Monday, August 29, 2011

I would be my brother's keeper

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better. For previous installments, click here.

As we have a lay ministry and it falls upon no one in our local congregations to serve the church and its members full-time, how do we care for each other and monitor one another's needs, especially in the event of things like hurricanes and earthquakes?

The answer is within the service of the Priesthood and its auxiliaries, including the Relief Society. Priesthood holders are called to home teach families and Relief Society sisters visit teach other sisters. Home and visiting teachers essentially have the same responsibilities - to teach and strengthen other members and form relationships of trust so that the families and individuals can call upon them in times of need. Those needs are reported to the Priesthood and Relief Society, who, in turn, report them to the bishop.

We each are called to be the eyes and ears of the bishop regarding the welfare of those he has a stewardship for, and, as necessary, his hands. My own home and visiting teachers have helped me with things as simple as extra prayers that I may get through trials or hanging a mirror on a door. In turn, I hope I've helped those I visit teach. It's just another way in which our church is connected individually and collectively, locally and globally. We truly care for each other.

We are also able to mobilize quickly to help neighbors not of our faith in times of disaster. The church is involved in humanitarian aid throughout the world. The membership of the church is encouraged to donate funds or material or participate in any way we can. Of course, as Christians, we are also encouraged to serve and help our neighbors in times of daily needs as well.

I hope that I always take the time to help and serve as I observe the needs of others. I know that I have not always done so, but I know that I can do better and resolve to do so.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane

In case you live you under a rock and didn't know, there was an earthquake with an epicenter about 85 miles southwest of DC. And if you do live under a rock, I hope it didn't move too much today, because I imagine that might hurt a bit. Official details from the United States Geological Survey can be found here.

Much like the last earthquake I experienced, it was pretty awesome for a geology geek like me, once I got over the shock of it all and knew that everyone was okay, of course.

I was eating lunch at my desk when I felt a bit of shaking. With construction across the street and trucks rolling by, it took an extra second for me to realize just what was happening. The shaking was intensifying, so I recalled my training from drills as a kid in Utah and went directly to my office door and stood in the frame until everything stopped moving. Nothing fell, though my rolling compact shelves rolled a little bit.

Once the earth settled down, I checked on my building mates who were experiencing various degrees of astonishment or total freak out. Then Twitter exploded. So did Facebook. I posted my own first reactions and watched others roll in while I finished eating.

One friend, who currently lives in New York City, commented on my Facebook status and asked if I'd be willing to talk to a reporter in Utah about my experience. I said yes, then a chain of emails from this friend to her roommate to her brother, the reporter, and soon I was on a phone interview with the brother, an anchor for 570 KNRS in Salt Lake City.


During this afternoon's 2 PM MST top of the hour news update, I tuned in via the webs to hear my 10 seconds of fame. I've heard myself on the radio before, but it's weird every time. Weird and cool. I was able to get a copy of the broadcast to save forever and ever.

Nothing too crazy has happened the rest of the day. I did come home to find one casualty - my BYU football Pez dispenser took a dive off my bookshelf. The bottles of hair product on my bathroom floor may or may not have been there already.

Definitely one of the stranger days I've experienced.

Friday, August 19, 2011

You can't take the sky from me

NPR published a list of the top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy books.  It was based on 60,000 votes from NPR users. 

How many have you read?

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien

2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card

4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert

5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin

6. 1984, by George Orwell

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov

9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan

13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell

14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson

15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore

16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov

17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss

19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick

22. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood

23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke

25. The Stand, by Stephen King

26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman

30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess

31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein

32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams

33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey

34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein

35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller

36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells

37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys

39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells

40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny

41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings

42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson

44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven

45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin

46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien

47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White

48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke

50. Contact, by Carl Sagan

51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons

52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman

53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson

54. World War Z, by Max Brooks

55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle

56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman

57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett

58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson

59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold

60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett

61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind

63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson

66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist

67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks

68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard

69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb

70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne

73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore

74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi

75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson

76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey

78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin

79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire

81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson

82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde

83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks

84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart

85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson

86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher

87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe

88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn

89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan

90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock

91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury

92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley

93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge

94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov

95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson

96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville

99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony

100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

17 out of 100 isn't . . . terrible.  I'm sad that the Redwall series by Brian Jacques didn't even make the list, and I'm not sure that sci-fi and fantasy, while very closely related, should even be on one list. Oh well.

Your turn!

Here's Theater Geek's list.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I'm trying to be like Jesus

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better. For previous installments, click here.

I once discussed that Mormons are indeed Christians in that our worship, preaching, and rejoicings are Christ-centered. But how exactly do we do that?

By living a Christ-like life, developing the attributes He espoused, and becoming like Him. My favorite summary of this lifestyle is found in the 13th Article of Faith:

 13 aWe believe in being bhonest, true, cchastedbenevolent, virtuous, and in doing egood to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we fhope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able togendure all things. If there is anything hvirtuousilovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

There's also a really good discussion about it in the Preach My Gospel manual.

In short, to be like Christ, we must strive to have faith, hope, charity and love, virtue, knowledge, patience, humility, diligence, and obedience. Our meetings, services, and relationships focus on these things with the hope that we may one day be even a diligent fraction of the kind of person Jesus Christ was. We hear that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", but as it suggests perfection and matching them, I'd prefer to use "emulation" in our devotion to be like the Savior to truly worship Him.

I know I have a long way to go, but, to my benefit, not only do I have great example to live up to, I believe that He is also my greatest cheerleader in encouraging me in the process. With Him, I can truly do anything.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Song That Goes Like This

In April, my dear friend, Eric, and I sang for a regional Young Single Adult talent show and received rave reviews! And now, finally, I can share it with you! You'll have to forgive the terrible church lighting and imagine the looks of adoration/frustration on our faces.

Eric and Amanda, accompaniment by Jenny - The Song That Goes Likes This from Spamalot

And now Eric is getting ready to serve in Haiti for the rest of the month, followed by a 1,200 mile bike ride from DC to Miami to raise funds for the group he's serving with - Sustain Haiti. You can follow and support him on Twitter, Facebook, or his blog. Check him out!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Reverently, Quietly

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better. For previous installments, click here.

Recently, we discussed the role of the President of the Church and his calling to receive revelation for the church and world as a whole. While that is definitely a blessing in our lives, we also believe that we are blessed with receiving personal revelation, direct from Heavenly Father, through the gift of the Holy Ghost. Here's my post about that from January.

Rather than simply repeating myself, here are a few other resources that may give you a little more insight as to what personal revelation is:

The Spirit of Revelation, a talk from Elder David A. Bednar during April 2011 General Conference

Eight Ways God Can Speak To You, a talk from Elder Dallin H. Oaks at BYU in 1981