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Sunday, December 29, 2013

229: "DESOLATING SICKNESS SHALL COVER THE LAND"

Two more bald eagles were found this week on the verge of death from a mysterious illness, bringing the total of sick eagles in Utah to nearly two dozen. At the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, bald eagles are arriving faster than ever before. Since Dec. 1, the facility has received nine birds, though only four are still alive. Across Utah, 21 bald eagles have been found with the mysterious illness this month, according to the rehab center. And of those 21, 16 have died. One of the eagles was found in Farmington Creek, suffering from the same symptoms as 16 other eagles that died. Another one, less than a year old, was found in the West Point area on Christmas night.

Read more at http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=28156434#mblEz8wwfDiGWV5y.99
Two more bald eagles were found this week on the verge of death from a mysterious illness, bringing the total of sick eagles in Utah to nearly two dozen. At the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, bald eagles are arriving faster than ever before. Since Dec. 1, the facility has received nine birds, though only four are still alive. Across Utah, 21 bald eagles have been found with the mysterious illness this month, according to the rehab center. And of those 21, 16 have died. One of the eagles was found in Farmington Creek, suffering from the same symptoms as 16 other eagles that died. Another one, less than a year old, was found in the West Point area on Christmas night.

Read more at http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=28156434#mblEz8wwfDiGWV5y.99
In a revelation given on March 7, 1831 about the signs and wonders to attend the Second coming, Joseph Smith stated in Doctrine and Covenants Section 45 that "desolating sickness shall cover the land" in the last days.

Sickness is defined as a state of the body in which the organs do not perfectly perform their natural functions. It is when we are in a defective or unsound condition. We tend to think that a sickness is only physical, but sickness can also describe a people who are not living in harmony with God and how He would have us treat others. I offer the following true story to illustrate this:

There was a native tribe that lived in peace and harmony for hundreds of years. Every day the routine was the same. Hunters would go out from the tribe to gather food and returned back from the hunt with the food to share equally among the members of the tribe.

No one went hungry when food was available. Not even the weak, the sick, or the elderly. One day the most skilled hunter said, "I am the best hunter, I kill more than my share of deer, why should I share the bounty of my hunt?"

  And from that day forward, he began storing his meat in a high mountain cave. Then other skilled hunters said, "We kill more than our share of deer too, shouldn't we have the right to keep the bounty of our hunt?"  And then they too began to store their meat in high mountain caves. And then, something began to happen to the tribe that never happened before. Some people, especially the old, weak, and the sick began to go hungry, while others were well feed.

In fact, it became so common place that no one thought it was unusual that others were starving while others had more than they needed. And what is even more strange, the tribal leaders began to teach their young to emulate the hoarding habits of these few.


 Now that story isn't true because it happened, it is true because it is happening.  We are that tribe.

There is one fundamental law that nature obeys that mankind breaks everyday. Now this is the law. Nothing in Nature takes more than it needs. For example, the Redwood Trees do not take all the soil nutrients, just what it needs to grow. A Lion doesn't kill every gazelle, just the one he needs to food.

When something in Nature takes more than it needs and breaks that fundamental law,  it will eventually die off.

We have a term we use for the body when it takes more than it's share. We call it Cancer.

From the book, Man's Rise to Civilization by Peter Farb is that "Traditional cultures considered the idea of accumulation of private property beyond your needs was considered a mental illness." Truly, a "sick" human being would find joy and happiness in having too much of what one needs.... while others go without. Greed, Selfish, and Pride is one of the desolating "sickness" that covers our land.

 A prophet of God who saw our day, said the following, "NONE save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel,... and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted."

Besides our greed and lack of helping those in need, there are very real desolating sicknesses that is covering our land. This  news story is extremely foreboding and symbolic.  Bald eagles are dying in Utah — 20 in the last few weeks alone — and nobody can figure out why.  The Bald Eagle is a powerful symbol of the United States, a symbol of our Freedom. Earlier this month, however, hunters and farmers across five counties in northern and central Utah began finding the majestic birds lying, listless, on the ground. Many of these birds suffered from seizures, head tremors and paralysis in the legs, feet and wings.

Two more bald eagles were found this week on the verge of death bringing the total of sick eagles in Utah to nearly two dozen.  At the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Utah, bald eagles are arriving faster than ever before. Since Dec. 1, the facility has received nine birds, though only four are still alive.  Across Utah, 21 bald eagles have been found with the mysterious illness this month, according to the rehab center. And of those 21, 16 have died.

This was also reported yesterday in the Los Angeles Times.

Sidenote:

 A few days ago, I drove early in the morning into downtown Salt Lake. I couldn't help notice the unhealthy and polluted air that we breath. I quickly took a photo of the rising sun as I passed the refineries just west of downtown Salt Lake.



Photo taken December 27, 2013 on the I-15 southbound freeway driving into downtown Salt Lake City.
The State Capital and the LDS Church Office Building can be seen in distance the smoggy air. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

228: THE BEGINNING WHEN LIGHT CONQUERS DARKNESS

 
"If my people,
which are called by my name,
shall humble themselves,
and pray,
 and seek my face,
 and turn from their wicked ways;
then will I hear from heaven,
and will forgive their sin,
and will heal..."

2 Chronicles 7:14
 
Taken yesterday on the Winter solstice from the front door of our home.

Friday, December 20, 2013

227: ON THE EVE OF THE DARKEST DAY OF THE YEAR.

This afternoon on the eve of the darkest day of the year, same-sex marriage is one step closer in becoming legalized in Utah. What usually happens politically from the powers of the government, the church has historically has followed to avoid persecution. I wonder how long it will take.

NEWS ARTICLE: "A federal judge has struck down Utah's same-sex marriage ban, saying it is unconstitutional.  U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby issued a 53-page ruling Friday saying Utah's law passed by voters in 2004 violates gay and lesbian couples' rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment.  Shelby says the state failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way, and the state's unsupported fears and speculations are insufficient to justify deny allowing same-sex marriages.

Many similar court challenges are pending in other states, but Utah's has been closely watched because of the state's history of staunch opposition to gay marriage as the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."


2014 will be a very interesting year.

226: WINTER SOLSTICE 2013

 
In my opinion I feel that time is speeding up as things are starting to wind down on this earth. The above video is a time lapse video that I came across. I have a great appreciation and love for God's Creations. I have heard people who read a great article say, "I wish I had written that"... well, likewise.. "I wish I could have filmed that".  link to youtube video
 
 
Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice which marks the shortest daylight period and longest night of the year. Beginning tomorrow, Light begins to conquer Darkness and for the next six months, the days again grow longer as the sun increases and ascends after 6 months of decreasing and descending from the lowest point in the sky.  
 
In preparing to observe this important day, I hiked up into the mountains a few days ago and took a few photos of the snow. I was able to zoom in with my camera and I could see the intricate detail of the fallen snow. Snowflakes are essentially ice crystals whose shape are determined by the organization the water molecules are in when they freeze. Temperature greatly influences their final form. Snow crystals tend to form simpler shapes when the humidity (supersaturation) is low, while more complex shapes at higher humidities. More adverse conditions create more intricate snowflakes.
It is amazing to see the beauty formed from just one drop of water with two basic elements of hydrogen and oxygen.  Just image if we allow the God, the Creator of all, to shape our lives and become His work and His masterpiece.
 
May we reflect tomorrow how each of us can increase more Light into our life in the coming days ahead when darkness has been gaining momentum and power.
 


 
 
 
Sidenote: However, to see some really amazing photographs, a Moscow-based photographer captured dozens of amazing close-ups of snowflakes. See some of these images here: SNOWFLAKES
.
 
 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

GOING BACK TO SCHOOL? Some classes to consider taking 2014

This past year I took a few night classes from a friend of mine, John Hall who has been a BYU professor for 30 years in ancient history and languages. Along with taking a few beginning Greek classes from him, I enrolled in a seven month course in which we studied Nibley's  "The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment".  Below is a list of the classes John Hall will be teaching next year, along with the course descriptions and text books. If you are interested or would like additional information, please email him directly at  itsgreektome@hotmail.com

 
 Winter Term 2014 Classes and Tutorials

Prelude to Apostasy: The Churches the Apostles Left Behind and the Fractionation of Early Christianity in the First and Early Second Centuries.
Wednesdays Nights at 7:45-10:00 PM
January 8, 15, 22, 29

The course will consist of lectures and discussion about Early Christianity as it formed in the first century and was transformed in the later first century and the second century as a result of apostasy. Texts to be consulted include: Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity; W.H. Wagner, After the Apostles; Raymond Brown, The Churches the Apostles Left Behind.
.........................................................................................................................

The Original Greek New Testament for People Who Can’t Read the Ancient Greek.
Friday Night at 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
January 10, 2014 

Translation, commentary, elucidation and discussion of various New Testament scripture passages where the original Greek provides greater doctrinal insight than English translations. No knowledge of Greek required on the part of participants.
........................................................................................................................

Advanced Greek - Reading the New Testament
Wednesday Nights from 6:15 - 7:15 pm.
January 8, 15, 22, 29

Reading the New Testament in the original Greek text enables the reader to go beyond the translation errors of the KJV and other English translations.
.........................................................................................................................
Beginning Greek - Salt Lake County class
Tuesday 7:30-9:00 pm.
January 7, 14, 21, 28

The class will teach the rudiments of New Testament Greek including vocabulary, noun and verb forms, and grammar. By the end of the course students will be reading easy passages from the Gospel of John. The textbook for the course is fundamentals of New Testament Greek by Stanley Porter. ISBN 9780802628279
.........................................................................................................................
Beginning Greek - Utah County class
Thursday 7:10- 8:45 pm.
January 16, 23, 30

The class will teach the rudiments of New Testament Greek including vocabulary, noun and verb forms, and grammar. By the end of the course students will be reading easy passages from the Gospel of John. The textbook for the course is fundamentals of New Testament Greek by Stanley Porter. ISBN 9780802628279
.........................................................................................................................

Spring Term 2014 Classes and Tutorials
.........................................................................................................................

The World of the New Testament
Wednesday 7:45 - 8:45
Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26; Mar. 5, 12, 19, 26; Apr. 2, 16, 23, 30; May7, 14, 21, 28

The class is designed as a lecture-discussion course about the context of the New Testament, and the background, foundation, and development of Christianity in the early first century. Considerable information will be provided about the Roman world, the eastern Mediterranean Hellenistic cultural sphere, and the Jewish traditions that comprised the primary cultural background of Judea in the first century. Finally, the text of the New Testament will be carefully perused in its literary and historical settings. The primary text will be Welch and Hall, Charting the New Testament. Other texts that may be consulted are Hall, Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church; Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity.
.........................................................................................................................

Beloved John
Wednesday 9:00-10:00
Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26; Mar. 5, 12, 19, 26; Apr. 2, 16, 23, 30; May7, 14, 21, 28

The class is designed as a lecture-discussion course that will investigate in detail the life and writings of John, known as Beloved Disciple, Apostle, Evangelist and Revelator. Works to be considered include not only the Epistles, the Gospel, and Revelation, but also the Apocryphon of John. Emphasized will be John’s role as Witness of Christ throughout the dispensations. In addition to Johns own writings, texts include Hall, New Testament Witnesses of Christ, and Hall’s other works in progress.
.........................................................................................................................

What Happened Between the Testaments?
Thursday 8:50-10:00.
Feb. 6, 20, 27; Mar. 6, 20, 27; Apr. 3, 17, 24; May 1, 15, 22.

The course will examine the events and religious writings produced in the approximately 500 years between the conclusion of the Old Testament and the inception of the New Testament. This is the era of the formation of modern rabbinical Judaism, the rise of the Pharisees, the Maccabees and their confrontation with Hellenism, The Jewish Diaspora through first the Persian and then the Greek Hellenistic kingdoms, and the consequent restrictiveness and differentiation of this developing religion from the earlier first temple Judaism. To be followed by the departure of Jewish sects, such as the Essenes, into the wilderness Writing to be examined include Dead Sea Scrolls, Baruch, 2-4 Ezra, Macabees, Ben Sira, Philo, etc. Texts to be consulted include Peters, The Harvest of Hellenism and Gruen, Heritage and Hellenism.
.........................................................................................................................

The Original Greek New Testament for People Who Can’t Read the Ancient Greek.
Friday 7-9
February 21, March 14, April 11, May 9.

Translation, commentary, elucidation and discussion of various New Testament scripture passages where the original Greek provides greater doctrinal insight than English translations. No knowledge of Greek required on the part of participants.
.........................................................................................................................

Advanced Greek - Reading the New Testament
Wednesday, 6:15 - 7:15 pm.
Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26; Mar. 5, 12, 19, 26; Apr. 2, 16, 23, 30; May 7, 14, 21, 28

Reading the New Testament in the original Greek text enables the reader to go beyond the translation errors of the KJV and other English translations.
.........................................................................................................................

Beginning Greek - Salt Lake County class
Tuesday 7:30-9:00 pm.
Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25; March 4, 11, 18, 25; Apr. 1, 15, 22, 29; May 6, 13, 20, 27.

The class will teach the rudiments of New Testament Greek including vocabulary, noun and verb forms, and grammar. By the end of the course students will be reading easy passages from the Gospel of John. The textbook for the course is fundamentals of New Testament Greek by Stanley Porter. ISBN 9780802628279
.........................................................................................................................

Beginning Greek - Utah County class
Thursday 7:10- 8:45 pm.
Feb. 6, 20, 27; Mar. 6, 20, 27; Apr. 3, 17, 24; May 1, 15, 22.

The class will teach the rudiments of New Testament Greek including vocabulary, noun and verb forms, and grammar. By the end of the course students will be reading easy passages from the Gospel of John. The textbook for the course is fundamentals of New
.........................................................................................................................

Once again for further information e-mail itsgreektome@hotmail.com

Monday, December 16, 2013

225: "HEY DAD, ARE WE IN APOSTASY?"

On Sunday, my daughter asked me if our Church is in Apostasy. She is still quite young. This question along with other questions like..  "Where do babies come from?" or  "Is Santa real?" is when we as parents earn our stripes in how we answer our children.

Coincidentally, a friend of mine sent me photos from an LDS coloring book that used to be sold at Deseret Book. I thought I would share some of them. I think the book is now out of print and was sold about 10 years ago. These pages in the coloring book are trying to teach children about the apostasy that happened after Christ first established His Church. Interesting to see how much of these coloring pages could apply to us today. It was a good way to talk to my children.

Image 1: 
 
 
Are we a new and improved church? Do we interpret scripture correctly? Are true apostles who have seen the Lord face to face necessary anymore? Are we told to not open our scriptures in Sacrament meeting? Do we bring our own doctrines?
.................................................................................................................................
 
Image 2:
 
 
Are we a solid structure on a firm foundation or do we accommodate to the world around us and try to be politically correct?  Is a new restoration needed?
.............................................................................................................................................
 

Image 3:
 
 
 
Do we know the true identity of the God we worship?
Have we abandoned the Lectures of Faith?
.......................................................................................................................................
 
 
 
For those interested, here is the cover of the coloring book.



Thursday, December 12, 2013

224: IF YOU REPEAT A LIE OFTEN ENOUGH, IT BECOMES THE TRUTH

When a particular movement of the body is repeated over and over again, a long-term muscle memory is created for that action, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. This is called muscle memory. Examples of muscle memory are found in many everyday activities that become automatic and improve with practice, such as riding a bicycle, dialing a phone number, typing in a PIN number, shooting free throws, or playing a musical instrument. 

Somewhat related, when a lie is repeated over and over again, it becomes true in our minds. Living in this fallen world, all of us have been exposed to lies and believe misinformation which we hear over and over again. Even though the repeated information is false, we believe it must be true, especially if this information is told by someone we trust. Mainstream news, advertising, propaganda, correlationists, and public relations professionals all understand this principle and use it to their advantage. 

I want to share a brief analogy. For a few years now, we have been teaching our kids how to play the piano.  Before they learn to play a new song, we place the original sheet music in front of them that was written by the original composer. We will then play the music for them so that they hear how the song was intended to be played by the person who wrote the song. We usually go over the music, note by note, to make sure they are familiar with the notes so they are able to practice the song on their own. Our kids practice the song by themselves during the week and then on Saturday morning we sit down for their lesson and see how their progress is coming along. I have found that if our child  played the wrong note repeatedly throughout the week, thinking they are playing the right note, they developed an errant "muscle memory" that is very difficult for them to break.

When first played, the wrong note will sound incorrect but when that note is played over and over again, it begins to sound correct in their ears. Sometimes the wrong note actually might sound better to them. So despite having the original music in front of them, and having heard what it should sound like, they begin to play a different variation of the song. In their mind they are playing it correctly and/or they prefer the new notes. Even after you correct them, they will often times lapse back into playing the wrong note. Often times our kids get mad when we correct them. Likewise, it is tiresome and difficult for us as parents to repeatedly correct them. But because we love them, we will continue to correct them.

Botton line, if you choose to play the song with deleted notes, added notes, or incorrect notes, the song takes on a different tune and is no longer what the composer had in mind.


I use that analogy as an introduction to posting about the LDS Church newly released official statement/essay entitled RACE AND THE PRIESTHOODMuch has been written about it on the internet. I don't mean to add to the chatter, but wanted those who might not be aware for the reasons behind the release. Here is a local news report about one of the possible reasons behind the releasing of this very controversial subject.  NEWS REPORT

According to this news report, we can look forward to additional releases on other controversial and/or doctrine issues that will be addressed by the LDS Church. Hopefully all of us will be prayerful to decide for ourselves if these releases are scripturally, and doctrinally correct and not just politically correct.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

223: PROGRESSIVE CHANGES

At church on Sunday, an announcement was read notifying us that The LDS Church has altered the name and program for its annual Christmas devotional. Known for 40 years since the early 1970s as the "First Presidency Christmas Devotional," the event traditionally has featured a talk from each of the three members of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as Christmas songs performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The church's press release, website, and tickets to the event this year call the event.. Christmas Devotional. The name change signals a change to the program.

President Monson opened the devotional and gave brief remarks. He spoke for less than 5 minutes. Instead of President Erying and President Uchtdorf speaking, the two Priesthood leaders that spoke were Elder Rasband and the concluding speaker was Elder Russell M. Nelson. Also, this is the first time that a woman spoke. It was Sister Rosemary Wixom the General President of the Primary.

It would be interesting to know the reasons behind the changes.

During Elder Nelson's talk, there was a video that played of Elder Russell M Nelson and young children circling around him and singing to him.
















Sidenote: Elder Ronald Rasband was the President and Chief Operating Officer of Huntsman Chemical Corporation. In April 2009, Rasband became the senior and presiding member of the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder Russell M Nelson is the fourth most senior apostle among the ranks of the church hierarchy. Recently, both of these men have been influential in the decision making to remove the church membership of local author for writing a book about Church History.


 

Monday, December 9, 2013

222: WANTING MORE

 Many of you have probably heard the quote, “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” Using that definition, how many of us are happy?

Too many people have more than they need, but yet still want more.. They don't want what they have.. they want more of what they don't have. Yet I know some that have actually less than they need, but yet are happy and actually want what they have (or even less) :) 

People are waking up and hoping for a better way of life. People are yearning for Zion, including weeping for it. Unfortunately, we have only a few chapters in scripture as a guide/record about an established Zion Society. We basically have 4th Nephi in the Book of Mormon. Since little has been written , I think we suffer from too many assumptions of what a Zion society is. We have lived in a culture that is completely Anti-Zion. We also suffer from slothfulness, and our self-importance. We are truly a diseased culture. The change that is required seems almost insurmountable and even unattainable. Despite all of our efforts and even after years of preaching, what the Lord can do in months and possibly with a few cataclysmic events, will create the groundwork. After his servants preach, He will do the preaching.

I received an email from friend that I want to share a few excerpts. I thought during this time of year it is especially important as we are bombarded with advertising and pressure to buy and purchase more.

The email subject line was entitled: Wanting More. 

“In 1 Kings 17, Elijah was commanded by the Lord to hide himself by the brook Cherith, where he was fed bread and flesh by the ravens morning and night, and drank from the brook daily. The Lord decided the meal plan and when it would be provided for Elijah. What was offered was enough. It sustained him, until the Lord wanted him elsewhere.

When the brook was dried up, he was instructed to go to Zarephath where a widow woman had been commanded to sustain him. When Elijah found her, she was gathering sticks to make the last meal for herself and her son “that we may eat it, and die.”

Elijah instructed her to make him a little cake first and then one for her and her son, “for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, the barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the ruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.” I think about the faith it required for the woman to believe on the words that had been spoken to her. I wonder in what way she had been commanded by God to sustain Elijah. Was it a dream? Was it a voice? Was it a thought or an impression? Did she know who Elijah was? Did it matter? She, and her house, including Elijah subsisted for a period of time on oil and flour in the form of a cake……. And it was enough!

When the Israelites were in the wilderness, God brought forth an amazing miracle where manna from Heaven’s kitchen was provided to the entire group. All they had to do was go out and collect ONLY ENOUGH for that day. Anything more would spoil. The Israelites had a difficult time understanding the life-sustaining gift that was provided daily was in fact enough. They murmured and complained about the cucumbers and melons that were no longer items on the menu. They complained, and murmured……….always wanting more. There are profound lessons in these two stories, some of which are the power of gratitude, recognizing God’s hand in our lives, abundance and plenty in the idea of enough, and scarcity vs. abundance.

One of the great sins of our day is ingratitude, and always wanting more. We think we are entitled because we see ourselves as special or deserving, or it makes us feel better about ourselves to have more than the next guy.  

Years ago, I read a book called Wanting More. The author spoke of the fall of the Roman Empire being based on the greed selfishness of a society having more than enough, but always wanting more. The society went from building coliseums, to even bigger and better ones. And the games held within went to bigger and better ones, from authentic bullfights to bulls fighting slaves where one or the other had to die. And then to slaves fighting slaves. The people hungered and thirsted after blood and gore. It excited them for a while but eventually the wanted more. Prostitution rings were set up outside the arena, drugs, gambling, and violence all became part of the games. Their obsession with being titillated by violence and filth became more than the leaders could provide. An entire society was corrupted according to this author because of the greed, violence and unquenchable appetite of the people, never having enough, always wanting more.

I think of the simple, yet profound miracles the Lord displayed to the Israelites, and to the widow and Elijah in sustaining them with enough compared to the insatiable appetite of even our society and wonder when we will ever decide that what we have is enough and more to share. The point of the book was for us to see that happiness/joy/peace was really simple. It came down to wanting what you already have.

Abundance and happiness comes in the heart when we are willing to share the little we have. In fact, like the widow’s mite, the blessings that come from the sacrifice of sharing the little we have are far greater than the blessings that come from giving of our abundance.”

Friday, November 29, 2013

221: BE

Forty years ago, a film version in 1973 debuted about a young seabird entitled Jonathan Livington Seagull. When it first came out to the theatres, it was poorly received by critics and barely broke even at the box office. I remember seeing it when I was young. 

Here is a brief summary of the movie. The film begins with Jonathan Livingston Seagull  soaring through the sky hoping to travel at a speed more than 60 miles per hour. Eventually, with luck he is able to break that barrier, but when Jonathan returns to his own flock... he was criticized by the other seagulls and mocked.  The Elders of the flock shame Jonathan for doing things the other seagulls never dare to do. Jonathan pleads to stay and claims that he wants to share his newfound discovery with everybody, but the Elders dismiss him as an outcast, and he is banished from the flock. Jonathan goes off on his own, believing that all hope is lost. However, he is soon greeted by mysterious seagulls from other lands who assure him that his talent is a unique one, and with them Jonathan is trained to become independent and proud of his beliefs. Eventually, Jonathan himself ends up becoming a mentor for other seagulls who are suffering the same fates in their own flocks as he once did. 

It has been many years since I have heard these songs from the movie soundtrack.. The below song is entitled, BE.  Here is the link in case the below video does not play. LINK


. I went onto youtube and found a few other clips from the movie. The below video is entitled, "Dear Father".  I think they have deep meaning and convey an important message.



Thursday, November 28, 2013

220: Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah!!

It is a rare thing for Thanksgiving and the Hebrew holy day Hanukkah to occur on the same day. The last time that Hanukkah (on the traditional Hebrew Calendar) fell on the fourth Thursday of November was in 1861.  But the crazy thing is that it will never happen again because the Hebrew Calendar is slowing drifting through the seasons so that Hanukkah (and all days) occur later every year. Hanukkah usually occurs about Christmas time.  It turns out this year is the last time the two holidays coincide!!!!


Thanks to my astronomer friend and cousin for this insight.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

219: Happy Birthday to THE CORPORATION OF THE PRESIDENT:

Today is the 90 year anniversary that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints filed with the government to become a corporation. The full legal name is The Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  If you go the Utah.gov secured website you can see the registration date of November 26, 1923. link  (see below attachment)

The financial strength of The Corporation of the President of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints derives primarily from the commitment of its members to pay their tithing and other forms of voluntary contributions and service. It is estimated that the LDS Mormon church earns $7 billion a year from tithing. Here is the link.

How this money is used is under the control of  the Council on the Disposition of Tithes, which consists of the First Presidency of the Church, the quorum of twelve apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric. This council meets regularly and oversees the expenditures of all Church funds worldwide. It approves budgets and financial strategy and establishes financial policy.

Two subcommittees of the Council on the Disposition of Tithes are the Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee. Both committees consist of the First Presidency, selected members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and members of the Presiding Bishopric

When you go to tithing settlement before the end of the year, notice how the checks are eventually made out to the Corporation of the President. It would be a good question to ask your Bishop. Personally,  I think I would rather write my check out to the originally established name of the Church of Jesus Christ that the Lord set in the scriptures... I find it interesting that I did a search in the scriptures and I can not find the word Corporation in the scriptures anywhere. I would love to read the revelation from the Lord to establish this corporation... I wonder if it is in the Church archives somewhere. :)

Any way... Happy 90th Birthday to the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   



Friday, November 22, 2013

218: PAIN, SEPARATION, and DEATH.

 
Yesterday, 11.21.13 was an important day for many reasons. I am of the opinion that the Lord speaks to us in a language that is unique to each one of us. The manner in which He speaks to me will be different to how He speaks to you. However, I believe he speaks to all of us if we choose to listen.

I entitled this post, Pain, Separation and Death. While the experiences I will share are personal, I think one might find deeper meaning.

PAIN:
 
Several months ago, my family went on a summer night walk. Instead of walking, one of my daughters rode her new skateboard, a popular version these days called a longboard. We passed an LDS church were there is a declining sidewalk that looked fun to skateboard down. However, my smart daughter was unwilling to skate down it since she thought it looked too dangerous . I told her, "watch me do it." Forgetting that I am no longer a teenager but a middle aged man, I rode the skateboard down the hill. Once I reached the bottom of the hill, the skateboard fell out from underneath me. Due to my weight and the speed that I was going, the skateboard could not make the transition from the declining slope to the completely flat parking lot. The skateboard came to complete stop and I fell directly on my right elbow. The hard blow to the tip of the elbow caused damage to my bones and the olecranon bursa produced excess fluid and became swollen.    I knew that something was seriously wrong, but I was hoping that I would be able to heal over time. Months passed and I have not healed and in fact things have progressively worsened.  After  a few doctor visits and consultations, the decision was made to have surgery. The surgery was scheduled for today. However, the surgeon had to reschedule and moved up the date.  It was yesterday that I went under the knife and the surgeon excised the olecranon bursa in my elbow. While I preferred a less evasive procedure, the excision was necessary for my body to heal.  I now am trying to recover, basically unable to use my right arm for the time being.
 

SEPARATION:
 
We are living in this mortal world as human beings. We are separated from God. Adam and Eve were the first man and woman on this earth to unite and create. They lived as two humans distinctly different in gender yet united together as two humans learning from each other and experiencing  mortality together.  I have been concerned recently of many people struggling in their marriages. Many I know ar  not living in harmony with each other,  in fact, some are contemplating divorced and/ or are already divorced. No marriage is perfect. All marriages face conflict. However. I think it would be best to refine what a perfect marriage is. In a "Perfect" marriage, there is development of both husband and wife. Not the product of one person pulling it off. It requires joint development, joint progression and joint effort. 

I understand there might be reasons for divorce but if the marriage produced children, the decision to get divorced needs to be reconsidered due to the children, the true victims. The dissolving of a marriage is devastating to the children. It creates chaos in their lives, a life of pain.. almost impossible to repair.  Scars are the product of a failed marriage. Many children will remain unhealed and probably will to the end of her life. Scars will remain.  Divorce destroys families.. and it snowballs and effect the children. It has irreversible consequences.
 

DEATH:
 
Yesterday, our neighbor David Pratt passed away. I had been asked on Monday to give him a blessing to pass peacefully and to "release" his physical body, allowing for his spirit to continue on free from this mortal probation. David shared many thing in common with President Thomas S Monson. They were high school classmates and both suffer from similar physically problems. David had Alzheimer's. I shared a few things in common with David Pratt as well. We share a common name and are both descendants from Parley P. It was a blessing for me to kneel and place my hands on his head with his family surrounding his bed prior his passing. I mentioned an earlier experience about David Pratt in this is post on his brief encounter with the other side of the veil: on life and death, hope and tragedy
 
In short, yesterday was a  symbolic day for me. Furthermore, the weather was very stormy with high winds, rain and snow storms. It was a day that I experienced pain, a day that I was made aware of various kinds of "separations" .... including death.
I look forward in faith to future days of healings, unity and life.. instead of pain, separation and death.
 
 
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Just a quick sidenote:  
I am sure many of you have already seen this trailer for the movie, NOAH, that will be coming out next year. I am sure that Hollywood will distort much of the true history about the diluvian. However, I wanted to post this just case you haven't seen it.

"But as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be also at the coming of the Son of Man;"
JST Matthew 1:41


.I think there is much to gain and learn from the Noah and his wife and children, the gathering of the two by two dyads of animals into a safe haven we call the ark prior to the earth being  cleansed by water.

Friday, November 15, 2013

217: KOYANNISQATSI: "Unbalanced Life"


In the Hopi language, the word Koyaanisqatsi means "unbalanced life”. In the early 1980’s, a movie was made entitled, “Koyannisqatsi: Life Out of Balance”. The film does not contain any dialogue or words,  but contains only slow motion and time-lapse footage of natural landscapes juxtaposed with cities. The first image in the film is of the Great Gallery pictogram in Horseshoe Canyon in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park.  Here are a few images of these pictograms:

 
I enjoyed studying these pictograms that were shown at the beginning of the film. I think the pictographs are  highly symbolic.  Just a few quick observations. On the left side of this Great Gallery there is a small gathering of people on the white section of the red rock. In the middle of this small grouping on the left is a taller figure adorned with a crown. They are separated from the majority of the other people. On the far right side is another dominate figure. He is raised higher than the others. It is almost as if he is speaking from a pulpit to all of the others in the crowd.
 

 
 
We can learn much for nature and from the Ancients who lived before us. I think what they wrote or drew on canyonwalls were meant to tell us something. Unfortunately we spend too little time reading or spending time out in nature. We live unbalanced lives. A condition has been called, "nature deficit disorder"
 
"Nature deficit disorder" refers to a theory written in a book "Last Child in the Woods" by Richard Louv that states that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors resulting in a wide range of  physical, emotional, social, and mental problems. Recent research has shown that there is a declining number of parents and children spending time outdoors and an increasing amount of consumption of electronics and media by our children.

We have already been disconnected to the heavens for a long time and now we are becoming disconnected with nature and the outdoors.
 
Last weekend early in the morning, I went for a hike with a "Native America brother". I took a few photos from our hike on a beautiful fall day. We started hiking when it was still dark and reached an area for us to watch the sunrise. There is something about leaving the city, ascending to a higher elevation, facing East and watching the sunrise that connects you with the Heavens.
 




 





Wednesday, November 13, 2013

216: WILLFUL BLINDNESS

I appreciated the person who made the comment about willful blindness on the blog post #214. I watched the link to a video and for those who didn’t read the comment I thought it would be helpful to post on it. 
 
 
The author, Margaret Heffernan states that the biggest threats and dangers we face are the ones we don't see – not because they're secret or invisible, but because we're willfully blind.
Willful Blindness is a legal concept which means that if there is information that you could know and SHOULD know, but you somehow manage NOT to know. The Lord deems that you are willfully blind if you have chosen NOT to know. Those who share, blog, teach, lecture, comment about topics that others would rather NOT know or listen to…but probably SHOULD know… are sometimes called apostates. In the work environment they are called “whistle-blowers”. Research has shown that “whistleblowers” are actually very loyal and dedicated to the institutions they are exposing the truth about. The reason why they speak up and the reason why they insist on seeing and saying the things they do is because they care so much for the institution and want to keep it healthy. 
 
Here are some great quotes from author’s book, “Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril” by Margaret Heffernan.
  • “When we care about people, we care less about money, and when we care about money, we care less about people.”

  •  “The combination of power, optimism and abstract thinking makes powerful people more certain. The more cut-off they are from others, the more confident they are that they are right.”

  • “You cannot fix a problem that you refuse to acknowledge.
 
I actually think that one of the roles of a true prophet is to be a “whistleblower” to the religion whose people who are being led astray.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

215: FOUR BLOOD MOONS and the MAN IN THE MOON


 

This photo was taken of a lunar Eclipse over the Salt Lake Valley that occurred in December of 2011. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly behind the Earth into its shadow (umbra). This can occur only at night when the Full Moon, the Sun, and the Earth are directly aligned , with the Earth in the middle.  Because total lunar eclipses often appear red, people sometimes call a totally eclipsed moon a “blood moon.”

It is written in the Jewish Talmud that "When the moon is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for Israel. If its face is as red as blood, (it is a sign that) the sword is coming to the world." Therefore: Lunar Eclipse = bad omen for the Jewish people and Israel; Blood Moon = sword coming; Solar Eclipse = bad omen for the world.



Starting next spring in 2014 there will be 4 blood moons. While that is not necessary really rare.. the fact that these four blood moons will occur on significant Jewish holy days is not only rare, but significant. The first blood moon will be on Passover on April 15, 2014. There will be another blood moon on the following year on Passover which will be April 4, 2015. The other Jewish Holy Day is the Feast of Tabernacles which is  Oct. 8, 2014. On this day as well, there will be a Blood Moon Eclipse.. and then the following Feast of Tabernacle on Sept. 28, 2015 will be the 4th Blood Moon.

Lunar eclipses occuring on these holy days is a rare occurrence in the history of the world,  and each time they were linked to significant events. For example, four PARTIAL lunar eclipses occurred on the Jewish Passover in 32 AD – 33 AD and the "Feast of Tabernacles" in the years before and after the Crucifixion of  Jesus Christ. Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on the Jewish Passover and Feast of Tabernacles in 162 - 163 AD, coinciding with the worst persecution of Jews… and Christians in the history of the Roman Empire. Not to mention within 3 years the Antonine Plague killed eight million people, a third of the population.

For more information about these signs in the heavens, here is an interview with a Pastor John Hagee who has written a book called the "Four Blood Moons: Something is about to Change."

Not mentioned in the link, as a precursor to the four blood moons, there are four comets that have entered our solar system this year and have and will loop around the Sun, ISON being the last. Here is a LINK.

Furthermore, what I find really interesting is that after the first two blood moon in 2014, there will be a total solar eclipse on March 20, 2015. This solar eclipse happens to fall on the 2015 Spring Equinox. 

Signs in the Heavens?  I think the Lord uses any and all ways to communicate to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
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Sidenote:  My brother pointed out to me a few months ago the image of the Man in the Moon. Historically, The Man in the Moon refers to any of several pareidolia images of a human face, head or body that certain traditions recognize in the disc of the full moon. The images are usually composed of the dark areas of the lunar "seas" and the lighter "highlands" of the lunar surface. For those who might have a difficulty seeing the "man in the moon", I superimposed the man's face on the two right images below. The left image is the actually moon, and the far right is the image of the profile of a Greek man. 


The moon and circle has always been a symbol of woman. The sun and the square is the symbol of man. Union of both male and female results in creation. Godhood is all about creation. If you combine a symbol of the man with the symbol of the woman (as in the man in the moon with the actual moon which is symbolic of the woman.. it is symbolic of creation. They are one. For eyes that can see, in ceremonial clothing the man places a round article (symbolic female shape)  on top of his head. The woman places an object that when laid flat is the shape of a square  (male symbolic shape). Union and balance of the male and female. In addition, this represents the importance of the dyad.. the union and oneness of man and woman, husband and wife, Father and Mother, male and female.

Friday, November 8, 2013

214: LDS CHURCH SPENDS OVER A HALF A BILLION DOLLARS TO BUY LAND IN FLORIDA

In todays news:

The LDS Church spends over a half a BILLION dollars to buy more land in Florida. Florida? We now own more than 2% of the entire state. Will this be the new Zion?

"The Mormon church stands to own nearly 2 percent of Florida by completing a deal to buy most of the real estate of the St. Joe Co. for more than a half-billion dollars.
 
The megapurchase was announced jointly Thursday by a corporate representative of church, which owns the nearly 295,000-acre Deseret Ranches in Central Florida, and by the real-estate and timber business, which has built several communities along the Panhandle coast.
 
According to the announcement, a church entity, AgReserves Inc., will buy 382,834 acres – the majority of St. Joe's timberlands – in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties for $565 million."

LINK to see the news video and more of the article.


Sidenote:

As a family we are now in the book of Helaman, We read this verse this week which I found to be interesting.

"Now this great loss of the Nephites, and the great slaughter which was among them, would not have happened have happened had it not been for their wickedness and their abomination which was among them; yea, and it was among those also who professed to belong to the church of God. And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression to the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions, and deserting away into the land of Nephi, among the Lamanites."


Key words we talked about as a family:
  • Great slaughter would NOT have happened
  • Professed to belong to the church of god
  • because of their exceeding riches
  • oppression of the poor
  • withholding their food from the hungry
  • withholding their clothing from the naked.

Friday, November 1, 2013

213: CHANGES DUE TO CORRUPTION AND FOLLY OF MAN

I was going to write some commentary about the following quote. But I think I will just let the quote stand alone. It is written by Johann Lorenz von Mosheim in his book: "An Ecclesiastical History, From The Birth of Christ to the Beginning of the Eighteenth Century."


“There is no institution so pure and excellent which the corruption and folly of man will not in time alter for the worse. Many unnecessary rites and ceremonies were added to the Christian worship, the introduction of which was extremely offensive to wise and good men. These changes, while they destroyed the beautiful simplicity of the gospel, were naturally pleasing to the gross multitude, who are more delighted with the pomp and splendor of external institutions than with the native charms of rational and solid piety, and who generally give little attention to any objects but those which strike their outward senses." He then states that the church leaders of that day sought to give splendor and add to the rites and ceremonies and ordinances "by way of accommodation to the infirmities and prejudices of both Jews and heathen."


Mosheim, Ecclestiastical History, Century II, Part II, chapter 4.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

212: VAINGLORY

 We are on this earth to bless others, to elevate others, and connect them with the Lord. That is what the priesthood is to be used for. We read in the scriptures of holy men, prophets who had a personal testimony of Christ, that taught others using the words of other prophets. For example, Joseph Smith quotes words given to him by Moroni, Moroni used words written by Malachi, Malachi who quotes the words from the Lord.  Rarely did any prophet teach using stories about themselves.

   When we focus on ourselves, or seek our own vainglory, we are abusing our priesthood and therefore, do not possess it. We are not here to claim titles, superiority or recognition. We should never draw attention to our service, our own performances that we render to others. Phillippians 2:3 “ Let nothing be done through vainglory, but in lowlinesss of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”

A couple of years ago I read a short book on parables. Below is one chapter from the book. For reference it is the eight parable in this book entitled, "Brakhill's Greatest Citizen". In case you haven't read it, I think there is a good lesson to be learned in this parable about receiving an earthly reward now vs laying up treasure in heaven.
 ...
 
"Brakhill's Greatest Citizen".
 
The town of Brakhill is located in the high plains of northwestern Wyoming. There are rolling hills surrounding it, and several hot springs which produce columns of steam during the winter months. The pillars of smoke inspired some of the early settlers to believe God’s hand watched over this particular Promised Land. The native grasses would grow green in the Spring, then settle into a tan buckskin color for the rest of the year. Antelope and deer ran wild around Brakhill. They were a precious food source which fed the earliest settlers, but now had returned to be part of the beauty of the landscape.

Everyone knew Brakhill, Wyoming was the home of Olyvie Canfield, the famous children’s author. She died impoverished, but left a legacy which grew over time. Her fame came only after her death. She taught school until she retired, and was a grandmother before writing her first book. As an Art and English teacher to children in first through sixth grades, it was a natural development for her to turn to writing once she had the time to do so. She spent a lifetime teaching and loving children, so it was also natural for her to write and illustrate children’s books.

 Her illustrations were works of art. She patiently painted them with oil on canvas, then used photographs of her paintings for the prints in her books.

Her series on Wendy Wilson were local favorites for years, and became popular on a regional basis when Olyvie was in her 80s. It was after her she death, however, that Wendy Wilson became known nationally and internationally.

Fame for those who provide insights always increases over time. Ideas last forever. They are the only really permanent things in the world. Even continents drift, but a well-taught idea will cross time, culture, language and generations. Olyvie’s Wendy Wilson was introduced in Windy Wendy. She was an awkward child, whose peculiar appearance made her self conscious. Like she would do in all her books, Olyvie used Windy Wendy to show children how things they think are their weaknesses may prove to be their strengths. Wendy thought herself too skinny, too tall, too freckled and too shy to ever amount to anything in this world. She thought her hair was all wrong. It was so curly and unruly it could not be managed. Her hair “looked like an explosion,” wrote Olyvie.

To Wendy’s surprise, however, on a particularly windy day she was lifted by her hair, like a great sail, and found, “she could fly about like the seeds of a dandelion carried by the wind.” Wendy’s body was “just right,” and her hair “just perfect,” to allow her to become “the only girl who could fly.” Wendy would grow her unruly hair even longer, and could jump off buildings on even a calm day and float to the ground. It was a reassuring tale of triumph by what was once just an awkward little girl. All children could relate in one way or another to the awkwardness of their own youth. In Wendy they had a model for hopeful triumph over life’s limitations.

Olyvie took Wendy into adventures crime solving in Private Eye Wendy, then into a foreign land in Wendy and the Tornado. A dozen books, all illustrated by her, became treasured tales that children all across the country knew and loved. The artwork was as light and whimsical as the stories themselves. Her other stories were popular, but it was Wendy who was her most loved character.

All of Olyvie’s works taught lessons to children. They were popular and endured because they contained the wisdom and truths gathered by a grandmother over her lifetime. The problem children she had encountered, and the care and love which brought them to change, became the inspiration for Olyvie’s characters and stories. Adults found themselves reflecting on Olyvie’s teachings long after they stopped reading her books to their children who grew up. There were even adults with no children who bought copies to read and enjoy. Olyvie’s children wanted to keep their mother’s artwork together, and left it in the modest home in which their mother died. As their mother’s fame grew, they had the idea of putting it on display, and the original little museum was opened.


Over the years people came from increasingly distant places to Brakhill to see the original artwork Olyvie painted. They particularly wanted to see the art for her series on Wendy. Her modest home had been expanded to allow more of her artwork and original manuscripts to be put on display. Although Olyvie died more than three-quarters of a century ago, generations of her readers came through Brakhill to pay tribute to the beloved writer, painter and illustrator.

When the Wyoming Visitor’s Bureau compiled their latest numbers, only Yellowstone National Park drew more visitors than little Brakhill. It was because of this the Wyoming legislature decided to build a proper museum for Olyvie Canfield.

Since public funds were being used, public land was also to be used as the site for the project. David O’Conner came to Brakhill to inspect the project his employer was awarded by the State of Wyoming. He was making notes on the demolition of the abandoned City Hall building. It was boarded up, suffering from disuse. It was cracked, leaking, weathered and worn. It had once been grand, but was now just a relic, part of which had fire damage. A masonry structure, with solid fur floor joists, lath and plaster walls, tile floors and a granite foundation, this relic was still a formidable structure to demolish. When he literally broke into the structure through the front door barricades, he was surprised to see a large, open room. It was an odd waste of open space. “Why would a City Hall need such a large open room?” he thought.

However, the cavernous opening in the front and center would aid in containing the debris as they brought the building down. O’Conner realized the plan for demolition could collapse the building inward to this open area. The building’s wiring, plumbing and roof were all copper. O’Conner recognized there was a profit to be made salvaging some of the materials from this old structure. His company had not figured that into their price, and therefore there would be more profit on the job than first anticipated. There were odd neon light fixtures which seemed incompatible with the rest of the building. “There must have been some salvage done on this place already,” he realized. He wondered why the light fixtures had been taken and replaced, and not some of the other, valuable materials.

 Inside the front entry of this once elegant City Hall was a plaque on the wall which caught O’Conner’s eye. It had faux ionic pillars on it, paying tribute to someone in Gothic lettering, appeared to be solid brass, and would make an interesting keepsake for his office. He made a note to have it removed and brought to him. He planned to add it to his office collection.

David O’Conner’s office was filled with memorabilia from his career in construction. He collected eclectic bits from his work around the Western United States. It was a collection of things which caught his eye, more than things with any particular meaning to him. One day a visitor to his office was asking him about things in his office when the City Hall plaque came up. It read: “Dedicated to the honor of Ira Wilkas, Brakhill’s Chief Benefactor and Greatest Citizen.”

O’Conner was asked, “Who was Ira Wilkas?” But he didn’t know.

“Well then why do you have a plaque honoring him in your office?”
“Because I like the way it looks.”

“Where did you get it?”

O’Conner had to think for a while before remembering. The clue which allowed him to place the plaque was its reference to “Brakhill.” The only job he’d performed there was on Olyvie Canfield’s Museum. He first demolished an abandoned City Hall building. “It came from a run-down building I tore down in Brakhill, Wyoming.”

The discussion had him wondering about Ira Wilkas. But he never followed up to find out about him. No one alive remembered anything about Ira. Even his few living descendants did not know anything about an ancestor from five generations in their past.

Ira Wilkas had been Brakhill’s leading citizen in his lifetime. His cattle and mining businesses were the leading employers in the two counties surrounding Brakhill. He was a powerful man economically and politically. During the last 50 years of his life it was said that “no one can be elected governor in Wyoming without Ira Wilkas’ support.”

He was a religious man who supported a Lutheran Church in his community. The four ministers who served the church during Ira’s lifetime were all deferential to him, oftentimes holding him up as an example to others of goodness and virtue in their sermons. This led to Ira’s personal conviction that he was a very good man, better morally than his fellows. He took that conviction seriously and provided many public examples of goodness and charity.

 Ira’s single most expensive act of public charity was his announcement that the old clapboard City Hall built by the original settlers of Brakhill was to be replaced by a new City Hall built of brick and stone. The foundation was to be made of granite block cut by his mining operation and delivered to the site he would donate in the center of town. He intended this to be more than just a center of government for the city. He wanted it to become the very heart of the community.

 In addition to providing offices, indoor plumbing, storage and meeting rooms, Ira intended for the main entrance to be usable as a community ballroom. It would be elegant and open, finished with a tile floor, two stories tall, lit by gold plated chandeliers, with a divided staircase containing a large landing, suitable as a stage on which musicians could perform. He wanted the sound to fill the room, but not echo, and so he commissioned tapestries depicting local scenery to be hung on the walls. When the project was announced he explained the pictures of local scenes had already been sent east and the tapestries were already begun.

Even in the generosity of providing the City Hall, Ira doubly blessed the community because many people needing work found it in laboring on this new project. Although it was a city project, the costs were all paid by Ira. Not a cent of taxpayer money went into the ambitious project.

During the years of construction, word of the project spread far beyond the Brakhill community, and people would come from as far as Cody and Sheridan to see it being built. Word spread from there into Western South Dakota, Casper and Cheyenne. It was expected that the official dedication of the building would be attended by a larger audience than Brakhill.

They were not disappointed.

The official dedication was set for the Fourth of July. The Governor and many members of the State legislature were in attendance. Newspapers from five states had reporters there, and photographs of the elegant City Hall were seen in over sixhundred communities.

Brakhill’s Lutheran minister gave the dedicatory prayer. The mayor’s remarks included the following comments:

“Brakhill has the greatest leading citizen of any community in Wyoming. His selfless and generous heart has provided us with much more than a City Hall. We now own a landmark, built of such solid materials and containing such works of art that it will endure forever. Future generations will recall our day as this monument remains a testament to our times and our great benefactor. They will wonder at how we could have built such a public temple, and their wonder will be answered by what is found inside. Unknown to Ira Wilkas, we were able to have the tapestry maker weave his likeness into the foreground of the center tapestry. We also commissioned a plaque, which was done in secret at his mine, made of solid brass, that will stand forever in the main lobby paying tribute to Brakhill’s greatest citizen.”

Ira was surprised at this announcement. He had inspected the work as it progressed, and they had used trickery to keep him from discovering these tributes to him. Scaffolding and temporary placement of wood trim materials blocked his view. But the surprise pleased him. It seemed natural for his generosity to be memorialized in the monument he helped to create. The Governor was the final speaker before the anxious crowd was allowed to enter the building. He confirmed the building was to hold its first ball, and the orchestra had traveled from the State Capitol to perform. He also confirmed what everyone present already knew: “Ira Wilkas is, and always will be, Brakhill’s greatest citizen. A man of his stature, prominence and generosity just does not occur in the same place twice. Today, without any doubt, Ira is our State’s greatest citizen.” This sounded right to the crowd, who erupted in applause at these final remarks.

The Governor then led an eager throng up the stairs into the spacious main room where the orchestra at once struck up the music and filled the room with the invitation to dance. The tapestries were beautiful, with only one person in any of them. In one a large, two story scene had Ira standing in the foreground, wearing his trademark white hat with his hands on his hips, exuding the confident pose of a leading citizen, proudly portrayed in permanent splendor.

Overhead the new chandeliers brightly lit the room. The warm light was eye-catching and before long people began to recognize the fixtures were covered with 24 carat gold, which added to the light’s hue.

In a polished brass plaque centered on the wall beneath the orchestra’s landing, were two cast pillars on a brass plaque surrounding the words: “Dedicated to the honor of Ira Wilkas, Brakhill’s Chief Benefactor and Greatest Citizen.” No community since Rome herself had more reason to believe they had an enduring public tribute to a man. But monuments to men crumble and come to an end.

Over the decades, Brakhill’s City Hall was the place where many entertaining evenings were spent by the town. It was Brakhill’s heart for two generations. It was so well built it required little maintenance, and the community got used to a building which did not require regular repair.

Times change, as do communities. When the U.S. Highway was built, it was not practical to run it through the center of Brakhill. It ran to the north with two exits for the town. The highway traffic offered commercial opportunities and over time the new businesses—hotels, restaurants and service stations prospered more than the old businesses which were in the center of town. Some old-time businessmen saw that the opportunity to survive required them to move. In time Brakhill’s town center became run down.

Energy costs rose over the decades and older buildings needed renovation to make them cost effective. However, Brakhill’s City Hall was a masonry structure which could not easily be improved. The exterior walls were all load-bearing, and the plumbing and heating systems were run inside the walls themselves. It would be impossible to replace them without cutting the masonry walls which supported the upper floor and roof. By the time the community needed to renovate the dilapidated structure, the costs of doing so were high enough it made sense to consider replacing it altogether.

One of the advantages of replacing the old City Hall with a new one was the ability to move the building to the new center of the city, beside the Highway. When the bids were opened to do the work, Brakhill had asked for prices to either renovate the old City Hall, or build a new one. All the bids were opened together and it was only slightly more expensive to build a new one. The city council decided the slight cost difference was worth it to get a more modern building located closer to where most people worked and most traffic was flowing. So the old City Hall was abandoned for public meetings. The light fixtures from the old building were removed and put into the courthouse. The tapestries were taken down and stored. They were damaged in storage by rodents and insects. Eventually they were burned because of the damage. When they were burned, no one had seen Ira’s proud stand memorialized in the weave of the artwork for twenty years.

For a few years the old City Hall became a library building, with neon light fixtures providing the patrons enough light to read inside the cavernous main library room. Eventually they closed the library and the building was boarded up. From time to time the children of Brakhill would sneak into the building and use it for play. Younger children would pretend it was a castle and hold sword fights on the main staircases. Teenagers would use it to conceal underage drinking. During winter the kids would build campfires in the abandoned, masonry building. Though it had few flammable materials inside, there were two occasions when the Brakhill Fire Department came to put out fires.

The teenager problem was bad enough the city council considered tearing the old City Hall down. However, the cost of doing so was high enough the city never approved the project. It was a godsend to the community when the State Legislature decided to build a museum for Olyvie Canfield’s works. They eagerly donated the old City Hall site for the new structure. This would eliminate one problem while providing a blessing to the community.

When the new museum was announced, word of the project spread far beyond the Brakhill community, and people were coming from as far as Cody and Sheridan to see it being built. Word spread in newspapers and on the Internet. It was expected, therefore, that the official dedication of the building would be attended by a much larger audience than Brakhill. They were not disappointed.

The official dedication was set for the Fourth of July. The Governor and almost all the members of the State legislature were in attendance. School teachers, who used Olyvie Canfield’s books came by the dozens from around the state. Newspapers from all over the nation had reporters there, and photographs of the new museum were seen nationally. Brakhill’s Lutheran minister gave the dedicatory prayer. He mentioned in his remarks, “Olyvie Canfield is, and always will be, Brakhill’s greatest citizen. A person of her stature, who has influenced so many lives for the good just does not occur in the same place twice. Today, without any doubt, Olyvie is the greatest citizen ever produced by our State.”

Though in time even the Olyvie Canfield Museum would require many repairs, it was her teachings of love for children which held life, not the building. As a result, repairs were faithfully made to keep pace with the increasing crowds of those interested in knowing more of the old woman who died in poverty and relative obscurity, but left a life’s labor in her words and art. Love and wisdom outlast stone itself.