Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Foul. No repetition. Three - Love and game."

As much as I love it here in China, life has been pretty hard at times. We've been here about a month now, and rebuilding our lives after leaving so much behind is taking a really long time. And yes, sometimes all the stuff that I had to leave behind still haunts me.

Writing always has been a great comfort to me because of the insights I gain. Now that I have more space mentally, emotionally, and physically, I hope to do more writing. The previous post, composed almost entirely of questions, reminds me of my college experience learning about the value of asking a lot of questions. Early in my college years I watched the movie Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead at BYU's International Cinema. Several times during the course of the movie, Rosencrantz and Guildernstern play a game of questions:

Guildenstern: Whose serve?
Rosencrantz: Err...
Guildenstern: Hesitation! Love... one.
Rosencrantz: Whose go?
Guildenstern: Why?
Rosencrantz: Why not?
Guildenstern: What for?
Rosencrantz: Foul! No synonyms! One... all.
Guildenstern: What in God's name is going on?
Rosencrantz: Foul! No rhetoric! Two... one.
Guildenstern: What does it all add up to?
Rosencrantz: Can't you guess?
Guildenstern: Were you addressing me?
Rosencrantz: Is there anyone else?
Guildenstern: Who?
Rosencrantz: How would I know?
Guildenstern: Why do you ask?
Rosencrantz: Are you serious?
Guildenstern: Was that rhetoric?
Rosencrantz: No.
Guildenstern: Statement! Two all. Game point.

Rosencrantz: What's the matter with you today?
Guildenstern: When?
Rosencrantz: What?
Guildenstern: Are you deaf?
Rosencrantz: Am I dead?
Guildenstern: Yes or no?
Rosencrantz: Is there a choice?
Guildenstern: Is there a God?
Rosencrantz: Foul! No non sequiturs! Three... two, one game all.
Guildenstern: What's your name?
Rosencrantz: What's yours?
Guildenstern: You first.
Rosencrantz: Statement! One... love.
Guildenstern: What's your name when you're at home?
Rosencrantz: What's yours?
Guildenstern: When I'm at home?
Rosencrantz: Is it different at home?
Guildenstern: What home?
Rosencrantz: Haven't you got one?
Guildenstern: Why do you ask?
Rosencrantz: What are you driving at?
Guildenstern: What's your name?
Rosencrantz: Repetition! Two... love. Match point.
Guildenstern: Who do you think you are?
Rosencrantz: Rhetoric! Game and match!

Rosencrantz: Do you want to play questions?
Guildenstern: How do you play that?
Rosencrantz: You have to ask a question.
Guildenstern: Statement. One - Love.
Rosencrantz: Cheating.
Guildenstern: How?
Rosencrantz: I haven't started yet.
Guildenstern: Statement. Two - Love.
Rosencrantz: Are you counting that?
Guildenstern: What?
Rosencrantz: Are you counting that?
Guildenstern: Foul. No repetition. Three - Love and game.
Rosencrantz: I'm not going to play if you're going to be like that.

When was the last time you asked yourself lots of questions without hesitation, repetition, rhetoric, synonyms, or statements? Did it help you to unload some of your worries, stresses, and burdens?
You may be surprised at what you discover. (Statement. Game and match!)

Community vs Self-Reliance

Why do we have to work sooo hard to find ways to not need other people?

Why are we afraid of someone telling us they can't help us? Why are we afraid of asking the wrong person for help? Why are we afraid of not doing enough for ourselves?

Why are we afraid of helping someone with something they might be able to do themselves? Why are we afraid of someone asking for help with something they should do themselves? Why are we afraid of someone asking for something we can't help them with?

How do we know who needs help? How do we know how to help? How do we respond to people that we really can't help?

How will we conquer these fears and uncertainties?
By deciding that building a community of people who serve each other is more important than the possibility of damaging someone's self reliance?

By taking the time and thought, to ask the question.

Gliding in Chinese

I think that as part of the process of learning Chinese, I DO need to feel comfortable not speaking it and comfortable with my nonverbal forms of communication. I do, and I suspect that it's somehow similar to gliding on a two wheeler before confidently using the pedals. But I'm not sure how . . . Is it about learning to listen to the sounds? Or learning to hear more than the words?

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Little More Calvinism? Please?

Yesterday in Sunday School a Single Adult (“with out the Y” for Young) member of the Branch brought up some interesting thoughts. He prefaced his comment by claiming to be somewhat of a Calvinist (and yes, I could hear a collective ‘huh?’ from the rest of the class). He then proceeded to make the claim that a lot of our discussion of free agency served to dumb down our understanding of God and the role he plays in our lives. I’m not sure that this dear brother had a clear direction for his comment, but some part of me understood and his attempts to communicate those thoughts have given me fodder for contemplation today.  

Here’s some of what I’ve discovered and my process for getting there:

  • First: “What’s a Calvinist?”
According to “Calvinism, also known as Reformed theology, is a system of biblical interpretation that focuses on the supreme sovereignty of God, His majesty, His holiness, etc. It relates this to man's fallen, sinful nature. Because of the great chasm between God and man and because of man's sinfulness, God must predestine people into salvation...or none would be saved. Therefore, salvation is the work of God and we are the recipients of His gracious election.”

  • Ewww. That sounds like we’re taking the free agency and accountability completely out of things.
Maybe a person could take the reasoning that to that extreme. But just suppose we really are at the other extreme end of “we have the complete ability to choose the course for our lives”. Do we really believe that? Of course we don’t. No matter how hard we try and how many things we do right, sometimes things just don’t work out. And to a certain extent we are all still a product of our environment, up bringing, etc.

  • So what? Why do I care about this?
If we are only concerned about the choices we are currently making, then we in sometimes small and sometimes big ways negate the Divinity that we have developed in partnership with God, but we also miss the advantage of understanding how God uses a variety of influences, situations, and processes to help us grow.

  • Huh?
In another example from this Sunday, a sister in Relief Society was sharing a time when she was feeling particularly down about her husband’s travel schedule for work. While complaining to her husband (via Skype/internet) about how hard it was to have him gone, she told about realizing how she was being selfish. After all, she had her children with her, and he didn’t have anyone or anything but his work. Selfish? It sounded about right. Completely accurate? No. A classic example of dumbing down God and one’s self. It certainly works to help one move quickly away from a poor choice. But in order to keep making good choices, there has to be more depth.

  • Ummm, OK . . .
Another example is the almost cliché, “I will go and do the things the Lord hath commanded” of 1 Nephi 3:7. This phrase really makes for a great Obedience rallying cry. But this cry is empty without the phrase that follows it “for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” Without it we will either succeed or fail, there is no room for mercy and personal growth.

  • So . . .
The moral of the story is: Be careful with simple answers and rallying cries. Be prayerful and seek to Know God, in all of his wonder and majesty, through your obedience and studying and pondering. Don’t take too much on your own shoulders; God plays a bigger role in things than we sometimes give Him credit for.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Very often I'm a hard nut to crack when it comes to humor. This, however, I love.

Yup, it cracked my nut. ;)