which priesthood office Romney holds with no success. Could an elder afford to take the time to run for president?

This conflict between Mormons and "gentiles" is not anything new. Although publicly denied, it is ever present. An attitude of distrust and disdain lurks barely below the surface when ever the two come in close contact. Having been involved with both, I can assure you that although my choice is clear, there is no measure of perfection in either group. I’ll not be casting the first stone and neither should my brothers. If both groups would place the interests of Jesus Christ at the forefront, they could form an unstoppable coalition. Old prides die hard and I predict that this will not (never?) happen.

My only comment about the alleged top of the Republican ticket is an accusation of hypocrisy. To claim affiliation with the likes of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Reagan and have socially liberal views on a par with John McCain defines the word. I will admit his activities during the Viet Nam conflict and his behavior was exemplary. However, is it more valid than experience as a “hell, fire and brimstone governor”, a “poor black child” and an “I’m not running for Pope,” or any of the other flimsy excuses being proffered for support?

So what do we do, stay home on Election Day? Absolutely not. We pray, and pray some more and do not listen to what is being said and reported. We investigate for ourselves. When we read some tidbit that excites us we then check and recheck and verify the source and make reasoned decisions based on personally acquired knowledge rather than accepting that which is being spoon fed. As in so many issues we face daily, we are only benefited by informed decisions. If we fail to do that we will fail to contribute to the condition of our society and reap the rewards we deserve. We may find ourselves backing the “lesser of evils” and if that is God’s will, then so be it.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Non-critical Adulation

I am grateful to the Wall Street Journal for providing a daily offering from their editorial pages in my email inbox daily. Edward Larson had recently written a new book about the election of 1800 and shared it with George Bush who has become an avaricious history buff. Apparently, the president enjoyed it and found the Pulitzer Prize winning author’s observations informative. If you read the essay, you will find interesting comparisons between our current political parties and their attitudes about their respective histories.

A phrase in the closing paragraphs caught my attention; “non-critical adulation.” All too often, we take a cursory view of popularly held historical concepts and ignore less acceptable views. Views which might diminish our whole evaluation of a noted figure are swept aside to elevate his character and importance. In politics, it is all too common to assign near-sainthood to an historical personage who may well have some unpleasant baggage in his closet. In that regard, follow the above link for examples.

I would suggest that we are also often inclined to assign non-critical adulation to various prominent individuals in the scriptures and church history as well. It is lazy to cherry pick remarkable accomplishments to the exclusion of demonstrable evidence of the frailties of man. Through self-admission, we have confirmation of the weakness of those who are presented as doing God’s bidding through the ages. The Almighty frequently choose men from the available pool of talent who had shown lapses of character, unsavory pasts, or were possessed of physical defects. Once chosen, they were not only faced with the, mostly difficult, task of carrying out the divine plan but also overcoming their limitations as men. Regular readers I assume can fill in the names (Peter, Paul, Moses, Joseph etc.) and recognize this truth.

Almighty, infinite, unique, all-powerful, perfect, and endless are just some of the words we use to describe our Savior. None of these words are appropriate in any description of any man at any time. Sainthood is one thing but deification is quite another. My personal belief is that God chooses incomplete men to do his mighty works as an example to all of us of our potential. Repentance frees us then to continue to support Him, love Him, and ultimately bring about with His assistance the Zionic condition we seek.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

One Day at a Time

We have spoken on these pages previously about the business of battling alcoholism. It is a battle. We don’t just decide one morning that twenty years of drinking should stop. Short of a compelling reason, that will never take place. Trust me, after twenty seven years in Alcoholics Anonymous as a recoveree and then as a sponsor and active in counseling it is apparent you don’t just quit. You absolutely have to see the need. There is a reason why every person who attends the AA meetings introduces himself saying, “Hi I’m XXXX, and I’m an alcoholic. If one cannot recognize that he has the disease, it’s impossible to treat. I can’t think of any other malady in which recovery starts when the sufferer accurately speaks its name. Oh that we could cure a toothache or cancer simply by stating the name and understanding the truth of it.

Even assigning the name alone doesn’t do the job. It simply provides the logical starting point. We use many devices in AA to help the sufferer. The first and most widely known technique is providing thousands of meetings every day in every city and town across the country. They are tailored for every possible taste. In cities you can find one for smokers, nonsmokers, blacks, Hispanics, women only, stags, gays and lesbians, and just about any other demographic category you can dream up. Your lifestyle will not be restricted for lack of choice. When I first came to the program, I was traveling full time and was still able to make at least one meeting every single day for the first year.

People who are serious about recovery soon come to look forward to the meetings and welcome the association with others who seek to recover. They provide a venue where every one in the room has the same affliction. There you do not associate with paid professional counselors and therapists. Instead, you are with the “been there, done that” crowd who actually can relate to whatever your problems are. They all, from the heart, wish you success and understand what you are going through. One of the saddest moments in any meeting is when a regular is missing and a friend suggests he heard that he had decided to go practice drinking a little more.

In a meeting room, in a church basement, Legion hall, high school, home, bank board room, community center, fire station, park shelter, Hilton banquet room, break room at a grocery store, AA Club, armory, homeless shelter, city hall extra room, detox, or jail – to mention a few sites where I have attended meetings – there are several typical features. There is a printed poster with the Twelve Steps, a coffee pot, endless framed mottos and the Big Book.

All of these are important, but for space economy, I will elaborate here only on a few of the mottos. “Let Go And Let God” is one of my personal favorites. Once one realizes that his attempt to run his life has resulted in the loss of family, job, liberty, finances and self-respect he is encouraged to find the One who can help. It is an absolute necessity for recovery.

“Easy Does It” calls for the recoveree to shun extremes. Reaction to every aspect of life is typical Alcoholic behavior. Actually, over-reaction is more typical. Anger, jealously, rage, control and possessiveness are the traits which rise to top with unfortunate frequency.

“Live and Let Live” removes the alcoholic from the responsibility of running the world. He has learned that God can and will do everything so he can kick back and relax and concentrate on recovery. The second part stresses the importance of others enjoying their freedom as well.

“One Day at A Time” represents one of the very most important concepts of recovery. As a mechanical device (as opposed to spiritual) it renders the entire program to a manageable level. Many newcomers are hauled up short by the idea that they will never ever drink again. This is an absolute necessity for continued recovery. Tapering off is out of the question. To attempt to see one’s entire life affected by a decision made today is alien to the most logical thinker. To be successful, the program has to be reduced to a manageable time interval.

The only time period which concerns the alcoholic is the interval between the end of today’s meeting and the beginning of the next one. Anyone can stay sober for twenty four hours, can’t they? It may not be easy but it’s doable. No one is ever challenged to stay dry in excess of one day. That day is today and tomorrow will be dealt with when it gets here.

Recoverees are recipients of minor rewards for intervals of sobriety. The newcomer gets a “24 hour” chip at his first meeting. He is encouraged to note the time and date of his last drink – if he can remember it. At thirty days he is acknowledged again for his diligence. More chips come forth as the milestones of ninety days, six months, and nine months pass. These are handed out to much applause and congratulations as the 24 hour periods pile up. The mere presence of the chip (about the size of poker chip) in pocket or purse is there as a constant reminder. Then, a golden day arrives and he is presented with a gorgeous brass chip which designates his first complete year. It is his first “birthday” and is accompanied by much fanfare, a cake, back slapping and general recognition of a job well done. Each anniversary thereafter is given equal importance and excitement. I carry one each and every day. Sunday suit or overalls, it is always with me to remind me of the foolishness in which I once indulged. My current chip has this number in raised roman numerals, XXVII. It is “mine Eben-ezer” which I raised at that point where I decided to bring God into my life to run the show.

So why bring this up now? The years are important but not nearly as significant as the twenty-four hour aspect of the program. This week I will reach a milestone for which there is no chip. There is no cake. There will be no applause. But, it means nearly everything to me. I will have been sober for 10,000 consecutive twenty four periods. With the help of God and this program, I will continue to not drink today. I’ll deal with tomorrow when it gets here.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, February 4, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 23

This is as a good a place as any to register my complaint. Nobody cares anyway. I am sick to death of listening to people butcher the Star Spangled Banner. A beautiful young woman with an absolutely fabulous voice is led to improvise America’s most beloved anthem and run it right straight into the ground. That’s why I only lasted ten to fifteen seconds on the Super Bowl before I turned back to the “Puppy Bowl.”

What is it compels people to attempt to improve on this sacred song? I realize it is a hard piece of music. Lord knows, I have played it enough (trumpet) and sung it enough over the years to realize that. The range is atrocious and the intervals challenging but that’s why musicians practice. As a limited range baritone I can fully appreciate the difficulty but I have always found the subject inspired me to exceed my capabilities.

It seems to be part of a trend in music today. The artists either dumb it down to monotonous repetition or jazz it up with improvisation and unwritten octave jumps. People, please, give some measure of honor to the composer and his intentions. Yes, I know it is adapted from an Old English drinking song but that is no excuse to dishonor the piece. Back in my drinking days (twenty seven years ago) I heard better renditions of the National Anthem at piano bars than I hear preceding today’s sporting events and occasions of state.

Please, give us all a break and just sing the song!
I heard it suggested in Sunday school yesterday that ministry and teaching should be restricted to the priesthood. That would be ideal in a perfect world with an elder on every corner. While the assertion was correct within the context it was given (Ephesians 4:11) it continues on for the next couple of chapters to make understood what the responsibilities are for the body of believers. While I registered no protest vocally – I was a guest after all – I did feel it diminished the importance of every saint, regardless of office, to witness and share the gospel as he felt led. Ed. note: Where in this passage does it refer to "priesthood?" He's talking to believers.

If we are indeed Christians, is it not our responsibility to advertise it by our behavior and our testimony? We of the Restored Church are part of one of the very smallest of religious bodies extant. How many times must we be commanded to share the good news? We can not long survive as an exclusive little clique. Have we ever missed an opportunity to reveal our affiliation with a co-worker? Does your barber or beautician know you actually belong to a body of believers? How about the folks you golf, bowl, run, or workout with? We are not in a private “lodge” with a super secret hand shake. We need to share our acquaintance with a very powerful Friend.

As I looked at the make-up of the Sunday school class, I decided from their average age, probably close to seventy, that we were ill advised to accept the premise that only the priesthood should evangelize. Later at the communion service I took another look and decided that the average had dropped to probably sixty-five. This is a recipe for the utter disappearance of the church. Although it sometimes seems the scriptures are full of do’s and don’ts; a more care reading reveals they are also full of “go and do’s.” Come on, people, go now and testify of the wonders of Jesus Christ. Let the credentials come when they will; God will share that news with you.
After I got bored with the Giants and the Patriots, I took my own recommendation and tuned in to the Puppy Bowl. Enjoying the totally natural, non-scripted enthusiasm of the puppies provided an uplift of incomparable proportions.

Yes, I am a sucker for mutts. My bride is even worse. Every stray she sees automatically becomes “ours.” I don my best stern face and say no. She then says something about how they will starve or worse, die of thirst – never mind the Spring River runs less than half a mile from our house. I continue my protest with the full realization that it is a waste of breath. As you may know, after the disaster of Katrina, she went to Slidell, Louisiana with Noah’s Wish to help with the animal rescue efforts there. She returned after a couple, three weeks with the conflicting disappointment with the people who abandoned their pets and exhilaration for the caring workers who volunteered their time and treasure to help them out.

We are charged with the care of all of God’s creatures. Having dominion over them is no excuse to abuse them in any way. This includes leaving them un-neutered. Yes, it costs a few bucks but it contributes to a saner level of pet population and responsibility. I guarantee they will demonstrate more love for you than you can possibly muster for them.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon