And, since I don't have a picture of Ashlynn,
here's a picture of M and I right before we bungee jumped on our honeymoon :)
He applied spirituality in a very practical way. I remember learning about a poet who wrote about the almost "prophet-like" characteristics poets have in that they understand things more and are just above the normal human and can communicate with God, almost. This poet lived around the same time as Joseph Smith. Dr. Kramer explained that Joseph Smith was described to have these characteristics of a prophet-like poet by intellectuals not of the Mormon faith. My testimony was strengthened to hear about how others not of the Mormon faith that had met Joseph, recognized his spiritual connectedness and ability to prophesy and commune with God directly.
Throughout the course Dr. Kramer would challenge our thinking. When we'd study art pieces that seemed "weird" or irreverent he would ask why they were weird or irreverent. I learned that while I have my own values and experiences, others have different values and experiences. This helped me learn about God's love for all of His children. We read a book about a small African tribe that practiced rituals that seemed to go against all things normal and right to most of us in the class. But, as I read it, I realized that these people were doing what they felt was right and best for their families. I am grateful to have a knowledge of the Gospel and for how it shapes my habits and priorities, but there are many without that knowledge and it would be unfair to judge their worth or character based upon their actions when they know no different. Dr. Kramer helped me learn that.
At the end of the course he summed up what he had been trying to do all semester. He taught that learning about art/customs/history is a way of becoming more like Christ. As we learn more about how someone feels/thinks and how that is expressed through art/poetry/literature, we do not have to agree with or accept ideas that go against our spiritual knowledge but we can instead try to understand them as children of God with their own experiences that have shaped who they are.
My love for people of different races/religions/backgrounds/etc. grew immensely throughout this course. I will live the rest of my life with a greater appreciation for the diversity of God's creations because of this course.
Perhaps the proper response to outrageous behavior is outrage, or, more to the point, the proper response to outrageous television is outrage. I express my own and this Church’s disappointment, disagreement, and even outrage with television that turns our attention and sometimes our inclinations toward violence, self-serving greed, profanity, disrespect for traditional values, sexual promiscuity, and deviance.
We should strive to change the corrupt and immoral tendencies in television and in society by keeping things that offend and debase out of our homes. In spite of all of the wickedness in the world,
Interesting point here:
and in spite of all the opposition to good that we find on every hand, we should not try to take ourselves or our children out of the world. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven,” or yeast. (Matt. 13:33.) We are to lift the world and help all to rise above the wickedness that surrounds us. The Savior prayed to the Father:
Make Peace with Imperfection
I’ve yet to meet an absolute perfectionist whose life was filled with inner peace. The need for perfection and the desire for tranquility conflict with each other. When ever we are attached to having something a certain way, better than it already is, we are, almost by definition, engaged in a losing battle. Rather than being content and grateful for what we have, we are focused on what’s wrong with something and our need to fix it. When we are zeroed in on what’s wrong, it implies that we are dissatisfied, discontent.
Whether it’s related to ourselves – disorganized closet, a scratch on the car, an imperfect accomplishment, a few pounds we would like to lost – or someone else’s “imperfections”- the way someone looks, behaves, or lives their life- the very act of focusing on imperfection pulls us away from our goal of being kind and gentle. This strategy has nothing to do with ceasing to do your very best but with being overly attached and focused on what’s wrong with life. It’s about realizing that while there’s always a better way to do something, this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy and appreciate the way things already are.
The solution here is to catch yourself when you fall into your habit of insisting that things should be other than they are. Gently remind yourself that life is okay the way it is, right now. In the absence of your judgment, everything would be fin. As you begin to eliminate your need for perfection in all areas of your life, you’ll begin to discover the perfection in life itself.