Beijing Diary - Trip to a mystical land


When an opportunity came my way for a short business trip to China, I did not lose a moment to say “YES” I will travel. I wanted to explore this mystical land and experience for myself what China has in store for me especially after hearing not so good reviews about this country, from my friends.


This trip did shatter lot of myths and perceptions about this great country. The Chinese are not so friendly with Indians; are very reserved ; they cannot speak English and you will have to use sign language; the cuisine is unpalatable so carry some food stuff from India if you don’t wish to starve etc etc

My first touch point was the Immigration folks at the Beijing Airport. I could not believe my eyes when I cleared the immigration process in just 10 seconds flat with no questions asked !! This is unbelievable given the “not so friendly” status with our neighbor. Compared to this, the US and UK immigration folks ask lot of questions especially when they know I am not going to stay back in their country for long and have come on an official trip. The Beijing airport almost resembled 2 or 3 huge football stadia in size. I had never seen such a massive airport before although there are claims from most other airports being the largest etc. In comparison the Hong Kong airport looked like a miniature self (I had taken my flight to Beijing via Hong Kong).

The real test began when I took a cab from the airport to the Hotel, a distance of about 40 kms. The driver knew no English and I had a tough time communicating to him about the fare details and the location to be dropped, He repeatedly said “NO” to whatever question I asked him. Maybe he knew only Yes and No from the English lexicon. Fortunately I had carried the directions to the Hotel in Chinese which he could not decipher so easily. After some struggle, we reached the Hotel and his “NO” was indeed a “YES” to all my questions. I wanted a receipt and wanted to know if he knew the place where we were going. I wish the cabbies were given a crash course on basic English to deal with foreigners given that tourism is a booming industry in China especially at Beijing.

The Fairmont Hotel where I stayed was just fabulous and the most luxurious property I have ever come across. Every facility within the room was automated with no need for any manual intervention, I got a very friendly reception but soon I hit a roadblock as I opened my laptop to update my status on Facebook and wanted to send some personal mails using Gmail….. it was not working at all. I rushed to the Reception area and the friendly folks could not keep their smile and anguish , both under control.....Sir, but these social media sites are banned in China, he said, and I do not know why our Government has banned but we really apologize for the inconvenience. I was amazed and was wondering how the Chinese folks must be feeling after being deprived of these popular social sites.


Although a Communist country I never felt I was deprived of any capitalistic pleasures at Beijing. It was almost like any American mega city in terms of infrastructure. In Bangalore we see every signboard to have the name inscribed in the local language besides the English name but here every foreign brand had no special Chinese appendage….only English. However I did face some challenge in communicating with the sales girls, since most of them could not speak in English although they made every effort to be understood. Also remember to bargain hard when you deal with street side vendors. If you can get 3 scarves for RMB 100, you can also get 12 for the same price and I paid a heavy price for not knowing the bargaining skills. The local currency is Chinese Yuan or RMB and 10 Indian Rupees = 1 RMB. Even if you convert for every transaction, you will find most of the services or goods cheaper in China. I had a good Chinese foot and back massage at one of the shopping malls. It was very relaxing and the masseurs kept me busy with lot of questions about India.

My real and actual interaction with my neighbors happened at the workshop, which I was supposed to deliver. It’s true that they take time to open up but after they reach some comfort level they are extremely friendly folks and love to enliven the environment. I asked some of them about their perception about India and the Indians. In jest, I was told that in their “Know the Culture” session conducted on India, they were educated about the Indian Stretchable Time or our penchant to be not so punctual. The famous Indian head nod wherein a shake from left to right, that could mean “No”, is in fact a “Yes” and so on. But they have huge respect for Indians who are assumed to be smart; they love our Bollywood movies (3 Idiots was apparently a huge hit in China) and ofcourse our cuisine. They felt Modi was a very strong leader India and were worried he could be a threat to friendly relations with China especially with respect to the border related issues. They were well informed on what’s happening in Indian politics….the elections and about Mrs Modi being denied her right to be the first lady especially since they adore their First Lady – Mrs XI. I told them about an incident that happened during Chairman Xi’s visit to India when a Doordarshan news reporter goofed up with his name and said XI as in Roman 11. They could not hide their laughter.

My Chinese friends took me to a local restaurant for dinner. I was apprehensive about the cuisine but they took care of my dietary needs. I loved the Vegetarian dishes (Okra item); the seafood (prawns and crab meat) and the poultry based dishes were delectable indeed, which were washed down with Chinese Rice Wine. The Chinese have to say “Cheers” every 15 minutes with a loud laughter. I really enjoyed the evening and I must say one more myth was busted …. about their cuisine. The people at the Restaurant were very friendly and service was real quick. There is no tipping culture in China but if you hand over a 10 Yuan note the serving staff will be more than happy. 


The next day I planned a trip with my Irish colleague to Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City. Both were located about 5 kms from the Hotel but it took us 30 minutes to reach there due to heavy traffic. Beijing is known for its heavy traffic and even during non peak hours, the traffic is still bad. It was freezing cold even at 2pm in the afternoon and the sky was murky with heavy smog. The pollution level at Beijing is perhaps the highest in China. We made a quick dash from the Square to the Forbidden City, which is a real huge place. It normally takes about 2 to 3 hours to cover the entire place but I planned to spend just an hour since we had also planned to visit the Temple of Heaven thereafter. I have nothing much to describe about the Forbidden City except that it is really really huge. The Temple of Heaven had closed down by the time we reached there at 4pm. We were allowed to see the gardens adjoining the Temple. The journey using sub way was very interesting. The ticket price is subsidized by the Government and it’s the cheapest form of transport at Beijing, I did not see many public buses but they do have 3 wheeled cabs just like our autos, which are less polluting. You need to bargain with these auto drivers and most of them do not understand English except for the numbers. Every sign on the roadside, on the sub way or at tourist sites, is mentioned in English and hence I had absolutely no difficulty whatsoever. The staff and even the guards at these tourist sites understand English and are always available to guide if you are having any difficulty.

Next day, I set out for the Great Wall of China on the Badaling side. An English speaking guide accompanied me during the trip, who was well informed about India and Indian politics. Since I had a flight to catch in the afternoon, I planned for this trip very early in the morning. I reached the site at 8am when there were hardly any tourists. In China, I could hardly find an Indian tourist or even Western tourists except for those local to China or the Japanese and Koreans. Maybe this was not the right season for other tourists. When handed over the camera to shoot pictures, they are more than happy to help until the best snap is shot, while the ladies in the background keep encouraging them amidst giggles. This was my experience throughout my journey in China. The steps to the Great Wall are steep and it really saps your energy, while reaching the top. Once at the top you feel as if you are on top of the world. Avoid shopping in the vicinity as they charge really exorbitantly for their goods. After climbing for about 1 hour I started to descend which is much more tougher. One of the funny things I observed in China is that, shopping has to be included in the tour package else it is very expensive without one. It does not matter whether one shops or not but they make it a point to stop at atleast 2 shopping plazas owned by the Government. I was taken to a Jade factory where they make exquisite material from this rare stone. I had no intention of buying anything here but was all attentive to the guide at the store, who explained the entire process to me very meticulously. I finally had to stop and request the driver to take me to the Airport as I was getting delayed. 

It was time for me to say Goodbye to China, a country that was shrouded in mystery. Lot of myths and perceptions were busted thanks to this short trip, about the people, their attitude towards Indians, the food etc. Our culture is so similar i.e. we are family oriented people yet we differ on one thing….our love for our language, You will rarely find 2 Chinese converse in English although they may know the language, In India it has become a fashion of sorts to speak only English while ignoring our local language or even our mother tongue. English is now taught even at Primary school level in China but seems they do not speak this language at home unlike us Indians. Also they are very proud of their country; keep their city clean ; they have excellent traffic sense. Although it is the most populous country in the world I rarely saw a large crowd except at tourist spots. They also have 2 and 3 wheelers but rarely crowd the city roads and make a mess out of the traffic. The infrastructure is something, I was really bowled over…be it the roads, the flyovers, the sub way system. If you close your eyes and land at Beijing city directly, you may think you are in Chicago except for few Chinese signs along the roadside. The Beijing skyline is just awesome. The office and residence buildings stand next to each other. Since I visited the city in autumn I could not gauge the greenery but I could see lot of trees and vegetation within the city limits.

I was hoping that one day we work together as good and friendly neighbors. There will be no power in the world that could beat the might of these 2 giants together. With this thought I took my flight back home to India via Hong Kong. I must visit this great country once again, to explore more of this mystical land.

To view more snaps please click here https://plus.google.com/photos/114415907332130891045/albums/6086736920088722977



Taps Or Reveille?

TAPS OR REVEILLE?

Early in 1833, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote a letter to N. E. Seaton editor of a newspaper. He did so he said, “to contribute my mite at this very interesting and important period.” His missive quickly turned into a warning to the nation.  He was “carefully viewing the state of things” in the United States, “and ... looked at it with feelings of the most painful anxiety.” Two things were evident to the observant Prophet. The “manifest withdrawal of God’s Holy Spirit, and the veil of stupidity which seems to be drawn over the hearts of the people....”  The ancient covenants of God with Israel and the Gentiles were broken and the earth stood defiled. “The plain fact is this,” he wrote, “the power of God begins to fall upon the nations.” He went on to say that “the Gentiles are like the waves of the sea, casting up mire and dirt, or all in commotion, and they are hastily preparing to act the part allotted them, when the Lord rebukes the nations, when He shall rule them with a rod of iron, and break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Joseph is evidently speaking of the famous dream of King Nebuchadnezzar recorded in Daniel 2, wherein he saw a large statue representing the nations and the kingdoms of the world.  It was hit and destroyed by a large stone rolling down out of the mountains. The stone represented the kingdom of God which “shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”(1) 

Joseph went on to say that the Lord revealed to him 18 months previously
“...that He was then withdrawing His Spirit from the earth; and we can see that such is the fact, for not only the churches are dwindling away, but there are no conversions, or but very few: and this is not all, the governments of the earth are thrown into confusion and division; and Destruction, to the eye of the spiritual beholder, seems to be written by the finger of an invisible hand, in large capitals, upon almost every thing we behold.(2)
This statement is representative of a large number of similar predictions by the Prophet about the destruction of the nations and kingdoms of the world, including the United States, prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. These have been echoed by numerous other predictions and warnings by subsequent Apostles and Prophets.(3)

More recently Elder Neal A. Maxwell, made a comment similar to that of Joseph Smith, and like the Prophet he also looked toward the Kingdom of God. In 1975 he spoke to a group of genealogists at a symposium at BYU.  He told them:
As one who has spent a little time in public service, when I am around the secular institutions very long (however sincerely people may be trying to improve these important institutions and to make them work), if I listen closely, what I hear is the sound of taps–a kind of sense of sadness, in which they may not be able to arise to the occasion, though I hope they do. However, when I am around the Kingdom of God, if I listen closely, what I think I hear is the sound of reveille–a kind of giant awakening, in which we are deliberately being stirred to do the things that are ours to do.(4)
Wikipedia tells us that “Reveille” is a bugle, trumpet, or pipes call associated with the military “to wake military personnel at sunrise.” It comes from the French word for “wake up.” What are “the things that are ours to do”? Rather than succumbing at the death knell of Taps, Latter-day Saints are to awake and arise at Reveille and go to work building God’s kingdom–first. The JST version of Mt. 6:33, which in the JST is verse 38, is insightful.  It reads, “Wherefore, seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Lets think together again, soon.

Notes:

1. Dan. 2:44.  The letter from Joseph Smith to N. E. Seaton, 4 January 1833, may be found in HC 1:312-16 and TPJS, 13-18.  I recommend reading the entire document.

2. Joseph Smith, TPJS, 16, emphasis added.  The revelation of which he spoke concerning the withdrawal of the Spirit may be found in D&C 63:32-33, given 30 August 1831.

3. A collection of many such statements may be found in, N. B. Lundwall, comp., Inspired Prophetic Warnings to all Inhabitants of the Earth: Being a Compilation of Ancient and Modern Prophecies, Sixth edition enlarged, (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, n.d.).  See also the very interesting and specific predictions in, Orson Hyde, “A Timely Warning from an Apostle of Jesus Christ,” letter from Orson Hyde to the editor of the Missouri Republican, 1 January 1862, in Millennial Star 24 (May 3, 1862), p. 274-275.

4. Neal A. Maxwell, “Devotional Address.”  In Eleventh Annual Priesthood Genealogical Research Seminar, compiled by the Priesthood Genealogy Division of the Genealogical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 1976, p. 275, emphasis added.

Why I Believe: Evidence Twenty-one: Joseph Smith’s Daily Spirituality

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith Was A Prophet

Evidence Twenty-one: 
Joseph Smith’s Daily Spirituality© 

During this morning’s reading in Joseph Smith’s history of the Church, I once again heard and felt the promptings of the Spirit bear witness of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling. I am reading in late December 1835, and on just a couple of pages two simple items stood out.

First, his devotion to his calling.  On Monday 21 December his history reads: “Spent this day at home, endeavoring to treasure up knowledge for the benefit of my calling.” The next day he wrote: “Continued my studies. O may God give me learning, even language; and endue me with qualifications to magnify His name while I live.”  What was he studying? Subsequent entries tell us that he was trying to learn Greek and Hebrew. On the 23rd he recorded, “In the forenoon, at home studying the Greek language. The day after Christmas he said, “Commenced again studying the Hebrew language, in company with Brothers Parrish and Williams.”

The simplicity and directness of these unadorned statements carries their own power.  Here we find a prophet of God dedicated to treasuring up knowledge “for the benefit” of his calling, accompanying his labors with a prayer that God would endow him “with qualifications to magnify” the name of God.  Whatever else one may say about Joseph Smith, one thing is not said often enough–he recognized the importance of knowledge and labored regularly through his brief life to acquire such information as would assist him in fulfilling his calling.  We never hear anti-Mormons talk about this positive quality in his personality.  Nor do they acknowledge the second one that permeates this period of his history.

How often do you write prayers in your journal or history?  I venture to guess that for most of us it is a rarity.  Just notice these half-dozen examples in late December 1835 from Joseph’s history. On Sunday the 20th he was visited by brothers Palmer and Taylor. He showed them the Egyptian records he possessed and at day’s end he wrote, “O! may God have mercy upon these men, and keep them in the way of everlasting life, in the name of Jesus. Amen.” Monday he spent studying as noted above and thanked the Lord in his history “for His blessings to my soul, His great mercy over my family in sparing our lives. O continue,” he prayed, “Thy care over me and mine, for Christ’ sake.” Tuesday, as we have already read, he prayed “O may God give me learning, even language; and endue me with qualifications to magnify His name while I live.” Later that day he noted that his scribe was “unwell” and this prayer followed: “O may God heal him. And for his kindness to me, O my soul, be thou grateful to him, and bless him. And he shall be blessed of God forever, for I believe him to be a faithful friend to me, therefore my soul delighteth in him. Amen.”  Again on Monday the 28th he attended a council meeting of the Seventy, after which he recorded this plea: “...my heart was made glad while listening to the relation of those that had been laboring in the vineyard of the Lord, with such marvelous success. And I pray God to bless them with an increase of faith and power, and keep them all, with the endurance of faith in the name of Jesus Christ to the end.”(1)

As fond as Joseph’s enemies are of finding every wart, every supposed iniquity, every slight, every manifestation of pride or temper, these simple but powerful daily expressions of dedication and spirituality are never discussed by them. One wonder’s why, with the frequency with which they are sprinkled through his writings, they are so conveniently overlooked. To me they bear witness, not only of the nature of his private religiousness, but of his calling as well.

Thank God for Joseph Smith.

Lets think together again, soon.

Notes:

1. All of these entries may be found in HC 2:344-46.

Why I Believe: Evidence Twenty: Joseph Smith and the “New Heart” Promised for the Last Days

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith Was A Prophet

Evidence Twenty:  
Joseph Smith and the “New Heart” Promised for the Last Days© 

Last Sunday I taught the Gospel Doctrine lesson in Sunday School.  The material came from the book of Jeremiah. For me, Jeremiah in some ways is an interesting contrast to Isaiah.  While Isaiah is obscured by the metaphorical language of Hebrew poetry, Jeremiah is rather plain and straight forward, though he too uses a lot of symbolism. In any case, last week’s lesson gave rise to another “evidence” for the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. It is one I felt was worth sharing more widely than Sunday School.

The lesson combined two seemingly unrelated topics–the gathering of Israel and Jeremiah’s great prophecy about how in the last days the Lord would write God’s law in their hearts. Many modern Mormons find the “gathering of Israel” a fairly dry if not boring subject. That is sad because Joseph Smith said it was one of the more important doctrines in the last days. Indeed, he returned to the subject numerous times and his commentary on the parables in Matthew 13 on that subject is a masterpiece.  But that is for another day. It was an important topic for Jeremiah as well.  Fifteen of the fifty-two chapters (29%) in his book contain significant statements about the gathering. Of those fifteen, three entire chapters and significant portions of three more are devoted to the subject. In each instance prophecies of the scattering and gathering of Israel are generally found together. Judah would have found his prophecies of the scattering and the judgments and destruction attendant to it as disheartening and depressing messages. But, it is as if Jeremiah felt compelled to hold out hope for the future by also  predicting a glorious gathering attendant with the supreme blessings of the Lord.  

According to Jeremiah and Ezekiel the judgments and scattering came upon Judah because of the extreme corruption and wickedness of the society, caused by corrupt and wicked leaders.  In Jeremiah 16 following a litany of accusations and a prediction of the scattering, the people have the temerity to question the prophet as to why those judgments were to come upon them. He mentions the wickedness of their fathers, and then in verse twelve he says, “And ye have done worse than your fathers; for behold, ye walk every one after the evil imagination [Heb. reads “stubbornness” or “hardness”] of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me....” So, the important principle to mention here is that one of the major reasons for the scattering in 587 BC, was because of the hard and evil hearts of the people. This phrase appears thirteen times in the Old Testament, eight of which are in the book of Jeremiah.(1) Obviously the stubborn or hard hearts of the leaders and the people were at the root of the wickedness of Israelite society in this period.

Jeremiah was a prophet for 40 years and during part of that time he was contemporary with Lehi, who also predicted judgments upon and scattering of the people because of the wicked state of their society. Lest we think Lehi may have overdone things a bit when he claimed that he fled because the people were seeking his life because of his predictions and accusations, Jeremiah himself tells of the prophet Urijah who was also their contemporary. He fled to Egypt because they also sought his life.  Jeremiah says that Jehoiakim sent men after him. They tracked him down and brought him back to Jerusalem. Then Jeremiah reports that Urijah was brought unto Jehoiakim “who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.”(2) That qualifies as exhibit “A” for a hard heart, and shows us that the accounts of the conditions in Jerusalem given to us by Jeremiah and Lehi are accurate.

But, Jeremiah said a day would come when things would be different.  His famous prophecy is found in chapter 31: 31-33:
31) Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32) Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: 33) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
The prophet Ezekiel spoke similarly:(3)
19) And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
Here is the main point of this essay. If the problem was a hard and wicked heart, the solution is a soft, open, willing, and obedient heart. The statements of both Jeremiah and Ezekiel state that in the latter day the soft open hearts of the people would be due exclusively to the action of God–he would give them a soft heart of flesh and write his law in their hearts. This is perfectly acceptable to many Protestants, particularly those who closely follow Luther and Calvin. Reformed Calvinists in particular would say this is exactly in line with the  “by grace ye are saved, not by works” doctrine.

Some reflection, however, raises the question as to how meaningful that changed heart would really be if it is caused solely by the actions of God without anything being done on the part of the individual to assist in its development. Predestination or the fickle will of God could be the only explanation for God holding one group of people accountable for having obdurate hearts and giving a soft heart to another, completely different group and promising them glorious blessings.  But this only heightens how meaningless a discussion of a new heart really is with those who deny any requirement or value of  personal effort. Moreover, how can prophecies about a new heart on those conditions give any hope to Jeremiah’s contemporaries with hard hearts? It also ignores an imperative passage in Ezekiel 18:31 which says, “... and make you a new heart and a new spirit....” This implies some effort on the part of the individual. But it is not as Elder Bednar once characterized the beliefs of some Saints that “we must make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves, through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline....”(4)  It is not an “all-or-none” situation either way.

If we accept this latter statement from Ezekiel it suggests that the process of having a new heart is dual in nature, it requires effort on our part as well as the actions of God in our behalf. If we assume with Paul, that we really do have to do something in working out our own salvation, then unfortunately, we look in vain  for any detailed discussion of this issue in the Bible as we have it. The problem is correctly identified and the Lord promises it will be reversed in a future day, but there is no explanation as to how man carries out his role in the process.

Enter the Book of Mormon.  The incomparable Alma speaks of the “mighty change” which took place in his own heart and that of his people, but later he asks his audience if they have experienced this mighty change.(5)  Yet, even that important reference is superceded by the great temple sermon of King Benjamin early in the book of Mosiah. There it becomes evident that there are several spiritual steps leading up to the mighty change of heart and it is clear that both the Atonement of Christ and the actions of the people are necessary for the mighty change of heart to take place. Here are just four pertinent passages from that sermon, beginning with Mosiah 2:9, 3:19 and 4:2 (my emphasis added):

Preparation:   
9) My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, you that can hear my words which I shall speak unto you this day; for I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.
Put off the natural man, put on Christlike qualities :  
19) For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, for ever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
Pray for mercy and the benefits of the Atonement:  
2) And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth.  And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified... (6)
There follows a lengthy discussion about the proper treatment of the poor and then in Mosiah 5:2 we are instructed about,

The Spirit’s work:  
2) And they all cried with one voice, saying: “yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.(7)
The above process may be perfectly summarized by this passage found in Helaman 3:35:
35) Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.
As I said above, I do not know of any comparable discussion about the changing of the heart in any Biblical passage! Yet, that, according to Jeremiah and Ezekiel is what will be needed in the last days when Israel and Judah are gathered again and the temple built. Does anyone really believe that young Joseph Smith read the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel and discovered the major reason for the Lord’s displeasure with Judah about 600 B.C. was that the people had hard hearts which led them into all sorts of spiritual difficulties, so he went searching through the Bible for an explanation how to correct the problem–how to soften people’s hearts–but he couldn’t find any; so, he presumed to make up a story in the Book of Mormon that would provide it? Really? That explanation for the passages in Mosiah 2-5 and Alma 5 does not wash with me. So, we are faced with the wonderful reality of those remarkable chapters which so seamlessly answer the need expressed in Jeremiah and Ezekiel! To me it is another evidence of the Lord’s almost imperceptible guiding hand, bringing together in one in this dispensation all important things from all previous dispensations. As I have pointed out before, Joseph Smith is a man with the answers to many of the most important spiritual questions of all time. Yet sometimes those answers are so subtly woven into the fabric of the Standard Works and the Gospel that it is easy for us to overlook their uniqueness, to miss the singularity of their existence and appreciate the depth of their importance.

For me, of course, this kind of thing simply adds to the evidences we are considering in this topic. It adds evidence and testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet, inspired by God to bring forth the scriptures and revelations which he did and of their superlative importance in these last days as the Lord prepares the earth for its glorious conclusion.

Thank God for Joseph Smith, man with the answers.

Lets think together again, soon.

Notes:
1. See, 3:17, 7:24, 9:14, 11:8, 13:10, 16:12, 18:12, and 23:17.
2. See Jer. 26:20-23.
3. Ezek. 11:19-20.  See also  Ezek. 36:24-28.
4. David A. Bednar, “The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality,” Ensign (May 2012), p. 42. 
5. See Alma 5:2, 12-14.
6. In connection with items 2 and 3 above from Mosiah, it is evident we must repent.  According to Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Each personal imperfection is an opportunity to change–to repent.  Repentance, at any age, provides needed progress.  It leads to a mighty change of heart, which leads to a love of God and your neighbor, especially that neighbor to whom you are married.  Repentance includes forgiveness, and forgiveness is a commandment.”  See, Russell M. Nelson, “The Doctrinal Importance of Marriage and Children,” address to The Worldwide Leadership Training meeting, February 2012, Internet edition.
7. The reader will also benefit greatly by reading, Wilford W. Andersen, “Receiving and Retaining a Mighty Change,” Ensign, (April 2012): 35-37, in which he stresses that it is the process of entering into the covenant of baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, the agent that sanctifies and purifies us, whereby we experience this mighty change of heart.  What he teaches and what I have added from King Benjamin, are in my mind saying essentially the same thing.   However, Elder Andersen goes on to point  out that we "retain" that mighty change by partaking of the Sacrament weekly.  This growth and change for most people is “slow, almost imperceptible.”  See, Ezra Taft Benson, “A Mighty Change of Heart,” Ensign (October 1989), p. 5.

Masque Attack: Why Your iPhone is Probably Safe - Happy Veteran's Day

 "Masque Attack sounds like an ominous threat to the iPhone and iPad because it lets attackers replace legit apps with their own malicious versions. Getting those on your iOS device, however, involves some trickery and interaction on your part. The security flaw is serious, but it isn't likely to hit you."



Aunk's Commentary:

Another example of why Iphone is the mobile computing gold standard in security.

There is not an abundance of big security holes for the bad guys to exploit becauce the ecosystem is a contained well managed envronment.



You will note from this piece that anytime there is the slightest hint of a hole, the globle experts report it publicly, as they also probably have Iphones.



Contrast this with so called "Open" ecosystems like windows and Android. 95% of all malware is targeted at this environment.



As an American on this Veterens Day I am reminded of my constitutional right to be secure in my papers and property. No on in moble computing does a better job of securing that right for me then Job's Apple.



Shout out to my Dad Marlin on this Veteren's Day. Hetep and Respect Dad.

Masque Attack: Why Your iPhone is Probably Safe - The Mac Observer:

'via Blog this'

iPhone Getting More Culturally Healthy - New Emoji Coming

The first Black Emoji will come June 2015

 There are 59 different types of food Emoji, but the pictorial smartphone language has been severely lacking in other areas—specifically when it comes to racial diversity."





Racially Diverse Emoji Are Finally Coming to Your iPhone 
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Aunk's commentary:

This is an interesting development as technology shrinks our world. The net effect has been more culturally healthy world citizens. This is one more example of how tech can reduce Cultural Poisoning by emulating in cyberspace the ethnic diversity that is the reality here on earth.

Google Flu Trends Found to be in Error

Without specifically acknowledging criticisms about its accuracy, Google announced Friday it would be making some changes to Google Flu Trends, the service that uses search data to track and predict flu outcomes in the United States and around the world. Specifically, Flu Trends will stop relying solely on search data to make predictions but will begin to combine that search data, continually, with publicly available data from the CDC."

Aunk's Commentary:
This is another example of the Google Grandiose Mediocre mindset. Google does search, data mining and ads at the highest quality. Google also does a lot of other side things mostly mediocre. So if they do this with machines like the Iphone clone Android stuff what would make us think they would do better with humans then with machines. 


When it comes to health, I would not trust Google as far as I could through them.

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Google Flu Trends will supplement crowdsourced approach with CDC data | mobihealthnews:


On a positive note, notice the graph at the top that shows flu season. Not that people in America get colds and the "Flu" when sun light (Vitamin D) goes down and cold weather goes up. If memory serves me their is no flu season in Africa near the equator. The moral of the story is take your vitamin D in the winter as a cold prophylactic. I (an African American) go from 10,000 in the summer to 15,000 iu's in the winter. I live in the New York City area. This keeps my blood Vitamin D level at 80 to 90 ng ml.

The key hear is that vitamin D dosage if different for every human being depending on melanin content and other factors. You need to find what dose produces your target blood levels. By the way I have not had a cold to speak of in years.

Fan art on the Day of the Dead


Surprised and honored to have been given a nod by the new Dinovember project by Tricia Arnold (also known as Babbletrish)! Here is her depiction of Skull integrating himself into current celebrations, presumably as an appeal to broader culture in a bid for popularity to further his eternal quest.