Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Delusion and Yearning for "Normal Time" / Lloyd

INTRO NOTE: 6 years ago this month we were upon interesting times in our family.  I was home recuperating from surgery, Judy was about to have her thyroid irradiated with radioactive iodine. This is treatment for hyperthyroidism, where thyroid tissue is destroyed and the patient takes thyroid hormone daily the rest of her life.

Judy's endocrinologist had simply scratched out this order on a standard prescription pad and told her drop by her local hospital radiology department for the medication whenever she had time.

Radiology said she had to have an appointment with nuclear medicine, that she’d be radioactive for a couple of days, and that she’d have to isolate herself-- especially from small children, pregnant women, her seminary class students, and her elderly father.  And get no closer than 3 feet to everyone else, plus many other precautions. Wow!

I was reading Michael Chabon’s recently published Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son, 2009 as these interesting times were unfolding. Here are remarkable insights excerpted from his reflections on “Normal Time” (pg 275 ff):  

“We’ve had a run of crazy stuff going on around here lately, culminating (for the moment) with global economic collapse and my mother-in-law’s suffering an injury that looks as if it may permanently alter the contour and quality of her life, as well as the whole family’s—a pair of calamities that followed on a series of unpleasant surprises, diagnoses, minor crises, the dog undergoing a “spinal stroke,” professional setbacks, sorrows in the second  grade . . . and all the usual, unusual alarums and disruptions that result when six people and a Bernese mountain dog, requiring various mental, emotional, and physical accommodations, therapies, and treatments, conduct an ongoing experiment in measuring mutual interference in one another’s reality distortion fields by sharing a house in Berkeley, California, a place that may, at any moment—which will, given the way things have been going on lately-- be destroyed by a massive once-a-millennium earthquake, or by a raging October wildfire, or by the fire that immediately follows the earthquake. . .

“The thing is, we are six lucky people (and a dog), and all our needs and desires are amply met. We have set up the household to run smoothly when possible and to recover quickly when smooth is not an option. The children do their chores and their homework, the adults our work as spouses, parents, and writers, and if you took a sample of any random hour any day, if you employed some human calculus to arrest our progress, to ascertain our state at any given instant, you would find contentment with one another’s company, love and respect, a fruitful exchange of ideas, compulsive storytelling, joking around, even the odd outbreak of peace and quiet. But since this thing with my poor mother-in-law (broken femur, shattered wrist), I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out how long it has been since the days around here have been normal. Steady. Routine. Productive. Neither beset not fraught nor teetering on some brink of disaster, free of emergency and crisis. I spend a lot of time thinking about, wishing for, working to arrange and to render inevitable, the return to our lives of Normal Time. And yet in trying to work my way back to the last golden era, I find myself casting my memory so far that the exercise begins to call into the question the very idea . . . that there has ever been such a time. It turns out that the whole thing may be a delusion. . .

“. . . this utopian or millenarian yearning for the coming days of Normal Time, of time to spare, of time in plenty. Time not just for work and reflection and unhurried lovemaking but for all kinds of fine and tiny things. Time to learn German. Time to print out the digital photos and reorganize the albums. Time to lavish on my younger children as I seem to have lavished it on their older siblings (though back then I thought there was never enough time for anything). Time for regular lunches with my mother. Time to get deep into a baseball season again, to linger over the box scores in the morning, to watch a meaningless game between teams I don’t care about, just out of fondness for the game. . . Time simply to stretch out, to play with, to dandle and dilate and waste with my children and my wife.

“Instead it’s just, as Arnold Toynbee or Henry Ford or Dr. McCoy used to say of history, one damn thing after another, and often several damn things at the same time, overlapping swaths of color on the digital calendar, conflicts and cancellations, two tasks half-done badly where one might have been pulled off in style. There is never, in the words of Irish poet Tom Paulin, any “long lulled pause / before history happens.” Only days after my wife and I guided our last baby into kindergarten, we began preparing in earnest to send our half-grown woman off to high school next fall; in the interval, the stock market crashed and my mother-in-law fell down a flight of stairs. There is no Normal Time, or rather, this is it, with all its accidents and discontinuities. With a breathtaking sequence, your last child leaves home, gets married, has children, and then you fall and break your leg, and the next thing you know, you’re approaching  . . . The end, unless the end, too, is a delusion.  After that, either way, there is no time at all. . .”


COMMENT: When working through Chabon's writing it helps to know that as a youth Woodie Allen's movie Annie Hall had a major impact on his attitude towards life--be suspicious about anything good happening. The signature Yiddish minor key in music and life is dominant.

My son Ben put a more positive spin on crazy times: 

“If all kinds of things seem to be going wrong in your life, don’t think, ‘The system is broken in my case.’ Realize that this is the system. Might as well enjoy it.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks addresses making the most of limited resources through priorities in "Good, Better, Best." 

He also demonstrates a more expansive vision of mortality in the YouTube video, "In the Spirit of Thanksgiving."

Family In The Here And Now / Lloyd

I love having English majors and just readers in general in my life.  Jennifer has recommended that I read several books that were life changing and horrific, books which I could not recommend to anyone else unless we knew one another nearly as well as Jennifer and I know each other.  I have come to believe that English majors are the one subversive group that keeps BYU in the real world. The knowing Relief Society sisters make a similar contribution in our wards and stakes.

One book Jennifer recommended, the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr., took me back to the edge of the black hole of my worst and hospitalized depression. But it reminded me that at the time I didn’t let myself teeter into that abyss never to return and assured me that dropping or jumping into that deep hole wasn’t a foregone conclusion for the future.

Another book that Jennifer recommended was Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. And after reading that book I readily snapped up Michael Chabon’s just released Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father and Son.
This can be a profane book and no amount of caution can prepare you for it, but the art of reading is to wisely pick and choose, and I would like to relate some of what Chabon has to offer. I did read it over to Judy, and she said that she couldn’t relate to any of it—it spoke so differently from her own experience. “Maybe because it’s a male memoir, maybe because of its Jewish perspective, maybe because the writing is almost stream of conscience like you speak,” she opinioned.

Still I like how Chabon got at how I feel when I’m with family across generations—visiting one-on-one, as a small group, or big like Thanksgiving. When we’re together and truly engaged, the differences are bracketed out and we’re contemporaries. And I have great joy.

small group
Thanksgiving Feast

Chabon reflects on his daughter’s recent bat mitzvah (at age 13)/ pgs 302-306:
“She is young and strong, and I am graying, have acid reflux, and my neck hurts, and soon I am going to be dead, true though all of these statements may be. First of all, I feel that I am in the prime of my life. I have never understood more (though still very few) of life’s mysteries than I do now, or trusted my instincts to a greater degree . . . In spite of the creaky neck and the occasional needle of fire in my belly, my bones, joints, and organ remain more or less in good working order. . . [he’s 45 yrs old]
“And looking at my fine half-grown daughter as she led the afternoon service, her slender neck arched like a feat of engineering, her alto steady, clear, and shining like the silver pointer that she clasped in her hand as it traced the path of the Hebrew letters on the parchment before her, I found myself considering not time’s passage but its unfathomable stillness, its immobility, the great universal fiction that there is such a thing as time. Your children’s childhoods as you watch then unscroll are always indexed to your own, visibly and invisibly, their incidents and episodes, pleasure and calamities snarled with your own. Your childhood, or your memory of it, is present in every moment of theirs, answering it and prefiguring it and shadowing it like a continuo. And then every so often something happens to erase all sense of difference between you, as on one of those multigenerational Star Treks when the old Enterprise and the new both show up fifty years apart, at the same quantum singularity, a gateway through time, and Captains Kirk and Picard take each other’s measure. There is no future and no past, and they are both in the prime of their lives. There is only ever now, and they each inhabit it.

“Like gravitational wormholes in the fabric of the universe, children collapse time and space around themselves. I was standing just behind Sophie for part of the time that she spent reading from the Torah, and her silver yad, its tip formed in the shape an effete little pointing hand, seemed to careen down the column of ancient text, to fly like the thirty-one years gone since the day that I stood in a dusty-rose three-piece suit with white piping at the lapels, reading from that crazy old rolled-up book of lies, laws, and wonders. We hoisted our prayer shawl higher and swallowed, took a breath, then set off again down the column of Hebrew letters. For an instant, past and future perfectly coincided. She was not rising and I was not setting. Because the lives of a child and a parent are not a pair of counterweights, dragging the hands of a clock around its sorry dial, one rising and the other falling at exactly the inexorable rate of gears and passing seconds. Or perhaps they are, but if so, it’s a process that is happening still, much too slowly for me see it. All I could see that day for an hour or so, in that high sunny room with a blue-painted ceiling and everyone we love and care about around us, was my wife and my daughter and me, neither passing nor being passed but here together for a while, hanging out in the middle of life.

“We are so accustomed to thinking of ourselves, of our lives and histories, in terms of the succession of generations—“Let the word go forth from this time and place . . . that the torch has been passed to a new generation”—that we no longer even question the validity or truth of the idea, which apart from the most strictly biological sense, has no real meaning and no basis at all in the way we live those lives or experience our histories as they unfold. There is only one time, and one life, and we all share them, and if there is a torch, then it is far too cumbersome and heavy to be passed.

“When the dancing began—we started, of course with a hora—I escorted my daughter to a sturdy chair, and a bunch of us, young men and old, graceful and ungainly, stout and fit, took hold of the legs and hoisted her up. There were far more of us than chair legs or places to grab them, and yet somehow, lurching and laughing and tripping over own and one another’s feet, we got her up into the air and managed to dance. She tossed and shone like a torch as we carried her around the room, all of us working together to trace our passage across the dance floor, like the silver yad flying along the letters of the oldest story in the world. I looked up at her, grinning and beautiful and terrified and happy, and felt not the same old “time is fleeting and we are all mortal” but something finer and simpler and harder even to bear in mind. This is our life happening, I told her, or would have told her if I could have caught my breath long enough to say it over clamor the clarinet and fiddle, and it’s happening right now.” 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TRUE STORY John Taylor, Man Of Intellect & Faith / Lloyd

John Taylor--Intellect & Faith
During my mission to Guatemala I learned the practicality of relying on Heavenly Father to help me do things I couldn’t do on my own.  For example, learning languages.  In high school I struggled mightily to earn a “B” in Spanish and in college flunked German out right.  But when I showed up at Penn two years later after my mission I easily challenged the language requirement in Spanish, and I had written materials to help missionaries learn the Quiche Indian language and also teach the gospel in Quiche.
After my mission to Guatemala, I began building a doctrinal foundation for my testimony and especially enjoyed studying John Taylor’s An Examination into and an Elucidation of the Great Principle of the Medication and Atonement of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Published in 1882, it was clearly written and intellectually stimulating. John Taylor, who assumed leadership of the Church upon the death of Pres. Brigham Young in 1877, also demonstrated great faith. I especially recommend the following story from Leon R. Hartshorn, “John Taylor: The Courageous,” New Era, Jan 1972, 25:
“After a difficult journey from Far West, Elder Taylor arrived in New York with only one cent in his pocket. But he was the last man to plead poverty, and in answer to questions if he had money, he said he did. So the next day Elder Parley P. Pratt approached him:

“Brother Taylor, I hear you have plenty of money?”

“Yes, Brother Pratt, that’s true.” “Well,” said Elder Pratt “I’m about to publish my ‘Voice of Warning’ and ‘Millennial Poems;’ I am very much in need of money, and if you could furnish me two or three hundred dollars I should be very much obliged.”

“Well, Brother Parley, you are welcome to anything I have, if it will be of service to you.” At that he put his hand in his pocket and gave Elder Pratt the penny. A good laugh followed and then Elder Pratt said, “But I thought you gave it out that you had plenty of money.” “Yes, and so I have,” replied Elder Taylor. “I am well clothed, you furnish me plenty to eat and drink and good lodging; with all these things and a penny over, as I owe nothing, is that not plenty?”

“That evening at a council meeting of some of the brethren preparing to go to England, Elder Pratt proposed that the brethren assist Elder Taylor with means to pay his passage, since Wilford Woodruff was waiting for Elder Taylor to go with him. At the close of the meeting, Elder Taylor objected and said if they had anything they should give it to Parley Pratt because he had a family to support and needed money for publishing. Wilford Woodruff, a great man of faith himself, expressed regret at Elder Taylor’s position. Then said Elder Taylor: “Well, Brother Woodruff, if you think it best for me to go, I will accompany you.” “But where will you get the money?” asked Elder Woodruff. “Oh, there will be no difficulty about that. Go and take a passage for me on your vessel, and I will furnish you the means."
"Elder Woodruff did as he was asked—and then from various persons who were moved upon by the Spirit of the Lord, voluntary donations, unasked for by Elder Taylor, came into him, sufficient for him to not only pay his passage but that of another elder.” 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Grandpa -- Answers Questions From His Blog Posted Sat 21 Nov 2009 / Guest

Wights Fort Cemetery

Missa said...

So good to hear from you. Hannah has an assignment in school that we were hoping you could help us with. She needs to have several small paragraphs (2-3 sentences) about ancesters who have contributed to American history--from the Mayflower on. For example: Glenn Wight was a soldier in WWII who fought across Germany. He was wounded and almost died. Glenn is Hannah's great-grandpa. Can you think of anyone else we could write about? Thanks!

Dear Hannah,
I could tell you a little bit about our family history. For example, Thomas Wight came to Massachusetts in about 1635, which was just about the time that the Mayflower came over.  He was a farmer.

There were three Wight families that came to Salt Lake Valley with the pioneers in 1847. They established “Wight’s Fort” in the southern end of Salt Lake Valley. Wight’s Fort was intended to help protect the people in Salt Lake Valley from Indian raids coming up from the south. There is still a small park there with a plaque telling about it. It is also registered as an historical cemetery because of the few Wights that were buried there.   It’s at approximately 3400 West and 9000 South and is located near where you live in Draper.

My grandfather homesteaded in Juniper, Idaho when it was very empty country. He took up a homestead and lived on it the rest of his life. A homestead was government land that had been surveyed, and anyone who moved on it and improved the land could claim it if he lived on it a few years. A homestead was 320 acres.

My father, Hewitt Wight was a soldier in the Army during World War I and fought in France across a good bit of France and into Germany.

kristen said...
it is great to see you in the blogging world! I hear that you have a fancy new chair - how is that going for you? are you spending a lot more time out and about now? we are looking forward to seeing you this week for thanksgiving.
love, Kristen

Dear Kristen,
Yes I have a new chair that’s great.  And I do plan to spend more time out and about.

Troy & Emily said...
It's great to hear from you! I've been meaning to ask you about the status of Compound 14. Have you heard anything from the Dept of Homeland Security?

Dear Troy and Emily,
Compound 14 is still sitting on the shelf. I think it has potential but I haven’t been able to get anyone to take responsibility to develop it.  Tracy Call was my partner in working with Compound 14 and his granddaughter is working on it at the University of Utah.  But to answer your question, I haven’t heard anything about it from the Department of Homeland Security.

Ben's Berkeley Project / Lloyd

Carol Lynn Pearson

Carol Lynn Pearson is a bright and talented woman whose poems, books, screenplays, and plays have been published and well received by the Mormon Community. In our family we’ve often quoted her poetry ("On Nest Building" & "The Steward") and we’ve enjoyed over and over again her musical My Turn on Earth.

Sister Pearson became well-known beyond the Mormon community for her book Good-bye, I Love You: The True Story of a Wife, Her Homosexual Husband—and a Love Honored for Time and All Eternity. Recently she interviewed with our son Ben about her feelings and experiences with gay men and their families. Ben is exploring a proposal for an honors project in theater at UC Berkeley on this issue.

Ben has unique qualities of intellect, caring, and expression. One professor who is both gay and supportive of this project advised Ben that to be authentic his theatrical piece would have to be a report of his personal journey as a straight and committed Mormon as he interacts with persons caught between homosexuality and their Mormon background. If accepted, Ben's project will be a significant experience undertaken in a highly charged emotional and political environment.

I have read, reread, and again this morning read Same-Gender Attraction, an interview with Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman. They respond to very frank questions:

Let’s say my 17-year-old son comes to talk to me and, after a great deal of difficulty trying to get it out, tells me that he believes that he’s attracted to men — that he has no interest and never has had any interest in girls. He believes he’s probably gay. He says that he’s tried to suppress these feelings. He’s remained celibate, but he realizes that his feelings are going to be devastating to the family because we’ve always talked about his Church mission, about his temple marriage and all those kinds of things. He just feels he can’t live what he thinks is a lie any longer, and so he comes in this very upset and depressed manner. What do I tell him as a parent?

Both of you have mentioned the issue of compassion and this feeling about needing to be compassionate. Let’s fast-forward the scenario that we used earlier, and assume it’s a couple of years later. My conversations with my son, all our efforts to love our son and keep him in the Church have failed to address what he sees as the central issue — that he can’t help his feelings. He’s now told us that he’s moving out of the home. He plans to live with a gay friend. He’s adamant about it. What should be the proper response of a Latter-day Saint parent in that situation?

At what point does showing that love cross the line into inadvertently endorsing behavior? If the son says, ‘Well, if you love me, can I bring my partner to our home to visit? Can we come for holidays?’ How do you balance that against, for example, concern for other children in the home?

Often, however, there is no reasoned shift into a homosexual lifestyle as depicted in the interview above because too often very young men are introduced early to these sexual practices under threat to not tell. I have worked with families at church when this has happened and come to light and as a professional group facilitator with incarcerated men who have reported their experiences from an early age. 

As a Church we must not be so defensive by attacks against our doctrines and beliefs that we fail to build interpersonal bridges of caring to our own. I recommend reading Good-by I Love You and also a well written article about Sister Pearson that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Grandpa -- Guest Blogger Invites Questions / Guest


Lloyd is setting things up so that I can be a guest Blogger from time to time.  If you have any questions that you would like me to answer, let me know, and I’ll try to answer them.

Love, Grandpa

Friday, November 20, 2009

There Is Safety Only When We Follow The Lord's Anointed / Lloyd

The First Presidency of the Church of the
 Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(Prophets, Seers, and Revelators)

In our family over generations we do not speak ill of the Lord’s anointed. And with each temple recommend interview we reaffirm our testimony and commitment to follow Jesus Christ as he leads His Church through His prophets, seers, and revelators.

My mother recounted to us that during her youth in Preston, Idaho visiting general authorities prophesized that Salt Lake City would become one of the wickedest cities on the face of the earth. And one cause would be member apostates and their murderous opposition to Church leaders—even to include defections among the ranks of the general authorities themselves. 

My mother taught us we could stand safely with the Prophet, the united voice of the First Presidency, and the united voice of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

Judy and I have endeavored to teach our children the same. And we constantly pray that they will be diligent in teaching and modeling for our grandchildren these same principles. No criticizing of Church leadership from our lips—not ever.

Furthermore, in our family we are committed to take the side of the Church on all issues, both religious and political. Elder Bruce R. McConkie put it succinctly in The Coming Tests and Trials and Glory, May 1980):
“If we, as a people, keep the commandments of God; if we take the side of the Church on all issues, both religious and political; if we take the Holy Spirit for our guide; if we give heed to the words of the apostles and prophets who minister among us—then, from an eternal standpoint, all things will work together for our good.”
One of the most uncomfortable moments of my life occurred when Judy and I were riding in the car of an older friend, a role model, who had recently finished his graduate work at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He angrily and disparagingly ragged on our Church leaders, “They are a bunch of old men who are isolated and insulated from reality.” 

His remarks made my stomach turn and my heart burn with indignation. I had never before heard this kind of criticism of the Lord's anointed. I was a young undergraduate at the time, and we sat quietly embarrassed. I have since learned to stand up to that kind of talk no matter what the consequences.

I am reminded of my mother's admonitions to support Church leadership when I hear the recent scathing member criticisms of Church leaders and defections of members about the following issues.

1) the Church’s stand against same-sex marriage,
2) the Church’s support for decent & caring treatment of illegal aliens, and, most recently, 
3) the Church's support of civic protections against discrimination in employment and housing with respect to homosexuals in Salt Lake City
In the Mormon Diaspora (the scattered pockets of members away from the geographical center of the Church) apostates and critical members of the Church typically just stay away from church. 

But in former Mormon societies like Kirkland, Ohio; Far West, Missouri; Nauvoo, Illinois; and today in sizeable Mormon concentrations throughout the Intermountain West ecclesiastical and secular relationships are intimately entangled.

In established Mormon communities the results of church disciplinary councils for sinful & rebellious behavior have real-world secular consequences, and Mormon enclaves easily become breading grounds for rebellious members who have social standing as local church leaders, politicians and judges. They are apt to mimic the destructive behavior of their counterparts in ancient America just prior to the appearance of Christ. (See 3 Nephi 6 beginning with vs 21). Furthermore, social media have

Two quotes from the Prophet Joseph Smith about similar member attitudes in his day prior to his martyrdom are particularly appropriate:

“I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say; as many are called, but few are chosen.” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, pg 520)
“Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs that I am charged with doing: the wrong that I do is through the frailty of human nature; like other men. No man lives without fault. Do you think that even Jesus, if he were here, would be without fault in your eyes? His enemies said all manner of evil against Him—they all watched for iniquity in Him” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, pg 522).
The Lord is charting a course of safety for church members to follow at a time that is quickly becoming the evil and dangerous end-time of world history. These principles and circumstances are also meant to prepare this people to qualify for the celestial kingdom. This is our testing ground. Who are we to say that God through his anointed leaders doesn’t know what he’s doing?

Oh Jerusalem by Greg Olsen
Will Christ not lament again even of our time? 
O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you. And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, year, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens and ye would not." (3 Nephi 10: 4-6)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Law of Witnesses And The Completely Unexpected In Seminary / Judy

There has been a lot of "he said" on this blog for a while and I've been wanting to do "she said" but as I'm sure many of you understand, I felt like I didn't have anything to blog about. Well, the biggest thing in my life right now is Seminary, so I'll talk about that.

We are studying the Book of Mormon this year, which may be one of my favorite things to teach. About a week ago I gave this object lesson:

I brought in a large paper grocery bag, put it on the table and said to the kids, "I'm going to tell you something that may or may not be true. Inside this bag is a gun. It's an old pistol and it has 3 notches on the handle. How many believe me?"

Amazingly, one boy raised his hand. Then I asked a girl to come up, look in the bag, and describe what she saw. You should have seen her face when she looked in and saw Grandpa's old pistol! So she told everyone.

I asked again, "Now how many believe me?" This time everyone but one raised their hands. Then I talked about the Law of Witnesses and how the Lord uses it all the time, from baptisms to weddings, to the Restoration itself and how important it was to help people believe. (I also took the gun out of the bag and showed it and told about it. Lloyd said if it had been school rather than Seminary at church I would have been arrested.) Hopefully, they'll remember that lesson.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Three Possible Answers To Prayer / Judy

This is something I read recently from a minister about the different answers to prayer. He said there are three possible answers from Heavenly Father:

"Yes", "Not yet", or "I have something better in mind."

"So What Do You Do When You've Already Planted 40 Acres Too Much?" / Lloyd

"So what do you do when you've already planted 40 acres too much?"

This comment to my previous posting is worth considering. It is humorous but also terribly close to the mark. As I thought about it the following counsel from President Brigham Young came to mind:
 "Instead of doing two days' work in one day, wisdom would dictate to our sisters, and to every other person, that if they desire long life and good heath, they must, after sufficient exertion, allow the body to rest before it is entirely exhausted. When exhausted, some argue that they need stimulants in the shape of tea, coffee, spirituous liquors, tobacco, or some of those narcotic substances which are often taken to goad on the lagging powers to greater exertions. But instead of these kind of stimulants whey should recruit by rest. Work less, wear less, eat less, and we shall be a great deal wiser, healthier, and wealthier people than by taking the course we now do. It is difficult to find anything more healthy to drink than good cold water, such as flows down to us from springs and snows of our mountains. This is the beverage we should drink. It should be our drink at all times. If we constantly drink even malt liquor made from our barley and wheat, our health would be injured more or less thereby."  (See Discourses of Brigham Young, Second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by John A. Widtsoe, pp 290-91)
I recently attended a Sunday School class where the discussion included care to avoid addiction to prescribed medications and over-the-counter meds and popular power beverages. I particularly have to be careful because I take Ritalin for ADHD.  I could easily become dependent on Ritalin's stimulant characteristics to keep me going physically when I should be getting natural rest. My physician specifically cautioned me about this.

Bottom line: We need to recognize when we've planted more acres than we can care for with resulting harm to ourselves and our families and have the courage to restructure our lives to accommodate our natural capabilities. And we need to be especially careful to avoid relying on the steroids of our time to push us beyond healthful limitations. Sounds like they had some whoppers in President Young's day.

This is what came to mind as I thought about the reader's excellent comment.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Orson Hyde Advised Farmers To Reserve Time For Relaxation / Lloyd

LDS intellectual: Care for little things yields big results
Orson Hyde advised farmers to reserve time for relaxation.
By Kristen Rogers-iversen

Orson Hyde has a name that many people recognize, but most of what he did isn't too well known. Mildly famous for a long, dangerous mission to Palestine, where he dedicated the land for the return of the Jews, Orson was kind of plain and stocky and short. He wore short hair and a clipped beard. Behind those average looks was an incredible, energetic, enigmatic life -- one that ended on Thanksgiving Day, 1878.
I like -- but follow poorly -- some advice he gave to LDS Church members gathered for general conference in 1865.
Hyde was talking to farmers, but this advice can apply to anyone. As the head of colonizing efforts in Sanpete County, he had seen men trying to farm too many acres, thinking they could get ahead this way. But they couldn't manage so much: "They run from break of day until dark of night, wearing themselves out" and still couldn't get everything done.
Instead, he advised the people to tend smaller tracts well.
     Hyde felt that if a person really cared for a small farm well, the farm would produce as much or more than a larger tract that gets less focused attention. Besides, he said, "if we branch out so largely, we have no time to make necessary improvements around our homes and in our cities; in fact, we have so much to do that we can do nothing at all."
It was not just a matter of getting things done. Hyde taught that people needed time to kick back and relax. "The mind should not constantly be on the strain day and night. There should be a little time for relaxation and rest to both body and mind, that while our bodies are resting the mind may be fresh to plan...." (Emphasis Added)
So, how the heck did he do that?
He himself farmed wheat, for instance. Could he make a living growing wheat on a few acres?
More pressingly, it seems like he had a lot of figurative "acres" throughout his life. For one thing, he had several wives - -- the marital equivalent of lots of acreage. Besides this, he went on heroic and lengthy missions for the LDS Church, supervised immigration, led a wagon train, became an irrigation and agricultural expert, directed settlements in central Utah, worked with railroads and sawmills and served as a university regent, newspaper editor, legislator, lawyer and judge. For 28 years he presided over the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
He worked hard to achieve all this. Born in 1805, Orson lost both his parents early. So he worked for an impoverished family until age 18, and when he left to fend for himself he had 6 ½ cents in his pocket. He had never gone to school, but at age 22 he decided to get educated. First he learned grammar, then he tackled more subjects until he became learned indeed. He became one of the intellectuals among early LDS leaders.
In this busy life, I hope he was able to achieve the balance he preached about -- which would prove that this balance is achievable! In the meantime, I'll try to remember that "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of things that he possesses ... but it consists in a little well cared for and everything in order."
Kristen Rogers-Iversen can be reached at

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