This "hands-on" is in the form of what we call a personal testimony.

My personal ideas and interpretations.

I hope it's useful. If not, I hope you'll forgive me for wasting your time.


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Getting Different Answers to Prayer

Something I've learned as a Mormon is that two people can ask what is apparently the same question and get different answers, and both be getting them from God. They may use the exact same words, and still get different answers.

Let's look at a few examples.

One person with ovarian cancer asks God what to do, and God tells her to have surgery and chemotherapy. Another person with ovarian cancer asks God what to do, and God tells her to change her diet.

Both end up getting well.

Okay, let's throw a third woman into the mix. She has the same problem, gets her answer from God, and she follows it and dies.

Some people will argue that this is proof that there is no God.

No two women are the same. The first appears to have been in a health situation where she needed to have the surgery. The second appears to have been in a health situation such that changing her diet removed the causal mechanisms of the cancer. The third appears to have been in a situation where God wanted her to return to her heavenly home. Maybe she needed to do things for her family over there that she couldn't do here.

Logically speaking, the above paragraph is hypothesis.

Facts: There are women who have had surgery and been healed. There are women who have changed their diet and been healed. And there are women who have taken other paths and been healed.

And there are woman who have not been healed.

We do not know all the causal relationships. And we most definitely do not have access to God's mind as to why certain people die while others live, at least not in every case. Not in very many cases at all.

At best, we can sometimes get a glimpse of God's mind and will towards us in cases which involve us or people close to us.

The point is that we are all different. We should not expect to have the same experiences. We should not expect the exact same answers when we pray.

Another well-known example is when a guy prays about a certain girl and gets revelation that he should marry her. But she prays and gets revelation that she should not marry him.

He does not know her situation perfectly, nor does he know all of her needs and wants. It may well be that, given his needs and wants and what he knows of her, she would be right for him. And yet it may at the same time be that, given her needs and wants, he would be wrong for her.

Thus, different answers. They seem to be asking the same question, but they are not.

Let's try another example. Two people pray about the truth of a certain book of scripture, say the Book of Mormon. One receives an answer that he should read it and learn truth from it. The other receives an answer that he should not read it.

Now, I can't say that both are getting answers from God, but I have learned that I also can't say neither is. Nor can I say that either is not.

How can this be? Either the book is true or it isn't.

Well, a person who, for reasons we may or may not know, reads passages such as 3 Nephi 12: 48 (Matthew 5: 48 -- "Be ye therefore perfect, ....") and simply can't see any other course but straight A-plusses at school, a mission to Russia where he converts and baptizes Putin, and marriage in the temple to a former Victoria's Secret model, might have reason to think twice about reading the Book of Mormon.

Or, especially, if he reads about Ammon defending Lamoni's flocks (Alma 17) and thinks it means he should run around at work or at the store with a sword.

On another hand, when I started reading the Book of Mormon, every time I read the word "repent", I thought the Lord was accusing me of being evil for not being perfect. But after five years of regularly reading it, I figured out that my understanding of perfection was as wrong as my interpretation of the intent of the call to repentance. That is to say, I quit thinking that I had to meet yesterday's arbitrary ideals yesterday.

I found truth in the Book of Mormon through reading it.

Sure, my answer was to read it in spite of my improper interpretations.

Others may have different paths to the truth, paths that require them to believe for a time that the Book of Mormon, as they understand it, is false. That does not seem to me to be a permanent problem.

It is far more important for each person, as an individual, to come to trust God, to understand that He wants us each to receive as much happiness (and truth) as we, as individuals, are willing to receive.

Now, we should not be surprised if we get similar answers to those others get, but we really should not be surprised to get different answers.

And it would help all concerned if we were more supportive of each other in seeking truth, even when we get different answers.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Vocabulary and Grammar from the Sacrament

Japanese vocabulary and grammar for the ordinance of the Sacramental blessing of the bread:

永遠 (えいえん= e.i-e.n) : eternity

の (no) : genetive particle, like "of", but post-position instead of pre-position.

永遠の (eien-no) : of eternity => eternal

父 (ちち=chi.chi) : father

なる (na-ru) : be, become

父なる(chichi-naru) : father (adjective, from "being father")

神 (かみ = kami) : god (god/angel/spirit/intelligence)

父なる神 (Chichi-naru Kami) : God, the Father

よ (yo) : directive/directional particle, like "to", but post-position

神よ (Kami yo) : "(Hey,) God!"; "Oh God, ..." -- addressing God

永遠の父なる神よ (eien-no chichi-naru kami yo) : "Oh, God, the Eternal Father"

私 (わたし = watashi) : I, me (Also pronounced "watakushi" (masculine) and "atasi" (feminine).)

私達 (わたしたち = watashi-tachi) : we, us (those who are in the same class/group as me)

は (ha => "wa") : topical particle (post-position) (Pronounced as "wa" when used as particle.)

私達は (watashi-tachi wa) : we (grammatical subject form, sort-of)

子 (こ = ko) : child

御子 (おんこ = On-ko) : (honorific child =>) the Son

イエス ( : Jesus

キリスト ( : Christ

名 (な = na) : name

御名 (みな = Mi-na) : honorific name

に (ni) : indicative particle (in, through, by, of, for) (post-position)

による (ni yo-ru) : to be through, in, or by something (verbal)

によって (ni yo-t.te) : through (adverbal)

イエスキリストの御名によって (Iesu Kirisuto no Mi-na ni yotte) : ... in the name of Jesus Christ

貴方 (あなた = : you (honorific)

貴方に (anata ni) : you (grammatical object form), "to you"

願う (ねがう = : desire, wish, hope

求める (もとめる = : seek, desire

願い求める (nega-i-motome-ru) : seek/ask/request (a favor)

ます (ma-su) : increase (polite ending of verbs)

わたしたちは御子イエス・キリストの御名によってあなたに願い求めます (watashi-tachi wa On-ko Iesu Kirisuto no Mi-na ni yotte anata ni nega-i-moto-me-masu) : "... we ask (thee) in the name of (thy) Son, Jesus Christ ...".
(Note that "Anata" here can be ambiguous, applying to someone of higher rank/class, or, as in the case of a wife, to a close familiar of higher rank such as a husband. It is not, however, the general familiar that "thee" was when the Bible was first translated to English.)

この ( : this (adjective)

パン (pa.n) : bread (via Portuguese)

を (wo => "o") : objective particle (post-position) (The "w" is almost never pronounced.)

頂く (いただく = i.ta.da-ku) : partake (receive) (Used especially with food, but not limited to food. Often used in polite grammar. The set phrase, 「いただきます。」 ("Itadakimasu.") is often spoken before eating a meal to express gratitude for the food -- both specific and abstract.)

このパンを頂く (pan-wo itada-ku) : partake of this bread (May be used to modify the following noun or noun-phrase.)

全て (すべて = : all, a complete set

全ての (subete-no) : all (of something)

人 (ひと = : person

人々 (ひとびと = hito-bito) : people

が (が = ga) : true subjective particle (post-position)

このパンを頂く全ての人々が (kono pan wo itada-ku subete-no hito-bito ga) : "All (people) who partake of this bread" (Constructed as the subject of the sentence.)

体 (からだ = ka.ra.da) : body

記念 (きねん = : memorial

御子の体の記念に (Onko no karada no kinen ni) : "... in remembrance of the body of (thy) Son ..."

これ ( : this (noun)

頂ける (いただける = : can be partaken

ように (yo.u-ni) : in some way, "that"

これを頂けるように (kore wo itada-keru yō-ni) : that (they) may partake

御子の体の記念にこれを頂けるように (On-ko no karada no kinen ni kore wo itada-keru yō-ni) : " "... that (they) may (eat) in remembrance of the body of (thy) Son ..."

また (ma.ta) : and

進む (すすむ = : proceed, move forward

進んで ( : proceeding (adverb), moving forward => willingly

受ける (うける = u-keru) : receive, accept

進んで御子の御名を受け (susu-nde On-ko no Mi-na wo u-ke) : willingly (taking upon them) the name of (thy) Son => "... that (they) are willing to (take upon them) the name of (thy) Son,"

いつ (i.tsu) : when

いつも (i.tsu-mo) : whenever, at all times

覚える (おぼえる = : remember, recall

いつも御子を覚え (itsu-mo On-ko wo obo-e) : always remembering (thy) Son => "... that they do always remember Him,"

与える (あたえる = : give, present with (equal rank)

くださる ( : give (from higher rank to lower rank)

くださった (ku.da-sa.t.ta) : gave

戒める (いましめる = : command, order (verb)

戒め (imashi-me) : command(s) (noun) => commandment(s)

守る (まもる = : obey, protect, keep

こと ( : thing, that

御子が与えて下さった戒めを守ることを (On-ko ga ata-ete kuda-satta imashi-me wo mamo-ru koto wo) : that (they will) keep the commandments which (thy Son) gave them (Constructed as the object of the sentence.)

** Note that "koto wo" actually collects several phrases as objects through the grammatical construction, including the quasi gerund forms (obo-e, u-ke) and the word "mata".

証明 (しょうめい = sho.u-me.i) : proof, witness (noun)

証明する (しょうめいする = shōmei-suru) : witness (verb), testify

あなたに証明して (anata ni shōmei-shite) : witessing to (thee) => that (they may) witness unto (thee)

御霊 (みたま = : (the) spirit, the Holy Spirit

受けられる ( : to be received, can receive

いつも御子の御霊を受けられるように (itsu-mo Onko no Mitama wo u-kerareru yō-ni) : that (they) may always receive the Spirit of (thy) Son => "that they may always have (His) Spirit (with them)"

祝福 (しゅくふく = shu.ku.fu.ku) : blessing

祝福する (shukufuku-suru) : bless (verb)

清める (きよめる = : purify

聖める (きよめる = : sanctify

ください (ku.da-sa.i) : (Please.)

このパンを祝福し、聖めてください。 (kono pan wo shukufuku-shi, kiyo-mete kuda-sai.) : (Please) bless and sanctify this bread.

アーメン ( : amen

Additional Japanese vocabulary and grammar for the ordinance of the Sacramental blessing of the bread: 

水 (みず = mi.zu) : water

(Old kana: みづ。 Also, compare 湯 (ゆ = yu): hot water.)

For reference:
葡萄 (ぶどう = : grape
酒 (さけ = : (rice) wine
酒 (しゅ = shu) : distilled (alcoholic) spirits
葡萄酒 (ぶどうしゅ = budō-shu) : grape distillates, ergo, grape wine

この水を頂く全ての人々が (kono pan wo itada-ku subete-no hito-bito ga) : "All (people) who drink of this water" (Constructed as the subject of the sentence.)

為 (ため = : the good/sake (of), the cause (of), the benefit (of)

為に (ために = tame-ni) : for the sake/benefit of, because of

この人々のために (kono hito-bito no tame-ni) : for the sake of these people

流れる (ながれる = : flow (verb)

流す (ながす = : (cause to) flow, wash (verb, separate from "cleanse")

For reference:
洗う (あらう = a.ra-u) : wash, cleanse
洗い流す (ara-i naga-su) : wash clean

流される (ながされる = : be caused to flow, (honorific) cause to flow

血 (ち = chi) :

流された血 (naga-sareta chi) : blood which has been shed

この人々のために流された御子の血 (kono hito-bito no tame-ni naga-sareta On-ko no chi) : the blood of the Son, which was shed for these people => "the blood of (thy) Son which was shed for (them)"

覚えている (おぼえている = : be remembering

いつも御子を覚えていることを (itsu-mo On-ko wo obo-eteiru koto wo) : that (they) are always remembering the Son => "that (they) do always remember (Him)"

Note that, as in the English prayers, this uses vocabulary and grammar that would not ordinarily be used outside these prayers.

Hopefully, I will be able post a series of blogs that show how to say these kinds of things in ordinary prayers and conversation, later.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas?

There is a passage in the Doctrine and Covenants which has been interpreted as indicating that Jesus was actually born on the equivalent of April 6th. Many Church materials have been published which have accepted that interpretation.

Many modern Christian scholars have found reason to argue for a birth date in fall, perhaps in September, based on apparent references to Jewish festivals.

Why would there be any confusion? Isn't there a record?

As a matter of fact, the best we know at this point is that there was no record, nor was there any observance of his birthday during rhe first two hundred or so years of the primative Church. One could well wonder if Jesus would have preferred to avoid paganisms like celebrating the birth of God.

Somewhere in the second and third centuries, the Roman politicians felt a need to have such celebrations. And apparently there was some sentiment that it would be convenient if the birthday were close to the winter solstice festival of the birth of the sun. A Christian festival of the importance of the birth of the son of God, to replace the pagan festival, was deemed strategic.

They persuaded Churchmen to research the issue, and several were able to come up with a line of logic to place the Conception during spring, which would place the birth near winter solstice. Actual calculations varied a bit. But the convenience was undeniable. Thus, a bit at a time, the Christ Mass celebration of the Savior's birth near the day of the old birth of the sun celebration grew in importance.

So, maybe Christmas isn't really Jesus' birthday.

Does it matter?

Many (maybe most) Mormons who have investigated the question this far feel that it really doesn't matter that much. The celebrations which the Lord commands us to observe regularly to remember our Savior are participation in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, in which we renew our covenant of baptism, and our daily prayers.

Any other excuse to remember our Savior does not seem to need critical review. And if we can celebrate with our neighbors and use it as a good reason for talking about treating each other kindly and such, all the better.

So we who think this way celebrate Christmas in various ways. (And generally try to find ways to make it more than just a commercial reason to buy each other gifts.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Line upon Line

I have a friend, of the Evangelicals, who questions me on the validity of 2nd Nephi 28: 30:

I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, ...; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; ....

His thesis was that 2nd Timothy 3: 7, in describing the unrighteousness among men in the last days, includes this trait:

... Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

which would seem to foreclose the concept of learning by degrees.

Now this good man knows Isaiah 55: 8, 9:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

He is not asserting that the principles of godliness can be suddenly comprehended so completely that a mortal man would have no further need to learn. His contention is that Mormons, comforting themselves in 2nd Nephi 28: 30, have in general cut themselves off from the confession of faith and the knowledge of salvation.

And I must acknowledge that sometimes we behave as if his accusation is true.

We sometimes forget our first four Articles of Faith:

1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The fourth Article of Faith is especially important: Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance are specified by the Lord in 3rd Nephi 27 , among many other places, as the fundamental principles upon which to build:

13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.

You may need to read the whole chapter to see why I say this, but these are the ones we should return to if we get lost.

If we understand these correctly, then we can also understand the love which Jesus has for us, which is the love He commands us to have for our fellow man, as in Mark 12:

30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

When we build on the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can learn from God what we can understand and then proceed forward from grace to grace, to the full knowledge of God. We can understand truths that are eternal.

When we build on something other than the gospel, it does not lead us to the important truths, no matter how much we learn.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Mosiah on Freedom

Reading in the hospital, I felt unusually impressed about the last three chapters of Mosiah.

These are among the parts of the book of Mormon where I began, as a teenager, to recognize my heart and my brain telling me, there is serious truth here. This book is not just about some egomaniac immortal claiming control over my life.

Bacground: In Mosiah 23, we see Alma strongly advising his little congregation not to seek to have a king. In v. 7, it is not expedient to have a king. In v.8, just kings are okay, but it doesn't last. Vs. 9-12, how bad things are under an unjust king, and how hard it is to get rid of an unjust king. 

In v. 13, "... stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and ... trust no man to be a king over you."

And not just government: in v. 14, "... trust no one to be you teacher nor your minister unless he be a man of God, walking in his [God's] ways and keeping his [God's] commandments.

How does this work? V. 15, love neighbor as self, for starters.

Some might complain that v. 17 is a loop-hole for an autocrat, but we must remember that the people had been asking him to be their king. Also, Alma does not behave as an autocrat.

On the other hand, if we have read this before, we might wonder whether such doubts about such things were part of the cause of Alma's namesake son's later rebellions.

A side note from ch. 24, we see that it becomes the effective duty of the dead wicked king's wicked priests to teach the Lamanites enough language skills that, when the four sons of the last Nephite king come preaching, some of the Lamanites can hear and understand.

Now we come to ch. 27.

Alma's people have had to escape from those wicked priests again and have rejoined the main body of Nephites. Alma has set up a church organization that is recognized by Mosiah, the last Nephite king.

Alma's namesake son has joined with Mosiah's four sons in trying to undo their fathers' work in teaching the people, by persecuting and trying to destroy the Church, when he and his buddies see an angel. This angel helps them to see that they have been working against themselves, and they begin to repent and try to undo their work.

One particular thing he says to Alma, "... remember the captivity of your fathers in the land of Helam and in the land of Nephi; ... for they were in bondage, and [the Lord] has delivered them." (This may provide a clue as to which group Alma's mother came back with. Maybe not.) The argument is that the Lord's purpose is to save his people from bondage -- including, from the high taxes and forced immoral behavior of a corrupt and society-corrupting government.

(The younger Alma's being snatched, etc., are important in a separate but not unrelated context, so I'll mention Alma 38: 8, that he had to decide he wanted to be saved before the Lord could rescue him. The Lord gives us opportunities to be saved, but does not force us, unless you insist that His failure to force is force, in which case, how could we ever be free?)

In ch. 28, the four sons of the king decide to go preach to the Lamanites. If you wonder where Ammon gets his skill with a sword, here you have it. He's been thoroughly trained as a prince. Mosiah knows he will not live for their return, but is inspired to let them go.

But Mosiah now no longer has a successor. So he cleans up some of his affairs.

Then we have ch. 29.

Mosiah knows he must be the last king, but the people in general do not. He knows the form of government has to change, but he must get his people to see that it is so. He begins by taking some surveys. Then he sends around an explanation of the problem, using pretty much the same arguments the elder Alma used.

Then he adds some interesting bits.

It is not the usual case that the voice of the people should choose evil. And when the larger part of the people choose evil, destruction awaits that society. These twin principles completely undo all elitist arguments.

And he doesn't stop there.

He lays out some rules of structure that provide accountability, including a failsafe of making the higher judges ultimately accountable to the lower. Rough checks and balances.

Then he lays out another important principle showing the fallacy of elitism. To lay the moral burden of a people on their king is an inequality, and not right. All the people should bear the moral burden of their own decisions and behavior, and the combined social burden should come on all equally.

Flat political structure.

Democracy may have been something of an invention of the Greeks, but the underlying principles have been known to God's people for a long time. Those principles are real and true.

The gospel is not just a feel-good warm-fuzzies philosophy.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Church Japanese/English -- Article of Faith/信仰箇条

The Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

article(s) of faith

Other notes: 注釈
Jesus => God is our help.
イエス => 神(かみ)は助け(たすけ)なり。
Christ => anointed, chosen
キリスト => 油(あぶら)を注がれた(そそがれた)、選ばれた(えらばれた)
article (of faith, law, etc.)
Our Articles of Faith are statements of things that we believe.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Books of the New Testament -- 新約聖書の各書

For my personal notes, 
[personal notes => 個人用の覚書]
[eventual => いつかの、結局の(しばらくして投稿する)]

The Books of the New Testament (in the Bible) with some Japanese annotation:
[testament => 誓約、特に遺言の誓約]
[bible (Bible, Holy Bible) => book (聖書)]
  1. Matthew [・シュー] -- The Gospel according to Matthew
    Or, Saint Matthew's account of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
    [=> マタイによる福音書]
    [gospel (good news) => 福音(良き知らせ)]
    [saint => 聖者、聖なる]
    [account => 記述、報告、談話、説明など]
  2. Mark [マーク] -- The Gospel according to Mark
    [=> マルコによる福音書]
  3. Luke [ルーク] -- The Gospel according to Luke
    [=> ルカによる福音書]
  4. John [ジョン] -- The Gospel according to John
    [=> ヨハネによる福音書]
  5. Acts [アックツ] -- The Acts of the Apostles
    [=> 使徒行伝]
    [act => 行動(修業?)]
    [apostle => 使徒(特に、イエス・キリストの証人の役目)]
  6. Romans [ロー・マンズ] -- The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans
    [=> ローマ人への手紙]
    [epistle (letter) => 手紙、指示を含む書簡]
  7. Corinthians [コ・リン・シ・アンズ]
    [=> コリント人への手紙]
    1. The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians
    2. The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians
  8. Galatians [ガ・レー・シャンズ] -- The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians
    [=> ガラテヤ人への手紙]
  9. Ephesians [エ・フィー・ジャンズ] -- The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians
    [=> エペソ人への手紙]
  10. Philippians [フィ・・ピ・アンズ] -- The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians
    [=> ピリピ人への手紙]
  11. Colossians [コ・ロー・ジ・アンズ] -- The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians
    [=> コロサイ人への手紙]
  12. Thessalonians [・セ・ロー・ニ・アンズ]
    [=> テサロニケ人への手紙]
    1. The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians
    2. The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians
  13. Timothy [ティ・モ・シー]
    [=> テモテへの手紙]
    1. The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Timothy
    2. The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Timothy
  14. Titus [タイ・タス] -- The Epistle of Paul to Titus
    [=> テトスへの手紙]
  15. Philemon [フィ・レ・モン] -- The Epistle of Paul to Philemon
    [=> ピレモンへの手紙]
  16. Hebrews [ヒー・ブルーズ] -- The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews
    [=> ヘブル人への手紙]
  17. James [ジェームズ] -- The General Epistle of James
    [=> ヤコブの手紙(書簡)]
  18. Peter [ピー・ター]
    [=> ペテロの手紙]
    1. The First Epistle General of Peter
    2. The Second Epistle General of Peter
  19. John [ジョン]
    [=> ヨハネの手紙]
    1. The First Epistle General of John
    2. The Second Epistle General of John
    3. The Third Epistle General of John
  20. Jude [ジュード] -- The General Epistle of Jude
    [=> ユダの手紙]
  21. Revelation [・ヴェ・レー・ション] -- The Revelation of Saint John the Divine
    [=> ヨハネの黙示録]
    [revelation => 啓示、霊感]
    [divine => 神の、天来の、神授の]