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September 24, 2017

Analyzing “The Office”: BYU study merges Scranton and Shakespeare

Sotomayor Pledges Impartial Justice if Confirmed

Pretty and Pink Children’s Books

Melinda Baird, Pianist, and Shaundra Culatta, Violinist at Washington DC Visitor’s Center

Learning to Listen with great Intensity

Excerpts from Sunday Afternoon Session

President Boyd K. Packer

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

packer

Times of war or uncertainty have a way of sharpening our focus on things that really matter.

World War II was a time of great spiritual turmoil for me. I had left my home in Brigham City, Utah, with only embers of a testimony and felt a need for something more. While stationed on the island of Ie Shima just north of Okinawa, Japan I struggled with doubt and uncertainty. I wanted a personal testimony of the gospel. I wanted to know!

During one sleepless night, I left my tent and entered a bunker which had been formed by lining up 50-gallon fuel drums filled sand and placed one on top of the other to form an enclosure. There was no roof, and so I crawled in, looked up at the star-filled sky, and knelt to pray.

Almost mid-sentence it happened. I could not describe to you what happened if I were determined to do so. It is beyond my power of expression, but it is as clear today as it was that night more than 65 years ago. I knew it to be a very private, very individual manifestation. At last I knew for myself. I knew for a certainty, for it had been given to me. After some time, I crawled from that bunker and walked, or floated, back to my bed. I spent the rest of the night in a feeling of joy and awe.

Far from thinking I was someone special, I thought that if such a thing came to me that it could come to anyone. I still believe that. In the years that have followed, I have come to understand that such an experience is at once a light to follow and a burden to carry.

Like most things of great worth, knowledge which is of eternal value comes only through personal prayer and pondering. These, joined with fasting and scripture study, will invite impressions and revelations and the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. This provides us with instruction from on high as we learn precept upon precepts.

One eternal truth that I have come to know is that God lives. He is our Father. We are His children. “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”

Of all the other titles that He could have used, He chose to be called “Father.” The Savior commanded, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven” (3 Nephi 13:9; see also Matthew 6:9). His use of the name “Father” is a lesson for all as we come to understand what it is that matters most in this life.

Parenthood is a sacred privilege and, depending upon faithfulness, it can be an eternal blessing. The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children can be happy at home.

Those who do not marry or those who cannot have children are not excluded from the eternal blessings they seek but which, for now, remain beyond their reach. We do not always know how or when blessings will present themselves, but the promise of eternal increase will not be denied any faithful individual who makes and keeps sacred covenants.

Your secret yearnings and tearful pleadings will touch the heart of both the Father and the Son. You will be given a personal assurance from them that your life will be full and that no blessing that is essential will be lost to you.

As a servant of the Lord, acting in the office to which I have been ordained, I give those in such circumstances a promise that there will be nothing essential to your salvation and exaltation that shall not in due time rest upon you. Arms now empty will be filled and hearts now hurting from broken dreams and yearning will be healed.

Another truth I have come to know is that the Holy Ghost is real. He is the third member of the Godhead. His mission is to testify of truth and righteousness. He manifests Himself in many ways, including feelings of peace and reassurance. He can also bring comfort, guidance, and correction when needed. The companionship of the Holy Ghost is maintained throughout our lives by righteous living.

The gift of the Holy Ghost is conferred through an ordinance of the gospel. One with authority lays his hands on the head of a new member of the Church and says words such as these: “Receive the Holy Ghost.”

A supernal truth that I have gained in my life is my witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Foremost and underpinning all that we do, anchored throughout the revelations, is the Lord’s name, which is the authority by which we act in the Church. Every prayer offered, even by little children, ends in the name of Jesus Christ. Every blessing, every ordinance, every ordination, every official act is done in the name of Jesus Christ. It is His Church, and it is named for Him- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the Church we know who He is: Jesus Christ the Son of God. He is the Only Begotten of the Father.

Each Sunday across the world where congregations gather of any nationality or tongue the sacrament is blessed with the same words. We take upon ourselves the name of Christ and always remember Him. That is imprinted upon us.

Live True To the Faith

Elder William R. Walker

Of the Quorum of the Seventy

Walker

I love Church history.    Perhaps like many of you my own faith is fortified when I learn of the remarkable dedication of our forefathers who accepted the Gospel and lived true to the faith.

One month ago, 12,000 wonderful youth from the Gilbert Arizona Temple District celebrated the completion of their new temple with an inspiring performance, demonstrating their commitment to live righteously. The theme of their celebration was “Live True- To the Faith.”

Just as those faithful Arizona youth have done, each Latter-day Saint should commit to “Live True to the Faith.


Whether or not you are a descendant of pioneers, the Mormon pioneer heritage of faith and sacrifice is your heritage. It is the noble heritage of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

One of the most wonderful chapters in the history of the Church occurred when Wilford Woodruff, an Apostle of the Lord, was teaching the… gospel of Jesus Christ throughout Great Britain in 1840.

Wilford Woodruff, and other Apostles, had focused their work in the Liverpool and Preston areas of England, with considerable success.

Elder Woodruff’s prayers led to the inspiration to go to a different place to teach the Gospel.

President Monson has taught us that when we get the inspiration from heaven to do something – we do it now – we don’t procrastinate. That is exactly what Wilford Woodruff did. With clear direction from the Spirit to “go south,” Elder Woodruff left almost immediately and traveled to Herefordshire, England. Here he met a prosperous farmer named John Benbow, where he was welcomed “with glad hearts and thanksgiving.”

A group of over 600 people, who called themselves the United Brethren, had been “praying for light and truth.”

The Lord sent Wilford Woodruff as an answer to their prayers.

Elder Woodruff ‘s teaching bore fruit immediately and many were baptized. Brigham Young and Willard Richards joined him and the three Apostles had remarkable success.

In only a few months, they organized 33 branches for the 541 members who had joined the Church. Their remarkable work continued, and ultimately almost every one of the members ot the United Brethren were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

My Great Great Grandmother, Hannah Mariah Harris, was one of the first to listen to Wilford Woodruff. She informed her husband, Robert Harris, Jr., that she had heard the word of God and that she intended to be baptized. Robert was not pleased to hear his wife’s report. He told her he would accompany her to the next sermon given by the Mormon missionary and he would straighten him out.

Sitting near the front of the assembly, with a firm resolve to not be swayed, and perhaps to heckle the visiting preacher, Robert was immediately touched by the Spirit. He knew the message of the Restoration was true and he and his wife were baptized.

Their story of faith and devotion is similar to thousands of of others: when they heard the gospel message, they knew it was true!

As the scripture says: “My sheep hear my voice and i know them and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

Having heard the voice of the Shepherd, they fully committed their lives to living the gospel and following the direction of the Lord’s Prophet. Responding to the call to “gather to Zion,” they left behind their home in England, crossed the Atlantic and gathered with the Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois.

They embraced the gospel with all their hearts. While trying to get established in their new land, they assisted in the building of the Nauvoo Temple by tithing their labor – spending every 10th day working on the construction of the Temple.

They were broken hearted at the news of the death of their beloved Prophet, Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum.

But they carried on! They stayed true to the faith.

When the Saints were persecuted and driven from Nauvoo, Robert and Mariah felt greatly blessed to receive their endowments in the temple, shortly before they crossed the Mississippi River and headed west. Although they were uncertain of what their future held, they were certain of their faith and their testimonies.

With six children, they slogged through mud as they crossed Iowa on their way west. They built for themselves a lean-to on the side of the Missouri River at what came to be known as Winter Quarters.

This band of intrepid pioneers waited for apostolic direction on how and when they would head further west. Everyone’s plans were altered when Brigham Young issued a call for men to volunteer to serve in the Mormon Battalion.

Robert Harris, Jr. was one of over 500 Mormon pioneer men who responded to the call. He enlisted even though it meant he would leave his pregnant wife and six children.

Why would he and the other men do such a thing?

The answer can be given in my Great Great Grandfather’s own words: In a letter that he wrote to his wife when the Battalion stopped briefly near Santa Fe, he wrote: “My faith is so strong as ever (and when I think of the things that Brigham Young told us), I believe it about the same as if the Great God had told me.”

Later in the letter he made this powerful statement:

“We must not forget the things which you and I heard and (seen) experienced in the Temple of the Lord.”

Combined with his earlier testimony that “we are led by a Prophet of God”, these two sacred admonitions have become like scripture to me.

18 months after departing with the Battalion, Robert Harris was safely reunited with his beloved Mariah. They stayed true and faithful to the Restored Gospel throughout their lives. They had 15 children, 13 of whom lived to maturity. My Grandmother, Fannye Walker, of Raymond, Alberta, Canada was one of their 136 grandchildren.

Grandma Walker was proud of the fact that her grandfather has served in the Mormon Battalion, and she wanted all of her grandchildren to know it. Now that I am a grandfather, I understand why it was so important to her. She wanted to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers. She wanted her grandchildren to know of their righteous heritage- because she knew it would bless their lives.

The more connected we feel to our righteous forefathers, the more likely we are to make wife and righteous choices.

And so it is. Each of us will be greatly blessed if we know the stories of faith and sacrifice that led our forefathers to join the Lord’s church.

… We must not forget that we are led by a Prophet of God.

I testify that we ARE led by a Prophet of God.


The Lord restored His Church in the Latter Days through the Prophet Joseph Smith and we must not forget that we have been led by an unbroken chain of Prophets of God from Joseph to Brigham and thru each succeeding President of the Church to our prophet today – Thomas S. Monson.

Obedience Through Our Faithfulness

Elder L. Tom Perry

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

 Perry

The family home evenings Sister Perry and I have been holding each Monday night have suddenly increased in size. My brother, his daughter, Barbara’s brother and a niece and her husband have moved into our condominium complex. It is the only time I have been blessed having family live near me since I was a boy. Then my family lived on the same block with several members of my mother’s extended family. Grandfather Sonne’s home was next door to the north and Aunt Emma’s home was next door on the south. On the south side of the block lived Aunt Josephine and on the east side was where Uncle Alma lived.

During my boyhood, we interacted with members of our extended family daily and shared special moments of working, playing, and visiting together. We could not get in a great deal of mischief without a report reaching our mothers. Even if they live relatively close to each other, they do not often live next door. Still I have to believe that my boyhood and current situation are a little like heaven with my beloved family members living close to each other. It serves as a constant reminder to me of the eternal nature of family unites.

When I was growing up I had a special relationship with my grandfather. As the oldest son in my family, I removed snow in the winter and cared for the lawn in the summer for our home and my grandfather’s home and the homes of my two aunts. Grandfather usually sat on his front porch as I mowed his lawn. When I finished, I would sit on his front steps and visit with me. Those moments are treasured memories for me.         

One day I asked my grandfather how I would know if I was always doing the right thing, given life presents so many choices? As my grandfather usually did, he answered with an experience from farm life.

He taught me about breaking in a team of horses so that they would work together. He explained that a team of horses must always know who is in charge. One key to asserting control and directing a horse is a harness and bit. If a member of the team ever believes that it does not need to obey the will of the driver, the team will never pull and work together to maximize their ability.

Now let’s examine the lesson my grandfather using this example.

Who is the driver of the team of horses? My grandfather believed it is the Lord. He is the one with a purpose and a plan. He is also the trainer and builder of the team of horses, and, in turn, each individual horse. The driver knows best, and the only way for a horse to know he is always doing the right thing is to be obedient and follow the driver’s lead.

What was my grandfather likening to a harness and bit? I believed then as I believe now that my grandfather was teaching me to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. In his mind’s eye, the harness and bit were spiritual. An obedient horse, which is part of a well-trained team of horses, needs little more than a gentle tug from the driver to do exactly what he wants it to do. This gentle tug is the equivalent of the still small voice with which the Lord speaks to us. Out of respect for our agency, it is never a strong, forceful tug.

Men and women who ignore the gentle promptings of the Spirit will often learn, as the Prodigal Son learned, through the natural consequences of disobedience and riotous living. It was only after natural consequences humbled the Prodigal Son that he “came to himself ‘ and heard the whisperings of the Spirit tell him to return to his father’s house (see Luke 15:11-32).

So the lesson my grandfather taught me was always to be ready to receive the gentle tug of the Spirit. He taught me that I would always receive such a prompting if I began to veer off course. And I would never be guilty of more serious wrongdoing if I allowed the Spirit to guide my decisions in life.

As James 3:3 states:

Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

We must be sensitive to our spiritual bits. Even with the slightest tug from the Master, we must be willing to completely alter our course. To succeed in life, we must teach our spirit and body to work together in obedience to God’s commandments. If we heed the gentle promptings of the Holy Ghost, it can unite our spirits and bodies in purpose and guide us back to our eternal home to live with our Father in Heaven.

The kind of obedience my grandfather described in his example of a team of horses also requires a special trust-that is, an absolute faith in the driver of the team. The lesson my grandfather taught me, therefore, also alluded to the first principle of the Gospel-faith in Jesus Christ.

Too often we think of obedience as the passive and thoughtless following of the orders or dictates of a higher authority. Actually, at its best, obedience is an emblem of our faith in the wisdom and power if the highest authority, even God. When Abraham demonstrated unwavering faithfulness and obedience to God, even when commanded to sacrifice his son, God rescued him. Similarly, when we demonstrate our faithfulness through obedience, God will ultimately rescue us.

Those who rely solely on themselves and follow only their own desires and self-inclinations are so limited when compared to those who follow God and tap into his sight, power and gifts. It has been said, “Someone who is all wrapped up in himself or herself makes a very small package.” Strong, proactive obedience is anything but weak or passive. It is the means by which we declare our faith in God and qualify ourselves to receive the powers of heaven. Obedience is a choice. It is a choice between our own limited knowledge and power and God’s unlimited wisdom and omnipotence. According to the lesson of my grandfather, it is a choice to sense the spiritual bit in our mouths and to follow the driver’s lead.

The Prophet Joseph Smith

Elder Lawrence E.


Corbridge

Of the Seventy

corbridge

The First Vision

A young boy reads the Bible and his eyes pause on a singular passage of scripture. This is a moment that will change the world.

He is anxious to know which church can lead him to truth and salvation. He has tried almost everything else and now he turns to the Bible and reads these words: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

He reflects on them over and over again. The first glimmer of light penetrates the darkness. Is this the answer, the way out of confusion and darkness? Can it be this simple? Ask God and He will answer? At length he decides he must either ask God or ever remain in the darkness and confusion.

And yet as anxious as he is, he doesn’t run to a quiet corner and rattles off a hurried prayer. He is only fourteen, but in his haste to know, he is not hasty. This is not to be just any prayer. He decides where to go and when to make the attempt. He prepares to talk to God.

And then the day comes. It is the morning of a beautiful clear day, early in the spring of 1820. He walks alone into the stillness of the nearby woods beneath the trees that tower above him. He reaches the place where he previously designed to go. He kneels and offers up the desires of his heart.

Describing what happens next he says:

“… saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me…When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – (Joseph,) This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”

Only 24 years later, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum will die because of what began here.

Opposition

Joseph said that when he was seventeen an angel told him that his “name (would) be had for good and evil among all nations… among all people.” This prophecy is continuing to be fulfilled today as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has spread throughout the world.

Opposition, criticism and antagonism are companions to the truth. Whenever the truth is revealed with regard to the purpose and destiny of man, there will be a force to oppose it. Beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, down to the ministry of Christ and on to our day there will always be an effort to deceive, derail, oppose and frustrate the plan of life.

Look for the biggest dust cloud billowing above the most dirt that is kicked at One who              was opposed, challenged and rejected, beaten, abandoned and crucified, One who descended below all things, and there you will find the Truth, the Son of God, the Savior of all mankind. Why did they not leave Him alone?

Why? Because He is the Truth and the truth will always be opposed.

And then look for one who brought forth another testament of Jesus Christ and other scripture, look for one who was the instrument by which the fullness of the gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ were restored to the earth, look for him and expect to find the dirt flying.

Why not leave him alone?

Why? Because He taught the Truth and the truth will always be opposed.

The flood of revelation

The revelations poured out upon Joseph Smith affirm that he was a prophet of God. Let’s just look at some of them, just look at some of the light and truth revealed through him that shines in stark contrast to the common beliefs of his day and ours.

             God is a personal, exalted being, an Eternal Father. He is our Father.

             God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are separate beings.

             You are more than human. You are child of God the Eternal Father and may become like Him if you will have faith in His Son, repent, receive ordinances, receive the Holy Ghost and endure to the end.

             The Church of Jesus Christ today is fundamentally the same Church He organized during His mortal ministry, with prophets and apostles, Melchizedek and Levitical Priesthoods, elders, highs priests, deacons, teachers, bishops, and the seventy, all as described in the Bible.

             Priesthood authority was withheld from the earth following the deaths of the Savior and His Apostles and was restored again in our day.

             Revelation has not ceased and the heavens are not closed. God speaks to prophets today and He will speak to you and me as well.

             There is more after this life than only heaven and hell. There are degrees of glory and it matters a great deal what we do in this life.

             More than a mere passive belief in Christ we should “look unto Him in every thought,” “do all that (we do) in the name of the Son,” “always remember Him and keep His commandment that (we) may always have His spirit to be with (us).”

             The billions who live and die without the gospel and the ordinances necessary for salvation are not lost. Through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” administered for both the living and the dead.”

             Everything did not begin at birth. You lived before in the presence of God as His son or daughter and prepared for this mortal life.”

             Marriage and family are not conventions of men only until death do us part. They are intended to be eternal by covenants we make with God. The family is the pattern of heaven.”

Conclusion

There is no dispute about what Joseph Smith accomplished, only how he did what he did and why. And there are not many options.He was either pretender or prophet. Either he did what he did alone or he had the help of heaven. Look at the evidence, but look at all of the evidence, the entire mosaic of his life, not any single piece.


Most importantly, do as young Joseph and “…ask…God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (you).”

If Ye Lack Wisdom

Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis

Of the Quorum of the Seventy

aidukaitis1 

The other day, my 10-year-old son was studying about the human brain on the Internet. He wants to be a surgeon one day. It is easy to notice that he is a lot smarter than I am.

We like the Internet. At home we communicate with family and friends through social media, e-mail, and other ways. My children do much of their school work through the Internet.

Whatever the question is, if we need more information, we search it online. In seconds, we have a lot of material. This is marvelous.

The Internet provides many opportunities for learning. However, Satan wants us to be miserable, and he distorts the real purpose He uses this great tool to promote doubt and fear, and destroy faith and hope.

With so much available on the Internet, one must carefully consider where to apply his efforts. Satan can keep us busy, distracted, and infected by sifting through information, much of which can be pure garbage.

One should not roam through garbage.

Listen to this guidance, provided by the scriptures:

“… the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know … it is of God.”

In a real sense, we face the same dilemma that Joseph Smith faced in his youth. We, too, often find ourselves lacking wisdom.

In the Kingdom of God the search for truth is appreciated, encouraged, and repressed or feared. Church members are strongly counseled by the Lord himself to seek for knowledge. He said:

“. ..seek ye diligently …yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” However, how can we recognize truth in a world that is increasingly more blunt in its attacks to the things pertaining to God?

The scriptures teach us how:

First, we can know the truth by observing its fruits.

During his great Sermon on the Mount the Lord said:

“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

The prophet Mormon taught this same principle when he said:

“… by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also.”

We invite all to study the fruits and the works of this Church.

Those who are interested in the truth will be able to recognize the difference that the Church and its members make in the communities where they are established. They will also note the improvement in the lives of those who follow its teachings. Those who examine these fruits will discover that the fruits of the Church are delicious and desirable.

Second, we can find truth by experimenting on the word ourselves.

The prophet Alma taught:

“… we will compare the word unto a seed… if he give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, [and] if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, … behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and … ye will begin to say within yourself- it must … be that this is a good seed, … for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginning to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.

… And now, …will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith…

… for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.”

What a superb invitation by a prophet of the Lord! This could be compared to a scientific experiment. We are invited to test the word, we are given parameters, and we are told the outcome of the test, if we follow the instructions.

Thus, the scriptures teach us that we can know the truth by observing its fruits; or, by experimenting with it personally, giving a place for the word in our hearts, and cultivating it, like unto a seed.

There is yet third way to know the truth, and that is by personal revelation.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 8 teaches that revelation is knowledge. Knowledge of “whatsoever things we … ask in faith, with an honest heart, and believing that we shall receive …”

And the Lord tells us how we will receive the revelation. He says, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.”

Thus, we are taught that revelation can be obtained by asking in faith, with an honest heart, and believing we will receive.

The Lord made it very clear when He warned, “Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith.” Faith requires work – work such as studying it out in your mind, then asking the Lord if it is right. The Lord said, “if it is right, I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong.” Faith without works is dead. Thus, “ask in faith, nothing wavering.”

Alma added, “…he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.”

Alma and the sons of Mosiah are examples of the principle that faith requires works.


In the Book of Mormon we read, “they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation …”

Asking with an honest heart is equally important in this process. If we are sincerely seeking the truth, we will do all in our power to find it, which can include reading the scriptures, going to church, and doing our best to keep the commandments of God. It also means that we are willing to do God’s will when we find it.

Joseph Smith’s actions when he was seeking for wisdom are a perfect example of what it means to means to have an honest heart. He said he wanted to know which of the sects was true, so “that [he] might know which to join.” Even before he prayed, he was ready to act upon the answer he would receive.

We must ask in faith and with an honest heart. But that is not all; we must also believe that we will receive the revelation. We must trust the Lord and have hope in His promises. Remember what it written: “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all men, liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” What a wonderful promise!

I invite all to seek truth from any of these methods, but especially from God through personal revelation. God will reveal truth to those who seek for it as prescribed in the scriptures. It requires more effort than to just search the Internet. But it is worth it.” 

For Where Your Treasure Is

Elder Michael John U. Teh

Of the Seventy

Teh

Last January, my sweetheart, Grace, and I received an assignment to visit the members in the Philippines who were devastated by a major earthquake and a super typhoon. We rejoiced because the assignment was an answer to our prayers and a testament to the mercy and goodness of a loving Father in Heaven. It provided some closure to our longing to personally express to them our love and concern.

Most of the members we met were still in temporary shelters like tents, community centers, and church meetinghouses. The homes we visited had either partial roofing or no roofing at all. The people did not have much to begin with and what little they had was swept away. There was mud and debris everywhere. However, they were full of gratitude for the little help they received. When we asked how they were coping, everyone responded with a resounding “We’re okay.” Obviously, their faith in Jesus Christ gave them hope that everything would work out eventually. Home after home, tent after tent, Sister Teh and I were being taught by these faithful Saints.

In times of calamity or tragedy, the Lord has a way of refocusing us and our priorities. All of a sudden, all the material things we worked so hard to acquire do not matter. All that matters is our family and our relationships with others. One good sister put it this way: “After the water receded and it was time to begin cleaning up, I looked around my home and thought, ‘Wow, I have accumulated a lot of garbage these many years.’ “

In working with many members over the years, we have been pleased to observe an abundance of spiritual strength. We have also seen both abundance and a lack of material possessions among these faithful members.

Out of necessity, most of us are involved in earning money and acquiring some of the world’s good to be able to sustain our families. It requires a good part of our time and attention. There is no end to what the world has to offer, so it is critical that we learn to recognize when we have enough. If we are not careful, we will begin to chase after the temporal more than than the spiritual. Our pursuit for the spiritual and eternal will then take a back seat instead of the other way around. Sadly, there appears to be a strong inclination to acquire more and more and to own the latest and the most sophisticated.

How do we make sure that we are not drawn down this path? Jacob gives this counsel:

“Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.”

I hope none of us spend money for that which is of no worth, nor labor for that which does not satisfy.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Christofferson

A crushing sense of defeat and despair enveloped His disciples as Jesus suffered and died on the cross and his body was placed lifeless in the tomb. Despite what the Savior had repeatedly said of His death and subsequent rising again, they had not understood. The dark afternoon of His Crucifixion, however, was soon followed by the joyous morning of His resurrection. But that joy came only as the disciples became eyewitnesses of the Resurrection, for even the declaration of angels that He had risen was at first incomprehensible – it was something so totally unprecedented.

Mary Magdalene and a few other faithful women came early to the Savior’s tomb that Sunday morning bringing spices and ointments to complete the anointing begun when the Lord’s body was hastily laid in the sepulcher before the approaching Sabbath. On this morning of mornings, they were greeted by an open sepulcher, the covering stone having been rolled away, and two angels who declared, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”

“Come see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead.”

As bidden by the angels, Mary Magdalene looked into the tomb, but it seems all that registered in her mind was that the body of the Lord was gone. She hurried to report to the apostles, and finding Peter and John, said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.” Peter and John ran to the place and verified that indeed the tomb was empty, seeing “the linen clothes lying … and the napkin that was about his head .


.. wrapped together in a place by itself.” John apparently was the first to comprehend the magnificent message of resurrection. He writes that “he saw, and believed” whereas the others to that point, “knew not the scripture, that [Jesus] must rise again from the dead.”

Peter and John left, but Mary remained behind still in mourning. In the meantime, the angels had returned and tenderly asked her, “Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” At that moment, the resurrected Savior now standing behind her spoke, “Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him [pleading], Sir, if thou have borne him hence tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”

And so, this blessed woman became the first mortal to see and speak to the resurrected Christ. Later that same day, He appeared to Peter in or near Jerusalem; to two disciples on the road to Emmaus; and in the evening to ten of the apostles and others, appearing suddenly in their midst, saying, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Then to further convince them “while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered;” He ate broiled fish and honeycomb before them. Later he instructed them, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Beyond these confirmed witnesses in Jerusalem, we have the incomparable ministry of the risen Lord to ancient inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere.   In the land Bountiful He descended from heaven and invited the assembled throng to come forward one by one until they had all gone forth, thrusting their hands into His side and feeling the prints of the nails in His hands and in His feet.

Christ’s resurrection shows that His existence is independent and everlasting. “For as the Father hath life in himself; so he hath given to the Son to have life in himself.”

By His Atonement and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has overcome all aspects of the Fall. Physical death will be temporary, and even spiritual death has an end, in that all come back into the presence of God, at least temporarily, to be judged. We can have ultimate trust and confidence in His power to overcome all else and grant us everlasting life.

Having satisfied the demands of justice, Christ now steps into the place of justice; or we might say He is justice, just as He is love. Likewise, besides being a perfect just God, He is a perfect merciful God. Thus, the Savior makes all things right. No injustice in mortality is permanent, even death, for He restores life again. No injury, disability, betrayal, or abuse goes uncompensated in the end because of His ultimate justice and mercy.

By the same token, we are all accountable to Him for our lives, our choices and our actions, even our thoughts. Having redeemed us from the Fall, our lives are in reality His.

Consider for a moment the significance of the Resurrection in resolving once and for all the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth and the great philosophical contests and questions of life. If Jesus was in fact literally resurrected, it necessarily follows that He is a divine being. No mere mortal has the power in himself to come to life again after dying. Because He was resurrected Jesus cannot have been only a carpenter, a teacher, a rabbi, or a prophet. Because He was resurrected Jesus had to have been a God, even the Only Begotten Son of the Father.

Given the reality of the Resurrection of Christ, doubts about his omnipotence, omniscience, and benevolence of God the Father – who gave His Only Begotten Son for the redemption of the world – are groundless. Doubts about the meaning and purpose of life are unfounded. Jesus Christ is in fact the only name or way by which salvation can come to mankind. The grace of Christ is real, affording both forgiveness and cleansing to the repentant sinner. Faith truly is more than imagination or psychological invention. There is ultimate and universal truth, and there are objective and unchanging moral standards as taught by Him. Repentance of any violation of His law and commandments is an urgent matter. The Savior’s miracles are real, as is His promise to his disciples that they might do the same.

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“The Lord is On Thy Side” A Missionary Returns Home Early

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The flight didn’t seem very full. I wasn’t particularly happy to be onboard myself but I found my way to my seat and settled in for the long trip ahead. I was sure I wouldn’t be able to sleep, nor would I have the presence of mind to read or otherwise occupy myself. As the flight attendants secured the doors for takeoff, my thoughts were already soaring at thirty thousand feet and showed no signs of slowing down. The plane lifted off and I leaned my head against the window, watching the lights of Sao Paulo fade slowly into the surrounding darkness. It was happening. I was going home.

I’d spent the last twenty months laying out the principles of the gospel as simply as the in-flight safety instructions I’d just heard. There was an answer to every question and personal study every morning was a time to compartmentalize and make sense of teachings that had confounded the greatest of men. Life was laid out in the pocket planners we maintained so zealously and the salvation of souls fit neatly into the grids we diligently filled night after night.

We were princes, messengers of truth, servants of God, spokesmen of the cure-all gospel. Now here I was, suddenly devoid of answers, suddenly boiling over with questions, battered and broken on a flight home. Missionaries had been hurt worse than I was. You didn’t need to know much church history to see that. But no one wants a companion who can’t walk. Sao Paulo was barely visible now, like a distant star you wished on as a child. I’d be home in no time.

I looked around. The cabin was quiet and the two other seats in my row remained unoccupied. This certainly wasn’t how I’d pictured my homecoming. My mother’s voice still rang in my ears, full of disappointment for me cloaked in the optimism that had kept a smile on my face for twenty years. She’d be happy to see me, as would the rest of the family, but the reunion would be bittersweet at best. I would see behind their welcoming smiles the very questions I was too afraid to utter myself. I would do my best to smile back at them and recount mission stories without feeing the sickness in my stomach that set in as the plane reached cruising altitude.

I had been right about one thing: sleep wouldn’t come easily on this trip. I’m fairly certain that had there been anyone else seated in my row, he would have gotten an earful of a young missionary’s tale of unlikely medical tragedy. I looked back at the two empty seats and felt, for the first time in nearly two years, completely alone.

I’d learned early on in my mission to appreciate the meaning of the words: “Be still, my soul. The Lord is on thy side.” 1I had heard a similar sentiment from my mission president as he bade me farewell earlier that day. I couldn’t remember all the times I’d shared that message with the people of Minas Gerais, Brazil. I loved to point out the promise in Helaman 5:12 that defines Christ as “a sure foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” and read the passage where He promises, “Wherefore, be of good cheer and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you” (D&C 68:6).

The words had fallen countless times from my lips and I knew they were true. They were true for Vera who lost her job the day before her baptism. They were true for Danielle who wondered if she had the strength to follow Christ’s teachings. They were true for Maria whose determination to quit smoking at the age of seventy had taught me more than a thousand sermons ever could. My fingers drummed restlessly on the armrest as I recalled their struggles and triumphs and wondered what I could say to them now. I closed my eyes in the first of many futile attempts to fall asleep as something unseen whispered into my ear the words that had buoyed me up through the tests and trials of missionary service: “The Lord is on thy side.”

Perhaps no other sentiment is as universally preached in the scriptures as that of Christ’s unabashed loyalty to those who follow Him. The Old Testament prophets spoke of him as “the Good Shepherd” and Isaiah prophesied: “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom…” (Isaiah 40:11). The Book of Mormon promises to the followers of Christ “a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God…” (Ether 12:4) and the New Testament is full of the words of the Savior Himself who prayed to His Father: “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them…I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:22-23). Partnership with Christ seems to be the genesis of His entire gospel. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me,” He says, “for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29). This scripture conjures images of joint labor and invites all men to come unto Christ and work with Him toward our own perfection.

A Mysterious Ailment

I had felt the Lord at my side as a missionary. Much of what I’d heard about mission life had been sugarcoated or romanticized, but there was no denying the power with which I had felt infused as a full-time representative of Christ. Invincibility, though, proved to be a boyish delusion as familiar roads seemed longer and often-climbed hills seemed steeper than they had ever been. Walking became a greater burden with every passing day until I had been taken out of commission and moved close to the mission home for immediate care.

I’d been infused with a sort of blind hopefulness and trusted that eventually I’d find a doctor who wouldn’t furrow his brow in confusion and a medication that would do more than make me want to take a nap. However, as time passed, the situation grew bleaker and optimism became more a defense than anything else. I was working full-time in the mission office and walking with the assistance of a cane. I’d spoken on the phone with missionaries and ached to have a story of my own to tell, to speak with someone who wasn’t wearing a nametag, to feel like I’d earned the exhaustion that set in at the end of the day. The days were long then.

I reached up and adjusted the air conditioning on the panel above me, then turned my gaze to the darkened world outside the window. I strained my eyes to find any far-off pinpoints of light but soon gave up. I leaned back in my chair and listened to the hum and squeal of the cabin and the sounds of peaceful sleep around me. I began to pray but kept finding myself distracted from my own words. Prayer had not come to me as easily lately as it typically seemed to flow from the mouths of missionaries. I’d caught unintended worried looks coming my way from those who had accompanied my struggle and was frankly unsure of what my petitions to the Lord should be.

As prevalent as His promises to be faithful to His followers is the often-repeated scriptural assurance: “Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (D&C 4:7).


I’d learned, though, that prayer was not a means by which we place orders with the Lord, carefully informing Him of our own priorities and urgent needs. I would have loved to feel justified in asking God to grant me the health for which I’d been longing but I found myself on my knees day after day praying for the patience to learn His will and the courage to accept it.

My words frightened me and as time went on the Spirit began to instruct me concerning what was to come. The reality of an early return home for more adequate medical care was an unwelcome guest whose presence was made known more and more each time I addressed my Heavenly Father in prayer.

Not surprisingly, then, the morning I found out the bad news didn’t come as much of a shock. As I knelt at my bedside on Friday night my thoughts wandered to the test results that would be in hand on Monday morning. A cold wave of anxiety washed over me, and I opened my eyes to orient myself once again. The other missionaries were asleep and the house was quiet. Alone in the peaceful darkness I began again to offer up the feelings of my heart when I experienced something I’d never before felt. I’d read 2 Nephi 4:33 in which he pleads with the Lord, “wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness” but hadn’t understood what he had meant until that moment. My eyelids rested gently closed but I felt more surely than ever before: “The Lord is on thy side.” I’d felt of His love and knew that His hand guided the path upon which I would soon enough find myself.

And it was soon indeed. Monday morning rolled around and time itself seemed to be in a hurry to get through the uncomfortable waiting room, anxious walk into the doctor’s office, and confirmation of the fears that had been festering for days. I found myself in the passenger seat of President Johnson’s car knowing full well what the tears in his eyes meant. I had no sooner arrived back in the office, it seemed, than I had a plane ticket home for the next day and the surreal feeling that my entire world was about to change.

We had a nice lunch the next day at the mission home. Sister Johnson made two pans of lasagna, one for the group and another exclusively for me. We laughed and it felt good to be surrounded by love. I was interviewed by President Johnson and driven to the airport where I said my last goodbyes. My flight was on time and, like I said, not too crowded at all.

I was grateful for the slices of sleep I managed in between racing thoughts and burning questions, as the plane grew closer to its destination. The last few days had been a lot to take in, and certainly I needed my rest, but more than that, I needed that feeling of security and assurance I had come to associate with pure Discipleship. I wanted a comforting passage of scripture, an illuminating quote from a conference talk, a morsel of wisdom to feed my starving soul.

The plane began to shake threateningly and a scratchy voice apologized for the turbulence. I thought back to nightly planning sessions and lessons neatly counted up, progress clearly made. I thought of scripture flashcards and zone conference devotionals, of ward mission plans and goals to make ten contacts a day. What had it all been for? Why couldn’t I feel that joy? And why did the answers seem out of reach?

I refastened my seatbelt and fingered the canvas strap nervously. What was it President Johnson had told me? “The Lord has a purpose in all of this.” The words of the Proverb came to me like a song: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The memory of my prayer Friday night felt like the welcome beam of morning light in the gloomy clouded skies outside the window. I rebuked myself for my sudden lack of faith but could not shake the desire to have something of the anchor upon which I had grown to depend. The body of the plane continued to nod and shudder, as did many of its agitated passengers. I closed my eyes again and slumped down in my seat in an effort to get more comfortable.

Soon enough I found myself praying again. My eyes were closed and my mind was drawn up in a channel between my Heavenly Father and myself. I wanted answers. I wanted to know why I was on that airplane. I wanted to know why no diagnosis could be made, why no treatment had made the slightest difference in my condition. I wanted to know why my mission had been cut short when I had worked my entire life in preparation to serve. I waited in quiet desperation and again felt nothing. I asked again, pleaded even, that I be given some sort of direction, some means by which I could cope with the frustration that was quickly setting in. Just as I was about to resign myself once again to blindness and confusion, I felt the gentlest tugging and the slightest warm sensation at my side. I recalled the words that had come to me earlier: “The Lord is on thy side.”

No answers came on the flight. The plane landed and I had no better understanding of what had happened than I had had twelve hours before when I boarded the airplane. But more than once I had felt the very real love of the Savior at my side strengthening me, even in my confusion and frustration. I felt it again as I painfully watched a crowd of missionaries heroically descending the escalator, their carry-on bags full of souvenirs for the family, and caught sight of my own family. They seemed just as happy to see their own gimpy missionary limping over to join them, also returning home with honor. I felt it radiate from my parents as they hugged me for the first time in twenty months and my little brothers as they bombarded me with the questions I knew were coming. I felt it again as I stepped into my home and spent the evening with the people I had so dearly missed.

I had spent twenty months wearing the Savior’s name proudly on my chest and had cultivated more of a relationship with Him than I could have understood the day I reported to the MTC. I learned that “all flesh is in (His) hands” (D&C 101:16) and that His love for us is deeper than we know. I learned that the invitation to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32) is truly a call to work to become more like Him, to take His yoke upon us, and to keep His commandments. And I learned what may come of a close relationship with Him. As Job teaches, “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee” (Job 22:21). All these things had been studied, pondered, and conscientiously recorded in the margins of “Preach My Gospel” but it wasn’t until I boarded that airplane that I truly learned what it means to acquaint myself with Christ.

A Medical Obstacle Course

If anything, the frustration I had experienced in the mission field was only a taste of what awaited me at home.


Navigating the medical obstacle course in which I found myself anxiously engaged required the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon and concrete answers were few and far between. I amused myself at church by watching ward members rapidly calculating the time since I’d left home and pursing their lips in solemn contemplation.

Of course they were always relieved to see my cane and liberally offered their condolences and medical counsel. Every decision seemed impossible to make as I constantly faced the conundrum of a standstill in life, held hostage by a mysterious ailment about which people seemed increasingly skeptical. And I learned that the last question a sick person wants to hear is, “How are you feeling?” Life was obnoxious and did not seem to be going anywhere at all.

Through all this, though, I learned that one Man truly can and does understand the perplexities of life and “know(s) according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:12). After teaching to his disciples many precious truths, Christ said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In those moments when you feel truly alone you recognize that, in a very real sense, “The Lord is on thy side.” These “tender mercies of the Lord” (1 Nephi 1:20) are our support, our refuge, and our salvation. They are the reason why Paul exclaimed, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13) and the reason why I found myself where I did months after I walked through the jet way in the Sacramento airport.

A Friendship

It had been a season of unanswered questions and unwelcome answers. I’d seen my opportunity to return to the mission field all but pass away and knew that I once again had to trust in the Lord. I was still broken and my extended family had a litany of questions regarding my physical condition. We had spent the week in Nauvoo having a great time together. Grandpa had worried whether I was strong enough to baptize my younger brother and everyone seemed to look at me like something incredibly fragile. Nevertheless, months had passed since my restless plane ride and it seemed still more distant as I walked into the celestial room in the temple.

The quiet in the temple is almost tangible, almost has a taste to it. I moved through the room, looking into loving faces gathered together as a family. I took a seat by myself, with much to think about. Things had not gone as I had hoped and I suspect that a certain disappointment will lie in wait in the back of my mind for years to come. I’d been to Spring Semester at BYU and had experienced the unique highs and lows of my own personal limbo. I’d continued to seek answers to the questions that seemed more pernicious and persistent than any medical condition could be. I’d also been to the temple numerous times and took advantage of these quiet moments for personal reflection and meditation. I liked the quiet.

I ran my fingers gently along the upholstery of the arm of my chair and looked up. The chandelier glittered like thousands of twinkling stars filling an opulent sky. A thousand wishes to make. I still had little or no concrete knowledge concerning what would happen to me in the coming weeks, months, or years, but I felt a familiar assurance as I looked at the chair next to mine. It was empty, but I didn’t feel alone. I closed my eyes and felt the familiar warmth and heard the familiar words:

“Be still, my soul: The hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.” 2

I looked up and saw my parents smiling back at me. It had been a long couple of months but I had gained a friendship through the “disappointment, grief, and fear” of it all, a friendship with my Savior. I felt Him at my side.


Notes

1 “Be Still, My Soul,” Hymns , no.124.

2 Ibid.

“Livin’ La Vida Single”

For those who don’t know Spanglish or old Ricky Martin lyrics, the title is roughly translated as “living the single life.” I’ll begin with a confession: I had a hard time deciding what to write about. Despite my most valiant efforts not to categorize myself, I realize that I am writing from the perspective of an LDS young single adult. Yes, it’s a pretty harmless label and one that couldn’t be truer, but it makes me consider what it really means to be a young single adult in the Church.

Perhaps I bristle a little bit at being constantly identified by my marital status. There are many things about me that I consider to be of much more interest than the fact that I haven’t found a wife yet. I’m a playwright, for instance, and I enjoy French movies. I’m allergic to peanuts and I have green eyes. I would venture to say that those who could be classified as young married adults at least would find some pride in their title; it signals an accomplishment, not a deficiency.

I hesitate, of course, to refer to “single status” as a deficiency. But maybe that hesitancy comes from twenty-two years of worldly influences that celebrate the single life. This stands in stark contrast to a strong religious context that goes to great lengths to rescue us from our lot of loneliness. While the world tells college students to avoid the entanglements that early marriage and family will inevitably bring, the Lord has revealed through His servants that the time for such entanglements is now and the time for preparation was yesterday.

I’m grateful for a living prophet who teaches so clearly the importance of family. I, like my fellow LDS YSA’s, am grateful for the direction that those teachings give me in my life. But the fact remains that I am still the closest thing Mormon Doctrine has to “Limbo.” It’s a common problem; I’m not alone in being alone. And the world is full of reassuring voices who are much more sure than any of us are that we will someday pull ourselves out of the world of singles’ wards and into the realm where the rest of the Church members spend their time. But that day is not today.

Church leaders have addressed this too, have told us to get on with our lives, to work toward our ultimate goal but not to sit around waiting for our respective trains to come. The devil is then in the details. Where is the balance? Can we be proud of being young single adults, or should we feel like residents of a halfway house of sorts? At what point does idealism give way to reality or does faith require that we guard against that surrender? And, perhaps most importantly, how much focus on getting out of the “single trap” is healthy? What about patience? What about accountability?

Such are the questions I think we all face on a regular basis. So maybe we have more in common than I tend to think. Maybe forming a community with the throngs of our marriage-impaired brothers and sisters is not the “trap” I sometimes see it as. After all, we are the immediate solutions to one another’s problems. And if the questions remain, so be it. We have the resources to figure them out. And we have each other. And I’d do well to remember that.

Artistic Merit in Our Time

I think it’s the province of some senior citizens and some pretentious artsy types to bemoan the deteriorating conditions of the American cultural landscape. However, their claims are not without cause. There simply is not a widespread interest in works of quality and ingenuity and the situation seems to be growing increasingly bleak.

Granted, I, a theatre major and hopeful future member of the artistic community, am biased to a significant degree. I’m a playwright; of course I want people to come to the theatre. Still, owning up completely to my skewed viewpoint of the issue, I’d like to address this ever-growing problem.

Why, one might ask, is it a problem? If someone enjoys watching Transformers, why should they be forced to sit through Dead Poets’ Society? One might make the argument that such questions are a matter of personal taste to which I would respond in the same vein. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a sweet tooth; it’s when sweets take over your diet that the problems set in. We obviously would never sustain our bodies with a regimen of Twinkies and Kool Aid. So why are so many of us willing to let ourselves starve artistically?

I write from the perspective of a twenty-two-year-old young man attending a university that hosts some students whose taste in film has not matured past Disney nor their literary experience further than the covers of Harry Potter. I write fully aware that my complaints are nothing new; they just come from a more desperate place as “all things bright and beautiful” continue to disappear from this darkening world of ours.

What does this mean for us as Latter-Day Saints? Does it come down to each man or woman’s personal definition of: “virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy”? As far as I’m concerned, though, that revelation teaches plainly that there is great (even eternal) value in the creations of Milton, Mozart, or Meryl Streep. Excellence is to be sought after; it is up to each of us to decide whether the latest American Idol CD or Thomas Kinkade painting fits that description.

Perhaps we hear so much about the potential evils of the media (and rightly so, I’m sure) that we lose sight of the importance of finding those things that are of real worth. There is a great deal out there that we have not yet seen, heard, read, or watched by which we can be uplifted and from which we can learn a great deal.

In the meantime, those of us with a propensity to do so can keep our complaining at bay. The fact is there were no “good ol’ days.” The natural man has always been drawn to whatever is fast, cheap, and easy and the current box office or bookselling trends are no exception. We do, however, have just cause to hope for the future. And hope leads to action for all of us.