Monday, January 18, 2010

Celestial Economics

I’m a finance major. I think in terms of risk/reward and future potential return. A central feature in finance and economics in general is understanding tradeoffs, or what you’re willing to give up now in order to get something of greater value in the future. Finance poses questions such as, “Would you rather invest in a low-risk investment-grade bond with 5% semi-annual coupon payments or high-risk equity securities with potential returns of over 15%?” There’s not necessarily a correct answer (outside of academic scenarios) since those types of questions require introspection and identification of personal long-term goals.
Going through these types of hypothetical situations daily has inspired some reflection on what exactly it is that I’m “investing” in. What are my long-term goals? Where do I want to end up, and how will I get there? And perhaps most importantly, what am I giving up now in hopes of receiving a greater “payoff” in the future?

Asking what the purpose of life is in a Sunday school class will invariably result in answers concerning receiving bodies, being tested, living so that we can return to live with God, etc. In essence, we’re here to become like God; to acquire the same desires, attributes, and knowledge that He has. This purpose was identified in the councils of heaven with two potential methods of implementation that we’re all familiar with.

Careful examination of that account reveals that, in reality, Satan had this goal in mind with his proposed plan: he wanted to become like God. Jesus wanted the same. So what was the difference? Satan sought to “exalt [his] throne above the stars of God” and to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14). In other words, he wanted to be greater than God and to forego the necessary development required to truly become like God. Jesus, on the other hand, said, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever,” (Moses 4:1-2) yet He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Philippians 2:6). He recognized that in order to receive the greatest possible blessings available to us (becoming like God), it would take some serious work and sacrifice. Indeed, He understands that better than any of us.

This subtle yet profound disparity between the two plans is present in our lives today. For every hard-earned blessing given to the righteous, Satan offers a twisted, perverted alternative. God’s plan is all about patience, endurance, and humble submission; Satan advocates the path of leisure, ease, self-servitude, and immediate gratification.

Wholesome Reward vs. Counterfeit Alternative

Inner Peace vs. Complacency
Wisdom & Revelation
vs. Knowledge and Information
Meaningful Marital Relations
vs. Sensual Pleasure
Positive Influence for Good
vs. Power and Control
Divine Acceptance and Approval
vs. Justification and Pride
Respect and Admiration
vs. Popularity
Selflessness & Service
vs. Selfishness and Personal Gratification
Potential to Become as God Is
vs. Power over God

Satan promises us things he cannot possibly provide us. Ironically, the pure forms of these promises are to be found in living the gospel.

I’ve decided that Satan is the ultimate marketer – he knows how to sell his product better than any advertising agency could possibly dream of pushing their product on consumers.
For the most part we all have worthy desires and aspirations, but it’s all too appealing to avoid the hard work and consistency that the gospel requires and go with the “get rich quick” scheme offered by Satan. Recent events further indicate that we’re easily enticed by investments that promise astronomical returns while neglecting the impossibility of such incredible results without time and effort.

Returns on investments are easy to calculate in economic terms, but much more difficult to determine when it comes to spiritual matters. Dealing with that uncertainty and lack of concrete metric is crucial in developing faith. The true question becomes, What are you willing to give up in the short-term in order to receive an infinitely greater reward? In other words, who have you chosen to invest in?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Eternal Maxims

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony. " - William Henry Channing

"Laws control the lesser man... Right conduct controls the greater one." - Mark Twain

"Do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man." - Duncan Smith

"No man ever achieved worth-while success who did not, at one time or other, find himself with at least one foot hanging well over the brink of failure." - Napoleon Hill

"The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything." - Theodore Roosevelt

"The superior man acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his action." - Confucius

and one more from Confucius: "
Never give a sword to a man who can't dance." I guess becoming a master swordsman is not in my future...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Manly Poem


Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Friday, November 6, 2009

True Happiness

I think we’ll all agree that what each person is looking for in this life is happiness. We might articulate this desire in different ways, but when we remove different interpretations inherent in expressing a thought through language, we simply want to be happy.

Happiness is a condition that can be obtained through conscious exertion to attain what we desire most. Of course, what we desire has to be based on the principle that, "Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:134–35).

I’ve pondered on this a lot recently. Why is it that happiness seems to be so elusive at times? Is it really that we are unhappy or that we simply didn’t get what we wanted? If happiness is the result of pursuing a path that is consistent with God’s plan and desires, then wouldn’t unhappiness come from living out of alignment with God’s purposes? Is it that our definitions of “happiness” and “unhappiness” are really just issues of inconsistent classification? Are those that appear to be perpetually “happy” really just ignorant or have they found some coveted secret to living that the rest of us are missing out on?

I don’t know that the answers to these questions are simple enough to be encapsulated in a blog post or a short conversation. Perhaps it’s in the pursuit of happiness (thanks, Jefferson) that we’re able to find true joy and peace in our lives.

I took a few minutes to jot down a list of things that bring me happiness. This is by no means comprehensive; I tried to categorize things rather than write down specific instances that make me happy.

What makes me happy?

· Knowledge of my personal identity and relationship with Deity

· Spending time with someone I love

· Laughing/Making others laugh

· My family

· Learning something new

· Teaching

· Serving someone else

· Art, music, theater, literature

· The beauty of creation

· Accomplishing something significant

· The potential to always become better – self-improvement

· Overcoming a trial/temptation/lack of understanding

· Loving/Being loved

In looking through each of these, not one has to do with acquisition of wealth or material things. They are all related to learning, self-expression, and personal relationships. It’s interesting to compare this list with how I choose to spend my time; all too often it seems that I what I focus my efforts on don’t align with what I’m truly seeking.

What do you think? What makes you happy?

Quotes, thoughts, and talks on happiness

Happiness Quotes
Elder Benjamin De Hoyos - True Happiness: A Conscious Decision
Elder Marlin K. Jensen - Living after the Manner of Happiness
President James E. Faust - Our Search For Happiness
Elder Richard G. Scott - Finding Joy in Life
Julie Lund Hughes - The Role of Happiness in Kant's Ethics
Plato's Theory of Happiness

Saturday, May 30, 2009


As I mentioned in my first post, this blog will evolve like my relationships with others: I move slowly. I have several topics that I'd like to post, but I'm still developing my ideas. In the meantime, here are some observations I've made in the last week or so.

  • A British accent lends instant credibility to anything you say. Seriously, I almost bought $100 of sliver coins yesterday because a guy on TV with an English accent assured me that it would be a lucrative investment. He could have told me to buy stock in GM and I would've done it.

  • 16: the number of watch ads in my most recent Forbes Life, priced from $5k to upwards of $100k. Also featured were three ads for private jets and an ad for Space Adventures, the private company that will send you to the space station or around the moon for about $20 mil. I hope they give you a T-shirt when you're done. Sometimes I think the conspicuous consumption advertised in Forbes Life is meant to be more entertaining than anything. (Space Adventure's website is down right now. With the profits they pull in, you'd think they'd have that running off one of NASA's servers.)

  • While we're talking about watches, check this one out. One of these guys will run you $200k. I guess they figure that if you're making that much money you're above having to tell time the traditional way.

  • If you've got insider information on the US's projected GDP growth over the next two quarters or whether or not America or Israel will conduct an overt air strike on Iran by 31 December 2009, you could make a lot of money. Oh, America - only you could create such a website.

  • In case you were wondering, Britain's still got talent. Watch out, Susan Boyle.

  • And finally, philosopher, author, speaker, and professor Truman G. Madsen passed away on Thursday. The sun doesn't seem to shine as brightly as it used to, though I'm sure he and Hugh Nibley are kickin' it in paradise.

Hope you all have a productive weekend. As for me, I'm heading to the REO Speedwagon/Styx concert tonight. Later!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Song of the Day

Many thanks to those of you who are "following" my blog and have posted comments. My first post was definitely more on the serious side, so I decided to just share my current favorite music video this time: "Open Your Eyes" by Snow Patrol.


Reasons why I love this song/video:
  • Paris at 5:30 am in 1976
  • Though you never see it, the car being driven is a Mercedes-Benz 450 CEL 6.9. The top speed reached was over 120 mph.
  • The simplicity of the music video that is rarely seen these days
  • The instrumental section is incredibly powerful
  • The timing with the headlights at 4:00 is amazing
  • The "Rendezvous"