Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Finals, Travel, & Holidays

Sorry everyone... Between finals, computer problems, and travel for the holidays, I haven't been able to post anything in a while.  I should get a post up in the next day or two.  Once I get through the holidays I should get back up and running, and get to posting more regularly... 

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Taking care of the poor, and Meat sacrificed to idols

I had a thought today as I went through a talk from the last general conference.  Elder Christofferson gave a talk about Zion, and the need to look after the poor.  He said, "In much of the world, we are entering upon unsettled economic times. Let us look after one another the very best we can." 
So I got to thinking about what it means to "look after one another," and about Paul, who taught that we should be content to have just food and raiment (1 Tim 6:5-8).  Today's SS lesson also had the words of Moroni, warning those of the last days who love money more than the sick and afflicted (Mormon 8).  So obviously we're not supposed to do that...  We need to only seek riches to build up the kingdom as we learn in Jacob...  But that left me with another idea from Paul:  He teaches in 1 Cor 8 that we should avoid doing things, even if they aren't wrong, simply because another may be led to sin by our so doing.  In this case, it had to do with eating meat sacrificed to a false idol. And Paul says, "Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend" (vs 13).  Even though an idol is "nothing," we shouldn't eat les others who don't know that be enticed to eat and sin.
So back to pride, and taking care of the poor.  Would this teaching lead us to this:  that even if we are desiring riches for the right reason, are we in danger of sinning in the use of our money if the things we purchase (even if our motives are good) with it leads others to envy our position and wealth... if it causes them to, say, go into excessive debt to try to "keep up" with what I have?  Does some of their sin (envy) go on my head?
What do you think?  Must we spend only the essential amount of money necessary for food/raiment, and save or give away the rest?  Why or why not?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Changes to Commandments

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

Sorry for not posting last week... There just wasn't much time between the turkey & the PIES!

So my thought for today has to do with commandments that change.  For example, the Word of Wisdom.  The scriptures have always decried the evils of excessive drinking, but what is the reason for the change in modern revelation, which restricts alcoholic beverages outright?

First off, I'm not really sure.  But here's my stab at it.  

We'll look at alcohol.  I wonder if alcohol wasn't seen as such a big deal because it's negative side effects weren't as severe back in the day.  It wasn't a requirement to obey the WoW until 1902 (I think).  What else happened around that time? Cars happened.  Assembly line production began in 1902, then expanded by Ford in 1914.  Cars were about to become a big thing in American life.  Maybe drunk driving and its associated risks for accidents, and unnecesary shortening of innocent life contributed to this change.  Previously, drinking did damage to your liver, but didn't hurt others the way it does/can in modern society.

A Reverse Example: Chastity

Chastity has always been taught by the prophets, and violations of it considered terrible, yet the consequences of such sins have varried dramatically over time.  In the Old Testament, we read of many who were killed for such indescretions.  It seems as though adultery was seen as paramount in its gravity, compared with other sexual sins that didn't involve breaking a marriage vow.
This is in stark contrast with the way these sins are treated in the church today.  Adultery and fornication are grounds for excommunication, but that is nothing compared to the harsh penalties of ages past.  No death, no stoning, etc.   But why the change?
Is is possible that this could be for similar reasons.  The dangers of non-marital sexual adventures is, when using technologies (latex condoms) availible today, and common sense, perhaps not as detrimental to health as it would have been in the past. 

I dunno, I'm rather skeptical.  Plus, I don't know how to factor in more relaxed positions in the past that I've skipped over.  For example, Alma chastised his son Corianton for going after the harlot Isabel... but what happened to him?  He was sent right back into the mission field.  
It also doesn't explain a more generally relaxed (in my view) view of visiting a prostitute than sleeping with a virgin, which should be the opposite if longer life-span were a real part of the equation.

Any thoughts?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pride... preventing Deification

In preparing lessons for Sunday School recently, I've been thinking a lot about pride.  As I was reading a bit, I turned to some C.S. Lewis, as I like to do, and came accross one of my favorite things he wrote, from Mere Christianity.

Pride is essentially competitive - is competitive by its very nature - while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. The sexual impulse may drive two men into competition if they both want the same girl. But that is only by accident; they might just as likely have wanted two different girls. But a proud man will take your girl from you, not because he wants her, but just to prove to himself that he is a better man than you. Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go round; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he can possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power. Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of Pride.
I just think it's such an interesting point, that pride is such a different sin than others, and it's the competition in it that sets it apart.  Pride is all about being better than others, and that, as I see it, is as far from progressing towards exaltation as we can get.  I see Christ's prayer for us to be one with Him & the Father as an invitation for us to enter into the same kind of relationship with Him as He has with the Father.  That requires total unity, complete one-ness.  Pride is completely incompatible with that type of relationship.  This need for competition is keeping us from having that kind of relationship with Them, and with each other as well.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mormonism, Masturbation, and growing up Male

First off, I want to apologize... this is going to be a long post.
So... We'll jump right into something. I've been skipping around on a few other mormon blogs recently. I was reading on the culturalhall.com, and which I'm sad to say has shut down (temporarily I hope). Anyway, I ended up there linked from another blog, but found my way to an article called "Confessions of Serial Masturbator/Repenter." A very interesting read.
So, since the site is shut down for comments, I thought I'd put my two cents in here. Fair warning, this may take a while for me to get through everything. But, be patient.
Growing Up
We'll start at the beginning, my beginning. I grew up in a Mormon family... pretty much. We went to church every week. But there was very little religion at home, no FHE, prayers, scripture study, etc. I grew up more or less believing that the church was true, but never really had reason to doubt it either. When I was approaching puberty, my dad lost his job, and had to go back to school. Since we live in a rural area, that meant he was gone during the week, and came to visit on weekends for a few years. That meant dad was no longer coming to church. I'd also reached that age where you start to question things, and, long story short... I pretty much decided over the next few years that there was no such thing as God, and that was ok.


Well, here begins a blog... I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while, and finally decided to do it, as a place to put some of my thoughts that I don't want to put on someone's comments section, either because it would take too long, or maybe a little unusual.   Sometime's it just helps to clear the mind to write things down.  And hopefully, a comment or two can help clear up my thinking.  I really do try to have an open mind about things, so comment away, I'm always open to the idea that I'm completely wrong, completely crazy, or both!  I plan to covor some philisophical and theological issues, in relation to the LDS church (I'm LDS, and studied philosophy, among other things in college).  Maybe an occasional deep thought, and I'd guess I'll jump into politics rather frequently (I'm a libertarian).  Happy reading!