A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Matthew 5

First of all, you should really just read the entire chapter 5 of the Book of Matthew. I love its lyricism AND its message of peace and love to all mankind. Here are the verses I liked from this reading:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." (Matt 5:21-24)

I liked the "brother or sister" here (it only says brother in the King James Version). To me it just emphasizes our need to love EVERYONE, regardless of gender or condition. These verses also remind me that just because I didn't kill anyone, doesn't mean I am a good Christian (or a good human being, for that matter) - we are expected to live to a higher standard than merely abstaining from homicide. Christ asks each of us to "be reconciled" to each other, even with our shortcomings and imperfections. He asks us to see each other as "brother" and "sister," not strangers or enemies.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Time is Here again

So this Christmas I'm going to do something I did once on my mission: read all four Gospels in the days leading up to Christmas. I'm going to mix it up, however, and instead of reading the King James version of the bible, I'm going to read the New International Version.

So, I'll be posting verses or thoughts related to that on a hopefully semi-regular basis leading up to Christmas. Today's thought comes from Matthew 3:8, where John the Baptist tells the Pharisees, "Produce fruit in keeping with repentence." A common biblical verse is "by their fruits ye shall know them," and I like the thought that we must produce "fruits" (i.e. works and actions in our lives) that KEEP us in repentance. It's a continual thing, not a one-time "I am saved" kind of thing. That's my thought today - Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! I have so much to be grateful for. As I told my roommate this morning, it is good to be alive. I'm grateful for life and its many joys! I have been thinking this Thanksgiving about "giving" being part of Thanksgiving. It's right there in the title of the holiday. Ultimately the best way to be truly thankful is not to be thankful you are somehow better than others, but to GIVE what you've been given. We all have something to give - money, time, talents. When you are thankful, think about what you can do with your blessings to bless others. That's my message to you on this Thanksgiving.

Here's a video from Mormon Messages about Thanksgiving - there are so many things to be thankful for, from mac n cheese to God's beautiful creations.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Don't Know Why

I don't know why, but this song reminds me of Relief Society. I doubt it's going to be added to the hymnbook anytime soon! Still, I think it's a powerful feminist message about how women need to stand up for themselves, and stand with their sisters around the world.

(Sisters are Doin' It For Themselves)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good Compromises

Perhaps I've used this phrase before on this blog: "A Good Compromise Leaves Everybody Unhappy." This is how I felt while reading reports over the past couple days covering President Obama's deficit reduction commission. The proposals had something to offend everyone, it seemed. Conservatives hated letting the Bush tax cuts expire. Liberals despised cuts to spending programs like social security and medicare. The point is, everyone is going to have to meet halfway.

No one (least of all politicians) is right ALL the time. Nor do we live in a world where we can unilaterally force people to agree with us. This necessitates compromise and common sense. That's what disturbed me as I read both sides' reactions to the proposals. No one seemed willing to go out on a limb and do something truly courageous: compromise. We Americans, in our rugged individualism, tend to associate courage only with "taking a stand" and "not giving in." But sometimes the big and courageous decisions are those decisions that are humbly made, acknowledging that neither party is completely right and neither party is completely wrong. Part of this, I think, stems from the enormity of the problem: the deficit is HUGE and growing! It's also from the fact that it's really a FUTURE problem. Politicians don't deal well with long term challenges, in my opinion. And sometimes we, as a public, tend to tune out of the policy nuances and just say: FIX IT (see about the 2 minute mark of the SNL clip below...cracks me up).

So, currently the budget deficit is projected to exceed $1 trillion by 2030. The New York Times has come up with an interactive budget puzzle - you can choose how you would cut spending, raise taxes, or do both to come up with your solution to our budget mess. How would you solve the deficit? Remember - you won't be able to get your proposal through a divided congress unless you use ideas that appeal to both sides!

Don't be part of the problem - be part of the SOLUTION.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Of Wooden Spoons

As has been established, I really love to bake. Today, in order to mix up banana bread, I used a wooden spoon. Now that I live with a roommate who has a Kitchenaid mixer, I hardly ever use wooden spoons. However, I really like it! There is something basic and elemental about a wooden spoon. A wooden spoon really helps get the job done - I love the feeling of whipping up the contents of a bowl of banana bread, a ton of bread dough, or a batch of brownies.

I guess it makes me feel connected to my pioneer ancestors. According to wikipedia, wooden spoons have been used in cooking at least since 250 BC (the entry also contains the helpful definition that a wooden spoon is "a spoon made from wood"). That's pretty awesome that a utensil has endured that long, and still holds a vital place in the modern kitchen.

While there may be no real reason to use a wooden spoon in today's world of modern conveniences, I feel like a wooden spoon is a good example of the kind of "ordinary" Latter-day Saint that makes the church work. We may look ordinary and feel run-of-the-mill, but when you really want to get a job done, there is nothing more sturdy and hardy. Latter-day Saints, when working with the Spirit of God, can accomplish miracles (in this analogy, we'll have to assume delicious banana bread is a miracle). I know that God has enough power (like a Kitchen-aid mixer) to do his own work, but he lets us participate.

Lately, I've been thinking about this: One of the many "fruits" of the gospel is the people it creates - kind, good, EXTRA-ordinary people. The gospel softens hearts and changes minds. Gospel truth lifts us and makes us better tools in the service of God. Wooden spoons can be used to stir hot things without transferring heat - a good example of the heat we may be called to pass through as members of the church. Yet the true saints endure. They may be counted ordinary, and undervalued by the world at large. Yet, somehow, through it all, the gospel bowl is brim-ful of wooden spoons - extraordinary people - true saints who lift and love others, and that is one of the things I love about this church. People who, incidentally, are also very generous with their baked goods.

Maybe someday, I'll blog about my other favorite kitchen utensil: a super spatula. Don't know if I'll relate it to the gospel.