Thunker’s Weblog


Light Or Dark or Medium Well

Robert Wheadon-126x150

When I was in junior high school, I loved doing theater.  Specifically, musical theater.  I believe this predilection for the stage and grease paint comes from my dear mother.  She loves Broadway musicals and would watch, “South Pacific,” “Oklahoma,” or “Annie Get Your Gun,” at every opportunity.  It was a great way for a kid to learn and love this type of music and performance.

So, it wasn’t much a stretch for me to get involved in my junior high productions of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” or “Oklahoma.”  They were a blast!  I got to shine on stage, sing, act and clumsily dance.

 

Being in the spotlight reminded me of some of the words in the beautiful Sermon on the Mount.  The Savior taught:

“14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (Matthew 5:14-16.)

Part of the reason I enjoyed theater so much was the attention I received.  I was in junior high, trying to make sense of life, and the positive accolades from parents, family and friends were wonderful affirmation.  Who doesn’t like an occasional high-five every now and again?  At 14, I know I did.

Receiving compliments does have an addictive quality, though.  Any performer will say one of the joys of performing is receiving the acknowledgements of an appreciative audience.  However, one of the things I learned over time is the difference between receiving compliments and seeking compliments.  It’s one thing to be praised for a job well done.  The intent changes, however, if I start asking, “So, did I do good?”

That mentality demonstrates a search for praise, a desire for attention and a longing to fulfill an emotional need through the words of others.  It’s a flimsy foundation on which to build one’s self-estimation.

And when we do that, we are facing the wrong direction.

What I mean is when our focus, our efforts, our attention are directed towards obtaining praise or recognition,  our hearts are not in the right place.  We are only gazing in a mirror rather than directing our attention outwards, searching for those in need.

The Savior put this perspective into a divine perspective.  In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 6:1-6, he counseled:

“1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

¶And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

On the surface, the examples cited above, both from the same sermon, seem to give contradictory counsel.  The first admonishes us to shine, let our good examples show for all the world to see.

The second seems to advise the exact and total opposite.  The Savior counsels to not display our giving to the poor, (the alms,) or in living our religion in public.

Although seemingly contradictory,  they are clear when we examine the verses through the lens of intent.  The direction given by the Savior helps us identify and define our intent.  We should not be looking around waiting for someone to notice our nice act.  We shouldn’t be pummeling the first person we can find over the head with our good deed and asking, “Did I do good?”

The motivation should all be from love for Heavenly Father and for His children.  Our actions then arise and flow from that love and desire to be like our heavenly parent.  Reward is not even part of the equation.  Trying to emulate the Son of God in our daily lives brings so much more joy.

Helping those in need, comforting those who mourn, lifting those in despair, loving and assisting the poor are all acts of a follower of the Savior.  Those properly motivated actions convey in humble ways how we follow the Savior’s admonition to, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me,” (Matthew 11:29.)

It is how we shine and glow on our mortal trek on knowing and becoming like the Savior.

 

 

 

 

 



Prayer and Princesses

Robert Wheadon-126x150

“A dream is a wish your heart makes…,” (Cinderella OST, 1950).

In February 1950, Walt Disney released its twelfth full-length animated feature film, “Cinderella.”  After a string of animated commercial failures, “Cinderella,” was the Disney studio’s first success since the 1937, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”  It saved the Disney studio at the time, as studio was on the verge of bankruptcy.

As children, we watched the animated magic produced by Walt Disney and his artists.  We continue to be dazzled and entertained today by Disney and their animation partner, Pixar.  We take in cultural ideas like Goodness Always Wins, They Lived Happily Ever After, and Love Conquers All.  These themes speak to some of our basic, universal beliefs.  We hope the Good will always conquer the Bad, no matter what the odds.

Yet, reality, experience and the evening news tell us that the Bad sometimes does take the day, despite our yearnings for the opposite outcome. Sometimes the bad guys don’t go to jail, sometimes illness wins over wellness and and sometimes the ice cream melts before we can finish it.

There are so many things in life that go contrary to our wishes.  And that’s okay.  Life would be pretty mundane and pedestrian if everything went exactly how we wanted.  Sometimes what we want is not what is best for us.  I believe we learn and experience more personal growth when we have to struggle through things, work through the pain, and figure out how to conquer our individual weaknesses and demons.

Yet we still wish for things in life.  We wish for health, jobs, good bosses, successful relationships, good grades in school and the occasional delicious cookie.  My son continues to wish for a cherry-red Ferrari.  A wish really is a dream our hearts make…

As children, many of us also learned the simple beauty of prayer.  By folding our arms, bowing our heads and uttering our first, simple supplications, we echo the words of the Old Testament psalmist.

In Psalms 102:1 we read:

“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee.”

As a child, I was in awe of the fact that I, little as I was, could talk to God.  And He would listen to me.

I learned that sincerity was important in prayer.  Sincerity here is really tied to the concept of faith.  Prayer becomes holy when we honestly express our belief, our hope, our reliance on our Heavenly Father’s aid.

The prophet, Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 29:12-13:

“12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

And it’s okay if we are feeling a little low in our faith.  God even helps us with that.  We can ask God to help us with our faith.  Do you recall the anguished father in Mark 9:24?  He had a son, whom he loved dearly.  The son was ill and thrashed about, threw himself into fires, into water and had to be watched constantly.  The son had suffered this way his whole life.  Jesus came into this father’s town and the man ran to the Savior.  The father implored the Master and said, “but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us,” (Mark 9:22.)  Jesus answered him in verse 23.  “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

And the father cried aloud in verse 24: “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

You can see this father, so desperately wanting divine help for his afflicted son.  When Jesus instructs the man to believe, the man immediately affirms his faith and asks the Savior to help him believe more.  We can do the same.

 

As I got older, I learned a key concept regarding prayer.  3 Nephi 18:20 shares this insight:

“And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.”

Did you catch the phrase, “which is right,” that the writer snuck in there?  This raises an important question, though.  How do I know what is right?  I don’t want to pray for what is wrong or bad for me or for others.

Do we remember the Old Testament story of the child, Samuel?  One evening, the young boy had retired for the evening.  The priest, Eli, was Samuel’s mentor.  The Lord called to Samuel.  In Samuel 3:4, “That the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.”  Samuel listened.

The act of spiritually listening is an integral part of prayer.  Prayer can be a two-way conversation.  Most of the time, we just participate in one part.  We tell God our desires and our feelings of gratitude and ask for the wishes of our heart.  How often do we stay and listen?  How often do we spare a little time to listen for God?

God spoke to Joseph Smith and said: “Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me,” (D&C 19:23.)

If you will take a moment, put a stopper in the bottle of the daily chaos, and pray with your heart, God will speak peace to you.  Take a few moments.  It will so be worth your time.

 

 



Profit and Loss
January 5, 2017, 8:34 pm
Filed under: New Testament, religion, Uncategorized

Robert Wheadon-126x150

Anthony De Mello was a Jesuit priest who lived in India until his death in 1987.  I was reading some of his thoughts on some scriptural passages and thought this one was excellent and worth sharing.

Profit and Loss

For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? (Matthew 16:26)

“Recall the kind of feeling you have when someone praises you, when you are approved, accepted, applauded.  And contrast that with the kind of feeling that arises within you when you look at the sunset or the sunrise of Nature in general, or when you read a book or watch a movie that you thoroughly enjoy.  Get the taste of this feeling and contrast it with the first, namely, the one that was generated within you when you were praised.  Understand that the first type of feeling comes from self-glorification, self-promotion.  It is a worldly feeling.  The second comes from self-fulfillment, a soul feeling.

Here is another contrast:  Recall the kind of feeling you have when you succeed, when you have made it, when you get to the top, when you win a game or a bet or an argument.  And contrast it with the kind of feeling you get when you really enjoy the job you are doing, you are absorbed in, the action that you are currently engaged in.  And once again notice the qualitative difference between the worldly feeling and the soul feeling.

Yet another contrast:  Remember what you felt like when you had power, you were the boss, people looked up to you, took orders from you;  or when you were popular.  And contrast that worldly feeling with the feeling of intimacy, companionship-the times you thoroughly enjoyed yourself in the company of a friend or with a group in which there was fun and laughter.

Having done this, attempt to understand the true nature of worldly feelings, namely, the feelings of self-promotion, self-glorification.  They are not natural, they were invented by your society and your culture to make you productive and to make you controllable.  These feelings do not produce the nourishment and happiness that is produced when one contemplates Nature or enjoys the company of one’s friends or one’s work.  They were meant to produce thrills, excitement-and emptiness.

Then observe yourself in the course of a day or a week and think how many actions of yours are performed, how many activities engaged in that are uncontaminated by the desire for these thrills, these excitements that only produce emptiness, the desire for attention, approval, fame, popularity, success or power.

And take a look at the people around you.  Is there a single one of them who has not become addicted to these worldly feelings?  A single one who is not controlled by them, hungers for them, spends every minute of his/her waking life consciously or unconsciously seeking them?  When you see this you will understand how people attempt to gain the world and, in the process, lose their soul.  For they live empty, soulless lives.

And here is a parable of life for you to ponder on:  A group of tourists sits in a bus that is passing through gorgeously beautiful country;  lakes and mountains and green fields and rivers.  But the shades of the bus are pulled down.  They do not have the slightest idea of what lies beyond the windows of the bus.  And all the time of their journey is spent in squabbling over who will have the seat of honor in the bus, who will be applauded, who will be well considered.  And so they remain till the journey’s end.”