The Good in Knowing What You Don't Want to Know

I've decided that I like knowing how many calories are in that cheeseburger that I'm thinking about ordering at a restaurant.  Restaurants are now required to list the amount of calories in every item on the menu.  At first this kind of disturbed me, because it kind of ruined it when I saw the price that I would have to pay -- in calories.   The knowing took the fun out of eating that cheeseburger.  To be completely honest, I'd prefer not to think about how unhealthy such a choice would be and the consequences of that choice -- and instead just enjoy my cheeseburger.

Life, with its many choices, is kind of like that.  The truth is, the more information we know about how a specific choice could likely affect us, the better decision we tend to make.  The problems begin when we choose to not think about consequences before we act.  Teenagers tend to do this -- a lot.  That's why they tend to have so many problems.   And of course, the rest of us are not immune to this behavior either.

In the raising of my five children, I had one in particular, who was determined for a season, to live life ignoring that there are consequences for choices.  I barely survived.  For most of us, at least I think, we generally accept this principle and in making a negative choice, pretty much accept that we're walking on thin ice, so to speak.  Not my child.  Later, as a responsible adult, this child confessed to me that a conscience choice was made, at the time, to completely disregard and ignore all possible consequences to behavior.  The theory followed -- that if considered, the choice to have "fun" in the moment would not have been made.   And fun was the objective.

At first thought, we might be surprised at such a blatant decision.  At the time, I was.  But then again, am I not doing the same thing when I order that cheeseburger, knowing full well that I will most likely gain weight?  In a strange kind of way, this process of learning through our choices, good or bad, causes me to feel gratitude.  The point being, that through our own choices, we come to learn what is good and what is not good.  Another wonderful result of this process, and probably the most important of all, is that eventually, we learn to trust God.

Eve, expressed similar feelings about what her and Adam had learned, through their life's experiences in choice making...

"Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient." (Moses 5:11)

Returning to my child...  When very small, I taught the principle of agency with clarity.  Perhaps a little too well.  This child had a clear understanding that the right to make personal choices was God-given -- not mom given.  As a young mother, I recognized how empowering this was to this particular child -- who on occasion, used this knowledge against me.  I was often reminded that choice belonged to the child.  Little did I fully understand at the time, but that the consequences of those choices, of which involved much learning for all of us -- would ultimately be what brought that wayward child running straight back into the arms of God!

Learning to exercise our faith, and trust God, is a sign of spiritual maturity.  There is nothing blind about it.  God's ways are proven.  If we desire happiness in our lives, then we must make choices that result in happiness.  It is impossible to have joy and happiness in this life, if our choices are contrary to God's commandments.  We may experience temporary "fun" and even enjoy what we are doing for a time, but the natural consequences of poor choices will always find there way into our lives --- regardless of immediate distortions of what happiness is.

As we learn to trust God, we are more inclined to listen and follow His Prophets.   As members of His Church, Mormons accept the inspired and loving counsel from living prophets.  Their messages are timely for our day and are meant to lead us in the path of righteousness.

Mormon Messages newest video, features strong counsel about the consequences of pornography, from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul

Watch Your Step   


The Future of Social Networks

The big news across all Social Networks is that Facebook now has one-on-one Video Calling via Skype! Many speculate that this was in response to the recent launch of rival, Google, and their new and very powerful social network Google+.   Google Plus launched with video chat capability, but took it one step further -- Hangouts!

When a user initiates a Hangout, multiple users can join in a video call at one time -- up to 10 people.  Currently Google+ is in beta and is not open to the general public.  But early adopters, including myself, are for the most part finding it to be a positive experience, and believe that its presence can only make Facebook better.

At least for now, the majority of my online interaction will still be on Facebook.   And honestly, I don't really see that changing in the near future.  Yes, Google+ has some cool features, but still nothing to compel me to completely ditch Facebook.  Facebook is the largest Social Network on the Internet with over 750 million active daily users!  Among those users, are my family, friends, online associates and followers of this blog.  So I ask you, why would I leave?  My loyalties are not to Facebook, but to you.  Wherever you are, that's where I'm going to want to be -- regardless of new tricks.

During today's Facebook event, Mark Zuckerberg shared some interesting trends about past and future growth for social networks, that I found very interesting.  Over the last 5 years, social networks have focused their primary attention to acquiring new users -- like you and I.   But now, he says, that chapter is done.  The world now accepts that this type of online connectivity is going to be everywhere.

As Mormons, we see this in how the LDS Church has embraced Social Media and encourages its members to do the same.  I mentioned in a recent post, that not too long ago many local leaders were preaching the evils of the Internet -- particularly sites like Facebook.   That's now changed.  As social networks have evolved, the opportunity to use them for good has increased.  We now have the ability to connect and broadcast the message of the restored gospel, in ways that our pioneer ancestors could never have imagined!

The most powerful trend that is currently being observed, via social networks, is the rate at which average users are sharing stuff with each other -- doubled as compared to a year ago!  Four billion things are shared everyday, excluding individual messages.  I'm pretty certain that Mormons have a lot to do with this, as I've also noted, unscientifically, this trend among members.   In the past I rarely saw members sharing gospel related items, but recently I've seen that changing.

This increase of sharing is expected to continue at an exponential rate!   The future of social media depends upon sites, such as Facebook and the recently launched Google+, to develop greater tools to help users further connections.  Thus we see the nature of competition currently going on between these two online powerhouses!

With so much information being shared, there are many critical of what they feel is a lack of privacy online.  It is a legitimate concern, in proper context.   It is reasonable that individuals should have the right to control personal information about themselves online.  I'm all for this.  My recommendation always -- if you don't want it made public, don't put in on the Internet.  Only share what is absolutely necessary when filling out personal information.  Just because information is requested, does not mean that you must provide it.

Of more concern to me, is the issue of exclusivity.  I become worried when features on social networks, that are intended to help us organize our online world and protect our privacy, actually result in greater exclusivity.  If our desire while using social networking sites is to broadcast our message, how can we accomplish this if we've shut ourselves off from our potential audience?

It's a wonderful things to be able to connect with our close family and friends, online.  But I would also encourage you to be open to meeting new people online and accepting friend requests, allowing people to follow you, etc...   from those you don't know personally.  Remember, you can just as easily reverse a request, if for any reason you choose to do so.  You will find that the majority of these types of requests, are friends with someone that you do know, online.

Social Networks are places online where we gather to make connections with people, and to share with others that which we consider valuable --  through the use of social media.  Social Media are various forms of a message: video, audio, text, pictures, blogs, etc...   Together, when properly utilized, we have a very unique and powerful way to share the gospel.  But how effective are we really, if we've closed off our ability to connect with those who may be willing to receive our message?

In my opinion, the most effective use of any Social Network, is the ability to connect with large groups of like-minded people, that you otherwise would not have had the privilege, and influence in positive ways.

The future of social networking is literally, in its increasing power, to deliver a message.  Surely the Greatest Message to be sent into all the world will be a part of this movement -- but that can only happen if you and I are willing to expand our influence to DO MORE good!

Social Networking in Plain English


Mormons Love Liberty!

As a people, Mormons are very patriotic.  For members of the Mormon Church we have a special belief about the United States and how it fits in with the Restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We believe it was prepared to be a unique land of religious freedom, which would enable it to be a place where the gospel could be re-established in the last days -- and from here flourish throughout the world!

Mormons love the principle of agency!  The ability to choose according to one's own conscience is vital to understanding what and how Mormons believe.  Mormons revere the United States Constitution and believe it to be an inspired document, which makes possible for its citizens to exercise their God given rights. (but certainly we do not regard it as scripture)

"While LDS scripture reinforces the traditional Christian duty of "respect and deference" to civil laws and governments in general as "instituted of God for the benefit of man" (D&C 134:1, 6), Latter-day Saints attach special significance to the Constitution of the United States of America. They believe that the Lord "established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom [he] raised up unto this very purpose" (D&C 101:80). The Prophet Joseph Smith once described himself as "the greatest advocate of the Constitution of the United States there is on the earth" (Hc 6:56-57). All of his successors as President of the Church have reaffirmed the doctrine of an inspired Constitution. This consistent endorsement is notable, for basic LDS teachings are far removed from the premises of American liberalism, and largely as a result of these differences, Latter-day Saints suffered considerable persecution before achieving an accommodation with mainstream America." ~Ralph C. Hancock   

It would be difficult to argue that there is currently any place else in the entire world where the principle of freedom has been fought for, protected and maintained with such passion -- by its people!

Said Ezra T. Benson, former President of the LDS Church:

"Look back in retrospect on almost six thousand years of human history!  Freedom's moments have been infrequent and exceptional.  We must appreciate that we live in one of history's most exceptional moments--in a nation and a time of unprecedented freedom.  Freedom as we know it has been experienced by perhaps less than one percent of the human family."

Few are able to gaze upon an American flag, proudly waving in the breeze, and not be moved by its symbolism.  Or stand, with right hand over heart, to sing our National anthem, and not be stirred with deep emotion.  No, for the majority of Americans, these patriotic symbols unite us beyond political parties, to a deeper sense of gratitude for that which is greater -- liberty!

Most of us live profoundly privileged lives here in the United States, and carry with us a significant feeling of gratitude for such.  We are grateful for the men and women of our military who serve this country, with such dedication, to preserve our freedom -- considered sacred.  And maintain in remembrance, those who have given their lives in our defense.

Along with other Christians, we are deeply thankful to live in a country where we can worship God, according to our beliefs.  Presently, we are experiencing an opposing sentiment, from the liberal side of society, who believe that our opinions, when founded on religious beliefs, are not valid in the public square.  But we know better.  Preserving freedom of religion can only happen if we continue to be firm in our understanding that this truly is One Nation, Under God..  It is this faith that will cause us to stand against that which is immoral and fight for that which is right!

The LDS Newsroom Blog has posted these comments in regard to Freedom of Religion:

"Freedom of religion has been, and still is, an essential moving force in the grand experiment of American democracy. Planting that principle of religious freedom in early America brought about two profound results—the rejection of a “divine right of kings” doctrine, and breaking the 1,500-year European tradition of upholding a state-established church.[1] And with that, a heritage of self government, not to mention distinctly different congregations, sprang up.
Yet no one could take freedom of religion for granted. Baptists, Catholics, Jews, Mormons and others have all faced, at one time or another, overt prejudice and serious attempts to curtail their liberties (sometimes coming from fellow religionists). Yet looking back over the long narrative of American religious history and the experience gained, the principle of religious freedom is prevailing.
Respecting freedom of religion has brought about the remarkable plurality and autonomy of religious thought in America. Among the various religious traditions in the United States today, the Pew U.S. Religious Landscape Survey identified over 100 different denominations. Intense religious experience is found alongside religious apathy and nonaffiliation. Long established faith traditions exist with the new and emerging. Moreover, a sizeable portion of parishioners is migratory. The Pew study found that more than one quarter of American adults have “left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion — or no religion at all.”
Yet we get along relatively well and manage to live with our differences. In fact, living peacefully with our deepest differences is necessary in our pluralistic society, and religious freedom is an example of how to do it. It’s a lesson we really can’t live without and still be true to our national ideals."

Please read entire post HERE.

As we celebrate the birth of our Nation, this Independence Day, July 4th, may each of us take the time to remember the great blessing it is to live in this great land and better understand the responsibility that comes with such privilege -- to reach out and lift others.


Note: Above picture is six of my nine grandchildren, that I recently shot:)