Friday, July 31, 2009

Listening to the wind

Growing up in Arizona, especially in northeastern Arizona on the Colorado Plateau, you get a lot of opportunity to listen to the wind. The wind tells you a lot about what is happening around you and what might be coming. A wind from the south and east brings clouds and rain. A wind from the north and west comes only in the winter and brings cold and sometimes rain. Because of a huge stationary high pressure area over the Four Corners, winds blowing from the south and west seldom bring anything except hot, dry weather.

Since I was a lot younger and spending time outdoors on the Plateau, I have noticed that the wind patterns have changed. Not enough to notice from day to day, but over a year's time the clouds no longer move in the same directions and the weather is not so predictable. I used to watch the sky and could tell within a few minutes when the rain would begin, now it is not so easy. I used to watch the lightning over the White Mountains and now this is a rare event and not just because I no longer live up on the mountain.

Watching the country and our society, I see a shift in the way our country is drifting. It is just like the wind, the changes are mostly subtle and only noticeable over a long period of time, but just like the changes in the storm patterns on the Colorado Plateau, our country is fundamentally different than it used to be.

One marked change is that I notice that people have generally become entirely materialistic. They want the latest large screen TV, the latest, newest and most expensive gadget, car or phone. No one seems satisfied with what they have, they always want more, more food, more entertainment, more free time, more vacations. Almost no one lives a conservative life style, even young, newly married couples I know, want and take international cruises and trips to exotic locations. All people talk about at work, besides the latest illness or accident, is what they are going to purchase or where they are going for their next vacation. These are not wealthy people, but young married and unmarried people who are making an average or below salary.

Recently, I saw an announcement for a business expansion. The Chief Executive Officer extolled the virtues of their newly enlarged business with a "host of guest amenities, including flat-screen televisions" and "free valet drivers to park your car." The public was invited with their families for a free tour and light refreshments "so they can get acquainted with the new space first hand." You might imagine that this was a hotel or restaurant, no, this new expansion was a hospital emergency room! Just think about it, you are in the middle of having a heart attack and you think, I have to go to the new hospital because they have flat-screen televisions.

The fact that a hospital would even think it was necessary to have such advertisements is a clear indication of the change in our society. Who would have thought that I would choose my emergency room based on valet parking and light refreshments.

This attitude towards life is so materialistic as to be offensive. Nothing in the article says anything about the degree of care you might receive or the competency of the doctors, all that seems important to the hospital and probably to the general public, are the amenities. With all the current controversy over the rising cost of health care, maybe we need to see if emergency room patients really need flat-screen televisions.

We often look to a change in the wind as being beneficial. In this case the changes that are coming into our society are destructive and like the wind when it gets too strong, may end up destroying our society entirely.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What is the "kiss-in" protesting?

Recent local news articles in the Salt Lake City Deseret News tell about a series of protests held by pro-homosexuals at or near The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headquarters and Temple. The incidents have occurred, as reported, on private not public property.

These incidents could be viewed a highly local disturbance were it not for the overtones of religious persecution involved. Accounts of the incident leading up to the protests do not appear to differ much in the facts, but the characterization of the facts by the gay activists is passing into the propaganda stage.

The supposed treatment of the two gay men cited for trespassing on July 9th, is obviously not the issue. To give some perspective to the incident it is important to know that Temple Square in Salt Lake City attracts some 3 million to 5 million visitors a year, Temple Square is the most popular tourist attraction in Utah. By comparison, Utah's five National ParksZion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches— had a combined total of 5.3 million visitors in 2005. The tourist traffic on Temple Square is also more than that of the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park. Wikipedia.

With all these people every year, you can imagine that the behavior of the two men must have been out of the ordinary because over the years I have seen some pretty strange people and incidents in downtown Salt Lake City. But, having been to Temple Square many, many times, I can say that the security is almost invisible.

So why the protests? It goes without saying that if these same people were protesting almost any other establishment their actions would not be tolerated. It is only because they know that in Salt Lake and with the LDS Church, they will not be publicly excoriated that they will protest at all. It is "OK" to blatantly attack the LDS Church's sacred belief's at the center of the religion because, after all, they are just "Mormons" and it is alright to turn the arrest of two drunks into a national incident because the Mormons do not accept the Gay Rights lifestyle or agenda. At its heart, the protests are anti-religious. Their ire is directed at the Church's beliefs. What happens to freedom of religion if Gay Rights activists can attack a Church for its beliefs?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Perhaps it is a time to reflect

Think about the words to this familiar song:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.
(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His day is marching on.
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on."
(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Since God is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
While God is marching on.
He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.
(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.
How much of what Mrs. Howe wrote would be politically acceptable today?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Failure of Morality

In a descriptive sense, morality derives from either a written or unwritten code of conduct which is held by the society to be authoritative as to what is "right" or acceptable or "wrong" and therefore unacceptable. Descriptive morality is usually based on some ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people. Wikipedia.

No society can exist without morality. Because we live together and interact, we must have some predictive norm in our interactions. The Book of Mormon describes, in graphic detail, the collapse of a society that abandoned its moral structure. Quoting Third Nephi, Chapter 7:
2 And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land. 3 And every tribe did appoint a chief or a leader over them; and thus they became tribes and leaders of tribes. 4 Now behold, there was no man among them save he had much family and many kindreds and friends; therefore their tribes became exceedingly great. 5 Now all this was done, and there were no wars as yet among them; and all this iniquity had come upon the people because they did yield themselves unto the power of Satan. 6 And the regulations of the government were destroyed, because of the secret combination of the friends and kindreds of those who murdered the prophets. 7 And they did cause a great contention in the land, insomuch that the more righteous part of the people had nearly all become wicked; yea, there were but few righteous men among them.
This passage describes a society where "secret societies" that is, individuals who had combined to circumvent the laws and morals of the society, had succeeded in abrogating both the law of the land and norms by which the society was able to operate. Today, in the United States, we have the same challenge and perhaps, with the same results. We have specific organizations whose goals both publicly expressed and private or secret, are to destroy the social and moral fabric of our society. The most vocal of these organizations and individuals claim the protection of their rights as the basis for the destruction of the family, community and the government of the entire country. They would remake society in their own selfish, self absorbed goal of power over the rest of the country.

Again, to the Book of Mormon, at one point, the entire society of the people, the Nephites, was threatened by bands of robbers. It is noteworthy that the head or chief robber Giddianhi wrote a letter to the head of the established government, Lachoneus. Giddianhi first claimed that the existing government was not legitimate:
3 Nephi 3:2 Lachoneus, most noble and chief governor of the land, behold, I write this epistle unto you, and do give unto you exceedingly great praise because of your firmness, and also the firmness of your people, in maintaining that which ye suppose to be your right and liberty; yea, ye do stand well, as if ye were supported by the hand of a god, in the defence of your liberty, and your property, and your country, or that which ye do call so.
Noteworthy is how Giddianhi ended his claim to take over the government
3 Nephi 3:10 And I write this epistle unto you, Lachoneus, and I hope that ye will deliver up your lands and your possessions, without the shedding of blood, that this my people may recover their rights and government, who have dissented away from you because of your wickedness in retaining from them their rights of government, and except ye do this, I will avenge their wrongs. I am Giddianhi.
There is a striking parallel between the attitude of these robbers and those who would challenge our own government today. The key claim was for "rights" and the accusation against the established government was that in denying the robbers their "rights" the established government, not the robbers themselves, was "wicked." Presently there are those who would claim that personal rights as determined by the individual are superior to any other consideration. In taking this position they would ignore the very foundation of our nation, our liberty and ultimately our freedom. As it says in the Constitution of the United States of America:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Our founding fathers did not forge a nation of individuals asserting their individual rights above the common good, but they established a Union in order to establish justice and insure domestic tranquility. Let us remember that we are one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all and that justice mandates that we serve the common good, not to be replaced with the selfish desires of individuals who would destroy the common good for their own selfish and self serving ends.