Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lee ... Who?

Let’s think about Lehi. He had dreams and he had visions. He shared those dreams and visions with his wife and children. He also tried to share things God had revealed to him with the people of Jerusalem—and because they didn’t like what he had to say—which sounded a lot like: “REPENT!!”—the people of Jerusalem wanted to kill him.
What was the reaction of his wife and children to his dreams and visions? Skepticism, mostly. Even Nephi, who believed his father’s words, did not just passively accept everything Lehi said. Nephi never said: “Whatever Dad says is good enough for me!” He always went to the Lord for confirmation and further instruction. Laman and Lemuel, of course, thought their father was crazy. And they certainly didn’t believe that God communicated to Lehi—or anyone else—through dreams and visions.
What do you think Lehi’s motive was in sharing his dreams and visions? Did he just want to make people angry? Was his motive to make his family miserable? Or send them on guilt trips? Or embarrass them in the community and with their friends? No. Lehi was motivated by love. Because he loved his family and his neighbors, he warned them of danger. He told them of destruction to come. Only a few people listened and believed. The majority scoffed, made mock of him, and wanted to permanently silence him.
If Lehi lived today, he’d have an even harder time because the scoffers and mockers would post a video on YouTube of a mob laughing him to scorn. The police would arrest him on suspicion of being on hallucinogenic drugs. The electronic and print media would condemn him for his “hate speech” with headlines demanding government intervention. The Hollywood elite would label him “UnAmerican” and a kill-joy. Laman and Lemuel would try to have him declared senile and a danger to himself as well as others and have him put in an institution.
Are there “Lehi’s” among us today? In other words, are there people inspired by God today who are warning us of dangers to us and our families? If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever – which I believe to be true – then He would have to give the world enough “Lehi’s” to sound in every ear.
Who are these Lehi’s? You can probably name some individuals who are obvious modern-day Lehi’s. I would like to suggest that they are numerous. Some of them are Mrs. Lehi’s. Some are young, some are old. One of them could be you.
I believe that being a warning voice like Lehi was is one of the assignments we were given to fulfill on this earth in our day. We are to be warning voices. We should be able to warn our spouse and our children or our parents and our grandparents or our best friend and our neighbors when our eyes or minds are enlightened by the Spirit as to a danger.
And if they come to us with such a warning, we should be humble enough to listen carefully, and to get confirmation from God. Their motivation is love. It is so easy to get offended and to act like Laman and Lemuel: “God made no such thing known unto me—therefore I won’t believe you!” Remember how they refused to listen to Nephi their younger brother because he was younger? They refused to listen to Lehi because it meant an end to their comforts and pleasures. They even became hard-hearted enough that they refused to listen to angels.
Some people will not listen to or learn from a woman, or a younger person, or an old person, or a person with bad grammar. Others have other prejudices. Because of pride, they do not recognize the voice of the Spirit speaking through the voice of someone they are familiar with or feel superior to.
I believe we are expected to be “Lehi’s” and to “stand for truth and righteousness.” At the same time, we are also expected to be like Nephi and Sam, humble and teachable. When the “Lehi’s” among us warn us to depart from Babylon (and I believe that is happening), it is time to hit the road, not make jokes about Lehi’s latest ridiculous over-the-top rant or make excuses for not giving up our favorite Babylonian entertainments.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When I Was A Child

When I was a child, I collected photos of movie stars, carefully clipping them from the newspaper every week, and scotch-taping them into a spiral notebook in lieu of a real scrapbook. I watched every movie that was broadcast on TV, carefully noting how the female stars dressed, wore makeup, coiffed their hair, and how they behaved or treated others.  From the movies I learned about fashion and beauty, love and happily-ever-after, and about exotic, romantic places far from a farm in the middle of America. And, as you might expect, when I was a child, I wanted to grow up to be a movie star.
That was back in the day when most movie stars actually tried to be decent people who wouldn’t shock the old folks back home in Indiana—or in any other place in middle-America—where the traditional values of “Mom, apple pie, and the Fourth of July” were upheld. I especially admired Doris Day with her squeaky-clean, all-American, girl-next-door image. For those of you too young to remember her, as of 2009, Doris Day was the top-ranking female box office star of all time and ranked sixth among the top ten box office performers (male and female) of all time. Surprised? Impressed? Me too!

When things began to change in Hollywood, I was a teenager. The huge scandal with Eddie Fisher divorcing Debbie Reynolds to marry Elizabeth Taylor was a highly disturbing and deeply disappointing tragedy in my view. With all the anguish a thirteen-year-old can feel, I was angry with Eddie Fisher, I lost respect for Elizabeth Taylor, and I felt sorry for and empathized with Debbie Reynolds. I struggled to comprehend how any decent, self-respecting man could justify abandoning his wife and little daughter, even if it was to marry “the most beautiful woman in the world” (that’s what they called Liz Taylor). Carrie Fisher (“Princess Leia”) was age two when Eddie dumped her mother to marry Liz. Before the dust could settle on that disaster, Liz dumped Eddie for Richard Burton. It made your head spin. My movie star icons now seemed indelibly tarnished and unfathomably flawed.

Although my esteem of movie stars in general had been shaken, I continued watching movies in spite of the tarnished and flawed stars in them. When I graduated from high school and was gainfully employed, I saw nearly every movie that came to town in addition to watching the movies being broadcast on TV. As the years passed, I continued to love watching movies of many kinds. (I also continued to be disappointed in movie star lifestyles.)
One of the things I’ve loved about movies is that they create an alternate world that offers a brief escape and respite from the day-to-day reality and cares of this life. If the movie progresses and ends satisfactorily, it can even be therapeutic. Unfortunately, there is also a potential downside. Escapism may become an addiction. Too much time spent in the alternate movie world may render a person unable or unwilling to grapple successfully with the real world. Other “side effects” may occur as well. (I am sure you can supply your own lengthy list of “side effects.”)
I watch relatively few movies these days in contrast to my viewing habits as a younger person. The two major reasons for the change: (1) there are fewer movies that appeal to me, and (2) I have more important things to do.  I am working on articulating further reasons . . . .
Something along the lines of … “putting away childish things” … “not trying to keep one foot in Babylon and one foot in the Kingdom of God … “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God” … .
I think you get the picture.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Speaking of OLD

So the Knight and I went to a flick Saturday night. ...At the Dollar Theater.

I'd heard about the movie when it first came out last fall, and decided then that I might like to see it ...when it eventually came to the Dollar Theater. I am a Bruce Willis fan.

"RED" (retired and extremely dangerous) was billed as an "Action-Comedy." As I watched it, I agreed that it was full of action and comedy. And something more.

I discerned during the first fifteen minutes that it was also a Fantasy.

I figured that out when a small army of gun-toting guys in body armor snuck up on Bruce Willis at 3 a.m. as he slept in his all-American house in his all-American neighborhood. When they opened-up their machine-gun fire on the house, I noticed right away that we had just entered Fantasyland because not one of Bruce's all-American neighbors woke up at the cacophony of World War Three out in the street and phoned 911. As a matter of fact, the guns blasted away long enough, putting a zillion holes in the house, that when Bruce sauntered out the front door, the house collapsed.

It was similar to "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" which was also a Fantasy. I remember seeing it in the theater when it first came out and that the Knight and I were almost the only ones in the theater who were laughing.

Then there was the scene in which Bruce Willis demolishes the entire office of "Mr. Cute Hair" ("Bones" to you Trekies) as he beats up Mr. Cute Hair, and no one in the adjoining offices hears a thing. Fantasy.

Or how about when the old KGB guy scoops up the love of his life (Helen Mirren) and carries her to safety in his arms. Fantasy. I'm afraid that I couldn't help but notice how odd it looked from the back. The camera angle didn't let you see the wheeled prop under her, but realistically the old guy couldn't have done it--even if Helen Mirren had weighed only 50 pounds.

So, I thought "RED" was a funny flick.

The Knight liked the explosions and the action (are you surprised?). The movie was definitely "entertainment."

What I liked best about "RED" was the "message" about old people. It said that old people can do whatever they want to do. Like outsmart the CIA. Like rip-up their pension checks for love. Like beat up people half their age. Like .... oh, yeah ....  more examples of Fantasy.

Ferris: You're still here? It's over. Go home. Go.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Darling I Am Growing Old!

Just got the news from Becky: we are going to be GREAT-GRANDPARENTS!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Resolution Redux

Almost before I posted the previous blog, I was already rethinking and revising my new approach to New Year’s resolutions. While heartily agreeing with the Eyre’s Three Priorities philosophy, I saw right away that I needed to tweak the rest of their suggestions. Their balance points of “family, work, and self” just didn’t quite fit or feel right. For one thing, I don’t “work” or have a career.

However, President Uchtdorf’s October Conference talk, “Of Things that Matter Most,” was particularly helpful to me in selecting basic balance or focus points. Although he divided his priorities into 4 areas, God, Family, Fellowman, and Self, I condensed them into three: God, Others (which includes family and fellowman), and Self. Under those 3 basic priorities, I outlined my basic daily focus points.

The first two weeks of January have now passed. I am still trying to get into the habit of re-reading my priorities page with its focus points early in the day. All too frequently, however, I get launched out of bed and right into taking care of business. When I do stop and take the time to re-read my priorities page and focus points, I feel a sense of calm and purpose. And joy. Joy that I can focus on eternally important things.

I don’t expect Perfection, therefore, I cannot “fail.”

I do anticipate Improvement. In that, I have already had success!