I heard a fantastic talk two weeks ago in Stake Conference from a member who had struggled with getting overwhelmed by the numerous challenges she had faced in recent years.  She noted that her son had chastised her for some of her negative talk.  She defensively replied that she was just “being realistic”.  In his youthful wisdom, he emphatically said that she could be realistic, but she had to talk with faith.  That hit me.

Is faith at odds with being realistic?

I thought about the happiest moments in my life. Those moments were, not surprisingly, when I was the most hopeful.  I was busier than usual and had the biggest dreams and plans underway.  I’m sure many people thought I was delusional.  A few of those moments included: planning to apply and attend MIT when I was just a small town Utah kid, learning to speak Chinese and going to China to serve, and training for a swim from Catalina Island to California mainland.  When planning for and subsequently working on the Arabian Peninsula, there were friends of my wife who noted that my ambitions were a little crazy because “normal” people don’t take jobs in the Middle East.  I appreciate that my wife shared my sense of adventure.

While not every dream or aspiration is realized, I believe that we accomplish a lot in the pursuit of these plans.  We can’t do great things without a belief that it is possible.  That belief is the essence of faith.  I also know that faith- as a principle- is true whether you believe in God or not.

So whether it is called corny things like Positive Mental Attitude, Beginning with the end in mind, daydreaming, or simply “vision”- the principle of faith is creating a reality in your mind before it is realized.  Faith is principle of power and action.  When training or working on goals, seeing the future achievement of those goals in your head is a strong motivator when it gets tough.  I think that vision is the essence of faith.  I think that is why faith is so attached to hope.  Personally, I think it is good to have a few “unreasonable” goals.

An admission.  A couple of years ago, the realities of some missed expectations and a few setbacks caused me to disproportionately focus on past failures, concentrate on the negative possibilities for the future, and think more about what could have been than the potential for success to come.  Like the woman in conference, I realized the need for a little course adjustment.  This world has a enough critics, enough realists…we need more dreamers.  We need more faith.  We need more people who smile and live with a conviction that anything is possible with God’s help despite the realities of here and now.

This is a public reclamation of my faith.  So here’s to some big goals in 2013- and God willing, becoming a better instrument in His hands for good.

Living Prophets

If you heard a prophet, like the populations described in ancient scripture, how would you respond?  
Would you be angry?  
Would you follow his counsel?
Would you simply dismiss him as a nut?

You didn’t have to live centuries ago to find out. Men who are inspired by God speak to us today.

The Election Season Musings on Mormon Candidates

It has been nearly a year since Mitt Romney, a prominent member of the Mormon church, became the Republican front runner for the office of President of the United States.  His faith has been mentioned repeatedly by the media and others, but he seems to be a non-person in church services.  Perhaps in deference to the minority of Democrats / Obama supporters in the congregation, or perhaps out of sensitivity to discussing politics at all inside the church, Mitt Romney has not been discussed.  It has been a little surreal.  I’m curious how politics is treated in other faiths?

Here is a link to the church’s official position:

If there is one thing I have learned from my 41 years in the church, it is that the church tries to be consistent in upholding its standards and strictly adhering to policy.  I suspect that my experience is similar to most Mormons in that we don’t hear much about Romney- in official venues and meetings.  Outside of church meetings, Mormons probably run the gamut of political opinions from “Romney has been chosen by God to lead this country” to “he better not screw up and make us all look bad”.  I know the types who hold the “chosen by God” viewpoint really offend the more liberal among us.  I laugh.  Since many non-politically inclined members of my church suspect that my willingness to call Fox less-than “Fair and Balanced” and my self proclaimed libertarian sympathies means I’m “liberal”, I am guessing that they are more guarded in their dialogue around me.

Some Thoughtful Explanations

I had the opportunity of calling Clayton Christensen my “bishop” when I was struggling with certain aspects of my faith while attending MIT.  His thoughtful and reasoned approach not only impacted me at that time, but his successes since those discussions has continued to  inspire me.  I wanted to share 2 of his links that may be as interesting to you as they were to me.

First was an interview with Forbes that turned to his faith:

The second was a link to his personal reasons for believing and belonging:

Why I Belong and Why I Believe.

Purpose of this Blog

Religion has been a source of pain, conflict, and suffering for millenia.  It has also been a source of inspiration, knowledge, and peace for countless millions.  Why such varied impacts?

I can only speak from personal experience.  My faith experience has generally been very positive.  There have also been aspects of belonging to a faith group that are regretable.  I would like to analyze what works, what doesn’t, and why.  I’d like to share those insights here.  I welcome your comments.  My hope is to create a conversation between friends that ideally mutually uplifts, but at minimum, respectfully educates.

What works for me may not work the same way for you.  That’s OK- we are different.  Your understanding of concepts and doctrines may be different than mine.  That’s OK- perhaps you can provide some new insight that helps to deepen my understanding.  Perhaps you don’t believe at all.  In fact, perhaps faith as a concept is scary and suspicious, fraught with danger.  That’s OK too- it certainly can be all of those things.

However, in the end, I believe my life is richer, more fulfilling, and more peaceful because of my faith.  I hope that some of the things I share will provide something of value to you.

-Chris Roberts