Monday, July 26, 2010

My Grandfather Was A Farmer In Idaho

Really. Nampa, Idaho to be exact. He was a dairy farmer and had a big 'ol farm house with several large barns and sheds situated on many rolling acres. And cows. These were not the pretty cows that said “moo” on command and sat organized and neat on my toy shelf next to my hot wheels. Nor were these cows nearly as conscientious as I had pitched them to be while I played with plastic animals in my bedroom. And, where there are large unruly cows, I discovered as a small boy, there was stuff left by cows.

Lots of stuff.

There was also stuff that had to be fed to cows, and stuff taken from the cow even when they did’t want their stuff taken, and once taken, the milk had to be chilled and separated and then there was more dirty stuff to be cleaned. The dairy farm was not anywhere near as spotless and fresh as on the TV advertisements and the happy bovines of Nampa, Idaho were not nearly as cheery or clever as those currently promoting chicken sandwiches or chocolate milk.

Grandpa had the right idea (or maybe it was grandmas idea) in leaving his work boots and coveralls in the mud room just inside the screen door. The world stayed outside where it could keep just as it was and was always meant to be once the Garden of Eden had been cleared of humans. Inside the house was a different world where stocking feet, slippers or clean shoes were welcome and appropriate.

Sometimes after the boots came off, Grandpa would clean up, and lace up a shiny pair of Florsheim dress shoes. Then, Grandpa as President Hurren made for his office at the stake building to attend to a different kind of business, and a different kind of cleanup. Something a little more spiritual.

Having a clean heart and clean hands always meant something else for me once I had spent a week on Grandpas farm feeding cows and leaving my shoes on the porch. There was work to do, and it meant getting dirty. Having a pure heart and clean hands sometimes didn't have anything to do with the muck on your boots or the dried mud glued to your pants, where a little grime left on the bar of soap may have simply meant that the job was well done. The dirt that stuck to you at Grandpas dairy farm cleaned up relatively easy, and Grandpa often said that if you didn't have to clean up you probably hadn’t done much of importance that day.

There is much emphasis put into cleanliness as a metaphor of morality and chastity. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?” (Ps. 24:3). He who hath clean hands and a pure heart. Who has access to the power of the lord? The virtuous and spotless. Keep in mind that through the atonement, we all may repent and become clean, pure, virtuous and spotless.

Sometimes getting our hands dirty has a connotation of being less desirable, or a little more working class than we would care to admit. We would like to, and are required to be “virtuous and spotless” as we stand before the Lord when on his hill. The getting there, the forgiving and repenting and helping of the others we better be bringing along with us - that may be a place and time for muck boots and coveralls.

The physical acts of caring for, serving, working with, and cleaning up after our brothers and sisters gets a little messy. “Jumping in and getting the job done” and/or “getting into the mix” transitions artfully into “purity and a virtuous heart”. The power we can access in the priesthood is not only limited by our degree of individual righteousness or purity, but by our general willingness to “get-er-done”. The priesthood of God brilliantly combines both “Clean and pure” and “get your hands dirty”.

The metaphors are officially, forever mixed.

It’s the “do something for someone” attribute in conjunction with having a clean and pure Christ centered heart, the "spiritual farmer tan" – that I admire with holders of the priesthood, and that my Grandpa in Nampa Idaho would be proud of.

The Priesthood of God is one of the reasons I have set aside anything that would get in the way of having a willing heart and being worthy of healing hands.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tinkle the Ivory's Tuesday!

This is another part of my famous record stash I have been keeping in the hope that someday they will be worth more than the space they are stored in. If any of you have access to Volume one, please let me know as I am antsy to have the set.

Tuesdays Album cover (and maybe Wednesdays cover - depending on wither or not I have paid my Internet bill) is happily sponsored by Miss Clairol and by "The Young Ambassadors".

As always, dear reader, remember to take your Prozac. After all, if you haven't your health or a sequined pantsuit, what have you?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Welcome To The Family. Now Take That Shirt Off

An increasing number of Latter-day Saint families are welcoming their homosexual children who are living in committed relationships into the family circle rather than disowning or becoming estranged from them. This sentence is a welcome relief for some and proof of the ending of the world as we know it for others. Which are you?

Friends can be fickle, families however try to be forever – especially Mormon ones. Accepting those whose belief systems are different than ours into our family organization is a big step and has been for centuries.

It is not our place nor has it ever been to forgive what we feel is one offence from Frank and to deny our forgiveness for Bob for something different. We are to forgive all. We are to accept all people.

There are several issues here the biggest for LDS families seems to be; how do I incorporate family members living a lifestyle different from what I want for my family as a whole (Possible translation: wrong) without exposing my children to ways of the world I would like to keep them from? How do I build or maintain a spiritual home that includes those who are acting in a way that seems in direct conflict with my standards?

The responsibility of acceptance is often put on the church as an organization. It is not the place of the church to accept or not accept those with different standards. It is the responsibility of those people in the church to serve, strengthen and protect members of their family regardless of individual members orientation, morals, propensity for repentance or status as smoking or non.

The Church does not reach out to individual members of our family or by the same token deny admittance into these family organizations. We do. We as people, brothers and sisters mothers and fathers either reach out to family members or we do not. We either believe that all men, if given the opportunity, have the potential to bless those around them – even those who live differently, or we do not believe.

A recent commentary on the LDS churches stance toward those with SGA stated that they would like to see the Church include and make welcome into our worship services and church community those of different orientation. It is a positive assertion, and one I agree with. It is an assertion that begs a different question however.

What are they talking about? Who is the church is it is not us? If we as fathers and mothers wish to accept these family members into our circles, who or what is there to stop us? Are there in our circles members of the family that have different outlooks on life and follow their volition? By accepting them as brothers and sisters, are we required to stamp them with our seal of approval for all of their choices? That has only been the case for those who are equating their family structure with a sorority club house or a football team.

Dad is a democrat, Mom likes diet coke, Susan likes to smoke, Frank is a Ute supporter and Bob likes guys.

We are still a family.