True Love

A little bit of love goes a long way.

When I was in the Provo Utah Missionary Training Center before serving as a missionary in the Philippines Baguio Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was worried. What worried me there when I stood on hallowed ground with the rest of the world all but silenced, you ask? The language.

I was expected to learn a language that I had just discovered to exist in 6 short weeks! Can you believe it? What was I to do?

I brought my worries before a member of my MTC branch presidency and when I told him “I’m worried about the language”, he told me “You shouldn’t be. Learn the language of the Spirit. That’s all you need.” At the time, I had little to no idea what he was talking about. Don’t worry about learning the language? I was called to preach the gospel in this language and you’re telling me not to worry about it? How am I supposed to connect with these people?

Once in the mission field, I began little by little to understand what he meant by that. Going out with Elder Joel Manning day after day made me hot, sweaty, and tired as all get out, but it was good for me. Truth be told, before the mission, I lived a near sedentary lifestyle. Biking up the side of a mountain on a 90° day without a cloud in the sky is healthy, I guess. I’m still using up the vitamin-d I took in these 4 years since I left Sudipen La Union.

Anyway, Elder Manning taught me that the most important thing you can do as a missionary or even just a person in general is to reach out to people. When in Sudipen (a fairly new area), we didn’t have much to go off of, so we did a lot of finding and a lot of exploration.

During one of these expeditions, we were looking for the far-off barangay of Porporiket. When upon an exceedingly high mountain, we met a fairly tall, and good looking Filipino man with really dark skin leading a cow, if I remember right. We asked him for directions and then the Spirit told Elder Manning that we needed to stop and go no further up the hill at that time. We started talking to this man, who was named Hudsen Alac-ac and shared a few things with him.

Elder Manning set up a return appointment with Hudsen. I wasn’t too sure how forthcoming Hudsen would be on future visits considering how he seemed super uncomfortable to have us there with him. But, it was set up and we went back and taught him. I actually felt a change start taking place in him.

We went back a few days later and met his darling wife, Angie. Because Elder Manning spoke a few words of Ilocano to Hudsen, Angie thought we were both fluent. I was back to square one. Not only did I not know Tagalog, but Ilocano was something the MTC didn’t even prepare for, yet for some reason, I didn’t care. The Alac-acs brought us in so warmly into their home on that second visit of ours. It was wonderful.

After that, things started to change, I started looking forward to going out, I did my language study without much anxiety and more according to necessity. One thing led to another and the Alac-acs were baptized into the Church.

Two transfers later, it was my last day in that area and Elder Benitez and I were taking a tryke out of Barangay Castro and as we drove through the archway, I was overcome with emotion. I let out a few tears and the Spirit spoke to me. I was there not for me, but for them. Why worry about the fact that I am not the most scripturally knowledgable person or the most cunning of Filipino linguists? I really should have been worrying about whether my investigators were reading the Book of Mormon and asking God if it is true. I really should have been worrying about if my investigators knew that Christ’s atonement is infinite and how God is their Father.

So, that’s what he meant by that. Love first! I learned that as I loved the people I was serving, that everything else got easier. How do you learn the language of the Spirit? Simply put, you be exactly obedient. How does one be exactly obedient? The Savior Himself said:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

SO, to learn the language of the Spirit, we must love our God and our fellow man! Sounds simple? Well, it took me climbing a concrete mountain in the middle of a sweltering Luzon jungle 3 times a week for week before the message was engrained into my thick skull.

You don’t need to sweat and ache in a different hemisphere to learn this simple lesson. All you need is love. If ye love Him, keep His commandments. If ye love eachother, keep His commandments. The promise is that if you do that, then He will bless you in literally every aspect of your life. Professionally, academically, romantically, you name it.

A little bit of love goes a long way.


garlic TOAST!

-a spur of the moment thought-

Something has been on my mind lately. Garlic Bread.

It seems to me that garlic bread is gaining more and more popularity lately and has even entered the memeverse.


courtesy of Know Your Meme

For those of you who don’t know what garlic bread is, it is most commonly made of a large loaf of French Bread which is taken, sliced down the middle and then spread with butter and a garlic mixture with chives and olive oil occasionally. It is seriously delicious, especially if eaten along with a pasta with meat sauce that is tomato based. Few things are better than dipping your garlic bread into a tasty marinara-style sauce.

But what bothers me now is that garlic bread is eaten toasted 90% of the time. But do we call it ‘garlic toast’? No. Why? When we toast bread, we call it toast, so why don’t we call toasted garlic bread garlic toast?

The world may never know…

-Loren Riddle


“Worlds Without Number Have I Created”

a Toulmin style argument

This isn’t as good as it gets. This isn’t all that there is. Take a look at our universe and we can see that we, as earth dwellers are not alone in the universe. The great expanse of time and space above us tells us that we cannot be. The fact that we are discovering new worlds every year and are slowly understanding astronomy just that much more are indeed evidence that there is life on other worlds.

Sure, we have no valid claims that aliens have made any sort of contact with humanity. If someone claims to have had contact with extraterrestrial beings, we immediately view them as mentally unwell. Furthermore, every time that we have heard about these things happening, they always happened under suspicious, obscure circumstances. But just because aliens haven’t come by to visit doesn’t mean that there are no aliens. We need to take into account the immense size of the universe. Heber Curtis and BBC-Earth say that the universe is approximately 93 billion light years in diameter alone. With this knowledge, we know that the universe is impossibly large.

With the universe being that big, it can’t be surprising that we haven’t run into other intelligent life. Indeed, one may follow this up with saying how the United States and other developed nations have sent many messages up into space and received no dependable response. Last August, scientists had actually discovered a signal that originated from nearby star HD164595, in the constellation Hercules. They are still studying it and trying to figure out what it is. But, even if the signal they found turns out not to be from aliens, we are well to consider the following comparison: If two people are placed on opposite ends of Antarctica with the instruction to find each other with the use of radios originally tuned to different frequencies, what are the odds that they will ever meet?

On the other hand, it may be held in consideration that planet earth is the only world within the “Goldilocks Zone”. This place is neither “too hot” or “too cold” like in the Grimm fairy tale, but it is “just right”. Indeed, earth is the perfect distance from our sun which provides us life and doesn’t do the same for Mars or Venus, or even our moon. (The water found on our planet is also a determining factor for whether we have life. Mars has ice but not much else because of its distance from our sun). However, NASA recently discovered seven planets that are within the Goldilocks Zone of their respective sun! This must be proof that there must be alien life out there! One may respond that this is inconclusive. Which is a valid point. Just because we found them doesn’t mean that there is life, but give it time and we will soon begin to find many more answers than questions. For this case, we just need to be patient with their findings. Even if these planets don’t have life, they are conclusive evidence that worlds besides our own can dwell in the Goldilocks Zone.

Finally, one could say that there is absolutely no way for us to know or to find life outside of our sphere with our current technology. We have been sending out radio waves for sixty years and have had satellites circling about for about ten years longer than that starting with Sputnik-1. An interesting thing to look into when considering this is that we do have a way to determine whether we are surrounded with otherworldly life. The Drake Equation was constructed and presented by radio astronomer Frank Drake in 1961. This equation calculates the number of communicating civilizations by multiplying several variables. Variables include the number of stars with solar systems that can support life, the number of planets in the Goldilocks Zone, and The number of civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy whose electromagnetic emissions are detectable.

One could respond that these things are further inconclusive. They could say that this equation is good and everything but really holds no relevance with where we are as a race trying to contact others. Sure, it is inconclusive, however, as time goes on, it has been proven that the equation has been modified and utilized differently over time and has proven more and more the possibility of life existing beyond our sphere. It’s another example of the necessary patience with such claims.

Further, Nicolaus Copernicus constructed the “Copernican heliocentric theory” in 1543 that was only held as a theory for decades on end. This theory challenged the then widely held belief that the sun and the rest of the planets revolved around the earth. Galileo Galilei proved the theory in 1609 when he turned his telescope to the heavens and found out that the moon wasn’t smooth like they all thought, it had craters on the surface. He also discovered that Venus has phases like our moon.

Adversaries of Copernicus and Galileo were all men of the church and one can notice that many of the current opponents to the idea of extraterrestrial life are also men and women of a church. Their claim is that because God did not mention other worlds and aliens in the Bible, that we have proof that there are none. This here is a dichotomy. How can one say that aliens don’t exist when a god, a being of great power exists outside of this world in a place called “heaven”? That indeed sounds quite alien to the unbiased reader.

Lastly, as mentioned, due to the size of the universe, we cannot logically expect to communicate directly with our cousins in the stars anytime soon, but that’s the importance of patience. As we discover new parts of the universe, new worlds and new galaxies, we will begin to understand more and more of our place in the universe. Hopefully as a whole, we will understand that the Creator of the universe created worlds beyond number and inhabitants therein as numerous as the sands of the sea.

-Loren Riddle

WR 122-18

featured image courtesy of chirpnews


If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times! Snow after Christmas just isn’t attractive or in any way desirable!

Anyone who lives in or near the Portland Metropolitan Area knows that this past winter has been one of the worst winters we have seen in years. Between December 8th and January 17th, we saw five storms, the combination of snow and ice. Usually around these parts, we see not much more than a few billion buckets of rain.

This winter has been very eventful and exceedingly wet. Back when the snow was covering everything, my mother made mention to me that when the snow melts that it will do one or both of the following: “We will get some flooding” and how we will also get some landslides.

Both claims were prophetic. In various counties we had flooding that overflowed our rivers and streams which led to some of our farmland to be underwater.  We also had some landslides. One of these more prevalent disasters took place on the eastbound ramp from Oregon Zoo to U.S. 26.

As of Thursday, March 9th, the landslide closed the ramp which was put under the process of cleanup. The rest of the freeway was open for use, but drivers just had to use some alternate routes.

This brings me to my next topic. City preparation for disaster. My friend Nicky had spent a few years of her life in Texas. When she was there she told me that Texans typically drive in the rain as bad or worse than Oregonians do in the snow.


courtesy of

Now, driving “worse” is bad no matter how you shake it. When you are behind the wheel of a car, you are operating one of the deadliest weapons known to man that is owned by private citizens. You have the power to kill yourself, anyone in the car with you and anyone in the surrounding cars. Some drivers just don’t understand this, that their lives literally hang in the balance when they are on the road. The law requires that if conditions are less than ideal, that you have to be more careful with the way you drive. The Oregon Driver’s Manual says that “The basic rule [of driving] states you must drive at a speed that is reasonable and cautious for existing conditions. The basic rule applies on all roads at all times.” This means that if you are driving recklessly, you are willfully breaking the law and endangering lives.

Portland has shown in weeks past to be unequipped to deal with cold and icy conditions. When I was out and about with my uncle, he and I saw numerous people’s cars sliding around on the road like an ice skating rink. There are countless videos on YouTube that show just how bad things got. A lot of the reason why things got so bad is because for one thing, Portland didn’t start de-icing the roads until after all of the initial accidents and all. Furthermore, countless Portland businesses shut down during that time.

When I was at the bank working, many of our customers have been coming in since December letting us know just how much their businesses have suffered. They are still playing a game of catchup and it’s all due to a lack of preparation. Sure, not all of the blame goes on the city, some goes on the shoulders of our citizenry, but there should still be some sort of state mandate that requires greater preparation for events such as flooding, winter storms, and heatwaves considering how we see all of the above as part of our nearly unpredictable weather pattern.

-Loren Riddle

WR 122-18

Featured image courtesy of

Skin Matters Not When We’re All Made of Stars

Sometimes I am absolutely tickled pink at the beautiful place that we are as a nation. We have a sense of tolerance and acceptance for people who are different than us… that is, until someone comes along and ruins the ride by doing something stupid like a hate crime.

July 25 2015 was a colorful time for Georgia. An organization known as Respect the Flag (whose mission is to go about showing the confederate flag in the same respect they would show our very own country’s colors) had led a convoy of trucks all flying the confederate flag and many wielding weapons. This was mere weeks after the Charleston (South Carolina) Church Massacre. This group had done a variety of things including sticking the confederate flag outside of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, which has a predominantly black congregation.

Some of the people involved in this convoy had also driven through where a young African American child was having his birthday party. Jose Torres was with them. He had a shotgun at the time and had called out to some of the African Americans at the party saying that he would kill each and every one of them. Some of the people he was with followed it up with how they will also go after their kids!

Torres and his woman who was with him at the time, Kayla Norton have both been convicted and declared guilty of making terroristic threats and of violating Georgia’s street gang law; Torres was also found guilty of aggravated assault. They have both received hefty sentences for these things. Torres was sentenced to 20 years in prison with 13 to serve. Norton received 15 years with six to serve. The remainder of their time will be served in probation.

In what we could see from the trial in a video, emotions were flying high in the courtroom. Both sides were in tears and within the courtroom we can really see the essence of humanity. Torres and Norton are crying throughout their entire sentencing. One thinks, are they really sorry for their actions or are they only sorry that they were being sentenced?

The mother of one of the children victimized, Hyesha Bryant was at the hearing as well and she told them how she does not hold any bad feelings toward them and she in fact forgave them freely for their trespass against her and the people with her. When they say make America great again, what they should mean is to follow the beautiful example set forth by Bryant. She freely forgave, even though she didn’t have to, out of the goodness of her Christian heart.

Now, I take issue with a lot of this. First and foremost I am appalled that Respect the Flag exists for the confederate flag. I am going to get a little preachy here, so just bear with me or just stop reading, your choice. In my opinion, one of the most hateful symbols that still dwells within our nations walls is the confederate flag. During the civil war, what did the confederates want? They wanted to continue the oppression and slavery of our black brethren and sisters! In my eyes if someone flies the confederate flag, the message they are showing is “Let’s go back to when ALL of our nation’s success depended on the broken and bloody corpses of our dead and dying slaves.”


courtesy of wikipedia

I’m a believer in free speech, but that is despicable and these people should be ashamed of themselves. I pray to God that I will never have to be in a position where I would need to decide on the fate of people like that.

If you burn the American flag, I will respect your freedom, but I won’t respect you. If you burn the confederate flag, however, I will shake your hand and buy you a drink. People just need to understand that America is better than this. We are a melting pot nation. We have people of all creeds, nationalities, and mindsets. We don’t need to respect everything they hold dear, but if we are human, it is a requirement to respect them for being made of the same stardust that we are.

-Loren Riddle

WR 122-18

featured image courtesy of youtube

Spot the Difference: 2081 or 2017

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” When discussing dystopian worlds, it is impossible not to mention the great, immortal George Orwell. The past quote was from his work Animal Farm. Where a group of animals on a farm become self aware and decide to turn against the humans who raised them. They eventually adopted seven commandments, the most important being “all animals are equal”, but in the end, the pigs state that some are more equal than other

Kurt Vonnegut, science fiction writer and satirist wrote a book, Harrison Bergeron that was thereafter adapted into a short film called 2081 by Chandler Tuttle. In the film, everyone has become “equal” thanks to the 211th, 212th, and 213th amendments to the United States constitution. All of this had been instituted by the Handicapper General and the United States government. How was this equality accomplished? Through the creation of these “handicaps”, meaning these little machines that the otherwise exceptional wear in order to quell their exception.

It begins with George Bergeron, married man and intellectual trying to remember the abduction of his genius son Harrison by the federal government. Because of the many handicaps he wears, it is hard for him to recall this. He and his wife Hazel then watch some TV. Hazel is a bit of a ditz and for that reason does not need any handicaps.

They watch a ballet. Each of the dancers are wearing large, ugly masks and are all wearing really heavy handicaps themselves which make them appear no more beautiful or graceful than the average person. Next, it cuts to a news report where an anchor with a speech impediment tries to report that Harrison, the son of the aforementioned couple, has escaped custody. The anchor eventually gets some handicaps which help him relay his message. Then, it cuts back to the ballet where Harrison busts in with a bomb threat and dances with one of the ballerinas until they are both killed. Harrison’s parents watch the whole ordeal but forget soon after.

Now, to summarize Vonnegut’s whole thesis in one sentence, one could say that “Seeking for true equality can cause some of the world’s best and brightest to be prisoners of even their own device.” This is shown because in order to accomplish this equality, the smartest, most skilled people are weighed down because they are different. Because they are different, they have to wear these handicaps. If you are not different, you don’t need to wear them. Can you see the contradiction here? Vonnegut’s message is that true equality is impossible.

To further this point, ballet dancers who are meant to be symbols of beauty and grace not only are held down by the handicaps to make them move with no more grace than the average girl, but they are forced to wear massive, ghastly masks to hide their exceptional beauty. These are to make them no more different than anyone else, but they are wearing masks and weighted handicaps. This still makes them different.

Then enters the anchor. He too wears a handicap which can be literary device symbolizing how the media even is controlled and regulated by their government. Thats a dangerous game to play, when the government steps in and makes even the media do their bidding.

Harrison is also a beautiful symbol here. He is more or less a Christ figure. A type and a shadow of the Teacher. When he appears, he is dressed all in white and carrying on his shoulders a large burden which is typical of the cross the Teacher dragged partway to the Hill at Golgotha or Calvary. He then, like the Teacher, teaches all that are there to listen that the status quo is wrong and that they don’t celebrate these natural gifts that we are given, but they prefer to live in a backwards world of old tradition. Harrison is a genius. He removes his handicaps (along with one of the ballerinas who also removes her mask) and knows full well that he is then fated to die, but he dances with her and they die martyrs, showing the Handicapper General for the dangerous killer that she is.

The most disconcerting part of this for any viewer though, is the fact that Harrison’s parents watch his death and afterward they don’t remember. They only remember something sad on TV. This is because of the mindset of de-sensitivity that seems to be becoming more prevalent. When we watch the news, we see a story about how a woman bashed her baby’s head in, then threw him into a lake and thereafter we put on the Voice, Blind Auditions. We then turn on our phone and see some pictures of destruction done in the middle east and read about hundreds of thousands that are either dead or homeless, then we change apps because someone we know just posted a dank meme.

If you think that these things that Vonnegut has shown us are silly future stuff, you are sorely mistaken. I believe in religion, I believe in an afterlife, I believe in the God-sanctioned holiness of marriage, I believe that premarital sex of any kind is a great evil, I believe in loving those who have wronged you, I believe that tea, coffee, alcohol and cigarettes should be avoided like the plague, I believe in Creationism. The media would have me keep these things to myself or change them. Why? They are different and different cannot be celebrated. Because I am a straight, white, middle class man with conservative upbringing, I am required to wear “handicaps” because my way of thinking is so radical that I am a danger to the status quo.

True equality is impossible. Why? Because some animals will always be more equal than others.

-Loren Riddle

WR 122-18

Featured image courtesy of wikipedia