Sunday, March 29, 2009

Environmental Stewardship

When questions are asked about the conservation and preservation of the Earth, many members of the LDS Church rely on the belief that the earth will be miraculously healed at the time of the Lord's Second Coming. For many this justifies a careless attitude toward nature. They shrug at the notion of drilling in ANWR or the plight of the planet due to global warming. If we examined some of our core beliefs about our relationship to God and His creations, however, we would quickly see that as Latter Day Saints we have a clear responsibility to be stewards of the environment.

We believe that Jehovah created the earth. 1 Col 1:16 says that, "by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth . . . all things by Him and for Him." Because the earth was created by Jesus Christ, it is a testament of his divinity. Alma taught this to Korihor whe he said, "all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it." Many have felt the whisperings of the Spirit when they are surrounded by God's creations. Every time I go hiking I am amazed a the complexity and beauty of the earth, and it is a powerful witness of the Creator. Joseph F. Smith taught that "Men cannot worship the Creator and look with indifference upon his [creations.] Love of nature is akin to love of God." He also taught that "Nature helps us to see and understand God. To all His creations we owe an allegiance of service and profound admiration."

When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He commanded them to "be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." This dominion was given to man, not taken, and it is not license for unrighteous dominion. The warning of D&C 121 is very apparent in the way man has exploited the earth, "We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion." Rather than viewing the environment as subject to us, we should view ourselves as stewards of God's creations. In D&C 104:13, the Lord said, "It is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures." George Handley points out that "it is because we are at the center of God's creation and because we are given stewardship over the earth that we are held moraly responsible and accountable to God for our interactions with all living things." The earth and all living things were created for divinely appointed purposes and our responsibility is to ensure that those purposes are fulfilled.

The Lord promised us, as stewards of the Earth, that as long as we are wise and righteous, there will always be enough resources. In D&C 104:17, the Lord says, "The earth is full, and there is enough to spare; yea I prepared all things." In D&C 59:16-20, the Lord says,

16 Verily I say, that insasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;
17 Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth (petroleum?), whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;
18 Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
19 Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.
20 And it pleaseth Go that he has given all things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.

As long as we are prudent and do not overexploit our resources, the Lord has given the fulness of the earth to us. However, if we condone greed and gluttony, we risk losing those blessings.

We do believe that the Earth will receive its paradisiacal glory in the millennium. This does not mean that when the Lord comes again He will simply fix all the problems we have created. We must avoid the "myths of millennial cleanup" which justify inertia and inaction. We can't assume the planet will be miraculously restored. We know that it will be renewed, but we dont' know if that renewal will be automatic or instantaneous. It might require as much as careful, dedicated work as the original planting of the Garden of Eden. We might spend as much as time gardening as we will doing temple work. Brigham Young taught that restoring the earth to a pristine condition is what the Lord requires of the Latter Day Saints. He also taught that only after the Saints had learned to live in harmony as stewards one with another and with the earth could they expect to inherit it from the Lord who owns it. We might as well get a move on it.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Last night I did a very emasculating thing . . . I watched Twilight. Wow. We were talking about something to do and decided to have a theme night. We bought some garlic bread and strawberry daiquiris, and my brother-in-law made some amazing roasted garlic potato soup. I wasn't expecting much from the movie, and I wasn't disappointed. What tawdry garbage! I can see why women of all ages love it. Who hasn't fantasized about an icy, undead demigod with sparkling skin? Steve pointed out that his sparkling skin looked more like sweat than diamonds, but whatever. The movie did provide a plethora of comedic fodder, and would be perfect for Mystery Science Theater. We ourselves got a little carried away in lampooning the film, forgetting that some people in the room actually liked it . . .

I don't think vampire movies are inherently bad though. Quality writing and cinematography can make any story interesting to watch. Two weeks ago I watched the coolest vampire movie ever, Let the Right One In. It was made in Sweden, and told a refreshingly beautiful story while still incorporating the classic vampire elements, like a vampire bursting into flames when exposed to sunlight. The film depicts the relationship between a young boy, Oskar, who is constantly bullied at school and a young vampire girl named Eli. Of course the boy doesn't know she's a vampire, initially, but when he does find out their relationship is far too interdependent to sever. The movie ends with some sweet payback to the bullies, as well as some ambiguity as to Eli's true identity. Overall it was very surreal and bizarre, but the production design and photography were incredible. I give it 4 stars.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Earlier this evening I was at my MCAT prep course, and I got a phonecall. Slightly annoyed that someone was calling me during my class, I pulled my phone out and was startled by the name on the phone: Hurst. My initial impression was to just put my phone back in my pocket and call him back at the end of class, but then I remembered how sporadic and unpredictable Hurst is, and I realized he could be driving through Provo that very minute. Since returning from Ukraine, we had tried to connect a couple times, but we'd never succeeded. With a certain degree of panic I jumped out of seat during class and dashed out the door to take the call.

Turns out my instincts served me well. Hurst was in the area, and he wanted to drop by tonight. I got all giddy on the phone and insisted he come by at 8:30. I gave him the address and went back to my class. Class wasn't supposed to end til 9:00, but I finished my test early and checked my answers with the teacher and I was on my way.

Hurst drove up with his fiancee, Natalie, and I met them outside on the street. I'd forgotten how much taller he was than me, and gave him a big man hug. This was a man who had a profound influence on me in Ukraine. My experience there would've been very different if I hadn't met him, and he became one of my best friends out there.

Hurst came to Ukraine when I was still a youngster in the mission. He was assigned to Mariupol, where I was currently serving. Since he was now officially the newest person in our city, I felt a special responsibility to help him adjust to the new life. On the busride from Donetsk to Mariupol I asked him what his favorite band was. "The Shins," he said. I almost peed my pants. What's your favorite movie? "Rushmore." I knew I was going to love this guy.

Hurst was older than all of us, and had a lot more life experience. At 24 he'd been working on his doctorate, and then one day decided to serve a mission. He was an expert in British history, and would often tell us long, drawn out stories of this battle or that. He rapidly became a beloved addition to the mission.

I had the good fortune of serving with Hurst again in the small city of Sumy. This was a particularly difficult time of my mission because I had issues with my assigned companion, but Hurst saved my life with his good humor and down-to-earth philosophy on life. He is one of those people you just can't make mad, and if he does get a little annoyed, it blows off pretty fast. We had some good times up in that ridiculous city.

Fortune smiled on us again at the end of my mission when I was assigned to the city of Donetsk. First I was Hurst's zone leader in outpost of Obyedinoni when he was in Makeevka, so I received phonecall reports from him every night. After six weeks there I was moved to center Donetsk, and we were able to go on exchanges and hang out often. We'd talk about movies and music and life, and he'd shop second hand stores for me to find Lacoste items. I still have a sweet tie and multiple shirts and sweaters thanks to that man.

I hadn't seen Hurst since July 2007, so it was an amazing delight to get to see him and meet his fiancee tonight. It was a refreshing reminder that people are really the only thing that matter in this life, and Hurst is one person I want to see again. So I guess this was a salute to Hurst.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Forgive me for not writing about this yesterday. I was swamped with homework and I fried my brain. Writing isn't very fun when your brain is smoking.

So Ashton picked me up at 11:45 to head to the OB clinic. Usually that place is packed with women with bulging bellies, but yesterday we hit a good time. We were invited to descend into the basement where the ultrasound tech was waiting for us. She had Ashton climb up on the reclined bed and I sat down next to her. Then my mind was polluted with some images from the movie Juno, as I thought, "This is just how they were sitting. . . except their tech was a jerk."

The tech squirted a bunch of hair gel on Ashton's belly and turned off the lights. The Christmas morning anticipation began to build up as we awaited the first images of our unborn. The tech placed the knob on Ashton's abdomen, and some fuzzy amorphous images popped up on the screen. She rubbed it around and I tried to orient myself. Just weird blurs and inkspots. Oh, oh a hand! A beautifully crafted miniature hand, with jointed fingers and a palm! The hand was surprisingly distinct, and then the baby pulled it back into the abyss of Ashton's uterus.

The novelty wore off after about five minutes. I sat impatiently, watching the tech take measurements and label the placenta, yada yada yada. I really just wanted to know the gender, and this tech was acting like she had all day. Nervous anticipation began building again, and the wait was torturous. Finally the tech paused the frame and asked, "Are we wanting to know what it is?" Well we're assuming it's a baby. Yes! Tell us what it is already! That's really what we're paying you for! I mean, I was glad that it had all its limbs and seemed to be a normal size, but I really just wanted the coin toss to be over. The tech pointed at the frame and said, "Now that's a leg there, that it's got up, so it's blocking our view . . . " and then she pointed down and to the left, "And that's a little boy part."

A little boy part! A phallus. a water pistol, a Y chromosome magnified a million times! The implications are endless. My progeny will carry the Jenkins name! He will have the birthright! The rest of our children will have an older brother, an example, a whipping boy. He'll be a future priesthood holder, a missionary, and one day a father like me. I like this kid already.

It should be noted that we were kind of hoping for a girl, just because we already had a name picked out. The battle for boy names has yet to be resolved. We'll probably have to put it to a vote to avoid a bloody conflict.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Funeral Postponed

Yesterday we were outside trying to change the license plates on the Camry. One of the bolts was too rusted and stripped to get out so we had to improvise. While we were working on this, we let Galya out to hang out on the lawn with us. Usually we keep her in the backyard so she doesn't peck on our windows with her muddy beak, and there's been some weirdos coming around to play with her late at night. Anyway, she was out on the lawn with us taunting the boxer puppy across the street. The boxer was going nuts, prancing and whimpering and running to the end of her leash. We watched her with amusement and continued jimmyrigging the license plate. In a flash the boxer was across the street and in our yard, practically on top of Galya. She had bolted hard enough that her collar had popped off, and she sprinted after the duck. Galya let out quacks of distress and flapped her wings as she darted back and forth. She was surprisingly elusive, but the boxer increased in her tenacity and we were forced to intervene. I blocked the dog while Ashton scooped up Galya. We put her in the safety of the backyard and turned to deal with the dog. The boxer was so worked up at this point that she ran down our stairs and into our basement apartment. Apparently someone had left the door open. I flew down the stairs and yelled at her to get out, and she promptly dashed back up the stairs and across the street. We couldn't help but laugh at the whole ordeal, and were glad Galya lived to see another day -- until she started quacking at 7:00 a.m. the next day . . .