I've had some thoughts I wanted to share over the past few months, so I figured I would share them to close out the year 2015.
For the first topic, I would like to start with scripture. There are some scriptures that have stood out for me as I've read the Book of Mormon this year.
First, from the book of Alma, Chapter 4:
Let's skip a few verses...
And now it came to pass that Alma, having seen the afflictions of the humble followers of God, and the persecutions which were heaped upon them by the remainder of his people, and seeing all their inequality, began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him.
Now, onto the book of 3 Nephi, Chapter 6:
From October, 2001:
From April, 2006:
From April, 2009
From October, 2013:
This important talk is from October, 2014:
The next thing is just simply a pet peeve of mine. I'm on Facebook, so I see a lot of the memes that get passed around.
Have you seen the meme indicating a desire to have God back in our government?
When I see this, I always think of asking, which God do you want?
Do you want the Roman Catholic God, The Greek Orthodox God, The Russian Orthodox God, the Protestant God, the Lutheran God, the Quaker God, the Baptist God, the Non Denominational God, the LDS (Mormon) God, the God of the Orthodox Jews, the God of the Reformed Jews, the Islamic God, the Hindu God?
Yes, we are all children of the same God who created this earth and all of us. The problem is, there are very real differences in who and how God is believed to be.
The point is: God is not a Republican. He's not a Democrat. God is, thankfully, a Father who loves all of us.
There is a reason why this country is not a theocracy, but rather a democratic republic. If you don't believe me, try living as a Christian in Saudi Arabia. They have chosen to be a theocracy, the problem is, if you don't happen to belong to the country's official religion, you are going to find life not only difficult, but possibly dangerous.
The United States of America has a separation between Church and State, notably through the First Amendment of the US Constitution. This allows for freedom of all religious beliefs, even those we as individual citizens don't agree with personally.
Rather than trying to create a theocracy, why not support elected officials who espouse our values (and preferably not ditch them when they get into office) instead of basing those in government on which specific religion they are?
Okay, enough with Rant #2.
The last point I'm going to title Seeking The Holy Envy.
Earlier today a conversation that was obviously going on before spilled onto a post on my Facebook wall from a friend of mine. It was a long "letter" from my LDS friend to someone of another faith who had told my friend she wasn't a Christian, that Mormons are not Christians.
I've heard this argument before, and yes, it is completely false.
What is really sad, is that this non-LDS person saying this had gotten this information, not from a member of our faith, but from someone outside the Church spreading lies. Lies that a lot of people believe.
This reminded me of a statement I saw on the video Between Heaven & Earth that I have on DVD. It's from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), and it discusses Temples from the perspective of other faiths, not just the LDS faith. If you have a chance to get your hands on a copy of it, be sure to get it, it is well researched and well made.
In this video, the late Lutheran Bishop of Sweden, Krister Stendhal explained his 3 rules for interfaith discussions:
1. When seeking information about a religion, ask those who live that religion, not the enemies of that religion. Otherwise the enemies will be breaking a commandment: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness.
2. Compare best with best when comparing religions. Do not compare your best with their worst.
3. Leave room for "Holy Envy".
Holy Envy are those aspects of other religions you think are pretty special. Bishop Stendhal's Holy Envy was in the performance of Baptisms For The Dead, a vicarious ordinance done to extend the blessings of Christ and his Atonement to our ancestors who did not have that opportunity.
Personally, I have "Holy Envy" for a lot of the ancient stories of miracles with the Israelites, and how they are incorporated with today's customs with the Orthodox Jewish religion.
I also have "Holy Envy" that people in the Islamic faith stop what they are doing at a certain time of each day to kneel in prayer.
Is there anything you have "Holy Envy" of? If not, perhaps a goal for 2016 is to find something from a different religion you could have "Holy Envy" for?
Happy New Year, everyone. I pray for God's blessings for all who read this. May you prosper this year and seek to serve at least one other person.