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By Bernard Gui
In sacrament meeting today, a brother announced that he had been asked to give a talk about President Oaks’ April Conference address. Most of the time, this type of talk is like a book report “Elder Oaks said this....,” “then Elder Oaks said that.....” I prefer to read the book myself rather than hear someone’s rehash of it.
Today, however, was not one of those days. Today was transformational. Taking this quote as his starting point
our speaker gave perhaps the best sermon I have ever heard and felt on repentance. He said at first he worried that his words might not be appropriate, but then he came to the conclusion that what he had to say was what the Lord wanted him to say. He told his story...
A life-long member, seminary graduate, returned missionary young man who had made some very poor choices and ended up in many years of inactivity, moral degradation, addiction, depression, homelessness, self-loathing, and despondency. At a point when he was making the decision whether or not to live any longer, he thought of his father. He called him and asked if they could meet. They agreed and at that visit in their home, his father gave him a blessing during which the slate was wiped clean. Embraced by his parents, from that moment he began to take the steps that would restore his spirit, mind, and body through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Now three years later, he is sealed to a sister from our ward who had earlier suffered at the hands of an abusive ex-husband. They and their little baby boy are now a healthy and whole loving family. God be praised!
There were many tearful eyes in the congregation, and some wept openly. We did not know of his journey, only that he had come as a great blessing into the life of our friend. I am sure many were thinking of loved ones they fear have slipped forever away from the path into forbidden areas from which there will be no return. Or perhaps there were those who are having similar feelings of uselessness and despair themselves. As the Spirit bore witness, we were given the hope that “Where will this lead?” does not necessarily have be to tragedy, but rather to deliverance, and redemption, and joy. It is possible for all of us.
Thanks to this good brother for sharing his story of repentance, and thanks be to God and our Savior Jesus Christ.
Is the right Church or creed the important thing, or is there something else we came here to learn? I'm interested to hear what everyone believes and why they believe it. That would add to our understanding of each other. We have a good mix of people here. I wonder if we could talk about our first person experiences on the subject and support it with simple faith, scriptures, opinion without putting anyone on the spot about their beliefs. Maybe another way to frame the question is "What is the point of all this? What is the purpose of this life? Is it to embrace a certain belief, or is it to live a certain way?" Or is it something else?
I hesitate, somewhat (though probably not enough), to do this. (Fools rush in ... ) Though names, locales, other identifying details, and surrounding circumstances have been changed for dramatic purposes, real-life, flesh-and-blood people are involved, and perhaps this cuts through the flesh to the muscle, and through the muscle to the bone. Some time ago, I wrote a piece of "faction" ... factual fiction ... about a relationship in which I was involved once, and about the metamorphosis of a young lady for whom I once cared a great deal. Though we're no longer as young as we once were, and though she long since has moved on, on some level, I care for her still. I've tried hard to move on, too, and I'm not really very big on "pining" for anyone. Hopefully no one gets the idea that that's what this is about. I'm posting this in General Discussions in hopes that it attracts broader attention and wider traffic before the Mods decide to move it to Social Hall.
Love and marriage figure somewhere in here, of course. It is a romance, after all. I'm not necessarily interested in focusing more than in passing on those topics. Hopefully, we can also avoid turning this into yet another thread about gay marriage. I'm more interested in exploring broader themes of repentance, of forgiveness, of change, of metamorphosis, of what it means to recognize our identity as Children of God with a divine heritage and potential, and so on. Anyway, without further ado, I give you the first chapter/installment of Deanna: A Story of Love and Change.
What is reality, really? How does that relate to the present, to the past, and to the eternities?
Gonna riff on a few things in rapid succession... Be kind/gentle. An early draft.
Tacenda's comment last week about remembring/regretting something supposedly left undone as a teenager. To be told in the here and now that such a memory didn't match this reality. And something she had been kicking herself for...for years...either didn't happen...*or was erased* as if it hadn't. Something otherwise benign that I had done last week, but deeply regretted, because in hindsight I realized that I had done so a few weeks prematurely, and needed the objectd handed off for something else first. That object was somehow restored back to me as if i had never handed it over, and the person to whom I had handed it to insisted I had never done so. So when I looked to see where I had taken it from to hand it to him, the thing I had given away, was returned to me, like bread cast upon the water. Such an event is not a one-off. But has unfoled several times over the last several years. Mandela Effect. A glimpse of the scope of atonement/restoration? An entire nation moved (New Zealand) from where I disstinctly remember it being when I visited years ago. Can the present be rewritten, either iwthin this reality, or having it plastered over with a better reality of choices we wish a better version of us had made? With a better reality? Every wrong made right? Tears wiped away. The things we regretted doing erased? Yet retaining a memory of what our past *had* been, to keep us grateful/mindful of the slate wiped clean. Shortly after the Tacenda's comments, and my experience with the thing restored back to me, I watched a brief mindbending thing this week about the nature of reality, in line with other things related to Quantum phiysics/mechanics that I've been following over the years. There are those who say, in less detail than the thing I watched last week, that this reality is literally a simlulation created by advanced intelligences. Akin to the Matrix, but more benevolent. Part of my role in training organization was designing and developing interactive learning, including developing computer simulations. Map that with what we are taught of the core purpose of this life...to come here and learn and grow. The very concept of Valhalla, one of the nine Norse realms (we are taught the celestial contains 3, and others have asked about subdivision of the terrestial and telestial). If the lower kindgoms are fratals of the higher, a 9-fold division would ripple through as the result. Valhalla, a heaven where the valiant have the ability to get back up, refresh ourselves, and fight on (improving through additional challenges). Square that with the somewhat-common LDS belief that we won't be sitting around playing harps, but will have engaging thngs to do in the eternities. So if realities can be overmapped, what would happen if a critical mass of the righteous withdrew from a a society/reality? We are told woe unto a city when the righteous are driven out. Civilizations left behind sometimes implode, or collapse under their own weight. Sodom. Ancient Jerusalem. And Jerusalem again in 70 AD. What did Brigham mean when he said this earth/reality was created with chunks of such taken from other worlds? Is reality, including the past, present, and future, more elastic than we might have otherwise thought? What of what is promised, the ability to see lower realms. What is the practical purpose/function of having access to seeing such? Our elven ancestors were said, at least in Celtic lands, to have the means, at least at certain junctdures, to open and close doors to other realities. Brigadoon style. What do the transparent walls of the New Jerusalem really represent/consist of?