Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Enoch's Tears and God's Rainbow

Since I am a Mormon, I don't believe in predestination. I believe in agency. I believe the freedom to choose is God's greatest gift to man -- greater even, than the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

What, then, does it mean to do God's will? It sounds like a trick, doesn't it? Essentially, God gives us agency and then lets us know in no uncertain terms that we must do His will. And whether we want it or not, in the grand design of life, His will will be done. Or will it?

I often wonder about the omniscience of God. What does it mean, really? To be omniscient is to have infinite awareness, understanding, and insight. It is to have complete knowledge. Does "complete knowledge" imply a perfect awareness of time and space? In other words, does an omniscient God necessarily know when, where, and how life will unfold? One of the best professors (and incidentally, one of the best bishops) I ever had suggested that perhaps knowledge is different than we typically think. He used linguistics to illustrate his point. That is, he explained that in almost every language except English, the verb "to know" has two forms: "to know facts" and "to know or be familiar with people and things." In German, "wissen" means to know facts. "Kennen" is to know people and things. In Spanish, "saber" means to know facts, and "conocer" is to know people and things.

I think, then, that a God who is omniscient knows in both ways. He generally knows the whens, wheres, and hows of life because he 1) knows all the facts, and 2) is unfailingly familiar with each person on this earth. He can predict what inanimate things will do because He created everything, and He can predict what people will do because He has watched us grow. In turn, He can control the elements because He understands how they work, and He can persuade people because He understands them so well. I think, though, that sometimes people surprise God -- sometimes in pleasant ways, and sometimes in not-so-pleasant ways.

Let's look at a pleasant way:
Since I am a Mormon, I'm going to reference a Mormon scripture. It's in Moses, chapter 7, which is found in The Pearl of Great Price, and it's about the great flood and the prophet Enoch's reaction to it. God explains to Enoch that He will cover the earth with a flood to cleanse the earth of unrighteous and wicked people. Enoch's reaction is to weep. "Wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth?" he asks. "Wilt thou not bless the children of Noah?" (Moses 7:49)
And it came to pass that Enoch continued his cry unto the Lord, saying: I ask thee, O Lord, in the name of thine Only Begotten, even Jesus Christ, that thou wilt have mercy upon Noah and his seed, that the earth might never more be covered by the floods.

And the Lord could not withhold; and he covenanted with Enoch, and sware unto him with an oath, that he would stay the floods; that he would call upon the children of Noah;

And he sent forth an unalterable decree, that a remnant of his seed should always be found among all nations, while the earth should stand; (Moses 7:50-52)
In Genesis 9, we see the fulfillment of God's covenant with Enoch, and as a token of the covenant, He sets a rainbow in the clouds.

It's true that God's will was done. It was because God willed it, that a flood never covered the earth again. But His will was modified because of Enoch's pleadings.

It is my understanding, then, that God gives us great freedom of choice. We are largely responsible for our situations in life. Other people impose their wills on us, though, and sometimes God lets things take their course. However, because He is the Creator, He will make sure He cleans things up, if they get too messy. In that sense, His will is done.

But in what sense are we to follow His will? What does that mean to you? And how do you do it? I will post my thoughts on those questions later, but I am in earnest, and I want your answers, if you feel comfortable sharing.


Thing I'm thankful for: the subtle chill in the air.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Temples


I am a Mormon, and every Mormon has a favorite temple. (There are 134 operating temples worldwide, with more temples built every year.) Although I've never been to the Logan, Utah Temple, it's my favorite. I don't know what it is about that particular temple that makes it my favorite . . . Maybe it's because it sort of looks like a castle. Maybe it's because the first picture I saw of it had tulips in the foreground, and they were beautiful. (And I love tulips.)

At any rate, I love that temple. The great thing about being a worthy Mormon is that as long as I can get myself to Logan, Utah, I can go inside. I can go inside any temple I want. I have seen the Idaho Falls Temple, the Washington, D.C. Temple, and countless Utah temples. I have been inside the Atlanta Temple, the Salt Lake City Temple, and the Manhattan and Birmingham temples. In a purely architectural sense, each temple is fascinating. They are all so different. Some are huge -- so huge, in fact, that pilots use them as navigational landmarks. Some have beautiful archways, and some have tall spires. Here, take a look: Temple Gallery.

In short, Mormons are taught in temples, are married in temples, and serve in temples. Temples provide a quiet place to ponder questions or problems. For me, they are places where I feel the most connected with people. People are always kind in the temple. I never feel out-of-place or overlooked. I am my best self in the temple, and everyone else is, too. Serving with friends in the temple always solidifies my friendship with them and makes me love them more.

I am grateful for temples. I have a testimony of temples. If you get a chance to walk around the grounds of a temple, do it. If you get a chance to walk inside (during an open house), do it. You won't find holier places on earth than temples.

Learn more: Temples


Thing I'm thankful for: dinner with The Olsens.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I am a Mormon

That's right. I'm a Mormon. A follower of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you've been following my blog for a while, you probably already know that, but just in case you didn't, I thought I'd tell you.

You might wonder why I'm making such an out-of-the-blue public proclamation of my religious affiliation. Mostly it's because today, I am proud of my Church. I'm proud that it has such a good presence on the Internet. Just check out these Web sites!

Mormon.org
LDS.org

I mean, really! Do church Web sites get any better than that?

In addition to my church pride, I have been thinking lately about a lot of religious principles and endeavors, and I wanted to share them publicly. Before I do, though, I wanted you to know where I'm coming from, religiously speaking.

At any rate, I love those LDS Web sites; they're so user-friendly, even by regular Web site standards, I think. Take a look at them, why don't you?!? :)


Thing I'm thankful for: new dessert recipes!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

10 Things that Never Get Old

I felt like making a list. Here it is:
  1. Going to the airport, whether I'm the one who'll be flying or not
  2. Takeoff
  3. Shampooing my hair
  4. Looking at houses
  5. Checking the mailbox
  6. Doing laundry
  7. Poppyseed dressing
  8. Apples with peanut butter
  9. Going to church
  10. Sweeping

Thing I'm thankful for: the organizational structure of the LDS Church