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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

159: CASTING CALL

I found this interesting.

Applications and Video Auditions are currently being accepted for members of Church to share their "testimony about God’s Special Witnesses on the earth today!" that will be shown at the Special Witnesses Kiosk.

From the email I recieved from the LDS Motion Picture Studio, they are looking for members of the Church of all ethnicities to be part of a new video to be shown at the Visitors Center where they will  "share their thoughts and testimony about our Special Witnesses—our modern-day apostles—in a very casual, natural way: in your own words." The email emphasises that there’s no acting involved. Just be yourself and share your testimony about our Special Witnesses. I have always been interesting in understanding what is meant by "Special Witnesses." Does that mean they have seen the Lord? Do we hear them actually say that.. or do we just assume it?

I think what took me offguard from this casting call is when did we start bearing testimony of God's Special Witnesses instead of Jesus Christ? Why in the world it is being allowed to have members testifying of men.. and allowing it to be filmed and shown at our Visitors Center. It is my opinion that God's Special Witnesses would not want people to share testimonies about them, but instead of the Savior Jesus Christ.

Below is the email and link in case you would like to submit your application:

FORM url address: https://adobeformscentral.com/?f=iaiAffApRweHRM%2AzXVs5RA

.......................................


From: LDS Casting <AVDCasting@ldschurch.org>
Date: Sat, Mar 23, 2013 at 8:43 PM


We Need Your Help!

Please submit your application no later than Monday, April 8, 2013. (Earlier is better!)

PROJECT: Special Witnesses Kiosk

WHAT: These are INTERVIEWS. There’s no acting involved. Just be yourself and share your thoughts and testimony about our Special Witnesses—our modern-day apostles—in a very casual, natural way: in your own words.


PLEASE APPLY: This is a perfect opportunity to serve even if you have no acting experience. We just want YOU—your personality, your thoughts, your words.

NEEDED: English-speakers and Native Spanish-speakers. Men and Women, ages 16 and older.

ALL ETHNICITIES are WELCOME. As this will be used throughout the world, we will be looking for ethnically-diverse individuals to represent all areas of the globe.

REMUNERATION: As you will be imparting your testimony, this work is non-paid, volunteer. We will, however, offer a small stipend for travel if you come from a distance.

WHERE: The shoot will take place in Provo, Utah.

WHEN: Dates are flexible. Currently, the third week in April is the goal.

PURPOSE: One of the experiences in LDS Visitor’s Centers is a Kiosk highlighting our modern-day prophets and apostles. The purpose of this project is to create an introduction from the perspective of a normal, everyday person about why these leaders are important. This is designed for non-members to help them understand who and what they are about to see.

TO APPLY!

FIRST, make a video of yourself! Take one minute or less to tell us about a recent General Conference address that impacted your life. This is what we’re looking for:

(1) “Talking Head.” Make sure your FACE is well-lit. It only needs to be your head-and-shoulders speaking directly to the camera.

(2) Your Name. Please state your name at the beginning and anything about yourself you’d like to share. (Where you live; how many in your family; your age; are you a convert? Etc.)

(3) Be personable. Relax. Smile. Show some humor.

(4) Be sincere. Speak the truth from your heart.

(5) Be succinct. Convey your ideas clearly and without a lot of hash. You may wish to practice a bit before recording. Remember, longer is not always better. Short and succinct is the way to be.

Please Note: We are NOT looking for long quotes or citations from these talks. We want your reactions to them and how they impacted your life. (All in less than a minute!)

SECOND, upload your video! You may use any online service you prefer. We recommend that you make the video “accessible via URL link” which creates a degree of privacy without the need for a password. In effect, only those with the direct link can see the video. Add the link to your video to your
FORM (see step #3) and viola! Done!

THIRD, fill out this
FORM and upload a current photo of yourself. There are areas in the form to do this.

DATE DUE: Please submit your application no later than Monday, April 8, 2013. (Earlier is better!)

THANK YOU for your willingness to share your testimony about God’s Special Witnesses on the earth today! We look forward to viewing your application!

Best regards,

Alisa Anglesey
Publishing Services Casting Producer
LDS Motion Picture Studio
AVDcasting@LDSchurch.org
(801) 240-9300

FORM url address: https://adobeformscentral.com/?f=iaiAffApRweHRM%2AzXVs5RA

Friday, March 22, 2013

158: THE SACRIFICE OF ALL EARTHLY THINGS


"Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth's sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life."
Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith 6:7


The way in which we gain faith is by making sacrifices, faith is obtained in no other way. The Ancients were examples of this kind of sacrifice which produces faith. The kind of faith like Abraham means that we have to put ourself into God’s hands and do what God wants us to do, no matter what, no matter how painful, no how much we may dislike it, or wish that cup might be removed from us.  The purpose of making sacrifices is to obtain faith, and the purpose of obtaining faith is so that we can then make even greater sacrifice, and the purpose of the greater sacrifices is so that we can obtain greater faith, and the purpose of obtaining greater faith is so that we are prepared then to make greater sacrifice still until at last we are prepared to lay everything, our own life not spared on the altar in order to do what the Lord would have us do, no matter how much we may not want to do what the Lord would have us do.

So that, nothing doubting, we are approved of God and doing as He would have us do. Everything else is incidental to that process, everything else. Therefore, the final purpose of sacrifice is to know God. Because that is only way that anyone including the Ancients obtained the faith necessary to know God. No one is going to Them and Their Glory until they have like manner made the same sacrifice in order to obtain the same faith that allowed them to be what the Lord would have them be. And part of that process involves being completely misunderstood, rejected, despised by people who ought to know better. And then, being tempted to step to the left or to the right on a path that is intended to only be strait and narrow. And its every bit of it requires you to focus on one and only One Thing. Jesus Christ. That is what the Lord would have you do and be, nothing else, and not to try and make more or less what He would have you do...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

157: VERNAL EQUINOX 2013

...
Photo taken of the moon just hours before the official start time of 5:02 AM of Spring Equinox. A day of balance. A day of rebirth, A day of equal light and dark. The moon tonight is a beautiful sign of this years Vernal Equinox. I will write more about this.

156: TO WHOM DO WE LOOK?

Last night my family watched part of the History Channel's, 'The Bible'. It is a 10 hour miniseries airing on Sunday nights. While I am not necessarily recommending it due to the excessive violence and alot of the false historical interpretations, it has been one way for my kids to remember some of the Old Testament Stories.

One story that our family was not familiar with is the story about the woman named Rahab. If you look up in our LDS Bible Dictionary, it only states, Rahab: the harlot who hit the spies at Jericho. I realize that Bible definitions need to be concise, but there is alot more to this woman's story then what we read in the dictionary. First of all, not many female names are mentioned in the Old Testament, so when a woman's name is mentioned, it is important. Rahab lived in the city of Jericho. When Israelite messengers entered her city, she hid them, saving them from being killed. For her kindness, she was told that if she put a "scarlet line/thread" in her window, she and  her family would be saved from the coming destruction when the walls of her city "come tumbling down".
...
"Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee. 

And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho." Joshua 2:18; 6:25

There is a connection with the scarlet thread that Rahab placed in her window, to the red blood of the Passover lamb smeared on the doorways of the Israelites in Egypt.  Both were a type and shadow of the blood ultimately shed by Christ for the human race that saves us.

Just an interesting sidenote: I read that every other occurence for the Hebrew word for “line” (thread) is is translated “hope” or “expectation.”  Faith is associated with hope. So not only the Rahab's hope/faith by placing the scarlet line (the symbol of Christ) that saved her family; so was the red blood on the doorways that saved the first-born of the children of Israel. Their all-important faith in these red symbols were but shadows of the ultimate faith in the precious blood of Christ which “saves” us today.

So, my question today is To whom do we look for our protection and safety? To whom do we have hope in? To whom do we have faith in?



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

155: DECADENCE: DECLINE OF A SOCIETY

Next week is the one year anniversary of the dedication of the LDS Church's City Creek Center. In light of that I thought I would post some thoughts:

.....
Everyone knows why the Roman Empire fell. It became decadent. Decadence is a luxurious self-indulgence. It is often used to describe a decline of a society due to a focus on self and worldly gain instead of a focus of being self-less and helping those in need.

The Book of Mormon repeatedly point of the four things that will destroy a civilization. It is the lust for power, riches, popularity and the desires of the flesh. Nibley addresses this in his book "Approaching Zion."

Below is an image of City Creek Center. Visible in the photo is Tiffany's, the premiere store to buy gold and silver. In Alma 31:24 we read, "Now when Alma saw this his heart was grieved, for he saw that they were a wicked and a perverse people; yea, he saw that their hearts were set upon gold, and upon silver, and upon all manner of fine goods.


The antithesis and antagonist of Zion is Babylon. Its worldliness and its focus on the outer appearance all combine to make Babylon the symbol of decadent societies and spiritual bondage.

Babylon was, in the time of ancient Israel, a city which had become sensual, decadent, and corrupt.

Below are two billboards that are advertising the City Creek Gym. Now, I want to make it clear that the Church does not own the Gym (unlike the one it operated across from the Temple called Deseret Gym), but this new Gym is part of the City Creek Mall, and uses the tagline, The Gym at City Creek. These huge billboards are hard to miss and are located off of 500 South as you enter into downtown Salt Lake. Funny how I feel I should apologize for posting them, but these are advertisements drawing people to what has been justified as a place to beautify the surrounding area of the Temple. 



What do we worship? The God of Abraham?..or the god of this World?

.....................................

I found this talk given in General Conference in 1971.. over 40 years ago.

"Many thoughtful people are deeply concerned about the religious and social conditions that prevail in our society. It is the contention of some students of history and men of learning that our civilization is rapidly deteriorating and we are drifting into a decadent period of existence.

The thing that is needed more than anything else today is a return to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the gospel plan that he gave. Today, as perhaps seldom if ever before, civilization is in need of a knowledge of the true and living God. Yes, the cure for the ills that beset the world today is true religion. We need the humility of prayer, and a determination to learn God’s will and to keep the commandments that he has given. We need faith that our Savior lives, faith in his redeeming sacrifice. In other words,  Christ and his teachings should become the center of our lives.




Sidenote: 

I sent a letter over a year ago to the President Bishopric about my concerns about City Creek. I thought I would post the response letter I received: 
 ..................

Dear Brother,

I have been asked to respond to your letter to the Presiding Bishopric expressing concern about City Creek Center advertising.

When the project was first announced in October 2006, Church leaders were careful to explain that City Creek, as a mixed-use enterprise of office space, residences and retail stores, would operate under commercial business standards. They repeatedly made plain that City Creek is fundamentally different from the ecclesiastical properties at Church headquarters.

City Creek Reserve, Inc. (CCRI), a real estate investment arm of the Church, has sought to create a place of beauty and economic vitality that is welcoming to all Salt Lake City residents and visitors, whether members of the Church or not.  We have worked with our retail partner, Taubman Centers, Inc., with city leaders and with other downtown stake holders to design, construct and operate a combination of businesses that will revitalize and enhance downtown for decades to come.

In their advertising, Taubman is inviting a broad, diverse audience, many of whom are not Latter-day Saints, to come and enjoy this new shopping and dining destination. Taubman wants everyone to feel welcome, including those who interpret what is tasteful and acceptable in fashion and dining in ways that differ from Church teachings. Of course, Taubman must abide by state and city decency laws, but you can readily appreciate that standards required by law are not the same as Church standards.

Thank you for all you do to teach and uphold the standards of the Church in your calling and in leading your family

Sincerely,
Director, Communications and Marketing.
City Creek Reserve, Inc.
Joseph Smith Memorial Building
15 E. South Temple St. Rm 800
Salt Lake City, UT 84150

Thursday, March 7, 2013

154: INCOMPLETE PERSPECTIVE

The word 'perspective' comes from the Latin preposition 'per' and the Latin verb 'spicio'. 'Per' is a preposition which means "thoroughly" … and the verb 'spicio' means "to see" or "to observe". So the root meaning of the word 'perspective' is to "observe thoroughly".

Sometimes our perspective on things is not accurate, and rarely, if ever complete. Many times we see from a certain vantage point and think that it is all there is know about a subject. As mortals, we don't observe thoroughly.. our perspective is incomplete.

Here is a good illustration. Below are some photographs of Mt. Olympus taken from different angles and at different times of the year. They are all of the exact same mountain, yet the mountain looks completely different depending on your viewpoint and the time of year. Mount Olympus is where I was born and raised. I have hiked this mountain with my dad, as well as with my wife. I know the mountain well, but even I still have not seen the mountain from every angle.

Someone could be viewing the mountain from the front, and his description of the face of the mountain would be accurate, another could be viewing the mountain from the side and his view would be accurate as well, but would differ from the others perspective. We would do well to learn from all perspectives, not limit our views. It is my opinion that Zion will be comprised of people who all know the "mountain".. and have reached the summit, but possibly from different vantage points and have taken different trails to reach the top... What is then so beautiful, is that we can learn from each other and have a more complete perspective.

 Views of Mount Olympus in Salt Lake City
...

That beginning said... the various earthly perspectives of this mountain is only the beginning. All things should be viewed with a heavenly perspective. Below are a few photos I took of this same mountain, Mt. Olympus with the sun. No longer does the mountain become the focal point, but it is the light of the sun and colors that create the beauty. These are examples of what it looks like when heaven meets earth. Our perspective increases when we view things from an eternal perspective.


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May we have our eye more fully opened, may we have ears more fully tuned, may we be more open to see things from all perspectives, and may we be humble and teachable to learn more about our true nature and our divine mission in helping to connect heaven to earth, and with God to Man.
... 
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Friday, March 1, 2013

153: THE TRANSITION... MOVING TO THE NEXT STAGE


Today is 3.1.13.

I’ve been working on this post for a few days and thought today would be a good day to post this. I think it is important for many reasons. I took the above photograph because I think it is highly symbolic. You can see two hands, a younger looking hand on the left, and a more adult hand on the right. The young hand can either be interpreted as letting go of the rod, or actually reaching up and trying to grab it. I think it represents both.  The rod then seems to vanish and then is replaced by an actual hand which is parting the veil. I use this photo to hopefully illustrate a few stages in the progression of faith. These stages are based off of James Fowler’s book, Stages of Faith written in 1981. While some might already be aware of his research, I think it might be useful to a few that might understand more fully what is currently happening in masses within the LDS Church, as well as other religions. The Lord is hastening his work and it is beautiful to witness and be a small part in what is happening.

The following is a brief synopsis of each stage we go through in our development of Faith. Stages 3, 4, 5 are the most important to understand  for us at this time. I have taken some liberty in expressing some variations to Fowler’s work, but the main concepts remains the same.

Stage 1: Primal Faith: (birth to child):

In this first stage, we develop basic faith and trust in those we love, primarily our parents who provide our basic needs for life. For example, if I cry, Mom will feed me or pick me up. Simple concepts of good and bad are taught. We learn that obeying the “rules” is important because it means avoiding punishment. Rules are seen as being fixed and absolute. It is in this stage that we learn the most basic ideas about love and God.

Stage 2: Child-like Faith: (child to teenager):

Faith increases outside of the family structure. We continue to accept the ideas about God in very literal ways. God lives up in the sky with the angels. He is our Heavenly Father. We are his children. The Devil lives in Hell and he tempts us to do evil. Decisions are made based on the principle of "What's in it for me?" Obeying the rules is important because we receive rewards. "If I follow the rules, God will give me a good life." "If I pray, God will grant my wish." In this stage, we begin to sort out the “real” from the “make-believe.”

Stage 3: Institutional Faith: (teenager to adult)

At this stage we rely on a religious institution to give us stability and to give us answers to our questions about things we don’t understand. If those in authority say it is so, it must be true. We tend to have a hard time seeing outside our “box”. The authority of the leaders is emphasized to the individuals or groups that represent one's beliefs.. We become attached to the forms of our religion and get extremely upset when these are called into question. This is the stage in which many people never move beyond it. This stage can also be called "Conventional/Group Faith", meaning that most people in this stage see themselves as believing what "everybody else" believes and would be reluctant to stop believing it because of the need they feel to stay connected with their group. Here authority is located outside the self - in the church leaders, in the government, in the social group.

In this stage, the church is like a wise and protective parent; we trust it implicitly

Most of the people in traditional churches are at this stage. Religious institutions "work best" if the majority of their congregation is in Stage 3 and the institutions discourage people from questioning since it threatens the viability of the institution if people start questioning!)

When a person cognitively realizes that there are contradictions between some of his authority sources and is ready to actually reflect realistically on them, he begins to be ready to move to the Fourth Stage.

Stage 4 – Skeptical Faith (questioning adult):

In this stage, we begin questioning what we took for granted in Stage 3; most experience negative emotion toward Stage 3 experiences. This is the tough stage, when people start seeing outside the box and realizing that there are other "boxes". They begin to critically examine their beliefs on their own and often become disillusioned with their former faith. Ironically, the Stage 3 people usually think that Stage 4 people have become "apostate" when in reality they have actually moved forward. Those who break out of the previous stage usually do so when they start seriously questioning things on their own. A lot of the time, this stage ends up being very non-religious and some people stay in it permanently. Religious groups are always trying to discourage people from making this step.

In this Stage, the church is like a parent whose flaws and mistakes are exposed at their worst

Stage 5 – Mystical Faith: (maturing adult):

It is in this stage that acceptance or reconciliation is reached. It is coming to terms with what we learned in Stage 4 and transcending above it. They start to accept the paradoxes in life. They begin to see life as a mystery and often return to sacred stories and symbols but this time without being stuck in a theological box. People at this stage sometimes disobey what were previous rules in stage 3, if they find them to be inconsistent with their paradigm shift. They have experienced connection with heaven, and have been comforted from the pain they experienced in Stage 4. Most people in stage 3 do not like people in stage 5. Stage 3 perceive Stage 5 people to be off the mark, misguided, unruly, and apostate.

In this stage, the church is like a sweet grandparent that sometimes says wise things, sometimes funny or antiquated things, but is a benevolent forebear, and we excuse their shortcomings and failures.

Stage 6 –Transcendental Faith: (selfless adult):

It is in this stage that we gain complete internal peace and wisdom, becoming a whole person with spiritual power and insight. Those who do live their lives to the full in service of others without any real worries or doubts. Few people operate at this stage all the time. It is the ability to put oneself in other people's shoes, and actually become a mediator for them. At this stage, people have a principled conscience and will follow universal ethical principles regardless of what the official laws and rules are.

Stage 7: Completed Faith: (graduated adult):

I have added this additional stage. (mainly because I like the number 7 as the number for completion.) This is just my opinion, but I feel in this stage, the person is willing to and sometimes even are required to die, becoming a martyr for the cause.


In closing:

I wanted to post the above photograph and label it to what I see as a great illustration of the Stages 3, Stage 4, and Stage 5 look like. I know that most of the posts on this blog have been to leading Stage 3 people into Stage 4. I have learned that leaving stage 3 before the person is ready can be damaging. It actually can do more damage than good. Each stage is very important to go through. The journey should be individual and on their own terms. Focusing on pointing and helping the stage 4 people into Stage 5 should be a work that all of us should be engaged in, if not only personally, but also in helping others.