Sunday, August 31, 2008

Repentance: What does it mean to forget?

I've always wondered about the usage of the word "forget" in the scriptures with relation to receiveing answers to prayers and repentance. Elder Gerald N. Lund in his book, Hearing the Voice of the Lord, made the point very clear with regards to receiving answers to prayers; and I wondered how the same thing could apply to forgetting one's sins after true repentance.

I don't think it's possible to literally forget that we ever did anything wrong no matter how well we repent. Part of not forgetting our sins probably helps us to remember the pain that we felt upon making certain wrong decisions. I was thinking that I needed a better understanding of the word "forget." Elder Lund talks about the part in Doctrine and Covenants 9 where the Lord tells Oliver Cowdry how to receive an answer to a prayer. He says that if we're not praying for the right thing or the answer is no, "you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong." This doesn't mean that we will literally wonder what in the world our "wrong" choice was, but that our desire to follow that choice will no longer be a strong desire. The same holds true with repentance, by "forgetting" our sins, we're basically forgetting "our desire" to commit the same sin, which is what true repentance is.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Twilight: Predation and Temptation



Aggressive mimicry is a behavior found in nature when a predator disguises/enhances itself as something pleasant or desirable to its prey. For example, one female species of firefly learns the mating signal of another species of firefly and lures the males in with those fraudulent signals and then eats the poor saps.

This is comparable to what Satan uses to make things pleasing to our senses so that we are lured into his predatory traps of temptation. He makes us think we are getting what we ultimately want, and because we don't "cross ourselves in all things" we fall victims to his traps.

In the novel Twilight, Edward is the predator and is naturally made attractive to his prey, humans (particularly Bella). Bella gives into the temptation of choosing to stay close to him. She does this not being completely aware of the danger he posed to her at first, however there was no excuse once she found out what he was to not stay away from him. Whether or not this choice was for her good fortune or not is debatable. I realize that this is a love story and would not be interesting if Meyer didn't place Bella in such a perilous dilemma. I do think the moral repercussions should be more truthful (I haven't read the entire series, so this is my opinion only after reading the first book.)

On the other hand you have Edward who staunchly withstands the temptation to prey on Bella but does not remove himself from the situation. Instead he permits himself to come deathly close to her, knowing what he is and what his relationship to humans is.

Examining these ideas on a moral basis, neither are good examples to live by. I wonder if that theme will carry on throughout the other books. I will admit that I enjoyed the book. I did grow a little weary of Bella's obsession with Edward, but the last quarter of the book made up for it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Security Tips: Free Anti-virus and Other Security Software


I'm coming to realize that you don't need to purchase Norton or McAffe to have a safe computer. There are plenty of free programs that will do the job as long as those who use your PC are somewhat educated on how to not download malware.

Anti-Virus
I've used Avast! Antivirus for quite a while with absolutely no problems. It's definitely not as slick looking as the software you pay for, but I haven't got any malware (that I'm aware of). I've recently switched to Avira Antivir due to it's recent appraisal on cnet.com, and have been pleased with it as well.

Some of the basic tips to take into consideration to avoid malware is to not open up email from people you don't know, just delete it! If it does look like it's from someone you know be very careful when downloading attachments or clicking on links within the message. Be careful what websites you browse and stay away from peer to peer file-sharing applications (limewire, kazaa, bittorrent), unless you know what you're doing. Anything that you can circuitously get for free, when under normal circumstances you pay for it, is a potential risk.

Firewall
I generally use Window's firewall as well as make sure the firewall on my internet gateway is also properly configured. I've tried ZoneAlarm, and though it bugs the heck out of you for every little thing wanting to access the internet, at least nothing will access the internet without you giving it express permission. That's basically what a firewall does, it makes sure only certain types of applications can access your computer from the internet.

Spyware Remover
Trend Micro's HiJackThis! is a great program to analyze every little thing that is running on your computer. You can then send the log that it creates to a website like this for someone to analyze it and tell you which programs shouldn't be there. Spybot Search and Destroy is also supposed to be a good automated way of finding and getting rid of spyware.

Parental Control
I haven't had much use for parental control on my computer, but some people choose to use them just to keep junk from popping up. Cnet and other websites recommend K9 Web Protection.

Encryption
This another area I haven't looked into very much, but haven't had much need to yet. If you travel internationally a lot and ever have to give your laptop up for inspection, you better have all your personal files encrypted, or wipe your drive before you land. Check out TrueCrypt for this.

Backups
We're using Carbonite right now. Mozy was nice, but Carbonite puts marks on all your folders so that you always know which folders have been backed-up and which ones haven't been yet. They both have free trials, but it's worth it to pay the $50/year for unlimited space. We got a $10 discount off of retailmenot.com and that made it that much more worth it. Also check out a previous post I wrote if you want to learn a little bit more on backups.

Any security tools you've found useful?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Accepting Gifts


A little over a week ago a discussion at work came up on how much you should help your children out financially. Almost everyone was of the opinion that if you help them out too much, they will not appreciate it and "waste [their] substance." My wife and I have also had this discussion, wondering how to start up a savings plan for our kids, and to what use it will be put, what should we do about allowance, how much should we encourage them to save, etc. There are many topics under helping out children financially, and I'd like to focus on helping them out later in life (school, starting a new family, new home, etc.)

I agree that you should never get something for nothing. If one is blessed enough to receive financial help of any sort and then either uses it without showing appreciation or wastes it on something other than its intended purpose, he/she is in essence receiving something and doing nothing. It could be argued that there were no explicit instructions or contractual agreement with the receipt of the money, but hopefully we all prescribe to a higher level of ethics and moral behavior.

Scenario

A parent decides to help his/her child through school and provides the child with the needed money. As I see it there are a couple ways with which the child might accept the endowment:
  1. The child accepts the money and does little or nothing to express his/her gratitude and may or may not put it to wise use.
  2. The child refuses the money claiming he can make it on his own or that his parents have already done enough for him.
  3. The child accepts it and works hard, showing gratitude, knowing and not expecting to be able to fully repay the giver of the gift.
If the child accepts the money, it is expected that he will work hard, but if he doesn't he is actively using his agency to do with it as he wills, which may determine the presence or absence of future similar gifts. If the gift is refused, the child could be considered as ungrateful, foolish, or even prideful.

Either way the child is being very ungrateful and the parent can choose to take the money back, or urge the child to rethink their decision.

What is the best way to react or use these types of gifts? I've thought about this a bit and have come to the conclusion that no person in their right mind should refuse gifts given with such love and good intent as parents usually give. I understand not all parents are in such a position and would love to, and what they don't have materially to give they make up with the love that they show.

I found this easy to accept when I consider all that our Heavenly Father offers to gives us, (though not unconditionally). We never turn to Him and tell Him to stop blessing us, or that we don't need a particular blessing. Our parents have a very similar relationship to us here on earth. I think this is a good opportunity to practice our gratitude and learn how to properly thank them, never expecting or intending to pay them back, but just to show love in return. If you feel obligated to do something in return as payment, I think you might be missing the whole point of the gift; but if you don't do anything to show your gratitude, something in your own life needs to be evaluated.

I find myself saying "thank you" a lot, but not doing anything "extra" in return for what I'm blessed with. The Lord has asked us to love others which is the same as showing love to Him.

What are some ways that we can show love and gratitude to our parents when we are no longer living in the same house?