© 2011 mikeandbrynne

Crazy Cores


There is something immensely appealing about a “Kinder Surprise Egg” to the younger occupants of my household.  In fact, whenever a family member travels oversea to Europe or the Middle East it is THE coveted souvenir.  Delicately they unwrap these chocolate treasures to reveal the smaller yellow-coated plastic egg that is hidden inside the white and milk chocolate delicacy.  Within this plastic coated egg lies the true object of their desire—a miniature plaything.  Obviously, the “surprise” in the egg’s name refers to the fact that you never know what kind of toy is at the center of the egg.  Similarly, my 7 year old has a particular affinity for “crazy core” skittles.  A red skittle in a crazy core package will be red on the outside, but when the recipient bites into this confection they will find a different color and flavor on the inside.  It is impossible to tell what is at the CORE of a Crazy Core Skittle.    At this time of year it feels appropriate to ask:  What is at my core?  Would others be surprised to find a different core than what is revealed on the outer coating?  Or better yet, what do I WANT my core to be?  What should the center of a true disciple, friend, mother, and wife look like?


After teaching a lesson on the epistle of John this week and reading CS Lewis’s “The Abolition of Man” for a discussion group, here are my musings that are shared with my discussion group……..


In John 4:8, John the Beloved explains, “God is love”.  Jesus Christ himself explained to us that the first great commandment is  “Thou shalt love thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind….and the second is like unto it, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”.  Love:  Might this value or virtue be the true CORE for which we should strive?  Elder Uchtdorf in an October 2009 address entitled, “The God of Love”, taught, “What and how we love not only defines us as individuals…..love is the defining characteristic of a disciple of Christ……what we love determines what we seek.  What we seek determines what we think and do.  What we think and do determines who we are-and who we will become.”


Yet do we not live in a day where the love of men shall wax cold (D&C 45:27) and where men shall be devoid of natural affections (2 Timothy 3:1-5)?  It reminds me of the relative truths and virtues that CS Lewis discussed in “The Abolition of Man”.  Just last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton under direction from President Obama told the United Nations that the United States planned to promote gay and lesbian rights overseas and that foreign aid monies would be allocated accordingly.  Certainly the administration is being criticized for taking America’s own declining chameleon morality and trying to infringe it on others.  Civil leaders are inclined to promote such measures while at the same time wondering and lamenting about the declining morals and values of honesty and virtue of the younger generation.  The ironic thing is that we are creating this demoralized society by removing God, denying the existence of absolute truths and eroding the family.  “We have been trying, like Lear, to have it both ways:  to lay down our human prerogative and yet at the same time retain it.  It is impossible.  Either we are rational spirit obliged for ever to obey the absolute values of the Tao, or else we are mere nature to be kneaded and cut into new shapes for the pleasures of masters who must, by hypothesis, have no motive but their own ‘natural’ impulses.  Only the Tao provides a common human law of action which can over-arch rulers and ruled alike.” (CS Lewis, The Abolition of Man)


Years ago, I remember traveling on a cruise ship and initially being slightly off balance due to the movement of the ship as we left port.  However, because the boat was large and the movement was slow and minimal I gradually got accustomed to the constant motion of the boat and became desensitized to the distance we were traveling.  When I awoke on the morrow, I was amazed  to realize how far we had come without my truly being aware.  In like manner, our society seems to be slowly drifting away from our port of absolute truths and inalienable rights and moving towards a universal acceptance of a variety of shifting values and truths.  Again, the biblical John warns us, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous” (1Joh 3:7) and the ancient prophet Nephi cries, “Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (2 Nephi 15:20)   When I finally got off the cruise ship at our Caribbean port I found my equilibrium to be altered and I was again slightly wobbly and unsteady.  Indeed it felt as if my CENTER was out of alignment.


The wonderful thing is that if our center is aligned with Godly love then there is no need for us to stumble.  Indeed we are told, “He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.”  When we walk in light and love we steer clear of the “abolition of man” and feel stable and centered.  “Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood.  Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships.  It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations.  Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect.  It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate.  Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope.  Love should be our walk and our talk.” (President Uchtdorf, Oct 2009).


It is especially easy for me during the Christmas season to become task-centered or list centered instead of love-centered.  Last week I was at a busy store being assisted by an over-worked clerk who was clearly unable to provide what the store had promised.  Trying to make light of an obviously frustrating experience, I made the mistake of offhandedly commenting that I was sure that tomorrow would be a better day.  She stopped dead in her tracks.  “Tomorrow will NOT be a better day because tomorrow will be one day closer to Christmas and the closer we get to Christmas the meaner and nastier people become.  No, tomorrow will not be a better day.”  I was reminded of the words to Henry Longfellow’s popular Yule Tide carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”:


And in despair I bowed by head

‘There is no peace on earth,” I said,

‘For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men”


Yet God has given us a remedy in his gospel of happiness:  Love.  “…If we truly learn to love our Heavenly Father and our fellowman with all our heart, soul, and mind-all else will fall into place.  The divine love of God turns ordinary acts into extraordinary service…Love is the guiding light that illuminates the disciple’s path and fills our daily walk with life, meaning and wonder.  Love is the …true altitude of our discipleship.” (Uchtdorf, The Love of God).  Sometimes, okay a lot of times, I feel out of balance like the skittle with the “crazy core” and this kind of love doesn’t exude from me– what then?  In Moroni 7: 48 the wise prophet urges us to “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love.”  This is the core that exceeds even the joy of the coveted Kinder Surprise Egg: the core that gives a happier ending to Longfellow’s ballad.


“Then peeled the bells more loud and deep:

‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail

With peace on earth, good will to men.”


Merry Christmas!