Sunday, December 14, 2008

speak with a new tongue

With all the elections and sloganeering in recent times (yes, NZ had one this year too) "change" has been adopted as the key buzzword of a new zeitgeist. What's so good about change and why do we all want some? Economies are crumbling around us as we speak; Our current and projected future results aren't especially promising: possibly a new great depression, unnecessary wars, continued terrorism and the polar ice caps melting. Doing the same thing and expecting different results is one definition for insanity. All things considered righting the ship seems like a good idea.

Macro change begins with micro change. Global effects are generated by combinations of individual decisions. Anonymous as always has something to say about the matter: "When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world." And thus we see that fighting the ills of the world begins with self-mastery (that's what people tell me, theoretically it sounds right, when I get there I'll let you know).

A fair while back a woman named Sariah sat marooned in the middle of the desert in her old husband's tent and had a giant sized whinge. Lehi, her husband, led her and the family away from their well-to-do lifestyle in Jerusalem and set up camp in the inhospitable wilderness. After a three day trip out from the big city Lehi received inspiration to send his sons back to Jerusalem to track down some old family records. The assignment was a potentially risky one, as the item they sought didn't exactly belong to them.

After a period of waiting, Sariah made her feelings about the matter known in no uncertain terms. Nephi records: "For she had supposed that we had perished in the wilderness; and she also had complained against my father, telling him that he was a visionary man; saying: Behold thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness. And after this manner of language had my mother complained against my father" (Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 5:2 - 3, emphasis added). It's easy to dismiss Sariah's questioning as a lack of faith, this was a factor, but not the only one. Lest we judge her too harshly, it's important to remember a mother's love for her children, there are few things that can compete in intensity with the maternal instinct. Add to her imagined loss of her sons the thought of dying alone in the desert and we can in some measure appreciate her concerns. Why this excursion away from home only to have the youngest of the family return to Jerusalem? There were a number of valid questions just like there are today. Perhaps the Lord was getting the oldies out of harms way, before the quest for the brass plates began. God is not a fan of collateral damage. I'm not sure if giving these auxiliary issues more then cursory consideration robs these stories of their mythic resonance, what I do know is that patience is a virtue. Anecdotally speaking when I'm still on the inside and working on the outside good things happen.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Coming back to faith, Sariah's was strengthened upon the return of her sons, who were successful in their errand and a powerful change took place. A little success can go a long way "And she spake, saying: Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them. And after this manner of language did she speak" (Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 5:8, emphasis added). It took a miraculous act of deliverance, but Sariah's relationship with God fundamentally changed. And it was first manifested through the way she spoke, complaining gave way to praising. "Through small and simple things, are great things brought to pass." When we change, we change the way we speak, the way we carry ourselves the way we treat each other (wow, I think I'm chanelling Tupac) and I believe that true change comes when we let go over our egos and acknowledge that something bigger than ourselves exists out there, and then act upon it. Words are powerful things they allow us to make sense of the world and today the last ones go to two esteemed gentlemen, John Wooden, and Gandhi. "Failure may not be fatal, but failure to change might be." So,"Be the change you wish to see in the world."


Anonymous said...

I found a Wonderful site on Isaiah!
The site has free lessons on every chapter.
Very well done and in the author’s own voice.
Every Isaiah Chapter has the Analytical Commentary of Isaiah. Enjoy this personable verse-by-verse commentary of Isaiah by well-known Hebrew scholar Avraham Gileadi.

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“It is my testimony that this man has been brought forward and trained at this time to help those inside the Church into Isaiah, and those outside the Church, Jew and Gentile, through Isaiah into the Church” —Arthur Henry King, author, former BYU professor and London
Temple President.

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“Dr. Gileadi’s work will render obsolete almost all the speculations of Isaiah scholars over the last one hundred years . . . enabling scholarship to proceed along an entirely new line . . . opening new avenues of approach for others to follow”—Professor Roland K. Harrison, Wycliffe College, Toronto, Canada.

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understanding of Judeo-Christian religion, lifting it to heights hitherto known only to prophets and saints”—Arie Noot, corporate executive, Edmond, Oklahoma.

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“Gileadi has uncovered an amazing message written in a divine code by the prophet–poet Isaiah. This will give comfort, hope, and joy to masses of people as they cope with the perplexing events now unfolding before their eyes”—Fenton Tobler, thirty years elementary school principle, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Loren said...

wow, that's amazing!