Blog Archives

Correlation and Computers

February 12, 2011 | 12 comments
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Here are two lines of computer code: int myNumber; myNumber = someOtherNumber + 3; If you’re not familiar with programming, the first line says, “Here is an integer (int) called ‘myNumber’.” The second line says, “Set the value of myNumber to someOtherNumber plus 3.” So what if I want to know the value of myNumber? I’ve got two options. Either I can tell the program to display the value, like this: out.print(myNumber); or I can look back through the code to find the value of someOtherNumber and mentally add 3 to it: int someOtherNumber = 8; So now I... Read more »

Wab, Hm-Ntr, and Hm-Ka

January 29, 2011 | 6 comments
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Wab, Hm-Ntr, and Hm-Ka

A couple years ago I was reading up on Egyptian hieroglyphics just for fun. Okay, so it was just one book, and I’m in no way qualified to write anything about hieroglyphics, but I’m not going to let that stop me! :) The book I was studying from identified three different Egyptian words for priest: wab, hm-ntr, and hm-ka. They kind of translate to pure-person, god-person, and spirit-person, respectively. The book didn’t go into any detail about the relative roles of the three, but the names got my imagination rolling. In modern America, I suppose that our archetypal image... Read more »

Ward Diversity Specialist

January 26, 2011 | 73 comments
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Ward Diversity Specialist

I’ve been thinking about Papa D’s recent post about responding to subtle racism in the church. How about creating a “ward diversity specialist” calling? Points in favor of a ward diversity specialist: Every calling in the ward has a natural nemesis–except for the ward preparedness specialist. You know, like the natural enmity between elders quorum president and ward clerk, or between the Relief Society president and the high priests group leader. The diversity specialist would provide a natural foil to the ward preparedness specialist. Problem solved. Two-thirds of the 3-fold mission have corresponding obnoxious specialist callings that no one... Read more »

Claiming the Promised Land

January 24, 2011 | 16 comments
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Claiming the Promised Land

I went walking today, in the hills between Rocklin and Lincoln: I spent hours out there. It’s been a long time since I just made off into the hills like that, to spend a whole afternoon there with no concern about needing to get back for work or some other obligation. I’m looking for a word. As a kid, my friends and I spent our afternoons and weekends walking through the hills at the edges of our neighborhood in Cameron Park. We called it “exploring”, but it after the dozenth (or hundredth) time it’s hard to justify that name... Read more »

The Bloggernacle in a New Decade

January 21, 2011 | 50 comments
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To me, ldsblogs.org is the bloggernacle. When I have a spare minute, I usually head over there to see what’s new at FPR, FMH, Keepa, The Exponent, or any of my other favorite Mormon blog spots. I know a lot of your names, and though I haven’t met any of my fellow bloggernaclers in person, I feel comfortable here with you. It’s that comfortableness that got me thinking about how the bloggernacle has grown and developed, and what it’s future trajectory is. I’m comfortable here because I know the people here, and whenever I get comfortable I have to... Read more »

Book of Mormon (Politically Correct?) Stories

January 13, 2011 | 44 comments
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Book of Mormon (Politically Correct?) Stories

I was recently called to teach the 10 & 11 year olds in Primary. They’re a great class — smart kids and good energy. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy listening to (and singing) the Primary songs. Last week we sang every kid’s favorite Primary standby, “Book of Mormon Stories” (well, it’s either that, “Popcorn Popping”, or “The Oxcart”…I think we sang “The Oxcart” as our opening song for every FHE for eight years straight). Everyone was doing the hand motions, but when we got to, “are about the Lamanites in ancient history,”... Read more »

Improptu

December 12, 2010 | 13 comments
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Improptu

It’s approaching a year since I started writing here at Times & Seasons, back on January 20th. That, combined with Christmas, house hunting, and the inexorable New Year, has me reflective. Where am I going, and how am I doing in getting thither? I started my stint here writing about building Zion — specifically, how we can intentionally build communities that bring people together in ways that are rewarding for each member of the community. I wrote about communities and Zion through April, and thought that would be my ongoing theme. That hasn’t turned out to be the case.... Read more »

Dreams

December 8, 2010 | 11 comments
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I’ve got dreams on my mind today. Years ago, while perusing the History of the Church books, I was surprised to discover an account of a strange dream from Joseph Smith (via Wilford Woodruff). I find it fascinating and I’ve never heard anyone refer to it, so I share it here: “I was standing on a peninsula, in the midst of a vast body of water, where there appeared to be a large harbour or pier built out for boats to come into. I was surrounded by my friends, and while looking at this harbour I saw a steamboat... Read more »

Transhuman

December 4, 2010 | 19 comments
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Why is the concept of holiness so closely related to self-denial? This isn’t just a Mormon thing, or even a Christian one. We see it in the Buddhist monastic tradition, the yogis of India, and the shamans of many cultures. The holiest people are the ones who can undergo the longest tests of endurance. Most of us are more familiar with what holiness isn’t than what it is. For us, the essence of holiness is “not me”. I would guess that this is the reason we associate “holiness” with the ability to endure trials — we expect to find... Read more »

Jesus at the Dance

November 27, 2010 | 34 comments
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So, Jesus has returned. He’s living in your single adult ward and there’s a dance this Friday night. Tell me, girls and guys, do you attend the dance? If so, how does it make a difference that He’s there? Would you try to hang out with Him? How do you expect He would look/act? How would you look/act? On the other hand, if you’d give it a miss, why? Read more »

Great Mormon Business Ideas, #1

November 25, 2010 | 21 comments
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So…stay-at-home moms. Utah’s got lots of them. And I bet you’re a market demographic excitedly waiting to hear what I (an admittedly non-stay-at-home dad) am about to propose to bring joy, peace, time, and every other wonderful thing to your day. Well, wait no more, the first of the Great Mormon Business Ideas is here for you today! So far as I can tell, the three banes of the SAHM are: (1) laundry, (2) cleaning, and (3) taking care of kids. But none of these are really so bad on its own; it’s the fact that all three simultaneously... Read more »

Resigning

November 20, 2010 | 59 comments
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I started this semester as a seminary teacher. Two months in, I realized that it wasn’t going to work. I was tired and miserable, useless to my family, and unproductive at work. So, for the first time in my life, I asked to be released from a calling. No, that’s not quite accurate. I didn’t really ask; I informed them that I could manage for about two more weeks and then I’d be done. Now it’s been a week since I stopped teaching, and I have no doubt it was the right choice. The entire experience of teaching seminary... Read more »

Standing Firmly on Dubious Truths

November 7, 2010 | 39 comments
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Standing Firmly on Dubious Truths

I recently watched The Crucible, a movie about the Salem witch trials. The core issue of the story is, how do you track down the criminal in an untraceable crime? The people of Salem believed that witchcraft could be performed by anyone, anywhere, with no outwardly visible evidence. Convinced of the reality of witchcraft, and unwilling to accept that nothing could be done about it, the Salemites’ solution to the issue was to allow “spectral evidence” — testimony based on dreams. A person who had dreams of his or her neighbor as a witch could prosecute the neighbor solely... Read more »

Created Truth vs. Discovered Truth

October 13, 2010 | 31 comments
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Created Truth vs. Discovered Truth

Can truth be created? In the church, we tend to privilege truth that is discovered, and we dismiss creative doctrine-making attempts as the “philosophies of men”. Our common discourse places the identification of truth as solely within the purview of God’s authority, to be dispensed only through His designated prophet. In this paradigm, discovered truth is the only solid truth, and the only reliable mechanism for discovering truth is authorized revelation through priesthood channels. This worldview that privileges discovered truth is what anti-Mormons attack when they point out how Joseph Smith’s environment influenced his revelations, translations, and doctrinal innovations.... Read more »

The First Freak-Out Question

September 25, 2010 | 38 comments
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The First Freak-Out Question

My five-year-old daughter Alanna started kindergarten a few weeks ago. She’s loving it, and I love getting to talk with her about her day when I get home from work. She shares experiences, sings songs that she learned, shows me her artwork, and tells me about her friends. And she’s started asking questions. That’s great for me, because I can usually answer a five year old’s questions. So it was a big surprise to me last night when, while I was lying in bed getting ready to fall asleep, my wife mentioned, “Alanna asked me today, ‘Why don’t girls... Read more »

Measuring Testimony

September 23, 2010 | 37 comments
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Measuring Testimony

Perhaps you're familiar with the Wong-Baker pain chart, used by nurses for assessing pain. It looks like this: Read more »

Feminism and Religion

September 18, 2010 | 24 comments
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Feminism and Religion

- - – I saw this photo on Reuters. What struck me most was the head scarf she is wearing. Here is a woman who, by joining the fight against the Taliban, is not rejecting her heritage. She is actively pursuing a new world, but not at the expense of her faith. The war in Afghanistan is often depicted as a war between the “backwards religious” and the “enlightened secular”, as though religious devotion cannot coexist with modern liberal democracy. This woman, by wearing the scarf that symbolizes her faith, defies that too-convenient dichotomy. She demonstrates that the definition... Read more »

The Icarians

September 6, 2010 | 6 comments
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While browsing the Wikipedia entry on Nauvoo, I saw this: Nauvoo attracts large numbers of visitors for its historic importance and its religious significance to members of…groups such as the Icarians. I’d never heard of the Icarians before. So, continuing down the Wikipedia path, I found this: The Icarians were a French utopian movement, founded by Étienne Cabet, who led his followers to America where they established a group of egalitarian communes during the period from 1848 through 1898. followed by: After the failure of the Texas colony, the Icarians decided to head north to Nauvoo, Illinois, a city... Read more »

Those Oh-So-Temporary Golden Ages

September 5, 2010 | 5 comments
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Those Oh-So-Temporary Golden Ages

I started teaching seminary three weeks ago. We’re off to a great start. I don’t have any goofballs in my class, so that helps. As I started preparing before the semester began, I tried to figure out how to present the Doctrine and Covenants in a way that could be compelling to high school students. The strongest memories I have of my own seminary years are the rides to and from the seminary building. I’m not sure whether the fact that I remember the transit more than the classes themselves says something about the quality of the instruction or... Read more »

Instruction as Worship

August 7, 2010 | 24 comments
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Instruction as Worship

It’s no secret that we Mormons aren’t big on praise worship in our meetings. You won’t hear any “hallelujahs” or “amens” in our sacrament meetings. And that’s fine for us. I think that members of our church tend to believe that worship is best accomplished through living in accordance to God’s commandments — that obedience expresses reverence. And since “righteous living” is difficult to perform in a Sunday meeting (as opposed to, say, praise), we settle for the next best thing: instructing each other toward righteous living. Now the fact that we spend our church meetings in preaching rather... Read more »

Antichrist to an Antichrist

August 2, 2010 | 26 comments
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Antichrist to an Antichrist

I’m currently through the beginning of Nietzsche’s The Will to Power. I like what I’ve read, and I’ve identified a few possible Nietzschean approaches to Mormonism. Joseph and Neitzsche as two men whose respective philosophies are fundamentally similar. Latter-Day-Saintism as Nietzsche’s “Revaluation of All Values”. Joseph as a realization of Neitzsche’s ubermensch. Now I’m no educated philosopher, and I’m only basically familiar with Nietzsche’s work. That said, here we go. 1. Joseph and Neitzsche as two men whose respective philosophies are fundamentally similar. Nietzsche’s states that “it is in one particular interpretation, the Christian-moral one, that nihilism is rooted”... Read more »

The “V” Words

July 15, 2010 | 21 comments
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The “V” Words

This post is brought to you by the letter “V”. (Don’t worry, that’s grape juice in the picture. Really. I’m sure it is.) Vigor. Verdant. Vibrant. Vivacious. AliVe. These are the qualities I expect true religion to inculcate. Does it make me think more? Does it make me love more? Does it make me see more? Does it make me do more? Does it make me be more? “These things are fun and fun is good.” Does it make life awesomer, and does it make me awesomer? Or, as Parley P. Pratt so effectively stated: The gift of the... Read more »

Labels

July 14, 2010 | 24 comments
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Labels

Alright people, here we go…on labels! (apollo, this one’s for you.) Labels of preference These are the labels anyone can just pick for themselves. “Awesome”, “feminist”, and “Abba fan” are all labels of preference. You just pick one, apply it to yourself, and no one can say you’re wrong! These labels aren’t owned by any organization, so they mean whatever you want them to mean. Labels of significance These are labels a person must earn, like “doctor”, “lawyer”, and “cosmetologist”. Labels of significance are “owned” by an organization, like the American Medical Association owns “doctor” (at least in America).... Read more »

Scriptural Literacy

July 11, 2010 | 23 comments
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Scriptural Literacy

I’ve just been called as a seminary teacher. Today I was sustained during sacrament meeting. I’m really excited about it — I enjoy working with youth, I enjoy the scriptures, and I enjoy teaching. Heck, I’m even a morning person. The course of study is the Doctrine & Covenants. It has me thinking about how to help them understand the role that the scriptures play in the church. When I was twelve-or-so years old, I had a teacher who wanted us to understand the importance of the scriptures. He encouraged us to bring our scriptures to class each week,... Read more »