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  • Background:  Samaria was initially settled by foreigners placed by various Assyrian and Babylonian kings, as well as some Israelites.  In time intermarriage had mingled religiously and racially.  Given the strong theologically governed culture at the time, Jews in particular looked upon the Samaritans with disdain and prejudice.

    1)  The Samaritan woman at the well would’ve been surprised by the friendliness of Jesus Christ in the same way perhaps that American blacks would’ve been surprised in a racially divided 50’s-60’s in America.  Especially similar when remembering “colored only” bathrooms, water fountains, etc.

    2)  Christ teaches us that we are judged individually, and independent of our ancestors.  While it is true that we may be held partially responsible for what we teach our progeny, we are not held accountable to the “sins of our fathers.”

    3)  It is perhaps important symbolically that among the first peoples that Christ taught was the despised and discriminated against Samaritans.  It was important for his Disciples to start to overcome their well ingrained prejudices, and Christ set the example in doing so.  The culture was so inflexible and dogmatic that I think Christ understood that it would take little by little, but also grand gestures to overcome such deeply rooted prejudices.

    4)  The Samaritan woman’s demeanor changed while conversing with Christ.  At first was understandably wary, simply referring to him as “Jew” (v:9).  When Christ responds to her with respect , she then starts to refer to him as “Sir” (v’s:11,15,19), even later declaring Christ a Prophet (v:19).  She understood that Christ was someone special, in that he didn’t belittle her, answered her questions respectfully, and somehow knew things about her personally.  She had so much faith in what Christ said that she left in considerable haste (leaving her waterpot) and rounded up others to come listen to Christ . . . essentially becoming one of the first missionaries.

    Similarly, I think my prayers have become less “wary” and more heartfelt as I understand the Savior better.  The more I grow, the more I desire to understand, and the easier it is to share with others.  The obligation to share testimony is so important to the spreading of the Gospel.  The Samaritans were quick believers of Christ simply because the woman testified of him (John 4:39).

    5)  Water in itself is the foundation of physical life.  We can survive weeks without food, but only a couple of days without water.  Similarly the “living water” of Christ is essential to our eternal life.  Jeremiah 2:13 teaches us that to accept anything less, to attempt to counterfeit the “living water” of Christ is by definition “evil”.

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  • First, some interesting points and background of John the Baptist.

    John’s birth, name, and life mission was announced to his father Zacharias by the Archangel Gabriel . . . the same messenger who revealed similarly to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

    John which means “God is gracious”, was a somewhat surprising name for the child of Zacharias and Elisabeth since John was not a family name which tradition generally dictated (Luke 1:59-63).

    With John is found the ultimate fulfilling of the “Spirit of Elias” (Matt 11:14), which is a preparatory power.  Always was he preaching of the coming Christ (Matt 1:3-7).

    John was a Levite, which meant he was preordained to be a Priest, like his father, but we know that instead he was a great Prophet.

    Two of the disciples of Christ, were first disciples of John.  Perhaps there were others, but we know of John and Andrew at least.

    John grew up in the wilderness , similarly to Elijah and Moses.  We know little about why that was necessary, but we can speculate that his birth would’ve fallen under the same death order invoked by King Herod in response to the birth of Jesus.  If the supposition that John’s father was martyred (Matt 23:25), then perhaps we can conclude that his loving mother hid him in the wilderness.

    Some of the prophets who knew about the coming of John, and his mission includes; Isaiah, Nephi, Lehi, Malachi.

    I wanted to write about John the Baptist for a few reasons.  I’m awed by his humility, to know that his life is a life of servitude . . . and “second”.  I wonder if he chafed at that . . . did it take him time to reconcile his spirit and pride to the fact that he was foreordained to trumpet the life and mission of someone else?  Or was his spirit so pure right from the start that he gleefully dedicated his entire being to his mission.  Rarely do we see examples of someone willingly and happily turning over their power and influence to others; and make no mistake, John the Baptist was incredibly powerful and influential at the time.

    However his maturation into his role, his birth is conceivably the second most heralded, the second most rejoiced ever in the history of the world.  With the birth of John came the final Prophet of the Law of Moses, the ushering in of the fullness of the Gospel.  So important was the role of John, that 700 years prior the Prophet Isaiah knew of his mission.  So great was his mission, that Christ himself declared him the greatest of men ever born (Matt 11:11).   John’s parents rejoiced at his birth because they were old and barren and fearful of never knowing the joy of parenthood.  The spiritually enlightened rejoiced because they knew the coming Savior was nigh.  Modern day Saints rejoice him as the restorer of the keys of Aaronic Priesthood.

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  • So gay rights is hot topic national topic lately, but this week in particular, and one that I felt for whatever reason I wanted to comment on . . . largely I think because it seems that I only read/hear emotional rants pro/con. And I’m also tired of feeling a little intimidated I guess in expressing a view that seems contrary to trends . . .

    My views on gay marriage is different than gay rights, and yes, it is partly construed from religious beliefs. The moral arguments tend to be more relative and less objective, and while arguably should hold more consideration in the legal argument, technically is not overly relevant. But beyond the religious/moral, I’m more comfortable in my own personal position on gay marriage supported by a legal stand point (thanks EWE for the education and to borrow that phrase) . . .

    So the legal arguments and considerations as I understand it are these:

    1- Marriage is not a Federal Court issue. It’s a state issue . . . always has been (everyone is all excited about this past week’s activities of US Supreme Court, but isn’t potentially relevant to resolving the issue . . . beyond PR). Currently a marriage license is a 3 way contract between 2 people and their state, not the US. This really doesn’t address “the movement” per se, but I do think a relevant point to the discussion.
    2- Marriage is not an inalienable right, i.e. there is not an inherent legal right to marry.  That sounds a little harsh, but there it is.  Basically each State has a right to determine whether it’s in its best interest to enter into and sanction a marriage contract with specific citizens.  Interestingly, many states don’t recognize an automatic legal right to divorce either.
    3- The argument for the traditional definition of marriage has been refined and proven over hundreds and even thousands of years. Namely that society benefits by the sanction of contractual endorsement of marriage between man, woman, and government. Obviously it’s not always a perfect union, but economically, practically, socially, it’s been proven to be the best foundation of a productive society.
    4- What is the societal benefit to gay marriage? Is it possible that man/man or woman/woman, and government based contracts can be a benefit to society? Yes, it’s possible, but the amount of data supporting that thesis pales in comparison to the thousands of years and hundreds of societies/governments based on “traditional” marriage . . . everyone’s anecdotal examples aside. No matter what, there is always going to be an inherent advantage of procreation for “traditional” based societies vs. “gay” based societies.  If I as a citizen want to change the speed limit from 55 to 75, I need to show and prove what the societal benefit is.
    5- This is not a civil rights issue. It seems many in the gay movement are attempting to turn this into a 14th amendment issue and link their cause to slavery/abolition and women’s suffrage. I believe that’s manipulative and proportionally offensive. But this practically may be one of the few ways to attempt to legitimize in a legal argument.

    Finally, a few personal thoughts on the issue.

    1- Because I disagree with you, doesn’t mean I hate you, nor should it mean I’m a bigot. My mom thinks I eat too much and a bit overweight . . . but that doesn’t make her a bigot.
    2- This may sound a bit harsh, but . . . life isn’t fair. Is that a reasonable “catch-all” for this issue? Perhaps not, and I don’t mean to minimize a large sized issue, but the point is, does everything in society have to be altered to make it “fair” for us individually?
    3- As a Mormon, I can think of no greater challenge than to be Gay and Mormon. And I have tremendous respect for those I know that are and the struggles they have.
    4- For those friends of mine that are gay, and are truly being persecuted, please let me know . . . I’d like to stand with you and fight on your behalf.

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  • Recently a Sports Illustrated writer had this to say about the epic moral failings of the Penn State University leadership, in particular Joe Paterno.

    http://joeposnanski.si.com/2011/11/10/the-end-of-paterno/

    Here is my response.

    Thanks for the article, we’re all sorry it had to be written.  I’m curious about a couple of things though:

    1)  What is it that you would have JoePa supporters do?  We all know the good things JoePa has done, but what we’re all trying to figure out, the conflict that we all feel, is trying to synchronize the moral fiber and leadership JoePa has shown his whole career vs his complete lack of moral judgment in this case.  We KNOW that he’s done great things for a great many people, but it APPEARS that he placed the “good” of his football program over the welfare of a child, and ultimately several children.

    Oftentimes I think the adage, “sacrifice one for the many” is applicable . . . but a moral and healthy community cannot allow that “one” to be a child, and oftentimes women.  That’s why there is a moral code in society that protects women and children . . . to protect and defend those that often cannot do so themselves.  Children the most, so as they often cannot protect themselves physically, emotionally, or intellectually.

    Does this singular failure from JoePa outweigh all the good he’s done?  Clearly not . . . but it does negate much of it.  How much so is what we’re all trying to figure out.  Time; more facts; continued leadership, or lack thereof, from JoePa; will all impact that legacy.

    The problem for JoePa supporters is that now is not the time to “rally” around JoePa.  Now is the time to “rally” around the children, to remind those in similar capacities of their duties to these heinous acts, to condemn the failures that allowed children to be harmed in such an evil way.

    2)  What would you have Penn State do differently?  You say they “scapegoated” JoePa.  Rightly held or not, deserved or not, JoePa had little checks and balances.  There are rewards and benefits from that of which JoePa benefited for many many years.  There are also consequences for such when necessary as well.  7 days ago, very few within Happy Valley knew the names Spanier, Shultz, and Cutler, now everyone in the nation knows those names.  Have they also been “scapegoated”?  Is there a better way they should have fired JoePa?

    I’d guess roughly 85% of us would have immediately called police when hearing about an incident such as this.  Does that mean 85% of us are better people than JoePa?  Maybe . . . so many permutations to that question, but perhaps it does suggest that 85% of us are more grounded, and less burdened by things that conflict with basic morality.

    If you look at the timelines of JoePa’s statements, he either knew from the beginning of his failures in this regard, or he was out of touch with how severe his moral failing truly was.  Either way, it appears as though he was not rushing into the burning building, but was putting his own interests firsts.

    That’s not the JoePa we thought we knew, that’s not the JoePa we hoped we knew.  Give us some time to reconcile the past JoePa, with the “current” JoePa.

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  • “It is too late to change your mind after you’ve jumped off the cliff”

    “The good Lord made women to please the eye, and trouble the mind”

    “There’s no point letting honey age too long before you eat it”

    “An open sack hides nothing, an open door hides little, but an open man is surely hiding something”

     

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