Olive de Toilette

Rusty - November 29, 2004

There is a practice in the church we are very familiar with: anointing with oil for the healing of the sick. This, of course, is done with olive oil. Sometimes.

Someone I know very well (and regular readers of this blog might know as well) recently confused this practice with that of Mary in John 12:3, “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.” This person took the “oil” from the sick person’s husband and poured a couple drops on her head, anointed her, said amen, and the blessing was given by the husband. After the blessing they smelled something that wasn’t olive oil. It turned out that what was now dripping down the back of her head was cologne from a sample vile. It’s under investigation as to why a cologne sample was in the company of the husband’s priesthood cheat-sheet, but that’s beside the point. The question remained whether or not to redo the blessing.

Two questions:

1) Should they have re-blessed her with oil which had been set apart for the healing of the sick? Or was it okay not to because the intent was pure?

2) Do you have any other ordinance (or otherwise) bloopers to report and what did you do in the situation?

Oh, by the way, she’s feeling better.

Pay or Praise?

Don - November 24, 2004

Being a business owner I continually run into problems/challenges. My wife and I own a bridal store. We just completed hiring 3 new employees.

For the first time we used a little different evaluation process which included an application meeting. All the applicants came, filled out the application, took an oral spelling test, gave a 1 minute presentation as to why we should hire them, took a 15 minute “I.Q.” test and answered several other questions on paper for us.

Two of the qestions addressed their pay. One asked how much they needed per hour to come to work for us, the second asked whether they preferred salary based on performance or time on the job. Neither one of these answers were the determining factor for hiring.

Over the years I’ve read or listened to mangement trainers and professionals who expound all the benefits and reasons why praise is better than pay. Give them a title, or give them a new responsibility rather than a pay increase is typical.

We are a small botique, we have two titles – owner and employee. To “motivate” our employees we provide commissions on some items. Does it work?, not very well.

So help me out here – how do we motivate our employee’s – from your point of view, personal experience – not some class theory or book reading crap – but real world, where the rubber meets the road.

My wife and liars

Don - November 18, 2004

My wife hates liars. We just fired an employee who was caught in several lies. My wife can’t stand being lied to.

Here’s my problem. I was talking to another of our employees. She told me that she doesn’t get along well with my wife. So when my wife and I were talking I told her what this employee had said. She reacted to this…or should I say over-reacted to this. I told her it was obvious that I shouldn’t tell her things like this.

That remark then led to the idea of what to tell her and what not to tell her. I said I guess I should keep things from you that may cause you to react, or may have a negative effect on you. She didn’t like that.

….No we aren’t at the point of having to go in for therapy….in fact for her it has long past and not a factor anymore.

For me it begs the question: “What should we hold back from telling people?” and when we do withhold information, or comments then “Is not telling everything….or the ‘whole’ truth…really lying then?” “Is it OK to only tell part of the story to ‘protect’ them from the ‘truth’?” “Where does telling only part of something become a lie, or does it ever become a lie?”

Do you have similar problems with the “truth” and your spouse?

9 disciples go to heaven, or where?

Don - November 15, 2004

As long as I’m going on about the BOM and GD class, here’s something else that got me thinking this week.

In 3Nephi we find that the Savior promises 9 disciples their wish. The wish was that “that we may speedily come unto thee in thy kingdom”. Jesus tells them they are blessed are desiring this and then tells them that after they are 72 years old “ye shall come unto me in my kingdom and with me ye shall find rest.”

Where is this “kingdom”? The Celestial Kingdom won’t exist until after the Millenium, final judgement etc. Is Christ in “His Kingdom” now?, I don’t think so and even if He is, can they go to Him and be with Him as promised? I thought we all go to Paradise or Spirit Prison, not directly to any Kingdom.

Later Mormon tells us that 100 years passed and the disciples of Jesus “had all gone to the paradise of God”. I don’t think the paradise of God is Jesus’ kingdom. Is Jesus in paradise? He visited there to start the work for the dead, but I don’t know of any scriptures that say He’s there, or visits there or goes there to meet the incoming disciples.

So what’s the deal with this whole kingdom thing?

BOM, 200 years of peace, who does the math?

Don -

I’ve always grown up with the idea that right after the savior visited the people in Bountiful, they all lived in peace and righteousness for 200 years.

As has happened many times this year, I find when I’m preparing my G.D. lessons old BOM teachings are not quite correct. It hasn’t been that I’ve been taught wrong, it’s we have quite a number of “mormonisms” that just aren’t really true.

I was preparing my lesson by reading 4th Nephi, a very condensed history where it talks of this time of peace and righteousness. We find there that in the year 201 things start to go bad. That date seems to be the marking date for this 200 years of peace.

Here’s the problem: in vs 18-20 Mormon tells us that it was year 110 and Amos got the records from his father and kept them for 84 years. But vs 20 tells us that a small part of the people revolted from the church and took upon themselves the name of Lamanites. Any time you have a revolt against the church, you’ve got serious problems. And when they take upon themselves the name of the Lamanites again you know they are in rebellion.

To me this would be the time when we should mark as the end of peace and righteousness. When during Amos’ record possession did this happen? I don’t know, if at the first then at year 110, if at the very end then the year 194.

OK, here’s the math. The church is finally established in “all the land” in year 38, Amos at year 110 means 72 years of peace. Or at year 192 then maximum 154 years of peace.

To me, since the first generation had passed away, (all those who physically touched and talked with the Savior) I would tend to think that the revolt came closer to yr. 110 than to 194. That would mean peace for 100+ years not 200.

Maybe I’m being picky and reading into the scriptures more than is there, maybe not. Maybe we take too many “mormonism” at face value without really studying to see if they are true. And if they aren’t true we don’t want to rock the boat, cause a problem, or be seen as some heretic.

My SS class probably thinks I’m all that and more…..good!

A Few Thoughts On Video Games

Rusty - November 11, 2004

After years of anticipation, Halo 2 was finally released this Tuesday. (For those who don’t know what this is, it was one of, if not the most anticipated video game release of all time. It is a “first person shooter” game where you walk around with guns and kill as many aliens as you can.) Across the globe celebrations were held in honor of Master Chief and the Covenant. The minions were truly kooky.

Now I admit, while not chanting the name of Captain Keyes, I, as well, was eager for Tuesday.

A little background:
I grew up with an Atari and a Commodore 64. We were a little late getting a Nintendo, then we had a Sega Genesis, a few PC games and while on my mission the family got a Nintendo 64. Since then me and my brothers both have all had either a Playstation and/or Xbox. The Atari joystick was the best controller for my dad (as it was the least complicated) and he hasn’t caught up since. Therefore, he hasn’t been a huge participator in the family fun that I call “family fun with video games”. However, my brothers and I have maintained a fairly decent rivalry in the video game world (that is, when we are all together). Of course, they always beat me because they have no life and nothing better to do all day. (do you like how I have to verbally abuse them to feel superior to them because they are better gamers than me? I like it, it’s a little game I play called, “being prideful and vindictive”) Me and my brothers-in-law have also had some of our greatest moments together playing games until 2 or 3 in the morning.

These are all precious memories. “Family fun with video games” and “being prideful and vindictive” (which are not mutually exclusive) pretty well sum up my life with video games. However, now I rarely play. Too much school, homework, work, teaching seminary, husband duties, etc. At times I will play with friends or for relaxation, but it’s not a significant part of my life.

The video game industry is enormous. Depending on the source of information, the video game industry has surpassed Hollywood in revenue (I think that’s games/consoles vs. ticket sales). Considering it didn’t exist 30 years ago, it’s size is impressive and will only grow. There have been a few mentions of video games in conference talks and Ensign articles, usually exhorting us to not play them in excess, with special emphasis on young priesthood holders. However, there is little talk about video game addiction. In our culture there is also a lot of talk about how violent games will lead to violent behavior. While I don’t disagree, I think they affect each person differently. I know many people who don’t let video games into their homes (people with and without children). I’m not quite sure the rules I will employ in my home when we have kids, but for now, things are good. I play every once in a while, my wife has no problem with it, and I don’t go out and kill aliens in real life. All is well.

How about you? What rules, habits, experiences, exhortations do any of you have? Please share.

Who Doth Offend Thee?

Rusty - November 8, 2004

About a month ago I wrote a post about a crazy commitment given by a bishop. My take was that the bishop’s council was a bit kooky. In the comments I was called to repentance at least once and no less than three people vowed they would never return. I think they were offended. And frankly, that offends me.

Before I went to BYU I had never been exposed to such large scale offense-taking. The letters to the editor of the Daily Universe opened my eyes to this aspect of Mormon culture I had never been a part of. I often asked myself if the writers were earnest truth-seekers or a hilarious satire fabricated by the editors? As it turns out, they were real. Oh, they were real.

I religiously read Eric Snider’s column, as it regularly invoked wrath (in the form of letters to the editor) from the student body. He wrote a perfect parody of those letters. I became dismayed at how many seemingly normal (uh…) students would get so upset about something that someone else said. If someone else is committing the (apparent) sin, why are you so offended?

This leads me to my first question:

1) Is taking offense a virtue?

Using God as the measuring stick, apparently he constantly gets offended: “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against not is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.” But that doesn’t really answer my question, being something that I couldn’t possibly get offended for. Someone once said that the more like Christ we are, the less offended we get. Hmmmm….

On a blog about obscene conversation, John Fowles recently remarked, “…those things are to be avoided. Partaking in them leads to desensitivity… and causes a general blind-spot or callous to grow in place that could or should be a spiritual barometer (i.e. our speech and thoughts).” I agree that bad speech, thoughts (and actions) are all bad. But is the callous bad if we aren’t doing those bad things? Can’t it actually be advantageous?

An example:

My mom hates the F-word. She’s offended whenever she hears it. She feels that it’s poor communication and incredibly dirty. Me? I don’t even hear it anymore. She’s sad about that. I think I’m better off now that I’m lifted of the burden of being bothered every time I hear it (which is often, I live in Brooklyn). Some would say that I’ve been de-sensitized (or past feeling). They’re right!

Another example:

In my line of work (graphic design) I constantly have to look through photographer’s portfolios. Oftentimes they have nudes. This is unavoidable. However, I might be at a point now that I don’t even notice them any more than any other photo. I’m not “offended” or even stimulated. You could say that I’m past feeling or desensitized. There is a callous there.

Now my second question:

2) Can being desensitized be a virtue?

I’m not going to be able to avoid the F-words here in New York. Neither am I going to be able to avoid the nude photographs. So isn’t it better than I don’t hear the word and don’t feel any sense of lust inside me when I see the photos BETTER than the contrary? Isn’t it better that I have developed a callous there?

Now, I also say that it would be horrible to be desensitized to p0rnography. But of course that is something that I can avoid. So maybe it might be best to say that it’s good to be desensitized to those things over which you have no control, but sensitive to those you control? Is this part of what it means to live in the world and not of it?

Light-mindedness, loud laughter and other such covenants

Don - November 4, 2004

I’m a Mormon (yes I am!) and in being a Mormon, I strongly believe in making and keeping covenants with the Lord. It is one of the foundational doctrines of the church and central to our ability to become like God. Because of this, I take my covenants very seriously.
We make quite a few covenants in this life including the ones mentioned in the title of this post and I do not want to mess them up. The difficult part is knowing where to draw the line when it comes to vague wording such as avoiding loud laughter, light-mindedness, that I never speak guile, or any other unholy or impure practice. How do I know what fits into these categories and what does not?
I ask this question because I live with five other single, 23 year old virgins. One of them is engaged, one has a girlfriend and the rest of us are very single. This type of atmosphere is conducive to a lot of dirty talk and dirty jokes, as well as a growing amount of harsh language.
Part of the problem is a lot of it really is quite funny and easy to feed off of for more laughs, but that does not make it right. These are good, active members who have all served faithful missions for the church who know it is not Christ-like, but there is no incentive strong enough in the church to keep them from continuing; especially in the privacy of their own home. (This kind of ties in Rusty’s post on pornography)
I don’t want to turn this into a debate (much like asking “What’s considered keeping the Sabbath Day holy”) that will be of no good to anyone, but the question begs to be answered. Where is the line drawn?

Who gets the blame or credit?

Don - November 1, 2004

Rather than continuing the comments on the previous blog I think Amy touched on something I have said many times.

“God gets more blame and more credit than He deserves.”