Monday, June 22, 2009

the great and abominable talk

At the request of Hayley who gave a fantastic Old Testament-oriented talk for mother's day, I am posting my Old Testament-oriented (I consider the Pearl of Great Price as a sweet revision of the Old Testament) talk for father's day! It's pretty long, so no pressure to read it or anything, but here is basically what I said...

In thinking on the topic of father’s day, one particular scriptural father, although somewhat obscure and not actually the greatest example of fatherhood, kept coming to my mind. When I kept thinking about him again and again, I decided to look into it and see what there was to learn from his story. I was thinking about Terah, whom the Old Testament identifies as the father of Abram who was later called Abraham, known in the church for, among other things, the Abrahamic Covenant. I found it particularly interesting that the great prophet that we often refer to as “Father Abraham” actually had a pretty rocky relationship with his earthly father.

This is obvious from the first facsimile in the book of Abraham, which depicts Abraham himself lying on an altar, about to be sacrificed by the priests of his father, Terah’s, religion. Verse 27 in the first chapter of Abraham states that Terah was led away by an idolatrous religion that sought to imitate the gospel and falsely claimed to have the priesthood through the lineage of Ham, the son of Noah. The followers of this sect in the land of Chaldea, where Abraham and Terah lived at that time, sacrificed heathens and because Abraham didn’t follow the idolatry of his father, he was chosen to be sacrificed. (Abraham 1: 7, 27) This adds humor to the first verse of the Book of Abraham, which says, “I, Abraham, saw that it was needful for me to find a new place of residence.” With your dad’s church buddies trying to sacrifice you, that’s quite an understatement!

Through all of his challenges like these, Abraham had a clear vision of what path he wished to pursue as a father. He wanted to claim the blessings of being a righteous and worthy priesthood bearer with the true authority of the Lord. I really like what he says about the joy and gift of the priesthood in Abraham chapter one, verses 2-4, “And finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same…I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me. I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.” Meaning he saw that there was great joy and many blessings available to himself and his posterity through the priesthood authority that came through the generations of his righteous forefathers like Adam and Enoch.

Thankfully, Abraham’s diligence in seeking after righteousness made him instrumental in becoming, as the Bible Dictionary describes him, “the founder of the covenant race” and “the father of the faithful”.

Through him came the Abrahamic Covenant from the Lord which we all can take part of. He is a symbolic father to all members of the church.

The True to the Faith Gospel Reference Manual published by the Church says that, “As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you are a child of the covenant. You have received the everlasting gospel and inherited the same promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You have the right to the blessings of the priesthood and to eternal life, according to your faithfulness in receiving the ordinances of salvation and keeping the associated covenants. Nations of the earth will be blessed by your efforts and by the labors of your posterity.” (True To The Faith, “Abrahamic Covenant”)

The importance of families is central to the covenant made by Abraham. It relates to eternal marriage, eternal increase and progression. We are blessed to have the gospel so that we can know the eternal importance and significance of families and, armed with that knowledge, safeguard our families and begin working now to have a Celestial Family, which includes a righteous father.

In a great conference talk by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles called, “Fatherhood, an Eternal Calling”, Elder Perry boldly states, “It appears to me that the crosshairs of Satan’s scope are centered on husbands and fathers. Today’s media, for example, have been relentless in their attacks- ridiculing and demeaning husbands and fathers in their God-given roles…Satan, in his carefully devised plan to destroy the family, seeks to diminish the role of fathers.”

In contrast to what the world would have us believe, the gospel brings us eternal truth. The Family, a Proclamation to the World lets us know that, “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide for the necessities of life and protection for their families.”

Something that I am indebted to my father for is that he always worthily held the priesthood in my home; I was very blessed to have that. However, at school, when I was some 800 miles from my earthly father, I was still able to enjoy the blessings of the priesthood through righteous home teachers and church leaders. My first semester away from home I ran into a stressful and challenging time. I asked my home teachers, two very new Melchizedek Priesthood holders, to give me a blessing. It was obvious that they were nervous- they had never given a blessing before. Likewise, I had never received a blessing from anyone other than my father beforeSo we all had the opportunity to exercise our faith. It was a wonderful blessing; the Spirit was very strong, and there are things from that blessing four years ago that I still remember and that still give me comfort today. I am grateful for righteous Priesthood holders who bless the lives of all within their stewardship, whether they are biologically related or not.

Similar to this was the experience of the 2000 stripling warriors. We often think of this story in reference to the diligence of their mothers, but I also like to look at the leadership of Helaman who acted as their father, even referring to them on several occasions as his “sons”. (Alma 56) This makes me think of the righteous leadership the young men of our ward have not only from their fathers, but also from bishopric members, seminary teachers, and young men’s and scout leaders. I have seen them influence our young men for good and shape their character throughout my life. They have blessed the lives of many, including my own brothers, for which I am so grateful.

My earthly father has worked my whole life to set an example for me of righteous church service and has taught me the gospel on many levels. It seems to me that he has been working so hard for me so that I may have the best chance to be able to live in an eternal family, and that I may have success in this life and exaltation in the world to come. This mission of earthly fathers to help their children find joy in this life as well as in the eternities is the same as that of our Heavenly Father, who’s work and glory is to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) Like our mortal fathers, our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to return to Him and experience joy. No matter what family circumstances we may have in this life, as President Howard W. Hunter put it, “We have a divine pedigree; every person is a spiritual child of God” and we have the ability to obtain all the blessings of the gospel for both ourselves and our posterity. (October Ensign, 1991)

I am so grateful for how the gospel light illuminates the true role of fathers and for the righteous men of this church who fulfill that role with all diligence, blessing the lives of all of God’s children.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shameful


So while Iranians are risking it all to protest for their rights, on the other side of the globe we have Angelinos (a term I just learned which apparently refers to people from LA- fun, huh?) who are also assmeblying en masse in the streets of Los Angeles. However, they are not rallying peacefully, oh no, they are starting fires in the street, throwing fireworks in front of cars, looting the stores of their very own neighbors, and more. And why are they doing this? Not because their rights are in jeopardy, but because their team won the NBA Championships. No, you read it right- they WON. How they connected victory with permission to destroy the property of their fellow Angelinos is beyond me. Frankly, I think it is ridiculous and that they are making a mockery of our freedom to peaceably assemble. It is a sorry excuse to steal from your neighbors and I wish that they had been punished by not having any disputed Lakers parade at all.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Time for the Truth

I don't have the time to make a full analysis, but I just wanted to take a moment to say: ROCK ON, IRAN! Honestly, this is a huge step in independence for government oppression! I love that the Iranian people are standing up against their government and demanding the truth. I do not see these post-election riots as a result of some people being sore losers or just trouble makers, but rather, many people are feeling not only underserved, but lied to by their government and they are fed up! I am so happy for them exercising their right to have the truth and to let their opinions be heard and acted upon. Even though there is apparantly a ban on this kind of demonstration in Iran, these citizens looked at the higher law of human rights and went ahead and protested, despite the ban. The right to peacably assemble should be a given, so as long as they do their best to steer clear of violent protesting, I am totally on their side. And shockingly, so far it looks like their protesting might even work! There is already talk of a review of the votes and I wish them all the best!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cliff's Notes of Obama’s Speech in Cairo, by Lindsey Price



This is REEEEALLY IMPORTANT (any of my Jerusalem friends will understand this homage to Brother Seely, our Ancient Near East professor, and I really mean it!)- not just for Egyptians, not just for Muslims, not just for the Arab world, but also for us as Americans who ought to be studying what our current administration has plans to do and what their core values are. This also was a call to American's to learn more about Islam so that we can grow together in mutual respect. So I hope that this post serves as a nice overview and to educate and inspire progress, as was intended. sorry about this color-it's being stubborn!-

I was very happy with President Obama’s speech in Cairo this week. Of course, its not a panacea, but I think that he took a lot of time to plan and prepare, and as a result, I feel that he outlined very well many things that are of great global importance right now.

I was a little annoyed at how much time he spent on trying to connect himself with Islam when, come on Obama, you’re a rich American Christian politician whose dad’s family just happened to have some black Muslims - a religion somewhat alienated from what most people view as the world of Islam. But, hey, you’ve gotta give him credit for trying. And he did say many good things that will hopefully get the point across that, no, the US does not hate Islam.

So after all of his feel-good Islam comments, he finally got down to the main points of his speech which included (and I will quote my favorite or the most notable parts of each section):

  1. Confronting Extremism

{This is addressed a lot in point 2} The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America's goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.

Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.

  1. Israel/Palestine

For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them – and all of us – to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered. {I LOVE this part}

  1. Nuclear Weapons

No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

  1. Democracy

So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.{I was a little surprised by the bluntness of this- a different point of view than the previous administration} That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

  1. Religious Freedom

Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of another's.{Very good point- following this would help settle a lot of hate in Israel/Palestine}The richness of religious diversity must be upheld – whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

  1. Women’s Rights

Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams. {YAY! This is a BIG deal for me and this was probably my favorite part of the specch}

  1. Economic Development

I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations – including my own – this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities – those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education. {And then he gave some great ideas about creating business and technology partnerships and creating more international internships and scholarships…none of which we probably have money for at the time…}

  1. PEACE!

It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples – a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us, "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."

The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."

The Holy Bible tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God's peace be upon you.


OKAY, so I have been reading online and listening to the radio and the reactions so far have been pretty positive. Most Cairo university student’s whose opinions I read seemed to be glad at the overall balance (meaning lack of bias) that the President’s speech held. However, a few of them condemned him for his excess of rhetoric verses his lack of concrete solutions. Although, as we know, most of the issues the world faces do not have a simple solution. And this was not meant to be a “let’s solve the world’s problems, right here, right now” speech, rather it was meant to be more of a “let’s put out on the table for the world the opinions of the US’ new administration and try to start a better relationship with our Muslim neighbors” speech, and I think that it was successful in fulfilling that. I think that this speech will serve as an outline to Obama's presidenct and as a guide to legislators worldwide. Hence, it truly is "REEEEEEALY IMPORTANT" :)

Click here to read the entire text of the speech compliments of The New York Times.

Cuba is our neighbor again!

Well, Cuba has always been our geographic neighbor, however, for decades our relationship with Cuba has been aything but neighborly. Several weeks ago I was very pleased to hear that President Obama was talking like he wanted to lift the embargo. In case you did not know, the US has not had any trade with Cuba and we did not even have any direct flights allowed between the US and Cuba, not to mention Cuba was kicked out of the Organization of American States (OAS) back in the early 1960's. They have been largely ostracized as a nation by the rest of the Americas, particularly the US, for nearly fifty years as a result of Cold War strife and lingering post-Cold War sentiments as well as the fact that Fidel Castro turned out to be a big lying Marxist who misled the entire diplomatic world along with his own people as he seized power (but that is a different, MUCH longer story).

Now the tide has changed. Last year Fidel Castro handed over power to his brother because of his failing health. Obama was elected President with the intent of largely improving international relations. Many more of the countries within the Americas are developing more Leftist govenrments. Put it all together and -BAM- we can be friends with Cuba again!

I thought that Robert Wood, US State Department Deputy Spokeman, put it well when he said, "The historic action taken today eliminates a distraction from the past and allows us to focus on the realities of today."- regarding the re-admittance of Cuba into the OAS.

I think that this is really good news for Cubans and families of Cubans who have been struggling for years thanks to some lingering ill will towards Castro decades ago in a war that, in my mind, ought to be long-since gotten over.