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.

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.

Keep the Change

Robert Wheadon-126x150

“…had been so terrible that none of them ever spoke of it now, but the bitter steel had sheared into their hearts, leaving scars that would not heal,” (Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel.)

I am a big fan of Thomas Wolfe’s novels.  His kneading and molding of the English language is a joy to read.  He paints rural America in the late 19th to early 20th centuries with a full palette of adjectival colors and images.  Some readers find Wolfe’s characters too morose or depressing due to their impoverished conditions.  I find them true to their time and condition, desperately trying to claw their way out of poverty or totally crushed by their conditions.

Much of his fiction portrays characters shackled in poverty, but possessing dazzling personalities of erudition and emotion.  In his novel, “Look Homeward, Angel,” we are introduced to the family clan father, Oliver Gant, who lives his life in the small, rural town of Altamont.  He pursues his trade of being the town’s sculptor of headstones, but without ambition.  His wife, Eliza, possesses a more ambitious acumen.  According to Eliza, Oliver’s business is not successful because people don’t die quick enough.  It’s not a volume business.  In Eliza’s pursuit of wealth, possession of property  and more property is the path to a comfortable, genteel and respectable life.

Oliver is a tortured soul.  He regularly rails and revolts against what he perceives to be the inequities of life.  Getting blindingly drunk, he raves at the cosmos, his wife, and a seemingly deaf, uncommunicative God.  Frustrated in his world of Fate’s chains that bar him from greatness, Gant devolves into the town drunk.  His whiskey-fueled temper is held in fear by his wife and pity by the townsfolk, who support him home when he passes into unconsciousness in the street.

Oliver’s life, in Oliver’s view, is a long series of offenses against him, like a poor hand of cards that is continuously, eternally dealt him.  It’s a game he cannot deal himself out of.  He has been scarred by his life and unable to forgive Fate.  For the reader, Fate in this situation is really consequence.  Oliver’s manner of living has produced many of his woes.  Blaming Fate is much easier, though, and requires much less soul-searching.  To quote a staff journalist in a recent issue of the National Review, “Character is Fate.”

However, character is not something formed in concrete, unchangeable and solid.  We often think of character as being just that:  it’s who I am.  The truth, though, is quite the opposite.  Our traits are malleable, changeable and improvable.  And God, with great purpose and mercy, made it that way.  The change process is called repentance and is one of the most profound gifts we have from Jesus Christ through His atonement.

For those whose hearts search for, reach for, and are “pointing our souls to him,” (Jacob 4:5), repentance is what God has given us to achieve “a change of heart,” (Helaman 15:7).

We focus so much on what we are not, we many times fail to understand what we are becoming.  As followers of Christ, the path is strait and narrow.  It is also long.  In our frenetic daily efforts, we concentrate on immediate results, where God is taking the long view of eternity with us.  He not only sees us as we are, but also as we are becoming.  That is why I consistently ask myself, “Which direction am I facing today?”  Am I making a thoughtful effort to turn towards God today?  If not, why not?

Our process of becoming like Christ is not merely the cessation of sin, but the conversion of the heart.  It is not merely the eradication of the world’s influences, but the replacement of those influences with the bits of heaven we encounter along the path that assist our souls in becoming purer, our intentions more holy and our actions more charitable.

Repentance, motivated by faith in Christ, is the process given us to not merely return to heaven, but it is the process to change us so we are comfortable when we get there.


Repentance is not easy.  It’s not supposed to be.  Changing our character is a process that can take us to the depths, yet with the promise of raising us to the heights of our soul’s potential.  Don’t be discouraged with daily stumbles.  Like a toddler learning to walk, our daily stumbles and continued efforts will eventually enable us to walk clearly in God’s path.

Garrison Keillor, the American radio story-teller and folklorist, closes his broadcasts with a simple benediction.  When I hear it, I can hear God giving us the same counsel.  He says:  “Be well.  Do good work.  Stay in touch.”  Let’s do that.



Faith is What?

Robert Wheadon-126x150


Let’s talk about something that can’t be seen, but can be shown in our actions.  And I’m not talking about rocketship underpants.  Recently I’ve been pondering the meaning of faith as a point of personal motivation and core of religious belief.  Faith is one of those terms that is bandied about with immense frequency, but rarely with clear application.  I believe this is due to the many ways we put the term, “faith” to use.

Faith can be a church, (the noun) with which we affiliate, or an inner belief, (the verb), which can drive many of our actions. Both usages interplay with each other.  For example, my inner beliefs can motivate my actions within my religious community.  My beliefs drive actions, which in turn allows my actions to manifest my beliefs.  How’s that for circumlocution!

Biblically, we are taught that “faith is the substance (assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 1:11.)

While I agree with that general definition, faith becomes much clearer for me when focused on Jesus Christ.  To merely say I have faith is too ephemeral, empty and even vacuous. To tie my faith to the person of Jesus Christ is a proposition with much more substance and meaning.

In fact, it is everything.  Faith in Jesus Christ is what heals the wounds of our hearts.  Faith in Jesus Christ leads us to turn from error and turn towards Him.  Faith in Jesus Christ allows divine grace to save us.

Faith in Jesus Christ also requires some effort.  The apostle Paul recorded in Romans 10:13-14:                                                                                                                                                                 “13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.                                     14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard…?”

Joseph Smith, in the Lectures on Faith, wrote:

“2 Let us here observe, that three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.

3 First, The idea that he actually exists.

4 Secondly, A correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.

5 Thirdly, An actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will.—For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding, it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Lectures on Faith, #3.)

The language here is of relationship.  It is learning who Jesus Christ is and what He does and how His actions impact each of us.  If we don’t know anything of Jesus, how can we possibly place our faith in His grace and goodness?

And faith requires us to make an effort.  In Matthew 11:28-30, the Savior taught:

“28 ¶Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Notice the very first words?  We are required to come to Him. We must make the effort to learn of Jesus and re-direction ourselves towards Him.  In verse 29, the invitation to action continues.  “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me…”

In the book, “The Crucible of Doubt,” Teryl and Fiona Givens discuss how many desire the path of faith to be walked for them.  The Givens write: “Christ invites us to assume the yoke, but we would rather ride in the cart,” The Crucible of Doubt, pg 62.)  Faith is not acquired or strengthened through a Laz-e-boy lounger approach.

It is often said that faith is a word of action.  Faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, has the same requirement.  And the wonderful thing with developing faith in the Savior is that it doesn’t matter if we feel a strong confidence with God, possess an abstract association with deity, or merely think we might want to see what this faith thing is all about.  The Book of Mormon prophet, Alma, encourages all to make the effort.  He said:

“27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words,” (Alma 32:27.)

Lastly, where should this effort be directed?  A couple of thoughts include:

  1. Read about Jesus, take in his teachings and thoughts.  In other words, read the scriptures. Read the Four Gospels, read 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon, read Doctrine & Covenants, sections 19, 76, 88, or 138.  The apostle John wrote:

“39 ¶Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me,” (John 5:39.)

2. Devote some quality time to prayer and thought.  Matthew wrote:

“22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive,” (Matthew 21:22.)

Try it!  Our efforts are done with the goal of turning our hearts towards God, of learning about His son, and then making the effort to try and live our lives as Jesus did.

Sound fun?  It is.


Pay Attention
February 9, 2017, 12:14 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Robert Wheadon-126x150

“It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to,” (C.S. Lewis, “Made For Heaven,” pg 15.)


In my last post I wrote about intentions, of shining versus crowing as we live our mortal lives.  I continue to find scriptural evidence that what our Heavenly Father really desires is our hearts, intents and desires to align with His.  In this life He gives us every opportunity, over and over again, to stretch our souls towards Him.

This heavenly parental endeavor is never peremptory, never coerced, and never forced upon us.  In a very individual way, God presents choices, decisions, and most of all, people in our paths.

He does this to help us turn, like a sunflower to the sun, to Him.

If you’ll notice, I’m not emphasizing actions here.  I’m not degrading righteous acts, either, but prioritizing them.  Look at Matthew 7:12-13:

“21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’

23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'”

This is the NRSV version, which is a little easier to read.

Jesus teaches his disciples that before the good works, before the righteous deeds, before we start tallying our noble acts, knowing what God would have us do seems to be a higher priority.

And there is the question.  How do we discover what God would have us do?  We do have the Ten Commandments as a foundation.  Yet, focusing on the foundation, while important, doesn’t seem to be enough.  The Savior seems to be teaching there is more we can do beyond blind, rote obedience.  We also have the scriptures, and spiritual leaders.

The best means we have is prayer.  Real prayer.  The kind of prayer where we achingly ask and attune our spirits to listen.  I like the image Robert Frost presents.

A TIME TO TALK – Robert Frost

When a friend calls to me from the road                                                                                              And slows his horse to a meaning walk,                                                                                                    I don’t stand still and look around                                                                                                              On all the hills I haven’t hoed,                                                                                                                      And shout from where I am, ‘What is it?’                                                                                                  No, not as there is a time to talk.                                                                                                                 I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,                                                                                                        Blade-end up and five-feet tall,                                                                                                                   And plod:  I go up to the stone wall                                                                                                              For a friendly visit.

Most of the time we shout out our prayers in a great rush of thanking and asking, petitioning and pleading, without ever taking the time for the most vital portion of prayerful communion: listening.  I bet there are so many things our Heavenly Father would like to tell us.  With our hurried, “Amens,” I fear we slam the door and break off the conversation.  And we miss learning what God’s will is for us.  For each of us individually.

Remember the counsel the Savior gave after his parables?  Sprinkled throughout Matthew, Mark and Luke come the words, “And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear,” (Mark 4:9).  Parables were used by the Savior, so those hearers who spiritually listened, would learn the will of Heavenly Father.

In the movie, Sister Act 2, there is a song called, “Pay Attention.”  It begins:

“If you wanna be somebody,                                                                                                                             If you wanna go somewhere,                                                                                                                        You better wake up and pay attention.”

Can I get an Amen with that?  Let’s listen more and pay attention.