Friday, January 23, 2009

President Barack Hussein Obama

January 23, 2009

This week has come and gone just as quickly as any other. And suddenly, President George W. Bush is now a former president, and we have a new leader in President Barack Hussein Obama.

It should be apparent by now that I am not a very courageous person, insofar as stating my true thoughts on Obama is concerned. Coming up with a steady diet of "liberals hate America," "liberalism is a mental disorder," "liberals are Godless," etc., for some reason it is really hard to just come right out and say the dreadful words, "I believe in Barack Obama." And I don't even consider myself a liberal, let alone a democrat. Regardless, admitting to ultra-conservatives that you believe in Barack Obama is probably as blasphemous as denying the existence of a Supreme Creator. But I am coming to accept the way things are for me, and although it is really hard to describe, I am very optimistic about the future, in large part because of who our president is today.

As I watched the inauguration on Tuesday, I was filled with hope, with inspiration, with optimism. To me, Barack Obama symbolizes, in a variety of different ways, the goodness of the country of which I am a proud citizen.

For a short time, I was beginning to doubt that goodness. I watched the United States move along what looked to me like a slow, awful, unstoppable decline. (By way of clarification, in my opinion, this attitude had little to do with where Bush and conservatives took the country over the last eight years.) While the U.S.A. has innumerable problems, some of them very difficult, I have again reaffirmed, at least in my own mind, that what this country symbolizes, what this country stands for, for those of us who live here, and for many around the world, is simple goodness. And although it may be completely sickening to some critics of the new president, to me Barack Obama has made me believe in that simple truth once again.

I am proud of my country, and I'm proud to be and American. I am proud of President Barack Obama.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

2 + 2 = 5

January 17, 2009

A great Radiohead video. A great Radiohead song. Interesting social commentary.

Are you such a dreamer
To put the world to rights?
I'll stay home forever
Where two and two always makes a five

I'll lay down the tracks
Sandbag and hide
January has April's showers
And two and two always makes a five

It's the devil's way now
There is no way out
You can SCREAM and you can shout
It is too late now

You have not been!

Payin' attention
Payin' attention
Payin' attention
Payin' attention
You have not been paying attention

Payin' attention
Payin' attention
Payin' attention
You have not been paying attention

Payin' attention
Payin' attention
Payin' attention
You have not been paying attention

Payin' attention
Payin' attention
Payin' attention oohh

I try to sing along
But I get it all wrong

I swat 'em like flies but like flies the buggers keep coming back NOT
But I’m not

All hail to the thief
All hail to the thief

But I'm not
But I'm not
But I'm not
But I'm not

Don't question my authority or put me in the box

Oh go and tell the king that the sky is falling in

When it's not
But it's not
But it's not
Maybe not
Maybe not

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Harmonious Hymns

January 14, 2009

I get inflammatory information sent to me occasionally, as I've said. Sometimes it comes through my email inbox. Sometimes it is in the current newspaper, or on TV. Such material initially elicits very strong, emotional reactions.

However, as time marches on, and I get little older (and wiser, too, I hope), I am less prone to jump into an angry tirade, or judge another person without hearing other points of view.

In connection with this short anecdotal thought, the topic in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday was mercy and forgiveness. We sang a couple excellent hymns - #235, "Should You Feel Inclined to Censure," #273, and "Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses."

The lyrics are sublime. I hope to pattern my life more along the feelings conveyed in the verses:

Should you feel inclined to censure
Faults you may in others view,
Ask your own heart, ere you venture,
If you have not failings, too.
Let not friendly vows be broken;
Rather strive a friend to gain.
Many words in anger spoken
Find their passage home again.

Do not, then, in idle pleasure
Trifle with a brother's fame;
Guard it as a valued treasure,
Sacred as your own good name.
Do not form opinions blindly;
Hastiness to trouble tends;
Those of whom we thought unkindly
Oft become our closest friends."
(Hymns, #235, Text: Anonymous
emphasis added)

Jesus said, "Be meek and lowly,"
For 'tis high to be a judge;
If I would be pure and holy,
I must love without a grudge.
It requires a constant labor
All his precepts to obey.
If I truly love my neighbor,
I am in the narrow way.

Once I said unto another,
"In thine eye there is a mote;
If thou art a friend, a brother,
Hold, and let me pull it out."
But I could not see it fairly,
For my sight was very dim.
When I came to search more clearly,
In mine eye there was a beam.

Charity and love are healing;
These will give the clearest sight;
When I saw my brother's failing,
I was not exactly right.
Now I'll take no further trouble;
Jesus; love is all my theme;
Little motes are but a bubble
When I think upon the beam.
(Hymns, #273, Text, Eliza R. Snow, 1804-1887
vs. 2,3,5, emphasis added)

As I read the words to these two hymns, I then remembered a superb talk by the late President Gordon B. Hinckley entitles, "Slow to Anger." In the talk, President Hinckley refers to the hymn, "School Thy Feelings." This hymn is marvellous, as well:

School thy feelings, O my brother;

Train thy warm, impulsive soul.
Do not its emotions smother,

But let wisdom’s voice control.

School thy feelings; there is power

In the cool, collected mind.

Passion shatters reason’s tower,

Makes the clearest vision blind. …

School thy feelings; condemnation

Never pass on friend or foe,
Though the tide of accusation
Like a flood of truth may flow.
Hear defense before deciding,
And a ray of light may gleam,
Showing thee what filth is hiding
Underneath the shallow stream.

School thy feelings, O my brother;

Train thy warm, impulsive soul.
Do not its emotions smother,
But let wisdom’s voice control.
(“School Thy Feelings,” Hymns, no. 336,
Text, Charles W. Penrose, 1832-1925)

I hope I can be more wise in my judgments in the future, as I follow the Godly counsel in these hymns.