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Parables Read from Multiple Perspectives

By Karen Austin

When I encounter a hardship in my life, I benefit from turning to the scriptures for comfort and guidance.  In the second half of my life, I found myself looking at parables from multiple viewpoints. Narratives afford that type of richness. They can speak to us in complex and nuanced ways.

The Prodigal Son

For example, when I was growing up, I would look at the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32) from the viewpoint of the two sons—the one who rejected his heritage, lived for pleasure, and then finally became penitent after he lost everything.  I also would view myself as the brother who was angry that the prodigal was forgiven.

The elder son explained his anger this way: “Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends” (Luke 15:29).

This exchanged illustrated the nature of forgiveness: we should not keep a ledger regarding other people’s infractions and their rewards. Jesus instructs us throughout the New Testament to show charity towards all.  It is God’s place to stand in judgement, which is succinctly expressed in Doctrine & Covenants 64:10:  “I the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”

Now that I have been a parent for a quarter of a century, I can put myself in the shoes of the father. Obviously, this parable invites us to see the father in this story as our Heavenly Father. I am not a highly evolved person. Nevertheless, I do have the opportunity as a parent (and with other roles of authority—at church and in my paid job) to respond to people in my charge when they make poor choices.

I can also imagine myself as characters that are on the fringes of this parable: the drinking buddies, the inn keepers, the harlots—any person who took advantage of the prodigal son by promoting his vice and capitalizing on his recklessness.

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Interview with Dr. Farina King

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

Farina King, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, is Assistant Professor of History and an affiliate of Cherokee and Indigenous Studies at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. She received her PhD at Arizona State University in U.S. History. King specializes in twentieth-century Native American Studies. She is the author of The Earth Memory Compass: Diné …

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Honour Thy Launching Children

By Karen Austin

My son’s return ticket was booked. He was coming home from his mission soon, so he called to confirm a few details. When I finished, he asked me, “How are you doing?” Over the last few weeks, I had been crying and yelling a lot. I went on to describe how his parents and sibling …

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Binding to the pasture, Chaining to the plow

By Melissa Young

There is a lovely song called “Homeward Bound” that you may be familiar with. It’s an expression of the ancient, existential longing for freedom–from expectation, from a life determined by birth and circumstance, and ultimately, from home. But in the song, this longing is coupled with faith that freedom will not result in abandonment. There …

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Sundays Away

By Teresa Bruce

When I Was a Child Growing up, I went to church weekly except during bouts of strep throat or flu. Even during rare family vacation travels, we packed Sunday clothes and shoes no matter our destination. High School Diplomacy The day before my first high school model U. N. conference, vague uneasiness coalesced into realization: …

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When Wrong is Right

By Melissa Young

After a long hiatus, I’ve recently returned to reading scripture. Still hit and miss, but more than I’ve done for years. What brought me back would be a separate post, but I will tell you that part of the story involves coming across, and rejecting to the point of disdain, a translation of the Bible …

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Scriptural Math – What’s Not to Love?

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

Math is not my strong suit. I have other skills, but for the most part I lean on my tax-attorney-with-a-Harvard-degree-in-Applied-Math spouse for most of the numerical conundrums in the family.

Recently, however, I had a math-ish reaction to a familiar scripture.

When asked what the greatest commandment was, Christ answered, “…Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

What would happen if I substituted “love” every time I tripped up on “obedience” in the scriptures or Conference talks.

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Strap on your Lorica

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

 

Cate Blanchett in armor

 

It’s the season for Shamrock Shakes and four leaf clovers. Another wonderful gift from the Irish is something called a lorica which literally means a kind of hard casing or armor. It’s also a type of ancient Irish prayer of protection which envelops the speaker in spiritual armor.

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