Category: Religion

Monuments to the Faith

For a long time in the U.S. there has been a battle between people who want to be able to display religious symbols, particularly the Ten Commandments, on government property (such as city parks, government buildings, etc.) and those who think the First Amendment prohibits such things.  Christians who want vehemently to display the Ten Commandments on government property assert that “this is a Christian nation.”  If so, let’s raise the bar. (more…)

The True Mirror of Our Doctrine

The conduct of our lives is the true mirror of our doctrine. – Montaigne

The other day I saw a news article that said that Glenn Beck, a nationally-syndicated political talk show host who also has a TV show, a man who has millions of listeners/viewers, told them that if their churches mentioned “social justice” or “economic justice” (what he called political “code words” for communism, etc.), his listeners should leave their churches.  This was shocking to me, first because Beck and I are both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and I can’t reconcile what he said with the doctrine I know from our church.  Isn’t this a violations of the First of the Ten Commandments?  And secondly, because anyone who actually took his advice widened one of the biggest rips in the fabric of our society.

I’m talking about the fact that all of us are bound together in an eternal family.  In too much of the political discourse lately, there has been demonizing, name-calling, and dehumanizing.  To what end?  To get the trajectory of the country to move a fraction of a degree to the left or the right.  At what cost?  We are sacrificing our kinship with our fellow man to our political objectives.   (more…)

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer; book review

I recently read for the third time a book I was introduced to in PoliSci 101 as an extra credit assignment.  In the past, to me The True Believer; Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer was an interesting theoretical book about sociology, based on observations of the past.  This time, its voice was contemporary and reverberating.  Every paragraph was an elucidating commentary on the news of the day. (more…)

Watch your tongue

As any English-speaker who has learned a Romance language knows, there are a lot of cognates, both true and false, between English and Romance languages. A cognate is a word that resembles its counterpart in another language. For example, even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can probably guess the meaning of the following words: dormitorio, liberador, laboratorio, general, and central. These are cognates. False cognates are words that seem to correlate, but don’t; for example dirección means address, and embarasada means pregnant, a false cognate that can lead to situations that are, well, embarrassing.

Why does English have so many cognates with Romance languages if it’s supposed to be Germanic? One of my linguistics professors told our class that 80% of the words we use everyday are Germanic, but 75% of the words in the English dictionary are of French origin, adopted into the language during the centuries-long reign of the French in Britain after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. French became, well, the lingua franca, literally translated as “French language,” but meaning the language generally spoken or the universal language. English is the modern lingua franca, follow closely by Mandarin.

So are we more Germanic or more Romantic because of our language uses? Does language affect society? Yes, but not linguistically, instead semantically. And those who have begun to change American English are not conquerors in the traditional sense, but they are leaving their imprint on the language—and on society. There is a list of words I hate to hear, and I want to change their usage. (more…)

“Resurrection” by Leo Tolstoy – Book Review

Tolstoy’s very readable tale of Prince Dmitry Ivanich Nekhlyudov, a man humbled by the results of his past sins and attempting to right wrongs and redeem himself, is a timeless criticism of human attempts at civilization and self-rule. In the process of the story, Tolstoy skewers high society, the church, the government, the military, the courts, lawyers, land-owners, revolutionaries, the prison system, and anything else he passes on the way. But he also reveals his life-view of Christian anarchy, the idea that man should follow the teaching of Christ despite any contravening man-made institutions, forms, and influences. (more…)

This Land is Whose Land?

How many times have we read Christ’s parable of the vineyard and assumed its application is long in the past? It’s easy to interpret as the history of the Jews, who were given the Abrahamic Covenant but then failed in their stewardship by rejecting the prophets and ultimately killing the Master’s Son.

But recently, reading Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy, I saw the parable in a whole new light. Tolstoy says: (more…)

America’s Religion of Wealth

In the New Testament, there are two occurrences of the word wealth: a silversmith of Ephesus said to his fellow idol-makers “. . . ye know that by this craft we have our wealth” (Acts 19:25); and from Paul to the Corinthians, “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth” (1 Cor 10:24). It is interesting to see these two statements juxtaposed onto America today. Our idol is wealth itself, the accumulation of which has become the American Dream. Whereas seeking another’s wealth, or the prosperity of another, is seen as anti-American. (more…)

American Messianism

In his book The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, Eric Hoffer gives various reasons why people join mass movements. Most have to do with the believer’s desire that the movement absorb and absolve his unworthiness into a higher cause. As James said, “he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall . . . hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). (more…)

“Over-Zealous to Inherit”

In the book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon, a man named Zeniff wanted to reclaim the “land of [his people’s] fathers’ first inheritance,” at his time occupied by an enemy people. Looking back on his decision years later after he had led his people into a trap that locked them into a backbreaking tributary situation under their enemies, he wrote, “I [was] over-zealous to inherit the land of our fathers.” His people, the Nephites, had records from prophets saying that the land would be consecrated unto them, and so I’m sure Zeniff felt confident that the Lord was on his side in his endeavor. But he was not working under instructions of the Lord, and the timing for the inheritance was not right. (more…)