16 May 2010

Sunday Memorandum in re.: The Diversity of Faiths

This message was originally published on 4 April 2007, on another blog that I am about to remove.

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Recently it has come to my attention that a purportedly Christian organization released a video seeking to discredit Latter-day Saints. Nothing new about that: It's happened before, and undoubtedly it will happen again.

I need not give the effort more prominence than necessary. I will say one thing, and one thing only, as a general proposition: If we change our religious affiliation or our personal beliefs solely on the basis of what someone states or claims, or solely because of logic or persuasion, we cannot be assured of reaching the truth, because many if not most faiths, denominations, and sects generally claim theirs to be correct, and all others in error. It is, quite frankly, impossible to be correct in the eyes of everyone. Not counting Latter-day Saints, some Christians will even accuse other Christians of error.

The critical point is this: God is able to speak for Himself, He is able to do so directly to us, and blessed be those who are able to follow His promptings, whether through scripture, personal revelation, or both. --SJR

10 May 2010

Raw Video (Court Hearing: Exoneration)

From ABC affiliate WEWS in Cleveland comes this hearing of a man, Raymond Towler, who was wrongfully convicted of rape in 1981.  He was cleared of all charges as a result of DNA testing which showed that he did not commit the crime. The date of the hearing was 5 May 2010.

09 May 2010

Sunday Memorandum in re.: Eternity

Preface: This was originally published on 13 June 2006 on an unused blog that I'm about to remove.  I felt it was worth saving.  

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The following scriptures came to my mind today, while discussing eternal life and related matters over email--
The original question that was put forth during the discussion was whether we could handle the blessings and responsibilities associated with the eternal worlds to come. Here are the conclusions I draw from the above scriptures and from others that I can't cite at the moment:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. --Isa. 55:8-9 [OT]

For now we see through a glass darkly...now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known. --1 Cor. 13:12

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. --1 Cor. 13:11

1. The way we view Heaven and Eternity is unavoidably and severely distorted. Few of us have a terribly accurate view...even living prophets are only able to see a small portion of what God is able to see.

2. There are two ways to look at the phrase "...we are children of our Heavenly Father." The first is the one people usually think of, that is, we're literally His offspring. But we are also children in the sense that we are spiritually immature. We were less mature in the pre-existance than we are now...we hope in the post-mortal world we will be more mature. This is but one way that our view of Eternity is distorted.

3. Our perceptions are distorted in at least two other, critical ways. a) We live upon a fallen earth--one that has not yet been taken to a higher sphere. Likewise our own bodies, though in God's image, isn't in a higher sphere yet, either. b) Our own experiences will also to some extent shape our perceptions.

4. It follows that we cannot base our attitudes or decisions about Eternity based on what we perceive is going to happen. I sometimes hear protestants refer to the eternal world as a place where we sit around and play harps all day...a type of celesial waiting room where seemingly not a great deal happens, except we provide the music-on-hold for the rest of the Universe. That thought doesn't seem very palatable. But that's precisely what the adversary wants us to think.

5. For Satan uses the separation we have from God--which separation we know is for testing purposes and for our progression--to try to tell us either-- a) That Eternity after the highest manner is simply a load of nonsense (to put it mildly); b) Eternity is just like our present life's experiences, multiplied by the number of digits in Pi; c) We cannot handle the blessings or responsibilities of Eternity--not in this life, nor after the Resurrection, nor EVER; or d) We are not worthy to progress to such a level. At that point, we may think less about the Temple or about eternal families. Then we don't repent as we should, and so on.

6. Do I have a clue as to everything that will happen after this life ends? Not really, apart from what I know from the scriptures, and apart from reassurances I receive through the Spirit. In this, I am not alone...in fact, I am certain I share this lot with the bulk of the human race. But this much I can say. At the very least, I will know more about the transactions of this Earth than I do now. I will probably learn about all of the good and all of the evil that has ever happened at any point in history (without somehow becoming corrupted in spirit by the latter). I will learn that my thoughts on earth--including the ones I have this instant--were but those of a child in a very real and profound way. And most fundamentally, provided I remain true to the covenants I have made, I will be given tools there that I don't have now, and once I have those tools, a lot of the things that I don't understand now will make sense. And perhaps the most important of these tools would be a direct and unobstructed access to the Godhead, along with a corresponding transformation of our bodies.

Somehow, in that day, I am satisfied that we will know how to experience the blessings and responsibilities that we will encounter, even if it doesn't happen in an instant. We will be able to receive all of it as soon as we are able. The Lord will not bring his children to the threshold of Eternity, and bid us to drink of the fountain of everlasting waters, only to take aim at us with a fire hose. --SJR

06 May 2010

All Right, Let's Try This Again...

The question is:  How often will I be blogging here going forward?  Hopefully, the answer will be: More than 2-3 times every five years. 

The fact is, however, things had been rather busy.  First, there was the matter of finishing up law school.  (Check.)  Then there was passing the bar exam.  (Check.)  Meanwhile, it became necessary for me to end my original career somewhat earlier than I would have liked, an event that wasn't helped by the demise of the former Saturn division of General Motors.  (Check.)  Then I had my own practice for a time, and I can state from experience that working for yourself can be far more hectic than working for a third party.  (Check. Check.)  But presently, I have settled into the world of Social Security Disability law, in service to the American people.  I say that rather literally, because this link reflects where I now work. 

Still there are times when I want to speak out, especially on matters having a legal or political frame of reference.  That's where this blog comes in.  Of course, in the world of public discourse, there are several well known dangers of doing this, especially in an electronic forum.  First, it must be assumed, as a general rule, that what I say here will be archived forever somewhere.  As proof of that, I recently came across some postings I had done with a Usenet newsgroup dating clear back to 1991 as a result of a Google search.  As further proof, there's always the "Wayback Machine" feature of archive.org.  Second, there has to be a very solid distinction between one's work life and one's personal life.  That there's some overlap between the two is unavoidable, but for instance, there must never even be the perception that I make known my views "on company time."  Nor can there be the perception that I am any way speaking in any sort of official capacity, whether I fully agree with a policy or otherwise.  Third, and most fundamentally, I expect some of my opinions to evolve or even change over time.  This is not to say that I intend to compromise on anything that touches upon my core values, such as those relating to my beliefs regarding family, Deity, the purpose of life, or any similar or related subject.  Stated differently, there are absolutes and I shall adhere to them.  What I am saying, however, is that events happen, or as new information becomes available, I will want to "revise and extend my remarks."

Therefore, several overriding principles are in order that I think will be applicable to every posting in this forum. 

First.  Am I going to wave the American flag here?  You bet I am, and I was doing that long before I even started law school.  One of my absolutes, or rather, one my my core values, is in holding that the Founding Fathers were inspired by Providence to put into place the type of government that we now have, with the preservation of freedoms that have resulted from that, both here and elsewhere in the world. 

Second.  Do I speak for the government, at any level, in any official capacity?  Absolutely not.  As with any administration--indeed just like any citizen--I will agree with some policies but not with others.  Or I may mostly agree with a policy, but question a particular element of it.  If I do that, I speak for myself or for my family, as a private citizen, and for no one else, unless I expressly say otherwise (and I certainly don't expect I will be doing that as a matter of routine). 

Third.  It shouldn't be necessary to say this, but in the interest of ethics, if not common sense, it should be made plain that I shall make no statements, whether favorable or otherwise, on "company time," or, "on the taxpayer's dime."  Unless expressly stated otherwise, it is to be understood that everything on this blog is being composed on my own equipment, using communication services I personally pay for, on my own time, when I am not on official duty.

Fourth.  While I will operate under certain absolutes, it is possible for an opinion on a particular subject to be modified or changed as additional information becomes available.  There's a difference, you know, between changing one's views solely in the interest of political expediency, and doing so because you know it is right or to correct a misunderstanding or mistake.  The intent is to be guided by the latter principle. 

Fifth.  The overriding objective is responsible, polite, and civil discourse.  I may disagree on a subject.  I may do so strongly and vehimently.  I may even use some pretty awful words, like "condemn," "irresponsible," "miscreant," and et cetera.  But I want what I say to be readable within a broad, general audience.  A hypothetical eight-year old with the vocabulary of a lawyer ought to be able to read these remarks and not feel the need to blush. 

Sixth.  The other overriding objective is to sustain and uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.  The general principle is that if the viewpoint calls for terrorism, violence, anarchy, or the like, regardless of the underlying subject, I seek to condemn it.  To the greatest extent possible, and to stress an earlier point, there must be civil discourse, and where necessary, peaceful protest, in order to address the issues and concerns of our day.

And finally:  Will things be this verbose going forward?  Time will tell.  I think the general advice with blogs is to be "short and sweet."  That may be an ideal, but it is not an absolute.  Where I can be concise, I will do so, but I will write no less than what I think is absolutely necessary to get the point across.

And with that, let the dialogue begin.  We'll start the expected frequency for blog entries at once weekly, and then see where we go from there.