Thursday, October 13, 2016

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Diamond 17 Absolute Morality
     I had an interesting FB exchange yesterday that led me to ponder greatly on the idea of Absolute Morality. The concept of an absolute right and wrong is not a very popular idea in the world, but I call it my diamond for today.  I am so grateful that in a world where there is conflict over abortion, gay marriage, transgender rights, and a host of other battles that are fought every day in the halls of congress, I have a perfect, unfailing, compass to look to for my guide.  I am grateful that whatever my personal opinions are on a topic, or what popular opinion is, I don't have to worry about what is right and what is wrong.  An all knowing, all powerful, kind, loving, Father in Heaven has already drawn the line, my decision is if I have enough faith to stand on His side of it.  In contrast to the view of the man in the following video, who would rather live in a world where there is no absolute morality, where morals are decided by "a secular moral philosophy, and rational discussion."  When faced with a decision about morals I will leave it to a perfect God who created the universe, rather than a group of philosophers and politicians.  

You can see the video here:

and my exchange with some fans are below:

J.d. Sheppard What Dakins fails to address is the danger when all the discussing, debating, and final decisions about morality happen in a society where there is no supreme being. If I belong to such a society, and happen to be in a position of power, what's to stop me from bending morality to match my best interests. If I am a powerful debator, or convincing orator, I may be able to sway the majority of society to my "morality" even though it can be very harmful to others who are not as talented as I am. We can see this time and time again in a government that has excluded God and separated church and state. Right now one good example is Pornography. Christianity states that Pornography is immoral. This comes from scripture and from a God that can see all, know all, and has felt all. I can trust that whatever my views may be on pornography, if I believe in God, I can trust that he knows better than I do on the subject. Not because he has discussed it in a group of rational people, and it is the popular feeling at the time, but because I have faith that he knows more than I do on any and all subjects. Now take pornography in Dawkins world where all morality is decided through debate, discussion, and logic in committees. If at a particular time the majority of society believes that pornography is moral (or at least is not immoral) and the porn industry is given free access to all advertisements, television, banners on websites, etc.. there is no course of action for those who disagree with the "decided morality". If I oppose pornography and feel it is immoral, it doesn't matter because the matter has already been decided and the majority of society has decided that it is not immoral, so too bad for you and your ideas. Now, this example could happen with any topic, drug use, gun control, murder. Now you may say that the collective would never come to a consensus that murder was moral, my argument would be to look at capital punishment. Who decides what crimes against the "accepted morality" are punishable by death? In the Philippines the president is killing anyone that is arrested in connection with the drug cartels. Selling drugs is against his "morality" thus he feels he is justified in killing those who participate. What if a leader or group of leaders that is drunk with power feels that grand theft auto is a capital crime and thus kills all car thieves. It is easy to see how quickly Dakins logic can be abused. Anytime we give man power there is the danger of abuse of that power, and in Dakins argument that is exactly what he wants to do, give power of morality to a group of people that can be easily mistaken, misunderstood, swayed to believe one way or anther based on "mob mentality". I am glad that my morality is based upon principles layed out by a perfect and loving God. As for the claims that modern society now has evolved and has created this 'moral' place where we are gentle, women have rights, and we are kind to animals, where is your proof that this didn't come from religion? These are things that have been taught by Christ since he walked the earth: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; love thy neighbor as thysef" I could go on. So if we live in a society with these principles, isn't logical to assume they come to us from a God that has been preaching them for over 2000 years? Dakins states that we pick and choose the good parts of the bible and that we have grown out of the bad parts because of "secular moral philosophy, and rational discussion", I argue that we don't pick and choose, I am a Christian, and as such I follow what Christ teaches. His examples of death to an apostate, and stoning of an adulterer are from the Law of Moses. I don't want to dive too deep into doctrinal belief, but the Law of Moses was not "grown out of" but fulfilled in the death of Christ. My point being that God has certain laws and morality that is stated in The Bible, and we don't pick and choose the good ones, all of Christ's teachings I will stand behind as moral. Not because of "secular moral philosophy, or rational discussion" but because He is an all knowing, loving God that has taught and continues to teach basic moral principles for His children to be happy.
LikeReply122 hrsEdited
Joe Wolsing The democracy in Germany created after the Nazi regime was designed not only by Germans, but with the help of politicians and scientists of the allied forces.
An important feature of it is the term defensive democracy. It is structured to enable the ci
tizens of our nation to live in a very wide range of freedom - including free speach and free thought. The limit is the denial of the democratic and humanistic rights to individuals or groups. Youu can advocate every idea and have any opinion outspoken, exept the one that you deny these rights to others. This is fixed in the Grundgesetzt wich is correspondent to constitutions in other countries.
I think this is a good way to protect the already acchieved moral ideas and the rights corresponding with, or following out of them. No higher power than the law necessary ...
LikeReply22 hrs
J.d. Sheppard Wow, Thank you Joe for stating your views in a respectful and courteous way, I don't often find that on FB. But isn't your own history proof of my point? Hitler was very charismatic, and a great leader, or so it was thought. Because he had been given so much power he was able to sway popular opinion to bend to his own "morality". I agree that what you have lined out seems to be a very good way to allow everyone the freedom to have their own moral ideas, without infringing on the rights of others, but what about when there is conflict over my rights and your rights? One example would be abortion, do the rights of the mother supersede the rights of the unborn child? Who decides if the baby should have rights or not? A committee? The popular voice of the time? whatever your personal opinion is about abortion I think it is easy to see where and why there can be conflict. Or what about gay marriage? If a Christian pastor doesn't want to perform the marriage isn't there a conflict? The rights of the couple vs the rights of the pastor. Who decides whose rights will win? Morally the couple feels they have a right to get married in a church, and morally the pastor feels he has a right to not perform the ceremony. I know governments and laws have faced and are facing these problems right now, and without reference to an absolute morality, given by a higher power, there is no correct answer. It will eventually come down to the side that has the most power will infringe on the morality of the other. On the other hand, if we would look to heaven for a definition of morality, there is no conflict because what is right is right according to an all knowing all powerful God. There is no shifting of morals based on popular opinion. What's also worth noting is that the idea of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom in general, was outlined first in the constitution as "God-given rights". God has always preached persuasion by love, and by his spirit, not by force. It is my belief that the very democracy you cite, and then state that "No higher power than the law necessary" is created after the Constitution of the United States of America, which was based on Judeo-Christian morals. In the end, I feel Dawkins misses the point that left to our own definitions of morals, there will always be conflict. Whereas if we look to God, morality is defined and un-moving.
LikeReply18 hrs
Chaitanya Patil I always find the idea of "God given rights" extremely funny. Apparently, god was doing sloppy work that day, as the rights had to amended multiple times. Also, he forget some things, like you know slavery. Totally slipped his mind.
LikeReply18 hrs
Chaitanya Patil Also, religious morality will grow obsolete in the future, dominated by A.I. and robots.
LikeReply18 hrs
J.d. Sheppard I think the statement "all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" was pretty clear about slavery, and has not been amended. Just becauseit took a long time for America to follow it's own decree isn't God's fault. Also God did not come down and write the Declaration, it was imperfect men trying to do what they felt God would have them do, so no, he didn't do sloppy work, and he didn't forget some things. He allowed men to work it out on their own (see comment above)
LikeReply18 hrs

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Diamond 16 My Father

Courageous DVD - Collectors Edition
This diamond was shown to me through my calling in the young mens presidency, and by recently watching Courageous the movie. It was my turn to teach this week and I opened up the manual and saw that this week the lesson is on honoring our fathers. I just wanted to take this opportunity to say what a great example my dad is. Camie and I often talk about what great examples we have as parents, and we know that there are many who are not so blessed. But my dad stands as a diamond against the black velvet of this world. He recently gave a talk in Stake Conference about the difference between being a member of the church and being converted to the gospel. He used a cold shower metaphor comparing those who are just members of the church are just jumping in and out of a cold shower, and those who are converted are really soaking in the hot water of the gospel. The talk he gave really had power because he lives everything he preaches. Anytime I have a question about what to do in any situation, I just think if my dad was in this situation what would he do? He has stood up to his employer, at risk of his job, letting them know he will not work on Sunday. His standard of entertainment is unsurpassed by anyone I know. I have never heard him say a negative thing about another person in my life. The way he lives his life has made me question any impurities I may have. He truly is the most Christlike example that I know. I owe so much to him. Having a righteous father figure is becoming as rare as uplifting political adds these days, but my dad has the courage to stand for what a father and patriarch of the home should be. Now my father didn't work on cars with me much, we didn't go camping that often or on big fishing trips. But I knew where he was every Sunday at 5:00 am till 6:00 pm. I also knew where he would be anytime there was a service project that was assigned, and where he would be anytime service was needed but no announcements were made.

There is one quality that my dad has that stands above the rest, and that is his love for my mother. That single quality has left in me a conviction and a determination to love my wife as much as he loves her. I have learned that the standard of respect and honor my father gives to my mother is not easy to duplicate. I am trying each and every day to be more like my father, but the advantage I have over the 37% of children that are born in fatherless homes, and 50% of homes that are divorced, is that I have 25 years of a shining example of how a man should treat his wife. I think part of the reason I have such a great dad is that I needed the example. He truly is a diamond against black velvet, and I will try the rest of my life to live up to his example. I love you dad.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Diamond 15

I formally announce my triumphant return to the blogging world with Diamond 15. I have been away for some time but am back and will be posting regularly. This Diamond is one of the greatest earthly possessions anyone can have. This Diamond is the Bible. Is it just me or does the Bible get a bad rap. We often overlook it in our studies thinking "If I only have limited time to study, I should study the Book Of Mormon." While this is not a bad line of thought, It is similar to eating only the frosting off of a cupcake. While the Book of Mormon is wonderful on its own, when it is combined with the bible the two compliment and enrich the entire experience. in the April 2007 conference Elder Ballard gave a talk on the miracle of the bible. I will quote from it here: "It is not by chance or coincidence that we have the Bible today. Righteous individuals were prompted by the Spirit to record both the sacred things they saw and the inspired words they heard and spoke. Other devoted people were prompted to protect and preserve these records. Men like John Wycliffe, the courageous William Tyndale, and Johannes Gutenberg were prompted against much opposition to translate the Bible into language people could understand and to publish it in books people could read. I believe even the scholars of King James had spiritual promptings in their translation work.
The Dark Ages were dark because the light of the gospel was hidden from the people. They did not have the apostles or prophets, nor did they have access to the Bible. The clergy kept the scriptures secret and unavailable to the people. We owe much to the many brave martyrs and reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Huss who demanded freedom to worship and common access to the holy books"
Recently I caught the three part series on the King James Version of the Bible put out by BYUTV. I recommend everyone take time to watch this. It was done very well and explains wonderful things about the bible. You can find it here. In the documentary it points out that there have been many attempts to translate the Bible into new language, as the Old English version is difficult for most to understand. One of the commentators then points out that if it were in standard modern English, we wouldn't have to work at understanding it, and working at understanding the bible is part of what makes its message so powerful. We don't value what we don't work for, and some of the most profound things that I have experienced in the Bible came after reading and re-reading a passage many times. That's all I have for today but I just want to openly declare that the Bible is truly the word of God. It contains not only the writings of the prophets of old but also the only living account of the life of the Savior. In the Bible we can find the answers we are looking for and, like a cupcake, when joined with the frosting of the Book of Mormon can provide a much more complete study of doctrine and principles that we covenanted to live at baptism and in the temple. The Bible is a Diamond that has been displayed against black velvet for thousands of years.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Diamond 14

This will just be a small post but no less of a Diamond. Camie and I just put up our Christmas Tree and as I was sitting there watching the lights I thought to myself "Why do we have Christmas Trees?" Boy was I surprised to find what Christmas Trees really represent. I had been told once that the evergreen was a symbol of humble worship because all the branches pointed upward. But the story I read on was much better. It states that the Evergreen tree was a symbol of life in the midst of winter and that people cut branches off to honor the emporer. Early Christians didn't like this practice and condemned anyone who decorated their homes with evergreen trees. But then a legend started circulating that when Christ was born, every tree in the world miraculasly shook off any ice and snow and shot out new green shoots. But my personal favorite is the tradition that when Christ came to the world he had lordship over all of nature that had been previously used for pagan worship. Not only individual human beings, but cultures, symbols, and traditons could be converted. So this year when I look at the Christmas tree I will think of 1. that Christ is the true evergreen and offers life and hope. 2. That no matter what has happened in the past the evergreen and myself can be converted to worship the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Whatever the true story is behind the Christmas Tree, for me it is a symbol of Christ and any reminder we have of Christ is a Diamond to me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Diamond 13

Last August my family and I moved into a new home. With a new home comes a new ward, new callings, new friends, etc... With all these new things i have found a new diamond. Last week Camie and I gave talks in Sacrament meeting. I felt we did ok, but word got back to us that a woman in the ward had not liked our talks so much, in fact she criticized Camies talk and called me self righteous. Well as you can imagine our feelings were hurt and I thought of one hundred things we could do to respond to such criticism. I thought I would go up to this woman and say hi and apologize for not introducing myself earlier and that I didn't want to come off as self righteous. I also thought of printing off some conference talks on gossip, charity, and judging and leaving them on her door step. I also thought maybe some water balloons would do the trick, or a nice pie to the face. But then the diamond came shinning through. I was taken back to my reading of the Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W Kimball. There is a story that hit me like a ton of pie filled water balloons: " I was struggling with a community problem in a small ward in the East where two prominent men, leaders of the people, were deadlocked in a long and unrelenting feud. Some misunderstanding between them had driven them far apart with enmity. As the days, weeks and months passed, the breach became wider. The families of each conflicting party began to take up the issue and finally nearly all the people of the ward were involved. Rumors spread and differences were aired and gossip became tongues of fire until the little community was divided by a deep gulf. I was sent to clear up the matter. After a long stake conference, lasting most of two days, I arrived at the frustrated community about 6 p.m., Sunday night, and immediately went into session with the principal combatants. How we struggled! How I pleaded and warned and begged and urged! Nothing seemed to be moving them. Each antagonist was so sure that he was right and justified that it was impossible to budge him. The hours were passing it was now long after midnight, and despair seemed to enshroud the place. The atmosphere was still one of ill temper and ugliness. Stubborn resistance would not give way. Then it happened. I aimlessly opened my Doctrine and Covenants again and there before me it was. I had read it many times in the past years and it had had no special meaning then. But tonight it was the very answer. It was an appeal and an imploring and a threat and seemed to be coming direct from the Lord. I read from the seventh verse on, but the quarreling participants yielded not an inch until I came to the ninth verse. Then I saw them flinch, startled, wondering. Could that be right? The Lord was saying to us-to all of us- "wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another." This was an obligation. They had heard it before. They had said it in repeating the Lord's Prayer. But how: "... for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord..." In their hearts, then may have been saying: "Well , I might forgive if he repents and asks forgiveness, but he must make the first move.: Then the full impact of the last line seemed to strike them: "For there remaineth in him the greater sin." What? Does that mean I must forgive even if my antagonist remains cold and indifferent and mean? There is no mistaking it. A common error is the idea that the offender must apologize and humble himself to the dust before forgiveness is required. Certainly, the one ho does the injury should totally make his adjustment, but as for the offended one, hue must forgive the offender regardless of the attitude of the other. Sometimes men get satisfactions from seeing the other party on his knees and grovelling in the dust, but that is not the gospel way. Shocked, the two men sat up, listened, pondered a minute, then began to yield. This scripture added to all the others read brought them to their knees. Two a.m. and two bitter adversaries were shaking hands, smiling and forgiving and asking forgiveness. Two men were in a meaningful embrace. This hour was holy. Old grievances were forgiven and forgotten, and enemies became friends again. No reference was ever made again to the differences." After reading that I thought of all the times I had said something stupid and had to ask for forgiveness like when I was sarcastic about a comment my mission president had said just to realize he was right behind me, or the time I gossiped about a man I didn't even know, and had to go ashamed and humbled to ask for forgiveness. Both times in my life both men were more then gracious with their forgiveness. So I would be a hypocrite if I didn't forgive openly. The second I decided that I felt the loving feeling of the spirit bring me the Diamond of Forgiveness.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Diamond 12

Well more than a year has passed since my last post, but due to popular demand from my brothers and sisters on the Asian continent (see comments from last post) here is another diamond. This diamond comes from listening to conference this past weekend. Several talks were about choices agency and the blessings of obedience. Well as I pondered that theme from conference I found this scripture that really hit me:
Mosiah 5:8 And under this head ye are made afree, and there is bno other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other cname given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. I feel the same spirit as I read this scripture as I did while I listened to several of the speakers this past weekend speak on obedience. I really feel there is an urgency to the message that was given by the prophet during priesthood, and I feel that same urgency now. It is time to really buckle down and deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ. There is no better way to do that then through obedience. That is a diamond that has been passed down from Adam to present day, let us not waste it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Diamond #11

This past weekend Camie, Lachlynn, and I went down to Gettysburg, PA. It was a very somber place, almost a sacred feeling permeated the battlefields. I was overcome with reverence for the men who would lay down their lives fighting for their country. Now I know that I have already published a post about America, and freedom, however, I felt that it is appropriate to take a moment and honor the men and women who give their lives fighting for this great country. As I we were driving listening to our auto tour, I couldn't help but think of the individual soldiers. The tour talked about how at night, during the three days of battle, the air was filled with the screams of pain, and cries for home. Many of the soldiers were only 18 or 19. I tend to think that maybe the politics behind the war wasn't the reason these boys were fighting. I doubt many of them knew all of the politics behind the war, but what they did know was the founding principles of this great nation. The basic belief and attitude of "what can I do for my country", (NOT what my country can do for me). I honor those men. Those that fought in the bloodiest battle on American soil, and anyone, man or woman, who is willing to fight for their country. My Grampy was one of those men, he fought in WWII. I think if he were here right now he would say that it was a privileged to serve his country. I hope and pray for that attitude to stay with us today and that we ask ourselves What can I do for my Country. If the majority of Americans keep that spirit alive then we will be able to uphold this quote from the Gettysburg Address: " that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. "