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Showing posts from July, 2010

"Saviors On Mount Zion" Are Not Just For Temple Work

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I've often thought of the term "Saviors on Mount Zion" as referring exclusively to the kind of service that Latter-day Saints provide to our kindred dead in LDS temples. What I've discovered, though, is that temple service helps us to recognize the obligation to save people in need who are not dead, but who are instead living all around us.

American Exceptionalism - Myopic History = Oops!

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I believe that America is an exceptionally good nation, but not more exceptionally good than it really is.  Bad American history turns America into an airbrushed supermodel--exaggerating its virtues and even inventing quite a few. One of the latest airbrushings is the somewhat unfortunate book Seven Miracles that Saved America, which, among other things, displays a profound misunderstanding of the damage that United States foreign policy has done to the world.

Iraq and Wicked Israelite Kings--A Parallel

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Good leaders serve the people.  Bad leaders oppress them.  This concept was reinforced for me today as we read about an oppressive Israelite king in our Sunday School class.  It struck home when I realized that the Israelite king had an unfortunate modern-day parallel--the American oppression of Iraq, a problem which has only recently begun to be fixed.

The Essence of True Patriotism

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After having served in the military in a war that I think we shouldn't have been involved in, it seems to me that patriotism in the United States has become synonymous with a strong military. This bothers me.  Patriotism is not about empire.  Although patriotism is about love of country, it does not think it's better than someone else. Although it possesses national pride, it recognizes and rectifies national faults. True patriotism is not ethnocentric; rather, it welcomes and celebrates all nations and cultures. It does not dominate. Instead, it sets an example of goodness that is worthy of emulation.

Is Hell Really That Hot?

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A staple of the Christian religious tradition is that hell is a physical place where the guilty are tormented by unending fire. Interestingly, the Islamic concept of hell is very similar. Both Christianity and Islam seem to imply that hordes of the dead will occupy this inferno. Where did we get these ideas? Are they true?

Why Big Business Loves Government Regulation

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Basic government regulation is good. It sets forth good social order for such things as the punishment of crime. It ensures that life is fair. Much government regulation, however, is not fair. This kind of regulation involves minutiae written into law by government at the express request of their friends in big business. As you can imagine, this kind of regulation is expressly intended to benefit those big corporations that asked for (and often wrote) the regulation in the first place.

My Surprise Church Talk on 4th of July Patriotism

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If patriotism means supporting one's government, then it's not always right to be patriotic.

Our LDS priesthood lesson, about the sacrifices of the Founding Fathers, got over a bit early. One of my friends in the group noted that I had been with the United States military in Iraq and suggested that it would be enjoyable to hear my testimony. I don't think they were quite prepared for what they heard, but several came up to me after the meeting and said that it was exactly what they needed to hear. Here is the essence of what I told them.

It's Not So Hard to be a Friend

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I stopped by to see a friend the other day. I didn't get to see her, because she was still trying to catch up on her sleep before she went back to work on the graveyard shift. It turns out that it it hadn't been one of her betters days, but, fortunately, she's having more and more good days these days.

Yesterday as I drove by her house, I saw her sitting on the front porch with her son and grandson, so I stopped to say hi. She seems to have a little more bounce in her step now. I told her that she seems like she's smiling a lot more lately.  She said that indeed she is.