Thunker’s Weblog

A Christmas Prayer

Robert Wheadon-126x150

Christianity has a long history of writing and preserving prayers.   The Old Testament is full of prayers.  Just contemplate the Psalms.  Psalms 102:1 reads:

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

In the New Testament there are several examples of recorded prayer.  In Matthew 6:9-13,  we have the Lord’s Prayer.  In Matthew 26:39, the prayer the Savior offers in the Garden of Gethsemane is recorded for all to read.  In John 17 is the beautiful Intecessory Prayer.  Jesus prays for his disciples, and for all of us, to His Father, to help make us one with Divinity.

In the spirit of Christmas and the Christ, I want to share a prayer written by an Anglican in England, named Winfred, which I find both heart-touching and soul-approriate for this time of year.

The Advent Prayer

Loving God,

I come to You as one on a journey.

As I see and hear the busyness of Christmas all around me,

I now pause and rest and reflect.

It’s not an easy time for many.

I am where I am, for good or ill.

Among the bright lights around me,

I seek a truer and more meaningful light.

I am grateful that all is not darkness.

I am grateful for those who are there for me in my need,

Offering friendship, and support, and understanding.

May I, in some small way,

Be there for those who also have needs not unlike my own.

May we be gifts to one another.

I am where I am.

Lead me to where You would have me be.

I am where I am.

If I am weak, I pray to be made strong.

I am where I am.

If I am lost, I pray for guiding hands.

I am where I am.

If I am in despair, I pray for new hope.

May the God of Peace grant me His Peace,

Whatever I do and Wherever I go,

Today and every day.


I pray that we may be the gifts, freely shared, to those whom God has placed in our lives.

Be kind, make good memories, and come back soon.


Hello? God?

Robert Wheadon-126x150


In March 2011, the coast of Japan was struck by a horricfic earthquake and  subsequent tsunami.  Most of us will remember the media coverage of the of nuclear reactors in danger of emitting radioactive material, and of thousands of Japanese killed in the combination of quaking earth and devastating waves.  Almost 16,000 people are reported dead, with another 2,500 still missing.  Whole families were wiped out, with many other families touched by the devastation with the loss of a father, mother, brother, sister or other family member.

Japaness culture honors the memory of their dead.  With such a sudden loss of life, many Japanese were left grasping for ways to say goodbye to their loved ones.

Shortly prior to the earthquake and tsunami, a Japanese gardner named Itaru Sasaki, was grieving the loss of his cousin.  In order to maintain a connection with his departed cousin, Itaru set up an old-style telephone booth in his garden.  The booth  has an aging rotary telephone inside, disconnected, sitting on a wooden shelf.

At times, Itaru would go outside, enter the telephone booth and dial his cousin’s telephone number and just talk.  He didn’t care that no one was on the other end of the telephone.  Using the telephone booth allowed Itaru to express his feelings, his grief and his sense of loss.

Itaru Sasaki lives in the town of Otsuchi, which lies on the northeast coast of Japan.  The earthquake and tsunami destroyed the town and the majority of its inhabitants.  Soon after the earthquake and tsunami, people began to come to Itaru Sasaki’s garden, first from the survivors of Otsuchi, and then from all over Japan.

Grandmothers bring their grandchildren to call departed grandfathers.  The grandchildren speak into the telephone and tell the silence on the other end how they are doing in school.  Brothers enter the booth and break down, trying to express their grief and loss of fathers, mothers and sisters.  Wives enter the booth to talk to husbands who were swept away in the 30-foot waves.

Otsuchi Phone Booth

Even though these conversations are decidely one-sided, thousands of Japanese have come to Otsuchi, to what is now called, “The Wind Telephone.”

I think that we all have such longings and yearnings to connect with family, or friends, or shadows of our past that nag at our memory like evening shades.  This desire also surfaces when we yearn to connect with heaven.  We all have those times.  When things out of our control come crashing into our  worlds, these circumstances can drive us to our knees and plead to God for help, strength and peace.  King David, in the book of Psalms 54:2 echoes those times:  “Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.”

In Psalms 39:12, David prayed, “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.”

Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, practiced the act of prayer.  In Luke 6:12, we are told, “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”  Jesus prayed all through the night, it seems in a search for inspiration, for the next day is when he called his twelve apostles to follow him in his ministry.

Of course, we only will seek the help of heaven if we believe it is a source of relief and safety.  Just as we might confide our fears or difficulties with a trusted friend, do we look heavenward for help?  Only if we believe that help and solace are found there.

In Luke 9:18, the Savior asks the apostles, “And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?”

Even if we only harbor the smallest, most minute portion of hope, we can always send up a cry for help, for inspiration and for peace.  I promise you that if you are still, and listen with your heart, that heaven will come, like rain on a cool Autumn evening, to quench the fire of your despair and provide you with soul-lifting strength to go on.

Remember, be kind, make good memories and come back soon. 🙂



A Life Worth Living
September 15, 2017, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, LDS, Mormon, religion, Uncategorized

Robert Wheadon-126x150

I’m a stubborn learner.  Usually, it takes a few times of me banging my head against a problem before some light seeps into my brain.  For example, it took me a long time to figure happiness out.  For years I used to search for happiness in school, or books, or McDonald’s Happy Meal toys.  Fortunately, I have finally figured out while I still enjoy learning and reading and the occasional double cheeseburger, my peace, my contentment, my happiness, are not anchored in those things.  I think we all follow the path of happiness = things at various times in our lives.  On a daily basis, we are saturated with media-driven promises of pure joy if we would only buy these shoes, or this car or that tweedle-thwacker, (whatever that is.)  What really happens though is we end up wanting more stuff,  and because Amazon only delivers once a day, the sparkle quickly wears off, and we are left winterized in our discontent.

Another common happiness trap is when we tie our happiness to people.  This is where we place the responsibility for contentment on the shoulders of someone else.  Usually, we place it on a spouse or significant other.  Sometimes it is a friend or even a pet.  Invariably, however, friends, spouses, and even my dog, Keela, disappoint and hurt us.  It’s not that people usually try to disappoint.  It’s just that they are busy and have their own lives to figure out.  They can’t be responsible for our happiness on a 24/7 basis.  How exhausting would that be?

I’m learning that peace, contentment, and well-being lay in two places.  The first place exists between my ears.  I know most of you think that area is vacant and ready for renters, but I can assure that my cranial area is busy and buzzing.  With what?  With my deciding to be responsible for my own happiness.  My contentment is my responsibility.  I choose.  Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness;  only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate;  only love can do that.”  The point is that if I am unhappy with my lot, I cannot drive it away with things that do not bring lasting peace.  But I can improve my lot by bringing light and love into my world perspective.  It is within my power to seize the day, (carpe diem,) or not, (carpe diem malum.)

The other source of happiness I think can be described by everyone’s favorite Biblical general, Joshua.  In the Old Testament, in the 24th chapter of Joshua, we find our glorious leader calling all the tribes of Israel together.  He then relates to them the story of the nation Israel.  He goes over Abraham leaving his father’s house, along with his father’s pagan gods and going to Canaan.  He then moves on to Israel’s time in Egypt and how God rescued Israel from slavery.  He then relates Israel’s successful crossing of the river Jordan, and God being the guiding force behind Israel’s victories in Canaan.  Joshua is reminding Israel of this history, in part, because there are lots of options on whom they can worship.  Israel was still very familiar with the Egyptian gods, having been exposed to the Egyptian pantheon for several centuries.  The people living in Canaan also had their deities, which were available for worship.  Israel had lots of options on where to go for spiritual contentment.  Joshua reminds Israel in verse 15:  “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” In practical terms, we know serving the Lord translates into serving each other with love and honesty.

So, let’s find our focus and our God.  Being happy in life is our choice.  It is not dependent on circumstances.  Happiness depends on you.

Remember: Be kind, make good memories and come back soon.

August 18, 2017, 2:07 am
Filed under: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, faith, LDS, Mormon, religion, trials

Robert Wheadon-126x150

Hi-na-nee, (הנה אני) is a transliteration of a Hebrew word.  It translates into the English phrase, “here I am.”  The phrase only occurs four times in the Bible, all of them in the Old Testament.  In Isaiah, the Lord assures Isaiah that He is present.  Two other occurrences are in 1 Samuel with King Saul.  The citation I would like to discuss today is found in Genesis 22:1.  It says:

“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt (try) Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.”

This is the story of Abraham being commanded to offer Isaac on Mount Moriah.  I don’t want to go into that story today, but I want to talk about Abraham’s presence of mind, even before he was informed of the trial before him.  Before Abraham knows what God wants, he says, “Here I am.  I’m ready.  Put me in the game, coach.”  It’s an attitude I don’t think many people possess.  I know I don’t.  The reason is that God could introduce anything!  When God calls, it usually doesn’t mean we are soon to be the happy recipients of $10 million dollars or win a year’s supply of Dr. Pepper.  I have found that when God calls it is usually to help me grow as a person.  And I’m rather stubborn when it comes to personal growth.  I like the way I am.  I make a mean batch of spaghetti, can throw a decent Frisbee and belt out a passable rendition of Love, Love Me Do by the Beatles.  How much better can I get?

If you ask God, apparently quite a bit.  And it’s the same with all of us.  Remember that one of the main reasons we are here in mortality is to better ourselves, to polish our souls, to buff the imperfections out and return to heaven.  Yet only if we so choose to let the Lord work in us that way, because He will never violate our ability to choose.  And yet, He even opens the way to turn towards Him when we choose poorly.

How do we get all shiny and ready to return to our heavenly home?  Usually by the things that we suffer in mortality.  Trials usually come in three forms: 1) Self-inflicted.  These are sufferings that result from our own dumb decisions.  There are consequences to our mistakes.  Yet I know from vast experience that every consequence from my mistakes has made me better and wiser and stronger.  2.) Out of the blue.  These are trials that come under the heading of health crises, lightning strikes and just plain accidents.  3.) Sufferings caused by the decisions/actions of others.  These are also trials that are not due to our decisions, but are due to the decisions of others.

While these definitions are pretty solid, they are also irrelevant.  The source of our sufferings is more a talking point for us than for God.  Our Heavenly Father is much more interested in our attitude and actions when trials occur.  To develop ourselves and our souls to be like Abraham requires godly faith and trust.

In Hebrews 2:13, we read: “And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.”

The English theologian, C.S. Lewis wrote: “There would be no sense in saying you trusted Jesus if you would not take His advice.”

The point here is that no matter what happens in our lives, whether our health fails, or a loved one betrays us, or our car stalls in rush hour traffic, how we react to our trials is a key to continue our path of becoming like and understanding our Heavenly Father.  The apostle Peter got it right when he wrote: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:7

I’m going to remember what Abraham said when God called him.  He said “Here I am.”  I’m not going to remember what Abraham didn’t say.  Abraham didn’t say, “What now?!” or “I’m busy!”  Abraham simply said, “hi-na-nee, Here I am.”

Be kind, make good memories and come back soon.



Robert Wheadon-126x150

I’ve been reading the last few weeks on the topic of grace.  It’s a topic over-discussed, or it’s a topic where only fools dare to tread.  It’s no surprise, then, why I’m jumping right in.

The time-worn debate centers around whether faith or works grants us access to God’s grace.  Let me settle that debate right away and declare the correct answer is “Yes.” All better now?  Me, neither.  Let’s explore a little more and define some things.  I am defining grace as God’s ultimate gift to us, His children.  This gift comes in two parts.  One part is the gift of resurrection.  It is a gift given to all humanity.  All of Heavenly Father’s children will be resurrected through His Son, Jesus Christ.  The second part of the gift is exaltation.  Exaltation is the gift of living the life God lives.  It is being saved in God’s kingdom where He reigns.  Both parts of grace are granted to all of us through Jesus Christ’s atonement.  I sometimes get the impression that in our current world, Jesus Christ has become merely a spiritual friend, a cosmic counselor, or someone we mention in prayer because we were taught to.  Yet Jesus Christ is so much more than that.  He is the Only Begotten of our Father.  He voluntarily provided the way and means for us to return to God.  He has done everything for us.  He has provided the only path for us to overcome mortality and not be chained forever to the grave through the resurrection.  He has also paid the penalty we incur when we sin and distance ourselves from heaven.  In Ephesians 2: 5, 7-8, Paul wrote:

“5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

Because of verses like this, some systems of theology have understood half of what is involved with grace.  And the half is true.  Grace is free, granted by a loving Father through His Son.  But what about works?  Aren’t we supposed to keep the commandments and earn our way into heaven?  That sounds good, except it’s impossible.  It takes a simple, honest question to see how incompatible that idea is with truth.  Can we atone for ourselves?  Can we pay the price justice demands when God’s command is broken?  Can we call down mercy from heaven for ourselves?  If we were totally honest, we would know that is not in our skill set.  The grace offered by Jesus Christ is essential.  What about repentance, though?  Isn’t that how I earn heavenly gold stars and walk back into heaven?  Don’t worry.  That’s coming up.  Now it’s time to address the works part of this theology.  Just to make sure the confusion on this issue is clear, let’s look at what Paul and James write about grace, faith and works.

In Galatians 2:16, Paul writes:

“16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

In James 2:14, 17-18, 20-22, 24 we read:

“14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.


Feel free to comment, ask questions, or tell me I’m completely off base.

Be kind, make good memories, and come back soon.

Law of Consecration – Book Review
June 14, 2017, 11:52 pm
Filed under: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, LDS, Mormon, religion

Robert Wheadon-126x150

The Mormon Theology Seminar has published another volume of scholarly papers. This volume, edited by Jeremiah John and Joseph M. Spencer, is entitled, “Embracing the Law – Reading Doctrine and Covenants 42.”  In Mormon theology, the Doctrine and Covenants is a volume of canonized scripture primarily containing revelations received by the prophet, Joseph Smith.  Each revelation is numerically designated as a “section.”

Section 42 is generally defined as the revelation where the Lord instructs the Prophet Joseph in the manner the poor of the church are to be cared for.  The revelation was called, “The Law,” by early church members, a contraction of the Law of Consecration.

Consecration, or the act of setting something or someone apart as holy, is the focal point of this revelation.  In a very general overview, the Lord’s plan was to have the early members of the church act as stewards over the properties they owned.  The stewards would retain what they needed for their needs and consecrate the extra to the church.  The church would then have the means to sustain the poor and needy.

The papers submitted by various LDS scholars on the topic of Doctrine and Covenants Section 42 cover various perspectives and interpretations of this revelation.  This collection offers a rich source for thought and additional questions of this 1831 revelation.  Let’s begin.

The first article is by LDS law professor, Nathan B. Oman.  Entitled, “‘I Will Give unto You My Law”: Section 42 as a Legal Text and the Paradoxes of Divine Law,” this article addresses the dichotomy of secular versus ecclesiastical law.  The question is a basic one in organized society and has been in scholarly circles since the 1600’s.  It is a question that continues to impact people on a global scale, with varying interpretations.  For example, in the United States, the UK and Europe, the division of secular law and theological law has been well established.  The division is not so established in Muslim countries where the Koran can form the basis of law.

For followers of any faith, the question arises as to what is more circumspect: to obey the law of your faith or to obey the law of the land.

Professor Oman presents the case that Section 42 is a document that contains both divine law, as well as a legal text.  The issue at hand is how the revelation instructs Joseph Smith to care for the poor of the church and to do so in a way that is legally in accordance with secular law.

As I mentioned above, the Law of Consecration involved caring for the poor by donating the excess of goods produced to the church for distribution among the poor.  One of the requirements set out in the revelation is that members would deed their property to the church, while still maintaining control of the property.  The question arose as to what happened to legal ownership of the property if the property’s historical owner decided to leave the church or was excommunicated from the church.  Did the departing member get the deed to his property back?  Section 42 declares that the property is retained by the church for the care of the poor.  It is no surprise that when Joseph Smith implemented the Law of Consecration, lawsuits arose from this very issue.

Professor Oman arrives at the conclusion that divine law is not a very comfortable bedfellow with secular law.  The two legal sources are not very compatible, mainly due to humanity’s lack of willingness to part with their worldly goods for the improvement of all.

Next is a paper by Jeremiah John entitled, “That My Covenant People May Be Gathered in One.”  Professor John is an associate professor of politics at Southern Virginia University.  The focus of Professor John’s paper is divine law and the reason for its success or failure in implementation among humanity.  His point is that divine law succeeds or fails solely on humanity’s obedience or apostasy of the law.  Law in theology gets defined as commandments and we then choose our level of compliance or disobedience.  The law itself is divine.  That divinity become effective only to the extent in which obedience is applied.  If the commandment or law is misinterpreted, disobeyed or ignored, then the blessings and celestial promises tied to that law cannot be bestowed.

There are several additional papers that explore some rather interesting topics such as teaching by the spirit, section 42 as a social justice document and the concepts of sacrifice versus consecration.  Joseph M. Spencer’s paper rounds out the volume with an outstanding article on textual variation in Section 42 and the Doctrine and Covenants in general.

All of the papers in this volume are thought-provoking and worth consideration.  Each article is unique in its perspective and well-researched.  I found it setting the bar for Mormon studies and Mormon theological examination at a lofty level.  It is a volume well done.

Humanity and Evil

Robert Wheadon-126x150

One of the questions that has bothered, bedeviled and out-right bugged theologians for the ages is the question of good and evil.  Specifically, the set-up is like this: “If God is the Creator, did He create evil?  If God is good, how could he allow evil to exist?  If he allows evil to exist, how can He be good?”  There are a host of assumptions going on there.  Yet point I really want to focus on today is the source of evil.  Do evil acts emanate from within us as mortals or are they forced upon us by exterior forces?

Sound familiar?  It should.  Christianity has been wrestling with these ideas for over 1000 years.  Early Christian writers, like St. Augustine, wrote voluminously on these topics.

Let’s begin with God and Creation.  In Genesis, 1:1, we read of God, or Elohim, creating the heavens and the earth.  In Hebrew, bara is the word translated as create.  The word also can be translated as to form, shape or mold.  Many Christians have been taught the tradition that divine creation means creatio ex nihilo, or creation from nothing.  While that sounds mysterious and ethereal, that description of creation has never made much sense to me.  And there is no scriptural evidence for it.  And natural law doesn’t work that way.   I have always thought that God, whether He created the laws of nature or follows the laws of nature, formed the Earth from existent material, more of an in ordine creaturae, creation through organization, than a creation out of nothing.  The approach of God shaping and molding physical matter into worlds, stars and moons makes more sense to my soul.

Flowing from the idea that God operates within existing natural laws and existing material, could the question of the creation of evil be the wrong question?  What I mean is that instead of taking the assumptive stance that God created evil, what if we took the idea that evil has always existed and is made manifest through the choices we make.  Like Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 11:8, we read, “Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart…”

I am not saying that humanity is inherently evil.  I don’t think that is what Jeremiah is saying either.  I think we have the divine ability to choose back and forth, one or the other.   Jeremiah is talking about the people of Judah at a time when they thought more of themselves than they did of God.  Jeremiah does validate the idea that people could decide and walk the path they wanted.


So that takes us to the next part of our discussion.  Does evil exist as an independent force?  Or is it a construct of universal values and the conformity or non-conformity that determines good and evil?  A universal value would be humanity’s abhorrence of taking human life.  Or stealing.  Or lying. Or… well, you get my drift.  As mortals on this earth, whatever our culture, society or belief, these values appear to be rather universal.  When we deviate from these values, we cross the line from good to bad, light to dark, divine to evil.  Can we be influenced one way or the other?  In other words, can Satan and his minions make us be evil?  I don’t believe we can be forced to do anything.  However, I do believe if a choice is placed before us, there are powers of light and powers of darkness urging us to follow their disparate and opposite paths.  It’s our choice.  It’s always our choice.


So, be kind, make good memories and come back soon.