I cannot remember a time when I did not have a faith in the teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  As a result of this faith I can also say that I have had a commitment to the institution.  I believe this institutional commitment is necessary for my flourishing and development.  I have thought of three main reasons why this is so.

  1. Propagates principles of joyful living

The definition of the verb “to propagate” means, “to spread or promote widely”.

When I say that the church propagates the principles of joyful living, it starts with first principles.  The Christian doctrine of original sin says that humans are by nature sinful merely because of their human birth.  While in practice this has many variations and gradations, many Christian religions have a tendency to give outsize weight to this doctrine. 

One of the mastery scriptures that all LDS youth learn is an admonition given by the prophet Lehi to his descendants shortly before his death.  As the central point in a long parting sermon that Lehi gives to his descendants he states, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” 2 Nephi 2:25

This is a central tenant of not only the LDS belief system, but also the LDS culture.  We are all here on earth to learn to have joy.  Joy is usually defined as a lasting long-term state of happiness and peace.  The entire creation of earth and man, all of the scriptures and teachings of God are designed to give us the opportunity to develop a life full of joy.

In an interview regarding her Book A House Full of Females, Laura Thatcher Ulrich was asked the following regarding her LDS faith.  “This might be awkward for me to ask…but as a secular person, I wonder why some of the values that you mention…why do they need to be attached to a faith tradition?”

Professor Ulrich replied, “O they don’t, but they need to be promulgated and taught, and I think they can be very powerfully communicated through faith tradition and faith community.”

As a member of the Church each Sunday we have opportunities to learn principles of joyful living. In our sacrament meetings ( 70 minutes meetings with sacrament and several talks/sermons ) we are instructed by fellow members on principles or righteous living that are usually accompanied with concrete examples of how living these principles has benefited members’ lives.  After sacrament meeting all Church members attend Sunday school classes where we receive further instruction in these principles.  During the week we have the opportunity to have ministering members provide us with additional instruction.  All church members are encouraged to engage in daily personal and family scripture study to learn.  All of these lessons are provided by members teaching other members.  When all this is added up the average Church member is involved in 3-4 hours per week, 13-17 hour per month, and 156-208 hours per year of additional learning regarding eternal principles of righteous or joyful living.  That is an enormous advantage on the journey of life when compared to someone who is not involved in any proactive study  regarding how to chart a course for a happy successful life.   

Some of these principles that we are regularly taught:

  • We are to have joy. (2 Nephi 2:25)
  • Ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass (Alma 37:6)
  • For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; … for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have. (2 Nephi 28:30)
  • The eternal Nature of families
  • Rituals

USA Today, 10/28/2016, Religion may be a miracle drug

If one could conceive of a single elixir to improve the physical and mental health

of millions of Americans — at no personal cost — what value would our society

place on it?

Going a step further, if research quite conclusively showed that when consumed

just once a week, this concoction would reduce mortality by 20% to 30% over a

15‐year period, how urgently would we want to make it publicly available?

The good news is that this miracle drug — religion, and more specifically regular

church attendance — is already in reach of most Americans. In fact, there’s a

good chance it’s just a short drive away.

Indeed, health and religion are very much connected. Professor Tyler J.

VanderWeele’s new research with colleagues at Harvard University — building

on more than 20 years of prior work in this area — suggests that attending

religious services brings about better physical and mental health. Adults who do

so at least once a week versus not at all have been shown to have a significantly

lower risk of dying over the next decade and a half. The results have been

replicated in enough studies and populations to be considered quite reliable.

2. Rituals

Time, 1/25/2017, Eating Less Makes Monkeys Live Longer

Calorie restriction—in which people give up food for a whole day or drastically

slash their caloric intake for a spell—is an unpleasant‐sounding eating pattern.

Yet a growing body of science suggests that it may improve health, fight disease

and possibly even add years to a person’s life. Weighing these potential benefits

against the diet’s difficult aspect of deprivation has proven tricky, and scientists

don’t agree on whether people should incorporate fasting into their routine.

A recent study published in the journal Nature Communications is the latest to

look favorably on calorie restriction.

The study is by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the

National Institute on Aging (NIA), who have been studying calorie restriction for

years. In the past, the Wisconsin team found that calorie restriction extended

the lives of rhesus monkeys…

Aging, it appears, can be targeted by fasting, which might be good news for

humans, too, the researchers write….

Several researchers are already testing calorie restriction in humans, with

notable results. A 2016 study of 218 people who either cut 25% of their overall

calories for two years or ate as usual, showed people who fasted lost an average

of 10% of their body weight and had improvements in mood and sleep. Other

recent research suggests that a low‐calorie diet may expose cancer cells to the

immune system so they are more vulnerable to attack and more responsive to

chemotherapy. Yet another study last year of mice and humans found a calorierestricted

diet may slow the progression of multiple sclerosis.

UCLA study active Mormons live 8.5 years longer or 10.8% longer

Active Mormons give 10% of income in tithing

2. Rituals

It turns out that the data on happiness and charitable giving are beyond dispute.

‐People who give to charity are 43% more likely to say they’re very happy.

‐People who give blood are 100% more likely to say they’re very happy

‐People who volunteer are happier. The list goes on.

‐You simply can’t find any kind of service that won’t make you happier.

With colleagues from Harvard University collected the data in the year 2000 on

30,000 American families from all over the country.

I’m getting this result I can’t understand. It doesn’t make sense. It’s like the

hand of God or something on the economy, and I can’t believe it’s true.”

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, Amy Morin

Ch 1: Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself.

  • Miracles

I wanted to make sure we knew more before catching you up on our baby issues. We went to the cardiologist a few days ago and… everything is fine.  Thanks for thinking of us and praying for us.

It’s all kind of complicated to me, but here’s how I understand it. At week 19 we go in for routine ultrasound. The doctor sees a slow, but regular, heartbeat.  That worries her, so she refers Esther to a pediatric cardiologist. At week 20, Esther is examined and observed for an hour and a half. The baby’s heart is beating 70 bpm pretty regularly, and the experts diagnose her with long QT and a third‐degree heart block. They say that it’s a lifelong condition, that it is not just some developmental hiccup, but an irreversible flaw in her heart. Pacemaker will definitely be needed and she might need to be delivered as early as 26 weeks.

At week 22 we go back to the OB for a follow up given this new set of circumstances. It is, at this point, just to learn how to cope with the knowledge of the short QT. Except, she doesn’t see any heart issues. Baby’s heart is beating at 120 bpm during an hour of observation. A few days later it’s back to the cardiologist so they can see what the deal is. He looks for 30 minutes and says it’s all normal. What looked like a malfunctioning heart a week and a half ago was, in hindsight, just a developing heart. So all is good, at least with the heart. Looking at September 16 to see the rest of her!