MISC.

Sister Susa Young Gates related to me that she once asked her father how it would ever be possible to accomplish the great amount of temple work that must be done, if all are given a full opportunity for exaltation. He told her there would be many inventions of labor-saving devices, so that our daily duties could be performed in a short time, leaving us more and more time for temple work. The inventions have come, and are still coming, but many simply divert the time gained to other channels, and not for the purpose intended by the Lord (Archibald F. Bennett, Improvement Era, Oct. 1952, 720).

The place to take the true measure of a man is not in the darkest place or in the amen corner, nor the cornfield, but by his own fireside. There he lays aside his mask and you may learn whether he is an imp or an angel, cur or king, hero or humbug. I care not what the world says of him: whether it crowns him boss or pelts him with bad eggs. I care not a copper what his reputation or religion may be: if his babies dread his homecoming and his better half swallows her heart every time she has to ask him for a five-dollar bill, he is a fraud of the first water, even though he prays night and morning until he is black in the face. But if his children rush to the front door to meet him and love's sunshine illuminates the face of his wife every time she hears his footfall, you can take it for granted that he is pure, for his home is a heaven. I can forgive much in that fellow mortal who would rather make men swear than women weep; who would rather have the hate of the whole world than the contempt of his wife; who would rather call anger to the eyes of a king than fear to the face of a child (W. C. Brann, quoted by H. Burke Peterson, Ensign, Nov. 1982, 44).

So long as I'm the President, I will press for freedom. I believe so strongly in the power of freedom. Because I've seen freedom work right here in our own country. I also have this belief, strong belief, that freedom is not this country's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world. And as the greatest power on the face of the Earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom. We have an obligation to help feed the hungry. We have an obligation to lead the fight on AIDS [in] Africa. And we have an obligation to work toward a more free world. That's our obligation. That is what we have been called to do, as far as I'm concerned (George W. Bush, Address to the Nation, 13 Apr 2004).

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat. "I don't much care where—" said Alice. "Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat (Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Ch. 6).

Although [Absalom's] tomb had been neglected in recent years, a Hebrew University art history student made it the subject of a seminar paper. In 2000, the student showed a picture of the monument to Joe Zias, a physical anthropologist and a retired curator for the Israel Antiquities Authority. "I looked at it and said, 'There's an inscription - you can clearly see the Greek alpha,'" he recalls. Mr. Zias found the photographer who had taken the shot years earlier and was told that, judging from the light, the photo was taken at the end of a summer day. "I went there many times, knowing there was something there, sometimes sitting there for hours. One day when the sun was sitting on the walls of Jerusalem just before dusk conditions were optimal. It was then I could see more letters" ("New find, old tomb, and peeks at early Christians," The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Dec. 2003).

For as on the stage some enter, assuming the masks of kings and captains, physicians and orators, philosophers and soldiers, being in truth nothing of the kind; so also in the present life wealth and poverty are only masks. As then, when thou sittest in the theatre, and beholdest one playing below who sustains the part of a king, thou dost not count him happy, nor esteemest him a king, nor desirest to be such as he; but knowing him to be one of the common people, a ropemaker or a blacksmith, or some such a one as this, thou dost not esteem him happy for his mask, and his robe's sake, nor judgest of his condition from these, but holdest him cheap for the meanness of his true condition: so also, here sitting in the world as in a theatre, and beholding men playing as on a stage, when thou seest many rich, count them not to be truly rich, but to be wearing the masks of rich. For as he, who in the stage plays the king or captain, is often a slave, or one who sells figs or grapes in the market, so also this rich man is often in reality poorest of all. For if thou strip him of his mask and unfold his conscience, and scrutinize his inward parts, thou wilt there find a great penury of virtue; thou wilt find him to be indeed the most abject of men. And as in the theatre, when evening is come and the spectators are departed, and the players are gone forth thence, having laid aside their masks and their dresses, then they who before showed as kings and captains to all, appear now as they truly are; so now, when death approaches and the audience is dismissed, all, laying aside the masks of wealth and poverty, depart from hence, and, being judged only by their works, appear some indeed truly rich, but some poor; and some glorious, but others without honor (Father John Chrysostom, The Mortal Messiah, 3:267).

Makenzie: "Once upon a time I had just gotten home from a hot and steamy day at the annual elk ridge hot dog roast where we hand out free hot dogs to whoever comes. I was positively exhausted. I laid down for .02 seconds until Keegan comes running up and says, "me. Kezzy. Ousside." I couldn't say no to him, so I went up to the back door, but he grabbed my hand and said, "no! Ousside! Walk!" So I said okay. And you know once you say the simple word, "walk" the kids go crazy. So I ended up taking all the little kids. Anyways, on with my point! They wanted to play for a little bit in the church parking lot. (I don't see what's so fun about the church parking lot but they always want to go) out of nowhere, Logan runs up and says, "hey Kenzie I found this balloon! We should send it to Brittney!" He was so excited about it!! I really thought maybe he stole it from a little girl, or a creepy old man tried to lure him into his white van with it, who knows! But we found a balloon! So of course I said we could send it to you, so we launched it into the sky and wished it good luck on its journey to Oregon. Just know that there's a pink butterfly balloon, that says happy birthday, on it headed your way. We hope it makes it to you. Goodnight my love."
Brittney: "I believe tender mercies to be God's way of sending us a smile. All of His majesty and glory summed up into something small, yet significant you see that makes the world shut up for a minute and your lips curl upwards. My tender mercy this week was magical. It was silly, could've easily gone unnoticed, but my heck it made me smile. Well first it made me slam on my breaks and almost send my companion flying onto the sidewalk...But then it made me smile. So a couple weeks ago my beautiful sister Makenzie sent me an email. Removing the terribly cute details, some of my siblings found a pink balloon that said Happy Birthday on it. So, being the award winning siblings that they are, they sent the balloon off into the air in hopes that it would find it's way to Forest Grove, Oregon. I was tickled pink when I read that email. Terribly cute, right? But here's the best part of the story. On Tuesday morning Sister Williams and I found ourselves cruising down the curvy roads, loving life, feeling God's love for us, getting some much needed Vitamin D. Then I gasped quite hysterically, slammed on my breaks, Sister Williams almost crashed into my bike that I had leapt off of and was now crashing into the gravel. It was a pink balloon. It was stuck in a bush of prickly weeds. BUT. Beyond the tares and slivers, I could still clearly read "Happy Birthday!" Written in cheery print...I got my balloon, Kenzie. Is it silly to believe that God directed the winds and mapped it's journeys to where it needed to be? Which was here, with me. No I don't think that's silly at all. It just made me terribly happy."

If I had lived in King Arthur's day, I would have been one of those simple folks that King Arthur wondered about when he sang, "What do the simple folks do?" I can see myself as one of the simple peasants who lived three miles north of the Camelot City limits. King Arthur, riding on a white horse and accompanied by several knights, is passing by my thatched cottage. He passes and looks over at me. I'm playing basketball with my children on a court that I had smoothed out near my small garden. My children are laughing and shouting, "Daddy, Daddy." King Arthur would rein up his horse, pause quite a while and watch. The knights would say, "Let's go, king." He'd reply, "Just a second or two." And then slowly he'd ride away to make some more history. But in his heart as he moved silently toward his castle, he would remember me and I think he would be jealous and he would say to his knights, "Who was that man?" They'd reply, "Who cares?" He'd reply, "Those children seemed to care." Yes, I, like many of you, am among the simple folks who might be envied by a king but whose life appears at first glance and even second glance to be rather routine (George D. Durrant, World Conference on Records, 1980, Vol. 1, 002:4-5).

When I was a young man, my sports hero was a man named Robert Mathias. He won the decathlon in the 1948 Olympics and again in 1952. Mathias ran the 100 meters in 10.9 seconds. The winner covered the distance in 10.4 seconds, a half-second faster than Mathias. In the 400 meters, Mathias' time of 50.2 was far short of the 45.0 time of the specialized runner. Mathias high jumped 6 feet 2 3/4 inches, some 6 inches less than the man who won the high jump competition for those who had entered just that one event. His javelin sailed 194 feet 3 inches, far short of the 242 feet throw of the man who spent his entire effort in that event. Bob Mathias wasn't the best at any one specialized event, but he did each event well enough that when all his scores were added together, his overall score made him the decathlon champion. Life is much like a decathlon. To fulfill our own potential and to be of service to others requires that we take part in many events. If we attempt to set records in one event, we may fall far short in another. And if we measure our efforts against those of a specialist, we can feel inadequate and even guilty that we don't do better. Somewhere between the two extremes of being too busy and not doing anything is that glorious, yet elusive, condition called balance. It's by approaching the many aspects of our life with a sense of balance that we can be champions in life's great decathlon (George D. Durrant, Ensign, Apr. 1985, 18).

The Lord made the world in some wonderful way that I can at best only dimly comprehend. It seems to me sacrilegious to presume that I really understand him and know just how he did it. He can only tell me in figurative speech that I dimly understand, but that I expect to more completely comprehend in the eternities to come. He created the world, and my faith does not hinge on the detailed procedures he used (Henry Eyring, Reflections of a Scientist, 57, Oct. 1998 printing).

Years ago our fathers founded this country, this nation, on the premise of the rights of man. As they expressed it, "the inalienable right of man to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." In those days, they knew what those words meant, not only the ones who expressed them, but the ones who heard and believed and accepted and subscribed to them. Because until that time, men did not always have those rights. At least, until that time, no nation had ever been founded on the idea that those rights were possible, let alone inalienable. So not only the ones who said the words, but the ones who merely heard them, knew what they meant...because we didn't have these things. And, since we didn't have them, we knew their worth. We knew that they were worth suffering and enduring and, if necessary, even dying to gain and preserve. We were willing to accept even the risk of death for them, since even if we lost them ourselves in relinquishing life to preserve them, we would still be able to bequeath them intact and inalienable to our children. Which is exactly what we did, in those old days. We left our homes, the land and graves of our fathers and all familiar things. We voluntarily gave up, turned our backs on, a security which we already had and which we could have continued to have, as long as we were willing to pay the price for it, which price was our freedom and liberty of thought and independence of action, and the right of responsibility. That is, by remaining in the old world, we could have been not only secure, but even free of the need to be responsible. Instead, we chose the freedom, the liberty, the independence and the inalienable right to responsibility; almost without charts, in frail wooden ships with nothing but sails and our desire and will to be free to move them, we crossed an ocean which did not even match the charts we did have; we conquered a wilderness in order to establish a place, not to be secure in because we did not want that, we had just repudiated that, just crossed three thousand miles of dark and unknown sea to get away from that; but a place to be free in, to be independent in, to be responsible in. And we did it. Even while we were still battling the wilderness with one hand, with the other we fended and beat off the power which would have followed us even into the wilderness we had conquered, to compel and hold us to the old way. But we did it. We founded a land, and founded in it not just our right to be free and independent and responsible, but the inalienable duty of man to be free and independent and responsible. That's what I am talking about: responsibility. Not just the right, but the duty of man to be responsible, the necessity of man to be responsible if he wishes to remain free; not just responsible to and for his fellow man, but to himself; the duty of a man, the individual, each individual, every individual, to be responsible for the consequences of his own acts, to pay his own score, owing nothing to any man. We knew it once, had it once. Because why? Because we wanted it above all else, we fought for it, endured, suffered, died when necessary, but gained it, established it, to endure for us and then to be bequeathed to our children. Only, something happened to us...A new generation came along, a new era, a new age, a new century. The times were easier; the life and future of our nation as a nation no longer hung in balance; another generation, and we no longer had enemies...But we still remembered responsibility, even though, with easier times, we didn't need to keep the responsibility quite so active, or at least not so constantly so. Besides, it was not only our heritage, it was too recent yet for us to forget it, the graves were still green of them who had bequeathed it to us, and even of them who had died in order that it might be bequeathed. So we still remembered it, even if a good deal of the remembering was just lip-service. Then more generations; we covered at last the whole face of the western earth...we were the whole world's golden envy; never had the amazed sun itself seen such a land of opportunity, in which all a man needed were two legs to move to a new place on, and two hands to grasp and hold with, in order to amass to himself enough material substance to last him the rest of his days...And still he paid lip-service to the old words "freedom" and "liberty" and "independence." ...[But] somewhere, at some moment, something had happened to him, to us, to all the descendants of the old tough, durable, uncompromising men...Somewhere, at some point, we...lost or forgot or voluntarily rid ourselves of that one other thing, lacking which, freedom and liberty and independence cannot even exist. That thing is the responsibility, not only the desire and the will to be responsible, but the remembrance from the old fathers of the need to be responsible. Either we lost it, forgot it, or we deliberately discarded it. Either we decided that freedom was not worth the responsibility of being free, or we forgot that, to be free, a man must assume and maintain and defend his right to be responsible for his freedom. Maybe we were even robbed of responsibility, since for years now the very air itself-radio, newspapers, pamphlets, tracts, the voices of politicians-has been loud with talk about the rights of man, not the duties and obligations and responsibilities of man, but only the "rights" of man; so loud and so constant that apparently we have come to... believe...that man has nothing else but rights (William Faulkner, Address to the Delta Council, Cleveland, Mississippi, 15 May 1952).

Our Father in heaven needs us as we are, as we are growing to become. He has intentionally made us different from one another so that even with our imperfections we can fulfill his purposes. My greatest misery comes when I feel I have to fit what others are doing, or what I think others expect of me. I am most happy when I am comfortable being me and trying to do what my Father in Heaven and I expect me to be. For many years I tried to measure the ofttimes quiet, reflective, thoughtful Pat Holland against the robust, bubbly, talkative, and energetic Jeff Holland and others with like qualities. I have learned through several fatiguing failures that you can't have joy in being bubbly if you are not a bubbly person. It is a contradiction in terms. I have given up seeing myself as a flawed person because my energy level is lower than Jeff's, and I don't talk as much as he does, nor as fast. Giving this up has freed me to embrace and rejoice in my own manner and personality in the measure of my creation. Ironically, that has allowed me to admire and enjoy Jeff's [qualities] even more. Somewhere, somehow the Lord [helped me see] that my personality was created to fit precisely the mission and talents he gave me. For example, the quieter, calmer talent of playing the piano reveals much about the real Pat Holland. I would never have learned to play the piano if I hadn't enjoyed the long hours of solitude required for its development. This same principle applies to my love of writing, reading, meditation, and especially teaching and talking with my children. Miraculously, I have found that I have untold abundant sources of energy to be myself. But the moment I indulge in imitation of my neighbor, I feel fractured and fatigued and find myself forever swimming upstream. When we frustrate God's plan for us, we deprive this world and God's kingdom of our unique contributions and a serious schism settles in our soul. God never gave us any task beyond our ability to accomplish it. We just have to be willing to do it our own way. We will always have enough resources for being who we are and what we can become (Patricia T. Holland, "Portraits of Eve: God's Promises of Personal Identity," LDS Women's treasury: Insights and Inspiration for Today's Woman, 97).

Friends and Neighbors,
Allow me to inform you that I shall...make drunkards, paupers and beggars for the sober, industrious, respectable part of the community to support. My whiskies will excite riot, robbery and bloodshed. They will diminish your comforts, increase your expenses and shorten life. I shall confidently recommend them as sure to multiply fatal accidents and incurable diseases. They will deprive some of life, others of reason, some of character, and all of peace. They will make fathers fiends, mothers widows, children orphans, and all poor. I will train your sons in infidelity, [indulgence], ignorance, lewdness and every other vice. I will corrupt religion, obstruct the gospel, defile the church, and cause as much temporal and eternal death as I can...It may be at the loss of my...soul, but I have a family to support...and the public encourages it.
I have paid my license and the traffic is lawful, and if I don't sell it somebody else will. I know the Bible says: "Thou shalt not kill," and "No drunkard shall enter the kingdom of heaven," and I do not expect the drunkard-maker to fare any better, but I want an easy living and I have resolved to gather the wages of iniquity and fatten on the ruin of my species. I shall therefore carry on my business with energy and do my best to diminish the wealth of the nation and endanger the safety of the state. As my business flourishes in proportion to your sensuality and ignorance, I will do my best to prevent moral purity and intellectual growth. Should you doubt my ability, I refer you to the pawnshops, the poor house, the police court, the hospital, the penitentiary and the gallows, where you will find many of my best customers have gone. A sight of them will convince you that I do what I say. Allow me to inform you that you are [fools] and I am an honest saloon keeper.
J. J. McMurtrey
The Temple Bar Saloon
Flagstaff, Arizona

In the summer of 184[2], a maiden lady (Miss Cooke) was seamstress for me and the subject of combining our efforts for assisting the Temple hands came up in conversation. She desired to be helpful, but had no means to furnish. I hold her I would furnish materials if she would make some shirts for the workmen. It was then suggested that some of our neighbors might wish to combine means and efforts with ours and we decided to invite a few to come and consult with us on the subject of forming a Ladies' Society. The neighboring sisters met in my parlor and decided to organize. I was delegated to call on Sister Eliza R. Snow and ask her to write for us a Constitution and By-laws, and submit them to President Joseph Smith prior to our next...meeting. She cheerfully responded and when she read them to him he replied that the Constitution and By-laws were the best he had ever seen. "But," he said, "this is not what you want. Tell the sisters their offering is accepted of the Lord and he has something better for them than a written Constitution. I invite them all to meet with me...next Thursday...and I will organize the women under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood" (Sarah M. Kimball, "Auto-biography," Woman's Exponent, 12:51; Also Women of Covenant, 26-27).

I am glad that the first thing they did was to give me the pamphlet on Joseph Smith's vision. The style of the Joseph Smith story immediately struck me. He spoke to me, as soon as I read his testimony, as a great writer, transparently sincere and matter-of-fact. That is what endeared him to me—so matter-of-fact. When Joseph Smith describes his visions, he describes them not as a man who feels that he has to make the effort to persuade. He simply states what happened to him, and he does it in a way that gives credence. I am in this church because of the Jospeh Smith story; my fundamental act of faith was to accept this as a remarkable document. Because Joseph Smith talked about his experiences in the way he did, I was able to belive him; and having that belief, I could then go on to say, "This man tells the truth; therefore, I ought to believe other things he tells me" (Arthur Henry King, The Abundance of the Heart, 25-26).

The principles of the gospel are twisted if they are applied in precisely the same way each time. But they remain true to themselves if they are applied in the way that is appropriate to the circumstances. And the way that is appropriate to the circumstances comes from following the impulses of the Holy Ghost (Arthur Henry King, The Abundance of the Heart, 122).

I have nothing against speed reading, provided that it's kept to the value-less material for which it is valuable...When we study the scriptures, we must study, not as quickly as possible, but as slowly as possible; because the more quickly we read the scriptures, the fewer our thoughts will be and the more slowly they will [come]. But the more slowly we read the scriptures, the more thoughts will come thronging in. It's not the speed at which we read, but the speed at which the thoughts come which counts (Arthur Henry King, "Skill and Power in Reading the Authorized Version," Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, 28 Jan 1978, 183).

In the autumn of 1836, a married lady of my acquaintance, and who was a great friend of mine, being about to pay a visit to her father and other relatives, proposed to me, that on her return she would bring a sister of hers with her, upon condition that I would engage to become her brother-in-law. I, of course, accepted the proposal; for you know I could not have done otherwise, had I really been averse to it; but privately between you and me, I was most confoundedly well pleased with the project. I had seen the said sister some three years before, thought her intelligent and agreeable, and saw no good objection to plodding life through hand in hand with her. Time passed on, the lady took her journey, and in due time returned, sister in company sure enough. This stomached me a little; for it appeared to me, that her coming so readily showed that she was a trifle too willing; but on reflection it occurred to me, that she might have been prevailed on by her married sister to come, without any thing concerning me ever having been mentioned to her. All this occurred upon my hearing of her arrival in the neighborhood; for, be it remembered, I had not yet seen her, except about three years previous, as before mentioned. In a few days we had an interview, and although I had seen her before, she did not look as my imagination had pictured her. I knew she was over-size, but she now appeared a fair match for Falstaff; I knew she was called an "old maid", and I felt no doubt of the truth of at least half of the appellation; but now, when I beheld her, I could not for my life avoid thinking of my mother; and this, not from withered features, for her skin was too full of fat, to permit its contracting in to wrinkles; but from her want of teeth, weather-beaten appearance in general, and from a kind of notion that ran in my head, that nothing could have commenced at the size of infancy, and reached her present bulk in less than thirty-five or forty years; and, in short, I was not all pleased with her. But what could I do? I had told her sister that I would take her for better or for worse; and I made a point of honor and conscience in all things, to stick to my word, especially if others had been induced to act on it, which in this case, I doubted not they had, for I was now fairly convinced, that no other man on earth would have her, and hence the conclusion that they were bent on holding me to my bargain. Well, thought I, I have said it, and be consequences what they may, it shall not be my fault if I fail to do it. At once I determined to consider her my wife; and this done, all my powers of discovery were put to the rack, in search of perfections in her, which might be fairly set-off against her defects. I tried to imagine she was handsome, which, but for her unfortunate size, was actually true. Exclusive of this, no woman that I have ever seen, has a finer face. I also tried to convince myself, that the mind was much more to be valued than the person; and in this, she was not inferior, as I could discover, to any with whom I had been acquainted...I now spent my time between planning how I might get along through life after my contemplated change of circumstances should have taken place; and how I might procrastinate the evil day for a time, which I really dreaded. After I had delayed the matter as long as I thought I could in honor do, I concluded I might as well bring it to a consummation without further delay; and so I mustered my resolution, and made the proposal to her direct; but, shocking to relate, she answered, No. At first I supposed she did it through an affectation of modesty, which I thought but ill-became her, but on my renewal of the charge, I found she repelled it with greater firmness than before. I tried it again and again, but with the same success, or rather with the same want of success. I finally was forced to give it up, at which I very unexpectedly found myself mortified almost beyond endurance. My vanity was deeply wounded by the reflection that she whom I had taught myself to believe no body else would have, had actually rejected me with all my fancied greatness; and to cap the whole, I then, for the first time, began to suspect that I was really a little in love with her. But let it all go. I'll try and out live it (Abraham Lincoln, in Carl Sandburg's Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, 59-60, letter dated 1 Apr. 1838).

Because men almost always walk in the paths beaten by others and carry on their affairs by imitating, a prudent man will always choose to take paths beaten by great men and to imitate those who have been especially admirable, in order that if his ability does not reach theirs, at least it may offer some suggestion of it; and he will act like prudent archers, who, seeing that the mark they plan to hit is too far away and knowing what space can be covered by the power of their bows, take an aim much higher than their mark, not in order to reach with their arrows so great a height, but to be able, with the aid of so high an aim, to attain their purpose (Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. 6).

My young friends, I have been asked what I mean by "word of honor." I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls—walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground—there is a possibility that in some way or another I may be able to escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of that circle? No, never! I'd die first!" (Karl G. Maeser, Speeches, Sep. 27, 1961, 17).

The day school was out at the beginning of each summer, our family went to our ranch in Wyoming...One year my father was waiting for us as we arrived. He said he had a big job for my brother Clay and me to do that summer. I was about twelve at the time, and my brother was two years older. Pointing to the field by the side of the house, my father said, "Do you see all of these lambs in that field? I'll share the money we get for the ones you raise when we sell them in the fall." Well, we were excited. Not only did we have a significant job to do, but we were going to be rich! There were a lot of lambs in that field—about 350 of them. And all we had to do was feed them. However, there was one thing that my father hadn't mentioned. None of the lambs had mothers. Just after shearing, there was a violent storm that chilled the newly shorn sheep. Dad lost a thousand ewes that year. The mothers of our lambs were among them. To feed one or two baby animals is one thing, but to feed 350 is something else! It was hard. There was plenty of grass, but the lambs couldn't eat the grass. They didn't have teeth. They needed milk. So we made some long, V-shaped feeding troughs out of some boards. Then we got a great big tin washtub, ground up some grain, and added milk to make a thin mash. While my brother poured the mash into the troughs, I rounded up the lambs, herded them to the troughs, and said, "Eat!" Well, they just stood there looking at me. Although they were hungry and there was food in front of them, they still wouldn't eat. No one had taught them to drink milk out of a trough. So I tried pushing them toward the troughs. Do you know what happens when you try to push sheep? They run the other way. And when you lose one, you could lose them all because others will follow. That's the way with sheep. We tried lining up the lambs along the troughs and pushing their noses down in the milk, hoping they'd get a taste and want some more. We tried wiggling our fingers in the milk to get them to suck on our fingers. Some of them would drink, but most of them ran away. Many of the lambs were slowly starving to death. The only way we could be sure they were being fed was to pick them up in our arms, two at a time, and feed them like babies. And then there were the coyotes. At night the coyotes would sit up on the hill, and they'd howl. The next morning we would see the results of their night's work, and we would have two or three more lambs to bury. The coyotes would sneak up on the lambs, scatter the herd, and then pick out the ones they wanted and go after them. The first were those that were weak or separated from the flock. Often in the night when the coyotes came and the lambs were restless, my dad would take out his rifle and shoot in the air to scare them away. We felt secure when my dad was home because we knew our lambs were safe when he was there to watch over them. Clay and I soon forgot about being rich. All we wanted to do was save our lambs. The hardest part was seeing them die. Every morning we would find five, seven, ten lambs that had died during the night. Some the coyotes got, and others starved to death surrounded by food they couldn't or wouldn't eat. Part of our job was to gather up the dead lambs and help dispose of them. I got used to that, and it really wasn't so bad until I named one of the lambs. It was an awkward little thing with a black spot on its nose. It was always under my feet, and it knew my voice. I loved my lamb. It was one I held in my arms and fed with a bottle like a baby. One morning my lamb didn't come when I called. I found it later that day under the willows by the creek. It was dead. With tears streaming down my face, I picked up my lamb and went to find my father. Looking up at him, I said, "Dad, isn't there someone who can help us feed our lambs?" After a long moment he said, "Jayne, once a long, long time ago, someone else said almost those same words. He said, 'Feed my lambs. ... Feed my sheep. ... Feed my sheep.' " Dad put his arms around me and let me cry for a time, then went with me to bury my lamb (Jayne B. Malan, "The Summer of the Lambs," Ensign, Nov. 1989, 78-79)

Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible...was the means by which many important doctrines of the gospel were revealed to the Prophet. He was translating the Bible, not because he already knew the answers and doctrines, but because by the process and experience of the translation he would learn things important for him to know. Thus the translation is inseparable from the history of the Church and the building up of the kingdom in the last days (Robert J. Matthews, Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible, xxxi).

Miller had a dream that he says was remarkable in its clarity. He was in a high-ceiling room with open skylights, and there was a knock at the door. He took a white package wrapped with white ribbon that lay on a table, and gave it to someone at the door. Moments later, there was another knock. This time there were more white packages on the table. He took them to the person at the door. The scene repeated itself over and over, and each time he gave away a box he discovered it had been replaced by many more boxes on the table until eventually they filled the entire room. "Where are these coming from?" he asked Gail. "The only thing I can figure is they're coming through the skylights" (Doug Robinson, Deseret News, 22 April 2001)

"God more regards the thoughts of the heart than the words of the mouth...Say the words of the oath and in your heart think otherwise." More: "What is an oath then but words we say to God?...When a man takes an oath, Meg, he's holding his own self in his own hands. Like water. [He cups his hands.] And if he opens his fingers then—he needn't hope to find himself again. Some men aren't capable of this, but I'd loathe to think your father one of them" (Sir Thomas Moore, in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons).

[I am] much too easily drawn into what I call the Gentile Dilemma. That is, when I find myself called upon to stand up and be counted, to declare myself on one side or the other, which do I prefer—gin or rum, cigarettes or cigars, tea or coffee, heroin or LSD, the Red Rose or the White, Shiz or Coriantumr, wicked Nephites or wicked Lamanites, Whigs or Tories, Catholic or Protestant, Republican or Democrat, black power or white power, land pirates or sea pirates, commissars or corporations, capitalism or communism? The devilish neatness and simplicity of the thing is the easy illusion that I am choosing between good and evil, when in reality two or more evils by their rivalry distract my attention from the real issue...It can be shown that in each of the choices just named, one of the pair may well be preferable to the other, but that is not the question. There is no point in arguing which other system comes closest to the [gospel], since I excluded all other systems when I opted for the real thing" (Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, 163).

Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It's our faith that he experienced everything--absolutely everything. Sometimes we don't think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don't experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means Jesus knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer--how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student-body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked, and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism. There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not also know and recognize. On a profound level, he understands about pregnancy and giving birth. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion...He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down's syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old, when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children who ever come are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He's been there. He's been lower than all that. (Chieko N. Okazaki, 1st Counselor, General Relief Society Presidency, 1990-1997, Lighten Up!, 174-175).

Markus 'Notch' Persson, the developer of Minecraft, sold his software to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. Shortly thereafter, he sent out the following tweets:
"The problem with getting everything is you run out of reasons to keep trying, and human interaction becomes impossible due to imbalance."
"Hanging out in Ibiza with a bunch of friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, and I've never felt more isolated."
"In Sweden, I will sit around and wait for my friends with jobs and families to have time to do [stuff], watching my reflection in the monitor."
"Found a great girl, but she's afraid of me and my life style and went with a normal person instead."

'Picture human beings living in some sort of underground cave dwelling, with an entrance which is long, as wide as the cave, and open to the light. Here they live, from earliest childhood, with their legs and necks in chains, so that they have to stay where they are, looking only ahead of them, prevented by the chains from turning their heads. They have light from a distant fire, which is burning behind them and above them. Between the fire and the prisoners, at a higher level than them, is a path along which you must picture a low wall that has been built, like the screen which hides people when they are giving a puppet show, and above which they make the puppets appear.' 'Yes, I can picture all that,' he said. 'Picture also, along the length of the wall, people carrying all sorts of implements which project above it, and statues of people, and animals made of stone and wood and all kinds of materials. As you'd expect, some of the people carrying the objects are speaking, while others are silent.' 'A strange picture. And strange prisoners.' 'No more strange than us,' I said. 'Do you think, for a start, that prisoners of that sort have ever seen anything more of themselves and of one another than the shadows cast by the fire on the wall of the cave in front of them?' 'How could they, if they had been prevented from moving their heads all their lives?' 'What about the objects which are being carried? Wouldn't they see only shadows of these also?' 'Yes, of course.' 'So if they were able to talk to one another, don't you think they'd believe that the things they were giving names to were the things they could see passing?' 'Yes, they'd be bound to.' 'What if the prison had an echo from the wall in front of them? Every time one of the people passing by spoke, do you suppose they'd believe the source of the sound to be anything other than the passing shadow?' 'No, that's exactly what they would think.' 'All in all, then, what people in this situation would take for truth would be nothing more than the shadows of the manufactured objects.' 'Necessarily.' 'Suppose nature brought this state of affairs to an end,' I said. 'Think what their release from their chains and the cure for their ignorance would be like. When one of them was untied, and compelled suddenly to stand up, turn his head, start walking, and look towards the light, he'd find all these things painful. Because of the glare he'd be unable to see the things whose shadows he used to see before. What do you suppose he'd say if he was told that what he used to see before was of no importance, whereas now his eyesight was better, since he was closer to what is, and looking at things which more truly are? Suppose further that each of the passing objects was pointed out to him, and that he was asked what it was, and compelled to answer. Don't you think he'd be confused? Wouldn't he believe the things he saw before to be more true than what was being pointed out to him now?' 'Yes, he would. Much more true.' 'If he was forced to look at the light itself, wouldn't it hurt his eyes? Wouldn't he turn away, and run back to the things he could see? Wouldn't he think those things really were clearer than what was being pointed out?' 'Yes,' he said. 'And if he was dragged out of there by force, up the steep and difficult path, with no pause until he had been dragged right out into the sunlight, wouldn't he find this dragging painful? Wouldn't he resent it? And when he came into the light, with his eyes filled with the glare, would he be able to see a single one of the things people call real?' 'No, he wouldn't. Not at first.' 'He'd need to acclimatise himself, I imagine, if he were going to see things up there. To start with, he'd find shadows the easiest things to look at. After that, reflections - of people and other things - in water. The things themselves would come later, and from those he would move on to the heavenly bodies and the heavens themselves. He'd find it easier to look at the light of the stars and the moon by night than look at the sun, and the light of the sun, by day.' 'Of course.' 'The last thing he'd be able to look at, presumably, would be the sun. Not its image, in water or some location that is not its own, but the sun itself. He'd be able to look at it by itself, in its own place, and see it as it really was.' 'Yes,' he said, 'unquestionably.' 'At that point he would work out that it was the sun which caused the seasons and the years, which governed everything in the visible realm, and which was in one way or another responsible for everything they used to see.' 'That would obviously be the next stage.' 'Now, suppose he were reminded of the place where he lived originally, of what passed for wisdom there, and of his former fellow-prisoners. Don't you think he would congratulate himself on the change? Wouldn't he feel sorry for them?' 'Indeed he would.' 'Back in the cave they might have had rewards and praise and prizes for the person who was quickest at identifying the passing shapes, who had the best memory for the ones which came earlier or later or simultaneously, and who as a result was best at predicting what was going to come next. Do you think he would feel any desire for these prizes? Would he envy those who were respected and powerful there? Or would he feel as Achilles does in Homer? Would he much prefer "to labour as a common serf, serving a man with nothing to his name," putting up with anything to avoid holding those opinions and living that life?' 'Yes,' he said. 'If you ask me, he'd be prepared to put up with anything to avoid that way of life.' 'There's another question I'd like to ask you,' I said. 'Suppose someone like that came back down into the cave and took up his old seat. Wouldn't he find, coming straight in from the sunlight, that his eyes were swamped by the darkness?' 'I'm sure he would.' 'And suppose he had to go back to distinguishing the shadows, in competition with those who had never stopped being prisoners. Before his eyes had grown accustomed to the dark, while he still couldn't see properly—and this period of acclimatisation would be anything but short—wouldn't he be a laughing-stock? Wouldn't it be said of him that he had come back from his journey to the upper world with his eyesight destroyed, and that it wasn't worth even trying to go up there? As for anyone who tried to set them free, and take them up there, if they could somehow get their hands on him and kill him, wouldn't they do just that?' 'They certainly would,' he said (Plato, The Republic, Book 7).

'Have you ever noticed,' I asked, 'how much more extravagantly the creator of the senses has made the power of seeing and being seen then the other senses?' 'No, I haven't.' 'Look at it this way. For hearing to hear, and sound to be heard, do they need some other class of thing as well? Without this third thing, will hearing fail to hear, and sound fail to be heard?' 'No, they don't need any other class of thing,' he said. 'I suspect that many other faculties—I won't say all of them—have no need for any further thing of this sort. Can you think of any?' 'No, I can't. 'How about the faculty of sight, and the thing which is seen? Has it ever struck you that those do need something of this sort?' 'How do you mean?' 'If there is sight in the eyes, and its possessor is trying to make use of it, you surely realise that even in the presence of colour sight will see nothing, and the colours will remain unseen, unless one further thing joins them, a third sort of thing which exists for precisely this purpose.' 'What thing do you mean?' 'The thing you call light.' 'True,' he said. 'Which of the heavenly gods, then, do you take to be the agent responsible for this? Whose is the light which best enables our faculty of sight to see, and the things which are seen to be seen?' 'The one you or anyone else would take to be responsible,' he said. 'The one you're asking about is obviously the sun.' 'So the power which [the eye] has—the ability to see—it receives from the sun, as a kind of grant from an overflowing treasury.' (Plato, The Republic, Book 6).

I knew personally the celebrated Quaker Potts who saw [General] Washington alone in the woods at prayer. I got it...from the man myself...I was riding with him (Isaac Potts) in Montgomery County, [Pennsylvania] near...Valley Forge, where the army lay during the war of...Revolution. Mr. Potts was a Senator in our State [and] a Whig. I told him I was agreeably surprised to find him a friend to his country as the Quakers were mostly Tories. He said, "It was so and I was a rank Tory once, for I never believed that America [could] proceed against Great Britain whose fleets and armies covered the land and ocean, but something very extraordinary converted me to the Good Faith!" "What was that?" I inquired. "Do you see that woods, [and] that plain?" It was about a quarter of a mile off from the place we were riding, as it happened. "There," said he, "laid the army of Washington. It was a most distressing time of [the] war, and all were for giving up the Ship but that great and good man. In that woods"—pointing to a close in view—"I heard [the]...sound...of a man at prayer. I tied my horse...went quietly into the woods [and] to my astonishment I saw the great George Washington on his knees alone, with his sword on one side and his cocked hat on the other. He was at prayer to the God of the Armies, beseeching to interpose with his divine aid, as it was [the] Crisis, [and] the cause of the country, of humanity [and] of the world. Such a prayer I never heard from the lips of man. I left him alone praying. I went home [and] told my wife, 'I saw a sight and heard today what I never saw or heard before,' and just related to her what I had seen [and] heard [and] observed. We never thought a man [could] be a soldier [and] a Christian, but if there is one in the world, it is Washington. She also was astonished. We thought it was the cause of God, [and] America could prevail...I turned right about and became a Whig" (Related by Rev. Nathaniel Randolph Snowden, Diary and Remembrances).

It is by no means improbable that some future textbook, for the use of generations yet unborn, will contain a question something like this: What historical American of the nineteenth century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen? And it is by no means impossible that the answer to that interrogatory may be thus written: Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet. And the reply, absurd as it doubtless seems to most men now living, may be an obvious commonplace to their descendants" (Josiah Quincy, Mayor of Boston, President of Harvard University, Figures of the Past, 317).

In our friendly neighbor city of St. Augustine, great flocks of sea gulls are starving amid plenty. Fishing is still good, but the gulls don't know how to fish. For generations they have depended on the shrimp fleet to toss them scraps from the nets. Now the fleet has moved...The shrimpers had created a Welfare State for the...sea gulls. The big birds never bothered to learn how to fish for themselves and they never taught their children to fish. Instead they led their little ones to the shrimp nets. Now the sea gulls, the fine free birds that almost symbolize liberty itself, are starving to death because they gave in to the "something for nothing" lure! They sacrificed their independence for a hand-out. A lot of people are like that, too. They see nothing wrong in picking delectable scraps from the tax nets of the U.S. Government's "shrimp fleet." But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods? What about our children of generations to come? Let's not be gullible gulls. We...must preserve our talents of self-sufficiency, our genius for creating things for ourselves, our sense of thrift and our true love of independence ("Fable of the Gullible Gull," Reader's Digest, Oct. 1950, 32; Marion G. Romney, "The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance," Ensign, June 1984, 3).

There is a legend about the day of our nation's birth in the little hall in Philadelphia, a day on which debate had raged for hours. The men gathered there were honorable men hard-pressed by a king who had flouted the very laws they were willing to obey. Even so, to sign the Declaration of Independence was such an irretrievable act that the walls resounded with the words "treason, the gallows, the headsman's axe," and the issue remained in doubt. The legend says that at that point a man rose and spoke. He is described as not a young man, but one who had to summon all his energy for an impassioned plea. He cited the grievances that had brought them to this moment and finally, his voice falling, he said, "They may turn every tree into a gallows, every hole into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can never die. To the mechanic in the workshop, they will speak hope; to the slave in the mines, freedom. Sign that parchment. Sign if the next moment the noose is around your neck, for that parchment will be the textbook of freedom, the Bible of the rights of man forever." He fell back exhausted. The...delegates, swept up by his eloquence, rushed forward and signed that document destined to be as immortal as a work of man can be. When they turned to thank him for his timely oratory, he was not to be found, nor could any be found who knew who he was or how he had come in or gone out through the locked and guarded doors (President Ronald W. Reagan, "What July Fourth Means to Me," 4 July 1981).

I have never been able to believe that America is just a reward for those of extra courage and resourcefulness. This is a land of destiny and our forefathers found their way here by some Divine system of selective service gathered here to fulfill a mission to advance man a further step in his climb from the swamps. Almost two centuries ago a group of disturbed men met in the small Pennsylvania State House they gathered to decide on a course of action. Behind the locked and guarded doors they debated for hours whether or not to sign the Declaration which had been presented for their consideration. For hours the talk was treason and its price the headsman's axe, the gallows and noose. The talk went on and decision was not forthcoming. Then, Jefferson writes, a voice was heard coming from the balcony: They may stretch our necks on all the gibbets in the land. They may turn every tree into a gallows, every home into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can never die. They may pour our blood on a thousand scaffolds and yet from every drop that dyes the axe a new champion of freedom will spring into birth. The words of this declaration will live long after our bones are dust. To the mechanic in his workshop they will speak hope; to the slave in the mines, freedom; but to the coward rulers, these words will speak in tones of warning they cannot help but hear. Sign that parchment. Sign if the next moment the noose is around your neck. Sign if the next minute this hall rings with the clash of falling axes! Sign by all your hopes in life or death, not only for yourselves but for all ages, for that parchment will be the textbook of freedom the bible of the rights of man forever. Were my soul trembling on the verge of eternity, my hand freezing in death, I would still implore you to remember this truth God has given America to be free. As he finished, the speaker sank back in his seat exhausted. Inspired by his eloquence the delegates rushed forward to sign the Declaration of Independence. When they turned to thank the speaker for his timely words he couldn't be found and to this day no one knows who he was or how he entered or left the guarded room (Ronald Reagan, Eureka College Commencement Address, 7 June 1957).

Sometimes the weight of the demand for perfection drives us to despair. Sometimes we fail to believe that most choice portion of the gospel that says he can change us and bring us into his kingdom. Let me share an experience that happened about 10 years ago. My wife and I were living in Pennsylvania. Things were going pretty well; I'd been promoted. It was a good year for us as a family, though a trying year for Janet personally. That year she had our fourth child, graduated from college, passed the CPA exam, and was made Relief Society president. We had temple recommends, and we held family home evening. I was serving in the bishopric. I thought we were headed for "LDS yuppiehood." Then one night the lights went out. Something happened in my wife that I can only describe as "dying spiritually." She wouldn't talk about it or tell me what was wrong. That was the worst part. For a couple of weeks she did not wish to participate in spiritual things, and she asked to be released from her callings. Finally, after about two weeks, one night I made her mad, and it came out. She said, "All right. You want to know what's wrong? I'll tell you what's wrong. I can't do it anymore. I can't lift it. I can't get up at 5:30 in the morning and bake bread and sew clothes and help my kids with their homework and do my own homework and do my Relief Society stuff and get my genealogy done and write the congressman and go to the PTA meetings and write the missionaries..." And she just started naming off one brick after another that had been laid on her, explaining all the things she could not do—a catalog of her flaws and imperfections. She said, "I don't have the talent that Sister Morrell has. I can't do what Sister Childs does. I try not to yell at the kids, but I lose control, and I do. I've just finally admitted that I'm not perfect, and I'm not ever going to be perfect. I'm not going to make it to the celestial kingdom. I'm not "Molly Mormon," and I can't pretend I am, so I've given up. Why break my back trying to do what I can't?" Well, we started to talk, and it was a long night. I asked her, "Janet, do you have a testimony?" She said, "Of course I do! That's what's so terrible. I know it's true. I just can't do it." "Have you kept the covenants you made when you were baptized?" She said, "I've tried and I've tried, but I cannot keep all the commandments all the time." Then I rejoiced because I could see there was light at the end of the tunnel. The problem wasn't any of those horrible things I had thought it might be. It is possible to be an active member of the Church, to have a testimony of its truthfulness, to hold leadership positions, and still to lose track of the "good news" at the gospel's core. This is what happened here. Janet was trying to save herself. She knew why Jesus is a coach, a cheerleader, an advisor, a teacher. She knew why he is an example, the head of the Church, the Elder Brother, or even God. She knew all of that, but she did not understand why he is called the Savior. Janet was trying to save herself with Jesus as an advisor. But we can't do that. No one is perfect (Stephen E. Robinson, BYU Today, Nov. 1990, 27-28, also Ensign, Apr, 1992, 7).

Many years ago, when I was somewhere between nine and eleven, I participated in a community summer recreation program in the town where I grew up. I remember in particular a diving competition for the different age groups held at the community swimming pool. Some of the wealthier kids in our area had their own pools with diving boards, and they were pretty good amateur divers. But there was one kid my age from the less affluent part of town who didn't have his own pool. What he had was raw courage. While the rest of us did our crisp little swan dives, back dives, and jackknives, being ever so careful to arch our backs and point our toes, this young man attempted back flips, one-and-a-halfs, doubles, and so on. But, oh, he was sloppy. He seldom kept his feet together, he never pointed his toes, and he usually missed his vertical entry. The rest of us observed with smug satisfaction as the judges held up their scorecards that he consistently got lower marks than we did with our safe and simple dives, and we congratulated ourselves that we were actually the better divers. "He is all heart and no finesse," we told ourselves. "After all, we keep our feet together and point our toes." The announcement of the winners was a great shock to us, for the brave young lad with the flips had apparently beaten us all. However, I had kept rough track of the scores in my head, and I knew with the arrogance of limited information that the math didn't add up. I had consistently outscored the boy with the flips. And so, certain that an injustice was being perpetrated, I stormed the scorer's table and demanded an explanation. "Degree of difficulty," the scorer replied matter-of-factly as he looked me in the eye. "Sure, you had better form, but he did harder dives. When you factor in the degree of difficulty, he beat you hands down, kid." Until that moment I hadn't known that some dives were awarded "extra credit" because of their greater difficulty. I have a friend to whom life has been unkind. Though she married in the temple, her husband proved unfaithful and eventually abandoned her and their small children. Since he has never paid a penny in child support, my friend works full time to support herself and her kids. For several years she also went to school at night to improve her financial situation. Therefore, of necessity, she could not be with her children as much as she would have liked and could not always give them the guidance and discipline they needed. It just wasn't possible in her difficult circumstances. One result of her less-than-perfect family situation was troubled teenagers. Now in middle age she is faced with raising some of her grandchildren—again, all alone. Without a faithful companion, without the priesthood in her home, without the blessings that are realized where the ideal family setting is possible, it is almost inevitable that my friend should feel that her "scores" as a wife and mother, and perhaps even as a person, aren't very high. When she goes to church and sees other "ideal" LDS families, when she hears them bear their testimonies and give thanks for all their spiritual and temporal blessings, she sees in her mind the judges holding up scorecards that say 9.9 or 10.0. When she looks at her own life, her own failed marriage, her own troubled children, she knows that the scores are much lower, and she worries about her place in the kingdom. Well, she needn't worry, for she is as faithful to her covenants in her troubles as the rest of us are in our blessings. True, there are some things she cannot do, but these are the result of her circumstances, not choices pursued by her own free will, and where there is no choice, there can be no condemnation. I have no doubt that when the "degree of difficulty" is factored in for the life she leads, her crown will shine brighter than many others, for God always factors into his judgments the "degree of difficulty" (Stephen E. Robinson, Following Christ, 34-37).

I was sitting in a chair reading. My daughter, Sarah, who was seven years old at the time, came in and said, "Dad, can I have a bike? I'm the only kid on the block who doesn't have one." Well, I didn't have the money then for a bike, so I stalled her. I said, "Sure, Sarah." She said, "How? When?" I said, "You save all your pennies, and soon you'll have enough for a bike." And she went away. A couple of weeks later I was sitting in the same chair when I heard a "clink, clink" in Sarah's bedroom. I asked, "Sarah, what are you doing?" She came to me with a little jar, a slit cut in the lid, and a bunch of pennies in the bottom. She said, "You promised me that if I saved all my pennies, pretty soon I'd have enough for a bike. And, Daddy, I've saved every single one of them." My heart melted. My daughter was doing everything in her power to follow my instructions. I hadn't actually lied to her. If she saved all of her pennies, she would eventually have enough for a bike, but by then she would want a car. I said, "Let's go look at bikes." We went to every store in town. Finally we found it--the perfect bicycle. She was thrilled. Then she saw the price tag, and her face fell. She started to cry. "Oh, Dad, I'll never have enough for a bicycle!" So I said, "Sarah, how much do you have?" She answered, "Sixty-one cents." "I'll tell you what. You give me everything you've got and a hug and a kiss, and the bike is yours." Then I drove home very slowly because she insisted on riding the bike home. As I drove beside her, I thought of the atonement of Christ. We all desperately want the celestial kingdom. We want to be with our Father in Heaven. But no matter how hard we try, we come up short. At some point all of us must realize, "I can't do this by myself. I need help." Then it is that the Savior says, in effect, All right, you're not perfect. But what can you do? Give me all you have, and I'll do the rest. He still requires our best effort. We must keep trying. But the good news is that having done all we can, it is enough. We may not be personally perfect yet, but because of our covenant with the Savior, we can rely on his perfection, and his perfection will get us through. (Stephen E. Robinson, Ensign, Apr 1992, "Believing Christ").

When my son Michael was six or seven, he did something I thought was wrong. He is my only son, and I want him to be better than his dad was. So when he slipped up, I sent him to his room with the instructions, "Don't you dare come out until I come and get you!" And then I forgot. Some hours later, as I was watching television, I heard his door open and tentative footsteps coming down the hall. I slapped my forehead and ran to meet him. There he was with swollen eyes and tears on his cheeks. He looked up at me--not quite sure he should have come out--and said, "Dad, can't we ever be friends again?" I melted and pulled him to me. He's my boy, and I love him. (Stephen E. Robinson, Ensign, Apr 1992, "Believing Christ").

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat (Teddy Roosevelt, Speech before the Hamilton Club, Chicago, Apr. 10, 1899).

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face in marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat (Teddy Roosevelt, Address delivered at the Sorbonne, Paris, Apr. 23, 1910).

You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand, such as I am: though for myself alone I would not be ambitious in my wish, to wish myself much better; yet, for you, I would be trebled twenty times myself; a thousand times more fair (William Shakespeare, Portia to Bassanio, The Merchant of Venice, 3.2.149-154).

Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing; 'Twas mine,'tis his, and has been slave to thousands. But he that filches from me my good name, robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed. (William Shakespeare, Iago to Othello, Othello, 3.3.157-161).

Intro by Elder Holland: I speak of the confusion and ultimate destruction of a very powerful man, who was on the stage of events in that pivotal Tudor period in England when the whole world was changed because Henry VIII wanted a divorce. My, upon what small hinges the doors of personal and world history swing! In Henry's determination to be rid of Catherine of Aragon and gain the hand of Anne Boleyn, he turned to this counselor and confidant, the second most powerful man in the British realm, the masterful Thomas Wolsey. Son of an uneducated Suffolk butcher, Wolsey's driving ambition and immense talent brought him rapid rise through Oxford University and into the Church where he quickly became chaplain to Henry VII. Then when young Henry VIII ascended to the throne, Wolsey's fortunes prospered even more dramatically. In addition to high church positions, including Archbishop of York and finally cardinal, he became the most influential member of the king's Privy Council. Quickly enough he was the controlling figure in all matters of state and every political move made by his monarch. He loved display and wealth. He lived in royal splendor and reveled in his power. Then Anne Boleyn came onto the scene. Young Henry was determined to move heaven, earth, Catherine, and church doctrine to have her, but the obstacles were near insurmountable. He told Wolsey to surmount them. Wolsey could not and did not. The failure proved to be fatal. In spite of such a remarkable and virtually unprecedented rise to political power, Wolsey's fall was sudden and very complete. Stripped of every office he held and all property he possessed, he was accused of treason and ordered to appear in London. In great distress he set out for the capital to be tried. On the way he fell ill and died (Jeffrey R. Holland, Commencement Address, BYU-Idaho, 23 Apr 2005).

Farewell! a long farewell, to all my greatness! This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth The tender leaves of hopes; to-morrow blossoms, And bears his blushing honours thick upon him; The third day comes a frost, a killing frost, And, when he thinks, good easy man, full surely His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root, And then he falls, as I do. I have ventured, Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders, This many summers in a sea of glory, But far beyond my depth: my high-blown pride At length broke under me and now has left me, Weary and old with service, to the mercy Of a rude stream, that must for ever hide me. Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye: I feel my heart new open'd. O, how wretched Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favours! There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to, That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin, More pangs and fears than wars or women have: And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer, Never to hope again.

His protege Cromwell enters the room. They speak quietly, with tears, and Wolsey commands:

Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition: By that sin fell the angels; how can man, then, The image of his Maker, hope to win by it? Love thyself last: cherish those hearts that hate thee; Corruption wins not more than honesty....O Cromwell, Cromwell! Had I but served my God with half the zeal I served my king, he would not in mine age Have left me naked to mine enemies...Farewell the hopes of court! my hopes in heaven do dwell (King Henry VIII, Act III, ii, 351-460).

I think a few people might look at me and almost not believe what I say. Some of them might think, given the fact that I haven't received any professional counseling, that something must still be wrong with me, that I'm hiding my wounds or putting on a happy face. Some might think that I'm carrying a bit of baggage, or that there are certain things that I'm not ready yet to face...My parents made it very clear that they would do whatever it took to help me. Every option was on the table. Counseling. Therapy. Doctors and medication. Whatever it took to secure a happy future. But while we talked about the possibility of therapy or counseling, I never felt it was the right thing for me. So how was I able to get past all of the horrible things that happened?..(Mom, horses, harp)...All of these things have helped me. But ultimately, to get better, I simply made a choice. Life is a journey for us all. We all face trials. We all have ups and downs. All of us are human. But we are also the masters of our fate. We are the ones who decide how we are going to react to life. Yes, I could have decided to allow myself to be handicapped by what happened to me. But I decided very early that I only had one life and that I wasn't going to waste it. As of this writing, I am twenty-five years old. I have been alive for 307 months. Nine of those months were pretty terrible. But 298 of those months have been very good. I have been happy. I have been very blessed. Who knows how many more months I have to live? But even if I died tomorrow, nine out of 307 seems like pretty good odds. Looking at it that way, I don't think I have much to complain about...There is one other very important explanation for why I've been able to overcome what happened to me. I believe in gratitude. When I first got home from being kidnapped, I was so grateful to be back with my family, so grateful that they cared and had not given up on me. I was so grateful for a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, and hot water to take a bath. I was so grateful for food to eat, for shoes that fit, for clean cloths. I was grateful for literally everything...I made the firm resolution that I would always be grateful and never feel sorry for myself. I resolved that whenever I might have any doubts or moments of weakness--and I knew that they would come--I would tell myself, Elizabeth, you have everything back now! But you remember all those hard times, right? And because you remember all those hard times, you can remember the depth of your gratitude. (My Story, 297-303.)

All day we sat and cooked in the summer heat. Mitchell checked the water containers once again, but all of them were dry. I had thought that being hungry was difficult, but it was nothing compared to this. Nothing compared to the burning in my throat. Nothing compared to the drive to find something to drink. And I wasn't alone. Barzee and Mitchell felt it too. I could see it in their eyes. I could hear it in the dryness of their voices. Whatever had driven Mitchell to stay away from the bottom of the canyon must have been very powerful indeed. The day dragged on. Hot. Miserable. Dry desert heat. I was beginning to lose my energy. None of us wanted to eat. I begged Mitchell again to go down and get some water. I begged him to let me off the cable. I offered to carry the containers if he was too tired to carry them himself. I tried to understand why he couldn't go, but none of it made sense. Evening came. We went to bed. I fell into a restless asleep. I was awakened in the middle of the night. Sitting up, I looked around. The moonlight filtered through the nylon fabric, casting the inside of the tent in a pale, yellow light. Mitchell was asleep beside me. Barzee was lying next to him. Both of them were breathing deeply, Mitchell's throat rattling with every breath. I looked around in the moonlight. Something had wakened me. Turning, I looked toward the front of the tent. There was a yellow cup sitting beside my pillow. I leaned toward it, checking it in the moonlight. It was filled to the very brim with water. I stared at it a moment, not believing it was real. I reached out to touch it. The cup was cold. I pulled my hand back and looked around. Was I dreaming? Was I crazy? I quickly turned to Mitchell and Barzee. Neither of them had moved. I listened. A gentle breeze blew through the tops of the trees, swaying in the night. I turned back to the water. Slowly, I reached out to touch it once again. It was cold as ice and filled to the top. I picked it up and drank it. The water cooled my throat and filled my stomach. It was cold and clear and wonderful, the best-tasting water that I had ever had. After drinking, I stared at the empty cup for a long time before laying my head back on the ground. Where did the water come from? I have no explanation other than the water came from God. I know we didn't have a drop of water in the camp. I know that neither Mitchell nor Barzee would have wakened to give me any water, even if they had any left to give. And this water was fresh and cold, like it had just come from the spring. I never told them about the water. I never talked about it at all. But over the next few days, I thought a lot about what had happened. Why did God do it? How did it happen? What was God trying to say? Would I have died without the water? Certainly not. As thirsty as I felt, and as terrible as it was, I was not teetering on the edge of a life-or-death situation. And I was not alone. Mitchell and Barzee needed water too. Mitchell wasn't going to stay up on the mountain and let us all die of thirst. Eventually he would have had to go down to the stream. So why did God send me the water? Because He loved me. And He wanted me to know. He wanted me to know that He was still near. He wanted me to know that He controlled the Earth and all the heavens, that all things were in His hands. And if He could move the mountains, then he could do this thing for me. To Him it was a small thing--a terribly easy thing to do--but for me it was as powerful as if He had parted the sea. This experience reminded me once again that God had not deserted me, that He was aware of my suffering and loneliness. And that assurance gave me hope. It helped me to keep my faith and gave me the strength that I needed to go on...In my life, I have come to believe there are lots of examples where God provides us little miracles to give us hope. Most of these experiences are not as obvious as waking up and finding a cup of water. Some of them are much more subtle. We may even have to look for His miracles along the way. But they are there. And they're important when we are struggling with the challenging battles of this life. (My Story, 130-132.)

I thought back on my family. As I did, I remembered something that had happened to me just a few months before. I had come home from school really upset. My mom asked me what was wrong. I told her I'd been sitting at a table with my friends, and this popular girl came up and said, "I'm having a party this weekend and all of you are invited." We were all excited. This was a pretty big deal. To be invited to a party with the popular crowd. That's the top of the mountain to a junior-high girl. But then she turned to me. "Except you," she said. "You're not invited to my party." My friends didn't even seem to notice. I felt so bad. I was embarrassed and hurt. After I told my mom what had happened, she tried to make me feel better. "It won't be that bad spending another weekend at home," she said. That didn't help much. "You can spend some more time with your family." No help at all...Then she asked me something that added to my hurt: "Do you really think those girls sitting at the table with you are your friends? Are they really friends if, at the first offer, they abandon you?" I didn't want to answer that question. I mean, what did it say about my social life? That it was nonexistent. What did it say about what I and every junior-high girl more or less aspired to---being one of the popular ones? Worst of all, what did it say about the girls I thought were my friends? Not one of them had stood up for me. None of them had said, "Don't worry, Elizabeth, we'll have our own party this weekend. We'll hang out with you." My mom continued. "Elizabeth, you're going to meet lots of people in this life. Some of them will like you. Some of them won't. But of all the people you'll have to deal with, there are only a few people that matter. God. And your dad and me. God will always love you. You are His daughter. He will never turn his back on you. The same thing is true for me. It doesn't matter where you go, or what you do, or whatever else might happen, I will always love you. You will always be my daughter. Nothing can change that." As she spoke, I realized that she was right. How many times had she picked me up when I felt down? How many times had she talked to me when I needed her or helped me understand a problem or sat through my harp lessons (which weren't always pleasant) or done a million other things that moms do? She had always been there for me. Thinking back on this conversation, I realized that my mom would accept me back home again. The fear of rejection was still raw in my mind, but I knew that she wouldn't reject me for what had happened. She still loved me. She would always love me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my dad would accept me back as well. I mean, how many times had I crashed one of our snowmobiles into a snowbank? How many other things had I done that he could have gotten mad at me for? But he hadn't. On the other hand, how many times had he tucked me into bed and told me stories or sang me songs at night? He had always loved me. Yes. . . my parents would always love me. My siblings would love me too. They would still accept me, no matter what the man had done. Which meant I had something still to live for. I took a breath and held it, a shudder moving down my spine. In that moment, the world seemed to tip ever so slightly toward the normal. It was as if, in the midst of all the blackness, I saw a ray of light. My mind focused in on it, grasping toward it as a falling man might grasp for a rope. The realization that my family would still love me proved to be the turning point. In fact, it proved to be the most important moment throughout my entire nine-month ordeal. It was at this moment that I decided that no matter what happened, I was going to find a way to survive. The conviction was crystal clear. I would do whatever it took to live. No matter what it took, no matter what I had to do, I was going to survive. (My Story, 59-61.)

I sat on the bucket and cried all morning long. At one point, I remember looking at a tiny branch of a mountain oak. Sometime before, the man had taken an ax to clear the camp-ground, cutting back a couple of small trees and branches. A stump had been left jutting out of the bare ground and the man had used it to tie down one of the corners of the tent. A small sapling had started to grow out of the side of the stump. A few leaves. A single branch, smaller than my pinky finger. I stared at the sapling as it struggled to find a place to grow. Over the summer, I would stare at that tiny tree for hours, admiring its determination. Its mother tree had been cut away, leaving it as the only spot of green surrounded by bare dirt and plastic tarps and tents. Its bed was hot and dry and dusty. Yet it kept on fighting to survive. I resolved once again: Whatever it takes to survive! (My story, "A Nice Girl," p. 71).

Emma Smith

Question. What of the truth of Mormonism?
Answer. I know Mormonism to be the truth; and believe the Church to have been established by divine direction. I have complete faith in it. In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.

Question. Had he not a book or manuscript from which he read, or dictated to you?
Answer. He had neither manuscript nor book to read from.

Question. Could he not have had, and you not know it?
Answer. If he had had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me.

Question. Are you sure that he had the plates at the time you were writing for him?
Answer. The plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen tablecloth, which I had given him to fold them in. I once felt of the plates, as they thus lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book.

Question. Could not father have dictated the Book of Mormon to you, Oliver Cowdery and the others who wrote for him, after having first written it, or having first read it out of some book?
Answer. Joseph Smith (and for the first time she used his name direct, having usually used the words, "your father" or "my husband") could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictate a book like the Book of Mormon. And, though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, and was present during the translation of the plates, and had cognizance of things as they transpired, it is marvelous to me, "a marvel and a wonder," as much so as to anyone else.

Question. Mother, what is your belief about the authenticity, or origin, of the Book of Mormon?
Answer. My belief is that the Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity - I have not the slightest doubt of it. I am satisfied that no man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when acting as his scribe, your father would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he could at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him. This was a usual thing for him to do. It would have been improbable that a learned man could do this; and, for one so ignorant and unlearned as he was, it was simply impossible.

Question. When did you first know Sidney Rigdon? Where?
Answer. I was residing at father Whitmer's when I first saw Sidney Rigdon. I think he came there.

Question. Was this before or after the publication of the Book of Mormon?
Answer. The Book of Mormon had been translated and published some time before. Parley P. Pratt had united with the Church before I knew Sidney Rigdon, or heard of him. At the time of Book of Mormon was translated there was no church organized, and Rigdon did not become acquainted with Joseph and me till after the Church was established in 1830. How long after that I do not know, but it was some time.

Question. Who were scribes for father when translating the Book of Mormon?
Answer. Myself, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and my brother Reuben Hale.

Question. Did he not have other wives than yourself?
Answer. He had no other wife but me; nor did he to my knowledge ever have.

Question. Did he not hold marital relations with women other than yourself?
Answer. He did not have improper relations with any woman that ever came to my knowledge.

(From "Last Testimony of Sister Emma," The Saints' Herald 26/19, 1 Oct 1879, 289-290).

Smith felt shaken and reawakened to the possibility of returning to the Church. "I hit my knees and said, 'Okay God. You want me to be LDS again? Fine, but you got to do your part. I don't have a testimony and I have these issues that I need answers to,'" Smith says. But in the following days, he continues, "one by one I would wake up in the middle of the night with an answer, every single night. One of my issues was why is there no archeological evidence of the Book of Mormon. [But one night] God said to me, 'Does the fact you can walk the streets of Jerusalem make the Bible true?' And I said, 'No.' He said, 'But what if somebody uncovered a sign tomorrow that said 'Welcome to Zarehemla, population 420.' What would that do to the Book of Mormon?' And I said, 'Then it would make it true.' But He said, 'Then where would be your faith?'" Still, Smith had other questions about Joseph Smith's life, treasure seeking, polygamy, and other difficult topics in Church history. God addressed these as well, Smith says. One night, God said, "'Okay Mr. Attorney, if you are so smart, who would you choose to be a prophet? You who doesn't believe anything? A doctor who needs proof? I happened to choose a young boy who could accept the impossible, who could dream the unimaginable. That's the kind of person who was needed to be able to accept and to believe the visions he was seeing and act on the voices he was hearing. Would you have? You have been 26 years fighting it." These answers humbled Smith, opening his eyes to the fact that no matter how much he searched, researched, and debated online, these answers could only come from his Heavenly Father. One by one his questions fell away until March 16, 2015, he awoke with his testimony alive and strong. "In my mind, I could see the Lord and He walks up to me and says, 'Okay, I have kept your testimony warm and safe. This time take care of it,'" Smith remembers, recalling the Lord cupping his hands around the testimony and placing it on Smith's heart. "He held it like a living thing when He gave it back to me. [And I realized] it is a living thing and if you don't feed it and nourish it and nurture it, it will die" (Steve Smith, "How an Anti-Mormon Attorney Became a Member of the Church He Hated," by Danielle Wagner, LDSLiving.com, Oct. 3, 2017).

A few years ago, I found myself frequently in fervent prayer, pleading for blessings for myself and my family, blessings I knew we needed. I knew the blessings I sought were righteous desires, yet they did not come. Each time I prayed, the only impressions that came were urging me to do family history and temple work for my ancestors. The great irony was that one of the things I was seeking so fervently was more time. I felt overwhelmed with my life. I was the mother of four young children, I worked at least six hours a day on a home business, I had a demanding Church calling, and my husband traveled a lot on business and served in a student ward bishopric. Now the Lord was asking me to dedicate time and energy I didn't think I had to family history work! It had never even crossed my mind that I should be doing my family history. I had felt that it was 'not my season,' that it was something I would do later in life. But in kind persistence, the answer to every prayer was the same--to seek my ancestors and do their temple work. While family history work might not be expected of everyone in my circumstances, I felt sure the Lord wanted me to become involved in it...I knew one of the fundamental laws of revelation was obedience. President David O. McKay once said, 'I want to tell you one thing: When the Lord tells you what to do, you've got to have the courage to do it or you had better not ask him again.' If I didn't obey the direction the Lord was giving me now, I knew I could not expect further direction. One afternoon the demands of my life hit an all-time crescendo. I went to the Lord in prayer, and again the prompting came to seek out my ancestors and do their temple work. But this time I was willing to follow those promptings. As impossible as it seemed, I decided to make a promise that I would spend an average of an hour a day doing family history work. I felt peace in my heart as I made the commitment, but logically I could not see how I was ever going to do it. I decided I would give the Lord my best hour of each day. I set aside the precious hour when my three-year-old was at preschool and my baby was napping. At first this was a trial of my faith. It was difficult for me to shut out all the other pressing demands in my life, but each day I diligently put in my hour, trusting that the Lord would bless me. I knew nothing about family history, so my first hours were spent doing simple things like calling family members to gather records, sitting at the computer trying to learn the family history software, and entering my family data onto the computer. Even though my daily strides were small, I knew that the Lord recognized the sacrifice I was making because I began to feel His Spirit in my life more than ever before...I had prayed for more time. It didn't take me long to notice that I was somehow getting more accomplished each day that I worked on family history than I ever got done on the days before I gave this hour to the Lord. Generally, the blessings came in small, almost imperceptible ways: the children weren't getting sick, the appliances and cars didn't need repairs, for example. But one day, the divine assistance was obvious. I had a son who needed jeans and a pair of shorts for Scout camp. I purchased some for him, but when I took them home they did not fit and were not the style he had hoped for. So I decided that on the following Saturday I would take him to the mall and try again. I figured that with the driving time, it would take at least three hours of the day. When Saturday came, I attended first to my family history and ran some errands. On my way home an impression came to my mind to go up the street, where I would find a garage sale, and there I would find some jeans for my son. It was only an impression, but I knew it did not come from me. Knowing the importance of obedience, I followed it. Sure enough, at the top of the street, there was a small garage sale being held for a local charity. When I walked in, sitting on a table in the middle of the garage was a stack of new and slightly used jeans only in my son's size and next to it a stack of shorts also in his size. I bought every pair and still paid less than if I had purchased one or two pairs at the mall. When I took them home my son loved them! That morning I had given the Lord one hour of my time. In return, he gave me back three hours that I could spend with my children and a strengthened testimony that He lives and is mindful of even my smallest challenges. The Spirit prompted me to work on family history. I was able to show mercy to my ancestors and bless their lives by doing for them something they could not do for themselves, and my family has been blessed abundantly. The Lord has promised each of us that if we are merciful we will also obtain mercy (Kim Sorensen, "Blessings for My Ancestors, Blessings for Me," Ensign, August 2006).

"No!" cried Gandolf, springing to his feet. "With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly." His eyes flashed and his face was lit as by fire within. "Do not tempt! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself...I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused. The will to wield it would be too great for my strength" (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, 87-88).

It is a heavy burden. So heavy that none could lay it on another. I do not lay it on you. But if you take it freely, I will say that your choice is right; and though all the mighty elf-friends of old...were assembled together, your seat should be among them (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, 324).

The only measure that the enemy knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, 322-323).

It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King, 171).

Of all the American religious books of the nineteenth century it seems probable that The Book of Mormon was the most powerful. It reached perhaps only one percent of the people of the United States, but it affected this one percent so powerfully and lastingly that all the people of the United States have been affected (Henry A. Wallace, "The Power of Books," Address before the New York Times National Book Fair, November 4, 1937. Henry A. Wallace served as Vice President of the U. S. from 1941 - 1945).

Celeste Davis is a young mother of three whose baby woke up often, every night. She began to pray that she and her baby could get the sleep they needed. But her prayers seemed to go unanswered. This caused her to want to better understand prayer and why she wasn't being blessed with relief. She learned from the Bible Dictionary that "we pray in Christ's name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ...We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant. Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ's name at all; they in no way represent His mind but spring out of the selfishness of man's heart." So Celeste decided to make a list of the things for which she had been praying. By making this list, she realized that her prayers primarily consisted of asking Heavenly Father for what she wanted, which was for Him to change her circumstances. She then decided to make another list, writing down those things that she was certain Heavenly Father wanted for her. Of course the two lists were not entirely incompatible -- He loves us and wants us to be happy. But this little exercise teaches an important truth. While she wanted to change her circumstances, He wanted to change her. So, she decided to adjust her approach to prayer in order to better align her will with Heavenly Father's. She wrote: "I came up with a little formula to help me in my prayers. It is simply this -- whenever you ask for something you want and you're not totally sure if it's something God wants for you, tack on the phrase 'but if not' and then add something you're sure God would want for you. For example: '[Heavenly Father], please help me get some sleep tonight, but if not, help me to have enough energy to be pleasant and hardworking anyway.' '[Heavenly Father], please bless that my child will get over this sickness and feel better, but if not, help us to trust in Thee and be patient with each other.' '[Heavenly Father], please bless that I will be included in my group of friends, but if not, even if I feel excluded, help me to be kind and generous.'" She continued: "I've tried this out for about a year now, and I can say my rate of prayer success has skyrocketed...I feel like I'm finally fulfilling the real purpose of prayer, which is not to negotiate my desires, but to align myself with God...An unexpected benefit has been that I don't fear hard situations or not getting what I want nearly as much as I used to because I've seen and felt God answer my prayers -- both my desires and my 'but if nots'" (Chad Webb, "Faith as a Principle of Action and Power," S&I Annual Training Broadcast for 2017).

I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Hand Cart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that Company. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? No one of that company ever apostatized or left the church because every one of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities. I have pulled my hand cart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said I can go only that far and there I must give up for I cannot pull the load through it. I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there. Was I sorry that I chose to come by hand cart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Hand Cart Company (Francis Webster, The Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1948, 8; also Ensign, May 1979, 53).

The Lord protects the sacredness of his deepest and most holy truths, presenting them only to those who most deeply desire them and whose lives of sacrifice and obedience have developed in them a closeness with the Spirit (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory, 17).

Once there was a little boy and a little girl who loved Jesus very much, and he loved them. They were kind and always told the truth, and whatever Jesus wanted them to do they tried their best to do. "You may come to my house," Jesus told them one day, "and there I will give you a gift." They put on their best clothes, made sure they were clean, and went to Jesus' house. It was a beautiful house, and it made them feel beautiful too, just to be inside it. They met Jesus, and he gave them his gift. It was a key—a wonderful key. "Take care of this key," he said. "Put it next to your heart. Don't let it tarnish or get rusty. Always keep it with you. One day it will open a wonderful door. Whenever you wish, you may return to my house, but each time I will ask to see the key." They promised him they would, and they went home. They returned often to Jesus' house, and each time he asked if they still had the key. And they always did. One day he asked if they would follow him. He led them to a hill covered with green grass and trees. On top of the hill was a mansion in the middle of a beautiful garden. Even in their dreams they had never imagined anything so magnificent. "Who lives here?" they asked him. "You may," he answered. "This is your eternal home. I've been building it for you. The key I gave you fits a lock in the front door. Now run up the path and put your key into the lock." They ran up the hill and through the garden to the front door. "If it's this beautiful on the outside," they said, "it must be even more wonderful inside!" But when they reached the front door, they stopped. It was the strangest door they had ever seen. Instead of one lock, the door was covered with locks, hundreds of locks, thousands of locks. And they had only one key. They put their key into one of the locks. It wouldn't fit. They put it into another. It didn't fit that one either. They tried many different locks. Finally they found the one that fit. They turned the key and the lock clicked. But the door wouldn't open. They ran back to Jesus. "We cannot open the door," they said. "It is covered with locks, and we have only one key." He smiled at them and said: "Do you think you will be happy living in your mansion all alone? Is there anyone you would like to live with you there?" They thought for a while and then answered, "We would like our families to live with us." "Go and find them," he said. "Invite them to my house, and I will give each one their very own key. Soon you will have many keys." They rushed out eagerly to find their families. They found their fathers and mothers, their brothers and sisters, and all their cousins and brought them to Jesus' house. Just as he had promised, he gave each one a key. When all had been given a key, together they returned to the great door of the mansion. Now they had dozens of keys, but there were thousands of locks, and the door still wouldn't open. They needed more keys. Once again they returned to Jesus. "We have brought our families," they said. "But the door still won't open." "Do your parents have a mother and father and brothers and sisters?" He asked them "Do you think they will be happy living in the beautiful mansion without them? If you look hard enough, you will find many, many people. Bring them all to my house, and I will give each one a key." They looked very hard, just as Jesus told them. They found mothers and fathers. They found brothers and sisters. They found grandmas and grandpas and great-great-grandmothers and great-great-great-grandfathers. They found aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews and cousins. They found them in big cities. They found them in tiny villages. Some lived by the seashore. Some lived on the open prairie. Some lived near the mountains. Some lived far across the ocean. And some lived close, just over the next hill. Some were blacksmiths and some were farmers. There were cobblers and tailors and fishermen. There were teachers and mechanics and shopkeepers. Some were tall with strange-looking hats. Others were short and wore wooden shoes. They spoke different languages and came from many different countries. They found some with long blond hair that hung far down their backs in braids. They found some with short red hair that stuck straight up and had to be hidden under a hat. The boy and girl searched until they had found everybody and all their families. They brought all the fathers and mothers, the brothers and sisters, the aunts and uncles, the nieces and nephews, the grandmothers and grandfathers to Jesus' house. Inside he gave each one his or her own key. Soon all the families were gathered before the great door. There was a lock for every key. They tuned the keys, but the door remained closed. There was one final lock, a great big one right in the middle of the door, and no one had its key. The boy and girl returned to Jesus. "We have found all our families," they said. "But the door still won't open. We're missing a key and we don't know where to find it." Jesus smiled, put his arms around them, and gave each one a kiss. "I have that last key," he said, and he held it up. It was bright and shining and beautiful. "This is the key of my atonement," he said. "Am I not a member of the family? Do you think you will be happy living in your mansion without me? Do you think I would be happy living without you? Now that you have found the whole family, all my brothers and sisters, all our Father's children, together we will enter our eternal home, for home will always be where families live and love together." He took their hands, and the whole family opened the door, entered the mansion, and spent an eternity of happiness together" (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory, 90-93).

 

 

 

 

C S LEWIS

'I should like to paint this.' 'I wouldn't bother about that just at present if I were you.' 'Look here; isn't one going to be allowed to go on painting?' 'When you painted on earth—at least in your earlier days—it was because you caught glimpses of Heaven in the earthly landscape. The success of your painting was that it enabled others to see the glimpses too. But here you are having the thing itself. It is from here that the messages came. There is no good telling us about this country, for we see it already. In fact we see it better than you do.' 'Then there's never going to be any point in painting here?' 'I wouldn't say that. When you've grown into a Person there'll be some things which you'll see better than anyone else. One of the things you'll want to do will be to tell us about them. But not yet. At present your business is to see. Come and see. He is endless. Come and feed.' There was a little pause. 'That will be delightful,' said the Ghost presently in a rather dull voice. 'Come, then,' said the Spirit, offering it his arm. 'How soon do you think I could begin painting?' it asked. The Spirit broke into laughter. 'Don't you see you'll never paint at all if that's what you're thinking about?' he said. 'What do you mean?' asked the Ghost. 'Why, if you are interested in the country only for the sake of painting it, you'll never learn to see the country.' 'But that's just how a real artist is interested in the country.' 'No. You're forgetting,' said the Spirit. 'That was not how you began. Light itself was your first love: you loved paint only as a means of telling about light.' 'Oh, that's ages ago,' said the Ghost. 'One grows out of that. Of course, you haven't seen my later works. One becomes more and more interested in paint for its own sake.' 'One does, indeed. I also have had to recover from that. It was all a snare. Ink and paint were necessary down there, but they are also dangerous stimulants. Every poet and musician and artist, but for Grace, is draw away from love of the thing it tells, to love of the telling. It doesn't stop at being interested in paint, either. They sink lower—become interested in their own personalities and then in nothing but their own reputations.' 'I don't think I'm much trouble in that way,' said the Ghost stiffly. 'That's excellent,' said the Spirit. 'Not many of us had quite got over it when we first arrived. But if there is any of that inflammation left it will be cured when you come to the fountain.' 'What fountain's that?' 'It is up there in the mountains,' said the Spirit. 'Very cold and clear, between two green hills. When you have drunk of it you forget forever all proprietorship in your own works. You enjoy them just as if they were someone else's: without pride and without modesty.' 'That'll be grand,' said the Ghost without enthusiasm. 'Well, come,' said the Spirit: and for a few paces he supported the humbling shadow forward to the East. 'Of course,' said the Ghost, as if speaking to itself, 'there'll always be interesting people to meet.' 'Everyone will be interesting.' 'Oh-ah-yes, to be sure. I was thinking of people in our own line. Shall I meet [Monet? Rembrandt?]' 'Sooner or later—if they're here.' 'But don't you know?' 'Well, of course not. I've only been here a few years. All the chances are against my having run across them. There are a good many of us, you know.' 'But surely in the case of distinguished people, you'd hear?' 'But they aren't distinguished—no more than anyone else. Don't you understand? The Glory flows into everyone, and back from everyone: like light and mirrors. But the light's the thing.' 'Do you mean there are no famous men?' 'They are all famous. They are all known, remembered, recognized by the only Mind that can give a perfect judgment.' 'One must be content with one's reputation among posterity, then,' said the Ghost. 'My friend,' said the Spirit. 'Don't you know?' 'Know what?' 'That you and I are already completely forgotten on the Earth?' 'What's that?' exclaimed the Ghost, disengaging it's arm. 'You couldn't get five pounds for any picture of mine or even yours in Europe or America today. We're dead out of fashion.' 'I must be off at once,' said the Ghost. 'Let me go! One has one's duty to the future of Art. I must go back to my friends. I must write an article. There must be a manifesto. We must start a periodical. We must have publicity. Let me go. This is beyond a joke!' And without listening to the Spirit's reply, the Ghost vanished (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, Ch. 9, 79-83).

Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called "being in love" usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending "They lived happily ever after" is taken to mean "They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married," then it says what probably never was nor ever could be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be "in love" need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense—love as distinct from "being in love" is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by...the grace which both...ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other...They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be "in love" with someone else. "Being in love" first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it...People...get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on "being in love" for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change—not realizing that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one. In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last...The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there. Does this mean it would be better not to live in the beautiful place? By no means. If you go through with it, the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for by a quieter and more lasting kind of happiness. What is more,...the very people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the longer-lasting happiness, are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction...This is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go—let it die away—go on through that period of death into the quieter...happiness that follows—and you will find you are living in a would of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged man and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all around them. It is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly and hopelessly trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Ch. 6, Para. 9-12, p. 99-101).

We must not think of pride as something God forbids because He is offended at it, or that humility is something He demands as due to His own dignity—as if God Himself was proud. He is not in the least worried about His dignity. The point is, He wants you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble—delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible: trying to take off a lot of silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up and are strutting about like the little idiots we are. I wish I had got a bit further with humility myself: if I had, I could probably tell you more about the relief, the comfort, of taking the fancy-dress off—getting rid of the false self, with all its "Look at me" and "Aren't I a good boy?" and all its posing and posturing. To get even near it, even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Ch. 8, Para. 12, p. 113-114).

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call "humble" nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Ch. 8, Para. 13, p. 114).

Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book II, Ch. 4, Para. 7, p. 59).

God...knows what you and I are going to do tomorrow. But if He knows I am going to do so-and-so, how can I be free to do otherwise? Well, the difficulty comes from thinking that God is progressing along a time-line like us: the only difference being that He can see ahead and we cannot. Well, if that were true, if God foresaw our acts, it would be very hard to understand how we could be free not to do them. But suppose God is outside and above the time-line. In that case, what we call "tomorrow" is visible to Him in just the same way as what we can "today." All the days are "Now" for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday; He simply sees you doing them, because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not. He does not "foresee" you doing things tomorrow; He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him. You never suppose that your actions at this moment are any less free because God knows what you are doing. Well, He knows your tomorrow's actions in just the same way—because He is already in tomorrow and can simply watch you. In a sense, He does not know your actions till you have done it: but then the moment at which you have done it is already "Now" for Him (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book IV, Ch. 3, Para. 11, p. 148-149).

[How can God attend] to several hundred million human beings who are all addressing Him at the same moment? Notice...that the whole sting of it comes in the words at the same moment. Most of us can imagine God attending to any number of applicants if only they came one by one and He had an endless time to do it in. So what is really at the back of this difficulty is the idea of God having to fit too many things into one moment of time...Our life comes to us moment by moment. One moment disappears before the next comes along: and there is room for very little in each. That is what Time is like...You and I tend to take it for granted that this Time series...is not simply the way life comes to us but the way all things really exist. We tend to assume that the whole universe and God Himself are always moving on from past to future just as we do. But...God is not in Time. His life does not consist of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to Him at ten-thirty tonight, He need not listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call ten-thirty. Ten-thirty—and every other moment from the beginning of the world—is always the Present for Him...He has all eternity in which to listen to the split second of prayer put up by a pilot as his plane crashes in flames...God is not hurried along in the time-stream of this universe...He has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book IV, Ch. 3, Para. 2-7, p. 145-147).

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book II, Ch. 3, Para. 13, p. 55-56).

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else (C. S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry?, 106).

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare...If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Ch. 3, Para. 7, p. 81-82).

I find a good many people have been bothered by Our Lord's words, "Be ye perfect." Some people seem to think this means "Unless you are perfect, I will not help you"; and as we cannot be perfect, then, if He meant that, our position is hopeless. But I do not think He did mean that. I think He meant "The only help I will give is help to become perfect. You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less." Let me explain. When I was a child I often had toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother—at least, not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this. I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from pain: but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists; I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache. Now, if I may put it that way, Our Lord is like the dentists. Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of or which is obviously spoiling daily life. Well, He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment. That is why He warned people to "count the cost" before becoming Christians. "Make no mistake," He says, "if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect—until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less." And yet, this Helper who will, in the long run, be satisfied with nothing less than absolute perfection, will also be delighted with the first feeble, stumbling effort you make tomorrow to do the simplest duty...Every father is pleased at the baby's first attempt to walk, however, no father would be satisfied with anything less than a firm, free, manly walk in a grown-up son. In the same way, God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy...You must realize from the outset that the goal towards which He is beginning to guide you is absolute perfection; and no power in the whole universe, except you yourself, can prevent Him from taking you to that goal. That is what you are in for. And it is very important to realize that. If we do not, then we are very likely to start pulling back and resisting Him after a certain point. I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted Him to do, and we should be obliged if He would now leave us alone...But this is the fatal mistake...We may be content to remain what we call "ordinary people": but He is determined to carry out a quite different plan...That is why we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected), he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along—illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation—he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us...Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself. The command "Be ye perfect" is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were "gods" and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine...The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book IV, Ch. 9, p. 171-175).

I have heard a man offer a prayer for a sick person which really amounted to a diagnosis followed by advise as to how God should treat the patient (C. S. Lewis, Letters To Malcolm; Chiefly On Prayer, 20).

If there does exist an absolute goodness it must hate most of what we do. That is the terrible fix we are in. If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless. But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our cause is hopeless again. We cannot do without it, and we cannot do with it. God is the only comfort, he is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book I, Ch. 5, Para. 3, p. 38).

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship...It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit (C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, 39).

Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no more desiring but still intending to do God's will, looks around upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, asks why he has been forsaken and still obeys (C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, 39).

Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If every one else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Ch. 8, Para. 3, p. 109-110).

Progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when doing arithmetic. When I have started a sum wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake...Going back is the quickest way on (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book I, Ch. 5, Para. 2, p. 36).

Repentance can be on very different levels. At the lowest, what you call "Pagan penitence," there is simply the attempt to placate a supposedly angry power—"I'm sorry. I won't do it again. Let me off this time." At the highest level, the attempt is, rather, to restore an infinitely valued and vulnerable personal relationship which has been shattered by an action of one's own. If forgiveness, in the crude sense of remission of penalty, comes in, this is valued chiefly as a symptom or seal or even by-product of the reconciliation (C. S. Lewis, Letters To Malcolm; Chiefly On Prayer, 95).

The book or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust in them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory or our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited (C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, 29).

The choice of every lost soul can be expressed in the words "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." There is always something they insist on keeping, even at the price of misery. There is always something they prefer to joy. You see it easily enough in a spoiled child that would sooner miss its play time and its supper than say it was sorry and be friends (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, Ch. 9, 69-70).

The devil...always sends errors into the world in pairs—pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book IV, Ch. 6, Para. 4, p. 160).

The ordinary idea which we all have before we become Christians is this. We take as starting point our ordinary self with its various desires and interests. We then admit that something else—call it "morality" or "decent behavior," or "the good of society"—has claims on this self: claims which interfere with its own desires. What we mean by "being good" is giving in to those claims. Some of the things the ordinary self wanted to do turn out to be what we call "wrong": well, we must give them up. Other things, which the self did not want to do, turn out to be what we call "right": well, we shall have to do them. But we are hoping all the time that when all the demands have been met, the poor natural self will still have some chance, and some time, to get on with its own life and do what it likes...As long as we are thinking that way, one or other of two results is likely to follow. Either we give up trying to be good, or else we become very unhappy indeed. For, make no mistake: if you are really going to try to meet all the demands made on the natural self, it will not have enough left over to live on. The more you obey your conscience, the more your conscience will demand of you. And your natural self, which is thus being starved and hampered and worried at every turn, will get angrier and angrier. In the end, you will either give up trying to be good, or else become one of those people who, as they say, "live for others" but always in a discontented, grumbling way—always wondering why the others do not notice it more and always making a martyr of yourself. And once you have become that you will be a far greater pest to anyone who has to live with you than you would have been if you had remained frankly selfish. The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says "Give me All. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don't want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours." Both harder and easier than what we are all trying to do...The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self—all your wishes and precautions—to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call "ourselves," to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be "good." We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way—centered on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown. That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind...It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad...This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects—education, building, missions, holding services...[But] the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book IV, Ch. 8, p. 166-170).

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done" (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, Ch. 9, 72).

We must picture Hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives the deadly serious passion of envy, self-importance, and resentment (C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, ix).

When a man is getting better, he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Ch. 4, Para. 10, p. 87).

Wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book II, Ch. 2, Para. 9, p. 49).

[You] cannot in your present state understand eternity...But you can get some likeness of it if you say that both good and evil, when they are full grown, become retrospective...All this earthly past will have been Heaven to those who are saved...All their life on earth too, will then be seen by the damned to have been Hell. That is what mortals misunderstand. The say of some temporal suffering, "No future bliss can make up for it," not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say "Let me but have this and I'll take the consequences": little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man's past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man's past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why, at the end of all things...the Blessed will say, "We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven," and the Lost, "We were always in Hell." And both will speak truly (C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, Ch. 9, 67-68).

You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to [tie] a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?...I had been warned—I had warned myself...We were even promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, "Blessed are they that mourn," and I accepted it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not in imagination...I thought I trusted the rope until it mattered to me whether it would bear me. Now it matters, and I find I didn't. Bridge-players tell me that there must be some money on the game, "or else people won't take it seriously." Apparently it's like that. Your bid—for God...for eternal life...will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until the stakes are raised horribly high; until you find that you are playing not for counters or for sixpences but for every penny you have in the world. Nothing less will shake a man—or at any rate a man like me—out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only [trial] will bring out the truth. Only under [trial] does he discover it himself (C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, p. 25, 41-43).

The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for [an easy life]. A cruel man might be bribed—might grow tired of his vile sport—might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless (C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, 49-50).

God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn't. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down (C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, 61).

There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes till an entire marriage reconciles them. It is arrogance in us to call frankness, fairness, and chivalry "masculine" when we see them in a woman; [or] to describe a man's sensitiveness or tact or tenderness as "feminine." But also what poor, warped fragments of humanity most mere men and mere women must be to make the implications of that arrogance plausible. Marriage heals this. Jointly the two become fully human. "In the image of God created He them" (C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, 57-58).

[I am one] of God's patients, not yet cured. I know there are not only tears to be dried, but stains to be scoured. The sword will be made even brighter (C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, 49).

"You are always dragging me down," said I to my body. "Dragging you down!" replied my body. "Well [how do you] like that! Who taught me to like tobacco and alcohol? You, of course, with your idiotic adolescent idea of being 'grown-up.' My palate loathed both at first: but you would have your way. Who put an end to all those angry and revengeful thoughts last night? Me, of course, by insisting on going to sleep. Who does his best to keep you from talking too much and eating too much by giving you dry throats and headaches and indigestion? Eh?" "And what about sex?" said I. "Yes, what about it?" retorted the body. "If you and your wretched imagination would leave me alone I'd give you no trouble...You give me orders and then blame me for carrying them out" (C. S. Lewis, God in the Docks, 216-217).

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. "How are we to live in an atomic age?" [one might ask]. I am tempted to reply: "Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your thoat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, and age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents." In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me...you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways...It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty...If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds (C. S. Lewis, "On Living in an Atomic Age," in Present Concerns, 73-74).

I saw coming towards us a Ghost who carried something on his shoulder...What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard, and it was twitching its tail like a whip and whispering things in his ear. As we caught sight of him he turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience. 'Shut up, I tell you!' he said. It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him. He ceased snarling, and presently began to smile. Then he turned and started to limp westward, away from the mountains. 'Off so soon?' said a voice. The speaker was more or less human in shape but larger than a man, and so bright that I could hardly look at him. His presence smote on my eyes and on my body too (for there was heat coming from him as well as light) like the morning sun at the beginning of A [blazing] summer day. 'Yes. I'm off,' said the Ghost. 'Thanks for all your hospitality, But it's no good, you see. I told this little chap' (here he indicated the Lizard) 'that he'd have to be quiet if he came—which he insisted on doing. Of course his stuff won't do here: I realize that. But he won't stop. I shall just have to go home.' 'Would you like me to make him quiet?' said the flaming Spirit—an angel, as I now understood. 'Of course I would,' said the Ghost. 'Then I will kill him,' said the Angel, taking a step forward. 'Oh—ah—look out! You're burning me. Keep away,' said the Ghost, retreating. 'Don't you want him killed?' 'You didn't say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with anything so drastic as that.' 'It's the only way,' said the Angel, whose burning hands were now very close to the Lizard. 'Shall I kill it?' 'Well, that's a further question. I'm quite open to consider it, but it's a new point, isn't it? I mean, for the moment I was only thinking about silencing it because up here—well, it's so...embarrassing.' 'May I kill it?' 'Well, there's time to discuss that later.' 'There is no time. May I kill it?' 'Please, I never meant to be such a nuisance. Please—really—don't bother. Look! It's gone to sleep of its own accord. I'm sure it'll be all right now. Thanks ever so much.' 'May I kill it?' 'Honestly, I don't think there's the slightest necessity for that. I'm sure I shall be able to keep it in order now. I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it.' 'The gradual process is of no use at all.' 'Don't you think so? Well, I'll think over what you've said very carefully. I honestly will. In fact I'd let you kill it now, but as a matter of fact I'm not feeling frightfully well today. It would be most silly to do it now. I'd need to be in good health for the operation. Some other day, perhaps.' 'There is no other day. All days are present now.' 'Get back! You're burning me. How can I tell you to kill it? You'd kill me if you did.' 'It is not so.' 'Why, you're hurting me now.' 'I never said it wouldn't hurt you. I said it wouldn't kill you.' 'Oh, I know. You think I'm a coward. But it isn't that. Really it isn't. I say! Let me run back by tonight's bus and get an opinion from my own doctor. I'll come again the first moment I can.' 'This moment contains all moments.' 'Why are you torturing me? You are jeering at me. How can I let you tear me in pieces? If you wanted to help me, why didn't you kill the [darn] thing without asking me—before I knew? It would be all over by now if you had.' 'I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?' The Angel's hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite. Then the Lizard began chattering to the Ghost so loud that even I could hear what it was saying. 'Be careful,' it said. 'He can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he will! Then you'll be without me for ever and ever. It's not natural. How could you live? You'd be only a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now. He doesn't understand. He's only a cold, bloodless abstract thing. It may be natural for him, but it isn't for us...And I'll be so good. I admit I've sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won't do it again. I'll give you nothing but really nice dreams—all sweet and fresh and almost innocent. You might say, quite innocent...' 'Have I your permission?' said the Angel to the Ghost. 'I know it will kill me.' 'It won't. But supposing it did?' 'You're right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.' 'Then I may?' '...blast you! Go on, can't you? Get it over. Do what you like,' bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, 'God help me. God help me.' Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never heard on Earth. The Burning One closed his crimson grip on the reptile: twisted it, while it bit and writhed, and then flung it, broken-backed, on the turf. 'Ow! That's done for me,' gasped the Ghost, reeling backwards. For a moment I could make out nothing distinctly. Then I saw, between me and the nearest bush, unmistakably solid but growing every moment solider, the upper arm and the shoulder of a man. Then, brighter still and stronger, the legs and hands. The neck and golden head materialized while I watched, and if my attention had not wavered I should have seen the actual completing of a man—an immense man...not much smaller than the Angel. What distracted me was the fact that at the same moment something seemed to be happening to the Lizard. At first I thought the operation had failed. So far from dying, the creature was still struggling and even growing bigger as it struggled. And as it grew it changed. Its hinder parts grew rounder. The tail, still flickering, became a tail of hair that flickered between huge and glossy buttocks. Suddenly I started back, rubbing my eyes. What stood before me was the greatest stallion I have ever seen, silvery white but with mane and tail of gold. It was smooth and shining, rippled with swells of flesh and muscle, whinneying and stamping with its hoofs. At each stamp the land shook and the trees dindled. The new-made man turned and clapped the new horse's neck. It nosed his bright body. Horse and master breathed each into the other's nostrils. The man turned from it, flung himself at the feet of the Burning One, and embraced them. When he rose I thought his face shone with tears, but it may have been only the liquid love and brightness (one cannot distinguish them in that country) which flowed from him. I had not long to think about it. In joyous haste the young man leaped upon the horse's back. Turning in his seat he waved a farewell, then nudged the stallion with his heels. They were off before I knew well what was happening. There was riding if you like! I came out as quickly as I could from among the bushes to follow them with my eyes; but already they were only like a shooting star far off on the green plain, and soon among the foothills of the mountains. Then, still like a star, I saw them winding up, scaling what seemed impossible steeps, and quicker every moment, till near the dim brow of the landscape, so high that I must strain my neck to see them, they vanished, bright themselves, into the rose-brightness of that everlasting morning...'Do ye understand all this, my Son?' said the Teacher. 'I don't know about all, Sir,' said I. 'Am I right in thinking the Lizard really turned into the Horse?' 'Aye. But it was killed first. Ye'll not forget that part of the story?' 'I'll try not to, Sir. But does it mean that everything—everything—that is in us can go on to the Mountains?' 'Nothing, not even the best and noblest, can go on as it now is. Nothing, not even what is lowest and most bestial, will not be raised again if it submits to death. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. Flesh and blood cannot come to the Mountains. Not because they are too rank, but because they are too weak. What is a lizard compared with a stallion? Lust is a poor, weak, whimpering, whispering thing compared with that richness and energy of desire which will arise when lust has been killed' (C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, Ch. 11, p. 98-105).

'Excess of love, did ye say? There was no excess, there was defect. She loved her son too little, not too much. If she had loved him more there'd be no difficulty. I do not know how her affair will end. But it may well be that at this moment she's demanding to have him down with her in Hell. That kind is sometimes perfectly ready to plunge the soul they say they love in endless misery if only they can still in some fashion possess it (C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, Ch. 11, second to last paragraph, p. 105).

No natural feelings are high our low, holy or unholy, in themselves. They are all holy when God's hand is on the rein. They all go bad when they set up on their own and make themselves into false gods (C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, Ch. 11, Para. 21, p. 93).

I [used to assume] that if the human mind once accepts a thing as true it will automatically go on regarding it as true, until some real reason for reconsidering it turns up. In fact, I was assuming that the human mind is completely ruled by reason. But that is not so. For example, my reason is perfectly convinced by good evidence that anesthetics do not smother me and that properly trained surgeons do not start operating until I am unconscious. But that does not alter the fact that when they have me down on the table and clap their horrible mask over my face, a mere childish panic begins inside me. I start thinking I am going to choke, and I am afraid they will start cutting me up before I am properly under. In other words, I lose my faith in anesthetics. It is not reason that is taking away my faith: on the contrary, my faith is based on reason. It is my imagination and emotions. The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other...Now just the same thing happens about Christianity. I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of the evidence is against it. That is not the point at which Faith comes in. But supposing a man's reason once decides that the weight of the evidence is for it I can tell that man what is going to happen to him in the next few weeks. There will come a moment when there is bad news, or he is in trouble, or is living among a lot of other people who do not believe it, and all at once his emotions will rise up and carry out a sort of blitz on his belief. Or else there will come a moment when he wants a woman, or wants to tell a lie, or feels very pleased with himself, or sees a chance of making a little money in some way that is not perfectly fair: some moment, in fact, at which it would be very convenient if Christianity were not true. And once again his wishes and desires will carry out a blitz. I am not talking of moments at which any real new reasons against Christianity turn up. Those have to be faced and that is a different matter. I am talking about moments where a mere mood rises up against it. Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods "where they get off," you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Ch. 11, Para. 2-5, p. 122-124).

The main thing we learn from a serious attempt to practice the Christian virtues is that we fail. If there was any idea that God had [given] us a sort of exam, and that we might get good marks by deserving them, that has to be wiped out. If there was any idea of a sort of bargain—any idea that we could perform our side of the contract and thus put God in our debt so that it was up to Him, in mere justice, to perform His side—that has to be wiped out. I think every one who has some vague belief in God, until he becomes a Christian, has the idea of an exam, or of a bargain in his mind. The first result of real Christianity is to blow that idea into bits...One of the very things Christianity was designed to do was to blow this idea to bits. God has been waiting for the moment at which you discover that there is no question of earning a pass mark in this exam, or putting Him in your debt. Then comes another discovery. Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already. So that when we talk of a man doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what it is really like. It is like a small child going to its father and saying, "Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present." Of course, the father does, and he is pleased with the child's present. It is all very nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good on the transaction. When a man has made these two discoveries God can really get to work. It is after this that real life begins. The man is awake now (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Ch. 11, Para. 7-9, p. 125-126).

I think one may be rid of the old haunting suspicion—which raises its head in every temptation—that there is something else than God—some other country...into which He forbids us to trespass—some kind of delight which He "doesn't appreciate" or chooses to forbid, but which would be real delight if only we were allowed to get it. The thing just isn't there. Whatever we desire is either what God is trying to give us as quickly as He can, or else a false picture of what He is trying to give us—a false picture which whould not attract us for a moment if we saw the real thing (C. S. Lewis, The Letters of C. S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, 12 Sept. 1933, 465).

Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is[!] Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth[!] If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if yo go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book IV, Ch. 7, Para. 12, p. 164).

The biological purpose of sex is children, just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body. Now if we eat whenever we feel inclined and just as much as we want, it is quite true that most of us will eat too much: but not terrifically too much. One man may eat enough for two, but he does not eat enough for ten. The appetite goes a little beyond its biological purpose, but not enormously. But if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function. Or take it another way. You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act—that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country somethmg had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct amojng us? (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Ch. 5, Para. 3-4, p. 89-90).

A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village: the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age (C. S. Lewis, "Learning in War-time," The Weight of Glory, 49).

If our religion is something objective, then we must never avert our eyes from those elements in it which seem puzzling or repellent; for it will be precisely the puzzling or the repellent which conceals what we do not yet know and need to know...The...truth which you do not know and which you need must, in the very nature of things, be hidden precisely in the doctrine you least like and least understand. It is just the same here as in science. The phenomenon which is troublesome, which doesn't fit in with the current scientific theories, is the phenomenon which compels reconsideration and thus leads to new knowledge. Science progresses because scientists, instead of running away from such troublesome phenomena or hushing them up, are constantly seeking them out. In the same way, there will be progress in Christian knowledge only as long as we accept the challenge of the difficult or repellent doctrines (C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, 31 & Christian Apologetics, 91).

The Christian rule is, "Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence." Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One or the other. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong. But I have other reasons for thinking so. The biological purpose of sex is children, just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body. Now if we eat whenever we feel inclined and just as much as we want, it is quite true most of us will eat too much: but not terrifically too much. One man may eat enough for two, but he does not eat enough for ten. The appetite goes a little beyond its biological purpose, but not enormously. But if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function. Or take it another way. You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act--that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you come to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us? (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Ch. 5, Para. 3-4).

 

 

 

 

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA

Oh, I see. You mean that little boys ought to keep their promises. Very true: most right and proper, I'm sure, and I'm very glad you have been taught to do it. But of course you must understand that rules of that sort, however excellent they may be for little boys-and servants-and women-and even people in general, can't possibly be expected to apply to profound students and great thinkers and sages. No, Digory. Men like me, who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny (C. S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew, Ch. 2, 20-21).

Now that she was left alone with the children, she took no notice of either of them. And that was like her too. In Charn she had taken no notice of Polly...because Digory was the one she wanted to make use of. Now that she had Uncle Andrew, she took no notice of Digory. I expect most witches are like that. They are not interested in things or people unless they can use them (C. S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew, Ch. 6, 85-86).

Children have one kind of silliness, as you know, and grown-ups have another kind. At this moment Uncle Andrew was beginning to be silly in a very grown-up way (C. S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew, Ch. 6, 89).

We must now go back a bit and explain what the whole scene had looked like from Uncle Andrew's point of view. It had not made at all the same impression on him as on the Cabby and the children. For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are...When the Lion had first begun singing, long ago when it was still quite dark, he had realized that the noise was a song. And he had disliked the song very much. It made him think and feel things he did not want to think and feel. Then, when the sun rose and he saw that the singer was a lion...he tried his hardest to make believe that it wasn't singing and never had been singing—only roaring as any lion might in a zoo in our own world. "Of course it can't really have been singing," he thought, "I must have imagined it. I've been letting my nerves get out of order. Who ever heard of a lion singing?" And the longer and more beautiful the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring. Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. Uncle Andrew did. He soon did hear nothing but roaring in Aslan's song. Soon he couldn't have heard anything else even if he had wanted to. And when at last the Lion spoke and said, "Narnia awake," he didn't hear any words: he heard only a snarl...

"Please, Aslan," said Polly, "could you say something to—to unfrighten him?..."I cannot tell that to this old sinner, and I cannot comfort him either; he has made himself unable to hear my voice. If I spoke to him, he would hear only growlings and roarings. Oh Adam's sons, how cleverly you defend yourselves against all that might do you good! (C. S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew, Ch. 10, 148-151; Ch 14, 202-3).

Come in by the gold gates or not at all,
Take of my fruit for others or forbear,
For those who steal or those who climb my wall
Shall find their heart's desire and find despair.

Digory was just turning to go back to the gates when he stopped to have one last look round. He got a terrible shock. He was not alone. There, only a few yards away from him, stood the Witch. She was just throwing away the core of an apple which she had eaten. The juice was darker than you would expect and had made a horrid stain round her mouth. Digory guessed at once that she must have climbed in over the wall. And he began to see that there might be some sense in that last line about getting your heart's desire and getting despair along with it. For the Witch looked stronger and prouder than ever, and even, in a way, triumphant; but her face was deadly white, white as salt. All this flashed through Digory's mind in a second; then he took to his heels and ran for the gates as hard as he could pelt; the Witch after him. As soon as he was out, the gates closed behind him on their own accord. That gave him the lead but not for long. By the time he had reached the others...the Witch had climbed the wall, or vaulted over it, and was close behind him again..."Foolish boy," said the Witch. "Why do you run from me? I mean you no harm. If you do not stop and listen to me now, you will miss some knowledge that would have made you happy all your life." "Well I don't want to hear it, thanks," said Digory. But he did. "I know what errand you have come on," continued the Witch. "...You have plucked fruit in the garden yonder. You have it in your pocket now. And you are going to carry it back, untasted, to the Lion; for him to eat, for him to use. You simpleton! Do you know what that fruit is? I will tell you. It is the apple of youth, the apple of life. I know, for I have tasted it; and I feel already such changes in myself that I know I shall never grow old or die. Eat it, Boy, eat it; and you and I will both live forever and be king and queen of this whole world—or of your world, if we decide to go back there." "No thanks," said Digory, "I don't know that I care much about living on and on after everyone I know is dead. I'd rather live an ordinary time and die and go to Heaven." "But what about this Mother of yours whom you pretend to love so?" "What's she got to do with it?" said Digory. "Do you not see, Fool, that one bite of that apple would heal her? You have it in your pocket. We are here by ourselves and the Lion is far away. Use your Magic and go back to your own world. A minute later you can be at your Mother's bedside, giving her the fruit. Five minutes later you will see the color coming back to her face. She will tell you the pain is gone. Soon she will tell you she feels stronger. Then she will fall asleep—think of that; hours of sweet natural sleep, without pain, without drugs. Next day everyone will be saying how wonderfully she has recovered. Soon she will be quite well again. All will be well again. Your home will be happy again. You will be like other boys." "Oh!" gasped Digory as if he had been hurt, and put his hand to his head. For he now knew that the most terrible choice lay before him. "What has the Lion ever done for you that you should be his slave?" said the Witch. "What can he do to you once you are back in your own world? And what would your Mother think if she knew that you could have taken her pain away and given her back her life and saved your Father's heart from being broken, and that you wouldn't—that you'd rather run messages for a wild animal in a strange world that is no business of yours?" "I—I don't think he is a wild animal," said Digory in a dried-up sort of voice. "He is—I don't know—" "Then he is something worse," said the Witch. "Look what he has done to you already; look how heartless he has made you. That is what he does to everyone who listens to him. Cruel, pitiless boy! you would let your own Mother die rather than—" "Oh shut up," said the miserable Digory, rill in the same voice. "Do you think I don't see? But I—I promised." "Ah, but you didn't know what you were promising. And no one here can prevent you." "Mother herself," said Digory, getting the words out with difficulty, "wouldn't like it—awfully strict about keeping promises—and not stealing—and all that sort of thing. She'd tell me not to do it—quick as anything—if she was here." "But she need never know," said the Witch, speaking more sweetly than you would have thought anyone with so fierce a face could speak. "You wouldn't tell her how you'd got the apple. Your Father need never know. No one in your world need know anything about this whole story.

..."Son of Adam," said Aslan, "you have sown well. And you, Narnians, let it be your first care to guard this Tree, for it is your Shield. The Witch of whom I told you has fled far away into the North of the world; she will live on there, growing stronger in dark Magic. But while that Tree flourishes she will never come down into Narnia. She dare not come within a hundred miles of the Tree, for its smell, which is joy and life and health to you, is death and horror and despair to her." Everyone was staring solemnly at the Tree when Aslan suddenly swung round his head...and fixed his large eyes on the children. "What is it, children?" he said, for he caught them in the very act of whispering and nudging one another. "Oh—Aslan, sir," said Digory, turning red, "I forgot to tell you. The Witch has already eaten one of those apples, one of the same kind that Tree grew from." He hadn't really said all he was thinking, but Polly at once said it for him..."So we thought, Aslan," she said, "that there must be some mistake, and she can't really mind the smell of those apples." "Why do you think that, Daughter of Eve?" asked the Lion. "Well, she ate one." "Child," he replied, "that is why all the rest are now a horror to her. That is what happens to those who pluck and eat fruits at the wrong time and in the wrong way. The fruit is good, but they loathe it ever after." "Oh I see," said Polly. "And I suppose be cause she took it in the wrong way it won't work for her. I mean it won't make her always young and all that?" "Alas," said Aslan, shaking his head. "It will. Things always work according to their nature. She has won her heart's desire; she has unwearying strength and endless days like a goddess. But length of days with an evil heart is only length of misery and already she begins to know it. All get what they want; they do not always like it." "I—I nearly ate one myself, Aslan," said Digory. "Would I—" "You would, child," said Aslan. "For the fruit always works—it must work—but it does not work happily for any who pluck it at their own will. If any Narnian, unbidden, had stolen an apple and planted it here to protect Namia, it would have protected Namia. But it would have done so by making Narnia into another strong and cruel empire like Charn, not the kindly land I mean it to be. And the Witch tempted you to do another thing, my son, did she not?" "Yes, Aslan. She wanted me to take an apple home to Mother." "Understand, then, that it would have healed her; but not to your joy or hers. The day would have come when both you and she would have looked back and said it would have been better to die in that illness."..."That is what would have happened, child, with a stolen apple. It is not what will happen now. What I give you now will bring joy. It will not, in your world, give endless life, but it will heal. Go. Pluck her an apple from the Tree" (C. S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew, Ch. 13, 187, 190-194; Ch. 14, 206-209).

Both the children were looking up into the Lion's face as he spoke these words. And all at once...the face seemed to be a sea of tossing gold in which they were floating, and such a sweetness and power rolled about them and over them and entered them that they felt they had never really been happy or wise or good, or even alive and awake, before. And the memory of that moment stayed with them always, so that as long as they both lived, if ever they were sad or afraid or angry, the thought of all that golden goodness, and the feeling that it was still there, quite close, just round some corner or just behind some door, would come back and make them sure, deep down inside, that all was well (C. S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew, Ch. 15, 212-213).

My good Horse, you've lost nothing but your self-conceit. No, no, cousin. Don't put back your ears and shake your mane at me. If you are really so humbled as you sounded a minute ago, you must learn to listen to sense. You're not quite the great Horse you had come to think, from living among poor dumb horses. Of course you were braver and cleverer than them. You could hardly help being that. It doesn't follow that you'll be anyone very special in Narnia. But as long as you know you're nobody very special, you'll be a very decent sort of Horse, on the whole (C. S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy, Ch. 10, 161-162).

I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own (C. S. Lewis, The Horse And His Boy, Ch. 11, 176; or Ch. 14, 216).

"Aslan," said Lucy, "you're bigger." "That is because you are older," answered he. "Not because you are?" "I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger" (C. S. Lewis, Prince Caspian, 148).

"Are you not thirsty?" said the Lion. "I'm dying of thirst," said Jill. "Then drink," said the Lion. "May I—could I—would you mind going away while I do?" said Jill. The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic. "Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if I do come?" said Jill. "I make no promise," said the Lion. Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer. "Do you eat girls?" she said. "I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms," said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it. "I daren't come and drink," said Jill. "Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion. "Oh, dear!" said Jill, coming another step nearer. "I suppose I must go and look for another stream then." "There is no other stream," said the Lion. It was the hardest thing she had ever had to do, but she went forward to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping up water in her hand. It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted. You didn't need to drink much of it, for it quenched your thirst at once (C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, 20-21).

"Do you feel yourself sufficient to take up the Kingship of Narnia?" "I—I don't think I do, Sir," said Caspian. "I'm only a kid." "Good," said Aslan. "If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been a proof that you were not" (C. S. Lewis, Prince Caspian, 220).

You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you (C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, 23).

No one who had ever seen a real lion would have been taken in for a moment. But if someone who had never seen a lion looked at Puzzle in his lion-skin he just might mistake him for a lion, if he didn't come too close, and if the light was not too good, and if Puzzle didn't let out a bray and didn't make any noise with his hoofs (The Last Battle, Ch. 1, "By Caldron Pool").

The creatures came rushing on, their eyes brighter and brighter as they drew nearer and nearer...But as they came right up to Aslan one or other of two things happened to each of them. They all looked straight in his face, I don't think they had any choice about that. And when some looked, the expression of their faces changed terribly—it was fear and hatred...And all the creatures who looked at Aslan in that way swerved to their right, his left, and disappeared into his huge black shadow, which...streamed away to the left of the doorway. The children never saw them again. I don't know what became of them. But the others looked in the face of Aslan and loved him, though some of them were very frightened at the same time. And all these came in at the Door, in on Aslan's right (C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle, Ch. 14, p. 191-193

 

 

 

 

FREDERIC FARRAR

But whether this book be thus blessed to high ends, or whether it be received with harshness and indifference, nothing at least can rob me of the deep and constant happiness which I have felt during almost every hour that has been spent upon it. Though, owing to serious and absorbing duties, months have often passed without my finding an opportunity to write a single line, yet, even in the midst of incessant labor at other things, nothing forbade that the subject on which I was engaged should be often in my thoughts (Farrar, Preface, 2).

Written on His inmost spirit, written on His most trivial experiences, written in sunbeams, written in the light of stars, He read everywhere His Father's name (Farrar, Ch. 7, 95).

In these years He began to do long before He began to teach (Farrar, Ch. 7, 95).

We cannot imitate Him in the occupations of His ministry, nor can we even remotely reproduce in our own experiences the external circumstances of His life during those three crowning years. But the vast majority of us are placed, by God's own appointment, amid those quiet duties of a commonplace and uneventful routine which are most closely analogous to the first thirty years of His life; it was during these years that His life is for us the main example of how we ought to live (Farrar, Ch, 7, 95).

No soul can preserve the bloom and delicacy of its existence without quiet pondering and silent prayer; and the greatness of this necessity is in proportion to the greatness of the soul. There were many times during our Lord's ministry when, even from the loneliness of desert places, He dismissed His most faithful and most beloved, that He might be yet more alone (Farrar, Ch. 7, 100).

He who thinks that we live by bread alone, will make the securing of bread the chief object of his life—will determine to have it at whatever cost—will be at once miserable and rebellious if even for a time he be stinted or deprived of it, and, because he seeks no diviner food, will inevitably starve with hunger in the midst of it. But he who knows that man doth not live by bread alone, will not thus, for the sake of living, lose all that makes life dear—will, when he has done his duty, trust God to preserve with all things needful the body He has made—will seek with more earnest endeavor the bread from heaven, and that living water whereof he who drinketh shall thirst no more (Farrar, Ch. 9, 121).

Mathew 4:9. There are some that will say that we are never tempted with kingdoms. It may well be, for it needs not be that he tempt us with kingdoms, when less will serve. It was Christ only that was thus tempted; in Him lay an heroical mind that could not be tempted with small matters. But with us it is nothing so, for we esteem more basely of ourselves. We set our wares at a very easy price; Lucifer may buy us even dagger-cheap. He need never carry us so high as the mount. The pinnacle is high enough; yea, the lowest steeple in all the town would serve the turn. Or let him but carry us to the leads and gutters of our own houses; nay, let us but stand in our windows or our doors, if he will give us so much as we can there see, he will tempt us thoroughly; we will accept it, and thank him too....A matter of half-a-crown, or ten groats, a pair of shoes, or some such trifle, will bring us on our knees to the devil (Farrar, Ch. 9, 124).

Today, too, that question—"Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?"—is often repeated, and the one sufficient answer—almost the only possible answer—is now, as it then was, "Come and see." Then it meant, come and see One who speaks as never man spake; come and see One who, though He be but the Carpenter of Nazareth, yet overawes the souls of all who approach Him—seeming by His mere presence to reveal the secrets of all hearts, yet drawing to Him even the most sinful with a sense of yearning love; come and see One from whom there seems to breathe forth the irresistible charm of a sinless purity, the unapproachable beauty of a Divine life. "Come and see," said Philip, convinced in his simple faithful heart that to see Jesus was to know Him, and to know was to love, and to love was to adore. In this sense, indeed, we can say "come and see" no longer; for His earthly form has been visible no more. But there is another sense; no less powerful for conviction, in which it still suffices to say, in answer to all doubts, "Come and see." Come and see a dying world revivified, a decrepit world regenerated, an aged world rejuvenescent; come and see the darkness illuminated, the despair dispelled; come and see tenderness brought into the cell of the imprisoned felon, and liberty to the fettered slave; come and see the dens of lust and tyranny transformed into sweet and happy homes, defiant atheists into believing Christians, rebels into children, and pagans into saints. And as you see them all, it may be that you too will unlearn the misery of doubt, and exclaim in calm and happy confidence, with the pure and candid Nathanael, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou, art the King of Israel!" (Farrar, Ch. 10, 136-138).

There are two characteristics of this first miracle which we ought to notice: One is its divine unselfishness. He who, to appease His own sore hunger would not turn the stones of the wilderness into bread, gladly exercises, for the sake of others, His transforming power; and but six or seven days afterwards, relieves the perplexity and sorrow of a humble wedding feast by turning water into wine. And the other is its symbolical character. Like nearly all the miracles of Christ, it combines the characteristics of a work of mercy, an emblem, and a prophecy. The world gives its best first, and afterwards all the dregs and bitterness; but Christ came to turn the lower into the richer and sweeter, the Mosaic law into the perfect law of liberty, the baptism of John into the baptism with the Holy Ghost and with fire, sorrow and sighing into hope and blessing, and water into wine (Farrar, Ch. 11, 148-149).

John 2:18. Why did not this multitude of ignorant pilgrims resist? Why did these greedy chafferers content themselves with dark scowls and muttered maledictions, while they suffered their oxen and sheep to be chased into the streets and themselves ejected, and their money flung rolling on the floor, by one who was then young and unknown, and in the garb of despised Galilee? Why, in the same way we might ask, did Saul suffer Samuel to beard him in the very presence of his army? Why did David abjectly obey the orders of Joab? Why did Ahab not dare to arrest Elijah at the door of Naboth's vineyard? Because sin is weakness; because there is in the world nothing so abject as a guilty conscience, nothing so invincible as the sweeping tide of a Godlike indignation against all that is base and wrong. How could these paltry sacrilegious buyers and sellers, conscious of wrong-doing, oppose that scathing rebuke, or face the lightnings of those eyes that were kindled by an outraged holiness? Because Vice cannot stand for one moment before Virtue's uplifted arm. Base and grovelling as they were, these money-mongering Jews felt in all that remnant of their souls which was not yet eaten away by infidelity and avarice, that the Son of Man was right (Farrar, Ch. 13, 160-61).

Luke 4:30. Perhaps His silence, perhaps the calm nobleness of His bearing, perhaps the dauntless innocence of His gaze overawed them. Apart from anything supernatural, there seems to have been in the presence of Jesus a spell of mystery and majesty which even His most ruthless and hardened enemies acknowledged, and before which they involuntarily bowed. It was to this that He owed His escape when the maddened Jews in the Temple took up stones to stone Him; it was this that made the bold and bigoted officers of the Sanhedrin unable to arrest Him as He taught in public during the Feast of Tabernacles at Jerusalem; it was this that made the armed band of His enemies, at His mere look, fall before Him to the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane. Suddenly, quietly, He asserted His freedom, waved aside His captors, and overawing them by His simple glance, passed through their midst unharmed. Similar events have occurred in history, and continue still to occur. There is something in defenseless and yet dauntless dignity that calms even the fury of a mob. They stood—stopped—inquired—were ashamed—fled—separated (Farrar, Ch. 16, 187-188).

The Sermon on the mount is a great sea whose smiling surface breaks into refreshing ripples at the feet of our little ones, but into whose unfathomable depths the wisest may gaze with the shudder of amazement and the thrill of love (Farrar, Ch. 18, 216).

All Christ's miracles are revelations also. Sometimes, when the circumstances of the case required it, He delayed His answer to a sufferer's prayer. But we are never told that there was a moment's pause when a leper cried to him. Leprosy was an acknowledged symbol of sin, and Christ would teach us that the heartfelt prayer of the sinner to be purged and cleansed is always met by instantaneous acceptance. Instantly stretching forth His hand, our Lord touched the leper, and he was cleansed (Farrar, Ch. 19, 220).

Matthew 9:31. There are some who have admired their disobedience, and have attributed it to the enthusiasm of gratitude and admiration. But was it not rather the enthusiasm of a blatant wonder, the vulgarity of a chattering boast? Did not the holy fire of devotion which a hallowed silence must have kept alive upon the altar of their hearts die away in the mere blaze of empty rumour? Did not He know best? Would not obedience have been better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams? Yes. It is possible to deceive ourselves; it is possible to offer to Christ a seeming service which disobeys His inmost precepts—to grieve Him, under the guise of honouring Him, by vain repetitions, and empty genuflexions, and bitter intolerance, and irreverent familiarity, and the hollow simulacrum of a dead devotion. Better, far better, to serve Him by doing the things He said than by a seeming zeal, often false in exact proportion to its obtrusiveness, for the glory of His name. These disobedient babblers, who talked so much of Him, did but offer Him the dishonouring service of a double heart; their violation of His commandment served only to hinder His usefulness, to trouble His spirit, and to precipitate His death (Farrar, Ch. 25, 278).

Matthew 14. Over the vessel's side into the troubled waves he sprang, and while his eye was fixed on his Lord, the wind might toss his hair, and the spray might drench his robes, but all was well: but when, with wavering faith, he glanced from Him to the furious waves, and to the gulfy blackness underneath, then he began to sink, and in an accent of despair—how unlike his former confidence!—he faintly cried, "Lord, save me!" Nor did Jesus fail. Instantly, with a smile of pity, He stretched out His hand, and grasped the hand of His drowning disciple, with the gentle rebuke, "O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?" And so, his love satisfied, but His over-confidence rebuked, they climb—the Lord and His abashed Apostle—into the boat; and the wind lulled...So then if like Peter, we fix our eyes on Jesus, we too may walk triumphantly over the swelling waves of disbelief, and unterrified amid the rising winds of doubt; but if we turn away our eyes from Him in whom we have believed—if, as it is so easy to do, and as we are so much tempted to do, we look rather at the power and fury of those terrible and destructive elements than at Him who can help and save—then we too shall inevitably sink. Oh, if we feel, often and often, that the water-floods threaten to drown us, and the deep to swallow up the tossed vessel of our Church and Faith, may it again and again be granted us to hear amid the storm and the darkness, and the voices prophesying war, those two sweetest of the Savior's utterances—Fear not. Only believe." "It is I. Be not afraid" (Farrar, Ch. 29, 311-313).

Of its [the Lord's prayer] seven petitions one, and one only, is for any earthly blessing, and even that one is only for earthly blessings in their simplest form (Farrar, Ch. 22, 343).

He paid what He did not owe, to save us from that which we owed, but could never pay (Farrar, Ch. 38, 394).

We must keep hold of the certainty that the object of prophecy in all ages has been moral warning infinitely more than even the vaguest chronological indication (Farrar, Ch. 53, 542).

To turn metaphor into fact, poetry into prose, rhetoric into logic, parable into systematic theology, is at once fatal and absurd (Farrar, Ch. 55, 564, footnote 4).

We may not intrude too closely into this scene. It is shrouded in a halo and a mystery into which no footstep may penetrate (Farrar, Ch. 57, 576).

 

 

 

 

LISTS

Fullness of Iniquity

Fruits of Repentance

The Sabbath Day

The Stripling Warriors

To them we owe this victory (57:20-22).

Israel Scattered Among All Nations

Youth of Jesus

When Is War Justified?

  1. Attitude/Emotion
  2. Motives/Reasons
  3. Not guilty of 1st or 2nd strike:

How Do You Fight A Justified War?

  1. Righteousness more valuable than armaments:
  2. Must be led by men of God:
  3. God prospers us according to our danger: (48:14-15).
  4. A nation may be saved by the righteous within it.

Nephi and Laman

  1. Leave Jerusalem.
  2. Return for the plates.
  3. Return for Ishmael.
  4. Broken bow.
  5. Death of Ishmael.
  6. Build a boat.
  7. Crossing the sea.

Jesus Resists Temptation

Gifts of the Spirit

How to Build Zion

  1. Spirit-led
  2. Missionary Work
  3. Follow the prophet
  4. Temple Building
  5. Consecration
    70:7-10 — None exempt

What to Pray For

Nehemiah

When we try to rebuild Zion, our enemy: Our response: Result:

Principles of Revelation

How to invite revelation:
  1. Things of God must be sought after. 4 Heading; 6:11, 14; 8:1, 11.
  2. Believe His words first, then you shall see. 5:7, 16.
  3. After you receive a witness, testify of what you have learned. 5:25; 6:11; 17:2-3.
  4. Trifle not with sacred things. 6:12.
  5. Treasure revelation in our hearts. 6:20; D&C 84:85.
  6. Gather with His followers/united in pray. 6:32; 29:6.
  7. Study out in your mind, ask if it be right. 9:8.
How to recognize revelation:
  1. To the heart/General:
  2. To the mind/Specific:

Prayer and Tempation

Joseph Smith's Prayer

Why Joseph prayed: How Joseph prayed: Because Joseph prayed:

Giddianhi & Lachoneus

Techniques of Satan and his followers:
  1. Flattery (2).
  2. Seeds of doubt (2).
  3. Intimidation, threats (3).
  4. Boasting of their strength (4).
  5. Insincerity (5).
  6. Yield and we will leave you alone (6).
  7. Promise of acceptance (7).
  8. False promises (7,8).
  9. False excuses and justification (10).
How do we combat such evil?
  1. Do not be frightened (12).
  2. Do not hearken to them (12).
  3. Cry unto the Lord for strength (12).
  4. Gather together (13). See also D&C 101:21-22; 115:6.
  5. Build exceedingly great fortifications (14).
  6. Set guards round about to watch (14).
  7. Repent (15).
  8. Exert ourselves in our might to do according to the leaders (16). Why? Their leaders and chief captains had the spirit of revelation and prophecy (19).
  9. Fight them in the center of our lands, not theirs (20-21).
  10. Be strong with armor (26). See D&C 27:15-18.

Hezekiah invites Israel to temple

Ahaz seeks help (2 Chr. 28): Hezekiah (2 Chr. 29-30):

Others in the Promised Land

Creation is Good

Awful Consequences (3:12)

Hold on 'til 34 A.D.

Acts 2-5: Qualities of Disciples

  1. When pricked in their heart they change (2:37; contrast with 5:33).
  2. Repent and make/renew covenants (2:38).
  3. Do not follow the crowd (2:40).
  4. Gladly receive his words (2:41).
  5. Continue steadfast in apostles' doctrine and fellowship (2:42).
  6. Have all things in common (2:44-45).
  7. Continued daily (2:46).
  8. Feasting on spiritual meat is more important than feasting on other meat (2:46).
  9. What they really have/seek is more valuable than silver and gold (3:6).
  10. Take no credit (3:12; TSWK p. 234).
  11. Bold (4:13, 29, 31; See also Alma 38:12 and D&C 50:33).
  12. Are wise because they have been with Jesus (4:13).
  13. Hearken more unto God than unto man (4:19; 5:29).
  14. Cannot but speak the things they have seen and heard (4:20).
  15. Attitudes of consecration:
  16. Know the difference between things that are of eternal value and things that will come to naught (5:34-39).
  17. Willing to and rejoice in suffering shame for His name (5:41).
  18. Cease not to teach and preach Jesus Christ (5:42).

Acts 4-5: Qualities of Non-Disciples

  1. Grieved (4:2).
  2. Examines good deeds (4:9). Want to find fault.
  3. Sets at naught the things of God (4:11; 5:34-39; 1 Nephi 19:7). Compare "set at naught" vs. "come to naught."
  4. Knowledge comes only from learning (4:13).
  5. Their "What shall we do?" is so they do not have to change. But to eliminate the accuser (4:16).
  6. Threatens (4:17).
  7. Hearkens more unto men than unto God (4:19, 21).
  8. Attitudes of consecration:
  9. Does not accept responsibility for their acts (5:28; Compare Matt 27:25.).

Lehi's Dream—Friut

  1. Sweet — 1 Ne. 8:11; Alma 32:42
  2. White — 1 Ne. 8:11; 1 Ne. 11:8; Alma 32:42
  3. Beautiful — 1 Ne. 11:8
  4. Precious — 1 Ne. 11:9; 1 Ne. 15:36; Alma 32:42
  5. Desireable — 1 Ne. 8:12, 15; 1 Ne. 11:22; 1 Ne. 15:36
  6. Joyous — 1 Ne. 8:12; 1 Ne. 11:23
  7. Great — 1 Ne. 15:36
  8. Pure — Alma 32:42

Lehi's Dream—Paths

  1. Strait and narrow — 8:20
  2. Forbidden — 8:28
  3. Strange — 8:32
  4. Broad — 12:17

Lehi's Dream—4 Groups

  1. Never try — 8:30
  2. Commence in path — 8:22
  3. Catch hold; Cling — 8:24
  4. Continually hold fast to — 8:30

Mistakes in BM

Gathered to his people

How to Combat Anti-Christs

  1. Prevention. Obey ordinances and daily performances so Satan cannot deceive you (31:8-10; JS-H OC).
  2. Learn to recognize them. Common traits:
  3. Have a testimony based on evidence (7:5; 30:39,44).
  4. Know your doctrine well (7:5 & Jacob 4:6; 7:23; 1:7; 31:5).
  5. You don't need to answer every point (30:29, 19-20; Alma 32). It can be dangerous to listen (30:53,55). Even when we know it is wrong, we still might hold on to it.

 

 

 

 

POEMS

A Fence or an Ambulance

`Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
a duke, and full many a peasant;
So the people said something would have to be done,
but their projects did not at all tally.
Some said: "Put up a fence round the edge of the cliff";
Some, "An ambulance down in the valley."

But the cry for the ambulance carried the day,
for it spread through the neighboring city.
A fence may be useful or not, it is true,
but each heart became brimful of pity,
For those who slipped over that dangerous cliff;
and dwellers in highway and alley,
Gave pounds or gave pence, not to put up a fence,
but an ambulance down in the valley.

"For the cliff is all right if you're careful", they said,
"And if folks even slip and are dropping,
It isn't the slipping that hurts them so much
as the shock down below when they're stopping."
So day after day as those mishaps occurred,
quick forth would those rescuers sally,
To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff
with the ambulance down in the valley.

Then an old sage remarked, "It's a marvel to me
that people gave far more attention
To repairing results than to stopping the cause,
when they'd much better aim at prevention.
Let us stop at its source all this mischief," cried he;
"Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally;
If the cliff we will fence, we might also dispense
with the ambulance down in the valley."

"Oh he's a fanatic," the others rejoined;
"Dispense with the ambulance? Never!
He'd dispense with all charities too if he could.
No, No! We'll support them forever!
Aren't we picking up folks just as fast as they fall?
And shall this man dictate to us? Shall he?
Why should people of sense stop to put up a fence
while their ambulance works in the valley?"

But a sensible few who are practical too,
will not bear with such nonsense much longer.
They believe that prevention is better than cure;
and their party will soon be the stronger.
Encourage them, then, with your purse, voice, and pen,
and (while other philanthropists dally)
They will scorn all pretense and put a stout fence
on the cliff that hangs over the valley.

Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old,
for the voice of true wisdom is calling;
To rescue the fallen is good, but 'tis best
to prevent other people from falling;
Better close up the source of temptation and crime
than deliver from the dungeon or galley;
Better put a strong fence 'round the top of the cliff,
than an ambulance down in the valley.

Joseph Malins, Bulletin of the North Carolina State Board of Health, Vol. 27, Number 10, January 1913).

The Torchbearer

The God of the High Endeavor
Gave me a torch to bear.
I lifted it high above me
In the dark and murky air;
And straightway with loud hosannas
The crowd proclaimed its light
And followed me as I carried my torch
Through the starless night,
Till drunk with people's praises
And mad with vanity
I forgot 'twas the torch they followed
And fancied they followed me.

Then slowly my arm grew weary
Upholding the shining load
And my tired feet went stumbling
Over the dusty road.
I fell with the torch beneath me.
In a moment the light was out.
When lo! from the throng a stripling
Sprang forth with a mighty shout,
Caught up the torch as it smoldered,
And lifted it high again,
Till fanned by the winds of heaven,
It fired the souls of men.

And as I lay in the darkness
The feet of the trampling crowd
Passed over and far beyond me,
Its paeans proclaimed around,
And I learned in the deepening twilight
This glorious verity,
'Tis the torch that the people follow,
Whoever the bearer may be.

(Quoted by Vaughn J. Featherstone, Speeches, 5 June 1983).

The Knot

With thoughtless and impatient hands
We tangle up the plans
The Lord hath wrought.
And when we cry in pain He saith,
'Be quiet, man, while I untie the knot.'

(Quoted by Boyd K. Packer, "Prayers and Answers," Ensign, Nov. 1979, 21).

God's Pay

Who does God's work will get God's pay,
However long may seem the day,
However weary be the way.
No mortal hand God's hand can stay,
He may not pay as others pay,
In gold, or lands, or raiment gay,
In goods that perish and decay;
But God's high wisdom knows a way,
And this is sure, let come what may—
Who does God's work will get God's pay.

(Quoted by Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 352).

Why Climb?

One cannot stay on the summit forever -
One has to come down again.
So why bother in the first place? Just this.
What is above knows what is below -
But what is below does not know what is above
 
One climb, one sees-
One descends and sees no longer
But one has seen!
 
There is an art of conducting one's self in
The lower regions by the memory of
What one saw higher up.
 
When one can no longer see,
One does at least still know.
(Rene Daumal, "Mt. Analogue: A Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidean Adventures in Mountain Climbing," Unfinished, circa 1949).

The Glory of the Garden

OUR England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.
For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall,
You'll find the tool- and potting-sheds which are the heart of all,
The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dungpits and the tanks,
The rollers, carts and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks.
And there you'll see the gardeners, the men and 'Prentice boys
Told off to do as they are bid and do it without noise;
For, except when seeds are planted and we shout to scare the birds,
The Glory of the Garden it abideth not in words.
And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows;
But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam,
For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come.
Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing:—"Oh, how beautiful!" and sitting in the shade,
While better men than we go out and start their working lives
At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinnerknives.
There's not a pair of legs so thin, there's not a head so thick,
There's not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick,
But it can find some needful job that's crying to be done,
For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth every one.
Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
If it's only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden,
You will find yourself a partner in the Glory of the Garden.
Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
That half a proper gardener's work is done upon his knees,
So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
For the Glory of the Garden that it may not pass away!
And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away!
(Rudyard Kipling)

The Sneetches

Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.
Those stars weren't so big; they were really quite small.
You would think such a thing wouldn't matter at all.

But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches
Would brag, "We're the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches."
With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they'd snort, "
"We'll have nothing to do with the plain-Belly sort!"

And whenever they met some, when they were out walking,
They'd hike right on past them without even talking.
When the Star-Belly children went out to play ball,
Could a Plain Belly get in the game...? Not at all!

You could only play ball if your bellies had stars,
and the Plain-Belly children had none upon thars.
When the Star-Belly Sneetches had frankfurter roasts
Or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts,

They never invited the Plain-Belly Sneetches.
They left them out cold in the dark of the beaches.
They kept them away. Never let them come near.
And that's how they treated them year after year.

Then ONE day, it seems...while the Plain-Belly Sneetches
Were moping and doping alone on the beaches,
Just sitting there wishing their bellies had stars...
A stranger zipped up in the strangest of cars!

"My friends," he announced in a voice clear and keen,
"My name is Sylvester McMonkey McBean.
And I've heard of your troubles. I've heard you're unhappy.
But I can fix that. I'm the Fix-It-Up Chappie.

I've come here to help you. I have what you need.
And my prices are low. And I work with great speed.
And my work is one hundred per cent guaranteed!"
Then, quickly, Sylvester McMonkey McBean
Put together a very peculiar machine.

And he said, "You want stars like a Star-Belly Sneetch...?
My friends, you can have them for three dollars each!"
"Just pay me your money and hope right aboard!"
So they clambered inside. Then the big machine roared

And it klonked. and it bonked. And it jerked. And it berked
And it bopped them about. But the thing really worked!
When the Plain-Belly Sneetches popped out, they had stars!
They actually did. They had stars upon thars!

Then they yelled at the ones who had stars from the start,
"We're exactly like you! You can't tell us apart.
We're all just the same, now, you snooty old smarties!
And now we can go to your frankfurter parties."

"Good grief!" groaned the ones who had stars from the first.
"We're still the best Sneetches, and they are the worst.
But, now, how in the world will we know," they all frowned,
"if which kind is what, or the other way 'round?"

Then up came McBean with a very sly wink
And he said, "Things are not quite as bad as you think.
So you don't know who's who. That is perfectly true.
But come with me, friends. Do you know what I'll do?

I'll make you, again, the best Sneetches on beaches
And all it will cost you is ten dollars eaches."
"Belly stars are no longer in style, " said McBean.
"What you need is a trip through my stars-off machine.

This wondrous contraption will take off your stars
So you won't look like Sneetches who have them on thars."
And that handy machine working very precisely
Removed all the stars from their tummies quite nicely.

Then, with snoots in the air, they paraded about
And they opened their beaks and they let out to shout,
"We know who is who! Now there isn't a doubt.
The best kind of Sneetches are Sneetches without!"

Then, of course, those with stars all got frightfully mad.
To be wearing a star now was frightfully bad.
Then, of course, old Sylvester McMonkey McBean
invited them into his Star-Off machine.

Then, of course from THEN on, as you probably guess,
Things really got into a horrible mess.
All the rest of that day, on those wild screaming beaches,
The Fix-it-Up Chappie kept fixing up Sneetches.

Off again! On again! In again! Out again,
Through the machines they raced round and about again,
Changing their stars every minute or two.
They kept paying money. They kept running through

Until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
Whether this one was that one...or that one was this one
Or which one was what one...or what one was who.
Then, when every last cent of their money was spent,
the Fix-it-Up Chappie packed up and he went.

And he laughed as he drove in his car up the beach,
"They never will learn. No. You can't teach a Sneetch!"
But McBean was quite wrong, I'm quite happy to say
That the Sneetches got really quite smart that day,

The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars
And whether they had one, or not, upon thars.

The Elephant

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"Goodness me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, "Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

(John Godfrey Saxe, "The Blind Men and the Elephant").

Babies Don't Keep

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait 'til tomorrow.
For babies grow up, we've learned to our sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep.

(Quoted by Russell M Nelson, GC, Oct. 1987, "Lessons from Eve").

 

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master;
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

(Rudyard Kipling, If)

 

 

 

PARABLES

The Wishing Tree (Hindu)

Into a room full of children at play walks their uncle. Laughing at their preoccupation with make-believe games, he asks them to go out to the massive banyan tree, which will grant them whatever they wish! The children rush out, stand under the branches of this huge tree that cover the sky, and ask for what all children crave: toys and candy. In a flash they get what they want, but along with that comes an unexpected bonus: the built-in opposite of what they wished for. With toys they get boredom; with candy, tummy aches. Sure that something has gone wrong with their wishing, the children ask for bigger toys and sweeter candy. The tree grants them their wishes, and along with them bigger boredom and bigger tummy aches. Time passes. They are now young men and women and their wishes change, for they know more. They ask for wealth, power, and fame. They get these, but also [greed], insomnia, anxiety, and frustration. All this while one child has been unable to move out of the room. Being lame, he was pushed down in the scramble and when he dragged himself to the window, he was transfixed watching his friends make their wishes, get them with their built-in opposites and suffer, yet compulsively continue to make more wishes. Riveted by this utterly engrossing scene of desire and its fruits, a profound swell of compassion welled up in the heart of this lame child, reaching out to his companions. In that process, he forgot to wish for anything for himself. In that moment of spontaneous compassion for others, he sliced through the roots of the cosmic tree and becomes free.

The Trouble Tree

The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence. On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching tips of the branches with both hands. When opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss. Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier. Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing's for sure, troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again." "Funny thing is," he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick 'em up, there ain't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before."

The Empty Pot

A long time ago in China there was a boy named Ping who loved flowers. Anything he planted burst into bloom. Up came flowers, bushes, and even big fruit trees, as if by magic! Everyone in the kingdom loved flowers too. They planted them everywhere, and the air smelled like perfume. The emperor loved birds and animals, but flowers most of all, and he tended his own garden every day. But the emperor was very old. He needed to choose a successor to the throne. Who would his successor be? And how would the Emperor choose? Because the Emperor loved flowers so much, he decided to let the flowers choose. The next day a proclamation was issued: All the children in the land were to come to the palace. There they would be given special flower seeds by the Emperor. "Whoever can show me their best in a year's time," he said, "Will succeed me to the throne." The news created great excitement throughout the land! Children from all over the country swarmed to the palace to get their flower seeds. All the parents wanted their children to be chosen Emperor, and all the children hoped they would be chosen too! When Ping received his seed from the Emperor, he was the happiest child of all. He was sure he could grow the most beautiful flower. Ping filled a flowerpot with rich soil. He planted the seed in it very carefully. He watered it every day. He couldn't wait to see it sprout, grow, and blossom into a beautiful flower! Day after day passed, but nothing grew in his pot. Ping was very worried. He put new soil into a larger pot. Then he transferred the seed into the rich black soil. Another two months he waited. Still nothing happened. By and by the whole year passed. Spring came, and all the children put on their best clothes to greet the Emperor. They rushed to the palace with their beautiful flowers, eagerly hoping to be chosen. Ping was ashamed of his empty pot. He thought the other children would laugh at him because he couldn't get a flower to grow. His clever friend ran by, holding a great big plant. "Ping!" he said. "You're not really going to the Emperor with an empty pot, are you? Couldn't you grow a big flower like mine?" "I've grown lots of flowers better than yours," Ping said. "It's just this seed that won't grow." Ping's father overheard this and said, "You did your best, and your best is good enough to present to the Emperor." Holding the empty pot in his hands, Ping went straight away to the palace. The Emperor was looking at the flowers slowly, one by one. How beautiful all the flowers were! But the Emperor was frowning and did not say a word. Finally he came to Ping. Ping hung his head in shame, expecting to be punished. The Emperor asked him, "Why did you bring an empty pot?" Ping started to cry and replied, "I planted the seed you gave me and I watered it every day, but it didn't sprout. I put it in a better pot with better soil, but still it didn't sprout! I tended it all year long, but nothing grew. So today I had to bring an empty pot without a flower. It was the best I could do." When the Emperor heard these words, a smile slowly spread over his face, and he put his arm around Ping. Then he exclaimed to one and all, "I have found him! I have found the one person worthy of being Emperor! "Where you [all] got your seeds from, I do not know. For the seeds I gave you had all been cooked. So it was impossible for any of them to grow. I admire Ping's great courage to appear before me with the empty truth, and now I reward him with my entire kingdom and make him Emperor of all the land! (The Empty Pot, Demi)"

 

 

 

 

BLESSINGS

Bryce

Brother Bryce Layne Dunford, this your Patriarchal Blessing, will be a useful instrument in your life if you are true and faithful to the laws and ordinances and precepts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is given to you by the power and authority of the Office of a Patriarch in the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood and is designed to be a light and a guide in your life. I humbly pray that your blessing may reflect the mind and will of a kind and loving Father in Heaven.

Yours is a beautiful spirit, a valiant spirit, a spirit of great potential. There will be positions of importance and leadership in the kingdom that await your further development. You are to be led and guided by the Holy Spirit. You have the power within you to accomplish the purposes that our Father in Heaven has in store for you, the latent ability to accomplish all things necessary to succeed in this life.

You are born into a world and circumstances that will require much faith and diligence. There are those apostates, detractors, enemies of the Church whose loud and raucous voices will be raised. You are to be one of the valiant who will be called upon to defend the faith and will have the ability to do so by the Spirit. You will be able to portray to those that would detract, a spirit of love and kindness and be able to dismiss them with your testimony.

You are blessed with goodly parents. It is your nature and desire and maintain a mutual bond of love and friendship with them. They are to be your advisors, counselors from whose association you can profit and cherish throughout your entire life.

You are endowed with a great faith. This faith will be a motivating factor throughout your life. Your faith will grow and be a foundation for your testimony and for, yes, even miracles that are to come for faith precedes all.

At your confirmation, you were given the command to receive the Holy Ghost. This Spirit, Brother Dunford, will be very real to you. You are to have the ability, through righteousness, to receive this communication. You must remember, however, that to most of us it comes in an aptly described "still, small voice" and so a listening ear and a sincere desire is necessary to hear this voice. It will come unmistakeably to you in times of need, it will guide and direct your thoughts and actions, will be a force in making the important decisions of life that are to come. You will have confidence in using these impressions to guide your life.

Many members of the Church are descendants of the ancient Patriarchs. We of Latter-day Israel are heirs to blessings that were promised those of old. You are of the House of Israel in a natural line of descent and are an heir to all of the blessings that were given to father Abraham. I declare your lineage to be through the nation of Ephraim. You will have the great privilege and opportunity to perpetuate the blessings that accrue from this source and that have been promised, in the scriptures, through this lineage.

Your life is to be rich and fruitful. You have an intelligent mind and the desire to use your abilities for the service of others. You are to have joy and happiness in your life, even though the world is in troublesome times, you will have the peace and understanding that comes only from him who is the giver of life and peace.

The mission of our Savior is to be of great importance to you. You are to be called into the service. Your cry unto repentance is to be heard. Your testimony will grow until it is certain to you, there will be no question in your mind, but again the warning comes that there will be those who would detract from this testimony. Your faith and testimony will not always be on a constant. It will somewhat come and wane, but the basic plateau of testimony will never be lost. You are to be granted great eloquence in bringing the word to those on the outside. There will be those who upon hearing your word will be led to believe as you bear your testimony to them.

You are blessed with the gift of obedience. You have the desire to carry out the work of our Father in Heaven in all of its varying aspects. You will have the great gift of being able to love and to be loved in return. People will sense your sincerity and respond to your efforts. Those who are weak in their faith and those who are troubled in mind and body will receive succor under your hands. You are to have the spiritual gift of healing in this regard. Through the ordinance of administration this gift will be manifest.

As you participate in scholastic activities, you are to be guided and directed by the Holy Ghost. You will be able to accumulate information that is necessary and important. You will be successful in your academic career. Your occupational career can and will be on a high plane of success to the extent that you will be able to dedicate to the Lord the time and means necessary to fully accomplish the mission that he will call you to do. I bless you with health and strength necessary to carry out the activities of this life, that your life will be full and that you will be able to accomplish all the necessary appointments and conditions of this mortal existence.

You are to feel a personal relationship with our Savior, and our Father in Heaven through prayer. Prayer in combination with fasting will be especially meaningful to you. When you are troubled or in need, answers and blessings will come according to the will of our Father in Heaven.

In this life, it is necessary that we experience adversities. These times of course will come as they come to everyone in this mortal life. You are to have the strength, the power and the will to overcome and to realize the true purposes of these experiences and use them for your ultimate benefit, for growth and development both here and hereafter. It is necessary to experience the good and the evil.

As you desire and contemplate the great blessing of Celestial marriage and receiving the other Temple ordinances, you will do so with a feeling of power and dignity. Your peers are to respect you for your integrity and for your desire to receive these higher ordinances. As part of the endowment of eternal marriage, you are to enjoy the great blessing of fatherhood and together with a worthy companion perpetrate the blessings of the Gospel and priesthood to your posterity.

Brother Dunford, you are to have always the desire, ability and determination to live your life in such a way that your momentary actions will reflect eternal goals. It is well within your power to reach the ultimate destination of eternal life. Your light will be seen, your life exemplary in every way. You will continue to be a shining example to your peers, and to the members of your family, especially to your brothers and sisters. They will follow your example to their own benefit.

You are to come forth in the morning of the First Resurrection to be crowned with glory, immortality and eternal life according to your faithfulness here upon the earth. These blessings I pronounce upon your head with all other blessings that our Father has in store for you, a worthy son, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

 

 

 

Jen

Beloved Daughter, Jennifer Lyn Grimshaw Dunford, in the sacred name of the Savior Jesus Christ and in the authority of the holy priesthood which I bear as an ordained patriarch, I am pleased to be able to place my hands upon your head and at your request pronounce your patriarchal blessing. I do so not only as an ordained patriarch but as your father, feeling doubly honored at this invitation, and feel to tell you as well that I am pleased to be able to share both of these assignments with a person who is very sacred to you and to me and that is your mother.

I feel to pause as we begin this blessing and give thanks to Heavenly Father for His kindnesses unto us His children. He has allowed us to come here to the earth to be tried and tested, allowed us to make mistakes and have our weaknesses made known. In His wisdom He has appointed a Savior for us His children. We have the privilege to have lived in the presence of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and we come here to the earth with a knowledge of His life and His example. We have the privilege of knowing of Him through the scriptures, and we are able to have witnessed to us that He has worked out, indeed, the infinite and eternal atonement for us His brothers and sisters. I feel to express also thanks to Heavenly Father for the life and mission of the Holy Ghost and feel to beg of Him today that we might have the guidance and direction of this sacred member of the Godhead; that He might, indeed, inspire our minds and open up our thoughts to things eternal.

I feel to remind you, Jennifer, now as we begin this blessing, of the love of your Heavenly Father, even the love of your Heavenly parents and tell you of their great concern for you, their daughter, and the desire they have for me to express to you this sacred message this day, that they remind you of that sacred pre-mortal existence, also remind you of the nobility of your spirit and the maturity that you gained in the life before you came here, that you were valiant and faithful and true. You were a firm believer in the gospel as taught to us by our Heavenly parents, known then to us as the gospel of God. You believed most firmly in the principle of free agency and you fought valiantly on the side of right as our other brother, Lucifer, he who we referred to as the son of the morning, attempted to lead his brothers and sisters by a different path. I need to remind you, Jennifer, that this was a very upsetting time for you, but also remind you that you stood firmly on the side of the Savior and were valiant in your testimony of the truth and were, in fact, the instrument in the hands of God in affecting change in the lives of others of your brothers and sisters. You will be blessed for that faithfulness.

You have had the privilege of coming here to the earth, you have been reserved to come forth at this time, a time when the gospel is here in its fullness. You are here by appointment, not by chance and because you are deserving to be here. You have been born of goodly parents, you have been born into a family who loves you and cherishes your friendship and relationship. You are promised that you can be part of an eternal family, sealed together, bound together for eternity. You have had the privilege of being raised and nurtured in the gospel of Jesus Christ, to be reacquainted and reunited with these principles once again. They have always been easy for you to accept and you have been blessed with a believing spirit. I tell you that your people down through time have been some of the noble and great of the earth. It was they who helped establish kingdoms and principalities, who helped establish the belief in mankind and that men are good and that they can make contributions to society. You have been blessed through your lineage and ancestry to give freely to others, this is a sacred and special gift that you have and you come by it rightly for your parents and your ancestors have been those who have been willing to serve others and to share their means and their time and their abilities. You need to know that this is a royal heritage that you have. May you never forget the faith of your ancestry, the diligence with which they lived their lives.

Now I feel impressed at this time to tell you, Jennifer, that there are those who have departed this life, some that would surprise you, who are very interested in this sacred and special gathering. It is known by them of the thing that you have chosen to do this day and they desire for me to express to you their hope for your future. How excited they are about the privileges and opportunities that will be extended to you, to your husband and to your family, how pleased they are with you and your life and your dedication. I tell you indeed you are a descendent of Ephraim. As such, you are a recipient of all of the blessings of the gospel and I feel to tell you that nothing will be withheld from you that would be good, that would be uplifting or proper, or beneficial in your life. I would remind you what a sacred privilege it has been for you to become acquainted with the young man who shares your life. You need to know that this sacred relationship has been blessed by the spirit and you have been brought together, the circumstances created for you to become acquainted. You are to be complimented, both of you, for the decisions you have made thus far to serve the Lord. I feel prompted to tell you that you have a major challenge in your life, Jennifer, and that will be to learn to share your husband with the many congregations and circumstances that he will be called upon to serve in, for he is a man of Christ, specially chosen to be your helpmeet and companion.

I feel directed by the spirit to give you some sacred, personal instruction that you will need to keep close to your heart for you have a major challenge in this relationship and that is that you will need to develop and keep healthy your own personal testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In order to do that you cannot and must not depend on your husband or any other person to generate this special light. Your challenge will be on an individual, personal basis to pray, to study the scriptures, study the scriptures not what others have said of the scriptures but to delve into the scriptures on your own and to develop in your own right a sacred testimony of their truthfulness and their value in your life. I feel to promise you that if as you do so you will feel a strength that will be necessary for you to persevere. I feel to promise you under the direction of the spirit that you will see difficult times in your life, challenges to your health and to your family, challenges to neighborhoods, friends and associates, difficult times and circumstances as the Lord cleanses the wicked by the wicked, as people's lives and whole communities and civilizations are destroyed. It will be your challenge and responsibility with your good husband to stand at the head of a righteous family, to lead them into the future, into these difficult and challenging times. I feel to promise you that as long as you are humble, as long as you are prayerful, as long as you are willing to read and study the scriptures, as you attend your sacrament meeting and as you partake worthily of the sacrament, you will be blessed and protected, your family will be watched over and you and your husband can stand, indeed, at the head of a great family organization.

I feel prompted to tell you that your posterity will be great and the spirit additionally directs that I give you this great promise. If you will live worthily, you and your eternal companion will have the opportunity to have sealed to you at a future time others of our Heavenly Father's choice sons and daughters who would plead for the opportunity to be sealed to worthy parents even though you will not give them birth. What a marvelous promise.

Jennifer, attend the temple whenever you can for I tell you that there will be times in your life when you and your family will not have the convenience of having a temple just a few short miles away, for the Lord will call upon you and Bryce mightily in His service. One of the major challenges you will have is to support this good man who under the direction of the spirit has selected you as his eternal companion to support him in the priesthood responsibilities that will come to him for they will be many. Carry this blessing upon your heart, Jennifer. Your Heavenly Father loves you, He cherishes you as His daughter, He will bless you and nothing will be withheld from you that would be good and for your benefit. Again, let me close by expressing to you the love of your mother and I, your earthly parents, we who have been privileged to share your life. How we love you and desire only the best for you. We will pray for you and your family every day and we ask Heavenly Father to bless you and guide you, to be with you. Now this is your patriarchal blessing, may this sacred message be meaningful to you, may you read it when times are difficult, when you are discouraged, may you be reminded of who you are is my humble prayer and I pronounce it under the direction and guidance of the Holy Ghost and in the sacred name of the Savior, even Jesus Christ, amen.