Thursday, December 10
Sunday, November 15
It's really Sunday. 0_o
I mean, day of rest, right? But Sundays for me since school has started have been waking up early, eating some oatmeal, going to church at nine, then coming home and trying to get some homework in - even if it's sinful. I always have a few essays/responses hanging over my head and usually I cave and work on them a bit on Sundays. But today there is little or nothing for me to do.
READING. :D For PLEASURE! For the first time since summer! Does anyone else understand how light and happy I feel?
Wednesday, November 11
The final will constitute entirely of two essays. Wait, the last one had two... Below is a list of three potential essay questions for the Final. I will choose two of these Wha? How is that- and you will be required to respond to both.Suck...
1. Historians are constrained in writing history by the nature and scope of their sources. Well, duh. There is a range of sources available for writing a history of the Ancient Near East in the first two thirds of the first millennium BC (1000-333 BC). But can they be arraigned to write history? I guess so... And if so what kind? Wait. In answering your question, discuss the different arrays of sources available for at least three different regions/societies in the Ancient Near East during the first millennium. WHA? Argue what the sources permit us to say about particular events, figures, or processes in this period to substantiate your answer. Hold it, I can scarcely argue a point with sources directly in front of me! How-
2. In 701 BC, the rab-šaqe of Assyria K, what the DEVIL is that?! warned Hezekiah’s Jerusalem that leaning upon Egypt, Egypt, ‘a broken reed,’ Heh, indeed... would only bring failure. As in the second millennium, the Levant remained a geographical arena in which larger political powers from other regions acquired wealth or made contest. Lol, this sounds like a question on the last exam... but of suckier precision... Discuss the various influences that were felt in the Levant during the period from 1000-333, highlighting the actors involved, the modes of intervention employed by these actors, Ugh, that means specific names... and the nature of their conflicts. Do so within the frame of arguing whether or not these geopolitical machinations had a real effect on the local inhabitants of the Levant.
3. The narrative of the first millennium might be considered a story of the triumph of empire. For the most part, the major empire in question (Assyria, Babylonia, Persia), Okay, already lost. was centered to the east of the area we have covered in this class. But whether by attempt to control, or by real hegemony, these empires touched most of the Near East. Discuss how these empires were able to control more land and what effects, Okay, please don't pick this question...? both direct and indirect, political, economic, and cultural, these increasingly large empires had on at least three Oh of course, this couldn't have been an easy summary of ONE complicated effect... of the various regions of the Near East.
*scans through it again*
*head-desk, desk, desk, desk, desk, desk, desk, desk, desk, desk, desk, desk, desk...*
Thursday, October 22
For those of you who have heard, you know.
For those of you haven't heard, ask me and maybe I'll tell you. If you promise not to mock me. In the least.
Anyways, switchin up the major! :D Heh heh... oh yes, this wasn't going to happen at ALL. I'm so bloody predictable... what can I say? Nothing I do keeps my attention for more than a year or so. And I love studying history - any history. But writing long papers about my "discoveries" that are only worth publishing if my sources are formatted correctly...
Okay, that's not doing ANES justice. It is seriously the coolest major ever. I've met so many people and they are passionate about what they do. Like... it's incredible to me. But I am, by nature, a jack-of-all-trades type of girl, and I don't think I can be dedicated enough.
P.s. that doesn't bode well for any hopes of graduating, does it? *sigh* I need to grow up.
But in the meantime, we're trying out some new things. :) I'm getting together a portfolio of photos so I can apply to the school of visual arts in BYU... which, although competitive, looks like fun so why not? I'm in the market. (Besides this, photography/graphic arts are something I've always enjoyed - regardless of how much I do them. So maybe this is a better path.
Lastly, a review of my recent problem: I cannot be healthy for more than 12 hours straight.
5:30 wake up, exercise for approx. an hour and fifteen minutes.
7:15 bus to school.
10:00 eat an APPLE.
1:15 bus home.
1:30 eat something light for lunch - a salad, maybe a stir fry if I'm feeling hungry (which I'm usually not).
4:00 eat a snack - maybe a protein shake, more eggs, leftovers from lunch, etc. Once again, healthy choices. And I'm not feeling hungry or craving junk food or anything. I feel light, healthy, and awake. :)
So, anyways, anyone know what's going on with my sorry state of affairs? I want to change. But it gets harder and harder every day...
Thursday, October 1
Why the Church Is As True As the Gospel
I was convinced when I was a boy that the most boring meeting in the Church, perhaps in the world, was a "quarterly stake conference." In those days stake conference was indeed held every three months. It included at least two two-hour sessions on Sunday—for everyone. And the most interesting highlights to us children were the quavery songs literally rendered" by the "Singing Mothers" chorus and the sober sustaining of the "Stake No Liquor-Tobacco Committee."
But one conference, when I was twelve, was memorable for a better reason. I was sitting near the front because my father was being sustained as a high councilor in a newly formed stake, and I was turned around in my seat, teasing my sister who was sitting behind me. Suddenly I felt something, vaguely familiar, burning the center of my heart and bones—and then, it seemed, physicaIly turning me around to look at the transfigured face of Elder Harold B. Lee, the visiting authority. He had interrupted his prepared sermon and was giving the new stake an apostolic blessing. And I became aware, for a second and confirming time in my life, of the presence of the Holy Ghost and the special witness of Jesus Christ.
How many boring stake conferences would I attend to be even once in the presence of such grace? Thousands—all there are. That pearl is without price. And because I have since learned better what to look for and find there—understanding of and edifying, inspirational experience with the members of the Church—the conferences are no longer boring. Thus, one of the earliest and most important pillars of my faith came, not through some great insight into the gospel, but through an experience I could have had only because I was doing my duty in the Church, however immaturely.
Yet one of the cliches often repeated by Mormons is that the gospel is true, even perfect, but the Church is, after all, a human instrument, history-bound, and therefore understandably imperfect—as if it were something to be endured for the sake of the gospel. I am persuaded, by experiences like that one at a stake conference and by my best thinking, that in fact the Church is as "true," as effective, as sure an instrument of salvation as the system of doctrines we call the gospel—and that it is so in good part because of the very flaws, human exasperations, and historical problems that occasionally give us all some anguish about the Church.
Those who use the cliche about the gospel being more "true" than the Church want to mean by the gospel a perfect system of revealed doctrines and commandments based in principle& which infallibly express the natural laws of the universe. Interestingly enough, the universe itself and thus the true laws and principles that the gospel uses to describe the universe appear to be fundamentally paradoxical. Lehi's law, "It must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things" (2 Nephi 2:11), is perhaps the most provocative and profound statement of abstract theology in the scriptures, because it describes what apparently is most ultimate in the universe. In context it clearly suggests that not only is contradiction and opposition a natural part of human experience, something God uses for his redemptive purposes, but that opposition is at the very heart of things: it is intrinsic to the two most fundamental realities, intelligence and matter—what Lehi calls "things to act and things to be acted upon" (v. 14). According to Lehi, opposition provides the universe with energy and meaning, even makes possible the existence of God and everything else; without it "all things must have vanished away" (v. 13).
We all know in our experience the consequences for mortal life of this fundamental, eternal reality. Throughout history the most important and productive ideas have been paradoxical, that is, in useful opposition to each other: the energizing force in all art has been conflict and opposition; the basis for success in all economic, political, and other social development has been competition and dialogue. Think of our government based on checks and balances and our two-party political system (which together make pluralistic democracy possible). Think of Romanticism versus Classicism (a conflict at the heart of much literature—and most literary movements), reason versus emotion, freedom versus order, individual integrity versus community responsibility, men versus women (whose differences make eternal increase possible), justice versus mercy (whose combination makes our redemption through the atonement of Christ possible).
Life in this universe is full of polarities and is made full by them. We struggle with them, complain about them, even try sometimes to destroy them with dogmatism or self-righteousness or a retreat into the innocence that is only ignorance, a return to the Garden of Eden where there is deceptive ease and clarity but no salvation. William Blake, the great eighteeenth-century poet, taught that "without contraries is no existence" and warned that "whoever tries to reconcile [the contraries] seeks to destroy existence." Whatever it means that we will eventually see "face to face," now we can see only "through a glass, darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:12), and we had better make the best of it.
Certainly, if we mean by "the gospel" simply the good news of Christ's redemption (as it is used often in the New Testament), or if we mean simply the basic principles of salvation implied when we say "1 know the restored gospel is true," we are talking about something fairly definite and clear. But, as we know it in human terms, the "full gospel" is not—and perhaps, given the apparently paradoxical nature of the universe itself, cannot ever be—a simple and clear set of unequivocal propositions. However clear and unified our ultimate knowledge of doctrine will be, our present understanding of the gospel, which is what we actually have to deal with, is various and limited.
And that is precisely where the Church comes in. I believe the Church is the best medium, apart from marriage (which it much resembles in this respect), for helping us gain salvation by grappling constructively with the oppositions of existence, despite our limited and various understandings of "the gospel." I believe that the better any church or organization is at such help, the "truer" it is. And when I call the Mormon church "the true church" I mean that it is the best organized means for providing such help because it is divinely organized and directed—is made and kept effective by revelations that have come and continue to come from God, however "darkly" they, of necessity, come to our own limited and various understandings.
Martin Luther, with inspired perception, wrote, "Marriage is the school of love"—that is, marriage is not the home or the result of love so much as the school. I believe that any church can be a school of love and that the Mormon church is the best one, the "only true and living church" (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30) —not just because its doctrines teach and embody the great essential paradoxes and central saving principles but also because the Church provides the best context for struggling with, working through, enduring, and being redeemed by our responses to those paradoxes and oppositions that give energy and meaning to the universe. Joseph Smith, also with inspired perception, wrote, in a letter just before his death, "By proving contraries, truth is made manifest" (History of The Church 6:428). By "prove" he meant not only to demonstrate logically but also to test, to struggle with and to work out in practical experience. The Church is as true—as effective—as the gospel because it involves us directly in proving contraries, working constructively with the oppositions within ourselves and especially between people, struggling at an experiential level with paradoxes and polarities that can help to redeem us. The Church is true because it is concrete, not theoretical. And despite, even because of, its contradictions and problems, it is as productive of good as is the gospel.
Let us consider why this is so: In the life of the true Church, as in a good marriage, there are constant opportunities for all to serve, especially to learn to serve people we would not normally choose to serve—or possibly even associate with—and thus there are opportunities to learn to love unconditionally (which, after all, is the most important thing to learn in the gospel). There is constant encouragement, even pressure, to be "active": To have a "calling" and thus to have to grapple with relationships and management, with other people's ideas and wishes, their feelings and failures. To attend classes and meetings and to have to listen to other people's sometimes misinformed or prejudiced notions and to have to make some constructive response. To be subject to leaders and occasionally to be hurt by their weakness and blindness, even unrighteous dominion—and then to be called to a leadership position and find that we, too, with all the best intentions, can be weak and blind and unrighteous.
Church involvement teaches us compassion and patience as well as courage and discipline. It makes us responsible for the personal and marital, the physical and spiritual welfare of people we may not already love (may even heartily dislike), and thus we learn to love them. It stretches and challenges us, even when we are disappointed and exasperated, in ways we would not otherwise choose to be stretched and challenged. Thus it gives us a chance to be made better than we may have chosen to be—but need and ultimately want to be.
Michael Novak, the lay Catholic theologian, has made this same point concerning marriage. In a remarkable essay, published in the April 1976 Harper's Magazine, he reviewed the increasing inclination of modern intellectuals to resist, desert, and even to attack marriage and argued that the main reason why the family, which has traditionally been the main bulwark of economic and emotional security, is currently "out of favor" is that many modern opinion makers are unwilling to take the risks and subject themselves to the disciplines that the school of marriage requires. But he then pointed out how such fears, though justified, keep them from meeting their own greatest needs. Similarly, I believe that those who resist, desert, and attack the Church fail, from a simple lack of perspective, to see their own best interest. To better see what I mean, as you read this passage from Novak, mentally substitute "the Church" for "marriage":
Marriage is an assault upon the lonely, atomic ego. Marriage is a threat to the solitary individual. Marriage does impose grueling, humbling, baffling, and frustrating responsibilities. Yet if one supposes that precisely such things are the preconditions for all true liberation, marriage is not the enemy of moral development in adults. Quite the opposite.. ..
Being married and having children has impressed on my mind certain lessons, for whose learning I cannot help being grateful. Most are lessons of difficulty and duress. Most of what I am forced to learn about myself is not pleasant. . . My dignity as a human being depends perhaps more on what sort of husband and parent 1 am, than on any professional work I am called upon to do. My bonds to [my family] hold me back (and my wife even more) from many sorts of opportunities. And yet these do not feel like bonds. They are, I know, my liberation. They force me to be a different sort of human being, in a way in which I want and need to be forced. (P. 42.)
I bear witness that the Church can do those same frustrating, humbling, but ultimately liberating and redeeming things for us —if we can learn to see it as Novak does marriage, if we can see that its assaults on our lonely egos, its bonds and responsibilities which we accept willingly, can push us toward new kinds of being in a way we most deeply want and need to be pushed.
Two keys to this paradoxical power in the Mormon church are first that it is, by revelation, a lay church—radically so, more than any other—and second that it organizes its congregations geographically rather than by personal choice. I know that there are exceptions, but the basic Church experience of almost all Mormons brings them directly and constantly into very demanding and intimate relationships with a range of people and problems in their assigned congregations that are not primarily of their own choosing but are profoundly redemptive in potential, in part because they are not consciously chosen. Yes, the ordinances performed through the Church are important, as are its scriptural texts and moral exhortations and spiritual conduits. But even these, in my experience, are powerful and redemptive partly because they work harmoniously with profound, life-giving oppositions through the Church structure to give truth and meaning to the religious life of Mormons.
Let me illustrate: In one of his last general conference messages, during the Saturday evening priesthood session of October 5, 1968, President David 0. McKay gave a kind of final testament that was a bit shocking to many of us who are conditioned to expect that prophets have no difficulty in getting divine manifestations. He told how he struggled in vain all through his teenage years to get God "to declare to me the truth of his revelation to Joseph Smith." He prayed, "fervently and sincerely," in the hills and at home, but had to admit to himself constantly, "No spiritual manifestation has come to me." But he continued to seek truth and to serve others in the context of Mormonism,including going on a mission to Britain, mainly because of trust in his parents and the goodness of his own experience. Finally, as President McKay put it,
the spiritual manifestation for which I had prayed as a boy in my teens came as a natural sequence to the performance of duty. For, as the apostle John declared, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, of whether 1 speak of myself." (John 7:17.)
Following a series of meetings at the conference held in Glasgow, Scotland, was a most remarkable priesthood meeting. I remember, as if it were yesterday, the intensity of the inspiration of that occasion. Everybody felt the rich outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord. MI present were truly of one heart and one mind. Never before had I experienced such an emotion. It was a manifestation for which as a doubting youth I had secretly prayed most earnestly on hillside and in meadow. .. .
During the progress of the meeting, an elder on his own initiative arose and said, "Brethren, there are angels in this room." Strange as it may seem, the announcement was not startling; indeed, it seemed wholly proper, though it had not occurred to me [that] there were divine beings present. I only knew that 1 was overflowing with gratitude for the presence of the Holy Spirit. (Improvement Era, December 1968, p. 85.)
I have had many confirmations of President McKay's prophetic witness in that sermon. Most of my profound spiritual manifestations, those that have provided the rock-bottom convictions I have about the reality of God and Christ and their divine work—as well as my most troubling, soul-stretching moral challenges, my most maturing struggles with the great human issues of personal integrity versus public responsibility, loyalty to self versus loyalty to community, redemptive freedom versus redemptive structure and order—all these have come, as
President McKay affirmed, "as a natural sequence to the performance of duty" in the Church.
I know God has been found by unusual people in unusual places—in a sudden vision in a grove or orchard or grotto, or on a mountain or in a closet, or through saintly service to African lepers or Calcutta untouchables. But I am convinced that for most of us, and most of the time, he can be found most surely in the "natural sequence to the performance" of the duties he has given us that all of us (not just the unusual) can perform in our own homes and neighborhoods—and that the Church, in its unique community, imposed as well as chosen, can best teach and empower us to perform.
I have come to an overwhelming witness of the divinity of the Book of Mormon, such that the Spirit moves me, even to tears, whenever I read any part of it, and I came there by teaching it at Church. One Sunday when I was a bishop, as I tried to help a young woman who had attempted suicide a number of times—once not long before that—and who was feeling the deepest worthlessness and self-rejection, I was moved to merely read to her some passages from the Book of Mormon about Christ's atonement. I am convinced that book provides the most comprehensive "Christology"—or doctrine of how Christ saves us from sin—that is available to us on earth, and that the internal evidences for the divinity of the book entirely overwhelm the evidences and arguments against it. But more important to me than all of those things is that as I read those passages to that desperate young woman and bore witness of their truth and power in my own times of despair and sin, her lips began to tremble with new feelings, and tears of hope formed in place of those of anguish.
In moments such as these, I was able, through my calling as bishop, to apply the atoning blood of Christ, not in theory but in the truth of experience. In addition, I have come to know the ministering of angels because I have done my duty in temple attendance and have gone whenever possible to temple dedications. And I have found that we mortals do indeed have the power to "bless our oxen" as well as people, because I was a branch president and was pushed to the limits of my faith by my sense of responsibility to my brothers and sisters in that little branch.
Before I was a branch president, I served in the bishopric of the Stanford Ward in the mid-sixties and taught religion at the Palo Alto Institute to bright young students. At the same time I was doing graduate work in English literature and trying to come to terms with modern skepticism and relativism and the moral dilemmas of the civil rights and anti-war movements and the educational revolutions of the time. I tended to see religion very much in terms of large moral and philosophical issues.
In 1970 I accepted a position as Dean of Academic Affairs at St. Olaf, a Lutheran liberal arts college in the small town of Northfield, Minnesota, and within a week of arriving was called as president of the little Latter-day Saint branch in that area. I suddenly entered an entirely different world, one that tested me severely and taught me much about what "religion" is. At Stanford much of my religious life had been involved with understanding and defending the gospel—and had been idealistic, abstract, and critical. In Northfield, as branch president for twenty families scattered over seventy-five miles, ranging from Utah-born, hard-core "inactives" with devastating marital problems to bright-eyed converts with no jobs or with drunken fathers who beat them. I soon became involved in a religious life that was practical, specific, sacrificial, exasperating—and more satisfying and redemptive. And I saw, more clearly than before, how true the Church is as an instrument for confronting all kinds of people with the processes of salvation, despite—even because of—its management by imperfect instruments like myself.
I think of a young man in that branch who had been deeply injured socially by some combination of mental and family problems. It was difficult for him even to speak a word in a group or to organize his life productively. He joined the Church before I arrived, and as we gave him increasing responsibilities in our branch and supported him with much love and patience while he struggled to work with others and express himself, I was able to see him grow into a fine leader and confident husband and father. I think of a woman whose nonmember husband made her life a hell of drunken abuse, but who patiently took care of him, worked all week to support her family, and came to Church each Sunday in drab but jaunty finery and with uncomplaining determination. She found there, with our help, a little hope, some beauty and idealism, and strength not only to endure but to go on loving what was unlovable. The Church blessed us all by bringing us together.
During the five years I served them, there were, among those seventy to one hundred members, perhaps four or five whom I would have normally chosen for friends when I was at Stanford —and with whom I could have easily shared my most impassioned and "important" political and religious concerns and views, the ones that had so exercised me before. But with inspiration far beyond my usual less-than-good sense, I did not begin my tenure as branch president by preaching about my ideas or promoting my crusades. 1 tried very hard to see what the immediate problems and concerns of my flock were and to be a good pastor, one who fed and protected them. And a remarkable thing happened. I traveled hundreds of miles and spent many hours: helping a couple who had hurt each other into absolute silence learn to talk to each other again; seeing a student through drug withdrawal; teaching a somewhat domineering man to work cooperatively with his counselors in the Sunday School presidency; blessing a terribly sick baby, aided by its father, who was weak in faith and frightened; comforting, at a hospital at four in the morning, parents whose son had just been killed by his brother driving drunk—and then helping the brother forgive himself. And I found, after six months, that my branch members, initially properly suspicious of an intellectual from California, had come to feel in their bones, from their direct experience, that indeed my faith and devotion to them and what mattered to them was "stronger than the cords of death." And I felt that in a sense the result promised in Doctrine and Covenants 121:44-46 followed, for there flowed to me "without compulsory means" the power to talk about any of my concerns and passions and to be understood and trusted, even if not agreed with.
Now, this may all sound a bit selfish, even obsessive about the Church's contribution to my own spiritual maturity. But what was happening to me was happening to others. A young couple came to the branch who had lived abroad, away from the Church, for a year right after the wife had been converted and they had married. Their Church experience, especially hers, had been essentially oriented to gospel concepts and convictions, deeply felt and idealistic but abstract, involving very little service to others. She was a dignified and emotionally reserved woman, bright, creative, and judgmental—and thus afraid of uncontrolled situations or emotional exposure. He was meticulous, intimidating, somewhat aloof. 1 called them—despite some resistance on their part—into positions of increasing responsibility and direct involvement with people in the branch; and I saw them, at the expense of some pain and tears, develop into powerfully open, empathetic, vulnerable people, able to understand, serve, learn from, and be trusted by people very different from themselves. 1 saw them learn that the very exposures, exasperations, troubles, sacrifices, and disappointments that characterize involvement in a lay church like ours—and that are especially difficult for idealistic liberals to endure—are a main source of the Church's power to teach us to love. Those two people are now teaching others what they have learned.
This lesson—that the Church's characteristic "problems" are among its strengths—has been continually confirmed as I have served as bishop of a ward of young married students at Brigham Young University. The two most direct, miraculous—and ultimately redemptive—blessings the Lord gave us when the ward was organized were what looked only like problems: a spastic quadriplegic child in one family and seriously handicapped parents in another. I had known the crippled child's mother for nearly a year: as a visiting high councilor I had spoken on the Atonement at her sacrament meeting, and she had approached me afterward for counsel and help. She was feeling deep anger and guilt as she tried to understand the failure of hospital care that had made one of two twins into a desperate physical and emotional and financial burden, one which had ended her husband's education and intended profession, severely tested their marriage and their faith as priesthood blessings seemed to fail, and left her close to breakdown and apostasy.
Now, a year later, as I prayed for guidance in organizing a new ward, I felt as clearly as ever 1 have felt those "strokes of intelligence" Joseph Smith described, telling me that I should, against all common sense, call her as the Relief Society President. I did, and despite being on the verge of moving away, she accepted. She became the main source of the unique spirit of honest communication and sense of genuine community our ward developed. She visited all the families and shared without reserve her feelings, struggles, successes, and needs. As did her husband, she spoke openly in our meetings about her son, his problems and theirs, asked for help and accepted it, and all the while did her duty and endured. We ward members all learned from this couple how to be more open, vulnerable, gracious, and persistent, and how to turn to each other for all kinds of help and not to judge.
I first met the handicapped couple while they were wandering through the halls of our meetinghouse on our first Sunday. They were not looking for our ward; in fact, they lived just outside our boundaries, but I am certain the Lord sent them. They required a major expenditure of our ward resources—time, welfare aid, patience, tolerance—as we worked to get them employed, into decent housing, out of debt, and capable of caring for their bright, energetic child, and tried to help them become less obtrusive in meetings and less offensive socially. And I have learned two lessons: First, the Church structure and resources (which are designed for voluntary and cooperative but disciplined effort with long-range, essentially spiritual goals) are ideally suited as a means by which to build the necessary support system for such a couple, one which may yet succeed in keeping the family together and may even bless them with more progress. Second, the blessings have come to the ward as much as to them as we have learned to expand greatly our ideas about "acceptable" behavior and especially about our own capacities to love and serve and learn from people we would otherwise never know. One sister called me to report on her efforts to teach the woman some housekeeping and mothering skills, confessed her earlier resentments and exasperations, and told me in tears how much her heart had softened and her proud neck had bent as she had learned how to learn from this sister so different from herself.
These are examples, I believe, of what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 12, the great chapter on gifts, where he teaches that all the parts of the body of Christ—the Church—are needed for their separate gifts, and in fact that those with "less honourable" and "uncomely" gifts are more needed and more in need of attention and honor—perhaps because the world will automatically honor and use the others.
It is in the Church especially that those with qualities ("gifts") of vulnerability, pain, handicap, need, ignorance, intellectual arrogance, social pride, even prejudice and sin—those Paul calls the members which "seem to be more feeble"—can be accepted, learned from, helped, and made part of the body so that together it can all be blessed. It is there that those with the more comely and world-honored gifts of riches and intelligence can learn what they most need to—to serve and love and patiently learn from those with other gifts.
But that is very hard for the "rich" and "wise" to do. And that is why those who have one of those dangerous gifts tend to misunderstand and sometimes disparage the Church—which, after all, is made up of the common and unclean, the middle-class, middle-brow, politically unsophisticated, even prejudiced, average members like most of us. And we all know how exasperating they can be! I am convinced that in that exasperation lies our salvation, if we can let the context which most brings it out—the Church—also be our school for unconditional love. But that requires a change of perspective, one I will now summarize.
The Church is as "true" as—that is, as effective for salvation as—the gospel: the Church is where there is fruitful opposition, the place where its own revealed nature and inspired direction maintains an opposition between liberal and conservative values, faith and doubt, secure authority and frightening freedom, individual integrity and public responsibility—and thus where there will be misery as well as holiness, bad as well as good. And if we cannot stand the misery and the struggle, if we would prefer that the Church be "a compound in one" such as Lehi described (smooth and perfect and unchallenging, without internal opposition and thus "vanished away") rather than as it is, full of nagging human diversity and constant insistence that we perform ordinances and obey instructions and take seriously teachings embodying paradoxes that are not logically resolvable—if we refuse to lose ourselves wholeheartedly in such a school, then we will never know the redeeming truth of the Church. If we constantly ask, "What has the Church done for me?" we will not think to ask the much more important question, "What am I doing with the opportunities for service and self-challenge with which the Church provides me?" If we constantly approach the Church as consumers, we will never partake of its sweet and filling fruit. Only if we can lose our lives there will we find ourselves.
It is precisely in the struggle to be obedient while maintaining independence, to have faith while being true to reason and evidence, to serve and love in the face of imperfections, even offenses, that we can gain the humility we need to allow divine power to enter our lives in transforming ways. Perhaps the most amazing paradox about the Church is that it literally brings together the divine and the human—through priesthood service, the ordinances, the gifts of the Spirit—in concrete ways that no abstract systems of ideas ever could.
My purpose here has not been to ignore the very real problems of the Church or the power of the gospel truths. As I have tried to indicate all along, the Church's paradoxical strength derives from the truthful paradoxes of the gospel it embodies, contraries we need to struggle with more profoundly in the Church. And we must all engage, not merely in accepting the struggles and exasperations of the Church as redemptive, but in genuinely trying to reach solutions where possible and reduce unnecessary exasperations. (Indeed, it is only when we grapple with the problems, not merely as intellectual exercises but as problems in need of solution, that they prove redemptive.)
But along with our sensitivity to problems we must also, I believe, have more respect for the truth of action, of experience, that the Church uniquely exposes us to, and must respond with courage and creativity. We must be active, thoughtful, faithful, believing, truth-seeking, struggling, unified members of the body of Christ. To do so we must accept the Church as true in two very important senses: First, it is a repository of crucial redemptive truths and of the authority to perform essential saving ordinances. Though, as I have observed, those truths can be difficult to pin down to simple propositions, taken together they motivate and make efficacious the willingness to serve that creates the redemptive schooling I have described. Second, besides being the repository of true principles and authority, the Church is the instrument provided by a loving God to help us become like him, that is, to give us essential schooling—experiences with each other that can bind us together in an honest but loving community, which is the essential nurturing place for salvation. If we cannot accept the Church and the challenge it offers with the openness and courage and humility they require, then I believe our historical studies and our theological enterprises are mainly a waste of time—and possibly destructive. We cannot properly appreciate the history of Mormonism or know the truth of Christ's restored gospel unless we understand—and act on—the truth of his Church.
Monday, September 28
After who knows how much sweat, blood, and tears, I finally experienced the "payback" for marching band.
Every time I feel like it's not worth it. With each whack in the head, each reprimand, each new sunburn, I feel like I'm just torturing myself for nothing. Then game day comes. I spend a half hour trying to glue fake eyelashes on and caking dark whore-worthy amounts of makeup onto my poor face. I climb into a tight, HOT uniform made partially of velvet and walk over to the stadium to practice in 90+ degree weather. Mess up, feel frustrated, and just as a sun-glare headache starts to grow behind my eyes, we pile up all of our equipment and lug it over to the stadium. We are called to attention - which means we cannot move our eyes from the location directly in front of us. We must smile - like we mean it. We must have good posture, proclaiming our pride with our stature. The only thing on our minds must be our purpose in the band.
All the while my brain is trying to argue sensibly with the rest of me, telling me it's worth it. I can't quite remember why.
We march out to the field, ignoring the insults of the opposing team and the sarcastic comments of sleazy boys standing in groups around the area.
We set. Are called to attention.
And the drums start...
And as the crowd swells to a roar, the trumpets blast their fanfare into the crowd behind us, our voices rise in the cougar cheer...
Anyways, it's thrilling. It really is. I can't explain or justify myself. :) I shall not try.
Today I realized why I feel so anxious.
Everything is going perfectly. Like... there is no aspect of my life right now that is worth frustration or worry.
That usually means a storm to come...
Sunday, September 13
Professors aren't going to tell you all the assignments you're supposed to do. They hide them. Hide them in blackboard, in your syllabus, etc etc etc. And suddenly they're asking about it and everyone around you is pulling out the completed 6 page analysis of who knows what and you're sinking into your desk thinking: "Not again..."
I am being treated like a teenager.
Sorry it's true. :P But I guess that's what I get for doing on-campus housing...
The honor code is every bit as cool as it sounds like it should be. :D
I still prefer having every second of my day scheduled than to sit at my house and wonder amiably what I'm supposed to do.
Anyways, I'm studying (like many of you know) Ancient Near Eastern Studies. This is quickly becoming my favorite subject EVER. I barely knew what it was when I picked it out to be honest. But I felt good about it then and I feel great about it now!
So, yes, it's a whole new bowl of oatmeal but I'm adjusting to the fantastic work load and loving every minute of it (even though Erin will tell you my life sucks because I keep groaning that when I survey my next assignment.) But it really is awesome and I love BYU regardless of what I've previously thought or heard.
Also, I'm performing in the game against Florida on Saturday!! :D Look for me in the color guard!
Friday, August 28
Sunday, August 9
Anyways, as of soon this blog will cease to exist. :( Blogging isn't for me, apparently. I prefer posting pictures/etc than words...
Monday, August 3
Wednesday, July 29
THAT SAID, I have some good, great, WONDERFUL news! Peter Jackson has acquired the option for the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik!!
Doubtless, no one but me is excited at this prospect, but I'm WAY excited. If you like books that I like maybe you should try reading them. :)
Also, I got into a class I'd been looking at for some time, so I am now in all but one of the classes I wanted to be in!
And I move out in a month. 0_o
And I'm kind of frightened - particularly since I can't get a better job than Zubs. But oh well...
And M.B. starts on the 22nd!! I'm both horrified and delighted... I guess if you've done marching band you understand me completely...
And... yes. That's all I can think of. Sorry to be boring! Life is AMAZING. If you're ever bored call me and we'll get food or something.
Saturday, July 18
back to the drawing board.
Anyways, this week has been really bad. And really good. :) I've registered for classes for BYU... which means over the next few weeks I'll be frantically searching the site to find classes I'd RATHER take and refining my bloated schedule. Ah, me. I hate being a freshman. :( Mostly because of the low priority date, but I know that'll all change. On the upside, after this semester I'll be a sophomore if I pass my classes! (Which... you know... we can only hope. ;)
Anyways, today I volunteered at the art museum. Pretty much awesome, because I just sit and read... AND help the community at the same time! So the quilt show is up... which, honestly, it's the coolest thing ever. People really do some amazing stuff, so if you get a chance run down and look at them. But that's not why I bring this up. I was amiably walking around when I came face to face with, yes, a TWILIGHT quilt.
Now I'm not going in to detail or a "DEATH TO TWILIGHT" spree here. I try not to do things like that in front of civilized company. But I was... quite put out, I'll be honest. Twilight is leaking into EVERYTHING.
For those of you who share my confusion at the utter adoration everyone seems to feel, here are some comics for you. :) (none by me, sorry.)
and a post I love. :)
And many more where these came from. :) I like people.
Anyways, sorry this post doesn't go anywhere...
Sunday, July 12
Tuesday, June 30
Saturday, June 27
I have a couple of questions. One, why WHY do good movies have to stick in random, pointless, perverted crap?!
Why did my sister get a better job than me BEFORE she turns 16 and on her first try?! (I think I know the answer to that one... cheerleader and connections.)
Why do I not have a problem waking up at 6 for yoga, but when I wake up after 7 I'm exhausted?
Why can't I get a job? Does BYU hate me? Surely after 25 different applications...
Should I study Arabic or Greek? Or Hebrew?
Middle East? Ancient Near Eastern Studies? AUGH.
Monday, June 15
But pretty scary. Needless to say, I'm never going out of the country unaccompanied by anyone excepting an idiotic girlfriend. It's tragic she died of a heroin overdose, but from her compulsive behavior I'm surprised it hadn't happened sooner. (I'm going to sleep with him?!)
Uh. Yes. Sorry, just trying to update my blog so I won't forget it exists. ;)
Summer kind of sucks. Still job searching...
Thursday, June 4
Sunday, May 31
So... I just realized it's May 31- and I haven't put out four posts in May. Crimany! (However you spell that. It's not a word I usually type. :s) Starting next month I'll hopefully start actually posting... ah... interesting... or not so much interesting as less pointless information. This isn't a really inconsistent journal, although I'm turning it into one. :D Anyways, I'm off to Cedar City... whoot.
Monday, May 25
1. My blog.
2. A word that is very fun to say.
3. when the mind has reached it's creative limit, it turns to most unexpected sources.
4. Boys A: think to hard, B: have too much time on their disposal, and C: too many sources.
5. to frustrate.
6. to amuse oneself thoroughly with being frustrating.
7. to play something up too much.
Origin: Over my dead, cold, withered corpse.
Thursday, May 7
Anyways, due to the nature of the shoulder-padding in the thing, I've decided to pretend to be a guy for my graduation. I'll do my hair right, strap myself down a bit and wear appropriate shoes.
No one will know the difference. :D
I don't really have much to say. I'm looking for a new job, if anyone has any ideas. I need something to keep me busy this summer...
Sunday, April 26
Or then you know that what you SHOULD want isn't what you want right now because right now you want what you shouldn't want because it's what you want but you shouldn't want it? Or perhaps what you truly want isn't available right now, but you can't be sure it's what you truly want because it's what you want but right now you want something that may or may not be positively what you want because you only want it right now because you want it?
And then... what you want... and what you wanted... may not be what you will want at all...
Tuesday, April 21
Anyways, not much to say. This was... uh... the WEIRDEST spring break I've ever had. Ever. It started out okay, and ended in absolute frustration/confusion/what have you. No worries, though. I've changed.
It's already behind me.
Sunday, April 12
The sun has brokenthrough yesterday's rain to reveal shining streets and dew-strewn leaves - weeping, I could imagine, for joy in the merciful atoning sacrifice/renewal this day commemorates...
For those of you who, like me, have difficulty focusing any day towards something specific, remember truly what this day is for - and the means through which you can continue to hope.
I woke up early this morning to take pictures and watch the sunrise. As I watched it rise/examined the new leaves coming on my trees and the flowers just beginning to appear - the earth has to know what day it is.
Friday, April 10
Much fun. Disclaimer, I didn't choose to wear a little pink dress. It was cruelly forced upon me.
Otherwise, I dropped my rifle during the performance for like... the first time ever. Very frustrating. But that's how it goes? At least it's Friday and by Monday I won't have people congratulating me on a performance that frustrated me immensely. What can you do?
It was fun to perform for the school, all things considered. Besides, I'm leaving in two months. It DOESN'T MATTER anymore. Otherwise, life is good. :) Tonight I'm going to go join my fellow Thugs in editing our fan-fic style crazy story. Happy Easter!
Monday, March 30
I have some announcements...
Okay, that's an overstatement. But no matter, I'd like to proclaim my freedom. After 3 long years, I am no longer preparing for a color guard competition. 0_o I'm... done. Done done. Our last competition was Saturday (12 long hours of fun, I'm sure.) We got 2nd out of 4 in our division, and now all that's left this year is duet season. Basically we draw names, get into groups, and make up our own routines. SO if you're curious and want to come see us perform (both duets and our regular show) then let me know and I'll tell you when our final performance night is! Should be fun. And it's at the high school, so you won't have to go driving into
some random place out some random way... (northbound going north and such.)
Uh... What else?
I ate breakfast at 6:00! Those of you who know me personally understand what a feat that is...
On to April and it's impending doom. Important dates? April 4th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd...
Friday, March 20
Today I'm writing about my Web Design class.
This is my first flash movie. Ever. It sucks so bad, (so don't judge me. I KNOW it sucks.) I did all of it with no help from the teacher except when she basically told us how to run a few basic elements of it. Hopefully more to come, because despite everyone's warnings that flash sucks, I enjoyed it immensely.
I hate that happy balloon. It represents everything I couldn't figure out how to do by myself.
Anyways, web design is exceptional. Not really because I'm learning a TON (because I'm not really, to be honest) but because it's an hour and a half of usually free computer time with some pretty awesome programs and experience.
I'll be honest, though. I hate being taught how to use computers. It's tedious and disparaging in every way. Mostly because it's very SLOW while EVERYONE in the class figures out how to do it/is shown specifically by Mrs. White, but also just because my class this year seems to be made up of some of the crudest white-trash individuals I've had the lovely chance to encounter for long periods of time. I hear more trash-talk in that class than anywhere else in campus- which is saying a lot.
The Photoshop section is fun, though... simply because of my job with Cedar Fort before, I know a ton about Photoshop - not in any good order, but at complete random. The school has a graphics folder of hundreds of random pictures from all over the place of most anything - all free for use. It's fun to just load them on and fiddle with them... There are a ton of castle pictures I am most excited to use. I put them all on my flash drive. :D
Second on my list of weekly news, I got to go watch the Envision World Guard practice last night (courtesy of Kim) and I have one reaction: They are awesome. I want to work at a professional level soooo bad...
I guess we'll see what I do when I approach the opportunity, eh? I'm really curious. Those of you who have seen my guard perform, that's NOTHING. Here's Envisions show this year... at some point. They make a lot of changes all the time, so it's very different now from what this movie shows:
It's about a girl who is dying of cancer. Pretty awesome.
Well, yes... that's my first real blog ever (last week didn't count.) I feel kind of retarded.
Thursday, March 12
Why did I get on here again?
Oh, yes, because I can't go to bed yet. I just have a question for the three or maybe four people who will read this: does anyone else have an OCD nature with their laundry? That it has to IMMEDATELY be removed from the dryer? (Like some clothing-care tags say... demanding pieces of work...)
Thought not. Well, I do. So I'm staying up and playing with my various internet habituals. (Facebook, Deviantart, Gmail, and now, yes, Blogger.) Soon my laundry will be done, however, so I can climb off the compy, get back to my regular lifestyle (which is, to say, to bed at 9:30, alseep at 12:00, awake at 5:00, to school by 6:00.) On to work or physics or the lovely random personal-choir practices which no one will do unless they aren't actually needed.
Ok, I'm setting myself some rules for this blog.
1) Do not post after 10. (I'm beginning to see the dangers.)
2) Do not swear. (Despite continual temptation.)
3) Do not mention Greg. (That gets old SO fast, people. I'm sorry, but if I touch on it I'll go on for ages.)
4) Try to be nice. About people. Who will never read these posts.
On second thought....
Nvm, my laundry is done. Now I can fold it, read PMG, and enter into my precious five hours of sleep.
Wednesday, March 11
So... I guess here goes?