September 19, 2012

Morality and Freedom of Religion.

Today i will spend my day doing the laundry, vacuuming my floor, reading some of the 35 books i checked out yesterday from the library to my children.
{i couldn't find any poems by Tennyson at our local library.  shouldn't that be against the law?}
I will attend open houses in the primary, elementary and middle schools.
My son has his first football game this afternoon, my girls will attend a class at church and my boys will join their father for boy scouts later this evening.
Our life is an intricate web of home, family, school, community, church and fellowship.

Yesterday, my 10 year old girl was sassy when i questioned her on how long it took for her to get to the car after school.
My oldest boys have slid gently into their teen years.
A crying, emotional, young female scared me a little bit.  Whoa!
I took the evening off- just me and her.
We shopped together, we went to the library, out to dinner, we planned meals and brought home groceries.
My husband cared for the children at home, ran carpools, and made dinner.
Anna and I laughed together and spoke in fake English accents (she's weird like that).
I told her over and over how much i loved her and how we needed to stay close as she grew.
I explained the importance of being able to communicate with love.
I explained gently that she needed to be respectful always.
I asked her what i could do better.
It was good.
Last night, i was doing the most important thing.
Everyone should learn these lessons in their youth!

My days are spent caring for my home and children, BUT, oh how my heart and mind LOVES to mull over ideas and concepts!!
I am intrigued by educated people who write and reason.
{side note- i am reading Charlotte's Web to my 6 and 4 year old girls at nap time.  Wow!  E.B. White is an AMAZING writer.  His words are like icing.  My young girls are entranced and i'm certain he is speaking way above their vocabulary level.  I know why that classic book is classic.  It is beautiful.  Read it again- you will love it.}
I love to learn new things and I seek truth and goodness.
My husband is a professor (he bugs me talks often about me returning to school to get my PhD.  He knows I will love it.)
He reads much about business and ethics and public policy.
He is a man of refined speech.
it drives me CRAZY when he argues with me about my word choices.
i tell him if he is so smart that he should be able to understand what i MEAN instead of wasting his time making me define my words.  ha!
saying that-- i will admit that i love to listen to him.
he understands things and is much more, shall i say, non-committal, than i am.
i am passionate, he is logical.
i LOVE raising children with him.  we are better people because of all that we have learned raising children.
but, i love the time when we are not raising children, we are just talking about ideas.
i love him most for his ideas.
i get mad at him sometimes for knowing stuff and NOT telling me.
i yearn for the days when we were dating and could just sit for hours and hours in the front of his car, talking and making out.
we need to do that more.

this morning, as we were dressing and changing morning diapers and helping children finish the last problem on their homework and cutting up fruit for morning breakfasts... we were discussing freedom of religion.
i read the most interesting article last night.
This article, "Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom"  from an apostle in our church- one of the 12.
It is an intriguing article with many equally intriguing references.
{Another great article Overcoming Addiction Through the Atonement-- i have mulled over this for the past week and concluded that i agree.  We overcome addiction or weaknesses NOT by focusing on the addiction, but on our power, with God's help, to choose a different way.  great article.}
THIS is why i couldn't carry all the books i checked out from the library in one trip last night.
i have a new list of "to read" after reading that article.

the article referenced THIS talk "Preserving Religious Freedom", by another apostle, Elder Dallin H. Oaks.
It is the talk i have embedded at the top of this blog.
Elder Oaks is an impressive man, a prominent lawyer and he speaks truth.
i want to learn more.  i want to read this transcript again and read the works that he references.
i want to understand it more, because it is what i believe.
it is interesting and true and will give you much to think about as you go on with your daily life.

i believe that morality is essential to a functioning society.
i believe in absolutes- right and wrong.
Evil societies will fall.  Goodness will bring happiness.
I believe that just like we are subject to laws of gravity, whether or not we know they exist, we are subject to laws of morality.
Mainly, if you keep the commandments, you will prosper in the land.
Morality must be taught and adhered to or our societies will crumble.
History is a prime example of that.

i LOVE these quotes Elder Oak's references.  Here is the transcript of his talk where you will find these references.  READ THE TALK!!
I want to read ALL these sources for myself... tomorrow.

In his book, Modern Times, the British author Paul Johnson writes:
“At the beginning of the 1920s the belief began to circulate, for the first time at a popular level, that there were no longer any absolutes: of time and space, of good and evil, of knowledge, above all of value."53
On this side of the Atlantic, Gertrude Himmelfarb describes how the virtues associated with good and evil have been degraded into relative values.54
A variety of observers have described the consequences of moral relativism. All of them affirm the existence of God as the Ultimate Law-giver and the source of the absolute truth that distinguishes good from evil.
Rabbi Harold Kushner speaks of God-given “absolute standards of good and evil built into the human soul.”55 He writes:
“As I see it, there are two possibilities. Either you affirm the existence of a God who stands for morality and makes moral demands of us, who built a law of truthfulness into His world even as He built in a law of gravity. . . . Or else you give everyone the right to decide what is good and what is evil by his or her own lights, balancing the voice of one's conscience against the voice of temptation and need. . . .”56
Rabbi Kushner also observes that a philosophy that rejects the idea of absolute right and wrong inevitably leads to a deadening of conscience.
“Without God, it would be a world where no one was outraged by crime or cruelty, and no one was inspired to put an end to them. . . . [T]here would be no more inspiring goal for our lives than self-interest. . . . Neither room nor reason for tenderness, generosity, helpfulness.”57
 Dr. Timothy Keller, a much-published pastor in New York, asks:
“What happens if you eliminate anything from the Bible that offends your sensibility and crosses your will? If you pick and choose what you want to believe and reject the rest, how will you ever have a God who can contradict you? You won't!. . . .
“Though we have been taught that all moral values are relative to individuals and cultures, we can‘t live like that. In actual practice we inevitably treat some principles as absolute standards by which we judge the behavior of those who don't share our values. . . . People who laugh at the claim that there is a transcendent moral order do not think that racial genocide is just impractical or self-defeating, but that it is wrong. . . .”58
My esteemed fellow Apostle, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, asked:
“[H]ow can a society set priorities if there are no basic standards? Are we to make our calculations using only the arithmetic of appetite?”59
He made this practical observation:
“Decrease the belief in God, and you increase the numbers of those who wish to play at being God by being 'society's supervisors.' Such 'supervisors' deny the existence of divine standards, but are very serious about imposing their own standards on society.”60

Lily just came to tell me "Mommy, we don't have anymore chocolate chips, except the big ones."
Smelling chocolate on her breath I said, "You'd better not be eating chocolate chips."
She said, "We didn't" and walked back to the kitchen...
George Washington is cringing.
My time is up.
Oh how this stuff intrigues me!!

Here are the articles i want to read later today...
1.  UK Court Rules Christianity Harmful to Children
2.  The Mark News- Should Religion Influence Policy
3.  USA Today- George Washington Thanked God for America
4.  NY Times- The Conservative-Christian Big Thinker
5.  The Economist- Onward and Upwards; Why is the modern view of progress so impoverished?

have a great day!
{picture added later!}
Forgive my typos-- no time to edit... chocolate chips and toddlers are calling!

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