Sunday, January 1, 2017

Introduction to the new blog

     Man, it's been a long time since I wrote here; a little over four years, actually. This is also the third rendition I've arranged this blog into:

     The first version was a place for me to write random thoughts, whenever they came to mind.

     The second version was a more focused blog for a beginning writer to post his projects.

     And this third version, according to what I've felt directed to do, is for me to practice explaining my own thoughts and intentions more clearly, especially pertaining to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

     It's an interesting scenario, how this third version began. I had just come back from my Home Teaching appointments (I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints/LDS/a Mormon, and Home Teaching is when we visit other members, discuss Scriptures and Doctrine together, and offer to help each other in any way we can), and I hadn't done a good job in preparing the lesson beforehand. It reminded me that I can't (or at least, shouldn't) guess my way through a lesson, but should do better at studying the topic and seeking to understand what people need to hear or learn. While thinking and praying about it, I felt like I should get my thoughts on the Gospel out of my head to somewhere that others can discuss and altogether come to a better understanding. That was when the Lord suggested a blog.

     I'd already had this one set up, unused for years and gathering digital dust, but I didn't actually want to use it; mainly, so that if something good comes out of this, the middleman could be cut out and the praise go directly to God, since "all things which are good cometh of God" (Moroni 7: 12). Personally, I don't like praise, because it usually inflates my pride and ego, and leads me to say what sounds "clever" instead of what's actually helpful or thoughtful. (St. John 12: 43, for example; saying whatever generates more praise instead of what the Lord directs). I suggested that, but that wasn't best; for some reason, the Lord directed me to use this blog, with my name attached and everything. I'm not entirely sure why, but I am anyway. Maybe there's something I need to learn in this . . .

     So anyway, there we are. As far as I know, I don't have a very regular writing schedule; it might just be whenever the Lord needs me to write something, or whenever a topic comes up of special interest to me. I don't know the plan for this, or even the purpose, beyond sharpening and preparing myself.

     I feel like this is, for me, an opportunity to learn, similar to how Joseph Smith described: "I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, . . . all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty" (TPJS, pg. 304) (By the way, if you don't have a paper version of the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS), I would recommend either browsing the internet, church stores, or the D.I. for a copy, or even going HERE to download it for free; it is an amazing record.)

     And as far as the name goes, that was the name that felt best to me while thinking of new names for the blog; it's gone from The American Knnneget to Pen 1; Sword 0, to now Of One Heart and One Mind. However, that's not what I'll be posting. That's still the hope and goal of this blog, but since I'm not yet "of one heart and one mind" with the Father and the Son, the best I can post here is of my heart and my mind, explaining how I understand the Gospel. The way I understand the distinction compares pretty well with some of the functions of light (which can also be found HERE and HERE):

     For starters, white light contains within it all the colors of the visible light spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Likewise, all things were created by the Lord, and ultimately came from Him. When white light shines through certain objects, like prisms, it breaks down into its separate colors, where we can actually see them. In turn, when God teaches mankind Truth of any kind, it becomes broken down into whatever we're able to comprehend or accept. (D&C 1: 24) The ideal is to be like little children, because they accept new truths much better than us grown-ups tend to do (which is probably why it's so often mentioned to be like little children in the Scriptures: Luke 18: 17, Mosiah 3: 19). Some of us more readily receive the more aggressive or active truths in life--the "red" aspects of Truth, if you will--while others can better grasp the calm, peaceful and subdued truths--perhaps "blue" aspects of Truth.

     So now that we're all separated in what we all understand as Truth, how are we supposed to return to Pure Light/Truth? It won't happen by joining with only "green"-minded people while rejecting the other "colors" as closed-minded or idiotic. Instead, you make your own light brighter; you be the brightest "green" you can be, and point yourself where the Master Architect originally planned for you to point (3 Nephi 12: 16). From there, your light can mix with the "reds" and the "oranges" and "indigos," as the Architect had planned all along. When all the colors in light shine together, it actually becomes white again, as opposed to mixing colors in paint form (which creates a darker and darker color with every color forced into it). To compare to humanity, we need to grow in the knowledge and understanding we already have, while also learning and growing from the other mindsets around us. Forcing opinions together, whether by refusing to speak of certain topics (i.e. politics or religion) or asserting that our opinion is the only correct one, usually leads to contention  (3 Nephi 11: 29), hardened hearts, and closed minds, and the public dialogue only gets darker and darker.

     It's often a natural impulse within us (which seems to be missing in little children, by the way) to assume that topics and understandings we don't already agree with are false, flawed, or even evil in some way, and therefore avoid it at all costs. There are two quotes I've found that seem to counter that impulse for me: "One of the grand fundamental principles of 'Mormonism' is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may." (Joseph Smith, TPJS, pg. 313, emphasis added) "It is important to draw wisdom from different places. If you take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale." (Iroh, Avatar: The Last Airbender [TV show], season 2, episode 9)

     Once we get out of that rigid mindset, we begin to realize just how much we don't know, or as Socrates said, "As for myself, all I know is that I know nothing." From there, we begin to learn from the others around us, the "purples" and "yellows," while still shining our own color as brightly as we can. We do need to rely on the Lord, though, in order to recognize what really is Truth in what we study; just about everything on Earth is a mixture of Truth and error, sometimes with more Truth and sometimes more error, so it takes a lot of Discernment [a vital gift of the Spirit--D&C 46: 23] to separate the two. (However, we also have a book these days that contains the highest concentration of Truth out of any book on Earth; namely, the Book of Mormon. That's a big help in understanding Discernment.) If we actually do that, however long and confusing it may seem at first to get there, we will finally begin to approach living "of one heart and one mind." It would be small, but it would still be something better than we have right now. Joseph Smith had this to say about what needs to change in order to get there, which I'll quote at length because it's so good:

     "A fanciful and flowery an heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men.
     "How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations—too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God, according to the purposes of His will, from before the foundation of the world! We are called to hold the keys of the mysteries of those things that have been kept hid from the foundation of the world until now. Some have tasted a little of these things, many of which are to be poured down from heaven upon the heads of babes; yea, upon the weak, obscure and despised ones of the earth. Therefore we beseech of you, brethren, that you bear with those who do not feel themselves more worthy than yourselves, while we exhort one another to a reformation with one and all, both old and young, teachers and taught, both high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female; let honesty, and sobriety, and candor, and solemnity, and virtue, and pureness, and meekness, and simplicity crown our heads in every place; and in fine, become as little children, without malice, guile or hypocrisy." (TPJS, pg. 137-138; that's part of the letter he wrote from Liberty Jail, from which D&C 121, 122, and 123 are excerpts from. The full letter runs from page 129 to 148.)

     I've still got a long ways to go in improving toward what Joseph outlined, but this is my intention in order to get there: to let "this little light of mine" shine, and learn from all the other "lights" around me who are also seeking to come closer to the Truth. I don't even know if this will reach very many people; it might just be my friends and family, which I would be completely fine with. A smaller group is easier to learn from and unite in understanding with than a huge group, anyway. But if the Lord leads more people to it, than so be it. I hope they come away from this with a better understanding than they approached it with, whether from the posts, the discussions in the comments, or better yet, from the inspiration to read the scriptures themselves and ask God what they mean. He's the Master Teacher. This blog, in comparison, is just the ramblings of a spiritual preschooler. But if it helps anyone understand the Gospel better (whether that's others who read this blog, or even me helped by this blog and its readers), then thanks be to God for it.

     I'd hoped to have this ready by Christmas, but even though I'd changed up the blog's appearance by then, this post wasn't ready yet. I guess it makes for a good first post of the new year, though. Again, if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave that in the comments below; that way I can help clarify anything that didn't make sense, or correct whatever needs correcting. Thanks for reading, if you made it this far. :)

     May the Spirit of the Lord be with you all, always.

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