The Deed Is Done

Rusty - April 29, 2005

It’s done.

I gave my thesis presentation today. I think it went really well. Now starts the decompression (and sleep). I have some ideas that I’ve been wanting to blog about but haven’t had the time to commit them to… the screen. But that will happen later. I’m going to bed.

What If We’ve All Been Deceived?

Rusty - April 26, 2005

I’ve read many comments inside, but mostly outside of the Bloggernacle about how wrong Mormons are and how we’ve been deceived. These comments are usually laundry lists full of vitriol spelling out how wrong our doctrine is and that Joseph Smith was a liar. This is fine, as I have nothing wrong with people expressing their opinions. However, this has lead me to think to myself, “What if none of this is true? What if Joseph Smith was a liar? Wouldn’t I be sorry to find out how I’ve been deceived my whole life?”

No, not really.

Sure I’d be upset that I’d been lied to, no doubt. And yeah it would have been nice to have been able to drink wine occasionally, and sure I could have used that extra 10% of income I gave away, but those are small sacrifices really. If my lifelong quest is to become a better person, the LDS Church does that better than any other institution on earth. Because of it I am more humble, more full of love, more interested in others, more open-minded, more disciplined, more willing to sacrifice and have a better life-perspective than if it were not a part of my life.

These comments often suggest I’m living in Plato’s cave and if I could only see the light I’d be much happier. Well, I’m sorry, but drinking a little wine and having uncommitted sex aren’t at the top of my list of “ways to gain joy in life” so until you can add to that list, I’m sticking with the Mormons.

WWPS?

Rusty - April 19, 2005

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about a certain cultural commandment we have in the Church. She tried to conclude the discussion by asking, “Do you believe that if you asked the Prophet whether or not you should do X, he would say yes?” I was therefore supposed to assume he would say no (which was the answer she was trying to get me to admit to). She was offering a litmus test for all of our actions: What would the Prophet say?

Um… nothing. He hasn’t said anything and that’s the reason we were having the conversation in the first place! I suspect he didn’t say anything on purpose. What seems to be the better solution is to ask what the Evangelicals ask, “WWJD?” (“What would Jesus do?) Why speculate on the Prophet’s answer when you can speculate on Christ’s?

Bits o’ Wisdom From The Great Elder Clifton

Rusty - April 17, 2005

For this project I’m working on I was shuffling through a bunch of my old mission notebooks and I came across a little Libreta El Quijote I had forgotten about. At some point on the mission I decided to write down every somewhat profound thought that came into my head. What follows is a little sampling:

- Through time we can understand “why” God gives us certain commandments, but those reasons shouldn’t ever be the primary reason for obeying them. The primary reason should always be to obey God.

- More important that knowing more doctrine is living what we know.

- One reason we don’t help or give service is because we think they can get along fine without our help.

- We are here (on the mission) to help people recognize the Holy Ghost, including ourselves.

- [President] The majority of doctrine is not found in the scriptures but rather from the Holy Ghost.

- If we ask for mercy in prayer, why don’t we ask for mercy for other people instead of justice?

- As missionaries we don’t inherently have the right for people to listen to us and care, we have to earn it.

- There is NO advantage in being a realist if we are expecting miracles.

- As sons of God we have rights.

- When someone appears the maddest, it could be that they are the saddest.

- Why does it matter that we are LDS if we’re not different (fruits) to the community?

- God doesn’t reward us for the convenient things we do, but rather rewards us for the inconvenient ones.

- If the gospel doesn’t produce happiness in our lives then there is something wrong.

- When you have covenanted with the Lord the only answer is “yes.”

- [Elder Bradford] Spirituality is measured by what we’re thinking about during the Sacrament.

-We should pray to be instruments in the Lord’s hands and look for the opportunities to help bring to pass His will.

- God lifts us to His level, we don’t bring Him down to ours.

-The blessing of missionary work is being instruments, not baptisms (Alma 26:3)

- We go on the mission to learn how to be a good member. We go home to be one.

- I know more, am I doing more?

Okay, I know, some of these are a bit trite, some are a bit obvious, and some are kinda off the mark, but after reviewing them again (it’s been like six years) I found a few of them to be quite nice.

Anyone else write their most profound thoughts down?

Utah Drivers

Don - April 14, 2005

It never ceases to amaze me, everytime I visit Utah I notice how bad Utah drivers are!

It was a joke when I attended BYU…quite a few years ago.

I own a business in Utah and go there every month or so. It’s still the same. Utah drivers are still terrible. They don’t know what the speed limit is, they change lanes whenever without a signal, they follow too close and they cut you off!

Is this behavior something they are taught in driving school? Is it something they learned from their parents?

You would think that in Utah of all places the drivers would be the most law abiding, the most polite – courteous drivers in the country. Just the opposite seems to be true.

Am I unique here, or have others found this to be true?

Wanna See Where I Live?

Rusty - April 8, 2005

Just for the heck of it, I thought I’d take you on a short tour of my life:

(Spokane, Washington) The house I grew up in. I was there till I went to Ricks.
(Rexburg, Idaho) I was at Ricks College for one year. Lived in Applewood (the ones that burned in 1996).
(San Sebastian, Retahuleu, Guatemala) My first area of my mission.
(Hunapu, Escuintla, Guatemala) Second area of the mission.
(Chimaltenango, Guatemala) Third area.
(Monte Maria, Guatemala City, Guatemala) Last area.
(Provo, Utah) Single life at BYU living in The Riviera.
(Mt. Timp temple, American Fork, Utah) This is where I got married.
(Provo, Utah) The three places we lived as a married couple in Provo while finishing up undergrad.
(Inwood, New York City, New York) This is where we lived during my internship. It’s the northern tip of Manhattan island.
(Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York) Our first permanent apartment in Brooklyn, on 3rd Street.
(Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York) Our first home (to own). Our current residence, on Fiske Place.

You may now exit at the back of the bus and thank you for riding the MTA.

Betchya Can’t Guess What This Post Is About

Rusty - April 4, 2005

Today being the final game of the NCAA basketball tournament, I can’t help but wonder if President Hinckley’s recent remarks about gambling are relevant. I usually put down $5-10 in a pot (to make the tournament interesting, otherwise, it’s a long McDonald’s commercial). President Hinckley even went so far as to say (paraphrase), “I pay $5 to see a movie, I pay $5 to play poker. What’s the difference? They are not the same thing. The difference is that in poker you do not receive value in return.”

I sometimes get frustrated when the general authorities get into the specifics, rather than the principles. Don’t get me wrong, I fully condemn gambling as a principle. But what about the gray area? (I will now plaigerize myself from a comment I made here) Does this mean that I can no longer put $5 down on the NCAA Tourney? How about just betting someone $5 that their boss will yell by the end of the day? What about just betting the last slice of pizza that you’ll make this free-throw? What about just betting (for nothing) that you can jump higher than him? This sounds like I’m joking, but I’m not. And I’m not even playing the “a-lot-of-people-can-handle-gambling-without-getting-addicted” card (pun intended) that I suspect many people felt after the prophet’s discourse. Mine is not a question of “can I get away with it and still be righteous?” but rather “now that you’ve seemingly defined some a few lines, what about the rest?”.

President Hinckley’s fundamental objection to gambling (it does not offer a fair return in goods and services) is part of my problem. I find the entertainment of sitting around the table playing blackjack for quarters and dimes a VERY fair return. Whether it’s round pieces of metal or round pieces of metal traded in for little pieces of refined sugar which is then used as the currency for the game, it’s all the same to me. I understand he’s speaking about this because there are many out there who have a problem with it and it’s apparently ruining lives, but I’m a bit frustrated that I now need to question myself every time I say, “I betchya…” because a bunch of guys can’t get enough of Wendover.

Where does everyone else stand on this? I’d be interested to know if President Hinckley’s remarks have made enough of an impression that you will change your actions (no more penny-poker night with my pals, no more NCAA tournament, no more lottery tickets, etc.)