Mormons and Education: An Overview

(from http://newsroom.lds.org)

Education lies close to the hearts of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and resonates with many of the other values they hold dear. Mormons love learning and are dedicated to the acquisition of knowledge. Their commitment to education, both as a principle and as a practice, is evident in their beliefs, teachings and everyday activities. They affirm that education is a broad, lifelong pursuit with a variety of vital purposes. They have a unique understanding of what education is — a principle that recognizes the human soul as well as the intellect. Moreover, Mormons have a tradition of education that is rich and longstanding, something they cherish and continue to maintain. Because they believe that education deserves their best efforts, Latter-day Saints afford it significant resources and energy.

I. Mormons’ Understanding of Education

The Purposes of Education
The principle of education is woven into the most fundamental beliefs Mormons hold about God, about life and about themselves. Latter-day Saints affirm, for instance, that God is all-knowing, and are taught that “the glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.”[1] They also believe that as children of God, the objective of all people is to continuously strive to become like Him, and they see education as a vital part of this striving. Hence life, for Latter-day Saints, is not only a time of testing but also a school to develop understanding through both study and experience.[2] Education is one of life’s preeminent purposes and has enduring eternal value that transcends death.[3] The development of a refined, enlightened, and godly character is its ultimate end.[4]

Latter-day Saints believe that because of its immense and lasting value, God has made education a divine commandment for which His children are responsible.[5] Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon echo this commandment with invitations to seek, “knock,” and ask for knowledge; modern revelations and prophets give explicit instruction to learn, and clarify that learning is essential for salvation. Church founder Joseph Smith taught that “no man is saved faster than he gets knowledge,” and that “no man can be saved in ignorance.”[6] Mormons also affirm that God is actively involved in the education of His children. He enlightens the mind; He promises that efforts to learn will be recognized and met with His wise dispensations of knowledge.[7]

Behind the Latter-day Saint approach to education is a distinctive understanding of learning and knowledge. Mormons distinctly emphasize that education is for the whole person; it involves and benefits both the mind and the spirit. Education is not exclusively intellectual; rather, Latter-day Saints seek learning “by study and also by faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118). In part, this means that Mormons recognize a kind of learning that incorporates both intellect and spiritual insight.[8] They also acknowledge that these are not unrelated: spiritual understanding, for instance, is necessary to give rational inquiry its ultimate purpose.[9] Moreover, Latter-day Saints affirm that faith and reason are not fundamentally hostile to each other.[10] Thus the pursuit of truth is unbounded, although Latter-day Saints especially prize understanding that brings seekers nearer to God and helps fulfill life’s essential purposes.[11]

While education plays a vital role in the theology of Mormonism, it also has other personal value. Latter-day Saints believe that education ought to relate to and enhance life experience. Brigham Young explained that “education is the power to think clearly, to act well in the world’s work, and to appreciate life.”[12] Mormons value the life of the mind and the richness that education adds to life experience. They are encouraged to love learning and teaching, and they recognize that knowledge is personally empowering.[13]

Latter-day Saints also believe that learning ought to have practical value; it should improve one’s ability to make social contributions, to be financially self-reliant, and generally to “act well in the world’s work.”[14] Latter-day Saints recognize that education is crucial for moral and practical reasons that range from the support and upbringing of their families to participation in broader society. Education is a serious charge for parents who are responsible to provide the necessities of life for their children. Church President Thomas S. Monsonhas encouraged both men and women to pursue education in order to participate as needed in a competitive economic world.[15] Education also enables those who pursue it to make a greater impact for good in their communities. It enhances their ability to serve the human family.

Of course, Mormons affirm that education is crucial in the immediate family as well. As the Saints understand the family to be the most fundamental unit of human society, they regard the home as the seat of human learning. Parents are divinely commissioned to rear their children “in light and truth” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:40). They have primary responsibility to bring their children to intellectual, social and spiritual maturity through precept and example. The raising of children is considered a collaboration with God, and parents and other educators are responsible to guide children in ways that benefit them immediately and eternally.[16]

The Scope of Education
The Mormon understanding of education is inclusive, not only of different kinds of learning, but in other ways as well. Church teachings outline a vast field of valuable knowledge, incorporating an unlimited array of secular and religious subjects. Geography, culture, history, science and innumerable other subjects fall within these wide parameters, which extend well beyond the conventional scope of religious knowledge.[17] Indeed, at one level, Mormons do not distinguish between “secular” and “religious” knowledge. They regard all forms of truth as relevant and sacred.

Although “education” often suggests formal schooling, Latter-day Saints recognize that it should involve far more than that. They are encouraged to regard education as an individual responsibility,[18] and they are taught that each person ought to pursue education independently in the context of their own lives, learning in the ways and to the extent that their circumstances allow.[19] While they view formal educational programs as indispensible, Mormons also value individual reading, study, thought and observation of many kinds. They affirm that a wealth of knowledge is available to all those who will engage it.

Finally, to Latter-day Saints, education is a principle that spans eternity. Mormon scripture teaches that “whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life” will follow us in the hereafter (Doctrine and Covenants 130:18). Latter-day Saints also see in education a perpetual enterprise; they anticipate and hope for a long course of learning that extends indefinitely into the future.

Read more ...


Lennon, the Internet and the Protests

Well if America - as the beacon of freedom and democracy - becomes detested and despised by the world for covert democratic imperialism, political usurpation and other democratic complicity, then now she has a friend and companion in modern technology - the Internet and social networking - that helps accomplish the same objectives through non-military and non-combative means.

The wave of protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other countries seem to find a commonality in the catalytic role of the Internet and social networking influences.

The influence of the younger generations who are at the forefront and who are spearheading these protests should not be discounted or condemned. These are the Internet - Google and Facebook - generations. At the very least, social networking sites have helped facilitate the organizing and rallying of support for the protests as we saw in Egypt. Do these young people feel left behind and/or shut off from the modern trends, life-changing events and progress especially those fostered by technology? Do they seem to be catching on to the concept that freedom is the main facilitator of innovation and prosperity?

Notwithstanding, the long-suppressed desires and hopes for freedom for the people of these countries seem to have finally reached a breaking point. Enough is enough. What we are witnessing today may be the beginning of a lasting trend and resurgence of the cliched "people power".

These revolutionaries should use the late John Lennon's "Power to the People"  song as their protest anthem:

Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on

Say you want a revolution
We better get on right away
Well you get on your feet
And out on the street

Singing power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on

Or use this modified line:

"Power to the people, march on!"

~Viva la Freedom!


"Show me the money!" ... "No!"

Personally, I am against the "money only" request on wedding invitations. I have ruminated over the issue especially within the Samoan context and came up with the following.

GUEST vs. Donor
The main reason for inviting people to a wedding is for them to witness and help celebrate - the happy occasion - with the families and the newlyweds. Those who are invited are called guests - not customers, clients or donors. Therein lies the important difference and a particular for consideration.

Again, a guest (malo/malo faaaloalogia) is someone you invite to come and celebrate an occasion with you. You don't demand and/or impose things on a guest. Once you impose something on a guest, he/she becomes less of a guest and more of a donor or benefactor. Respect governs and underpins the host/guest etiquette and relationship. It involves the host honoring and respecting the guest's choice of what he/she brings. Incidentally, the quest is not obligated to bring anything but since there are rules of propriety and genteelness, a guest will always bring something. As a host, you don't tell or suggest to the guest to bring a specific gift - especially money. Simply, it's rude, offensive, disrespectful and egregious.

BIG WEDDING vs. small wedding
Generally speaking, Samoans like "BIG" weddings. In fact the so-called "Samoan wedding" is synonymous with a "BIG wedding". These are often held in big halls with average crowds of 300-500 people/guests, with copious foods and other forms of exchange including traditional wealth (fine mats, tapa cloths, etc.).  Money also is often gifted by the host families, mainly to the VIPs in Samoan weddings.

The best estimate for the total average expenses for a typical "Samoan wedding" is around US$10,000.

That being said, I do have a problem with a typical "Samoan wedding" that sends out invitations with the "money only" request. It would be better off if the thousands of dollars intended for the wedding expenses be given to the bride and groom to start their family, and just have a small reception. But, ironically, Samoans also want big weddings - in some cases - to showcase family status and wealth and in such situations, invitations should not ask and/or stipulate "money only" gifts. If anything, they (hosts) should instead hand out money to the guests - at least for accepting the invitations. Please do not treat a BIG wedding as a business venture where you "spend money to make money" for the couple.

A small wedding, on the other hand, in the backyard or some other setting, would not and should not need a lot of invitations with stipulations anyway. Such weddings are only for families and close friends and acquaintances.

Now here's another aspect of a Samoan wedding that should negate the "money only" request. It's found in the traditional appreciation speech (faafetai) by the hosts. It speaks to the fact that guests already have their contribution just by showing up. Here's an applicable sample from a typical faafetai speech:

"...o ai le tagata ua e manatu ane ai? Faafetai atu i le talia faaaloalo o le faatalau'ula atu a aiga-na-lua ma le ulugalii fou. O lo tou faamalo'ulo'u, maliu mai ma tala mai o a'ao, ua maualuga ma matagofie ai le aso o Toleafoa ma Fuatino."
(...who are we that you have spared a thought of coming? Thank you for accepting the invitation by the families and the newlyweds. Your presence has only made this day more special and beautiful for Toleafoa and Fuatino.)

Now some people interpret this to be nothing more than rhetoric and platitude - if not part of the typical reserved modesty (faafitifitiga) common in these such speeches. I would beg to differ though. I personally believe that there's honest appreciation, sincerity and truth in such expressions albeit seemingly trite and cliched. What if you had sent out 500 invitations and only 30 or 10 people showed up? The fact that people accepted and came is something for which the hosts should be indeed grateful. And if you start placing demands and stipulations on the guests, then it seems that these people showed up of their own volition - and were not invited.

Again, please do not make stipulations and/or demands on the guests. E le'i alanoa le tala ane o a'ao o le ‘au vala'aulia. Na ala ona o ane ona o lau vala'au faaaloalo. Afai fo'i e te manatu i sauniuniga e iai taumafa ma nisi tulaga, ia o mea na sa saunia e tali ai malo (‘au valaaulia), e pei lava o tu ma agaifanua masani a Samoa. E le'i saunia ina ia faia ai ni fefaataua'iga - Leai! O ni mana'oga e foliga mai e faamalosi (demands) pe fai fa'a-tuutuuga (stipulations), e le talafeagai i tulaga i le va feagai o le malo (guest) ma le talimalo (host), ae maise le tu faaaloalo i ni malo.

Lastly, if the couple gets 20 toasters, 40 towel sets, 30 glassware sets, etc. - all the better. Keep them, distribute them or if possible return them for cash or store credit. Look on the bright side, toasters are getting more expensive by the year, so keep them as a lifetime supply. Likewise with other gifted items.

Ia manuia le ulugalii fou. Ia fua tele le niu, moli, kuava ma la'au uma o le faato'aga. Ia fua mai fo'i nisi la'au i tupe. Methinks that money will eventually grow on trees...LOL!!


Wedding Invitations with Stipulations

...no, not the “No children, please”, RSVPs or the Registry announcement.
This has to do with money. Yes, maahnee.

I was listening to Radio Samoa (NZ) one evening and an interesting issue/topic was discussed and debated. This particular one has to do with wedding invitations that stipulate monetary gifts.

The announcer/moderator alluded to the actual request for gifts to be money -“only” - printed on the invitations. It sounded like this is something that is already happening in NZ. To the best of my knowledge, this has not happened among the Samoans in America - certainly not in Utah - ...yet. The question, therefore, is: How soon before my neck of the woods catches on to this matrimonial deviation?

The discussion on the radio invited some responses and opinions on the appropriateness of such a seemingly bodacious request. Those who called in to express their opinions were mixed. Some agreed, others did not. Still others were bothered that now the weddings are becoming fund-raising opportunities for wedding couples and families. In fact some of the weddings presently are intended as such, though the difference is in being subtle and being bold or unabashed about it. Some callers did not seem to mind because the newlyweds need money to “start” their lives together anyway.

I think that some families and newlyweds are apparently tired of the sameness of the gifts especially kitchenware (toasters, glassware, plates, etc.) or bathroom items and other trivialities. Sooo what?  Distribute them to aunties, uncles, in-laws ma le aiga akoa ...

Anyhow, stay tuned for my take on this barefaced issue ....


My Rose, my Valentine

She’s a beautiful Rose
lovely, sweet, grandiose
she smiles with ruby red
she smiles and ..."I thee wed"
for eternity and for all time -
- this rose is mine -
Sweet my sweet Valentine


I think I have sinned ...

Yes, I thinnnnnnnnnnn ...k!

I have been a lover. Abstinence was shunned, restraint was ousted and discretion was compromised.

Okay, okay, let me get you off the hook now - I was a food lover.

You see during the weeks of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays - as is the case every year - foods of all kinds were in abundance, especially the so-called junk foods. They were everywhere - at home, at work, at church - yes, at church, of all places ...well, during their parties and other social functions.

I was a glutton and as a result I was not "cute as a button". And the belly button? ‘Twas half cute. Speaking of buttons, one or two middle ones of my shirts popped - but not dropped, fortunately. Now that wasn't cute either.

Still I was in denial then I rationalized, as in "What’s wrong with self-indulging ..uhmmm... once  ...hmmm....a year?" And this: "Please let me be a rebel sometimes." (confession: I aaam a rebel sometimes!!) Oh, and this one too: "If I don’t regress I don’t progress." ....and along the same lines I factored in the 2011 resolutions in that rationalization with: "I need to gain weight so I can have "losing weight" as a resolution."  Same as "I need to sin to repent."   It’s called being "rational" with "lies" - "rationalies". ..LOL!

Anyway, as a result of all the gluttony and rationa-lies-ation, I gained many pounds - well, ok, I lied - just a few. But few enough to violate some "law".

There’s a fine line between obsession and discretion. Between excess and moderation. That line has been marred and crossed many times during the holidays and as a result another line - the waistline - has stretched, suffered and ... "wasted"?

So in religious lingo, I say, "Father, forgive me for I have sinned."  I promise that in the next few weeks I won’t be sinning but thinning. And at that time, in innocent toddler speech, I’ll say: "I thin ’k I huf thinn’d" which may be a more fitting title of this post.

Anyhow, I’ll start, again, eating fish (esp. salmon), all types of nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts, coconuts and donuts ... hahaha, ok, not the last two). I’ll eat more avocados, broccoli, etc., etc., and drink lots of mountain dew (literally) - not from the can but from the mountain. Hey, where I’m from, water is mountain’s dew.

So now I’ll go and thin ... until I thinnnnnnnnnnn ... no more.... LOL!


The Super Bowl - A "hairy" proposition

This year's Super Bowl storyline - at least to some sports pundits - consists of an antithesis to the more popular plot of the shaved and hairless image of the recent decades in professional sports - especially the NBA. Long hair has been thrown into the mix as a fetish and good luck charm especially in gaining advantage in the final outcome of the Super Bowl.  Both teams seem to invest and subscribe to the notion and delusion.

For the Packers, we have Clay Matthews whose long straight blond hair is pitted against the more popular kinky mane of Steelers' Troy Polamalu as etched in this auto tribute.

So which team has the edge? Is there a tiebreaker, one who will break this hairy gridlock (pun intended)?


The odds favor the Steelers who has a player sporting more of chin hair than scalp hair - Brett Keisel.  His beard has also made Super Bowl headlines.

Keisel - A former Cougar (BYU)
And so in case Matthews petitions Polamalu for leniency and favor for the Packers, and broker a compromise whereby the Packers might prevail,  Keisel will interject and say:

"No, not by the hair of my chinny chin chin."



Anti-Mormons and the three "ANT's" ...or "ANCE's"

Let religious bigotry begin ...

The 2012 US Presidential Race is slowly burgeoning at least for the Republicans. The Democrats already have their incumbent candidate in Obama.
And since Romney - based on the 2008 elections - is the frontrunner and considered by many to be the Republican bellwether for 2012, and a Mormon, the anti-LDS crowd is back at the trenches with their pitchforks torches and banners that might as well read:

“Let the anti-Mormon sentiments and bigoted attacks against the LDS Church BEGIN!”

The following is a response to an article about Mitt Romney and the 2012 Presidential Elections:

rexhmailtmp at 6:40 AM February 04, 2011
"Romney is a devout Mormon. If you want the Mormon church influencing/directing the highest office in this land, then vote Mormon. If not, choose another."

This is a typical anti-LDS response found in cyberspace and elsewhere on a Mormon candidacy for US President. The response is insidious. It is denigrating. It is bigoted. It is stupid.  It's the same phobia they had with Kennedy and the Catholic Church.

I will certainly have a lot of postups on this topic in the days and months to come, but for now, let me just emphatically say that user rexhmailtmp, like most people who discredit and besmirch Mormons as US Presidents because of their religion, is ignorant, arrogant and intolerant. And I’m not - at least for the time being - ready to invoke Article VI and the “No Religion Test Clause” of the US Constitution. After all, it may be a futile endeavor especially to those who harbor deep resentment and rancor toward the LDS religion. In other words, those who have internalized ignorance, arrogance and intolerance.

Interestingly, Obama has commented on his being most apprehensive in facing - of all the potential Republican candidates - Jon Huntsman in the general election. Huntsman is a former governor of Utah, a Republican, and was appointed US Ambassador to China (and currently serving) by the Obama administration. Huntsman has hinted that he is going to resign and enter the 2012 race. And yes, Huntsman - like Romney - is a Mormon. He speaks fluent Chinese (Mandarin) from his LDS Church mission to Taiwan. When Obama went to China on his visit, Huntsman was his translator/interpreter.

But be forwarned still that Mormophobia is alive and well in the land of the free.


Road trips, marriage and ... ABBA

Dearie and I drove last October to Karleeforneeaah (my Schwarzenegger impression).

It was an early Friday morning - 1:30ish.  And Vrrooooomm. Engine started breaking the silence and still of the night. Dashboard panel lights came on. I scanned the gauges like a Boeing pilot before take off. Check. CD player/changer clicked a few times. Check.  CD #1 immediately emitted sound waves through the Boses: "E tau i lagi le alofa, ae moe i ao o'u mana'oga...." ("Love reaches for the heavens while my passions sleep in the clouds")  Wow. Is that deep or what? Methinks it's platonic love. Do Samoans have or believe in such a concept?

I like and enjoy going on long road trips. I especially enjoy driving in the early morning hours. I used to do that in Samoa. From kua (outbacks) to town - though for only 2-3 hours, and not 13.

Anyway, all six CD slots were loaded. #1 Evaeva. #2 Easy Listening #3 ABBA #4 Disco/Reggae Mix; #5 Five Stars #6 Samoan Mix. Trip was 12-13hours. Been there done that - many times; I might as well have "King of the Road" in one of those CDs. We backed out of the driveway and in a matter of minutes we were on the freeway heading south to the city of angels - LA. (Incidently, LA also stands for my village/district in Samoa...Se ioe ...)

Two hours elapsed and the bright contiguous city lights had already been swallowed up behind us by time and distance. We were in the middle of small towns and long stretches of farmlands. The clock on the dashboard panel read 3:25 am. The sporadic and scattered points of light from distant farm houses dotted the dark landscape and the shadowy outlines of hills and mountains rose ubiquitously on both sides giving us a sense of topography and distance.

The inside panel of the sunroof was retracted and the glass reflected the panel lights. I wanted to see the stars, so I retracted the glass. Immediately, the cool fresh morning air seeped in. It felt invigorating and refreshing. I tipped my face up to greet the intruding airflow and momentarily I experienced a throwback to Samoa and the fresh morning air of the Le Mafa Pass and the mountains as the bus or pickup truck would meander through hairpin curves and bends.

Le Mafa Pass
 Fernando was now playing, augmenting our setting and situation, especially this verse:

There was something in the air that night,
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando

"Liberty" ... We felt it - a sense of freedom. The trip was more a pleasure one. It was a short respite to relax and unwind. It was a stress relieving, liberating and therapeutic experience.
I try to avoid the ABBA songs because they bring back a lot of memories of Samoa when Dearie and I were "dating". That was the music we listened to. The memories are wonderful but nostalgic and lovesick. Yearning for the past certainly gets overpowering and overwhelming sometimes. But there are times that I enjoy reminiscing those bygone days. That morning was one of them. We laughed, giggled and talked over the songs - Honey Honey, Ring Ring, Waterloo, Mamma Mia, I Have a Dream, etc. We remembered and linked certain places, our then whereabouts and events with the songs.

At one point, it was just ABBA and me. My "Agnetha" had fallen asleep. It was quiet even at 80-90 mph. I listened, hummed and sang along. Later, I wanted to wake her up, so I did the usual driving over the rumble strips, though now she would not fall for my annoying shenanigan. At first, she would sit up and immediately go to a bracing posture. Now she would just wake up and ask: "Where are we?" to which I give my usual response "In America - still" ... I cherish our road trips. Very very much!

At yet another point she woke up to Celine Dion's duet with Clive Griffin of "When I fall in Love".  She said: "Se ka gi pese e ala ai kagaka ae aua le ka ga pese e oso ai le fia moe." (Play the songs that would keep a person awake and not ones that induce sleep.) ...LOL!

This trip was like many other road trips we have taken. It was fun especially for spending time by ourselves -laughing, reminiscing, talking about life, family, kids, grandkids and our future plans. Sometimes a minor disagreement gets in the way, but it's all good! It's life, especially married life. In fact disagreements can make the road trip experience all the more memorable especially when pulling over at a certain milepost for a make up hug and a kiss. ...and while passions remain in the clouds, love reaches far for the heavens.

Marriage is like a road trip with all its bumps and dips, yet you still have a destination that's worth the while. And it's not just a dream either - it's reality.

I have a dream, a song to sing
To help me cope with anything
If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
You can take the future even if you fail

I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I have a dream, a fantasy
To help me through reality
And [our] destination makes it worth the while
Pushing through the darkness still another mile. .....

And speaking of "another mile" ...I think we're due for another road trip ......Vrrroooooooom!