Parading our discontent

Of course there are ways provided—formal and informal—for expressing legitimate concerns and complaints, and for doing so productively. These avenues often go unused, especially if one’s real desire is to parade his discontent. Letting off steam always produces more heat than light. (See Matt. 18:15.) True, we may merely gripe or grumble in a passing way. We may even do it cleverly. Still, even mild murmuring can be more pointed than we may care to admit.

Neal A. Maxwell, “Murmur Not,” October 1989 General Conference
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“Friendship multiplieth joys and divideth griefs.” – Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

In his 1625 version of the essay OF FRIENDSHIP, Francis Bacon wrote of the powerful effect friendship has on us as we communicate our joys and sorrows to one another:

But one thing is most admirable (wherewith I will conclude this first fruit of friendship), which is, that this communicating of a man’s self to his friend, works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halves. For there is no man, that imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less.

While I think the 1625 version is more frequently cited, I like the original 1612 version because it draws on the powerful relationship between multiplying and dividing:

There is no greater desert or wilderness then to be without true friends. For without friendship, society is but meeting. And as it is certain, that in bodies inanimate, union strengtheneth any natural motion, and weakeneth any violent motion; So amongst men, friendship multiplieth joys, and divideth griefs. Therefore, whosoever wanteth fortitude, let him worship Friendship. For the yoke of Friendship maketh the yoke of fortune more light.

Lastly, it’s interesting to read the 1625 version in the original English:

But one Thing is most Admirable, (wherewith I will conclude this first Fruit of frendship) which is, that this Communicating of a Mans Selfe to his Frend, works two contrarie Effects; For it redoubleth Ioyes, and cutteth Griefes in Halfes. For there is no Man, that imparteth his Ioyes to his Frend, but he ioyeth the more; And no Man, that imparteth his Griefes to his Frend, but hee grieueth the lesse.

How grateful I am for the blessing of friends who have multiplied my joys and divided my sorrows.

Cover_Bacon_Essays_1696

Truth is always harmonious with itself; piety is often the cloak of error

The First Presidency (Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, and Charles W. Penrose) wrote the following in 1913 about those who make false claims or declare erroneous doctrines:

“When visions, dreams, tongues, prophecy, impressions or any extraordinary gift or inspiration conveys something out of harmony with the accepted revelations of the Church or contrary to the decisions of its constituted authorities, Latter-day Saints may know that it is not of God, no matter how plausible it may appear. Also they should understand that directions for the guidance of the Church will come, by revelation, through the head. All faithful members are entitled to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for themselves, their families, and for those over whom they are appointed and ordained to preside. But anything at discord with that which comes from God through the head of the Church is not to be received as authoritative or reliable. In secular as well as spiritual affairs, Saints may receive Divine guidance and revelation affecting themselves, but this does not convey authority to direct others, and is not to be accepted when contrary to Church covenants, doctrine or discipline, or to known facts, proven truths, or good common sense. No person has the right to induce his fellow members of the Church to engage in speculations or take stock in ventures of any kind on the specious claim of Divine revelation or vision or dream, especially when it is in opposition to the voice of recognized authority, local or general. The Lord’s Church ‘is a house of order.’ It is not governed by individual gifts or manifestations, but by the order and power of the Holy Priesthood as sustained by the voice and vote of the Church in its appointed conferences.

“The history of the Church records many pretended revelations claimed by imposters or zealots who believed in the manifestations they sought to lead other persons to accept, and in every instance, disappointment, sorrow and disaster have resulted therefrom. Financial loss and sometimes utter ruin have followed. . . .

“Be not led by any spirit or influence that discredits established authority, contradicts true scientific principles and discoveries, or leads away from the direct revelations of God for the government of the Church. The Holy Ghost does not contradict its own revealings. Truth is always harmonious with itself. Piety is often the cloak of error. The counsels of the Lord through the channel he has appointed will be followed with safety. Therefore, O! ye Latter-day Saints, profit by these words of warning.”

In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, 4:285–86.  Also found in Doctrine and Covenants Institute Student Manual, Enrichment J-7: Keys for Avoiding Deception.

Incarcerated within the prison of one principle

How important it is to the symmetry of our souls that we interact with all the gospel principles and with all the Church programs, so that we do not become so highly specialized that, if we are deprived of one source of satisfaction, indeed we are in difficulty. It is possible to be incarcerated within the prison of one principle. We are less vulnerable if our involvements with the kingdom are across the board. We are less vulnerable if we care deeply about many principles–not simply a few.

Neal  A. Maxwell, “But for a Small Moment,” BYU Devotional, 1 September 1974.

God is there also when true but hard words break open the chained door of a mind taken over by a single obsession. Sometimes, brothers and sisters, instead of the mind’s wrapping itself around an idea, an idea wraps itself tightly around the mind—another way in which “pride compasseth … about as [with] a chain” (Ps. 73:6).

Neal A. Maxwell, “Yet Thou Art There,” Ensign, November 1987

This is a season to be strong

Now, my brethren and sisters, the time has come for us to stand a little taller, to lift our eyes and stretch our minds to a greater comprehension and understanding of the grand millennial mission of this The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a season to be strong. It is a time to move forward without hesitation, knowing well the meaning, the breadth, and the importance of our mission. It is a time to do what is right regardless of the consequences that might follow. It is a time to be found keeping the commandments. It is a season to reach out with kindness and love to those in distress and to those who are wandering in darkness and pain. It is a time to be considerate and good, decent and courteous toward one another in all of our relationships. In other words, to become more Christlike.

We have nothing to fear. God is at the helm. He will overrule for the good of this work. He will shower down blessings upon those who walk in obedience to His commandments. Such has been His promise. Of His ability to keep that promise none of us can doubt.

Gordon B. Hinckley, “This Is the Work of the Master,Ensign, May 1995

The wondrous gift is given: Christmas, 1951

On a cold winter’s night in 1951 there was a knock at my door, and a German brother from Ogden, Utah, announced himself and said, “Are you Bishop Monson?” I answered in the affirmative. He began to weep and said, “My brother and his wife and family are coming here from Germany. They are going to live in your ward. Will you come with us to see the apartment we have rented for them?” On the way to the apartment, he told me he had not seen his brother for many years. Yet all through the holocaust of World War II, his brother had been faithful to the Church, serving as a branch president before the war took him to the Russian front.

I looked at the apartment. It was cold and dreary. The paint was peeling, the wallpaper soiled, the cupboards empty. A forty-watt bulb hanging from the living room ceiling revealed a linoleum floor covering with a large hole in the center. I was heartsick. I thought, “What a dismal welcome for a family which has endured so much.”

My thoughts were interrupted by the brother’s statement, “It isn’t much, but it’s better than they have in Germany.” With that, the key was left with me, along with the information that the family would arrive in Salt Lake City in three weeks—just two days before Christmas.

Sleep was slow in coming to me that night. The next morning was Sunday. In our ward welfare committee meeting, one of my counselors said, “Bishop, you look worried. Is something wrong?” I recounted to those present my experience of the night before, the details of the uninviting apartment. There were a few moments of silence. Then the group leader of the high priests said, “Bishop, did you say that apartment was inadequately lighted and that the kitchen appliances were in need of replacement?” I answered in the affirmative. He continued, “I am an electrical contractor. Would you permit the high priests of this ward to rewire that apartment? I would also like to invite my suppliers to contribute a new stove and a new refrigerator. Do I have your permission?” I answered with a glad “Certainly.”

Then the seventies president responded: “Bishop, as you know I’m in the carpet business. I would like to invite my suppliers to contribute some carpet, and the seventies can easily lay it and eliminate that worn linoleum.”

Then the president of the elders quorum spoke up. He was a painting contractor. He said, “I’ll furnish the paint. May the elders paint and wallpaper that apartment?”

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Friendship is designed to revolutionize and civilize the world

Friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’; [it is designed] to revolutionize and civilize the world, and cause wars and contentions to cease and men to become friends and brothers. …

… Friendship is like Brother [Theodore] Turley in his blacksmith shop welding iron to iron; it unites the human family with its happy influence.

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007), Chapter 40, pp. 458–67