23 November 2007

Stones

My father is returning to prison this month. I've been told that this time it's for 2nd degree assault and 4th degree burglary. Consequently, he has been contacting my sister a lot the past couple of weeks; thus following an absence of several months. I give my sister a lot of credit. She is much more forgiving than I probably ever will be. She is the only person on this planet that sees anything worth the effort in our father anymore. And honestly, I can't even fathom what she could see, he has fallen so completely.

I deal with a lot of cognitive dissonance because of how I choose to deal with my non-relationship with my father. When he calls, he now knows that my sister is the only person who will speak to him. If anyone else answers, he knows to ask for her. It used to be that if I answered the phone, I would hang up the second I realized it was him. But now I just pass the phone along or briefly tell him that my sister isn't home and that I'll have her call him. Then I hang up. He has learned that I refuse to speak to him because I have nothing I want to say to him that isn't infected with disdain.

I knew before I ever converted that a relationship with Heavenly Father would mean I would have to forgive my father. And I have tried. When I got my patriarchal blessing, I learned that I have a responsibility to serve my father; to pray for him and forgive him for all that has happened. Sometimes I do pray, which I don't find difficult anymore. But it seems like every time I nearly get to a sense of inner resolution for what he has already done, he gives me a new stone to throw at him; a stone that, because of the pain that he has caused me, I wish I could throw at him.

But I can't. Not just because catharsis doesn't work, but because I know better.




I spent all day redecorating my blog in a new layout. Its background is a pile of stones, to serve as a reminder of what Christ did for me. He protected the harlot that I used to be when he admonished, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8: 7) He protected me, his younger spirit sister, because he loves me. And, whether I can appreciate it or not, he loves my father too.

I know this. I know this in my mind, thoroughly. I know I have no right or authority to pass judgment on anyone; not when I have stones of my own that others could throw at me.

But at the same time, I cannot bring myself to speak to my father when he calls. I prayed for strength when I told him that he was no longer welcome in my life, and in hindsight I know my request was granted. But now that I'm supposed to make a re-entrance into my father's life, if for no other reason than to give him a Book of Mormon and my blessing, I can't do it. I refuse, despite my better judgment. Despite everything I've learned about Heavenly Father, and all of the sacrifices I've made, I still am not ready to make my ultimate sacrifice; and the opportunities to complete the task I've been given will only continue to gather like stones before me.

And it grieves me to know that there is only one way to truly get rid of them; and it isn't by throwing them.

13 November 2007

Non Sequitur

The Bible in pop culture is an interesting subject to analyze, especially when the forum in question is the funny papers.

A few samples of my favorites:

Adam and Eve. . .















. . .and the Fall














Moses. . .















. . .and Noah















And the imagery. Can't forget the Biblical imagery.


Part of what I hope to accomplish as a writer will be to preserve the Christian tradition of the English language. Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Bronte, Austen, Eliot, Steinbeck; these writers have solidified the role of the Bible in literature. But because we live in a nation that views tradition, morality, and self-discipline as a worthless burden, I wonder how much longer that will last.

All I can do is refuse to give in. As long as I am writing, my prose will honor the standards that define me. My verses will have substance because I will not rely solely on my reader's hedonistic pleasures. The human experience is not so shallow as to be reduced to an image of Eliot's Waste Land. But my faith alone will not be enough to preserve the values that can save our nation from self-destruction. I must use my writing to be that example if I wish to glorify my God with my writing.

The gentle humor of Non Sequitur in these strips provides an example of how to keep our Biblical tradition alive and well. Certainly other ways have proven effective and have stood the test of time. Part of what my task will include will be to analyze what these other rhetorical strategies have been, and to learn to use them for myself.

And, as always, having the Holy Ghost as inspiration helps more than anything else. Call it a trump card, but I'll take what I can get.

08 November 2007

Gratitude

Bruce Almighty is one of my favorite movies. I love the way Morgan Freeman plays Heavenly Father as a character.



The film really raises the question, "If I had God's power, what would I do with it?"

This question holds a special place for members of the LDS church because we believe in eternal progression. We believe our purpose in life is not only to return to our Heavenly Parents, but to become like them in power and purity.

Having the power of the Almighty is almost unfathomable. As I sit here, I cannot think of anything I could do with God's power that would work out in my favor. A great example comes from Bruce Almighty; Bruce (with God's powers) decides to answer everyone's prayers by giving them exactly what they ask for. Consequently, more than half the city wins the lottery, and everyone walks away with about $6. You think you're doing someone a favor, and it doesn't do them any good. Ending poverty and hunger would invite some control freak to come along and oppress some unsuspecting group of people by taking their food away from them. God could spend all day fixing things, and it wouldn't make a difference because humans tend to create problems for themselves where they didn't have to exist. And when you squish the oppressors, you're labelled as an Old Testament people squisher that has no mercy.

If I had God's powers, I suppose there would be people that wouldn't hate me. But they would have a funny way of showing it. Like the Crusades. And self-help books. And all the others things that were supposed to be about serving God, but turned into something else. He asked us to love each other, and only do the things that reflect that love. The only thing I think I would even attempt to do would be to say that again. How you say it any louder than sacrificing your Only Begotten Son, I don't know.

I guess I could try. But honestly, "Love one another as I have loved you."

Why is that so hard?

If I were God for a day, I would switch things up. I would tell everyone to just shut up. Shut up for five minutes. Stop praying to me. Stop begging for the most inconsequential things. Stop expecting me to fix what I didn't break, and then tell me I don't exist because I don't help you. Stop yelling at each other over things that don't matter. Shut the T.V. off so you can hear me. Stop thinking about your money and/or your jobs. Gather your families close to me so you can hear me. And I would take a pause, just to make sure they appreciate silence for how beautiful and sacred it is.

Then I would ask the world a question for a change. I would ask them, "Why should I give you anything else, when you can't you be happy with what you already have?"

And you know something? When people can answer that question, really answer that question, the people in this world will know more about themselves, their Father, and the universe in which they live.

But until then, God will continue to humble us. Which tends to look something like this:



06 November 2007

Jokes

Caitlin: "Look. I drew little symbols for the religions on my chart."

She holds up a piece of paper. She places it back on her desk and stares at it for a moment. Then she looks up at me with a sly grin on her face. I brace myself for the Mormon joke of the day.

Caitlin: "Do Mormons have a symbol? Like, do they use the cross or something."

Me: "No. We celebrate the life of Christ, not his death."

Caitlin: "Oh."

I look away and sigh, grateful that the joke was innocent today.

Caitlin: "Look what I drew for Mormons."

I look at the paper. Under "Mormonism," she drew a bicycle.

I laughed myself all the way to AP Calculus.

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