Monday, March 29, 2010

Proclamations - Jeff

This post comes from my college friend Jeff.  He is, perhaps, one of the happiest people I've ever known.  He finds joy in everything from wall-e sheets to salt.  He is very democratic with his writing, and treats all letters equally, with no capitals.  He remembers to enjoy everyone he spends time with, even himself.   He seems to have the gift of being perpetually aware of the state of life being a gift, and awesome.  He's also a talented cinematographer/camera assistant/film loader... meaning that whatever job he is working on, he's constantly looking for ways to do it just a little better.  Reminds me of the counsel of a certain prophet.

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We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

"calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets."  it certainly sounds like a doomsday prediction of fire from heaven, doesn't it?  and while i'm not ruling it out, it's not what i'd look for.  the gospel of Jesus Christ is about families and individuals.  we are saved as families and individuals, and we can fall apart the same way.
what will bring about these calamities?  "the disintegration of the family."  a few years ago, i watched a movie called "thirteen" on tv late one night.  i'd read about it in my cinematography magazines and the story sounded interesting: following two thirteen-year old girls through that difficult year in their life.  the main character befriends a girl who pulls her into the rougher areas of life, smoking, drinking, shoplifting, piercings, sex, and all that stems from such.

the movie was hard to watch but it was interesting because i recognized "those" girls from my own high school and junior high; the girls who knew how to dress sexy without understanding entirely what they were getting into.  or maybe life had shoved them around enough that they had to face the heavier matters of maturity when they deserved to still just be kids.  
what caused me to think was that i came from a good home and that i mostly assumed everyone else did, too.  my family wasn't perfect, but my father wasn't absent and my mom wasn't alcoholic.  mom was always willing to help with my homework, dad was always at my school plays.  we usually ate dinner together and i felt safe at home, even when my parents did bug the heck out of me.  it wasn't until that movie that i started to wonder about the kids who didn't have their homework done, who dressed like their parents didn't care what they wore; what was their home like?
now, i am not saying that strong and successful people cannot come from "broken homes."  i know several people who prove that wrong.  but things are getting rough out there in the big world, and it's not because of attacks from a foreign entity, but because things are weakening from the inside out.
the paragraph lists three things that are causing this social dry rot: violations of chastity, abuse of spouse or children, and failure to fulfill familial responsibilities.  i know of nothing that would shatter the safety felt at home, the love and trust in a parent, faster and more completely than beating or abusing someone in one's own family, physically, sexually, or emotionally.  
the familial responsibilities are mentioned earlier in the proclamation and include total fidelity between parents, love and teaching of children by both parents, protection and providing by fathers, and care and nurturing from mothers.  hopefully these seem like givens, things that of course we should be doing and be expected to do.
again, consider how the peace of home is shaken when a father is unfaithful to his wife, when mom shows no interest in a child's accomplishments or struggles at school, or when the base necessities like food, clothing, and shelter are not provided by a parent.  procuring such needs does take work and effort and sacrifice, it is true, but the groundwork of a loving home is not in an extravagant house or european vacation.  rather, it is in doing these simple (small, but maybe not so small) things.  
finally, chastity.  driving some directors through salt lake during the sundance film festival earlier this year, i overheard them smirking at a billboard advertising help for pornography addiction.  their comments were that it was silly to consider it a problem.  is there any wife who is not honestly hurt by her husband's participation in such lasciviousness?  further, are there any but a few relatively small groups who advocate sexual abstinence before marriage?  in the family sitcoms that i grew up watching, the parents started talking to their kids about sex as something that was not necessarily to be reserved for marriage, but should be with someone who's "very special".  i cannot think of any movie or tv show in which a couple reserves such intimacy for marriage.  or, if there is such a character, their friends work to show them that they're making too big of a deal of it, and by the end, they have slept with their crush and seem to feel much better.
is it really that big of a deal?  i will never forget the night when a friend called me after he and his girlfriend had broken up.  he was very hurt by it and i listened as he cried.  i was caught off guard, however, when in between sobs he said, "never do anything sexual; that's when i felt things start to go wrong between us."  
i've never heard that said in a movie, but that's because i suspect the writers, actors, or directors have never known anything to the contrary of the lifestyle they promote.  like starting to go to the gym or cutting sugar out of one's diet, sometimes you don't know how much better you can feel until you get to higher ground.
will following these admonitions make everything better?  well, no.  but it will be make a lot of things better and make us, as individuals, stronger to confront the remainder of our problems. government legislation and school lessons can be excellent supplements, but the foundation of our lives is in the home.  thankfully, the answers and direction are there for us.


Stina said...

Well-put Jeff. In school I had a friend who had a similar experience, was a member, made some bad choices...what was a surprise to me, was that after it was all done my non-member friends were the ones that became even more adamant about protecting their "little mormon girl" from getting in similar trouble.
From observing me and from knowing the pain that their choices had causes they recognized that my standards were important and needed to be followed. I think that's why "examples" are so a trainer at teh gym, we all need people to give us hope and to show us that it can be done, and that in the end you feel better and are happier!

hairyshoefairy said...

Very well done, Jeff. It's sad so many in the world don't understand or believe the damage that can be done by those things. I really liked your call to rise above and be better. We are worth it.

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