Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ancient Tablet Found

Heard about this one, yet? A new tablet has been found that contains some interesting information. They are unsure about its origins, so there is some speculation about its legitimacy but it is cool nonetheless.

Read the articles here:

Biblical Archaeology Review

New York Times

Just Because You Haven't Found It Doesn't Mean It's Not There

I love The Cure. When I found out that the album, Disintegration, had come out, I returned to school from my lunch break and borrowed enough money to return immediately and buy it. I almost missed the bus when I got back.

The day I stopped buying albums from The Cure was the day I discovered that one of the songs on their then-new album, Bloodflowers, was about how God does not exist. Robert Smith, the singer, was quoted in a magazine article (I believe it was Rolling Stone) saying that he had searched all his life and finally, in his late 40s or early 50s, come to the conclusion that there was no God. I was devastated to hear someone I had idolized throughout my teenage years say something that went so fully against my personal beliefs.

Ironically, about this same time, I visited Bjork's website and she had similar things to say. Thankfully, none of her songs have this as a theme.

A few years before this, I threw out a Dead Can Dance album when I learned that the song, How Fortunate The Man With None, was about religion. Funny, I consider myself quite fortunate.

Who are people to think that a thing does not exist merely because THEY have not discovered it? My mind goes to the gentleman who in recent years left the LDS Church and created an anti-Mormon video all due to the fact that his personal research failed to turn up the specific proofs of Mormonism that he had expected to find. Did your patriarchal blessing tell you, sir, that "you will map the Nephite genome and prove once and for all to the world that Mormonism is true"? If so, then I would leave the church, too. Well, unless I had a testimony that the Lord would come through for me, in which case I would just keep working on it. But anyways.

So, on a related note, one that is much more understandable, I recently listened to an interview of Maurice Sendak on the NPR website and learned that he, too, is an atheist. He can't understand how God would allow something like the Holocaust to take place. You can listen to it here, if you wish. I'm just grateful for the perspective that the Gospel gives us as Latter-day Saints.

Don't Lose Your Top

So, you've probably heard about the guy who got excommunicated because he put out (well, is putting out) a calendar of shirtless returned missionaries. I read this article, and something stood out to me.

This fellow was interviewed by reporters immediately following the excommunication proceedings, I am assuming, and this was what he had to say:

"I feel empowered and free and I feel like I no longer have to apologize for anything."

Well, sir. That is an amazing concept. I heard another ex-Mormon say this exact thing to me while I was a missionary. I realize that you were inactive for six years, so let me explain this phenomenon to you. Are you ready? You no longer have the Holy Ghost!

In case you still don't understand, let me explain further. It is the Holy Ghost who brings us to a knowledge of truth, and who also brings us to a point of godly sorrow, wherein we recognize our misdeeds and long to correct them. You, and the 100 respondents to your query for models, could not have honestly thought for even a moment that it would be appropriate to violate the standards of the church.

"The project is about stepping outside the stereotypes and stepping outside of the image," Hardy said. "Not everybody fits the image, and I let them know we're not trying to portray an image for the entire church."

So, your point was what. To show the world that there are Mormons out there who have poor judgment? Excellent example.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Name That Person

Can you tell who the following quote is referring to?

[H]e is a rhetorical genius who developed his own abilities with no help from anyone
else. One cannot imagine that [he] ever spoke differently than he does today, or that he will ever speak differently. He speaks his heart, and therefore reaches the hearts of those who hear him. He has the amazing gift of sensing what is in the air. He has the ability to express things so clearly, logically and directly that listeners are convinced that that is what they have always thought themselves.

If you said Barack Obama, you'd be half right. It is from a 1936 book by Joseph Goebbels, discussing the speaking abilities of... Adolf Hitler. Although we can look back now and see how atrocious the things were that Hitler espoused, the everyman of 1930's Germany was blinded by his rhetoric; he spoke so well that people believed unspeakabe things. And so it is today. You need to read the entire excerpt here to see how closely this fits the persona of the Obama that we see today, and who may turn out to show an altogether different face if he ever finds himself in the presidency of the United States, God forbid. Of course, Obama is not entirely as convincing as Hitler was; Hitler didn't change his position on things, he persisted until he had others convinced and exuberant about his position.

From an LDS perspective, this reminds us of the War in Heaven, which I am sure consisted of arguments such as those that we are faced with now in our society: how much freedom should be allowed us while we are on Earth? Satan, then known by another, unknown name, had such rhetorical power as to convince millions upon millions that his ideas were superior to those of our Heavenly Father. A powerful speaker is a forceful speaker, pushing the weakminded and confused individual further and further into the mindset of the speaker, until the individual no longer discerns their own ideas from those of the speaker. This is not how God works, however, but by "long-suffering and love unfeigned" as the scriptures tell us, so you can imagine how one-sided the argument may have become, or at least appeared, as our Heavenly Father lovingly and thoughtfully presented His plan for our salvation, only to then have it countered violently by Satan, in forceful tones and persuasive arguments designed to convince dominatingly instead of persuade patiently.

How would we learn if we had chosen the plan of Satan, and come to earth only to have our every movement planned out and orchestrated for us ahead of time? In contrast, we were sent to this Earth that we know - one where babies get diseases, wars are raged, and people do unspeakable things - and it is only when we think for ourselves, and always stand for truth even when it is hard, that we discover for ourselves why we have been given the commandments to follow. It is when we are weak that we decide it isn't worth arguing over what is correct... and a little untruth is allowed to exist in the world. And little untruths build up and gather together to become great untruths, and people become confused, and mighty speakers rise up with their powerful rhetoric to convince us that the only way to freedom is to give it all to them, so that they may whisk us effortlessly away from all our discomforts.

And so we end up with socialism, which begins with leaders making all of our decisions for us. You want healthcare, you say? Well, you must see Dr. Whatsit. You don't like Dr. Whatsit? Too bad! We make the decisions now! Socialism, in turn, leads to Fascism, because the people no longer have the freedoms available to them to enable them to resist: namely, the freedom to gather, the right to bear arms, and freedom of speech. For examples of Socialism, one need only look to countries like Brazil, where socialized medicine is a nightmare, and daily life is fraught with experiences like those of my wife's cousin, who married a Brazilian girl. On a trip to Brazil, they ate at a restaurant. He was given the wrong kind of soda, and so he went back to get the correct kind. The workers all told him that it was too bad, and refused to do anything about it, to which he had no recourse because Socialism does not allow for the benefit of an individual's preference: you get what you get, and if you don't like it, tough!


If you did not click through and read the article I linked to above, I would suggest you do so now. It was written in an era when Adolf Hitler seemed innocuous, but many truths were openly spoken because people were not as bent on subversing their motivations as they are now. One of these truths is spoken in the following passage, from the same article:

An organization comes from the
propaganda of the word, a movement from the organization, and
that movement conquers the state.
One could no more cut a perfect diamond with a laser than construct a more perfect description of environmentalism. The propaganda of the word has come and gone, the formation of a movement has taken place, and all that is left now if we do not cut it off in its present state is that it conquers us. The science is imperfect - many do not even agree with the conclusions that are the source of the "choices" that we have been already forced to make (which cars to drive, which light bulbs to use, etc) - but individuals and organizations with the intent to destroy our country and take away our freedoms have taken the demon by its horns and are leading us on a pathway to Hell, paved with good intentions. Don't get me wrong: conservation, itself, is not evil. It is the obsession with conservation, the belief that this thing and this thing only will be our salvation that blinds its followers.

Buyer beware.