14 November 2008

A Prophet’s View

I spent much of yesterday inside the condo of the late President Hinckley. It will shortly be remodeled for President Monson to use. In a way, it was quite surreal to be in the rooms where the Hinckley’s slept, bathed, ate, entertained, and ultimately died. The room where I was surprisingly touched and drawn to the most was the master bedroom. According to KUTV News, it was here that President Hinckley was bedridden for the last four days of his life.

The views all around are spectacular. The layout of the President’s Office is such that there is a window on the side with a view of the State Capital and French doors in front of the desk with a view of the Temple. Apparently President Hinckley used to state that he would look to his right for taxation and he would look straight ahead for inspiration.
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12 November 2008

Begging at the Temple

This morning I was approached by a homeless person in front of Temple Square asking for money. This experience reminded me of a trip to Temple Square many years ago when I was young and saw a sign on the wall near the entrance. The sign asked Temple-goers not to give money to the panhandlers on the street but rather to give to charitable organizations. After my experience this morning, I looked for the sign but was unable to find it. Regardless of a person’s view of the various ways of how best to help the poor and homeless, there seems to be something significant about a person coming to the Temple begging for help.

-In Acts we read of the story of the lame man who was carried each morning to the gate of the Temple in order to ask alms of them that entered into the Temple. (Acts 3:2) This beggar at the Temple asked the Apostle Peter for money. Peter responded saying he had no money but could offer a physical healing of his ailment. He did this and then entered the Temple with the man.

-The speech King Benjamin gave his people was at the Temple. They were living in tents around the Temple begging for a remission of their sins. With the building of the tower and all the burnt offerings performed, they were likely there for several days, if not longer. Camping there for so long, they probably looked pretty ragged, prompting Benjamin to refer to them as beggars. Here was a group of homeless beggars living in tents at the Temple. (Mosiah 2-4)

In similar ways all of us are beggars when we go to the Temple. Is there any distinction between someone coming to a Temple begging for alms versus someone begging for a remission of sins, versus someone begging for guidance from the Lord? Does it matter that some of the beggars remain on the outside of the Temple and some go inside?

Unless we are going for the first time, Temple work essentially involves a service to others; to those who have already lived and died. I find it interesting that we so easily pass the living beggars in the street in order to get into the Temple to help the beggars who have already died achieve salvation.

According to Malachi we rob God when we don’t pay tithing. And according to Nephi we rob the poor with our beautiful buildings and fine clothing (2 Ne 28:13). Ironically in the Church our most beautiful buildings are Temples and we wear our best clothing to attend. Does this change how we should approach or respond to the beggars we see at the Temple?
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11 November 2008

Thank you Rush Limbaugh

The local news last night shared the story of the One World Everybody Eats Cafe in Salt Lake and how Rush Limbaugh attacked it during his show because they are a not-for-profit restaurant. It’s true the restaurant model is very different than others. They let people choose their own portions and then pay what they feel it’s worth. The vision statement includes goals of feeding and including all members of the community, only using organic unprocessed food, eliminating waste in the food industry, and ending world hunger. I simply ask – what is so wrong with this? You can choose not to eat there, but is there anything wrong with a place that has lofty ideals for bettering our community? He stated in his broadcast,

“I’m probably doing more for the One World Café than anybody possibly could. I’m sure there’s people in Salt Lake that listen to this program and despise me and hear me making fun of this humanitarian effort here that it’s an embarrassment to American business and they’re going to go flood the place now and make sure that it stays open. I’m giving them free advertising. They’ll probably overpay for what they’re getting…I doubt that. Liberals don’t go that far. They still want other people’s money to pay for what they do and what they get. But they’ll still stream in there to show a measure of support…” (Rush Limbaugh radio program 10 Nov 2008)

He’s right there. My curiosity was killing me so I had to try it out during lunch today. I thought the food was delicious and the service very friendly. Seeing as how Rush Limbaugh has never been there, I’m not sure how he can say the following,

“I don’t want [beef from Allen Brothers] wasted on a bunch of long-haired maggot-infested dope-smoking FM types walking in to the One World Café.” (Rush Limbaugh radio program 10 Nov 2008)

Interestingly, the idea for the restaurant began with an epiphany. Denise Cerreta developed the café to nourish both the body and the soul. She began the restaurant in 2003 and, “After a couple of months, and a lot of mental anguish, she had an encounter with the divine. She calls it inspiration from a higher power, her own ‘Field of Dreams’ experience, where she ‘just knew’ if she followed it, customers would come…It told her to get rid of her price board and cash register and let customers decide how much to pay for their food…‘I think we all have that ability’ to hear a prompting from a higher source. ‘But I don't think we listen to it.’” (source)

According to the Deseret News, the café doesn’t even do any type of advertising. “Her clientele has simply grown by word of mouth.” Why would she need to do any advertising when she has Rush Limbaugh advertising for her for free…so thanks for lunch Rush, I guess God really does move in mysterious ways…

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10 November 2008

UTA is Encouraging Sprawl

Despite their best intentions, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) is encouraging sprawl with the bus system they have in place. The culprit: Express and Fast buses. The past several months I have been using the Express Bus to get to and from Lehi each day. While I was the beneficiary of a fast bus with no stops and a relatively short commute for living so far away, I came to the realization that this approach to public transit is not in the best interest of the people of Utah.

UTA currently has twenty nine Express/Fast bus routes that come from the outer ring suburbs to the center while skipping the first and second ring suburbs. As a result, many transit commutes are shorter from the outer suburbs than from the inner suburbs. The current system says to me “UTA would rather have you live in Lehi than Sugarhouse.”

One solution is the approach Portland, Oregon uses which places Transit Centers at various locations of the inner suburbs. This allows people in the outer rings to catch a bus that takes them to the inner ring Transit Center. From there they transfer to a line that goes to the center, or downtown. This allows everyone to use transit but gives the penalty in time and transfers to those further out. It also gives more flexibility allowing people to get around at times other than commute times. Thirty nine of UTA’s bus routes currently only run during commute hours. This becomes very problematic when emergencies arise or people need to travel home at non-commute times.

1402 Blair St by Liberty Park – 23 minutes – 1 transfer – 2.69 miles
2378 Blaine Ave in SugarHouse – 47 minutes – 1 transfer – 5.84 miles
3846 Knudsen St in East Millcreek – 48 minutes – 1 transfer – 11.2 miles
3492 Sunnybrook Dr in West Valley – 44 minutes – 1 transfer – 11.31 miles
3528 Mystic Way in Magna – 51 minutes – 1 transfer – 15.08 miles
452 Stephanie Circle in Sandy – 57 minutes – 1 transfer – 15.81 miles
1186 N 500 W Lehi – 50 minutes – 0 transfers – 28.41 miles
378 N 100 E in Tooele – 1 hour 12 minutes – 0 transfers – 33.36 miles

For my unscientific study above, all addresses were chosen at random in various cities that UTA serves and had the same destination of 50 E North Temple. All used the same departure time of a weekday at 7:00am. The only randomly-chosen addresses that were excluded were those that UTA’s Trip Planner could not compute (more than 1/4 mile walking or more than 3 hours travel. Side note: it would be nice to have the option of increasing the walking portion of the Trip Planner to 1/2 mile.)

As you can see, a commute from SugarHouse is an equivalent time to a commute from Lehi or Magna. And since Lehi, Magna, and Tooele have no transfers, the commute is more desirable than Sugarhouse or East Millcreek since there are no transfers (who wants to get out in the snow multiple times?)

While this is only a small sampling, it shows that there are many locations that UTA serves where it is easier and faster to use public transit from living farther out rather than closer in. Is this really the message UTA wants to send? I don’t know about other people, but I used the UTA Trip Planner site more than any other site to aid in choosing which home to buy here in Utah. The Express/Fast bus system is telling people that you may have a shorter commute if you move out further. In spite of this critique, great improvements are being made with additional rail lines and transit options by UTA. With these upcoming changes, I just hope they will reconsider the current bus system and move towards a Transit Center approach.
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