Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ways to Cope

(that sometimes work for me)

Dear Friend: Sometimes these things below have helped me navigate the minefields (mind-fields) of fear, doubt, and negative experience; or as you call them “micro bombs” that devastate so many attempts at finding/maintaining peace.
1. Remembering Moses and the Exodus. They made their big move and suddenly they had a Red Sea in front and 10,000-or-so armed and angry Egyptians closing in behind. And that was only their first experience of massive doubt about their big move. There seemed no solution to their dilemma—BUT there was. (Something they never could have envisioned.) It seems to me that “micro-bombs” in the lives of most who make major changes in their lives are a given—one of the opposition factors (2 Ne. 2:11, 15-16). You can find them everywhere in life and scripture. Remembering helps me realize I am not alone in facing doubts, fears, or inexplicable negatives because the god of this world (the adversary: 2 Cor. 4:4) seems to take great pleasure in mining every path to purpose and enlightenment.

2. BALANCING a doubt, fear, or negative thought with another thought, like:
a. Gratitude (and expressing it emphatically in my mind) for even the simplest things: a glimpse of beauty, finding my keys, an idea that saved me time or frustration, every swallow that mother takes without choking, a space of time to research or write, etc.
b. Referencing scripture as the Savior did when He was assailed with IF’s in the wilderness (Matt. 4:3-5). These have especially helped me: D&C 58:1-5; 98:1-3.
c. Holding to the iron rod of prior inspiration and witness: “Did I not speak peace to your mind [perhaps more than once] concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” (D&C 6:23)
Life seems a perpetual (re)learning curve.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Economics of Jesus

If Jesus were invited to speak at the next World Economic Forum, what would He say? And how long would it take us Christians to switch from C-SPAN to American Idol?

If we go by precedent,[1] Jesus has a tendency to repeat Himself, so in all likelihood we would hear:
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13).
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:34).
… When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:12-14).
… If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor,[2] and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me (Matthew 19:21; Luke 18:22).
… Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23-24; Luke 18:25).
… all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31).
Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth (Luke 12:15).
… take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth (Luke 21:34-35).
… Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:15).
Woe unto you, … for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess (Matthew 23:25).
… the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful (Mark 4:19; Luke 8:14).
… Beware of [those], which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: … (Mark 12:38-40; Luke 11:43, 20:46-47).
… if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away (Matthew 5:40-42; Luke 6:29-30).
[to His ministers] … Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? … Therefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? ... But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 12:22-31).
Would He recount the story of the beggar Lazarus (in the bosom of Abraham) and the rich man (in hell) to help us rethink our present economic philosophies, expectations, and prejudices? (Luke 16:19-31)
Would He ask us to leave our worldly incomes to become itinerant fishers of men (Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17)?
Might He tell us that in His economic system, cooperation, sacrifice, and moderation are vastly superior to competition, self-interest, and excess, and that: “… if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;” (Doctrine and Covenants 78:6)?
Might He ask us to take off our blinders and honestly tell Him what we see in our very own house(s)?
Might He explain that He didn’t really mean “money” when He spoke the parable of the talents (Matthew 25; also Luke 19:12-26)?

As it is, the contradictions between His sayings and the reality of our lives in this world seem beyond reconciliation. So we seem to have turned to the ways of the opposition. Everywhere homes are increasing in size and grandeur. Countertops o’erflowing with proprietary chargers and their devices. Garages and/or storage units filled to overflowing. Bathrooms and closets the size of former great-rooms. Electronic recyclers surfeited with perfectly functional, but no-longer-stylish items. Credit & debt amassed to leverage hopes and dreams, and to salve impatience. Fashion, fame, and prestige bought and sold at the price of soul. Our drive to showcase our prosperity and prove His blessing and approval of us seems boundless. Even in the celebrations of His birth, spectacle and excess overwhelm us.

We preach self-sufficiency and He, God-sufficiency. We preach the work-ethic (i.e., labor for money) while He and His disciples ate freely from the corn fields they traversed (Matthew 12:1; Luke 6:1), and paid their tribute with a coin prophetically found in the mouth of a fish (Matthew 17:27).

How do we reconcile these contraries of what our God advocates and how we conduct our economic lives? Have we become so immersed in the ways of Babylon that we don’t even recognize her enticing sins and our peril? Have we any idea how excruciating it is going to be to opt-out of her market-place (Revelations 13:16-17; 1 Nephi 13:7-8)? Or how agonizing it might be for us—avid consumers—to watch our “beloved” Babylon collapse and burn (Revelations 18)? Do we have even a déjà vu sense of how God’s many and various chosen ones fall short of their callings time after time—the Jaredites, the children of Israel, the house of Judah, the Nephites, and undoubtedly us, if we go on consuming as if there will always be a tomorrow of excess? As if all the woe-filled prophecies apply to someone else, somewhere else?

What if the déjà vu of Jaredites, Israelites, Nephites, etc. did not end with the Restoration? What if we are not such a peculiar people?[3] What if we are not that much different from the scribes, Pharisees, and lawyers of His day—so tied to our traditions, beliefs, and expectations that seeing, we will not see; and hearing, we will not hear?!

What did President Spencer W. Kimball say to us in June 1976?[4]
[1] Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 11-26 for starters
[2] Notice, He did not say, “Give it to me.”
[3] Deuteronomy 14:2; 26:18; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9
[4] “The False Gods We Worship,” Ensign, June 1976