The Last Jedi Review

I took Tomas and DC to see the premiere of The Last Jedi last night. We arrived a full hour and fifteen minutes before the movie started, getting the best seats in the house, because Star Wars. It turned out to be a bit overkill, as the theater was mostly empty when we arrived, but still. You don’t take risks when Star Wars is involved.

No spoilers in this review. And please don’t post spoilers in the comments. I want people to be able to come read this with no fear that anything will be ruined for them.

That out of the way, I’ll say right off: the movie was fantastic. I’m giving it the full 10/10.

Now, that said, I’m sure there are people out there who are going to pick the movie apart. They’re going to start thinking about it and pondering and debating, but I wrote about that yesterday in my renewed review of The Force Awakens. To me, so much of a Star Wars movie is about the experience. It’s why I show up opening night for my first experience of each movie. Because I want to see it with a bunch of other fans. I want to feel the movie. I know that might sound dorky, but so what?

I love that I’m able to bring my kids to new Star Wars movies, and that they can experience them with me at the same time.

Was the plot perfect? Were there holes? Sure. Though a fair bit of that will be people playing armchair quarterback. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that. Sometimes people make mistakes in the middle of action, and those mistakes might not make the most sense after the fact.

The movie was just incredible, from an experience standpoint. Seeing the way it unfurled. Watching the characters interact. All of it was spot on. Yes, there were multiple times when I felt myself tearing up. The advantage of a series like Star Wars, that I’ve grown up with, is that when these characters do or say things, it can tap into things I’ve felt or thought about since I was a child. With some films (like Indiana Jones 4), that can be a liability. With The Last Jedi, it’s an asset of the best kind.

Honestly, I felt like this was the best Star Wars movie, period. Empire Strikes Back was important at the time because it turned what might have been a one hit wonder into something with real staying power. But when I watch it now, it definitely shows its age, though I know that might seem like sacrilege to some. The Last Jedi was an experience infused with Star Wars from start to finish. It’s funny, moving, surprising, sad. The complete package.

You definitely should go. Now, before you hear anything about it. And in the days and months ahead, feel free to pick it apart some. But never forget the experience of seeing it the first time. For me, that’s the biggest way I rate a Star Wars movie. Did it enthrall me? And this one did it in spades.

The Force Awakens: A Look Back

It’s interesting to me how a narrative can build around a movie. Enough people express an opinion online, and it can warp the way you remember a film or think about that film in general. Some of this explains the general antipathy I feel toward the Star Wars prequels. I haven’t rewatched the second or third, mainly because of the constant reminder from fans about how they’re not good. Prequels = Bad.

The same thing had happened to me, to a smaller extent, with The Force Awakens. I really enjoyed the movie in the theaters. Saw it twice, actually, which is super rare for me these days. And I watched it at home once after I bought it. But the longer I hung out in online geek circles, the more I read the critiques about how the movie’s just a retread of A New Hope. Until that’s what I thought it was myself. I still liked it, but I’d say I wished it had been a bit more original.

Seen from a broad viewpoint, the argument holds water. You’ve got a desert planet. You’ve got a big attack on a huge weapon at the end. The weapon (spoilers!) explodes. You’ve got a novice Jedi learning his/her powers. Fair enough. I didn’t go back to the movie to check and see just how similar it was. I accepted the general argument and moved on.

Until Sunday, when I rewatched the film in 3D on my sweet home theater system, in preparation for tonight’s(!!!) viewing of The Last Jedi.

First off, I can say the movie looked pretty amazing in 3D. There was one shot of a star destroyer that just looked like it was hovering in my living room. That’s always cool. Good stuff.

But beyond that, I have to say the movie is really good in and of itself. People always use Empire Strikes Back these days to gauge how good a Star Wars movie is, and I think that’s not entirely fair. They’re not comparing it to Empire today. They’re comparing it to the memory of Empire, and I’ve blogged before about how that’s a fight no movie can win.

Taken on its own, I loved The Force Awakens. I still found it thrilling, even knowing the direction it would go. The twists it would take. It’s great fun, and not just from a fan’s perspective.

And the accusations that it’s just a retreat of A New Hope? I think they’re bogus. Yes, there are some general similarities that are clearly intentional. But the movie is always putting a new spin on things. Finn’s narrative is totally new. Yes, there’s a “cantina” scene, but it does very different things than it does in A New Hope. Are we really going to get upset that there was a desert planet in the movie? Just how many ecosystems can a planet represent?

The biggest complaint I could see would be the finale, where there’s the huge attack on Starkiller Base. But even then, a lot of the dogfighting is just trim for the story that’s really happening on the base itself. For Finn and Rey and Solo and Ren. The pew pew pew moments help keep the action vibe going. The heart of the film is totally different.

In other words, I was wrong to listen to all that bellyaching about how the film was just a retread. It isn’t at all. Honestly, the experience made me start to question how fandom works in the age of digital. In the era of not just experiencing a movie, but then wanting to talk about it incessantly after you experience it. To pick it apart. To think about it. Debate about it. That’s all fine and good, but I don’t think we should let that process take away from the experience itself.

The Force Awakens is a blast, and I’ll happily defend that opinion to any and all complainants.

No One Has a Monopoly on “Values”

Roy Moore was defeated yesterday in the Alabama Senate race, showing to the country that, for once, standards and decency count more than party affiliation. But only barely. I was relieved to see Moore go down for a variety of reasons, but setting all that aside for the moment (sort of), I wanted to talk about the narrative behind the race.

Because I have to believe most of the people who voted for Moore didn’t actually believe he molested 14 year old girls. They thought the accusations were lies or exaggerations. And while I can at least see the logic there, I was very discouraged to hear the rhetoric that was being used to support Moore. Basically, Republicans were arguing that even if the allegations were true, it was still more important to hold onto the Senate seat than it was to not elect a child molester to the Senate.

This coming from the party that likes to position itself as the “Christian values” voice of the country.

The fact of that matter is that people like to make excuses for themselves. Justifications. “I know people shouldn’t normally do this, but it’s okay for me to do this, because _____________.” But when it comes time to hold people they don’t know or like accountable, then those justifications hold no water. It’s the same principle that makes it so we all feel like all the other drivers on the road are maniacs, but we ourselves are reasonable, perfect drivers. Cut someone off, and you excuse yourself. You didn’t see them. They shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Someone cuts *you* off, and they’re a complete jerk.

Politically speaking, people seem willing to overlook the flaws of people who agree with them, regardless of how big those flaws might be. They’ll justify it by saying it’s for the greater good, or that the flaws are lies, or that the other side is even worse. But of course when the situation is reversed, they have no patience for any of those excuses.

Here’s the thing. For me, there should be certain lines that are just inexcusable. Child molestation allegations need to be dealt with and completely disproven before someone can hold office in our country. Imagine if Roy Moore had been up for any other position. What if he were applying to be a cashier at McDonald’s, and this came to light? Something tells me McD’s would hold off hiring the guy until it was crystal clear he wasn’t a child molester.

I already hear the people saying “innocent until proven guilty!” but that’s another justification. This wasn’t a he said/she said situation. This was multiple women, providing physical evidence, corroborated by other accounts that all added up to the same thing. And yet the party that was all for jailing Clinton for deleting emails suddenly becomes overwhelmed by mercy and understanding.

Standards. Both sides. The same. Franken resigned. Trump should come under the same scrutiny. I don’t care what party you belong to. Some accusations deserve to be heard and then resolved. Sexual abuse? Child abuse?

Thank goodness Alabama got this one right. It gives me hope for this country yet.

Novels vs. Short Stories

Each year at Christmas, I make a family newsletter that I mail out to my siblings and parents. Most of it is a series of (hopefully) amusing fake news stories based around funny pictures the family took over the last year, but the centerpiece has always been a short story I write just for the newsletter. And so each year, when Thanksgiving rolls around, I begin to wonder what in the world I’ll write about this year.

The thing is, I don’t do short fiction. I wrote some short stories in college, sure. But when it comes time to write a narrative, I almost always end up writing a novel. I’ve done it too much. Sort of like how Fezzik in the Princess Bride has trouble with the Man in Black. I’m used to one form, and switching to a different one can throw me for a loop.

But what is it exactly that makes the process so different? I thought I might take a moment and pick that apart some.

Speed is a huge factor. With a novel, there’s all this open space and time that you can develop characters and conflicts. A short story is so tightly packed, it’s hard for me to get the momentum I need for it to take off. I start with a central idea. (This year’s was “What if Hell was being forced to listen to the same Christmas song over and over and over, for eternity?) And that seems like an amusing enough idea, but as soon as I start to examine it for narrative, I start asking questions. How is that implemented? Who picks the song? What else is Hell like? And that’s not even addressing the characters in the story, their backgrounds, etc.

By the time I have the story up and running, I’m already out of space.

Conflicts in a short story also tend to be different than conflicts in a novel. For one thing, there’s generally just one. I’m no good at sticking to just one conflict. The thing is, in a novel, I want to start off by creating conflicts. Lots of them. I want to introduce multiple areas of tension, and so I have a lot of practice doing that. Making things worse. Taking a single idea and riffing on it. I have little experience taking one idea and just staying laser focused on that one idea.

But probably the biggest problem I have with short fiction is that I don’t read it. I don’t have a lot of experience dealing with it, seeing where other people succeed and where they fail. And that lack of experience really shows.

Of course, on the flip side, I now have ten complete short stories, all on a Christmas theme. So maybe I’m slowly building up expertise in one single, very narrow sub-slice of short fiction: the holiday story.

Anyway. This year’s is now done, and I’m quite happy with how it turned out. Maybe I should turn them all into a short story collection sometime. A thought for the future. In the meantime, I’m out of time for today. Thanks for reading, and catch you tomorrow!

A Pattern for Miracles

Like many of you, I attended the stake conference when Elder Bednar visited us a few months ago. It was an experience I’d really been looking forward to, and my family and I worked hard to make sure we were ready for it. I arrived before 7am to get a good seat. I had attended many meetings when Apostles spoke, but for some reason, this one felt different. Before, the meetings had been in Utah. To have an Apostle visit Maine in person . . . it made me feel like he must have a message tailor made for us. For me.

The meeting did not disappoint.

But, as you’ll remember, Elder Bednar spoke last. I spent the first half of the meeting not paying as much attention as I probably should have. I remembered some good talks, but I was really curious to hear what the Apostle would say. The rest of it felt like a big warm up.

Imagine my chagrin when for the first third of Elder Bednar’s talk, he discussed how important President Peterson’s talk had been. How we should give special heed to our Stake President. How he’s able to receive revelation specifically for us on a continuous basis.

I tried to remember what in the world President Peterson had spoken about, less than an hour after he’d given the speech. Something about . . . miracles? It was already gone. Thankfully, I’ve had the chance to have a spiritual do-over of sorts. This month’s speaking assignment is on President Peterson’s talk that day, and I was given his notes so that I could prepare my remarks. Yes, I realize this is now a copy of a copy, and the quality undoubtedly goes down with each duplication, but if you’re like me and you overshot the mark a few months ago (or if you couldn’t make the meeting at all), perhaps you’ll still be able to get something out of my talk today.

To put all doubts to rest, President Peterson did, indeed, discuss miracles. Specifically, he referred to Matthew 15:32-38, where Jesus feeds the four thousand.

32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

33 And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?

34 And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.

35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

36 And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.

38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

President Peterson saw a pattern in this account, a two step recipe of sorts for being able to receive miracles in our daily lives. First, learn what the Lord would have us do. Second, give everything we have to the effort. When we have done those two things, we will see miracles happen as the Lord makes up the difference between what we are capable of and what He needs done.

I have some experience with using patterns, some of it with varying success. I remember in eighth grade home ec, I was asked to follow a pattern to make a sweatshirt. While I successfully avoided sewing through my fingers, and I don’t think I broke the machine, I also remember the sweatshirt not quite fitting right. Let’s just say I had a very short career as a tailor.

In mathematics, they call them formulas, not patterns, but the end result is similar. I remember learning the quadratic formula back in the day. At the time, it seemed like black magic. You stuck a series of numbers into this convoluted equation, and the right answer appeared out of nowhere. I didn’t question the formula. I just knew it worked. My son is at the point now in his schooling that he’s learning the same formula. I’ve helped teach it to him. Now, I was able to see the method behind the madness. See how the formula was arrived at–how it’s nothing more than a shortcut to take you straight to the answer instead of repeating the same steps over and over again.

Often when we know more about how the world works or the situation behind any set of events, the miraculous can lose its shine, and it just becomes another everyday occurrence. I remember when I first arrived in Germany on my mission, and my mission president told me where I was going to serve. Schwarzenberg. I was convinced at the time that the assignment came straight from God. It didn’t get more direct revelation than that. But at the end of my mission, I was one of assistants, and I was part of the process as we tried to ascertain the will of the Lord for where He wanted each missionary to serve. There were no angelic choirs. No heavenly messengers. Instead, there was a lot of the same thing I’d done day in and day out of my mission: prayer and thinking.

But is the miracle any less important if we know where it comes from? Sometimes that’s when it’s most important to maintain faith in the message.

As I thought more about this topic, I wondered if we might learn some additional insights by studying other miracles in the scriptures. With Noah, we learn that sometimes the things the Lord asks us to do will make almost no sense at all. Genesis 6:13-14: “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood.”

Gopher wood, brothers and sisters. Can you imagine what his neighbors thought? “Gee, Noah. That’s . . . a lot of gopher wood. Did you clear this with zoning before you started this renovation project? What? Not a renovation? A boat. Of course it is.”

That’s an extreme example, of course. I doubt any of us will be required to build an ark anytime soon. And yet sometimes we can have promptings that seem nonsensical. When I was growing up, my parents were divorced. Each summer, I’d go off to live with my father in Utah for a month. The summer before my eighth grade year in school, my mom and step father went for a drive after they dropped my siblings and me off at the airport. It just felt like what they should do. It turned into a very long drive. An hour and a half, wandering away from Newark and into Pennsylvania. They saw an open house advertisement on a property. They felt they should look at it. They made a ridiculous offer on the house, because they loved it. The offer was accepted. When I came back from Utah, it was to a different house, a different school, and a different state. Was that a prompting from the Spirit? Considering how much impact that single drive made on me and my family, and how my step father ended up serving in the stake presidency of that stake for over fifteen years, I have to believe it was.

We’re always going to be able to come up with plenty of reasons why we don’t need to do the things God has asked us to do. It’s almost always more difficult and far less fun. And it will not always make sense. But if we demand a reason or understanding before we undertake a project or assignment, I think we might be holding ourselves in too high esteem. I feel like sometimes it’s easy to think we’re not that far off from what God needs. We do the bulk of the heavy lifting, and God gives us the extra nudge needed to finish up.

Mosiah 2:20-21: 20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—

21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

We’re not close, brothers and sisters. We’re way off. But I don’t bring that up to make you feel bad or overwhelmed. To me, that’s one of the most comforting things I can hear. I’ve done a fair number of home renovation projects, and I’ve come to see the difference between me helping someone else get it done, and someone else helping me get it done. When I’m helping someone else, that someone else is almost always much more knowledgeable about the project than I am. They tell me what to cut, how long to cut it, and where to nail it, and what nails to use, and all I have to do is sit back and follow orders.

On the other hand, when someone else is helping me, I’m often required to be the knowledge resource. How should it look? What materials should it be made out of? What tools should we use? It didn’t take long for me to discover how out of depth I am when it comes to home construction. And it never took long for a contractor to tell when I’d done a project mainly on my own compared to when I’d simply been helping someone who knew what they were doing.

With God’s work, it’s the best of both worlds. He’s there to advise us. To tell us specifics when we need the information, and to outright step in and make miracles happen when that’s what needs doing. But it’s always important to remember, that to God, often the work is secondary to something much more vital. “To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Part of each endeavor He undertakes with us is to help us become better people. Part of it is to actually get stuff done. In this way, I think about my approach to my kids as a parent. There are times when I ask them to do a job and then sit back and watch them struggle. I don’t need the job done immediately, and it’s more important to me that they learn the process of how to tackle big tasks. Other times, I’ll have them help me out so that we can get it done together. I don’t need or want them to question which purpose each job is for. Ideally, I’d just like them to do the things I ask and trust me that it will all work out. That works about as well for me with my kids as I imagine it works for God with me. Baby steps.

In World War II, Melanesian islanders witnessed the Japanese and Allied forces come to their small area of the South Pacific, bringing with them technological wonders they had never dreamed of. They saw airplanes, medicine, canned food, weapons, and more. But when the war ended, the planes went away, and so did all the wonders they had brought. The islanders wanted those blessings to return, so they did the one thing that made sense to them. They rebuilt the runways. They drilled with wooden replicas of guns. In other words, they did the things they had witnessed the soldiers doing, assuming that was how the soldiers had caused these miraculous goods to appear. The phenomenon occurs often enough in history to have earned its own name. Cargo cult.

Sometimes, I fear we put ourselves in danger of becoming a spiritual cargo cult of sorts. We focus on the end results and end up misunderstanding how those results are obtained. Knowing that there is a pattern is important, but we can’t simply tuck our heads down and stick to repeating the pattern over and over again if we don’t understand the reason the pattern works.

President Peterson went over that in his talk as well. After outlining the Lord’s pattern, he went over how we can hope to execute that pattern in our daily lives. Remember, the first step was learn what the Lord wants us to do. For that, President Peterson gave five simple suggestions:

  1. Pray and request that the Lord teach you his will;

  2. Read the scriptures;

  3. Listen to the words of prophets and apostles;

  4. Fast;

  5. Listen to the words of those who have been called to preside over us.

That’s it. Nothing outlandish or complicated. Nothing you need to puzzle over to understand. God doesn’t want to make things overly difficult. He’s given us the basic tools. We just need to apply them. Of course, as I’m sure many of you can attest to, the application of those tools can be challenging. For me, I’m challenged to stay on task and focused. I’m challenged to remember to put His will before mine. His understanding before my own. I’m challenged to simply have faith and believe, even when I don’t understand. Not because our faith should be blind, but because we must remember our viewpoints are limited.

As we follow those five principles, we can move onto the second step of the Lord’s pattern. Commit and give everything you have to doing the Lord’s will. President Peterson said we must act in faith, committing ourselves to the action regardless of the cost, the time, or the sacrifice involved. And we can’t give up if we suffer a small setback or two.

Several years ago, my family and I attended a water park. In the middle of the park was a splash tower where people could go to cool off and get doused by water. At the top of the tower was a gigantic bucket, fed with water from a spout. The bucket was balanced so that it was mostly upright, but once enough water went into that bucket, the balance shifted and the bucket turned over, splashing a thousand gallons of water over the waiting crowd below. My kids were terrified of the bucket. They had a blast running through the fountains and in and out of waterfalls, but as soon as that bucket was even in the same zip code of tipping, we had to evacuate the area and watch from a safe distance.

I think the Lord’s pattern often works like that bucket. We follow the pattern. We do what we’ve been asked to do. We keep the commandments. Pray for guidance. Keep working. And all the time, those efforts work to fill the bucket. When the time comes that the bucket finally tips and the blessings pour out, we might be tempted to think they all came because of whatever the last bit was that went into the bucket. As if that made more of a difference than all of the stuff that had gone into the bucket before. In reality, it’s a cumulative effort. It would be a mistake, then, to focus on any single principle simply due to its proximity to the acquired blessing. A mistake a cargo cult proportions.

The results of the Lord’s pattern don’t always make sense to us either. Daniel followed the commandments and ended up in a lion’s den. The Anti-Nephi-Lehis had over a thousand of their group slaughtered as a direct result of their commitment to forsake violence and follow God’s will. There is not always a recognizable correlation between following the commandments and receiving blessings, no matter how we might like to focus on those times when that correlation is blatantly obvious.

In my personal life, the time that comes most to mind is when I was trying to figure out what in the world I was going to do with the rest of my life. I was in grad school at BYU, finishing my masters degree in American literature. For years, the plan had been to go on to get a doctorate in English and become a professor, ideally at a small liberal arts college in the northeast. If I had to pick a state, it would have been Maine.

I prayed many times during that process. Prayed about whether I was picking the right career. Prayed about the schools I applied to. Prayed about the application process itself. And I felt very good about it. I felt like I was on the right track, and it would all work out. My advisors all said the same thing: I had done what I needed to do, and all that was left to do was sit back and wait for that bucket to finally tip and the next phase of my life to begin.

One by one, however, the letters came back from those schools. Each one a rejection. Even my safety net schools–the ones my professors had thought I was a lock to get into–turned me down.

I had followed the pattern. Done all the work. And the pattern had let me down.

Honestly, it was one of the darker points in my life. Suddenly I had no idea what in the world I was supposed to do. Not just because I was at a loss for my career, but because for the first significant time, I felt like all that prayer hadn’t done me any good. Why in the world would God have prompted me to keep going with all those applications if He knew I wasn’t going to get into any of the schools? Did I even understand what the promptings of the Spirit were? Was I just really confused?

Looking back at it now, I can see the hand of the Lord in what happened. How those applications set up me to take another look at library science as a career. How I had just enough time to apply to Florida State, which was doing a discount on distance learning degrees at that time. (A discount opportunity that closed for applicants after my year.) I applied to one single library science program. I did it in a rush, from a public computer in Slovakia, because that was all I had time to do.

And I got in.

From that experience, more steps followed. And now, I’m working as a librarian at a small liberal arts college in the northeast. In Maine. I am happier as a librarian than I would have been as a professor. I know that now, but I could not have known that then. I had to go through that painful process myself, in order to arrive where I ultimately wanted to be. The pattern worked. I just wasn’t able to see it working.

I know that happens again and again. Repeated experience with that pattern has strengthened my testimony in it to the point that now, when things seem to break down, I am far less likely to panic. Something about having to give control over to the Lord–realizing we’ve done everything we can do–seems to help this process. It forces us to do our best and to be humble.

In the Old Testament we read of Moses and the Children of Israel. Think for a moment how long and arduous the process was that led to the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. Moses had to try again and again with Pharaoh, showing any number of smaller miracles along the way. And with each step, things only got worse for the people in bondage, ultimately culminating in Moses and the refugees huddling by the side of the Red Sea. Note that God had not told them ahead of time, “Don’t worry. I’m going to part that Sea for you, and it’s all going to be okay.” That inspiration did not come until Moses was already there. Until the army of Pharaoh was on its way, and slaughter seemed inevitable.

In the times when I most want to give in to panic, I remember Psalms 46:10. “Be still, and know that I am God.” In Lectures on Faith, Joseph Smith wrote that “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” I believe we go through those difficult times as a way to help us generate the faith we need to be able to ultimately endure until the end. The challenge is part of the process.

As we celebrate the Christmas season, I pray we will remember the many miracles God has done for us. The biggest miracle I know of–the one I simply can’t fully comprehend–is the miracle of the Atonement. That the mistakes I’ve made and continue to make every day can be washed away and forgiven. That someone would care that much about me to pay that price, even knowing how stubborn and ungrateful I would prove to be.

Electricity is a miracle to me. I don’t really understand how it works. I don’t get how it’s stored and how it’s transmitted. I know the science behind it, sure. I’ve read articles on Wikipedia. But when I flick a switch and the lights just come on . . . that’s magic. And yet because it’s almost always been the case, I don’t question it. I rarely even express gratitude for it. It’s just always been there.

The Atonement is the same way. I’ve been taught about it from the time I could crawl. I’ve never had a time when I didn’t know it was an option. And so it can be tempting to take it for granted in much the same way. Likewise, the Lord’s pattern that President Peterson outlined has been a constant in my life. As dependable as the Quadratic Theorem. It’s important we take the time to recognize them for what they are. To understand some of why they work and the principles by which they operate.

They say repetition is the mother of all learning. In that case, I believe I can safely say now that I’m not going to forget what President Peterson talked about during that special stake conference. I’ve heard the message, read the message, prepared the message, and now delivered the message. I testify that it is true, and do so in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


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