A Universal Mission Statement

For believers or skeptics, atheists or theists of all stripes, might this function as a call to arms that everybody could support?

Discern the nature of reality as accurately as possible and, as far as any facts have practical applications, bring ourselves into alignment with them and exercise them habitually.  

Sure, that’s just a draft, but I think it gets at the point clearly: we all just want to learn things that are true, and act on them accordingly, to the benefit of ourselves and the larger world, whether those things are secular or spiritual, artistic or scientific, or all of the above.

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Display an American Flag on Cinco de Mayo

On May 5, 2010, in California, four high school students were disciplined by their assistant principal.  What did they do wrong?  They wore American flag apparel on Cinco de Mayo.  Some other students were offended and complained, and the young men were told to change their shirts so that racial tensions wouln’t turn violent, the administrator said. 

In interviews with reporters about the incident, at least two students at the school said that they were offended by the shirts because they felt it disrespected their Mexican heritage.  They said Cinco de Mayo was “their” holiday, and that they wouldn’t wear Mexican flags on the Fourth of July.  

Videos of students announcing that American flags are not appropriate in America on Cinco de Mayo are at 1:20 to 1:27 here and 0:55 to 1:10 here

Clearly, their language suggests that these students identify themselves as Mexicans first, and as Americans second, if at all.  That is wrong. Societies have a right to expect loyalty from those living within their nation’s borders.

Therefore, I’m calling on all of us to display the American flag this year on Cinco de Mayo: Thursday, May 5, 2011.

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No One Can Establish Zion Alone

For me, the scariest verse in all of scripture has always been D&C 103:2: “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there…”  It’s hard enough to be a shy introvert now without having to be surrounded by people throughout eternity, too!  But there’s an important lesson in that truth about the nature of real spirituality, and it’s one that I’ve long been trying to learn.

Other teachings in the Doctrine and Covenants affirm that being sealed in the temple is necessary to qualify for exaltation, the highest salvation with which anyone can be blessed.  For example, D&C 131:1-2 reads, “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage],” and the very next section contains this even more explicit promise: “And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant…they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things…” (D&C 132:19). 

The point is that nobody can be exalted alone.  This supreme gift can only be bestowed on those who have successfully grounded their lives in the service of others–a family.  (I hasten to add here that the Church has clearly taught that nobody will suffer any loss of blessings because of any opportunity that they just didn’t have here on Earth–see, for example, Dallin H. Oaks: “The Lord has promised that in the eternities no blessing will be denied his sons and daughters who keep the commandments, are true tho their covenants, and desire what is right.”)

Just as exaltation cannot be achieved by a lone individual, neither can Zion be established by such.  There is no such thing as a marriage of one; similarly, there is no such thing as a Zion of one.    Continue reading