Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Irony

In just the month of December Utah has revisited it's past in a unique way.

First, back in the day, Utah had to abandon and denounce any plural marriages as a pre condition to gaining statehood.  It even had to be written into the Utah State Constitution.    

Fast forward a century and some change.  Now a federal judge has struck down parts of Utah’s anti-polygamy law as unconstitutional. Once again plural marriage is right at the forefront of Utah politics as it was 117 years ago. Then last Friday a Federal Judge Struck down Utah State Constitution amendment 3, which defined marriage as between 1 man and 1 woman.

Utah just can't seem to appease the government with regards to marriage no matter what they do.  These federal rulings, among other things, have strangely brought the potential for polygamy closer than it's been in a hundred years.  Utah certainly has some interesting things going on.      

It's ironic that the federal government forced Utah to adopt a traditional definition of marriage at statehood in 1896, and and is now being told the definitions are invalid or unconstitutional.    

And here I used to think politics were boring...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Trivia is not light and truth

I'm in the audience of a lot of Church lessons that tend to focus or contain a lot of trivia.  Which in our culture seems to be interchangeable with light and truth.  The one leaves a feeling of emptiness, but light and truth fills me and gives me something to think about, and prayerfully consider in the context of my life.

I was teaching Elder's Quorum last week and posed the question to the class "What's the difference between truth, and trivia".   It was some time before anyone had anything to say about it.  The silence was getting long so I brought up the TV show Jeopardy, or various board games that are based around trivial knowledge.  The difference began to become more clear as the class discussed it.  

I think it's funny that IBM produced a computer that could outperform humans on Jeopardy.  But at the end of the end of the day trivia doesn't save anyone, so that's one trump card for the humans.  Computers can't be saved, but humans can.  Trivia may win people money, or make you look good to others, and maybe cause pride, but lots of trivial knowledge doesn't mean that person has acquired light and truth no matter how seriously they take their trivia.  

I'm concerned when I see teachings of the Church drifting away from doctrine, away from truth and light, and in it's place trivia, watered down truth, and emotional storytelling.  It seems to be more and more evident. Sometimes the historical trivia is even wrong, or based on lies, which complicates the problem.

But whether we personally acquire light and truth is not dependent on an organization.  The Gospel can be viewed in terms of trivia, or in terms of truth.  If for example we view the temple through the lens of trivia, than the symbols and signs are factual data you can amass in your head.  Something you can enter into a heavenly kiosk at the entrance to heaven.  And once you get the little green check mark you can enter in.  If you view the Gospel and symbols and signs in that way you can find all the trivia you want on the internet.  There are ample websites willing to entertain with all manner of temple trivia.  You needn't even attend the temple at all to gain the needed trivial knowledge.  But what you won't find there is light and truth.  Viewed in the wrong light it darkens your mind because it distracts from the knowledge of truth.  Truth as defined in D&C 90:24.
  
The truths behind the trivia is what we should be after.   

Trivia:  Joseph Smith was born on Dec 23rd. 
Truth:  Birthday's Matter.  Joseph Smith was born the day after the Winter Solstice, which is the day of the year when the amount of light on the earth begins to increase again.  A perfect symbol for the life and ministry of Joseph who brought light to the earth after a time of darkness and error.  Birthday's are not just coincidence.    

How much more important is it to search the scriptures to gain light and truth, than to simply gain trivial understanding?   In fact we miss the mark if all we gain is trivia.   John 5:39 "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."