Monday, November 29, 2010

Mr. Krueger's Christmas DVD at store. Mon, Nov 29, 2010.

11/29/2010. 1262. I was shopping at a store. After paying, I asked the clerk/cashier if I could give her a holiday movie on DVD with Jimmy Stewart and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She said sure. So I retrieved a "Mr. Krueger's Christmas" DVD from my car, and presented it.

Note: the new online LDS Distribution Center store that replaces, is The new store doesn't show the quantity discount prices if you order a case of 50 DVD's. But if you call and place your order by phone, 800-537-5971, you can still get the case prices. The Mr. Krueger's Christmas DVD is (or was) only $1.00 each if you buy a case of 50. It is $4.50 in less quanitities. Those prices include shipping.

Joy to the World, is $6.50 in less-than-case quantities, but is only $2.88/each for a case of 50.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ardis' magnificent essay on testimony.

From a comment by Ardis Parshal at her Keepapitchinin blog. Worthy enough to be linked to, and to duplicate here in case her blog goes away. Ardis is a researcher, genealogist and historian in Salt Lake City, Utah.

... it would help to think of “a testimony” not as a single, solid thing, but as made up of many smaller parts. I know that we usually speak of “a testimony” as something you gain or lose as a whole, but it isn’t. If people really examine what they know — whether it’s in the traditional Mormon religious sense, or what they know about biology or politics or computer science or anything else — they recognize that what they know is a collection of a whole lot of much smaller pieces that coordinate and build up a composite whole.

When that’s the case, finding out that you had a misunderstanding or were flat-out wrong about one detail doesn’t mean that everything else has to come crashing down. I might learn that George Washington didn’t really cut down a cherry tree as a child; no matter how dismayed I might be at the discovery, that doesn’t change the fact that George Washington was married to Martha, or that he was a surveyor, or that he was the first president of the United States, or any of dozens of other things I know about him. My dismay at learning that I believed one thing that was incorrect may make me doubt everything else I know about him until I’ve had time to review the reliability of my sources and put together a new picture of his life that makes sense with the corrected understanding. I’d be wrong to stop believing in his existence as an historical figure at all just because I had to correct one error in my understanding.

I don’t know what your professional field is, but I’ll bet you engage in that kind of adaptation all the time — you realize the illness you are studying isn’t really caused by the virus you suspected, or you miscalculated at the beginning of an elaborate mathematical problem, or the candidate you were promoting has a defect that disqualifies him. Whatever your field is, you go back to the point where your work remains solid, cut out the faulty part, and carry on with your work in the new direction. You don’t quit your job and declare that science is bogus or that the entire democratic system is a failure!

When somebody learns that they had a too rosy image of some part of church history — whether the rosiness was because of a personal misunderstanding or because somebody didn’t tell them the whole or the true story — they’d be foolish to throw out everything, including sound history. As with anything else, you backtrack to solid ground and see what it all looks like after you’ve cut out the misunderstanding or added the new data. Learning that Joseph Smith was a polygamist doesn’t affect the origin of the Book of Mormon; learning about Mountain Meadows doesn’t affect the First Vision. Learning something new or correcting a misunderstanding may cause you to re-evaluate and redefine your understanding of some basic ideas, but a new/corrected idea doesn’t necessarily invalidate everything you previously knew with regard to religious history any more than it does with regard to any other field.

Does this count as “the awareness to recognize nuance,” or were you using that as code for something else? Because if someone has the awareness to recognize their understanding of marriage, life, or a professional field involves growth and adaptation toward a greater understanding rather than divorce, suicide, or abandonment of a career, then they *should* be capable of applying the same recognition to matters of faith and testimony. They *should* be capable of adjusting a faulty part without throwing away the legitimate whole.

Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 24, 2010 @ 3:38 pm


Monday, November 22, 2010

Compensatory gifts in flawed people.

Isaac Asimov wrote a short story, in one of his robot series, about a defective robot that could create works of art, generating much income for its owner. A robot engineer happened to be visiting the owner, recognized that it had a defect, and, not knowing that the defect was tied into the creation of the art, "fixed" the robot on the spot, thinking he was doing the owner a favor. However, by fixing the defect he removed the robot's ability to create art. (It might have been in the "I Robot" series. Does anyone know what the story's name was?)

Moroni mentions something related to this in Ether, about weaknesses and strengths, in chapter 12, verses 27 and 28:

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
28 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me — the fountain of all righteousness.

At first, I thought that the passage was only talking about a weakness that is overcome or cured. But an additional meaning may be that the weakness can turn out to contain a strength in and of itself. The "weak thing becoming strong" could actually be a new or revealed use for the weak thing, which like the defective robot, might produce something of worth. (I believe this is a possible additional meaning to the text, not the sole meaning.)

One of my weaknesses is a lack of understanding in social relationships, how people interact and communicate. I'm a literalist. Hints and implications are usually invisible to me, and when I do detect them, they are frustrating, and sometimes offensive. If you want to communicate something to me, you have to state it directly, explicitly, and in complete sentences. I'm better than I used to be when I was younger, but in general I don't understand non-verbal communication. And what little I have picked up has been a hard-earned skill, not something that came naturally. And vice versa, what I think is obvious in a given context is rarely obvious to others.

To compensate for that I tend to belabor points in my writing, repeating a subject/object in order to avoid pronouns which require an assumption of what the correct antecedent is.

I haven't been officially diagnosed, but looking back, I believe I've had Asperger's Syndrome my whole life. Being a form of autism, Asperger's is thought to be organic in nature. But I also think, at least in my case, childhood trauma, toxic parents, and a dysfunctional family played a major part in my lack of relationship skills and communication skills.

Has my poor ability to make and sustain friendships/relationships been improved over the years? No. I still have few friends, and don't do a good job of maintaining the friendships that I have made.

However, the new or revealed use or "strength" found in all this is the ability to promulgate gospel material via the short-term contact.

By lacking either the innate or society-imposed social programming that most people seem to have, I also lack the thing that blocks most people from initiating a religious conversation with a stranger in a public place. Hence, this defect of being socially "stupid" has a beneficial side-effect, and it was only discovered/revealed in the setting of trying to serve the Lord and others in a gospel context.

Conversely, many people with good social skills have as a weakness an absence of the ability or confidence to initiate a conversation with strangers. That's where humility comes in. As I understand it, the thing that blocks people from talking to strangers about religion is fear of being thought of as stupid or un-cool.

While growing up I was most often unable to make myself understood, and I constantly frustrated others by not being able to understand them. Therefore, as a survival skill, I learned to worry very little about what others thought about me. Pride is still one of my big flaws, but I seem to be used to others thinking I'm different or weird.

For you folks who don't have Asperger's, this may be the key to talking to strangers, learning to stop worrying that others might think you're stupid or un-cool for believing in the restored gospel.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Missed opportunity at grocery. Fri, Nov 20, 2010.

10/20/2010. Journal entry. As I walked into the grocery store, I ended up right behind two guys who looked like they were from India, who were speaking a foreign language. I blew it. I chickened out of speaking to them. A few minutes later, after I got what I came for, and was heading toward the check-out, I was again walking behind them for a few seconds before they turned to go down one of the aisles. I missed that opportunity too.

I think one really does have to stay in practice in order to react quickly within the window of opportunity. Those opportunities were only a few seconds each. Perhaps I should have back-tracked and gone down the same aisle as they, but it may have looked contrived. The best way would have been to just open my mouth when we were already within polite speaking distance due to just happening to be going through the entrance at the same time.

Hmmm. Was it a random encounter or a divine appointment? My feelings of guilt would seem to indicate it was the latter.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spanish at restaurant. Thu, Nov 11, 2010.

11/11/2010. Journal entry. I took the ward's two full-time missionaries to a local Mexican restaurant. During our meal we put a Spanish paperback Bible and a Spanish Book of Mormon on the table. Our waiter saw them and commented on them on his next trip to the table. One of the missionaries offered them to him. At first he was only going to take the Bible, but then he took the Book of Mormon too.

Afterwards, we went to a nearby gas station, and while I gassed up the car, I gave the elders a few dollars to go in and buy something, and look for an opportunity for a contact, possibly with a pass-along card. Then I went in and bought a newspaper, and saw the elder in front of me give a pass-along card to the cashier after he paid for his snacks. She seemed interested in it too.

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Friday, November 05, 2010

Chinese declined at mall. Fri, Nov 5, 2010.

11/05/2010. 1261. I stopped at a mall to use their restroom, and on my way out I walked past a Chinese place in the food court. After walking past it, I felt drawn to it, so I went back and bought something inexpensive. There were no other customers, so I talked a bit with the operator. I offered him a free Chinese book from church and he wanted to see it. He asked where the nearest church was so I gave him a card with the name of the church and the web site address, and the address of one of the chapels, but I didn't actually say "Book of Mormon."

I went out to my car and brought back in a Chinese and an English Book of Mormon along with a DVD. When I went back in an presented him, he saw the title and apparently changed his mind, saying he already had one, and the DVD too. He said he goes to a Chinese church about 45 minutes away.

I think it was a case where the word used to translate "Book" in the title of the Book of Mormon conveys the wrong idea or impression. The word for "book" in the title of the Chinese Book of Mormon actually means "Holy Book" and is the same word/symbol used for "Bible." So, if you look at a Chinese Book of Mormon, the title actually says "Mormon Bible", and people think we use it instead of the Bible.

He was polite, and I didn't want to call him on it since he chose to say he already had one as his way of turning it down. Well, maybe he did have one. Anyway, the offer was made, and a testimony, even if was just in the form of an offer, was given. And he physically saw it, so he now has a memory which the Holy Ghost can use in the future when/if needed.

And he still probably has the customized pass-along card with the phone numbers, web site address, and chapel address on it.


I can't, I'm Mormon. Fri, Nov 5, 2010.

11/05/2010. Journal Entry. I was at a new restaurant. I was out of the Book of Mormon in their language. But lately, I've often gone to a restaurant the first time without a placement in mind, and plan to go back a second time to create an opportunity for a book placement.

Anyway, the very gracious owner brought a free cup of tea to me after I was done with my meal, and I politely turned it down. Instead of letting it sit on the table untouched, I thought it best to politely explain that I don't drink coffee or tea. If I remember correctly, I did say "I'm Mormon."


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Russian at laundromat. Wed, Nov 3, 2010.

11/03/2010. 1260. Laundry night at the usual place. A guy I hadn't seen there before struck up a conversation with me, asking what languages I spoke. Wow. I told him English and Spanish. He spoke Russian. He was waiting on his dryer, and seemed a bit desperate for conversation as he invited me to sit next to him to talk. He had been in the US for several years, but in Indianapolis only a few weeks.

After we chit-chatted a while, I found out he was Baptist, and was looking for a Baptist church within walking distance. I told him I had a book in Russian from my church, and he was very interested and eager to receive it. So I went out to the car and dug out a Russian and an English Book of Mormon, a Russian Liahona, and a couple DVD's. When I presented them he eagerly accepted them, but he didn't want the English Book of Mormon.

He gave me his name and number on a slip of paper, asking for business in his line of service work. We didn't talk about family, but I assume he's in town by himself. I might call him in a few days to see if I can buy him dinner.

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Monday, November 01, 2010

Chinese at massage place. Mon, Nov 1, 2010.

11/01/2010. 1259. I was walking by a place that offers a quick chair massage, the kind where you sort of sit/kneel, and put your face in a support rest, for only a few dollars for a few minutes. I've recently started doing some new exercises, and my shoulders were a bit stiff, so it seemed worth the price.

The employees were Chinese, and I happened to have been carrying some Chinese and English copies of the Book of Mormon. I had planned on offering them at a nearby Asian restaurant, but I didn't encounter any Chinese employees at that restaurant.

The idea of a placement here was only secondary. It really was just serendipitous that they were Chinese. And my shoulders really have been sore for several days. Honest!

There was some language barrier as they were not very proficient in English. So after I paid for the chair massage, I'm not sure they understood my offer of free material, or whether they formally accepted my offer, but when I handed it to them, they accepted it. It was a Simplified Chinese Book of Mormon, an English Book of Mormon, and a Chinese Liahona.

I've always wondered if those Asian massage places that have been springing up were legitimate or not. But this one was obviously legit, with just the chair-massage deal in an open area. No private rooms. The operator was a bit rough on me, but it worked out well. Though if you have specific instructions you need to give your massage therapist, I would recommend against these types of places due to the communication barrier.

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