When we were children, my parents kept us on a very strict diet of classical music. That was the only music that we listened to as a family. Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Bach, Puccini, as well as movie soundtracks from John Williams and other movie soundtrack composers. As I got older, and drove in my friends’ cars, I was introduced to a whole new world of sound. Whitney Houston’s, The Greatest Love and I Wanna Dance with Somebody. REO Speedwagon, and Chicago, and Howard Jones, and Phil Collins, and a myriad of songs that pumped me up and made me want to MOVE! I began a secret rebellion of listening to the “other music” whenever I could.
My parents, on finding out, weren’t upset. I suppose they knew that the time would come when we would listen to other types of music, and wisely, they didn’t make it an issue. They simply introduced the principle of equal time. They asked that we would still listen to classical music in equal amounts to other music. I agreed and began catching up on all the music I had missed, and in truth, I wasn’t very good with equal time, leaning heavily on the radio as any teenager would do. But, when I needed peace. When I studied for school. When things got too loud and overwhelming, I would come back home to the music of my childhood. As a parent, I visit classical music and religious music a lot. There is peace there that can’t be found in modern music. My parents were very wise.
So, my brother and I were discussing this principle last week. He began to talk to me about a time when he felt a pull toward atheism, and if not that extreme, certainly inactivity. The thing that pulled him back was the principle of equal time. He realized that he should be spending at least the same amount of time in the scriptures as he had been spending on literature that was anti-religious.
I love this quote about the power of learning about the gospel.
“No one knows anything about Christ’s work simply by being born a member of the Church, and often he knows little about it after years of unmotivated exposure in meetings or classes. He must learn. And learning involves self-investment and effort. The gospel should be studied ‘as carefully as any science.’ The ‘literature of the Church’ must be ‘acquired and read.’ Our learning should be increased in our spare time ‘day by day.’ Then as we put the gospel truth to work in daily life, we will never find it wanting. We will be literate in the most important field of knowledge in the universe, knowledge for lack of which men and nations perish, in the light of which men and nations may be saved”
—Elder Marion D. Hanks, First Council of the Seventy, “Theological Illiterates”, Improvement Era (September 1969): 42
There is something about the words of the scriptures that have a power beyond anything else. They calm, comfort, influence, steady, guide, fill with power, strength, and courage. I love that when you “treasure up the words of life” the Holy Ghost will “bring … [them] to your remembrance” in the moment that you need it.
Note that I am not talking about someone’s interpretation of scripture. Or someone taking a scripture or quote out of context. Or adding an interpretation that doesn’t hold up, or is based on mis-information or spurious quotes. Remember that you can choose to drink the cool water from the source, or you can drink it down stream after all of the cows, and muck and garbage have had a chance to roll around in it.
Learning and living the principle of equal time with gospel study – making sure that you spend at least as much time in the Scriptures themselves as anything else will bring a power into your life that will be refreshing and life-giving in the moments when you need to return home.
To read this poem in an easier script, click here.
The post that I wrote with this poem was just a wonderful, creative outlet for me – the ability to put words and do it in an artistic way was so much fun. But, while I love the script that I used, I realize that it was very difficult to read. For that reason, I am re-transcribing the poem here in plain text. To see the poem in original form, click here.
Wage War and Beat Drums
Wage war and beat crescendoing drums,
But are you sure when battle comes
That enemy is friend or foe?
Push back the veil from long ago!
A memory in cobwebs kept,
recalls battle where heavens wept,
And the dragon in bitter gall
lost his soul, in the shameful fall.
On the earth, battle rages fresh -
But, war not against blood and flesh!
For every brother is your friend,
unless to enemy he bend.
Power of darkness, spirit being’s -
influence is everywhere seen.
Like spilt ink, the dark creeps.
Through word, image, song it seeps.
Infected by the evil pox,
it permeates, ‘till every thought -
is by master easily led.
Poor hungry souls feed on sick bread.
They lick plate clean and call for more,
insatiable thirst in their core.
Dark master laughs with chain in hand,
and in nightmares, he sears his brand.
Zombie legions follow him fast,
ignore the warning signs they pass.
They fiercely beat and wage the war,
and don’t know who they’re fighting for.
But, just as dark invades the soul,
Light can also be in control.
Like nanotech, imbue with strength -
Deposit gold in body’s bank.
Spiritual infusion takes place,
as every atom fills with Grace.
Transforming flesh into forged light,
and mortal thought is given might.
For this Master’s a different kind,
your total control, you will not find.
He wants you to draw strength and pow’r
From richest Bread in every hour.
Mental weapons of shield and sword,
to fight against the angry horde.
No terror here, no anguished dreams –
But nourishment from Life’s lush streams.
Come, leave the shadows, live in light -
though – it won’t be an easy fight.
To be a soldier, not a drone,
you must act, with courage unknown.
But they that be with us be more,
Unseen legions wait at the door.
Dark’s death and decay have a cure –
turn on the Light, if you’re unsure.
August 25, 2013
So, here’s the challenge. I referenced at least three scriptures in the poem. Can you find them and give references?
Also, just a note – I referenced Nanotechnology. Do you know what it is without looking at the next sentence?
It’s the manipulation of matter on the atomic and molecular level, a science that has been increasing in scope lately, and an area that I find completely fascinating!
So, is mortal life an inoculation? In which we are subjected to evil (temptation, weakness, etc.) so that we can gain the ability to be inoculated from evil through the eternities.
That doesn’t mean that we seek out evil to experience it (remember the injection of the disease is a weakened strain – otherwise, we would be overcome by the illness and quite possibly die.) I simply mean that here, there are experiences, choices, etc. that we could never learn in all of our eternal existence, except by coming here.
Also, the antibodies that will fight and overcome the disease can only be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ and through His magnificent Atonement.
“I don’t know, I can imagine quite a bit!” was the line that Han Solo said in Star Wars when Luke was trying to get him to help save Princess Leia on the Death Star. Luke Skywalker said, something to the effect of, if you help save this princess, “the reward would be … well, more wealth than you can imagine.”
We are told to dream big, to imagine, to reach for the stars, to wish upon a star. All of these ideas are remarkable, and help a person begin to do the work. The problem is that most of these motivational slogans don’t come with the tagline – ”Dream big: and follow that dream with more work than you can even imagine, and once there, it may not be the dream that you were hoping for.” That is one of the paradoxes of life.
I once asked some friends, why did they think that God make this world to be such that we must continue in mundane, never-ending tasks? For an example, you can work all day in cleaning or yard work, and it is totally satisfying to do the work. But then, within what seems like a blink of an eye, everything that you have worked at is destroyed and you have to do it over again. One friend gave an amazing answer – she said, “well, God had to give us something to keep us busy while we’re down here.”
Gordon B. Hinkley once said,
Anyone who imagines that bliss [in marriage] is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. [The fact is] most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. … Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride” (“Big Rock Candy Mountains,” Deseret News, 12 June 1973, A4).
Because I am a major idealist, the first time that I read that quote I wanted to cry. I think that in my Han Solo moments, I have imagined that all things would be perfect. Then, I find that President Hinckley was right. It’s enough to make the idealist in me give up … if only I didn’t have so many ideas and dreams floating around!
But I’ve noticed something in my twenty something years as an adult … I’m getting better at the process of dream + work + problems = more work = dreams fulfilled, but not what I expected.
Working through the disappointment, toward the dream has made me better able to deal – both with the disappointment, and with the problems that tend to crop up along the way. Something (say a glitch or mistake) that would have destroyed me a few years ago, seems to not have the same power over me that it did then. I seem to be able to rub the smoke and dust out of my eyes or shrug off the delays and sidetracks better than I did when I was younger.
My daughter (age 8) is an idealist as well. If she can’t have it her way, exactly as she wants it, she shuts down. I keep telling her that things are not going to be perfect (in a watered-down President Hinckley-type speech). I remind her that the only thing that she can do is choose how she is going to deal with the reality of her situation. For example, I went out with her on a girl’s night on Friday (and we left my younger daughter on a Daddy-daughter date). The next morning, we went to my nephew’s baptism. Her sister got sick right before we left, and so her Dad opted to stay home with the younger and let us go to the event.
So, for two events in a row, I went with the older daughter and left the younger and Dad. That afternoon, there was a neighborhood block party at a local Christian church that we had wanted to attend. Obviously, little sister (sick with the flu) couldn’t go, but since I had left her for two other events, she desperately needed some mommy love and comfort.
Older daughter was incensed! Why couldn’t I take her to the party? (After all there would be games and treats and fun). I said that she could go with Dad (who really didn’t want to go, but would have, if pressed). She was furious. She wanted to go with Mom!!!! But circumstances would not warrant her desires, not matter how much she pushed.
Her choices were then -
- Continue to be miserable and make everyone else annoyed.
- Accept the circumstances, though disappointing, and try to make the best of it at home with family.
- Go with Dad, be miserable and make him annoyed.
- Go with Dad and try to make the best of it.
In essence, it could not be what she wanted, but there were plenty of other options available to her.
I say this, not to disparage my daughter, but to discuss our own moments when we are not gaining our imaginings from God. How often do we rant and rave, or worse – give up, when we don’t have desired results? Perhaps, it would be His good will to grant us our requests – but not right now. Perhaps there is another sibling on this earth who is desperately in need of the blessings that we are asking for and it is their turn to go first.
Meekness then, is the only attribute that will help when the imagination’s desires are not met. Meekness to go to the Lord and ask why. Meekness to still move forward when the “why” is not readily given. Meekness to accept others. Meekness to accept counsel. Meekness to follow promptings.
Consider this quote by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:
Perhaps, brothers and sisters, what we brought with us as intelligences into our creation as spirit children constitutes a “given” within which even God must work. Add to that possibility the clear reality of God’s deep commitment to our free agency—and we begin to see how essential meekness is! We need to learn so much, and yet we are free to choose (see 2 Nephi 2:27)! How crucial it is to be teachable! There “is no other way” in which God could do what He has declared it is His intent to do. No wonder He and His prophets emphasize meekness time and time again!
Since God desired to have us become like Himself, He first had to make us free, to learn, to choose, and to experience; hence our humility and teachability are premiere determinants of our progress and our happiness. Agency is essential to perfectibility, and meekness is essential to the wise use of agency—and to our recovery when we have misused our agency. (Meekly Drenched in Destiny, BYU Address, September 5, 1982, for the full address, go here.)
Dream + Work + Meekness in Trial = more like the Lord … whose life here on earth surely was not of Princely Palace or Worldly Wealth. It simply wasn’t Han Solo material. But then, our prize in not for this life, is it? Hopefully, when we end this life we can say, as Paul did:
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
But for now, I’ll try to keep dreaming, and working … and maybe some of the experiences, work, and trials will allow me to see beautiful vistas and feel thrilling bursts of speed during the journey!
Re-think! O’ Activists
O modern Activist,
Who screams and yells for choice.
Ignores the screams of those –
Innocent without voice.
Through Molech’s fires they pass,
Sacrifice built on lies.
You beat drums so conscience –
will never hear babe’s cries.
Pause a moment to care –
Scared girls take your advice!
Think on tormented souls,
pierced with Eternal knife.
Seems the only way, but
as soul from womb is torn,
it becomes spiritual
debt – grievous to be born!
They speak of the deed in
whispers – always with tears.
And though the time has passed,
Their sorrow’s ever near.
Re-think the pattern! Blooms
grow when you cultivate.
A whole generation’s changed,
when you educate!
Lives can be blessed with Grace,
a Balm to soothe and save.
Or, in Mary’s barren
arms, place unwanted babe.
But if Grace seems too far,
Or if she cannot give,
Then fill her with courage
So mom and babe can live.
Upheld by court and law –
now your cause may be.
Innocents will witness,
when in eternity.
Though choice is yours to make,
the consequence is not.
And every choice seals fate -
results that you have bought.
July 25, 2013