Monday, March 21, 2005

That there Thang moved!

Yep it's true. New Cool Thang has moved to a new home a! We managed to get all the posts and comments ported over too. So update you bookmarks and blogrolls friends -- The Thang has a new home!

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

State of the Blog and Ugly BYU

Well I made it back from a fun family trip to Utah. I see that the comments are hanging up forever with Blogger still so my first order of business is to find a new home for my blog. I expect to have up and running by this weekend. More on that to come.

As for my trip -- In addition to immensely enjoyable visits with family and friends I also spent Saturday up in Logan at the SMPT conference and met bloggernacle regulars Jim Faulconer, Rosalynde Welch, and Blake Ostler – all of whom were even more interesting and charming in person than they are in writing.

I made it back to BYU on Tuesday and saw how truly ugly the campus is for the first time. Man, Clark was right about the architecture there. Those building from the 60s and 70s could hardly be uglier. Brother Brigham must be annoyed to no end. I mean this is the man that built the gorgeous Salt Lake Temple and the lovely and newly restored BY Academy. Yet the main campus of the University in his name is as ugly as sin. Thankfully the Maeser building is still beautiful and the new buildings under construction seem to have aesthetics in mind -- I have to credit current decision makers for that. But as for the rest of the place... Yikes! That’s what happens when utility is taken too far and beauty is ignored too much I guess. And those unfortunate architechtural decisions are now too expensive to quickly undo (hence the Provo temple still stands).

God certainly didn’t ignore beauty when he made Utah, though. That place is gorgeous from the North to the South. Of course the natural beauty only serves to emphasize how ugly and austere the campus architecture is. But then the same could be said for Interstate 15 from Provo to Ogden... talk about a concerted effort to ugly up a beautiful place with obnoxious billboards, etc. Maybe I have been reading too much Nibley, but the guy is definitely right about this subject. Is it just me?

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Goin' back to Utah

I graduated from BYU in 1994 and haven't been back to Utah since. That is about to change my friends. Later this week we're loading the family in the car and driving to Utah for a vacation and to visit my brother Russ and his family.

It's not that I had anything again visiting Utah; I just didn't have reason to go back. Before I knew it eleven years had passed. But now that I have a brother out there I have a reason to visit and I'm really looking forward to it. The three years I spent in the great state of Utah were among the most fun of my life. I met my charming, intelligent, and beautiful wife there; I started my first rock band there; I made some lifelong friends there. And even though I spent three years as an Aztec at SDSU too (freshman year and two years in grad school) I've been a Cougar first in my heart.

So what do you recommend we do while out there? We’re staying in West Pointe (by Layton) for part of the visit. I plan to attend the Saturday session of the SMPT conference at USU. We were going to ski or snowboard one of the days and check out BYU one day too. Anything changed at BYU since '94? (Ok, I know a lot has changed there.) Anyway, what qualifies as must-see or must-do in Utah these days? Help me out y'all.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I found the Bloggernacle in the D&C!

Yep, Sunday school inspired me again this week. We were studying section 25 and this verse about the Bloggernacle jumped out at me:
For he shall lay his hands upon thee, and thou shalt receive the Holy Ghost, and thy time shall be given to writing, and to learning much. (D&C 25:8)
Before I started blogging I did what I could to learn much and I wrote in my journal every month or so, but now I am actually following this instruction from God -- I’m actually writing much and learning much.

Now don’t get me wrong – this scripture cannot be used defend all blogging. I’ve already written my opinion about Mormons practically consecrating their lives to political causes, ideologies, or parties (and it is not high if you were wondering). And there are innumerable other things we could waste our time blogging about as well. The Lord qualified the quoted verse to Emma in these surrounding verses:
And thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit... And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better... Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made. (D&C 25:7, 10, 13)
And these verses are supported by the first verse of section 26 which in which the Lord says:
I say unto you that you shall let your time be devoted to the studying of the scriptures, and to preaching, and to confirming the church… and to performing your labors on the land.
These are not only instructions for behavior in Zion but instructions on the priorities of our actions. Certainly many activities in the Bloggernacle could be described as the first two things on the Lord’s list there.

So while not our posts and comments can be defended with scripture – many of them can. Therefore my fellow citizens of the Bloggernacle, I say Blog On!

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Give me convenience or give me death!

I always chuckled at that saying. I think that was the title of an album by a punk band in the 80's -- but I can't remember which band it was. In any case it applies to the new home page for the Mormon Archipelago: Go check it out and let me know what you think!

The purpose of the new site is to be a useful central place to see what's going on at all of the best blogs in the Bloggernacle. We hope it will continue to grow more useful over time. Be sure to try our the sweeeeeet search function written by my super-smart younger brother Russ. Yer gonna love it!

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Twisting God's arm?

In Sunday school this week I used the term "twisting God's arm" as a way of describing the process of petitioning the Lord with enough fervency and faith (and sometimes through enough people) to get a mighty miracle. It was a tongue-in-cheek reference and I qualified this term by mentioning God wants his arm twisted in this way by his children. But I have decided that twisting his arm is not the proper analogy for this process.

After the events of the last week this subject is very much on my mind. When our family needed a miracle I talked with my little girls (ages 5 and 7) and asked them to nag their Heavenly Father about it. They understand what nagging is because they use it with us (though rarely successfully… we hope). The idea resonated with them, but I don’t think that analogy works well either. If nagging is as annoying to God as it is to me it can’t be a good thing. And the same thing applies to the term occasionally used in the church: "wearying the Lord". This sounds like another term for nagging to me. Are we really out to annoy our God?

Most of us turn to bartering when we really need something from God. I like negotiating – I do it for a living. I've had great success strictly observing the Covey-ism “win/win or no deal”. This means unless everyone wins in a deal it should not be struck. But negotiating with God is generally frowned upon in the church, though I’m not sure it should be. As the hymn says “Sacrifice brings forth the blessing of heaven”. And as Elder Maxwell repeatedly preached – there is one thing that we can offer God that he desperately wants:
In conclusion, the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!
(Ensign, Nov. 1995, 22)

Just tonight I heard a moving story. A man who works with my brother and law up in Seattle confided that he had prayed fervently for my son upon hearing of our calamity last week. He offered up a few years of his own life as an offering or sacrifice to God if it would allow for my boy to be saved. This man has no idea who we are. He is not LDS. But he is a son of God and I can’t believe God can ignore such charity.

My feeling is that if we are to bargain with the Lord we need to understand his currency. I’ve mentioned before that his currency is the souls of humankind. That is the most precious commodity in the universe. If we want to bargain with God we had better bring something he wants to the negotiations. According to Elder Maxwell we have only one thing to offer – our wills.

Maybe that’s why I felt so driven to seek more prayers here and everywhere… Maybe we weren’t nagging God or twisting his arm at all but as a group we were paying him in his currency. We were humbling ourselves and turning our wills over to him. We were exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps he was well paid in his currency for this miracle.

Of course the kicker of it all is that we all were generously rewarded immediately by him as well.

The ultimate win/win deal…

PS – Regarding our miracle: A firefighter that was first on the scene last week stopped by the house tonight to see Quinn with his own eyes. He told us that in his 14 years on the job (here in Arizona – the land of a million pools) he had only seen 3 children come out intact from the condition he found our Q in…
PPS -- I’m sorry if all these posts regarding our miracle are tiresome… They feel important to me right now.

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Monday, February 28, 2005

What does God think of the Bloggernacle?

Or maybe the question should be: Does God think of the Bloggernacle? I’m reminded of that great story in told in general conference a few years ago about a priesthood leader that was in need and had the name of a certain man come into his head as the right person to ask for help. This saint made the requested sacrifice and said it was worth it all “just to know the God in heaven knows my name.” This post is to assure you, good readers, that God knows your names.

I know that God knows you because he specifically directed me to seek help from you in my time of great need. My faith in a miracle was slowly growing throughout that long night of darkness last week but I needed more faith. I got a very clear and strong impression that I needed to make the 30 minute drive back home that midnight to humbly beg for that assistance here. After I did so I immediately returned to the ICU but I felt somehow better.

Why did it help? Why would he send me to you? I’m convinced it is because you are among the very elect. You are among the spiritual superstars of the planet. You are the spiritual super heroes. You are among the angels God sent me to when I needed help moving a mountain. You are part of the tiny percentage of people on this planet that are teetering on the brink of Celestial glory… of exaltation. You have great power. And my family benefited from your great power. The mountain moved.

What does God think of the Bloggernacle? He loves it dearly because the Bloggernacle is made up of the most precious things in the universe – The souls of men and women.
Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God
(D&C 18: 10)

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39)
God is clearly not in the business of saving the mortal lives of three year old boys. Many others have been allowed to pass through the veil without his intervention. But God is in the business of bringing to pass eternal life. The first step in the process of attaining eternal life is developing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If he is going to move a mountain he just might want to get as many of his superstars to chip in as possible… because that service… that pulling out the spiritual shovel and moving the mountain one shovel full or one prayer at a time helps you to be like Him – saviors to poor, needy, helpless souls like I was that night. And the whole process draws us all closer to Him. Closer to that exaltation he desperately wants for us all.

Maybe that’s part of the reason why God insisted I implore you for help. So you could join with him in being our saviors and we could increase our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ together. Or maybe it was just because my family needed more strong shovelers to get that mountain moved and he knew you were some of the best shovelers on the planet.

In any case, be assured that God knows who you are. God is aware of the Bloggernacle.

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Friday, February 25, 2005

All is Well, All is Well!

And "We'll make the air with music ring, shout praises to our God and King" because of it.

I am only home for a few minutes so I haven't had time to check the Bloggernacle or even the comments here, but based on the number of comments here I can only assume my plea for prayers here made a difference. Here is the update: Our baby boy Quinn is well on his way to a full recovery.

Briefly: While my wife and I followed the helicopter to the hospital we prayed and began to feel the beginnings of faith that we could save the boy. When I gave what probably sounded like a brash blessing to my boy in the emergency room my faith grew. When I learned all of our family and ward were praying for a recovery I felt slightly better. When I followed my impression to ask for help here I felt a little more confidence. But it was only after my brother Russ told me that my plea at my blog was not ignored, but rather many righteous Boggernacle saints (who wouldn't know me from Adam) were praying for my Quinn... It was then when I finally knew... Sorry if it sounds dramatic but it was then that my tears of gratitude finally flowed. Quinn was going to be fine.

When my stake president later came to the hospital and prophesied that Quinn would fully recover most remaining fear and doubt disappeared. When the doctors told us there was no signs of neurological damage and our Q-dog (the nickname his missionary uncle gave him) would have a full recovery it was fitting, but not surprising.

Thank you for being among our saviors. Thank you for mourning with us as we mourned and comforting us as we stood in need of comfort.

Miracles happen. I’m glad I am a Mormon boy.

(More later when we bring our Q home some time this weekend)

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Please pray for my boy

It's just past midnight. I just came home for a few minutes from the ICU to write this post because I believe it could make a difference.

We found our sweet three year old son Quinn face down in the pool this afternoon. He is alive and stable now but there remains a very real risk of brain damage. You bloggernacle citizens are righteous people -- I can tell. We are praying for a full recovery for Quinn. Can you please help? Prayer is a form of work but my family can't do all this work alone. We need saviors on mount Zion to help us with this work. All we ask is one sincere prayer for the boy to have a full recovery. (If you can muster any more we would be very grateful). Our extended family and our ward family are already joining in the prayers. I came home tonight to beg for your prayers on behalf on Quinn as well. I got the feeling that it would be worth it.

UPDATE -- Thank you all. We got our miracle. All is well.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I can't get no, Spirit of Elijah

I can't get no, genealogical excitement
And I try
And I try
And I try, try-try-try-try, tryyy
I can’t get no!
(Guitar riff)

Feel free to sing along. I had the Stones version in my head but you can substitute a cover like the one Devo did in your head if you'd like.

My last post about how our ancestors might be sending us messages through the Holy Ghost reminded me of a problem I have: I don’t feel any connection to my distant ancestors at all. I have nearly no desire to search them out or learn about them. I have only a passing interest in their stories and histories. In the church we call the invisible pull many people feel to learn about their roots “The Spirit of Elijah”. Well I ain’t got none. And to be honest it makes me a little nervous.

When I was a teenager I figured the Spirit of Elijah would hit me when I was an adult. But my twenties came and went and nothing. I have 4 children now – still nothing. Am I the only faithful Latter Day Saint that feels this way?

I have my reasons of course. First is my firm belief in free agency. I don’t really much care what my genes say because I believe I can choose what I’ll think and do regardless of genetic tendencies. I don’t need to know about my ancestors to know who I am. I am me and they just happen to be my physical ancestors. This leads to the Second point which is about pre-existence. It is perhaps ironic that my firm belief in the eternal nature of souls has deadened my interest in seeking out my earthly ancestors. As I said, I have this assumption (right or wrong) that they just happen to genetically precede me here – but I was me before this earth so… who cares? Third, my parents are converts to the church. They are proof that tracting works. After their baptisms they had me and I have been a devout believer my whole life. Because of that I sort of feel like many early saints are my spiritual forebears and find myself more interested in some of their lives than my own non-member ancestors. Of course this is cheating in some ways because I can focus my energy on the lives of great men and women and perhaps ignore losers in my line (I don’t know if they are there, but they could be.) Last, my dad has done a bang-up job of searchng out both lines for us already anyway.

I love serving as proxy in the temple, and I’d be even happier if the person I stood in place for happened to be in my family line. But honestly, I am mostly interested in the "Lord’s University" part of the temple rather than the proxy aspect. The proxy thing feels like a pleasant side benefit to me.

So there you have my confession. I am a genealogy chump. I don’t carry my own weight when it comes to seeking out our dead. Someone please help me out! Why don’t I care? What can I do to get some of that Spirit of Elijah in my own life? Or should I just stop worrying about it and leave it to those who have this spiritual gift already?

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