Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Practical Applications of the Scriptures: Help for Your Career

One day I went to work prepared to make a Big Mistake. I was planning to speak out to my boss about some growing dissatisfaction and was going to point out how I was much more valuable than management had realized, and how I needed more power and money and so forth. In retrospect, I was about to do this at a particularly unwise moment and certainly would have done damage in several ways. I probably would have antagonized some very good people and left the meeting ready to quit or perhaps even without a job, and I think that leaving would have been the wrong choice. Even if I had prevailed and they had honored my greatness and my glory, I think it all would have been a Big Mistake. I can see that plainly now, but I was quite blinded my selfish preoccupation with my desires on that morning, the morning of an annual performance review.

When I pulled into the parking lot at work, I realized that I really needed just a little more guidance before I attempted something as risky as what I was planning to do. I had prayed about things the night before and earlier that morning, but was still determined to do things my way. (If there are any other weak and fallible mortals like myself out there, please take this as a warning: it is entirely possible to make a ridiculous and idiotic decision after praying, especially if we are focused on selfish interests rather than truly seeking counsel from the Lord, or if we have refused to think carefully.) I had felt like bringing my Book of Mormon along that morning, recognizing I was behind in scripture study. So while in the parking lot, with only about 2 minutes to spare before I had to rush into the building to make my early meeting with my boss, I said a brief prayer and then randomly flipped open the Book of Mormon just in case there might be any useful advice there.

I do not mean to advocate the use of the scriptures as a printed version of an ouija board, but it is amazing how many times I have been able to "randomly" open them up in a time of true need to find something that helped me. Maybe there is help on most pages, if we read seeking to learn and understand the Father's will. With only seconds separating me from a serious self-inflicted injury to my career, my eyes turned to the lower half of a column on the open pages before me and began reading some verses marked in red at the end of Moroni chapter 7:
45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
OK, I can take a hint. This was a big one. It hit me strongly: my whole attitude was selfish. I had a great job, an excellent boss, I was paid well and treated well, and needed to be more grateful for this. While I had worked hard and made some significant contributions, so had many others. I had no right to get puffed up over my contributions and become demanding.

I did my best to repent and change my outlook as I rushed to the appointment, and felt a huge burden lifted. Selfishness is such a burden. It makes life harder, more onerous.

I went into the performance review with a more positive, accepting, and grateful attitude - and what a difference that made. Communication was much more effective, and I left almost elated at understanding where I could make a bigger impact and how I could achieve more. I was more grateful than ever for my job and more optimistic than ever about my future. And the things I learned in that meeting also showed me how poor my timing would have been if I had persisted in my selfishness and whining.

Two minutes of prayer, pondering, and SCRIPTURE STUDY changed so much for me that morning. How grateful I am to the Lord for the scriptures and the marvelous way than can become alive for our present needs when we turn to them prayerfully. And I'm also grateful to have a job that I really love - at last!

32 comments:

Shadow Spawn said...

Not to belittle your post at all, but it reminded me of a time when I was on a paintball team, and before a big game against another team, I remembered reading in the Book of Mormon the night before of a strategem employed by the Nephites against the Lamanites to recapture a city.

I quickly gathered my team up, and hastily planned our own strategy based on the Nephite one. And wouldn't you know it....it worked for us, just as beautifully as it did for the Nephites.

One of my favorite paintball memories. Sorry, if I detracted from the Spirit of your post.

Gnuosphere said...

"Maybe there is help on most pages, if we read seeking to learn and understand the Father's will."

Why seek to understand a book? Why not understand yourself?

If I say - "I will use this book to understand myself. This book will help me." - then there is dependency. I might as well have a good stiff drink instead. Seeking has no meaning so long as the seeker is not understood.

AlexG said...

Gnuosphere: I think you have misread the post. No, there no dependency to the Book of Mormon for answers. It has been said that if you want to talk to God, pray; if you want Him to talk to you, then read the scriptures. If you want to understand He who you seek, then you need to read His words. I also have found quite some answers to problems that I have faced reading the Scriptures. The same passage can be understood in various manners, according to your state of mind. I believe that the answer comes very personal, in a way that you understand. That is what I get from the present post.

Walker said...

I would definitely agree with Alex. Those who believe that we just try to understand the content of the BOM do not understand what we (or at least I) use the BOM for. I have had tremendous experiences wherein BOM passages have taken on entirely new meaning, meaning that was certainly not implied in the original text (in fact, I would venture that it's a guarantee that my particular problems were not on Moroni's mind when he wrote certain passages).

The scriptures are vehicles to knowledge, not the knowledge itself.

ltbugaf said...

Gnuosphere: Your post seems to reflect the attitude that it's wrong, or undignified, to depend on another being, or communication from said being, in order to understand or improve oneself. Do I have that right?

Shadow Spawn said...

He sounds like a typical self-proclaimed intellectual that has been educated past the point of the ability to learn. While struggling to come off sounding provacative, profound, and philisophical, the end actually makes very little sense in his comments

Stephen said...

(If there are any other weak and fallible mortals like myself out there, please take this as a warning: it is entirely possible to make a ridiculous and idiotic decision after praying, especially if we are focused on selfish interests rather than truly seeking counsel from the Lord, or if we have refused to think carefully.)

Indeed, it is one of the hardest lessons to learn about praying.

Anonymous said...

Please don't be hard on Gnuosphere. He's sharing some interesting thoughts he picked up in some books he depends on.

Gnuosphere said...

Itbugaf says:

"Gnuosphere: Your post seems to reflect the attitude that it's wrong, or undignified, to depend on another being, or communication from said being, in order to understand or improve oneself. Do I have that right?"

How is one to learn about oneself? Will the intellectuals tell you about your greed? Will the philosophers tell you about your envy? Will the Bible, Gita, Upanishads, or BOM tell you about your hate, anger, or jealousy? Perhaps you will turn to Freud to learn about this so-called "ego"?

Obviously not. The intellectuals, the religious, the philosophers - cannot tell you about you. Of course, they try - and since we are confused - always seeking - then we are willing to be lead. Because we are afraid, we immediately take shelter in some text and go on endlessly quoting some saint or guru - whilst the entire time we are avoiding what we actually are. When we meet life with a bible or BOM or Koran or Freud, we are not meeting life at all. We are placing a screen between us and life itself - waiting for the screen to give us "the answer". And because that screen is dead - not right or wrong - but dead, it must therefore meet life incompletely.

Am I aware of my screens? Perhaps I have the mormon screen or the jewish screen or the buddhist screen or the american, communist, or capitalist screen. Perhaps I have the atheist screen. What is important is not which screen I have for every screen is essentially the same - a little modified here or there but essentially the same. What is important is seeing that I am always operating within the limits of my screen. Always interpreting life through that screen - measuring, comparing, judging - through that screen. Can I look at my screen and not say it is the right or wrong screen but just look at it and see how it actually dictates a major portion of my life?

We build our entire lives around our screens. We condition our children with our screens - go to work and play with our screens. When you die, you will not take your mormonism, communism, atheism - whatever your particular crutch is - with you. So die now. Die to what you think you know.

So who will tell me about my selfishness? If I rely upon a book I will surely deceive myself as I will be dependent upon an idea of what selfishness is and avoid the fact that I am selfish. Look at the post by the speaker! He says:

"Selfishness is such a burden. It makes life harder, more onerous."

And of course, this is true. But then, the speaker goes on to say:

"I left almost elated at understanding where I could make a bigger impact and how I could achieve more. I was more grateful than ever for my job and more optimistic than ever about my future...Two minutes of prayer, pondering, and SCRIPTURE STUDY changed so much for me that morning."

Do you not see the contradiction? And of course, someone will defend this by saying "it isn't wrong to feel elated about your understanding" and "it isn't wrong to try to make a bigger impact" and "it isn't wrong to want to achieve more" and "it isn't wrong to be optimistic about one's future" --- which will entirely miss the point. Whether one goes to the bar or runs a children's orphanage, the impetus is a desire to fulfill oneself. Does one read scripture in order to change something "for me" - as the post indicates - or to change "me"? If it is the former, scripture is no different than a pornographic magazine. But when the latter, it is entirely different. Then it matters not whether it is scripture or a magazine or a movie - for you are actually watching yourself while you read it - watching your bias, your judgments, your concepts go to work. You are not trying to achieve or gain anything - there is a direct observation of you.

I'm not pointing out right or wrong - I'm pointing out a basic fact. The fact is, I am selfish. Now can I work from there or must I run to some supposed holy book which will - if I haven't understood myself - create some absurd idea in my brain of becoming "unselfish"? I may think my "SCRIPTURE STUDY" is an act of selflessness. But that is my screen and therefore instead of seeing what is actually happening, I judge my actions through my screen.

Walker says:

"The scriptures are vehicles to knowledge, not the knowledge itself."

There is no "vehicle". Everything you need is right there.

Shadow Spawn said...

gnusophere

Have you considered that you have created your own screen with which you use to filter out the unplesantries of your own life and expereinces?

Is it possible that you have become too smug in your intellectual and philisophical superiority to notice that you have created a screen yourself? A screen that blackens your views, and narrows your mind to the possiblities of a larger more meaningful universe?

A screen that closes your mind off from the possibility that you are here in this life, in this time for a reason? That there is good and evil in the world, not just subjective experience?

Perhaps, as you advise others to look more closely at their beliefs, which according to your blog are "divisive thinking" You too should examine closer the philosphies which you appear to have embraced with a little more humility.

I am sorry, but from reading a little of your comments and your blog, you in the guise of being totally open-minded to life, are coming off rather narrow-minded, if not smug, arrogant, and a bit pompous. Seriously, at thirty three, how much can you really know about life? I am the same age as you, and would never dare to assume the knowledge of life which you appear to assume.

Walker said...

I suppose if I must have a "screen" (since all of us do, of some king or another) I'll just pretend that I have a screen of happiness. An act it may be, but if everything is an act, we might as well make it a splendid.

And frankly, I don't know how sincerely you've read the scriptures, because I have seen "fulfillment." And I'm not putting on my "I'm now going to do everything the BOM tells me" goggles. After all, if I did that, I would be required to be a general, a prophet, a colonizer, and myriad other roles. The Spirit teaches my friend. The Spirit communicates with the self far more effectively than anything else--for it knows me better than I do.

Mormanity said...

I don't think everything I need is right inside of me. I depend on books for so much of what is not yet there. Books that teach mathematics, patent law, investment strategies, nanotechnology, Spanish, Chinese, or whatever else I'm working on. Without outside sources of knowledge and wisdom that have been preserved and passed on in written form, I'd be far more clueless than I am now.

Turning to sources of wisdom from others is nothing to be shamed about.

The Romantic notion that education comes from within the child, and that the teacher is only a guide on the side, has led to generations of educationally impaired minds. It has failed. We need content. We need information. We need to be taught. And the scriptures teach - especially when we seek the Lord's guidance.

Gnuosphere said...

Mormanity says:

"I don't think everything I need is right inside of me. I depend on books for so much of what is not yet there. Books that teach mathematics, patent law, investment strategies, nanotechnology, Spanish, Chinese, or whatever else I'm working on."

So the BOM is merely a technical manual? I got the impression that you elevate it above physics, math, second languages, etc. That it is a guide to life itself - as if living is a technical matter. My apologies for mistaking you. More on that here.

shadow spawn says:

"Have you considered that you have created your own screen with which you use to filter out the unplesantries of your own life and expereinces?"

Of course. If there hadn't been a consideration and consequent awareness of the screens, I would still be calling them 'the truth'.

"Seriously, at thirty three, how much can you really know about life?"

?!

Do you see the implications of what you have just said?

Gnuosphere said...

PS

Mormanity says:

"Turning to sources of wisdom from others is nothing to be shamed about."

Of course not. But it's imperative to see the implications of doing so. Not just the implications on your job, your family, your country, or what have you. The implications for all.

Why do I 'turn'? Finding out why I turn is what is of importance - not what I turn to for all turning is the same.

Exploring the whole house is imperative.

Anonymous said...

"Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers."

"Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so."

"And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime."

Maybe it's just me, but that sounds very familiar.

Gnuosphere said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gnuosphere said...

This is brilliant:

"Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so."

But I don't get this:

"And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime."

This doesn't make any sense. How can such brilliancy come in one section and then get followed up by such insanity? "whatsoever a man did was no crime"? I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Try reading the Book of Mormon, Gnuosphere.

Perhaps there is something in there, after all.

Gnuosphere said...

Read it for what?

Anonymous said...

Those quotes are pulled from there, the context and story behind they pulled quotes are quite germane, I think.

Shadow Spawn said...

Anonymous:

Well done.


Gnuosphere:

Maybe you should read books before you deride them.

Gnuosphere said...

shadow spawn says:

"Maybe you should read books before you deride them."

I don't recall deriding any book. It would be silly to do so. Just as silly as placing a book on a pedestal. I simply deride those who believe any book is divine. It's never the book that's the problem. Perhaps you need to see that I'm not on the offensive shadow spawn. So please, put down your gun.

So this story about Korihor is quite a blast. It's fascinating that such stories are used as propaganda to bolster fear. A god that makes someone deaf and mute? Just because the guy was clearly as deranged as the believers doesn't mean he should suffer that kind of consequence for asking for proof. Asking for proof that god exists, granted, is absurd. But whoever wrote this story and painted god as a being that tortures those who are confused is the one who needs to be questioned. It's no wonder that there are grown adults who walk around repeating phrases like "Fear god!". Stories like this will perpetuate such an approach unless they are taken fully for what they are - metaphorical stories.

Interesting though. So thanks, anonymous, for passing it on.

Anonymous said...

"Make the aheart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed"

"Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not."

"Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."

Your understanding of what the scriptures are displays an exiguity of knowledge that I know shan't be able to overcome via the medium of the web, and yet I find myself curiously engaging with you, albeit on a superfluous level.

To dismiss a book as being divine shows you don't understand the divine, or rather, you reject the Judeo-Christian concept of the divine. Because of that, you don't understand how the divine works, and think it is a failure on our part to ascribe any sort of wisdom coming from the pages of an inert object.

Th error you commit is one that many of us commit, sometimes daily, that of being unable to understand someone's experience outside our own, and therefore discount whatever the person says regarding their experience.

You see the lesson of Korihor is not one of fear, but of understanding the divine and our relationship with God. God is not capricious, he works according to laws and truths set forth before the world was.

Korihor sought the test between himself and a servant of the Most High, and he was given multiple chances to repent and turn away from the path he was on. He rejected all of this and as a consequence and as directed by Alma acting in the name of God, he suffered a punishment according to his desires.

The story of Korihor is multilayered and powerful.

This is fear to those that don't understand. To those that do, there is no fear of God striking someone randomly.

I look to Christ as he is the author and the finisher of my faith, I fear least I fall because of my own sins, not a fear that God will strike me on a whim.

"I don't recall deriding any book. It would be silly to do so. "

And so the shell game starts.

"If I say - "I will use this book to understand myself. This book will help me." - then there is dependency. I might as well have a good stiff drink instead."

"Now can I work from there or must I run to some supposed holy book which will - if I haven't understood myself - create some absurd idea in my brain of becoming "unselfish"? I may think my "SCRIPTURE STUDY" is an act of selflessness. But that is my screen and therefore instead of seeing what is actually happening, I judge my actions through my screen."

Deride? You've equated a holy book to a stiff drink, the cause of creating an absurd idea in your brain, and a screen blocking reality.

Deride? You've shown contempt towards something you don't understand.

I let the reader decide on this point, but it is a grand act of hubris to compare scriptures to alcoholic beverage on a LDS site, and then declare you're not on the offensive!

Gnuosphere said...

Anonymous says:

"yet I find myself curiously engaging with you, albeit on a superfluous level."

Then don't. Or it's not really discussion. Besides, you're not really engaging with me. You are posting as "anonymous". Not that names are really important but it indicates something about your approach in this discussion. Basically, my door is reasonably open - you can even post comments on my blog if you wish. I mean, who are you? Do you have a site? How can I get to know you better?

"To dismiss a book as being divine shows you don't understand the divine, or rather, you reject the Judeo-Christian concept of the divine."

Of course. I reject all concepts for concepts are never an adequate substitute for what actually is. The only use for concepts is in a conventional sense. That is where concepts have a place.

"you don't understand how the divine works"

Of course not. Only a fool thinks or believes they know anything about divinity. Perhaps one could know something beyond - perhaps I do! - but the fact is, even if they did, there would be no way to communicate that to another so speculation or belief about it is pointless.

"Th error you commit is one that many of us commit, sometimes daily, that of being unable to understand someone's experience outside our own, and therefore discount whatever the person says regarding their experience."

I don't understand what you mean by 'discount'. Obviously I cannot understand your experience completely no matter how much you speak of it. That in itself should indicate the right approach - but I question what you mean by 'discount'. I should listen to you. But I should neither accept nor reject what you have to say. If I do this, is this 'discounting'?

"God is not capricious, he works according to laws and truths set forth before the world was."

Well it seems reasonable that there are laws in the universe that still operate that were functioning before what we call 'earth' came to exist. Is this what you mean? Why do you use the term "he"? Why not - "the laws work...". What is "he" and "god" supposed to mean? Why this personification?

"I look to Christ"

Why look "to" anyone? Why not just look? What does it indicate about me if I look to another for help in understanding life?

"Deride? You've equated a holy book to a stiff drink"

No I didn't. I equated the act of seeking answers to life in a book to alcoholism. But you've brought up a point that the drink and the book are both made from the same stuff. But that is a matter for the physicists and off topic. But I do grant a difference between the two - the book is easier on the liver.

"Deride? You've shown contempt towards something you don't understand."

What is it I don't understand?

"it is a grand act of hubris to compare scriptures to alcoholic beverage on a LDS site"

Well to comfort you, I didn't target an LDS site. I find religion to be of the most imperative activities and visit sites of all sorts of backgrounds. As I say on my site, religion must be free. If you wish to think of me as "on the offensive" then so be it - but think of me as on the offensive toward all organized religious systems - not just LDS. I found this site quite by accident.

ltbugaf said...

Gnuosphere, if you should neither accept nor reject what others say, then why are you dismissing said others as fools and clearly reject their searching as the equivalent of alcoholism? Does that really amount to neither accepting nor rejecting?

Gnuosphere said...

Why do we search?

Anonymous said...

"Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God."

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

"For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me."

"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled."

"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."

"Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures."



"And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning."

Walker said...

I simply deride those who believe any book is divine

Who's on the offensive again? From the way it appears, you're valuing a ideology quite highly, even more highly than people. When people value "concepts" (such as the a priori assumption that all books are less-than-divine) over people, that's where I draw the line. If my "concept" teaches me not to deride people, I would much rather live that kind of life than that of intellectualizing on the mysteries while my human family perishes (whether from want of food or want of word).

ltbugaf said...

Why deride?

;)

Anonymous said...

Mormanity writes, "it is entirely possible to make a ridiculous and idiotic decision after praying."

He is right, of course. It is known as "burning in the bosom."

Walker said...

provocateur...

Anonymous said...

Mais vrai, n'est-ce pas?