March 28, 2014

Title Swap

Wild Swans: Three Daughter of China by Jung Chang
Discover Your Child's Learning Style by Mariaemma Willis and Victoria Hodson
Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden

March 27, 2014

Communism and Consecration: Lessons learned from "1984" by Genevieve Kopping

Often people confuse living the Law of Consecration with Communism.  One important element in the Law of Consecration is that once we become self-sufficient, then we may give of our increase to others voluntarily, out of the pure love of Christ.  Contrast that with the Communism portrayed in 1984, which was entirely compulsory and not faith-based.  People living under Communism may harbor feelings of resentment or entitlement, whereas those keeping the law of consecration display charity and humility.

President Marion G. Romney stated the following:
“To enter the united order, one consecrated all his possessions to the Church by a “covenant and a deed which [could not] be broken.” That is, he completely divested himself of all his property by conveying it to the Church.
“Having done so, the consecrator received from the Church a stewardship by a like conveyance. This stewardship could be more or less than the original consecration, the object being to make “every man equal according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs.” (D&C 51:3.)
“This procedure preserved in every man the right of private ownership and management of his property. Indeed, the fundamental principle of the system was the private ownership of property. Each man owned his portion, or inheritance, or stewardship, with an absolute title, which, at his option, he could alienate, keep and operate, or otherwise treat as his “own. The Church did not own all of the property, and life under the united order was not, and never will be, a communal life, as the Prophet Joseph himself said.”  (“The Purpose of Church Welfare Services,” Ensign, April 1977)
The Law of Consecration can only be lived by those who have the pure love of Christ.  In this society, feelings of love and gratitude are shared and nurtured.  I see it in my little community, as those who are poor have the ability to serve with their time and talents, uplifting those who may seem to have more things of this world.  I also see it as those who are well off financially donate of their abundance to help the widows and the fatherless in our ward as well.  I can't help but think of one of my favorite scriptures, "And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted."  (Jacob 2:19) 

Thankfully, we don't have "Big Brother" who is always watching and seeking to turn us against each other; instead, we have an Elder Brother, who is Jesus Christ.  He wants us to succeed, yet He also wants us to learn to love and serve one another.  He wants us to have joy and prosperity.  I am so glad that I know the difference.

March 3, 2014

The Lonesome Gods by Jesse Edwards

I loved being able to take a break and read a book that was a lighter read.  The main theme of the book that I related to, perhaps because of homeschool, was the focus on education.  It must have been rare in the set time period to have a focus on education.  I love how Johannes' father is such a wise man.  You see that from a child's perspective which is so on point.  The son idolizing the father, and in this case, the father seeming worthy of it.  I love that we are given that view of him since Johannes is so certain of his father's awesomeness.  

It led me to wonder, if I knew that I was going to die, what would be my message to my children.  If I knew I was going to die, and that perhaps they would be completely alone in the world, what wisdom would I impart?  I love that Johannes learned that he was to soak up whatever information he could from whomever he came in contact with.  That everyone has something valuable to give.  Everyone knows something you don't.  The hard part is sometimes letting go of pride to be able to open yourself to see other's greatness and knowledge, even when it appears that they might not have any thing to offer.  

That reminds me of the story of Nathaniel Ayers.  A homeless man who had been attending Julliard for cello.  He would play in the Lincoln Tunnel for acoustics, when a reporter found him and tried to help him.  He found that he had an incredible gift, it was just a matter of reaching it.  

That is the main thing I would love to take away from the book.  A genuine reaching to try and absorb all the information I can from others around me and acknowledging their greatness.  

In the book Johannes had a life that seemed to be filled to overflowing with inescapable adversity.  He had people wanting to kill him simply because they disagreed with him, or because his father was who he was, or he was heir to an inheritance.  It is a great story of overcoming adversity.  And not just overcoming, but meeting it head on.  He tried to evade it until finally he confronted it and won.  In the end can we be courageous enough to stare down our demons, fight, and come out victorious.  I think it is in all of us to succeed and win out over any trial we are faced with.  Head on.