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Truth, Love, Beauty and all things Virtuous

Month

September 2013

The Excesses of God by Robinson Jeffers

Is it not by his high superfluousness we know
Our God? For to be equal a need
Is natural, animal, mineral: but to fling
Rainbows over the rain
And beauty above the moon and secret rainbows
On the domes of deep sea-shells;
And make the necessary embrace of breeding
Beautiful also as fire,
Not even the weeds to multiply without blossom
Not the birds without music:
There is the great humaneness at the heart of things,
The extravagant kindness, the fountain
Humanity can understand
and would follow
If power and desire were perch-mates.

Self-Discipline and the Capacity to Be Alive

“Self-discipline can keep us sensitive to others, whereas hedonism and pleasure-seeking rob us of our capacity to feel and to empathize. If we care about our capacity to feel for people, for beauty, for life, for nature, then we impose a self-discipline upon ourselves to keep that capacity alive…. Without individual reform there can be no societal reform.”–Neal A. Maxwell, A Time To Choose, pp.26-27.

“The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”–Samuel Johnson

The Sophist and the Madman

“The sophist, who is often a carrier of cleverness, is really an intellectual guerilla, a forlorn man without a country who draws delight and satisfaction from the process of verbal combat and encounter itself; he does not seek resolution, but disruption….The sophist has nothing to defend. He takes no real risks because he believes in nothing. Perhaps, in a strange and twisted way, he wants to create the condition of anomy that he experiences to cut other men away from the eternal things that anchor them. Cleverness in advocating bad causes often lies tauntingly just beyond the believer’s capacity for refutation….The sophist’s dialectics are an end in themselves, and the tactical flexibility of the faithlesss lies in their ability to shift the grounds of their argument because there is no theologcial ground to their argument…He seeks to have his sport, to work up a semantical sweat, grasping what pleasures he can from a life filled with forlornness….”–Neal A. Maxwell, A Time To Choose, pp.31-32.

“If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that will go with good judgement. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience.”–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy.

Notes from the Psalms

“Life is hard enough when it is just life, but it is very distressing when problems arise because of a fellow human being. But so it has been since Cain turned on Abel. Men and women regularly hurt other men and women. All we can do–and it is enough–is be true to our principles even if others abandon theirs.”

“There are plenty of things to occupy our minds and divert our thoughts, but some portion of our day ought to be devoted to ‘thinking on our ways’.”

“One of the great temptations in life is to spend so much time looking back or so much time looking ahead that we fail to see the opportunity right in front of us. Certainly we should study the past…We all ought to plan for the future. None us should be surprised when tomorrow comes and new circumstances present themselves. But having learned from the past and while preparing for the future, we can in reality on deal with the present day. Life has to be lived in the present tense. The current hour is the only one we have.”

Jeffrey R. Holland, For Times of Trouble: Spiritual Solace from the Psalms, pp.123, 125, and 130.

Where the Religion of Noncomformity Misfires

“Many of the facades in our society will eventually be torn down, sometimes cruelly, sometimes irrationally, and sometimes for the wrong reasons…The religion of noncomformity is dogmatic and intolerant; it venerates freedom but does not emulate the purposeful lifestyle which is a precondition to the maintenance of freedom.”

Neal A. Maxwell, A Time to Choose, p.7

Passing on the Environment and Ourselves and Consequences

“[We] should be rightly concerned about ecology, and we ought to be concerned about the environment that we transmit to our successors. But we cannot have the full spirit of stewardship unless we are concerned about the stewardship of self, because we inevitably transmit ourselves, too. We are part of the total environment, and if we are not put together spiritually, this can be just as devastating to others as failing to transmit our physical environment in good shape. The unloved individual can be as dangerous as untreated sewage, and the sewage of sin is so devastating downstream in life that it deserves at least equal time in the priorities of planning for man…

Although the sincerity of the prescriptions the world offers are impressive, one can still question some of the secular diagnoses. The world’s approach sometimes fails to diagnose the problem and therefore to provide any real and lasting cure. Wringing one’s hands and looking for miracle medicines connotes anguish, but it is not the same as competency. And being concerned does not necessarily produce insights. The perceptions necessary for ultimate diagnosis of human ills are, in my judgement, contained in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some secular prescriptions, ironically, would amount to giving mankind an aspirin when surgery is required. What the world often prescribes falls short of real reform because the root causes of human misery are not examined.

Sin is a special form of insanity. It reflects a kind of blackout in which we either lack or lose perspective about the consequences of our thoughts, words, and actions…Often we wouldn’t really hurt people if we knew the ultimate cost and price we all pay. Each of us remembers words we would recall and acts we wouldn’t have committed if we had a choice to make gain… ”

Neal A. Maxwell, A Time To Choose, pp. 14-15

Notes on Honesty and Integrity

“It is not easy to be honest…but an [individual] has to live with their conscience. An individual has to live with principles. An individual has to live with convictions…Unless they do so, they will be miserable…What was once controlled by moral and ethical standards of the people, we now seek to handle by public law. And so the statutes multiply, enforcement agencies consume ever-increasing billions, prison facilities are constantly expanded, but the torrent of dishonesty pours on and grows in volume…

The appraisal spoken long ago by an English Poet is true yet today: ‘An honest man’s the noblest work of God’ (Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, Epistle III, line 248). Where there is honesty, other virtues follow…No nation can either become or remain great if there is an absence of integrity in its citizens…How much more happiness there would be in the homes of the people if there we total confidence and trust…

Be strong…with the strength of honesty. How easy it is to ‘lie a little, take advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor ‘(2 Nephi 28:8)…Simple honesty is so remarkable a quality…”

Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, pp. 265-269

The Universe and Us: Don’t Give Up, We Are An Infinite Matter

“This is the paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God.”—Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “You Matter to Him,” p. 20.

It is sad to hear recently of an increase in the number of people contemplating and carry out suicides. It’s sad to hear of people in such despair that they see no way out except through suicide. We know many awful things are being perpetrated upon individuals on a daily basis, some of it self-inflicted, some of it not.

Everyone, especially, our youth need to know that they matter and they are loved. And they need to know that they are part something greater and bigger than themselves and the wonderful, but messy and imperfect world we are born into. They need a society, a community, and a family that teaches them not to ever give up, never despair, never be discouraged, and never doubt because they should know and understand in their hearts and their minds how infinitely valuable they are and what an important part of the larger universe they belong to. They are a prized creation. The following are some excerpts from some of my favorite articles recently that have helped me understand more clearly these truths and hopefully provide a dent of hope to someone out there strugggling.

Infinite Stars and Planets

“Our galaxy the Milky Way… has between 200 and 400 billion stars. Yet it is only one of billions of galaxies—estimates range from 100 billion to 500 billion. The largest galaxy discovered so far has 100 trillion stars. All those stars come in a dazzling array of colors and sizes, some more than a thousand times larger than our own…The number of planets discovered is grown rapidly. As of March 2013, the number surpassed 900, and some appear to lie in the same habitable zone as our earth. The number of planets in our galaxy alone could easily be in the hundreds of billions….Evidence suggest that we can only see about 5 percent of all there is (the rest is “dark matter” and “dark energy” so called because it can’t be seen or detected directly by the instrument we have. The universe, in fact, may be infinite in size….truly worlds without number… And God controls all.–Ibid, pp. 45-46

You and I: We Are an Infinite Matter

“While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within [us]…No matter how dark your days may seem, not matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten, in fact, He loves you with infinite love….God loves you because you are His Child. He loves you even though at times you may feel lonely and make mistakes….—Dieter Uchtdorf, “You Matter to Him” and “Forget Me Not

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