Friday, March 31


My mom hates milk. She always has. When she was a baby she never had to be weaned. My grandma says that she tried to get her to drink milk, but after she was 8 months old she wouldn't do it at all anymore. She says it gives her phlegm. She didn't really care what kind of milk we had at home, and used to buy whole milk because it tasted better when she cooked with it. Eventually she decided that it was too fattening, and switched to 2%. It was only the loud griping of her children that kept her from buying skim or non-fat milk. We all loved whole milk, and would speak of it in glowing terms whenever the conversation came up.

About 4 months after moving from home I had an epiphany. I was at the grocery store buying milk. I remember looking at the dairy case thinking, "I could buy whole milk instead of 2%." I bought the milk, and left the store feeling like a rebel. Later that day I was talking to my roomate about my epiphany and she shared a similar story. We both realized how silly it was that we were buying things we didn't like just because it was what our parents had bought.

Looking back at it now it seems rather silly. My mom doesn't really care what kind of milk I drink. Her interest in my health indicates that she would have at least a vague interest in my eating habits. However, she's not going to beat me when she sees (gasp!) whole milk in my fridge. Many kids, when they leave home, are all too aware of their parent's control over their habits. Moving out is the time when all bets are off, and "I'm an adult now! You can't tell me what to do!"

However, I wonder if those same kids, who are all too eager to drink themselves daffy, are still buying the same brand of laundry detergent that their parents bought?

That moment when I was in front of the dairy case really was a watershed moment in my life. Yeah, the feeling like a rebel was silly, but the realization wasn't. At that moment I became aware of my ability to recreate myself. Until that point I was what my parents and family had shaped me into. After that point I became a work in progress, my own work in progress. I was still wearing the clothes, walking the walk, talking the talk, and buying the milk that my parents did.

My parents had told me what was right, what was wrong, what was important, and what didn't matter. They had done their job, because I could function as a member of society on my own. Now I had the opportunity and responsibility to make each of those value judgements again, but this time by myself. I was able to set my own priorities in a way I never could before. It was the first time when my own opinion was really all I needed to decide.

I'm still in the process of becoming my own person. I may always be in that process. I'm lucky though, that I can remember exactly when it started, and I can look back at that moment for inspiritation when I need it.

Tuesday, March 28

Belay on!

My husband's yougest sister went to a birthday party recently. The party was held at an indoor climbing wall, and she apparently had a great time. Since then she has wanted to go back so she convinced her mom and other siblings and us to go to the climbing wall again with her. (We had a great time too.) Climibing in a place like this happens in pairs. Both people wear a harness, and both are attached to one end of the same rope. The rope loops over a pulley at the top of the wall. Depending on which end of the rope you are attached to you are either the climber or the belayer. The belayer stays on the ground, keeps the rope taut as their partner climbs, and by use of a braking device ensures that the climber will not plummet to their demise. While I liked climbing well enough, I found that I rather enjoyed belaying. Maybe it has to do with my love of knots, and simple mechanical systems (pulleys, brakes, levers etc.). Maybe it was because I'm out of shape and didn't feel like scaling the wall more than a few times. I wondered, though, if it might have been because of the similarities with mothering.

The belayer is able to do rather a lot to help the climber. Using my weight I could apply the brake and pull down on the rope to give my partner a boost. This comes in handy for a climber who is only able to get a tenuous grasp on a tiny handhold. Another way a belayer can help is by pointing hand or foot-holds that the climber may not be able to see. Often their own body gets in the way of their view, or the curvature of the rock face prevents them from seeing a good hold that they could easily reach. From the ground at a distance away from the wall, a belayer can the whole face of the wall, and is able to move around a bit to change their vantage point. In this way I could counsel the climber to 'head more to the left' because I could see a 'pathway' that they could not. Keep in mind that the belayer is most important in emergencies. By being attentive they can be aware of when the climber begins to slip. They can brake the rope and prevent their fall. And should they get hurt the belayer can ease them down and is able to get help quickly.

I've heard it said before that I am "not staying home to have an immaculate house." I'm staying home to be the belayer for my family. To meet their needs for emotional security. To give them boosts of love (and loving discipline) and to aide them in selecting paths to pursue. I'm here to be aware of their needs, and to be ready to prevent their falls.

Yeah belaying gets boring sometimes, there is no way around it. Also every time I belayed for someone was a time that I didn't get to climb. I'll be able to climb every here and there, when someone else (read: my husband) belays for me.

Saturday, March 25

Be men!

Both Hugo and John have recently mentioned the need for a men's movement. Not the Roe v. Wade for men, but a movement of a different sort. A movement that is based on the idea that men are hurt by the 'patriarchy' (or, as I like to call it, the system) if not as deeply, then at least as often as women are. Read the posts by John and Hugo for a more thorough explanation.
In thinking about it, I have come to the conclusion that the Priesthood could be this men's movement inasmuch as it has outlined a pattern of behavior for those who would hold it. The trick is that it is only efficient as the men who are a part of it make it. Let's compare and contrast, (I'm looking at this strictly with men in mind, much of what I say is equally applicable to women but we're not talking about them now.):
The first thing that the system tells men is that you are the center of the universe. *Everyone* exists in terms of you, how they can serve or be of use to you. Women look nice to attract you. Other men are around to give praise or punishment to you. The first thing the priesthood requires is service. Service given often, freely, and with no expectation of compensation or reward. In fact, any service you do is best done anonymously whenever possible. Not just lawn mowing and house moving, emotional service too. Commiserating, listening and comforting. Which brings us to the next point.
The second thing the system tells men is that weakness is bad, and therefore anything that hints at weakness is bad too. Crying in public, bad. Admitting you love someone, bad. Admitting to being wrong, bad. Accepting critisism, bad. And by extention, strength is good and anything that shows strength is good too. Being heartless, good. Taking control, good. Shows of physical strength (esp hitting) good. Laughing at other people, good. Being unapologetic, good. The next the priesthood requires is love, kindness, tenderness, and longsuffering. It requires men to bear their testimony, which often will move the bearer to tears. It requires men to respect authority and be obedient and meek and humble. And everyone's favorite, no unrighteous dominion. At the very hint of abusing another person in any way you are out of the club immediately.
The system says that men should meet together only to talk about beer, sex, and football. The priesthood requires men to meet together to talk about Christ, plan service projects, and share their feelings.
The system tells men that women are there to serve them, to make them dinner and clean their houses. The priesthood tells men that they have to serve, love and care for women especially. As much as it pains me to say this, perhaps priesthood ordinances are performed only by men to make it necessary for men to serve women. When I ask my husband for a blessing there is a strange power dynamic there, where my request is binding upon him and he is unfaithful if he refuses me (assuming my request is made in righteousness).
I suspect that the system has even redefined the way we view the priesthood to make it all about power, strength, dominion, and control. Reading all the things that are required *behaviorally* of priesthood holders it is exactly what a men's movement would need, if only we can get people to subscribe to the notion.

Friday, March 24


This is a really neat story told by Scott Adams, the best part is at the very end. Way cool.

Tuesday, March 21

Why the Sky is Blue

It's time for some serious public service. I know why the sky is blue, and I (hopefully) can explain so that nearly anyone could understand. The short answer is, "The sky is blue because scattering goes as function of 1/(lambda^4) and the sun is green." The long answer can be found below.

First, A little info on the nature of light and waves. Visible light is part of the "Electromagnetic(EM) Spectrum (which includes radiowaves, microwaves, infrared, light, UV, X-ray, and gamma radiation) . An electromagnetic wave is tricky to visualize, so I'm not even going to have you try. The important thing to remember is that the size (wavelength) of the EM wave determine how it interacts with matter.

To explain this a little bit, imagine you're on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. There are waves hitting the ship all the time, but they don't effect the ship at all because they are too small. If there was a wave that was as big as the ship, then the ship would be in trouble, and everyone would notice. Now, conversely, if you're a fish a cruiseship-sized wave doesn't phase you a bit, your whole little world just rides along with it. A smaller wave, however, that is about as big as you will jostle you around and be very disorienting.

The same is largely true of EM waves, they interact the most with electrical components that are of a similar size to themselves. Radio waves (AM and FM) are huge, and they interact best with big antennae giving you good reception. Gamma rays are tiny and interact best with little components of DNA, giving you three legged frogs. The size of EM wave that gives us, say, green light, interacts well with specific cells inside our eyes. Red light interacts with different cells in our eyes, and blue light interacts with other different cells. This allows us to see in color. Bees, and some other insects, have cells in their eyes that interact with Ultraviolet waves allowing them to see 'colors' that just don't exist for us. This part is very important, the size of the light wave determines it color. Violet light has the smallest wavelength, and red light has the largest. The colors go in this order Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, largest to smallest.

Now lets discuss scattering. Imagine you have a gun that shoots ping-pong balls in a rapid fire fashion. Now imagine you shoot this gun at the same point on a wall. All of the balls are going to bounce off in the same direction. That is called reflection. Now imagine you shoot the ping pong balls into a big bowl of frosting. They're all going to stick to the frosting. That is called absorption. Now imagine you fire the ping pong balls into a crowd of running people. The balls aren't going to be absorbed (like they did with the frosting), but they don't bounce off of the people uniformly(like they did with the wall) They're going to hit the people and bounce all over the place. This is called scattering.

When light passes through the dusty atmosphere it is like shooting the pingpong balls into a crowd of people. One ray of light will hit one particle of dust and bounce off in one direction while a second ray will hit another particle and go off in another direction. As the amount of dust increases the amount of scattering increases too. This part is really important, the smaller the light wave the greater the magnitude of the scattering. Firing ping pong balls into a crowd makes the ping pong balls go everywhere. Firing bowling balls into a crowd... well you get the idea.

The last important puzzle piece is the idea of white light. Doing the classic experiment with a prism one can see that white light is composed of all the colors traveling together, but it is just a little bit more subtle than that. Imagine you have a harp. You can pluck all of the strings together and make one loud and pretty sound. If you pluck all the strings, but pluck the ones in the middle the hardest you still end up with a similar sound, but as the sound fades you will hear the ones you plucked the hardest longer than then rest. White light is all of the colors together, and it still looks white even if there is more of one particular color.

Okay, now lets combine the pieces. White light comes towards earth from our sun. In the atmosphere there are bits of dust. The dust in our atmosphere is tiny, and scatters the smaller wavelenths (blue, indigo, violet) around. The larger wavelengths(red, orange, and yellow) pass straight through. The scattered light works it's way down to earth slowly from all directions, while the unscattered light seems to come straight at us from the sun. So when we look at the sky, we are seeing light from the sun that has been scattered by the atmosphere(the smaller wavelengths). When we look at the sun we see the light that came straight through(the larger wavelengths).

If this was all there is to it, then the sun would look red, and sky would be purple. The tricky thing is that the sun emits more green light than anything else. This means that there is more blue light, and yellow light coming towards us than red or purple light (red orange yellow green blue indigo violet). In the evenings when the sun is low on the horizon its light is travelling through more dust, so it looks more red, and the light coming at us from the sky looks more purple.

So, there you have it. That is why the sky is blue. I hope it makes sense. If it doesn't you are more than welcome to ask questions, and I will be happy to explain. You are more than welcome to use the short answer on your kids when they ask you this question. :)

Monday, March 20

Les Miserables

I have a sister whose main goal in life is to get me to read as many books as possible. I think she does this because she wants to talk with someone who has similar morals about the subjects covered in the books she reads. As it stands she has gotten me to read some very interesting books. One book that she convinced me to read was Les Miserables the unabridged version. While I found it tough to slog through the 40ish pages that describe the field where the battle of Waterloo was fought (in painstaking detail), I really enjoyed the in-depth character descriptions that never seem to make it into the movie adaptations. In fact, many of the books major characters are never even mentioned in movies, cliff-notes, and musicals.

The thing that disturbs me the most about the condensed version of the story is that the underlying truth that Mr. Hugo is trying to convey is lost. Every last person in the story is miserable, hence the title. Every character is a victim, and is a tragic figure. Valjean, Cosette, and Fantine are obviously tragic. They suffered at the hands of a corrupt system of government, and at the hands of others. The Thénardiers are often reduced to comic relief and cheap villainry. Javert is dehumanized and seen as only a mechanical monster. Marius and the other students are seen as noble martyrs, lofty and high-minded, using their tragic fate for a noble end.

Reading the book, undoes much of that. Valjean is a villian to Fantine by his ignorance of his factory's practices. The Thénardiers are undone by government and their own greed, and reduced to poverty that eats at the morals they once had. Eponine, their daughter, is a victim of Cosette's good fortune. Eponine's love for Marius, and the chance that he had to rescue her from her circumstances is lost or ignored because of his blind love for Cosette. Javert was raised in a prison by a cruel father, and was never able to see a good person. His belief that criminals are absolute, and can never be changed was such a part of him that he saw no choice but death when he learned of Valjean's goodness.

The only person who escaped his own misery, did so by taking the sufferings of others on himself. The Bishop Myriel chose when and by whom he would be made a victim. In so doing he shaped his own world, in a way that the others could not. He learned that one cannot escape misery, they can only chose it. By trying to escape it, you surrender your choice of misery to chance. I believe this is what Christ meant when he said to turn the other cheek. Don't escape your demons, choose them, and by choosing, control them.

I think Les Miserables was really the story of the plan of salvation. Eve ate the fruit knowing that life would happen like this. That every person to walk the face of the earth would be a tragic figure. That no person would escape sorrow and suffering. (Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.) But, by enduring the suffering, we will all move on and we will all find rest, comme la nuit se fait lorsque le jour s'en va.

Friday, March 17


FMH is having a discussion about Pedestals & Podiums. I haven't read it, but from what I understand it dicusses at great length the fight over the Equal Rights Amendment. The thing that has always cracked me up is the bathroom argument. Among the top reasons to oppose this constitutional amendment are, forcing the church to give women the priesthood, women being subject to the draft, and.... unisex bathrooms. The bathroom angle seems so mundane, and anticlimactic compared to the other two. Either way, I thought I'd share a experience I had last year for your reading enjoyment.

The university I went to had an area in the music building called the 'practice rooms.' This was a large section of the building filled with small sound insulated rooms where students could practice their instruments whenever they wanted and as loudly as they wanted. The area was often full of litter, and in poor repair. I would often go the practice rooms with my husband so that I could play one of the pianos without getting in anyone's way.

One evening, I had to use the bathroom. I wandered through the halls, but couldn't find them. I asked my husband if there were bathrooms nearby or if I'd have to use the ones downstairs. He said that the bathroom was to my right and around the corner. "They're the blue doors," he said. So I went down the hall, and found a blue door. That's right, just one. I couldn't see a second one, "Must be unisex" I thought. There wasn't a sign on the door, so I poked my head in to make sure it was empty. There were two stalls and a urinal. "That's weird that they'd put a urinal in a unisex bathroom," I thought to myself. The main door didn't lock like most unisex bathrooms. I didn't think too much of it, and went about my business.

A few weeks later we were in the practice rooms again, and this time I knew exactly where the bathroom was. I strode confidently into the bathroom only to find a young man at the urinal. "Oh!" I said, "excuse me." I walked quickly into the stall, thinking again how silly and stupid it is to have a urinal in a unisex bathroom without a lock on the main door. The young man, obviously flustered, left quickly. Afterwards I asked my husband what he thought about the urinal in the unisex bathroom.

"What unisex bathroom?" He asked.
"The one down the hall with the blue door." I answered.
"There isn't a unisex bathroom." He said, starting to look concerned.
"Yes there is," I insisted, "I just used it."
"Show me."

So we marched down the hall to the bathroom door. He then pointed out what the poor lighting had hidden from me. In black permanent marker, on the dark blue door was written "MEN." I could barely make it out, even when I knew it was there. Did they really expect people to be able to see that?

I gasped. "Where's the women's bathroom?" I demanded. He took a few steps to the right, past a decrepit sofa and behind some lockers where a second blue door was adorned with the word "WOMEN."

"No wonder that guy looked so suprised!" I said.
"What guy?" he asked.
"The one using the urinal when I went in here a few minutes ago."
"What did you do?" he asked, looking even more concerned.
"I said 'excuse me' and went to the bathroom." I told my husband matter of factly, starting to giggle a little bit.
He just shook his head.

So, anyways, I don't see all the fuss is over unisex bathrooms, but then again that might be just me. Maybe we ask that guy at the urinal what he thought about it.

Thursday, March 16

Considering Lilies

So, I've been considering the lilies of the field, and how they grow. While it is pretty easy to see the lesson on not relying on music written by church members to accurately quote the scriputres, the lesson the Lord was trying to teach us isn't as forthcoming. The scriptures, found here and here, make it fairly clear that the Lord is talking about making a choice to serve him instead of serving Satan, or the world. But it isn't as cut and dry as that.

I have, from my youth, been taught the law of the harvest. You work for things now, and recieve a reward proportional to your labors. I was taught that this law applies in all aspects of life. If you work hard at school, you get a reward of increased knowledge, and better opportunities because of your good grades. If you eat wholesome you recieve a reward of strength, and good health. If you pray earnestly everyday you receive the reward of the companionship of the Spirit, and greater spiritual insight. You know, cause and effect. There are the obvious situations where gratification is delayed, but we are promised that no blessing will be eternally denied us. This is how we deal with some of the injustices of life.

I have also been strictly taught that temporal independence and self reliance are not just a good idea, they're vital to my self-esteem, good standing before God and Mankind, and ability to be righteous in keeping my stewardships. We've all been in the sunday school lesson on self reliance and emergency preparedness. We've all learned that by being self reliant we are not a burden to those around us, making us feel good about ourselves. By having a job and working we are contributing to the Kingdom of God, and being a good example to those around us. When we fail to provide for our families (by being self-reliant) we have failed in one of our most important callings. Self reliance allows us to live our lives with fewer hinderances(debt) that may prevent us from following the Lord as we see fit.

Reading the beatitudes that I linked earlier becomes much more confusing with the importance of self-reliance drilled into your heads. I especially take issue with this line "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on." The last time I checked, one of my major duties as a homemaker is to do exactly that, not just for myself, but for my whole family. And what of the children of Israel gathering their Manna. If they gathered more than they could eat it would go bad, as if in punishment for not having sufficient faith that the Lord would provide again tomorrow. What does that mean about our food storage advice? How can we reconcile the advice to take no thought for our lives when we are constantly told that we must take thought for our lives?

The thought arises that this isn't about food, clothes, and money, It's about trusting the Lord to do what he say's he's going to do. If he says he'll provide for us, then trust him enough to not worry about it. If he says to stock pile food then we should trust him enough to believe that it will be worth our efforts. He no longer asks us to trust him to provide, but now asks us to believe his threats and prepare ourselves.

The other option is that 'no thought' here really means, secondary thought. We worry more about keeping the commandments, than we do about having clothes and food. This is still applicable especailly in the area of tithes. Many people pay their tithing knowing that after they do so, they won't have enough money to pay their other obligations. They pay their tithing trusting that they will be provided for by the Lord because he even takes care of those lazy ravens, who neither sow, nor reap.

Speaking of ravens I have a friend who once was attacked by ravens. He had a lemon-meringue pie. They converged on him and ate the whole thing. The Lord certainly does take care of the ravens. I wish he'd provide me with a pie.

Sunday, March 12

One Hundred Forty Four

Yesterday it rained. It rained all day. The relief was nearly palpable because it had been 144 days since the last time it rained. Arizona is one of the few places where rain and snow are *always* greeted with rejoicing. The only times I have wished it would just stop raining was when I lived somewhere else.

The air gets so dry here that I get nosebleeds once a month unless I am diligent about keeping my nasal passages moisturized. The greenest of grass in Arizona looks pathetically yellow compared to even regular old grass on the east coast and the midwest. The only evidence many people have of their own perspiration is that their skin starts to feel grimy from the crystalized salt because the sweat dries so fast.

Here is my question: How do you convince people who live like this that water is a precious resource that we have very little of?

Saturday, March 11


In the past two weeks my son has started doing the weirdest thing. He sticks his chin in the air, in an exaggerated, "s'up?" sort of thing. We were so confused as to where he learned to do that. Neither J, or I greet eachother or him that way, we don't watch TV, and people at church don't do that either. We were very confused, until my parents came for a visit. They saw him do that, and listened to me explain our confusion. Then my mom said, "but you do do that, just much more subtly."At first I was still confused. "I do?" I thought, "When?" She explained that it is a gesture I make when I'm listening to someone, I nod my head and put a little more emphasis on the up swing.

I have the unsettling feeling that this will not be the last time Nils picks up something from me that I'm not even aware of. It is, at once, exciting and terrifying. There is the chance that my son will pick up my better habits (I'm sure I have at least some good ones) and the near certainty that he will copy my negative habits.

There is a chance he will pick up on my enjoyment of mathmatics, and nature. He may love soccer like I do. He might pick up the style of banter and joking that I enjoy. At the same time he may pick up on my irrational fear of cockroaches. He may copy my way of subconciously scowling when something bothers me. He'll probably pick on my habit of letting the clothes sit in the dryer until they're wrinkled.

Suddenly the urgency I feel to be a better person is overwhelming. I find myself wondering "If I don't pray often enough, will Nils still learn to pray when he needs help?" I'm aware that this may be the fastest way to drive myself mad with irrational guilt, but how do I stop? The love I have for him constrains me to give him the best I can.

How would I feel if I look at him 20 years in the future and see all the bad things I showed him how to do, and feel that I failed? Can I be positive enough to ignore those bad things and focus on the good things he has done for himself? Is there a way for him to only reflect the best of me? It would feel awful to know that when your mom looks at you she only sees her own failures. How do I avoid that trap with my own son when he is destined to be at least a partial reflection of me, like a little mirror I didn't know I had.

Thursday, March 9


When my sister was a Relief Society President she bought a book, that she later loaned to me, titled Get Anyone to do Anything. It wasn't a how-to-guide for extortion and blackmail, but rather an explanation of the workings behind human decision making.

One of the major cogs was the basic human need for consistency. People like to feel that they are internally consistent. We like to feel that our actions reflect our beliefs. Most especially, we hate changing our minds. Those who change their minds easily are fickle, hypocritical and pushovers. When a person has taken a stance on an issue they are reluctant to alter that stance, even if their feelings have changed. The book recommends offering circumstances that change the situation, thus allowing the person to change their mind without damaging their internal consistency.

We see this sort of thing all the time. You invite someone to your house for dinner and they initially decline. Later you mention that you'll be making your special cookies, and remind them that the invitation still stands. The addition of the cookies gives the invitee a reason to change their mind and allows them to accept the invitation without being percieved as fickle.

As a youth I learned that it is unwise to declare that "I will never do [x]." If I changed my mind, my siblings would dredge up my earlier declaration and use it to taunt me. As an adult I see that this is still wise advice. Making declarations such as "I will never drive a minivan." create mental boundaries that can hamper one's decision making abilities. Years later, a minivan may be the best car to drive, but I might foolishly choose to buy an expensive, gass-guzzling SUV simply to remain internally consistent.

This is quite possibly the genius behing having fast and testimony meetings. Public declarations of faith require some amount of follow-through to maintain consistency. We are more likely to meet our goals if we have shared them with others. If I bear my testimony that President Hinkley is a prophet, I will put much more effort in to following his guidance, lest I be thought hypocritical.

Along those same lines I wonder if part of the church's discouragment of delving deeply into church history is from a fear that they might find altering circumstances that allow them to change their minds about the church. The shady history and weird doctrines are the special cookies that allow some to change thier minds and leave.

How hard is it to imagine people who have left the church saying things like, "I had a testimony of Joseph Smith, until I learned that he had 30 wives." Or, I had a testimony of the church, until I learned about Brigham Young's racism."

While I do not doubt that many people are legitimately bothered by some parts of the church's past, I find myself wondering if some people hadn't already changed their minds, but needed some altering circumstance to help them maintain their internal consistency. That is to say, they already wanted to leave the church, but needed something to negate their earlier declarations of faith. If that is the case, then can we really blame their leaving the church on those things they uncovered and what other reasons do we have to keep those things on the down low?

Tuesday, March 7

And by that I mean...

I'm a fan of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (hereafter referred to as MST3K). It's one of those annoying 'quotable' shows. Rather than delve into what could be a long drawn-out explanation of the plot I will jump right into the quote I want to share. One of the characters has just finished explaining a risky plan of action. Another character then asks, "So what's in it for us? And by 'us' I mean, 'me'."

I've been wondering lately, especially after reading The Grammar of Inequity, why we still use words in church discourse and scriptures that need to be explained? Why are many phrases followed by "and by [X] I mean [Y]" in a fashion similar to the line I quoted above. There are many, formerly gender-neutral words that are now gender specific. There are other euphemisms, and all sorts of archaic words. I can think of all sorts of good reasons to publish/retranslate the Bible (and maybe the Book of Mormon too), but can only think of a few reasons to keep it how it is.

I think that the major reason that the Church still uses the KJV Bible is because of the many slanders we have recieved due to the Book of Mormon. While other denominations have re-translated the Bible endlessly in efforts to make it easier to understand, easier to read, and (subconciously) more favorable towards their doctrines. I think the LDS Church is afraid to retranslate, (or even publish with JST in line) the Bible lest they be accused of altering what is there. We're condemned enough for 'adding' to it, that we'd rather use the older versions to increase our credibility. Almost as if to say "See? We still use this old version of the Bible! We don't want to change anything about it because we think it is correct enough as it stands."

The next most LDS reason to keep it how it is would be: distribution. If the church did put out whole new translation of the Bible then all the members would eventually have to get a new one. For many members they are lucky enough to have scriptures at all, buying a new set would be a huge burden. If the new translation altered, or deleted verses, then all of the Manuals, and church publications would have to be checked and edited for accuracy. That also brings up the questions of old General Conference talks, and magazines that are available to the membership. Should we go through those and change those quotes to match? Should we just provide the new references for the correlating verses? It would be a correlation committee nightmare!

The next reason would be the perks of ambiguity. If the meaning is ambiguous then members have to pray and research to understand. Such prayer and research shows committment and sincerity, which is rewarded with deeper understanding and companionship of the spirit. Were the scriputres easy to understand we would take everything at face value, and feel little need to put serious effort into scripture study.

A bigger reason may be a fear on behalf of the leaders of being 'the next Bruce R. McConkie.' Br. McConkie may have felt he was inspired in everything he wrote in Mormon Doctrine, but it later became painfully clear that he was not. No matter how legitimate anything else he had to say was, the statements that were untrue haunted him until his death, and continue to tarnish the image of the church. No one wants that legacy, and so the brethren fear to make any statements or interpretations that they are not certain is divinely inspired. The Bible is a veritable mine-field of potential misinterpretations.

Lastly, these men aren't career scriptorians, or theologians. They don't have the greek, the hebrew and the ancient middle-east history to put much of the scriptures into context. The people who do have that knowledge don't have the priesthood keys.

A few other reasons are: Sometimes ambiguity is good. No one wants to explain to an 8 year old why Lot had sex with his daughters, but kids just gloss over Lot 'knowing' his daughters (normally). Archaic language sounds cool, and just feels more formal. We tend to think more of respecting God when we use 'thees and thous' though it comes at the expense of intimacy. Lastly we can always say "and by [X] they mean [Y]" allowing us a great deal of flexibility in interpretations that may later prove to be false.

So, I'd just like to say that I know the scriptures are true, and by that I mean I'm pretty sure that most of what they say is probably what God wants them to say.

Friday, March 3

The biggest hyperbole ever

J's grandpa is quite possibly the nicest man I've ever met. That's not the hyperbole I'm talking about, he really is *that* nice. At nearly 90 he insists that he needs to help with the dishes. He has a large plot of land where he grows fruit and vegetables and shares with everyone. The only price is that you have to pick it yourself. He made me feel so welcome, loved, and special that I would have loved him whether or not I was related to him.

A little while ago he came to visit and I made a pie. A pear pie. Grandpa had a slice at dinner. And he had another an hour later, commenting on how good it was. At first he complimented J's mom and she said, "I didn't make it, [Starfoxy] made it." "Oh," he said, and turned to me "This is really good pie!" The next day he came up to me and said "That pie you made was really good. I think it was the best pie I've ever had. Even better than Marie Calendars"

Aside from being bolstered by recognition of my pie making skillz, Grandpa made me think that maybe it really was the best he'd ever had. He's just that honest and nice of a person that I think he really may have meant it. He wouldn't say it if it weren't true. (Though I fully accept the very real possibility that he can't remember many of the pies he's eaten, and he may have really meant "This is the best pie I can remember eating.")

I got to thinking about hyperbole and honesty. J's grandpa is such an honest person that his saying "this is the best pie ever!" just feels true when he says it. If I heard him say things like that very often then it wouldn't feel as true. Perhaps to really solidify honesty in the eyes of those around us, we must refrain even from 'harmless' exaggeration. Especially in compliments that we give.

If you have (and must maintain) a reputation for honesty, then every statement you make will weigh more, and you are given less room for embellishment in anything you say. If you add hyperbole to your statements then people will take your hyperbole as truth. Every embellishment you continue to add detracts from your credibility.

In that vein I wonder about many of the statements made by the General Authorities and other church leaders. Words like, most, greatest, holiest, none other, and eternal pepper their talks and statements regularly. They make sweeping declarations from the pulpit of how much they love us *all.* How often is it hyperbole? How often is it really true? Do our day-to-day dealings with hyperbole from those around us lead us to give less credit to the fantastic-but-true things that our leaders are telling us?

The world may never, ever know.