Monday, December 29, 2008

Wow, what a ride!!!

Opi passed away May 5, 2007. He was the foundation of faith for our family. His optimism lifted all those around him. Whenever he was asked how he was doing he would reply, "I couldn't be better!" or "Ich könnte nicht besser sein!"

He followed a lovely quote about reaching the end of our mortal lives. He added it to his life story:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming, 'Wow, what a ride!!!'

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Believe to Believe

The most horrible punishment that could be inflicted upon you is not twenty years of hard labor, but twenty years of solitary confinement.

It's the law in the spiritual world. Simply shut your heart to all truth, and after a while you won't be able to believe anything -- that is the severest penalty for not accepting truth.

The process of disintegration and death begins when a man shuts himself out from the forces that make for life.

The body and mind and spirit are kept alive through constant constructive use.

--Charles Steizle

O Magnum Mysterium (O Great Mystery)

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

Morten Lauridsen
O Magnum Mysterium

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thankful and Hopeful

How can I ponder my life without feeling a deep sense of gratitude. God has given so much to me, of which I don't deserve. "There's so much to be grateful for."

Christ, the author and finisher of faith, offers Joy at no cost. He gave his life. I don't know exactly what the lyricist had in mind when he wrote the words "And on this day we hope for what we still can't see." Although, we cannot see Christ, or feel the prints in his hands, we can have a hope of Him--a hope that becomes faith, and a faith which allows the acceptance of Christ. Stop a moment and think of Christ. "There's so much to be thankful for."

Somedays we forget
To look around us
Somedays we can't see
The joy that surrounds us
So caught up inside ourselves
We take when we should give.

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be.
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see.
It's up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for.

Look beyond ourselves
There's so much sorrow
It's way too late to say
I'll cry tomorrow
Each of us must find our truth
It's so long overdue

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And every day we hope for
What we still can't see
It's up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for.

Even with our differences
There is a place we're all connected
Each of us can find each other's light

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see
It's up to us to be the change
And even though this world needs so much more

There's so much to be thankful for

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weihnachten Botschaft >> Christus

Im Zentrum der Botschaft vom Erlöser der Welt ist ein einzelnes, glorreiches, wunderbares, unversuchtes Konzept. In einfachsten Worten ist diese Botschaft, dass wir versuchen sollten den Egoismus, mit dem wir alle geboren zu sein scheinen, zu ueberkommen, dass wir den natuerlichen Menschen ueberkommen sollten und an andere vor uns selbst denken sollten. Wir sollten an Gott denken und ihm dienen und an andere denken und ihnen dienen.
-James E. Faust (translated by Jens Beyrich)

Atonement and Divinity: A Brief Analysis

It has been said that Paul's epistle to the Philippians was his most empathetic letter to his people. These Philippians were some of Paul’s first converts in Europe. Thus, he held a strong affinity to their spiritual growth and welfare. The stark rebuking contained in many of Paul’s other epistles is not so prevalent in this New Testament book. Perhaps, his closeness to the Philippians allowed Paul to delve into more profound and lasting doctrine, such as the atonement, rather than dwelling upon temporary, technical aspects of the church.

Paul begins Philippians 2 with a call to be unified. It is very apparent that the principle of unity was one of Paul’s most repeated admonitions. One example comes from Corinthians when Paul taught that the church has many ‘members’ that work together: “For the body is not one member, but many” (1 Cor. 12:14). In this epistle, Paul will shortly expound upon Christ’s atonement. We must assume that he was emphasizing the unity of doctrine among members of the church. For how could these members learn of salvation if they were not unified in their understanding and beliefs?

After his call to unity, Paul makes a seemingly confusing statement, almost in passing. He said that Jesus Christ “…being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Philippians 2:6). Does this entail that Christ was, at one point, not equal with God? And yet he rose to equal glory with God, while yet not ‘robbing’ God of his glory. Paul makes it clear that Christ is divine—that he was and is no ordinary man.

A 19th century scholar, Jean Daillé, provided his interpretation of this verse: “As then the apostle protest that the being of the Lord Jesus was equal with God, it must necessarily be acknowledged that there was in him some other thing than the flesh, which he took for us; that is to say, that eternal Word, which at the beginning was God, and was God.” (Daillé and Sherman, An Exposition of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Philippians, ch. 2). Daillé may have understood this “being equal” as that Christ was full of equal glory during his earthly existence. We must read further from Paul’s letter to expound more heavily on this principle.

“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). Scholars report that the phrase “made himself of no reputation” comes from the Greek word ‘kenosis’ which translates “to make empty” (Ostler, Apostle Paul, His Life and His Testimony: The 1994 Sperry Symposium on the New Testament, ch. 9). Christ, being born into the world, wasn’t previously, ‘of no reputation,’ because the phrase uses the verb ‘made’ as he was previously full of something, but then ‘made’ himself empty.

Craig Ostler takes the phrase further and asks what it was that Jesus Christ emptied himself. He then refers to Doctrine and Covenants. “And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace; and he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness; and thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first” (Doctrine & Covenants 93:12-14 emphasis added).

According to this scripture, Jesus Christ held not a fullness of glory preemptively in his life. This idea may be in opposition to Daillé’s thoughts about Christ’s earthly ministry. “Therefore, it was the fulness of glory that Christ had enjoyed in his premortal state of which he emptied himself in being born into mortality” (Ostler, Apostle Paul, His Life and His Testimony: The 1994 Sperry Symposium on the New Testament, ch. 9).

Why has Paul taken the time to mention this statement to the Philippians? He was expounding on the atonement and the measures that were involved to complete such a supernal gift. We gather from here, that Christ was not only divine before he entered mortal life, but he was equal with God. Paul is telling us that an atonement for mankind must be performed by someone like God—someone greater than a mere man, who was the ability to take upon himself the punishment for sin. Paul, earlier, had said, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Death comes from the mortal man, Adam, while life comes from the exalted being, Jesus Christ.

And yet, while in life, Ostler says, Christ was divested of his glory. He was made to become as mortal man, with all the same afflictions of sufferings that humans suffer. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). Paul specifically used the keywords “humbled” and “obedient” to show the importance of these characteristics. It also contrasts heavily with his earlier statement that Christ was equal with God. Idiomatically speaking, Jesus Christ stood at the top of the totem pole of the human family, but subsequently lowered himself to the bottom of the totem pole, in order to bring salvation to mankind.

Daillé, Jean & Sherman, James, An Exposition of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Philippians (H. G. Bohn, 1843).

Ostler, Craig J., What is a Mortal Messiah?: Apostle Paul, His Life and His Testimony: The 1994 Sperry Symposium on the New Testament (Deseret Book, 1994).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Who are you not to be?

A good friend gave me this quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

-Nelson Mandela


Gomenasai = Sorry (Russian)

Mistakes and misdeeds are bound to happen. We often fail in living up to those around us. That's ok. All we need to do is learn how to say sorry.

Itty Bitty Living Space

"To have squeezed the universe into a ball"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Trennung vs. Verbindung (Separation vs. Connection)

Trennung ist ein verwirrender Begriff benutzt um Objecte, Leute, Platze und Ideen zu beshreiben. Wim Wenders war so mutig die wahre Bedeutung von Trennung zum beschreiben—mit Bespielen ihre Existenz Gründe und Effekte. Die Existenz von Trennung in der Gesellschaft ist nicht so offen sichlich wir Leute denken, saft Wenders durch seinen Film. Auf der anderen seite, beshreibt und definiert Wenders auch den Begriff Verbindung. Beide diese Begriffe, Trennung und Verbindung sin dim Titel des Filmes, Der Himmel Über Berlin und In Weiter Ferne, So Nah.

In welcher Weise existiert Trennung in Filmen? Sie ist sehr offensichlich in Der Himmel Über Berlin, wenn die Kamera am Anfang des Filmes die zerbrochenen Leben vieler Leute in vershiedenen Apartments filmt. Mann sieht eine Mutter auf den Fahrrad die denkt, “Endlich verrückt.” Man sieht einen jungen Mann der laute Rockmusik hört während seine Gross Eltern in dem anderen Zimmer genervt sind. Man sieht ein Man in die Wohnung seiner toten Mutter gehen, der denkt dass sie nie seine Mutter war. Eine andere szene zeigt eine Frau, die ihren Mann anschreit während sie auf der Autobahn fahren. All diese kurzen Szenen zeigen Trennung.

Von diesem Anfang versteht Man dass Trennung Leute umgibt als wenn ihre Leben von Wänden umgeben warden. Man versteht auch dass Trennung oft negativ gesehen wird. Trennung existiert zwischen Deprimierten und Streitenden. Man sieht sie auch zwischen der alteren und der juneren Generation zwischen Männern und Frauen.

Diese Idee von Trennung ist sehr offensichlich in der Hauptgeschichte des Filmes in der Geshichte der Trennung der Engel von der Erde.

In both films, an angel, first Damiel then Cassiel become humans and face the hard reality of mortal existence. The angels are separated from humans, being immortal and invisible. Both of the main characters Damiel and Cassiel become hopeful in connecting with their human subjects. They seemed more connected to their subjects as angels by reading their thoughts. However, because they could not directly affect the lives of humans, they felt more disconnected and separated from mortal people than after they had become humans themselves and could act in a way that would change their new living world.

Damiel's experience evolves from an infatuation for a beautiful circus acrobat, Marion. He begins to follow her as an angel, taken notice of her thoughts and dreams. However, because he is not mortal, he cannot make contact with her. This propels him to make a decision that had already been welling up in him. Just before he became mortal, he said “Ich werde sie in den Arm nehmen. Sie wird mich in den Arm nehmen.”

Damiel encounters mortal life naively. He sets off to search for Marion, while passing through awkward moments. Finally, near the end of the first film, Marion and Damiel find each other and they immediately connect, as if they had already known each other. Because Damiel has now experienced mortal life, he has a greater capacity to connect with the people around him. He writes his last words, “Ich … weiss … jetzt, was … kein … Engel … weiss.”

Wenders defines one of the main causes of separation between people is misunderstanding. He spends an enormous amount of reel time, especially in the second film, discussing the Nazi’s effect on the German people. A driver ponders the borders around the German people caused by the 3rd Reich. “Jibt es noch Grenzen? Mehr den je… Das deutsche Volk ist in so viele Kleinstaaten zerfallen,” he says.

Wenders presents irony in the second Film, In Weiter Ferne, so Nah. During the Nazi reign, there existed such a unity among the German people as they had come together as one powerful nation. In essence, they were strongly connected. However, this “connection” rested on immoral principles. We learn about Nazi propaganda films and the Nazi degenerate art museums. Conversely, Wenders delves deeper into the meaning of connection and reveals that an important value are involved to create true connections among people. We here an angel’s voice at the end of the second film: “Wir sind nicht die Botschaft, wir sind die Boten. Die Botschaft ist die Liebe.”

Despite the reality that the angels couldn’t necessarily experience mortality as the humans, Wenders tells us that one of their main goals was to foster these connections. They knew that it was only through these connections that humans could relinquish themselves of pain and suffering. A depressed man sitting on the U-Bahn thinks of his wasted life. Damiel, sitting next to him, puts his hands on his shoulders granting a kind of spiritual comfort. The man’s thoughts change toward motivational thoughts and he sits up in his chair.

Separation also breeds doubt. Suppose you had a beautiful painting hanging on a wall in your home and one day it was stolen leaving the wall blank. You would most likely exhaust yourself to retrieve the painting. However, after months of looking for the thief, you begin to assume it is lost for good. Years later you have forgotten about the painting—it only flashes through your memory in passing. As you grow old, your mind becomes weary, and soon you have forgotten that you ever had a painting on the wall. You wouldn’t believe you had a painting unless someone showed it to you. What you cannot see, you do not believe—what you cannot touch is not real. Thus it is with the realm of angels and humans.

Cassiel deals with this problem as he becomes disconnected from the angels. Holding a liquor bottle, he cries out to the angel, Raphaela: “Wo bist du? … Gib mir ein Zeichen! Das ist doch kein Leben! … Nur was wir sehen können zählt, nur daran glauben wir, das Unsichtbare kommt nicht mehr an, nur was wir anfassen können, gibt es für uns auch wirklich.”

This form of separation deals not horizontally between humans, but vertically between the earthly and the heavenly. Ultimately, Wenders declares that man is lost and vain without his connection to the divine.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


"Those who espouse secularism – who would like everyone to see the world through “unbiased” eyes - will stop at nothing until everyone accepts their view. That is the definition of intolerance."

--Andrew Heim

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Kal Ho Naa Ho

I hope you enjoy this song.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Day of Pentecost

The day of Pentecost is a subject that often befuddles the naïve reader. Acts 2 has been interpreted in a variety of ways from the Jew to the Protestant Christian. The popular Pentecostal church, today, claims its founding on it. The great spiritual manifestations found in Acts 2, in a way, coincide with Pentecostal services which usually contain emotional music and “speaking in tongues.”

However, the day of Pentecost as recorded by Luke requires a bit of foundational knowledge in order to extrapolate the meanings of the events that occurred. This knowledge also helps to define the early church and project its growth.

The online Jewish encyclopedia refers to the Pentecost as a Greek term applied to the 50th day of the “Feast of Harvest.” It was also thought as the anniversary of the day that the law was received from Sinai (Bruce, The Book of the Acts, 50). One item of certainty, is that those in attendance were not Gentiles, for the vision to preach to the Gentiles has not yet occurred until Acts 10. However, these were “Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). The day of Pentecost was a perfect occasion to bring many people of different tongues together to witness a miracle of tongues.

F. Bruce describes the experience: “The Galilean accent was easily recognized, as Peter knew to his cost on an earlier occasion; but these Galileans appeared for the moment to share among them a command of most of the tongues spoken throughout the known world” (Bruce, The Book of the Acts, 54).

As the people gathered together many tongues were spoken and understood. The event was truly regarded as a miracle for the attendants were saying to themselves, “how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:8). This incredible miracle was a unifying factor for the people and a faith builder that would lead to their eventual baptism and membership in the church.

This miracle of the tongues is also a manifestation of the spirit. Just before the people began to understand the words in their own languages, there was a great sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” and it “appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire” (Acts 2:2-3). Luke then goes on to explain that everyone was filled with the Holy Ghost.

The presence of the spirit at this occasion presents a few major points about the early church. The first point is that all major functions of the church were attended by the Holy Spirit. This can also be seen in the preceding chapter when the disciples prayed for the inspiration to choose the next apostle. Second, the attendance of the Holy Spirit more solidifies the idea that it is the Spirit that initiates or causes miracles to fruition. Another third point is that the Spirit starts and progresses the process of conversion. The audience members were astonished by the miracle and were later “pricked in their heart” after hearing the words of Peter. After inquiring what they should do after receiving such inspiration, Peter replied, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Note also that the gift of the Holy Ghost is necessary for their complete conversion. Fourth, the spirit in attendance at this meeting proves Christ’s words when he said that the “promise of the father” (Acts 1:4) would come following his departure. It further establishes Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God. “This is crucial for the remainder of Acts, since it gives the basis of Luke's view that salvation for humanity is rooted primarily, and deeply, in Jesus' resurrection and ascension. In this way, what Joel promised regarding ‘the Lord’ --that ‘all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved’ -- can be transferred to Jesus” (Achtemeier, Green, Thompson, Introducing the New Testament, 253).

The very fact that all these languages and foreigners were coming together being baptized under one church embodies the growth and mission of the church set out by Christ when he said that the apostles would be His witnesses to “the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Many of the people in attendance would return to the lands of their birth and carry the faith and knowledge they had received of the resurrected Christ. This day of Pentecost, being at the beginning of Acts makes it a key point in the order of the books of the New Testament and the chronological order of events. The four gospels tell of Christ’s life and teachings, laying the groundwork of doctrine. With the day of Pentecost told immediately after the Gospels, we gather the intent and importance of the remaining text in the New Testament. It is deduced that the events succeeding Christ’s mortal life tell the story of missionary work and church organization. It also makes a blatant point that, even though Christ was not physically present, he continued to work among his apostles.

Peter’s eventual sermon following the miracles, centers on the resurrection of Christ. Because the listeners were Galileans, they understood the Old Testament writings. Peter referred to Joel, as was mentioned earlier, and then to David from Psalms. Peter quotes David as saying, “thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:27). David’s sepulcher was known among the people to be in the city. They knew that David was still buried and his body had seen “corruption.” According to Bruce, Peter explains that Christ, being the Son of David, is the one being referred to as He whose soul was not left in hell. “In asserting that Jesus of Nazareth had been so delivered and raised up by God, Peter and his colleagues were making a claim which they could confirm by their personal ocular testimony: 'of this we are all witnesses’" (Bruce, The Book of the Acts, 66).

Indeed, the Day of Pentecost set a foundation of doctrine and procedure in the early church. It established a followed leadership and a quick growth in membership.

Frederick Fyvie Bruce, The Book of the Acts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1988)

Paul J. Achtemeier, Joel B. Green, Marianne Meye Thompson; Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2001)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Behind the Iron Curtain: Unity

Missionaries work in companionships, lovers become married couples, college students join fraternities, wolves travel in packs, ethnic groups create nations, people of like beliefs establish religions, city teenagers join gangs. People form groups. We can readily speculate on whether certain groups are deemed bad or good, but one thing can be made certain: people gather in unity. Unity is a powerful force and has been a major cause and/or backing for revolutions, movements, and wars.

It has many definitions. Unity is plurality—it is ‚more than one.‘ It is emphasis on the group rather than the individual. It is applied generally by individuals with common traits, interests, goals, or beliefs. In the eternal realm unity itself is eternal. It is a principle that even dates to the Old Testament during the time of Enoch: "And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them." Both good and evil forces seek unity in their own sphere—only they promote unity in two opposite ways. Unity can bring either happiness or misery.

Why do people tend to conglomerate in groups? Unit is inherently human—it is instinct. Elder Henry B. Eyring stated simply: "All of us have felt something of both union and separation. Simetimes in families and perhaps in other settings we have glimpsed life when one person put the interests of another above his or her own, in love and with sacrifice. And all of us know something of the sadness and loneliness of being separate and alone. We don’t need to be told which we should choose. We know."

I can readily testify of my own personal need for acceptance. When I first attended Kindergarten I was terrified for a number of reasons. First, I faced the horrible separation from my mom. Then I was thrown into a entirely unfamiliar environment. It was a room with strangely bright colors, little chairs and pathetic red mats. Needless to say, I was alone. I remember that feeling of cold emptiness that accompanies a lonely soul. It was almost instinct for me to begin making friends with other kindergarteners. Suddenly, I had others that knew me and to some extent, respected me. Thus I felt the comfort which results from unity.

Working together for a common goal also builds friendship. It is so much easier to do something that is difficult when you have someone to do it with. Wilfriede Kiessling was a member of the church in the Dresden area just after the war. She had to travel two hours on Sunday to get to church in often horrible weather conditions. Fortunately, she had another good sister, Sister Schibblack, who would go with her to the Branch house. In an interview with Sister Norma Davis she related:

Today we tell one another how beautiful those times were. And they were beautiful. We stood there at the streetcar stop in the winter, freezing. Red tail lights—we had just missed the bus. Waiting. Half an hour. Freezing, freezing. And today we say how beautiful those times were.

N. Davis: Why do you say that?

Wilfriede: The common friendship and the spirit.

The honeybee is an excellent example of unity’s prevalence in nature. A good hive may have up to 50,000 bees. Every bee is necessary for the survival of the hive and each has a different job. Some work on the hive, others scout for nectar, while others work specifically with the queen to provide her eggs with the utmost care. If one bee were to go off on its own and selfishly search for its food it would not survive. Even during the winter all the bees stay in a large mass around the queen providing conserving their heat and energy. They then feed off of a large amount of honey they had stored all through the preceding seasons.

One of the greatest causes of unity is trial and tribulation. Coping with loneliness by finding friends in Kindergarten was an example of this process. History gives us thousands of examples of trial that led to unity. The revolutions of 1848 in Europe were all spawned after years of oppression and a lack of representation. People among the poorer and bourgeouis classes began to unite under as nationalities sought for political rights and more equal laws. These revolutions grew in France, Bohemia, Hungary, and even Austria.

The existence of the United States of America was caused by a people who united under political oppression. In the 1700's America was split between 13 colonies each constituting few common interests and many separate goals. As heavier economic burdens were placed upon the colonists by the British Parliament, the Americans sought for political representation. Unfortunately, it was never granted. This gave the colonies a common goal to unite under. It was inherently understood that they would be more powerful working together against Great Britain than working separately. Washington's small continental army was formed. A declaration of Independence was written and the Articles of Confederation were established America was victorious and subsequently founded a powerfully united federal government.

Trial was also by harnessed tyrants who sought to unite people in order to gain more power. Adolf Hitler used the heavy economic depression after World War I to aid his goal of uniting the German-speaking peoples under the Nationalist or "Nazi" party. People in the defeated central European countries such as Germany and Austria were heavily punished with war debts. The people were in a state of hopelessness, with loss of homes to bankruptcy and very little food. Hitler picked up their broken dreams and promised them jobs and security. Being already so psychologically depressed, the German citizens were quick to follow "Der Führer." Soon Germany became an economic and industrial powerhouse as people united for the goal of a stronger Germany. A propaganda poster from this time contained a statement by Hitler: "I now ask the German people to strengthen my faith and to give me through the strength of its will the strength I need to continue to fight courageously at any time for its honor and its freedom, and to be able to further its economic prosperity. I ask it particularly to support me in my struggle for true peace."

Hitler was very intelligent. Like a master would use a dog bone to attract his pet, Hitler used the bone of safety, strength, and "economic prosperity," to lure the German citizens to rally to his goals. He was very successful, but his tyrannical behavior and continuous deceit eventually led his powerful unification to destruction.

After Hitler's failed political escapade, millions of Germans were desensitized to a sense of unity. They had been deceived and thus any type of future nationalistic movement was seen as evil and tyrannical. Why then did so many German members of the church become so greatly unified under the one banner of the church after the war? Erich Dzierzon of Dresden provided an explanation: "...after the war was over and we had this so-called communist regime, we tried to do our duty with joy, and I had many interesting experiences. I would like to say that during these times when we were so hemmed in, restricted in our activities, the members of the Church really stuck together--not only our members but the other citizens of the country as well. The entire population followed the principle that in trial the people must stick together. We had this togetherness." Even after the bad taste of nationalism left in their mouths, trial still pushed people together.

It is interesting to see how Hitler‘s Germany and the members of the church in Germany both unified. They were both strong organizations and members of both parties received relief from hunger and pain. However, Hitler’s unification failed. After contrasting these two examples it is revealed that one group contained selfish individuals while the other group contained individuals who worked selflessly for the good of others and the whole. This is the basis for the success of a group goal. If any of the members of the group have selfish motives, the group will eventually destroy itself. Although he was claiming with the Nazi party to be doing the good of Germany as a whole, Hitler had his own agenda for the German people.

Another ancient individual had selfish motives for a group. Lucifer provided a nice solution when he told God that he would save all of his children from damnation. Isn’t that what God wanted? He loves all of his children and desperately wants them to be reunited with him. Unfortunately, this plan was concocted not out of love for God’s children, but rather a selfish quest for glory. Satan said: "Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor" (emphasis added). Fortunately, Satan’s plan was denied and the ultimate plan centralizing around a selfless Atonement was chosen.

What is it that makes unity really work? After Christ visited the inhabitants of the America there was a period of two hundred years of peace. The scripture from 4 Nephi explains this period and gives some reasons why they enjoyed such peace:

There were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another. And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift. And it came to pass that the thirty and seventh year passed away also, and there still continued to be peace in the land. And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.

Clearly the people showed genuine love and respect for one another and thus they were able to live together in happiness. This paradisaical society failed when the people "began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain."

A unity built on selflessness will last forever. Sister Edith Schade Krause relates her experience of the Allied Dresden bombings near the end of World War II. Nearly the entire inner city was laid to waste and many members of the church in Dresden suffered from loss of homes and a lack of food. "It was a time of great testimony because the Lord helped us to help one another. Many refugees from the East were passing through Dresden, and we took up to as many as fifteen people into our small two-and-a-half-room apartment. Everything was shared, many things were sacrificed. Firm friendships were established which still exist today, beyond continents and oceans. We sat in the Church meetings and in the classrooms huddled in coats and blankets--very few brothers there--but we were thankful and full of hope because the Lord will not forsake his own, which includes all humanity."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Deseret Industries, affordability for the 2nd hand

Now is the best time to throw out your old, unused items and pick up someone else’s old and unused items.

Deseret Industries or DI, as it’s more commonly known, might be considered Utah’s prime thrift store. With 46 stores in seven western states, DI has provided thousands of people a place to recycle their old clothes, toys and other items. It also provides a store to “purchase inexpensive, quality merchandise in a clean, safe retail environment,” said the newsroom website for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The church established DI in 1938 as a nonprofit, vocational rehabilitation facility and a thrift store.

While shopping around the retail floor you might find a myriad of interesting products and smart shoppers. Last Friday, George Strong could be seen meandering around the old electronics, testing the boom boxes and filing through the videos and CDs. He had already picked up a couple of folding chairs.

“It used to better years ago,” Strong said. “Now if something doesn’t sell, they’ll throw it away.”

Strong, who shops at the store nearly once a month, said that DI used to mark down prices when items weren’t selling.

Susan Ruiz and her husband, Edgar, were shopping the aisle of odds and ends—containing such things as silverware, glassware, multi-colored plates, picture frames, and wooden decorative items.

“You just can’t beat the deals,” Susan said. “I don’t have to buy everything brand new again.”

Susan, who shops at DI a couple of times a week, is proud of the great deals she has frequently found. Last week she purchased a pitcher with a 22 karat gold rim for only 50 cents. She was going to sell it for much more than she paid for it.

Her husband, Edgar, from Latin America, was carrying what looked like a heavy, tall, pink lamp.

“She found this lamp,” Edgar said, pointing to his wife, Susan. “I’m carrying it all over the place.”

Saturday, September 27, 2008





Monday, September 22, 2008

The full package

What can you do with a pot, an apple, and a knife? Many folks might say apple cobbler, but BYU junior Benjamin Thompson has frequently used those items to juggle.

Claiming Idaho as home, Thompson recalls growing up with juggling balls. While his mother sat visiting with her neighbors, 12-year-old Thompson rushed into the house and exclaimed that he had just juggled fire. With a family of five boys and Thompson being the youngest, his mother wasn’t surprised when he shared his new achievement.

“My mom’s friends were dumbstruck,” Thompson said.

His dad was a professional juggler and he quickly picked up the skill. In high school his senior all-night party was the sixth all-night party he’d attended. He had attended five parties before that, performing juggling acts with his father.

Though he is skilled in juggling, another passion seriously took over early on in his life: Film.

Leaning back in a chair at the rear of BYU library’s media computer lab, a place he frequents often to train students in video editing, Thompson related how a TV commercial sparked his interest at age 9.

Watching TV, he had just seen Utah Jazz basketball player Carl Malone playing on the court. Then during a break, Carl Malone appeared in a commercial.

“I was like, ‘what the crap?’” Thompson said.

He was astounded at how quickly Carl Malone had changed clothes and gone from the basketball court to the TV studio. He didn’t realize that the commercial was a prerecording.

“I was interested in how they did things,” he said.

That statement now drives his continuous efforts to produce high-quality motion-graphics and moving film productions. He currently works for BYU Broadcasting, doing video editing for many of the station’s commercials.

With a successful record of hard work, a passion for film--which includes a dream to get a film in the Sundance Film Festival--and a hidden juggling skill, Thompson is a “jack” of some interesting trades.

“I’m the full package,” he said.

Monday, September 15, 2008

H2go woos customers with fuel-efficiency

For an English essay, BYU student Tyler Camp wrote about fuel-efficient cars. That essay turned itself into a business venture. Camp now produces fuel-efficient units for vehicles in nearly half of the states.

His company, H2GO Enterprises, creates and installs units in cars capable of providing better fuel efficiency, even 10 added miles per gallon in some cars. It works by producing a gas from the separation of hydrogen and oxygen in water.

“This gas serves as a supplement to a vehicle's normal fuel source,” the company’s Web site said.

Although the technology isn’t completely innovative, Camp has made each unit affordable and easy to install.

“We decided to make it a company and make advancements to the product and make it more user-friendly for the population base,” Camp said.

The national average for the price of a gallon of gas is now at $3.95 and continues to rise. H2GO’s new system will help students save money on the increasing gas prices, Camp said.

“My Nissan Xterra sucks gas,” said Kristen Kmetzsch, a Utah Valley resident. “If it honestly will save gas money, then it’s always nice to try something new.”

Camp and his business partners, Anthony Johnson and Trevor Slade, who are also BYU students, want to make the system fit any student’s budget. Johnson also makes a lot of headway by selling the product on Ebay.

Despite its claim to better fuel-efficiency and lower emissions, the system still gives some concern to students.

“I wouldn’t want my horsepower or torque to be affected,” UVU student Gabe Thayn said.

Thayn was interested in the idea but also said he was somewhat indifferent in actually adding one to his car.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Local Pangea Day - May 10, 2008

On Saturday Utahns gathered in Park City to watch 24 short films created by international filmmakers and hear speeches by celebrities and world leaders broadcasted from Los Angeles during a film festival about bridging cultural boundaries.

“Stories are powerful, and if we are to understand one another … in our increasingly small world, we must listen to and learn from each other’s stories,” said Queen Noor of Jordan.

The 4-hour film festival, named Pangea Day after the prehistoric supercontinent, was headquartered in Los Angeles and broadcast to apartments, theaters and venues across the world in seven languages. Other main locations including Cairo, London, and Rio de Janeiro also broadcasted music, interviews, and films.

The films showed a variety of genres and settings such as the conditions or ideas in the Middle East and Africa. They also covered interviews with people from many countries about subjects such as happiness, sadness, and laughter.

Many members of small audience in Park City’s Eccles Center showed interest in the event and said their understanding was benefited from watching.

"We are really basically all the same," said Utah resident Elise Lazar.

The event idea was initiated by filmmaker, Jehane Noujaim, who received the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) prize which grants its winner $100,000 in an effort to fulfill “one wish to change the world.”

"How can films change the world?" said actress Cameron Diaz, "Well, they can't. But the people who watch them can."

A highlight of the event was a unison of beating drums from many different cultures, symbolizing the bridging of cultures into one heartbeat, said Mahtab Sohrevardi, who watched the event from the Park City theater.

Terri Orr, executive director of the Park City Performing Arts Festival planned the local broadcast after learning about Pangea Day during a TED Conference.

"It's time for us to start seeing possibilities instead of obstacles," said Orr.

Pangea Day was also a way to commemorate the Park City Eccles Center's 10th Year Anniversary, said Orr.

The Eccles Center was the only location in Utah that provided a public venue for the event.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fables to digest

The Wildebeest and the Tiger

A curious young wildebeest was roaming the Savannah amongst a slew of Zebras.

"How nice are the zebras," he thought, "so gentle and loving."

The wildebeest watched them band together and rear their young.

Later that day, the wildebeest met a tiger. He was puzzled by this new creature but then noticed the tiger's stripes.

"You have stripes! You must be nice like the zebras," said the wildebeest.

"Yes I am," said the tiger.

Suddenly the tiger pounced on the vulnerable wildebeest. That night the tiger had wildebeest stew for supper.

Don't stereotype.

The Elephant goes to the Waterhole

Once upon an African year there was a great big elephant. Many of the other animals spoke to him because he was so great.

One day as he was making his way to a new water hole, a little mouse ran up beside him. The elephant walked while the mouse ran.

"Make sure you walk on the right side of the great canopy tree," the mouse cautioned.

"I will have the biggest gulp of water from the water hole," thought the elephant, not listening to the mouse.

The mouse ran off. As the elephant neared the canopy tree, he stopped for a moment. He thought he had heard someone tell him about the canopy tree. He dismissed the thought and continued on the easier path to the left.

On the left side was a hidden mud pit and the elephant plunged deep into the mud until only his head and trunk was visible. He was stuck.


The Poor Chameleon

"Why can't I be colorful and beautiful like the parakeet?" thought the chameleon.

"Why can't I have a great home like the ant hill? The ants have such a palace."

"Why don't I have the thick brown fur like the chimpanzee?" He continued to question.

Just then, black clouds rolled in and began dumping water on the forest. The chimpanzee's thick fur was soaked and he was miserable. Then a bear, wandering through the forest stepped all over the ant hill, crushing the ants' life work.
Finally a sneaky panther leaped from a low branch, caught the parakeet, and gobbled him up.

The chameleon was oblivious. While camouflaged from panther and with rain drops rolling off his lizard skin, he sulked his way up a tree twig. Sigh.

Accept who you are.

The Rope Bridge

Once there was a great rope bridge over a large crevice in the jungle. Day by day, the animals used the bridge to cross from one side of the crevice to the other.

One day the rhino began to cross the bridge.

"Stop, stop!" yelled a little finch. "A thread broke in the rope!"

"No matter," thought the Rhino, "it's just a thread."

The rhino crossed the bridge safely, but in so doing, another tiny thread in the rope broke.
Finch was the only one who noticed.

Later on, Giraffe came up to the bridge.

"Stop, stop!" yelled Finch. "Now two threads have torn in the rope!" yelled little Finch.

"What can two little threads do?" said Giraffe.

Giraffe crossed the bridge safely, but his weight snapped another thread.

Then Lion came roaring up to the bridge.

"Stop, stop!" yelled Finch. "Three threads in the rope have broken. It's too dangerous!"

"What can three threads do to such a strong bridge?" said Lion.

He walked speedily across the bridge but tripped. The momentum from his fall caused the left-side rope to snap--then the right-side rope snapped. Suddenly Lion was plunging down into the great river below the crevice. As he came bobbing to the top of the rapids, Finch came flying down. "Small broken threads mean a broken bridge," he said.

Small decisions can make a big difference

A Loafing Beetle

Once there was a beetle that was loafing along the bank of a stream.

He kindly asked a passing ant, "Will you fetch me some water?"

The ant, being overly generous, took a few steps to the stream, and scooped up some water for the beetle to drink. The beetle drank and the ant went on his way.

Then a gazelle strode up to the bank.

“Little beetle, will you bring me some water?” she asked.

“I am not your servant--get it yourself,” said the beetle.

The angered gazelle took one foot and squished the beetle.

Don't ask others to do something you will not do yourself.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Peace requires self-control

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites,in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity,in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption,in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.

- Edmund Burke, The works of Edmund Burke, vol. 4 (Waltham, Mass.: Little, Brown, 1866), pp. 51-52.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More than just an ice-cream flavor

After years of forward-thinking leadership, former BYU President Merrill J. Batemen was awarded one of his highest accomplishments: a concoction of almonds, berries and chocolate ice cream was lovingly named by the BYU creamery, “Merrill’s ABCs.”

Now an emeritus General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Elder Bateman recalls what he envisioned when he started as BYU president.

“I saw the BYU of the future as a digitized campus in the sense that you would be able to access the materials in the library from your dorm,” said Elder Bateman.

Elder Bateman was in his 60s when serving as BYU president, but an old and experienced mind didn’t hold him back from modern thinking. Elder Bateman strongly influenced the technological advancements at BYU.

During his tenure, the University was ranked among the top 50 of Yahoo! Internet Life’s “Americas Most Wired Colleges.” BYU showed 100 percent of its dorms and 60 percent of its classrooms Internet wired.

It may be difficult to realize that Bateman’s early life began with a father who worked for a dairy and a mother who owned a beauty parlor. When he was only 12, his father was in a car accident that kept him out of work for 2 years. Bateman worked every night cleaning his mother’s beauty parlor, for it was the family’s only source of income.

“I really learned how to put a beauty shop back together.”

The hair styling and cosmetics industry, however, did not keep him from becoming an academic scholar. Elder Bateman went on to receive a Ph.D. in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He later became an executive for Mars Inc., which gave him an increased appreciation for Mars candy products.

“My kids always loved going to the Bateman’s house,” said neighbor Virginia Galland. “The Batemans stayed loyal to the Mars company where President Bateman worked and they always had a great supply of candy at their house.”

With an endearing legacy of hard work and progressive “sweet” thinking, it is only natural that an ice cream flavor be named after Elder Bateman.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Die Zauberflöte: It's Eventful Premiere

It was perhaps, complete chance that the small theater was filled that evening. The splendid chit-chatting, gossiping and discussions filled the room almost in a symphonic rumble. Silly, pompous women dressed in overly "clothy" gowns and roccoco jewelry whispered to eachother in the upper boxes. They seemed to cling to the late Baroque style in their prided attitudes and overemphasized fashion. A night at the theater meant a night of sociality, where one could interact with the elegant and highly cultured class of Vienna. It also meant a night of social competition.

The scarlet carpet seemed to wave in the candlelight that evening. Wax candles flooded the simple chandelier hanging over the center chairs. The air above bended and skewed as the heat rose and cast its waxy paste on the ceiling. The room was pleasant, although a little warm. Late September wasn’t usually so hot and stuffy as it was today.

Freihaustheater auf der Wieden was situated a little out of town in the suburb of Vienna. It happened to be south of Karlskirche in a lovely neighborhood. Affluence found itself plentiful in the area with the Palace and Gardens of Belvedere only a few blocks to the east. However, the theater was extraordinarily modest in comparison with the Kärntnertor Theater situated within the city walls. Nevertheless, the theater was a hopeful business venture and after tonight it would boom with success. Emanuel Schikaneder was the owner, he being somewhat of a progressive "Renaissance Man." He was, after all, a playwright, a singer, an actor, and an accomplished musician. His most recent collaberation with the lively Wolfgang Amadeaus Mozart on tonight‘s production would be the highlight of his artistic business career.

The sound of conversations began to hush as the stage curtain ruffled as someone was trying to find the opening to come forward. It was Schikaneder, he being a bit short but with a confident posture. He was dressed professionally in a long black coat. He spoke in good Court German, "Ladies and Gentlemen. I welcome you this evening to our new creation of The Magic Flute, written by myself and composed by Mr. Wolfgang Mozart! Please enjoy the performance." There was a little commotion as a small man dressed in a "crimson pelisse and gold-laced cocked hat" (Kelly) entered the pit from the side and sat down at the harpsichord. According to the hushed whispers from the audience, his reputation was not small, and it wasn’t entirely positive either. Niemetschek would later write of him, "there was nothing special about [his] physique ... He was small and his countenance, except for his large intense eyes, gave no signs of his genius." Indeed, his eyes showed feeling. They looked as if there was an influx of passion buried under hopelessness, anxiety and pain.

Nevertheless, Wolfgang Amadeaus Mozart showed a bright grin of excitement. He quickly straightened his cuffs and arranged his sheet music over the harpsichord. Mozart was more comfortable conducting his music while playing from the harpsichord. In fact, Viennese audiences knew of Mozart’s genius perhaps more from his performances rather than his compositions. Gentle applause engaged the moment as Schikaneder receded back behind the curtain. The weak candlelight of the theater cast yellow shades down onto the pit orchestra. Then silence. As Wolfgang gave a sharp wave of his hand, the curtains suddenly burst open. Music exploded into a frightening crescendo while onstage an enourmous snake bending with mechanical parts began moving back and forth over a helpless victim, Tamino. Yelps of fright from the Bourgeois women sounded behind Mozart which only caused him to smile with pleasure.

He continued to conduct with such vigor and emotion despite his slight illness. While in Prague on September 6th he had contracted symptons of fatigue, headaches, fevers, and discomfort. Tonight, September 30th, he was feeling slight exhaustion but this Premiere of his creative music was far more important. For Mozart, there was never enough time for trivial personal upkeep. His music was his life, and he wrote, played and conducted at every instant that time allowed. Sadly, his health became victim to his genius musical projects.

The performance continued as Tamino sunk in despair. After Tamino had passed out, three elaborately dressed women came to the scene and destroyed the menacing snake,. When the mystical ladies departed, a strange looking man bounced onto the stage. He was dressed in all manner of green and yellow feathers from he knees to the top of his head. His voice was powerful and his mannerisms were loftily comical. He carried a small wooden panpipe that he blew during short rests from the orchestra. The still enthused conductor directed his hands like he was moving a puppet—light and snappy.

A closer look at this befeathered friend revealed to viewers that he was Mr. Schikaneder himself. He had decided to show off his musical gifts by placing himself in one of the leading roles of his own libretto.

It seemed Papageno was the typical Viennese "Hanswurst." Schikaneder was always fond of the "Hanswurst" role, of which his own personality matched so perfectly. "Hanswurst" was a carnal man, not wholly selfish, but often ignorant of others. He was the pleasant comical relief that lended a lighter feeling to opera. Playing Papageno, Schikaneder would gain so much fame in the next few months that he later had a sculpture of Papageno placed over the doors of his new theater, Theater an der Wien, which he built closer to the city.

In an effort to frighten Tamino, Papageno spoke of his great strength and power. This popular "Singspiel," in which dialogue was spoken rather than sung at breaks in the score, was not a new idea to Mozart. "So you've killed the Snake. I thank you," said Tamino after he had awakened. "Snake!" yelped Papageno in fright, "Is it dead or alive?" Humorous irony played a big role in Schikaneder's libretto. He was rather proud of it in fact. A mumbled snicker filtered through the audience. Of course Papageno was quick to take credit for the death of the snake. This did him no good however, when the three ladies returned and rebuked Papageno for lying. As a punishment, they clasped his lips together with a padlock. The three magical ladies then spoke to the handsome prince Tamino and told him of the beautiful Pamina of whom they showed a painting. Typical of Italian and Viennese Opera, the main character, Tamino, immediately fell in love with the beautiful lady. Consequently, he was charged with a quest to retrieve Pamina from the deadly grasp of Sarastro. Only then would she be Tamino's to love.

The guest of highest nobility who was in attendance of this evening’s performance was the emperor himself, Leopold II. He was a conservative man but ideally moderate. His brother Joseph II, who had died just a year earlier, was overly conservative and a radical reformer. He would have displayed his dislike for such a simple problem as the wasteful use of candles in the theater. In his life, he had gone so far as to cut down the amount of candles used during Sunday Mass. Leopold was somewhat different. He was a man of the people, coming from Tuscany, and having an interest in realistic reforms. The Emperor spoke his mind occasionally in private, but he always showed a pre-made standardized smile which he wore to all public occasions. Only after a few scenes, he leaned over to the empress in their elaborately gilded box and whispered, "Delightfully childish. I must assume that this is to be expected with a Singspiel at Freihaustheather."

Leopold was not deeply acquainted with Mozart but he did recall the gossip from the court about the genius: that he was immature and with little capacity for deeper intelligent thought. A Biedermeier woman, Karoline Pichler noted after a few occasions in Mozart’s presence: "Mozart and Haydn, whom I knew well, were men in whose personal intercourse there was absolutely no other sign of unusual power of intellect and almost no trace of intellectual culture, nor of any scholarly or other higher interests. A rather ordinary turn of mind, silly jokes and in the case of the former, an irresponsible way of life, were all that distinguished them in society; and yet what depths, what worlds of fantasy, harmony, melody and feeling lay concealed behind this unpromising exterior."

Although thought to be childish, the opera was a concoction of ideas presented in the popular fairy tales of the time. In fact, three other theaters in Vienna were playing shows with fairy tale settings. A rival theater closer to downtown was playing The Magic Zither at the same time that Schikaneder was writing the libretto. Because of this, he completely reworked the plot even after he had already finished the story. Mozart also realized the fact that there was intense competition surrounding fairy tale operas. He composed fantastically technical vocal parts and dynamic love songs to counter his contemporaries.

From the back of the stage, the Lady of the Night descended the pyramidal staircase crying out with her piercing soprano voice. She was a tiny lady with a bulging dress shining in a midnight blue. It was Josefa Hofer, Mozart’s sister-in-law. He had taken the opportunity to write the score with Josefa in mind for the queen’s part. Hers was the most technical of arias and she achieved near flawlessness in her performance. Mozart looked into the eyes of Josefa and widened his eyes with anticipation. He intensely mouthed out the words for her, almost pleading for a perfect performance. Smiles and nods were seen throughout the audience. She had received a Viennese approval.

The Queen was portrayed as good and powerful, with a longing for her kidnapped daughter, Pamina. After an exchange of words, Tamino accepted the challenge while Papageno was forced into it. To help them on their quest, Tamino was given a magic flute and Papageno, magic bells.

The production continued. Papageno in his innocent curiosity, bumped into Pamina’s keeper, Monostatos. They both jumped back, frightened by each other’s appearance. Monostatos was a black man, Papageno a bird man. Schikaneder’s ideas of black men became very prevalent in Papageno’s line: "Hu! that is the devil, certainly." This very line was reiterated by Monostatos concerning Papageno. Then Papageno thought to himself, "there are black birds, why not black men!" Surely, this was hilarious. The laughter that filled the theater typified the racial ideas of 1790.

Johann Georg Metzler (Giesecke) was also present during the performance. He had spent much time backstage for the first few scenes but crept though the back theater doors to get a glimpse of the stage. He reflected how he had collaborated with Schikaneder and Mozart to write the Magic Flute. The three had met at the New Crown Freemason Lodge in Vienna. He remembered the triteness of Mozart’s thinking—how the young man had joined not for religious or pious reasons, but to enjoy the festive evenings with a close "brotherhood"—for that is what the Masons were. It was Schikaneder who originally came up the idea for Magic Flute. He was looking for a project that would boost his ticket sales of his failing theater. Giesecke actually wrote most of the libretto but he didn’t find it important to take credit. After seeing such positive reactions from the audience he realized his error of not taking credit. Years later, after Schikaneder’s death he would claim to be the chief mastermind in the creation of The Magic Flute.

Because the three men were members of the free masons, the opera was heavily influenced with Masonic principles. The spectators of the performance soon learned that the supposedly evil Sarastro was actually the wise and just ruler of the people. It was, in fact, the Queen who was portrayed as evil. Sarastro marched into the temple hall, (the set had now changed) tall and confident. His subjects praised him in powerfully majestic song. Mozart’s music showed his feelings for the ideals of a wise, male, leader. He sang of how love, virtue, and justice were of utmost importance. He also shared the idea that righteous people can create a "heavenly kingdom on earth."

Another example of Masonic influence would be seen near the end of the Singspiel, when Pamina and Tamino, together, would have to face dangerous trials of stamina and wit. Only then they would be able to be united and intiated among the Gods.

Despite Leopold II‘s continuous smile, he now showed distaste for the opera. His mother, Maria Theresa was especially against the Masons in Vienna. She had even tried to ban them from the city. Mozart and Schikaneder realized the Habsburg’s religious intolerability. Rumour had it that the Queen of the Night was a portrayal of Maria Theresa, while the wise Sarastro was Ignaz von Born, an intelligent and high ranking Mason known by the authors. "Knowing that the Masons [were] soon to be outlawed in Vienna, Mozart realize[d] that The Magic Flute [was] his last chance to ensure that his esoteric knowledge gained through Freemasonry reache[d] the rest of continental Europe" (Guarnere).

Mozart continued to lead the performance although he grew increasingly exhausted. Beads of sweat ran down his face after he had already taken off his coat. His motions became more and more uncoordinated. Finally in the middle of Papageno’s prime performance near the end, Mozart’s eyes went blank and he collapsed on the bench. A gasp was heard throughout the audience. The orchestra abruptly stopped and Schikaneder showed a face of humiliation that his song had been cut. Then he realized that his composer was unconcious. He quickly ran to the foot of the stage yelling, "Wolfgang, Wolfgang!" A violinist knelt down and lifted Mozart’s head which was dangling off the harpsichord bench. "He’s passed out!" he informed Schikaneder.

. . . . . . .

Despite its rough premiere, The Magic Flute became one of the greatest operas of its time. It was shown over 100 times even during Mozart’s life. Little did Mozart know that it would stand as the chief example of German Opera.

Only ten weeks after the premiere, Mozart died having not completed his own funeral march, the Requiem. He died penniless and with a weak reputation. He was buried in a mass grave in Vienna with a reusable coffin—something that had been instituted by Joseph II.

Many speculate the cause of his death. Some say it was Salieri, Mozart’s rival. After the performance of The Magic Flute, however, Mozart said of Salieri: "He heard and saw with all his attention, and from the overture to the last choir there was no piece that didn't elicit a bravo or bello out of him [...]." Some also speculated that some of the members of the Mason lodge were involved with Mozart’s death for he had revealed some of the Mason rituals in the opera. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a mason himself who also attended the performance said, "It is enough that the crowd would find pleasure in seeing the spectacle; at the same time, its high significance will not escape the initiates."

It is of little importance to know how Mozart died. Let be known though, that despite Mozart’s depression, an expression of optimism and love was felt in the powerful music of The Magic Flute. Beethoven claimed that The Magic Flute was Mozart’s greatest work "for here he has shown himself a German master." Wagner remarked, "What versatility, what diversity...indeed, this genius has taken almost too gigantic a step, for in creating German opera he at the same time fashioned a perfect, masterly example of the genre, impossible to improve on, so that this genre can no longer be extended or continued."

I have written a narrative in an effort to provide the reader with a clear picture of the actual premiere of The Magic Flute. Much of background in the story is well researched and documented with thoughts by those who actually witnessed the opera during Mozart’s time. I wanted to provide readers also with a bit of personality of a few of the characters namely, Mozart and Schikaneder. There are a few fictional events in the story that I incorporated to help the reader experience the time period. (1) Leopold II would probably not have been in attendance at such a unimportant theater. He would only have attended operas in the court theater. (2) Mozart did not collapse during the premiere of Magic Flute, although he was already somewhat ill. Nevertheless, in the Academy Award Winning film "Amadeaus," the screenwriters took the liberty of having Mozart faint as to further the story of the rival between Salieri and Mozart.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

M & M's - My Ethnographical Observation

I don't usually purchase sweets, for as a college student, my finances are low and I don't spend money on such temporary items. However, last night, on my way out of town I decided to stop by “Media Play” for a CD I wanted to buy for my Father's Birthday. I also remembered that "Media Play" was no longer "Media Play." I drove down University to check anyway. There in its place was a store with the title--in big letters over a blue background—“F .Y.E.” I understood that F.Y.I. means “For Your Information”—and after seeing “books, music” underneath the title—I quickly made the assumption: “For Your Entertainment.”

It was late—about 9:50 pm when I walked in. Consequently, I was tired and hoping to get in and out fast. The store was a bit ominous, much the same as Media Play had been. It was a classical CD I was considering buying. As soon as I made it to the music section at the rear of the store, the overhead fluorescent lights began turning off—signaling that the store was soon to close for the night. I began frantically fumbling through the CD's. I spent nearly 10 minutes looking for the popular album I wanted. The store was nearly empty and no one came to help or look up the album to see if they carried it. I finally gave up, feeling I had failed in my task of Father-Gift-Finding. Walking back down the main aisle, I ran into two employees, one after another, who asked if they could help because "the last cashier is about to close up." "No. I'm fine." I said it rather dejectedly, thinking on how I could have used their help while I was searching for the album. As I walked back I stopped twice, both times because I had seen two tables which bolstered cheap prices on used DVD's. I checked prices (something I always do before fully investigating a product). Of course, I had no intention of buying unless I had found one of my favorite movies.

Just as I was about to exit, I checked the stands in front of the cash register lines. I knew from prior experience that even though this wasn't a grocery or candy store, almost all retail stores had an "impulse buy" section with the standard candies: Mars Company candies, Hershey Company candies, and a few other varieties. There I found Peanut M&M's at a higher level than the plain M&M's which were on the bottom shelf. They were in a yellow box with the catch phrase, "tear and share." I usually check prices, but I had already made up my mind that I was going to buy the product (having been influenced heavily by this class). The cashier was jovial and conveniently didn't bag the M&M's. The M&M's were delicious. Five minutes after leaving the store, I had finished them. I was again reminded of their quality taste.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

War-talk heightens

As political conventions loom closer, BYU students are becoming increasingly aware of the political debates about Iraq War solutions presented by presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama.

The current debate lies on whether congressmen should pull troops out or continue deployments.

Andrew Frick, a student from Pennsylvania said he is “pro-anti-war.”

“I’m against war. War is motivated out of personal gain,” said Frick. “I’m pro-change but not extreme change.”

Frick said that he is more liberal than most BYU students and that a solid opinion on a solution is difficult to make because of the lack of information.

McCain says it is necessary to keep troops in Iraq until the civil war between the Shiites and Sunnis can be stopped and a political calm can settle.

“Unfortunately, they’re so childish that they need referees right now,” said BYU junior Tyler Camp.

Troops need to stay in Iraq until no further progress can be made, said Camp.

The American public continues to be split on their opinions of solutions to the Iraq War. Other politicians have presented many varying solutions, besides those of McCain and Obama. Some students remain undecided on the issue.

“If we pull out, we lose,” said Camp. “If we stay, we lose.”

Senator Obama presented his plan in January 2007 to de-escalate war with phased redeployment.

"The American people have been asked to be patient too many times, too many lives have been lost and too many billions have been spent," Obama was reported to have said on

Many students serve in the military or have relatives who serve in the military. Soldiers have reported that the military is still needed in Iraq, said UVU student Kristen Kmetzsch.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Photography Ethics

Photography ethics

1. Define Ethics

2. Photographic manipulation is ethical

1. In some instances it is more real

2. Artistic (photography is only another art form)

3. Better for the bottom line, (ethics is the accepted policies of the professional public)

1. Creates emotional appeal

4. Unethical claim is a fallacy. Any media is not a true representation, nor will it ever be.

3. Photographic manipulation is unethical

1. Deceit is unethical among most people

2. Bad for the bottom line (discredits papers, lose trust of readers)

Photo manipulation is a controversial documentation/art method that has been circulating ever since the invention of the camera in the early 1800’s. Photo manipulation is the process of using traditional means such as the dark room, and more modern means such as PhotoShop to alter an image or video in any way. As developments in technology increase exponentially, it has become important for organizations and professionals to establish ethical boundaries—especially when the playing field is the news media.

Where are these boundaries? The issue is very heated and, generally, informed individuals have widely differing opinions on the matter. Most will come to the point that photo manipulation is acceptable only in certain instances.

A definition of ethics is worthy of noting: “the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture” ( In the corporate world, photo manipulation usually yields a better bottom line. If an enhanced and exciting photo has greater attention-getting value than a dull shot, obviously, newspaper agencies and news broadcasters will swing towards the former. Many executives believe the general public is duly informed and can tell when a photo is manipulated. They base their decisions on the fact that viewers want to be wooed or shocked. In order to show an attractive cover, Newsweek plastered a smiling head of Martha Stewart on a thin body coming through yellow curtains. The photo was supposed to represent Martha’s imminent release from prison. Unfortunately, the photo brought heavy criticism against Newsweek for ethics in photo manipulation. A caption read “Photo illustration by Michael Elins ... head shot by Marc Bryan-Brown" ( In defense, Newsweek claimed the photo was an illustration, just as the caption read ( Was the image particularly unethical? In a world where consumers are constantly bombarded by modified images, consumers and executives have become increasingly more accepting of these images. Thus, returning to the definition of ethics, photo manipulation in many instances is an ethical procedure, because it is widely “recognized” among the American culture.

Photo manipulation is often necessary to correct mistakes captured by the camera. The human eye can record light in a “ten-million-to-one range” while photography can only capture light in a “hundred-to-one brightness range” (Brower) Because of this problem, one cannot rely wholly upon a single image for an accurate view of reality. Certain areas of a photograph may also lack in color or contrast or even be distorted by wide-angle or telephoto lenses. Manipulation can thus be a means to bring a photograph closer to reality.

Jerry Lodriguss, an Astronomical Photographer, said, “The fundamental fact that we usually forget is that when we take a picture we do not make a perfectly objective recording of reality. What we make is an interpretation of reality” ( Those who criticize photo manipulation on the grounds that it produces fictional images, must understand that there has yet to be invented a type of media that can portray absolute reality. On that same token, even the way our eyes view the world differ from person to person. Therefore, a certain characteristic like the color green, which is viewed as reality to one individual, may be slightly different to another.

On the converse side of this issue, photo manipulation in many cases, is deceitful. American culture accepts lying as unethical. The National Press Photographers Association states simply, “As journalists we believe the guiding principle of our profession is accuracy; therefore, we believe it is wrong to alter the content of a photograph in any way that deceives the public” (

Those who use photo manipulation in advertising and in the news often have personal agendas in mind. It is in their best interest to hide or distort truth in order to accomplish such goals as increased subscription, viewer ship or product sales. One example is when CBS used a real-time image modification system to display the CBS logo all over New York City, often in place of the NBC logo ( This kind of manipulation presents a reality that is not true for an actual visitor to Manhattan.

Unethical photo manipulation can cause dangerous repercussions. Because technology has allowed photo manipulation to become seemingly realistic, leaders in government and corporate positions can make highly influential or drastic decisions based on falsified information. In an article by Ivan Amato, Professor James Currie was quoted: “‘Every office you go into at the Pentagon has CNN on.’” Amato went further, “And that means, he says, that a government, terrorist or advocacy group could set geopolitical events in motion on the strength of a few hours’ worth of credibility achieved by distributing a snippet of well-doctored video” (

Photo manipulation is unethical because it eventually leads to a loss in credibility. Photojournalist Allan Detrich resigned after being investigated for photo manipulation in his work for the Blade. He had added or deleted certain parts of 79 photos that year. Detrich’s credibility plummeted, even though much of his work had received awards for exceptional photojournalism ( Photo manipulation, for whatever the intent, can be very costly to an organization’s credibility.

Farid, Henry (2008). Photo Tampering Throughout History. Retrieved April 9, 2008, from

National Press Photographers Association (March 9, 2005). NPPA Calls Newsweek's Martha Stewart Cover “A Major Ethical Breach.” Retrieved April 9, 2008, from

Brower, Kenneth (May 1998). Photography in the age of falsification. The Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved April 8, 2008, from

Lodriguss, Jerrry. Catching the light: ethics of digital manipulation. Retrieved April 8, 2008, from

National Press Photographers Association (1991). Digital Manipulation Code of Ethics. Retrieved April 9, 2008, from

Blade Editor: Detrich Submitted 79 Altered Photos This Year

Amato, Ivan (August 2000). Lying with Pixels

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Search Engine Optimization: Local businesses must adapt

Getting a listing in the phone book or putting ads in the local newspaper may not be as effective for business in coming years.

BYU students are using the web now more than ever and Utah County businesses have become increasingly aware of the need to go online to take advantage of the ever-increasing use of the internet.

“The rising generation isn't looking in the phone book,” said Dave Bascom, CEO of, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, works with its clients to increase traffic to their websites. Bascom, a BYU alumni, began his career working for by promoting increased web traffic to many of Utah's hotels and resorts. He later became successful after launching which changed its name to over a year ago.

“Companies that aren't online are missing out to their competition,” Bascom said.

Many BYU students can be seen out on the grass or in the eatery using laptops surfing the internet. The 10 open-access computer labs are often filled to capacity with students, especially during the fall and winter semesters. Students must use the internet to register for classes, check grades, take quizzes and look up class assignments. This only lends to the fact that students are beginning to use the internet more frequently to look up businesses and product information.

“I haven't used a phone book in years, because you just look up phone numbers even on the internet,” BYU student Tyler Smith said. “Why would I go to the yellow pages when I can go to the internet?”, which now provides service to many national companies, has also helped many local businesses to find added traffic, which have led to increased profits.

“Even localized businesses should have a web presence,” Bascom said.

Cascade Collision, a client of, has received much of its business from its website. The Orem based auto body repair shop, which has no need of catering to a national audience, will appear on Google after any user searches for “Utah Auto Body Repair,” which is what local residents would search for, Bascom said.

“We are getting more often that someone will say they found us on the web,” said Brian Nichols, owner of Cascade Collision.

Nichols said he has received a lot of added benefit from having a marketing plan that involves the web. Many customers have not only found the company by searching online, but they have also been able to learn about Cascade's processes for collision repair in order to make informed decisions on whether to use their services. This information has yielded positive results, Nichols said.

Nichols has also kept the student market in mind as he's emphasized the use of the internet for the company.

“Generally, college students are internet savvy,” he said.

Web development professionals say that for local businesses, like those in Utah County, it can be difficult to compete with some of the larger national companies that offer similar products.

“I just think it's getting pretty tricky to get these natural search results to the top of the page,” said Garry Scoville, Director of IT at Magellan Health. “The average small company can't afford to do it.”

There are many marketing opportunities for small businesses that can't afford SEO services, Bascom said. He advises small local businesses to put their business information in the free local Yahoo and Google listings. One other cost-effective online marketing option is pay-per-click advertising, Bascom said.

Pay-per-click advertising allows marketers to put ads online and only pay whenever a user clicks on one of their ads. Scoville also agreed that a pay-per-click campaign would be the most effective method of marketing online for local businesses because the advertiser will only pay for actual results of real visitors.

The increased use of the internet doesn't necessarily mean an increase of consumers actually buying products online. Many students and Utah County residents simply use the internet to find store locations, product availability and to learn about products and services.

“I wanted to buy an external hard drive so I looked it up first,” Smith said. “I haven't bought anything over the internet recently, I usually go research it and go buy it at the store.”

The internet lets users easily look up product reviews by customers who had already purchased that product. always has a list of reviews for its products. Usually these reviews are based on a five-star rating. This kind of information is not found in stores or in the phone book.

“I won't necessarily buy from the internet a lot just because its too tempting to buy a lot,” BYU student Ben Thompson said, “but I'll do a lot of research on it--look at reviews and stuff.”

The internet also offers a wide variety of discussion forums for users to rave or condemn certain products or companies. In this way the internet promotes better business practices. Any act of scandal or disservice by a company will eventually find itself online and available to the public.

Some people can still be wary of using the internet for fear of releasing their personal information to spammers or identity thieves. In the near future, there should be more secure ways of buying things online, BYU student Anne Ricks said.

There are many added benefits for businesses to have a website beyond marketing.

“The web is great because it provides a store that people can go see with out having any employees,” BYU student Chris London said.

London is a self-taught programmer who has worked for many web development firms including Provo based Heritage Web Solutions. He currently works in Orem for a company that builds websites for national clients, principally law firms.

The internet saves business owners time and money. It allows customers to browse products at any time, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, London said.

London hopes to own an online business that will require very little of his attention.

“Every small business will have to be on the internet in 20 years in order to survive,” London said.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"Lamanite Daughters" - Minerva Teichert

Minerva Teichert’s painting “Lamanite Daughters” exhibits profound movement and excitement coupled with vibrant color. With a broad spectrum of Teichert’s Book of Mormon work, one can readily tell she was heavily influenced by Art Nouveau – with her expressive and stylized curvilinear figures. One can’t but help to critique realistic and historical qualities in her work. However, it is important to note that she was very imaginative and she was secluded on ranch in Wyoming. We as viewers must learn to appreciate her work, not for its historical accuracy, but for its power in story-telling and evoking emotion. I don’t think Teichert readily declared her paintings to be perfect documentaries of the Book of Mormon time period.

The setting is in a lush green tropical forest with exotic looking plants surrounding a river opening. The Lamanite women in this piece are moving gleefully by the river. Their dark skin is offset by brilliant white dresses which look more typical of the early 1900’s rather than an ancient American people. They carry strings of scarlet red flowers. Their gestures and poses seem somewhat staged as if they stood together in a studio or in a pageant.

Perhaps Teichert took to heart the mentioning of the beautiful and “fair” daughters of the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon text. Rather than an often ignorant and immoral persona that comes across as Lamanites, Teichert glorifies their beauty and innocence. She recognized the importance of womanhood, and painted these Lamanite daughters as joyful and confident.

It is assumed that this setting precedes the horrible kidnappings that occurred by the hands of the wicked priests of Noah. I felt that Teichert exemplified virtue in this piece. The white dresses and red flowers all exemplify this principle. Teichert focused on the preciousness and frailness of human virtue, by sharply contrasting it, figuratively, with the unfortunate onslaught which was about to take place. That oncoming event would destroy such virtue which Moroni described later as “most dear and precious above all things” (Mor. 9:9).

Although Teichert’s work seems isolated from scholarly perspectives, her true beliefs—strengthened by her feminine personality and exuberant imagination—shine forth through this painting. I believe in some way that that kind of work which shows inner faith is more true to life than work which merely stays realistically accurate. This is the great power of expressive art.