Spirit, Body, Brain

November 1, 2004 | 38 comments
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Thank you, Adam, for the intro, and T&S for the guest-spot. It’s a sacrifice for my other little blog, but I can really use the extra income.

Today i’m thinking about my job and what it’s doing to me. I work on the tenth floor of a not very big building in downtown Salt Lake. My office is small but comfortable, and in the back corner of the building, where no one ever wanders by. Some days I have meetings and phone calls, but most days are characterized by a long, dry, quiet solitude. I have nice views out of two big windows, but I don’t spend much time looking out of them. Instead, I look at my computer and various piles of documents hanging around my floor and desk. The nature of my work and the structure of my office seem intentionally calculated to cut me off from all human contact. Even my phone is hard to use.

Besides the isolation from others, though, there’s another kind of distance. Where I sit, I’m roughly 70 yards from the earth, and two or three minutes from the nearest door to the outside world. This means that from eight to six I rarely feel the outside air. I am psychologically very far from the world out there. In fact, for all intents and purposes, when i’m at work in my office, I really have no ‘location’ at all. I’m somewhere above the earth, but nowhere in psychological or spiritual relation to it. I have a suspicion that this situation is shared by many readers here.

These two phenomena, alienation from others and dislocation in the physical world, seem to be increasingly prevalent facets of today’s working life. Most of the time, jobs that require a lot of lonely desk time are thought of as good things, but sometimes I’m tempted to challenge that notion. And I think there might be a real doctrinal basis for such a challenge.

What is the purpose of our bodies? We are told that recieving a body is central to the plan of salvation. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons we’ve been sent to earth. But remember, getting to earth isn’t the test– it’s fulfilling the measure of our creation while we’re here. Given that commandment, what is the fulfillment of the measure of the creation of my body? What am I to be doing with my body in order to fulfill its potential and satisfy the stewarship I’ve been given over it? I’ve always thought of the doctrine of physical bodies as a basically incomplete one. Yes, we know that flesh will help us be happy in the eternities, but outside of reproductive purposes, we don’t really know why or how.

We fool ourselves into believing that God commanded Adam to work for his bread, as if billing time to legal consumers is the same as ploughing a field. He didn’t say that. He said that Adam would eat his bread by the sweat of his face. It’s a gritty reference to Adam’s body, suggesting that real work involves a) your body, and b) physical exertion. When I’m in my office, I may call it work, but it’s not a sweaty undertaking. Does the Lord care that I’m earning my bread by the synapse of my brain instead?

In other words, have we missed the point of the physicality of this world? The fact that my body is only good to me as a means of controlling a computer for my brain is somewhat disconcerting. I wonder if I’m wasting a valuable gift. As I understand it, I am two component parts- spirit and body, acting in unison. However, it strikes me that neither of these is being employed during my workday. While I’m at work I turn off my body and turn off my spirit, and use only my mind– perhaps a small component of both, perhaps something entirely different. What does that mean for me? Am I going to get to heaven and find that the parts of me that matter, the spirit and body, or the marriage between the two, have atrophied, and that my mind has overgrown them both? The prospect is alarming to me.

King Benjamin tells us that Jesus would come down to earth to inhabit a “tabernacle of clay.” I think this language provides a beautiful image for the purposes of the body- the body is at once holy and dirty, exaltable and primordial. And yet somehow, at the behest of a strangely abstractifying [sic] society, I’ve carved out a place that is located between those two extremes, and partakes in neither of them: I’ve found a world that is not physical, and it’s not spiritual. It’s mental. And here, my body and spirit don’t do me much good.

What am I supposed to be doing with my own tabernacle, and does it matter? What are the doctrines concerning our bodies, and what does our spirit need them for? Finally, is there something wrong with how we’re spending our time with this, the one physical gift we get to take with us? (Please, no suggestions that I just exercise more. This need not devolve into a weight loss clinic. Although, have you guys heard about this new 24 hour diet? Wow, sounds fantastic!).

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38 Responses to Spirit, Body, Brain

  1. Julie in Austin on November 1, 2004 at 5:41 pm

    Diet? You wanna talk diet? I just lost 15 pounds in one day . . .

    Your post resonated with me because I thinking about nothing much beyond my and my baby’s physical bodies at the moment. It is an odd experience of physicality in a life normally as cerebrally-focused as yours.

    But what’s the alternative? I’ve probably got six nanoseconds before Rob attacks me, but we wouldn’t be as effective in building up the kingdom if we were all farmers. We also need doctors, writers, architects, and yes, even attorneys. Maybe the brain workers should consider themselves to be making a sacrifice for the good of the kingdom . . .

  2. Wayne Wells on November 1, 2004 at 5:47 pm

    Another Latter-day Luddite?

    Hugh Nibley was asked what profession he felt people should pursue. His reply was that it seemed clear from Genesis that we should be farmers. The student then asked why Dr. Nibley wasn’t a farmer. I personally am glad that he chose the profession he did.

    I spend far too much time in the office. (As I’m sure many of us do.) I find that I need to work in the garden on a regular basis. It seems to help me deal with the day-to-day stress better.

  3. Ryan Bell on November 1, 2004 at 6:08 pm

    While I am interested in the questions concerning which professions are best, i am actually hoping the discussion can lean more toward the doctrinal– about what our bodies are for and how we may use them best to fulfill our roles here. Is it important to be physical? Or are they merely vehicles for allowing our spirits to interface with the world?

  4. Charles on November 1, 2004 at 6:20 pm

    My wife and I have talked about this a lot. People today work all all too often for tokens that they exchange for other people’s services. Very little of what we work today is for our own good. We have been enamored of shows on PBS like Frontier House. There must be something very satisfying to know that what we have done with our day is for our own benefit not just our convinience.

    We have often talked about reducing our footprint in the world and challenge ourselves to minimalize our lives. If she were on this post now she would probably recomend the book Afluenza which gave her a lot of insight to this.

    As for me, I appreciate Ryan’s post and his last comment here. The chinese origin of Kung Fu outlines the distinction of our bodies and spirit. Monks used to meditate on life and its meaning. Focusing on the spirit only, until they became so out of shape that thier bodies resembled Jabba the Hutt. Bodiharma (Buddha) traveled from India to China to study with the reknown monks. He was disgusted with their lethargy and developed his animal styles to bring the body and spirit into balance and provide harmony. This became the martial arts as we know them today.

    I think this is a critical illustration. Our bodies are here for our spirits to interact in the world, but if our bodies and spirits are not in unison and our bodies not in good condition how can they properly conduct our spirits into this world and provide us the best experience possible.

  5. CB on November 1, 2004 at 6:22 pm

    Julie,

    Congratulations, and welcome back!

  6. danithew on November 1, 2004 at 6:33 pm

    I’m not entirely sure how this will contribute to Ryan Bell’s discussion, but I heard a nice synopsis of things that we should not seek (as ends in and of themselves) by a member of our stake presidency yesterday:

    a) Power
    b) Wealth
    c) Popularity
    d) Lusts/Pleasures of the flesh

    From this I’m taking the lesson that when we seek professions, we need to seriously examine our own motives. Perhaps the profession we seek isn’t so important as the motivation for seeking that profession and then what we actually do once that career has been attained.

    Farming is often romanticized but it isn’t always a righteous endeavor. I was just reading an extensive article about Columbian drug traffickers who have developed a new stronger strain of coca plant to combat herbicides being used by the U.S. government against them.

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.11/columbia.html?tw=wn_tophead_9

  7. J. Stapley on November 1, 2004 at 6:37 pm

    I’m not sure about this, but here goes…So, we interact with the spiritual realm by faith right? We do so because we don’t see spirit. There are those instances when one may see spirits, but the power of God has to change man to be able to witness it. Should not the inverse hold true as well? Why should spirit be able to see the physical and interact with it except by faith. In such a scenario, spirits cannot see our physical realm as we do not see their realm.

    Thus spirits are sent here to experience physicality. This is in preparation for the second physicality or resurrection. Just because we say spirits were with God before the mortal existence, why should we believe that they were able to perceive him outside of him revealing himself to them as he does to us? Consequently, the physicalism we now enjoy prepares us to one day perceive as we are perceived by God.

    As per your chosen isolation…you still perceive things through physical means. You are acting on your perceptions by physical means. So while you may feel separated from the world, you are not – you are the world. You are simply separating yourself from society and giving yourself carpal tunnel syndrome.

    Disclaimer: I recognize that the whole concept of the Devil and his angels debunks my whole line of thaught.

  8. J. Stapley on November 1, 2004 at 6:41 pm

    danithew:
    You state that we should not seek d)Pleasures of the flesh

    Does this mean hot tubes, water skiing, and a 9 course French meal are immoral?

  9. Lisa on November 1, 2004 at 6:42 pm

    Oh ! Julie has a baby!!! How wonderful. And how can I wish it was me when mine is only eight months old. I’m crazy.

    And I agree, childbirth and early babyness is the most physical, viseral, sense absorbing thing in the world. Hum. . . wish I had something deep to add.

  10. danithew on November 1, 2004 at 6:47 pm

    J. Stapley,

    Maybe the lusts of the flesh my stake president was referring to were of a different nature. I have nothing against anything you listed, though I’m at least temporarily confused. What are hot tubes?

  11. J. Stapley on November 1, 2004 at 6:51 pm

    Curse my hot tub typo tendancy.

  12. greenfrog on November 1, 2004 at 7:00 pm

    There are a number of spiritual practices in which physical embodiment takes a more prominent position than Christianity. Even the interesting Mormon doctrines that Ryan noted seem more like the beginning of a thought than a completed thought.

    I’ve been studying practicing yoga and meditation for a significant portion of the past four years. I’ve found that there’s a lot of spiritual life to be gained by paying attention to my body and the ways that it is inseparable from my mind and my spirit.

  13. greenfrog on November 1, 2004 at 7:02 pm

    Re-reading that post, I sound like some weirded out astral projection. I intended only to agree with Ryan that there is a great deal more to minds, bodies and spirits than we discover sitting at desks or on chapel pews.

  14. danithew on November 1, 2004 at 7:06 pm

    LOL. J. Stapley, I see. If your misspelling hadn’t been another real word, I would have figured that out. That was worth it though. Trust me. You had me seriously wondering how I had managed to miss out on the fun of hot tubes.

  15. jls4 on November 1, 2004 at 7:11 pm

    My suggestion is not a solution to your worries and queries, but here’s something you can do, to initiate a response to your question. The suggestion assumes you may begin to answer your questions on the basis of some experiences: It’s a sort of trial.
    1. Take a chunk of that money you have and purchase one-half to one acre of land, near your home. 2. Borrow or buy a small tractor and implements; the old Ford 8 N–there are dozens for sale on the Wasatch Front–is near perfect. 3. Take one third of your land and plant dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees: apple, peach, pear, apricot, cherry. Plant varieties whose fruit ripen at different times through the season. 4. Plant seven or eight varieties of grapes along one border of your field. 5. Plant the remaining portion of your garden in vegetables. 6. If you are able, buy some shares of water and water your garden by irrigation. Not only will it remind you of the pioneers as well as current farming practices in Utah, it will require you to get up in the middle of the night, at least once every four weeks, eight hours. (Flood irrigating is also an ideal way to water an orchard. The trees love it. 7. Buy a fruit dehydrator; cider maker; juicer; ice-cream maker, etc. 8. Get to work, (including regular prayer.) Make certain the entire family helps with the work. 9. Pay attention to your experiences in all their varieities; the work required; the discipline required; the knowledge required; the extraordinary pleasure in growing, preserving, eating this food. 10. Record and analyze your experience for its richness, paying attention to the “spiritual”–whatever that means–transformation that goes on. You may not be able to articulate what’s going on, bodily, for some years, but you will have a kind of corporeal knowledge unattainable in any other way. If you can get the entire enterprise up and running for at least a few years–until it is habitual–neither you nor your family will ever be the same.

  16. Ryan Bell on November 1, 2004 at 7:20 pm

    Wow, jls4, that’s an amazing (and amazingly detailed) suggestion. Funny thing is, I believe you. I cannot doubt that an experience that involved would change me in a real way. However, it’s also funny that we all know that I’ll never do it, and that very few people these days will. Given the easily perceived benefits of such an exercise, isn’t it weird that so many of us are willing to just forget about it?

    Also, Greenfrog, thanks for your comment– what you said about the doctrine on bodies being the beginning of a thought, rather than a complete one, was exactly what I wanted to highlight. And I understood you the first time. By the way, what commune do you live in?

  17. Ryan Bell on November 1, 2004 at 7:22 pm

    P.S. Even though it’s completely obvious, I missed this point: In any online discussion of the importance of physicality in our growth and development, there’s an ironic thread. That’s because we’re all here relating in a very non-physical way. Does that change anything? Are there any important, spiritual ways in which our interaction at T&S is different from our interaction at, say, D.’s apartment?

  18. Mark N. on November 1, 2004 at 11:12 pm

    We fool ourselves into believing that God commanded Adam to work for his bread, as if billing time to legal consumers is the same as ploughing a field.

    Having been unemployed (from my “normal” field of endeavor) for the last 22-going-on-23 months now, I’ve become somewhat (to say the least) discouraged about picking just about any line of work that I’ve been accustomed to over the last 20+ years of employed life. Most information technology jobs seem to be an exercise, when all is said and done, in counting other people’s money. From a Gospel point of view, their doesn’t seem to be anything too much more spiritually stultifying than that.

    I have a job interview coming up in a few days for a dinosaur-type programming position that fits my job experience pretty much to a T, but it involves working for a state agency, keeping track of (what else?) money spent on state medical programs. I suppose that state- (meaning taxpayer) sponsored health programs do serve a good purpose, and yet I’m having a hard time being truly enthused about the interview. I keep wondering, in my now financially bankrupt state, if doing something more physical (oh, say, like plumbing, although I hate having to do anything plumbing-related around the house) than mental would end up being more rewarding than being paid for performing a largely mental activity where the end result is that a bunch of magentic bits on a hard drive somewhere have been carefully rearranged per somebody else’s requirements.

    There’s got to be a better way, and I keep hearing Nibley echoing in my ears about how the Devil pays very nicely when one selects a career not in keeping with eternal principles. Arrrrrrgh.

  19. greenfrog on November 1, 2004 at 11:40 pm

    jls4′s idea is a good one. But would we be willing to go the next step, too: after working the vegetation part of agriculture, turn and raise livestock from egg, lamb, piglet, or calf, feed it, care for it, and the slit its throat, eviscerate it, cut it up, and eat it? There are many ways in which we try to forget that bodies and life are equivalent.

  20. Rosalynde Welch on November 2, 2004 at 12:24 am

    Ryan, you’re suffering from several of the Marxian forms of alienation: you’re alienated from the means of production (that is, rather than owning and using the fruits of your labor, you sell your labor itself as a “wage slave”); you’re alienated from the consumers of your product by the cash-fetishized mode of exchange that replaces personal relations with relations of production; and you seem to feel alienated from some of your human powers of production (the body).

    Ironically, one of the few unalienated forms of labor in which most Americans still engage is domestic work–raising children, above all. A full-time mother, like me, should, in theory, be the most unalienated of all workers, our labor being completely nonmarket and thus inalienable–and yet many homemakers experience an intense social alienation. Chalk it up to complex historical processes of late capitalism, and the lone and dreary world, I suppose.

  21. Rob Briggs on November 2, 2004 at 1:08 am

    Lisa: “And I agree, childbirth and early babyness is the most physical, viseral, sense absorbing thing in the world. Hum. . . wish I had something deep to add.”

    Don’t despair, your remark on childbirth, etc., was pretty deep.

  22. Jack on November 2, 2004 at 1:22 am

    Mark N. As much as I love Nibley, I have to admit that I have little patience with his social ideology. He’s a typical university brat who takes his cut off of the top of another’s hard earned tuition – whether or not the student learns a flipping thing – and yet has the audacity to brazenly condemn the business owner of flagrantly practicing the “Mahan” principle. By virtue of his own ideology, he condemns the professor who dares even think of propping his/her feet upon the desk as one who has taken personal advantage of another’s blood and sweat.

    Don’t let his voice ring too loudly in your ears. IMO most work is honorable and service oriented.

  23. Rob Briggs on November 2, 2004 at 1:43 am

    Ryan: “While I am interested in the questions concerning which professions are best, i am actually hoping the discussion can lean more toward the doctrinal– about what our bodies are for and how we may use them best to fulfill our roles here. Is it important to be physical? Or are they merely vehicles for allowing our spirits to interface with the world?”

    Hate to be so dense but in the context of of your question I really don’t know what “our spirits” means. Really, I don’t. I know that we use “spirit” frequently, loosely & vaguely; I know we use it in broad, sweeping metaphorical ways. But when we get down to the dualities of body vs. spirit (if it is a duality!?), or matter vs. spirit, I really don’t know what it is.

    I’ve got a pretty good fix on “body,” some sense of “brain,” start getting fuzzy at “mind,” and when I get to “spirit” — well, I need a working definition. Can you tell me, fairly concretely (if that’s not a contradiction), what you mean by “spirit”? Particularly as compared with “mind”?

    Personally, I think it’s a mystery. Or Mystery, if you prefer.

    I think the questions — what is body for?, why is body (physicality) important?, how best to use it?, does it have intrinsic value, or only instrumental value for spirit to interact with the material world? — are good. But I think we need some common understanding of terms, particularly since at the sunday school level we use them so vaguely.

  24. Jim F. on November 2, 2004 at 1:57 am

    Jack, as one of the university brats you refer to, I think your description of what is typical is far from the mark and unfair. The money a university professor makes is not a “cut off the top of another’s hard earned tuition.” It is money earned by work, real work, hard work, though rarely physical work. And since tuition in very few schools covers the costs, most of the money the professor earns doesn’t come from tuition. In addition, contrary to what you say, most professors I’ve known in the last 30-40 years have indeed been interested in whether the students learn something. The myth about professors, like most such myths, has little to do with reality.

    Finally, would you suggest than anyone who earns a living doing something that doesn’t require blood and sweat is taking advantage of those whose work does require them? That is odd on several counts, but let me mention only one: Few jobs in the US today require sweat and far fewer still require blood of those who perform them. It is not plausible that the vast majority of the work force is taking advantage of that small group.

    I’m not defending Nibley’s understanding of society. I don’t know enought about it to defend or criticize it. But I think I work as hard as a professor as the next professional, and harder than some.

    Of course, this is a side-issue from Ryan’s real question about work and bodies, from which I hope Jack and I don’t distract the discussion.

  25. Jim F. on November 2, 2004 at 2:00 am

    Just a note: jls4 can make such specific recommendations because he practices what he preaches.

  26. Mark N. on November 2, 2004 at 2:03 am

    Jack: “He’s a typical university brat who takes his cut off of the top of another’s hard earned tuition – whether or not the student learns a flipping thing…”

    In defense of Nibley (and university professors everywhere), nobody’s forcing anybody to pay tuition (unless one leans in Nibley’s direction in believing that Satan has got the economy set up in such a way as to make a college diploma an absolute necessity in today’s world). I assume that those going to college, now on their own dime (or their parents’) as opposed to being in a government school, are there voluntarily, and understand that while the responsibility to teach is on the shoulders of the professors, the responsibility to learn is upon their own. Not being a college-educated guy myself, I assume there are horrible professors out there who provide very little in the way of learning opportunities, but I hope they’re more the exception and less the rule.

  27. John Mansfield on November 2, 2004 at 7:55 am

    Digging by Seamus Heaney

    Between my finger and my thumb
    The squat pen rests: snug as a gun.

    Under my window, a clean rasping sound
    When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
    My father, digging. I look down

    Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
    Bends low, comes up twenty years away
    Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
    Where he was digging.

    The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
    Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
    He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
    To scatter new potatoes that we picked
    Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

    By God the old man could handle a spade.
    Just like his old man.

    My grandfather cut more turf in a day
    Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
    Once I carried him milk in a bottle
    Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
    To drink it, then fell to right away

    Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
    Over his shoulder, going down and down
    For the good turf. Digging.

    The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
    Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
    Through living roots awaken in my head.
    But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

    Between my finger and my thumb
    The squat pen rests.
    I’ll dig with it.

  28. *k on November 2, 2004 at 10:54 am

    Ryan: I was reading some Wendell Berry yesterday before I came across your post. This really stood out to me:

    “It is clear to anyone who looks carefully at any crowd that we are wasting our bodies … Our bodies have become marginal; they are growing useless like our “marginal� land because we have less and less use for them. After the games and idle flourishes of modern youth, we use them only as shipping cartons to transport our brains and our few employable muscles back and forth to work.�

    Berry goes on to talk about the competition of the body and the soul. I wonder if our bodies are marginal because we talk in terms of the spirit triumphing over the body – a devaluation or vilification of the body. It seems to me that we spend a lot more time talking about how we need to conquer the body (appetites, desires and passions, etc.) then caring for our bodies as a temple, etc, even though we are taught that the body has a central part in the plan of salvation. The soul must triumph over the body and is thus more important. My experience that in most WOW discussions, we seem to focus on the “don’ts� instead of the “do’s�.

    I remember when I was the Primary choristers teaching the kids to sing “The Lord Gave Me a Templeâ€?. I frequently was moved to tears by the chasm that seemed to separate the sentiment of the song and the reality in which we live. It seems to me there was a lot more involved in “making our temple brighter” than in just abstaining from tea, coffee, alcohol, etc.

    Finally, Rosalynde – I enjoyed your comments but I find that my domestic labour can be alienating and not just because it is isolated. Most households are no longer producers, but consumers and are filled with labour saving devices that devalue or replace domestic skills. I do take pleasure in gardening, canning, knitting, etc. and wonder if I would enjoy housework more if I went off the grid, for instance. This is a scary proposal to me in terms of time and work – for now I am still using my washing machine :)

  29. Ryan Bell on November 2, 2004 at 11:46 am

    Rosalynde, I wonder if Marx might somehow raise his hairy head here. I think, on this point, Marx is half-right, half wrong. He is right to point out my alienation, and that of other similarly situated workers. However, he believes in a spiritual death different from the one I believe in. For Marx, the alienation comes from separation from control over one’s destiny, specifically, the ability to control resources that will bring independence. I think the source of the alienation is basically the same as it was for Adam: We are separated from God, living in a fallen world, with scant understanding of how we are to grow closer to him. More relevant to this thread, I feel alienated because I am separated from spirit, and perhaps from body as well. Thus, living in the mental realm I described above creates a new level of separateness from God, where we move alone as disembodied, thoughtful ghosts. Is this spirit prison? :)

    K, thank you for your thoughts– I loved reading that excerpt from Wendell Berry. I’m surprised how well his own thoughts echo mine (okay, I know it’s actually vice versa). And you and I have similar soft spots for doctrinally insightful primary songs.

    I agree that the doctrine of conquering the flesh currently dominates the field. Of course this is good, as the relevant flesh is our mortal body. However, there will come a day when the only flesh with which we have anything to do will be immortal and perfect. Is it only then that we will learn the true purpose of the flesh, and how it supplements and anchors our souls? I wish we could at least get some hints of those secrets now, even while we’re obese and weak and diseased.

  30. Ryan Bell on November 2, 2004 at 12:11 pm

    Rob Briggs: “Hate to be so dense but in the context of of your question I really don’t know what “our spiritsâ€? means.”

    Okay, well, none of us really does. But here’s a start: our ‘spirit’ is that part of us that existed before we were born into our earthly bodies.

    Of course, figuring out where spirit ends and body begins, now that we are embodied, is more difficult. I don’t think I’ll venture there, since the above definition gives enough information for my purposes here.

    As for the mind, it’s a very interesting question. It could be defined synonymously with the spirit, or only as a part of the spirit, the thinking, sentient part. But perhaps that’s all the spirit is– thinking and sentient. I can’t answer your question, but I think we can have a profitable dialogue on these subjects without having a firm grasp on what we’re talking about. :)

    Also, thank you John, for that great poem.

  31. john fowles on November 2, 2004 at 12:40 pm

    What is the purpose of our bodies? We are told that recieving a body is central to the plan of salvation. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons we’ve been sent to earth. . . .

    The fact that my body is only good to me as a means of controlling a computer for my brain is somewhat disconcerting. I wonder if I’m wasting a valuable gift.

    In your dissection of this mystery don’t forget some of the simpler reasons for having a body.

    Think of 2 Nephi 2:11:

    For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

    Compare this interesting news story from CNN yesterday and think about what life would be like without the simple aspects of havig a mortal existence, i.e. feeling this opposition in all things through our basic senses. Without pain, for example, what is to be learned?

  32. Jack on November 2, 2004 at 2:00 pm

    Jim, my point is that I DON’T have a problem with professors kicking their feet up on the desk. What I don’t care for in Nibley’s ideology is the false dichotomy between the entrepreneur and the scholar. The guy who hangs a shingle, works hard and hires help whom he pays less than what he makes himself is an evil capitalist, while the scholar who is aided by TAs, secretaries, janitors etc. all of whom earn less than he/she does, is not. Also, the fact that tuition itself would barely cover the cost of running a university is beside the point. I realize that my example of “skimming of the top” doesn’t work in a practical sense, but I think it does work in a rhetorical sense. No matter who’s paying the bill – whether it be the student, parent, government, church (tithing!) or philanthropist, if it is squandered than it is an abuse of some else’s blood and sweat. I understand that by saying this I’m making all of us guilty of the Mahan principle – which is exatly my point! I’m grateful for the university and hope that my children will succeed in getting a good education. And I’m confident that they will have a good go at it if there are enough Jim F’s helping them along. :)

  33. greenfrog on November 2, 2004 at 2:20 pm

    One of the most basic elements of embodiment is isolation — the distinction between “me” and “not me.” john fowles’ post raises that issue with the reference to Lehi’s philosophy (if a non-philosopher can call it that). Some forms of understanding reject the priority of that distinction or duality. I’ve found reason to question it, myself, as a result of experiences that suggest some meaningful unity beneath, behind, or above that dichotomy.

    I think that the question of the meaning of “spirit” raises a closely related question of the monism or duality of human life. We accept as a tenet of faith that there is duality of spirit and body even within what our senses suggest is a single, unified being. I’m not certain that tenet is correct, but I’m interested in exploring it to find out more.

  34. Bob Caswell on November 2, 2004 at 9:18 pm

    Nice thoughts, john fowles.

  35. Joe Spencer on November 3, 2004 at 5:38 pm

    I wonder if a great part of the answer to this problem isn’t found in the story of the Garden of Eden, or thereabouts. It certainly began with the Garden, and perhaps the Garden is the whole key. Adam and Eve there received their bodies, and there they were told to earn bread by the sweat of the brow.

    There is something of a complicated dispute among ancient Jewish writers as to whether Adam and Eve received their physical bodies when they were created in the Garden or when they left the Garden. That may tell us something about what it means to have a physical body. But at any rate, the physical body obviously is not enough without a fall and a resurrection to attain the full ideal God has projected up before us. What exactly is the body supposed to do for us?

    This is a huge question, and I wish we could focus a handful of people who want to discuss it to a fuller extent, and all of those engage in an ongoing thread for some time. I doubt that will happen. But it may be of utmost importance. D&C 88 seems to be pointing us in this direction, does it not? It discusses the pure physicality of the body and of the resurrection pretty bluntly for the first thirty or forty verses. Perhaps that is another place to begin?

  36. Ryan Bell on November 3, 2004 at 6:11 pm

    Joe, thank you for trying to bring added focus to this very interesting issue. I would love to have just that conversation, but only after I’ve read the sources you’re citing, and generally boned up on this doctrine. I’ll get back to you tomorrow, if I may.

  37. Joe Spencer on November 3, 2004 at 9:08 pm

    Ryan:

    Right on.

  38. Rob Briggs on November 3, 2004 at 9:58 pm

    Some years back I took the priest quorum guys down to Laguna Beach for some skindiving. First we went to Sport Chalet to rent wetsuits. The guy behind the counter told us that we’d find the water “a little surgy.” We ignored him.

    We went down, waded in and swam out toward Seal Rock (or so we called) to see the sea lions. The swells were pretty heavy but not of great concern. Except I felt vaguely queasy. Finally, after one of the guys “hurled” in the water it dawned on me. We were in 6-8′ swells and the bobbing motion was making us seasick.

    The next day, Sunday, we talked about D&C 122 & what it meant to be in the “billowing surge.”

    I think of that when I contemplate, “All this things will be for thy good and will give thee –” what? — “EXPERIENCE”!!

    The body seems to have intrinsic and not just instrumental value. Even if we weren’t to be raised with an immortal body I’d still argue that the materiality or physicality of the body has intrinsic value in giving us that “experience” that seems so all important.

    Why is it that we need the body to give us that “experience”? I don’t really know. I’ve never experienced (there’s that word again) things in any other way.

    At least not in living memory.

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