Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Playing Big

After the highly positive response to my last post, along with more personal responses to the Myths series, I have decided to really try to do something with this blog. I've got myself a new email address to go with it, a few ideas for new topics, and new motivation.

I look forward to seeing where this can go. Please continue reading, commenting, and sharing. You are all super supportive and I really appreciate it!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy ___

What, do you think you’re rebellious? Do you think you’re going to do some good? Do you really think you are being oppressed? I don’t know what your reason is for “occupying,” but I’d like to know.

Some of you have a point! I’m a business student who just spent a summer in a work environment that was far from fair. Not only was I underpaid – which seems the most frequent complaint of the occupiers who aren’t unemployed – but I was housed in a mold-ridden apartment where my boss and coworkers could find me to come work more unpaid hours. And this was legal because I signed a contract to be an intern. I know unfair working conditions.

But some of these complaints are ridiculous! I just saw a sign held by one of the participants in “Occupy Provo” and could not believe it. It read “Capitalism Caused this Crisis.” Next to it I saw “It’s not a Recession, it’s Robbery.” And another: “$ ≠ Free Speech.”

Yes, maybe if we weren’t a capitalist society we wouldn’t have had this crisis. But what would you prefer? Socialism? We’re working on it. Fascism? I’m sure we could oblige. A monarchy perhaps? If you really want a king instead of someone we can kick out if they fail for four years, go ahead.

If we weren’t a capitalist society, you wouldn’t get “fair wages.” You would get what the government decided you would get. And haven’t we all agreed that the government won’t look out for the best interests of the people all the time. Especially when you give them too much power – look at the USSR, Nazi Germany, Fascist Russia, Communist China and North Korea, Warlord ruled middle-eastern and African countries. Do we really want to be like them? Is that better than an economic struggle?

I repeat, I am a business student – and that presents a unique view. I have struggled to pay for my education. I have been unable to find decent jobs because of downsizing. I am starting from the bottom in this world of economic and political turmoil. Do I become discouraged and ask to be helped out of my situation? Sure! I recognize the system isn’t perfect?

I do not feel “robbed” because of the downturn. I do not believe my leaders always make the smartest moves in fixing it, but I do not believe they are planning on ruining any chance I have for economic success just to be better than me!

First off, if I make more money, I will spend more money on their products, thereby making them richer. It would be stupid for the 1% to keep me down because that only limits their growth potential.

Second, I don’t think they really have any way to stop me. If we weren’t a capitalist society, they sure could! Socialist measures would keep me in my place, but capitalism lets me move, grow, and improve my position. I can create a product and sell it. I can offer a new service. Women in third world countries do this every day, lifting their families out of poverty on the back of micro-loans they pay back with the revenues from their businesses. Do you think you are less educated, less capable, and less creative than a woman in India who has three children and no education? If you do, then maybe you are stuck, but if you aren’t, then why can’t you help yourself?

And I agree, “$ ≠ Free Speech.” Bravo to you for speaking up! But please, think before you speak. We are taught this in grade school, and it really does help. If you are really concerned about the economy, go to your local university and sit in on a basic econ class – in a class of 200, I promise you can get in free. Or a finance class to learn how to spend less than you earn – even when you earn almost nothing. I learned my freshman year (when I had no job) how to save money and make sure I could cover all necessary expenses. Guess what – I graduate debt-free this coming April!

Once you understand what you are talking about, you can speak about it and people will listen. It doesn’t take a lot of money to get to that point. The simple fact that you have researched a topic and have facts backing your opinion, assures you will be heard. The respect that comes with gaining understanding is much more powerful than money will ever be. I am a business student, but I believe true insight, understanding, and thoughtfulness are more effective than a cash infusion any day. It’s like that in marketing – I can do more with a well-planned $100 event than I can with a multi-million dollar ad campaign any day.

Please, do not insult your own intelligence by making claims that undermine your true goal. If you want economic equality, go out and fight as hard as Steve Jobs, Mark Zurkerberg, Joshua James, or Oprah Winfrey.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Myths about Mormons – Mormons aren’t Christian

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. My church has taught me that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God. He came to earth as a man to suffer and die for my sins and the sins and pains of all others in the world. I believe that salvation comes through Christ alone.

Christus Statue found at the LDS Salt
Lake City Visitor's Center 
One my favorite scriptures on this topic comes from The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Second Nephi 25:26 reads “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophesies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”

The term “Christian” has ancient roots. Wikipedia has a great summary of the history of the word. Originally, “Christian” was used as a derisive term for followers of Christ. The use could even denote slave-like ownership by Christ. Along with the term Nazarene, Christian differentiated Jews who believed Christ was the Messiah from those who did not. Paul endorsed the term Christian as being accurate in indicating our dedicated, dependent relationship with Christ.

Mormons – whose nickname, interestingly, was also a derisive name initially – feel the same relationship with Christ that early Christians felt. It is this dedication, love, and reverence of Christ that earns us the title Christian. In biblical terms, we are truly Christian.

Some will argue that because we do not follow the Nicene Creed or because we believe works are important we must not be Christian. I would argue that we are simply a different “brand” of Christianity. We simply adhere to the initial definition and meaning the term Christian. If you want to distinguish us, I suggest the term “Biblical Christians.” This could help explain differences in our Christianity while not ignoring our deep dedication to and love of the Savior.

I would like to offer one comparison before ending this post. In Buddhism there are three major divisions: Therevada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Each of these sects is equally Buddhist. No one Buddhist would deny that a follower of another way were less a Buddhist than he. But they have very essential differences. For example, Therevada Buddhists do not believe in the Cosmic (or divine) Buddhas of Vajrayana Buddhism.
Likewise, Evangelical Christians are different from Catholic Christians are different from Mormon Christians, but we are all Christians. We may have different understandings of how our Christianity affects our lives, but we are all essentially Christian. We follow Jesus Christ – He is our Lord.

I know that God lives. I know that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I know that were it not for Jesus, I would have no hope of salvation. It is His grace that allows me the chance to repent and become perfect. I am grateful for His sacrifice in the garden, His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the tomb that broke the bounds of death. I know He lives. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Favorite Spot of Time

You wonder how these things begin. Well, this begins with a glen. It begins with a season which for want of a better word we might as well call September. 
It begins with a forest where woodchucks woo and leaves wax green and vines entwine like lovers. Try to see it. Not with your eyes for they are wise, but see it with your ears: the cool green breathing of the leaves. And hear it with the inside of your hand: the soundless sound of shadows flicking light.
Celebrate sensation! Recall that secret place, you’ve been there, you remember. That special place where once, just once, in your crowded sunlit lifetime you hid away in the shadows from the tyranny of time. That spot beside the clover where someone’s hand held your hand and love was sweeter than the berries, or the honey, or the stinging taste of mint.
-The Fantasticks

Autumn is a wonderful time of year. I used to say summer was my favorite because I could play outside and get tan, but that’s not really a love of the season, just a love of the activities. Since coming to college especially, I’ve realized what autumn means to me. For some unknown reason, I experience typically “spring” emotions and ideas in autumn: romance, rebirth, and hope.

Romance is always the first to come up in the fall. As soon as the air turns chilly in the mornings, a mounting excitement blossoms. It grows stronger each day until that day when the evenings too are chilly. And then the excitement becomes a wish: I wish to wander in the chilly evening with someone special. It doesn’t matter if I have a specific someone in mind – no, that is unimportant. What matters is that autumn evenings are perfect for long walks. Feel the rustling of the leaves, taste the chill in the air, breathe in the exhilaration of walking at night.

Rebirth may actually show itself in the spring, but autumn is even more so a time of new beginnings. The school year, for one thing, begins in the fall. But more important, now is when the full splendor of the leaves is seen. This is the culmination of their life here – once this is done, they leave and make way for the new growth. Seeds will fall now that make spring possible. So much potential is seen in the fall. This is when the patterns are created that will lead to our spring.

Associated with this cleaning of the slate that autumn brings is the feeling of hope I get. No matter how bad the year was, no matter the relationships formed or lost, no matter what I feel I messed up on, and no matter what I planned on doing, autumn is when I feel most hopeful to improve. The good things from the past year will either stick or disappear throughout the autumn. The bad things can fall with the leaves and I can forget them.

This hope is the most powerful feeling autumn brings me. Over the past few days as autumn as crept down from the mountains to the valley floor, I have reconsidered my career, dedicated myself to new goals, and discovered new faith within myself. I have the hope that my career plans will work out, no matter how unsure I feel today. I have hope that with the good start I’ve made on my goals that I can progress and fulfill them. And I have hope that my new faith will make me a better child of God and bring me closer to His presence.

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