catastrophe, eucatastrophe, and a little parable

Over on his blog, Ebenezer presents a post on judging catastrophe and eucatastrophe as an answer to Brother Deneyer's comments about following spiritual promptings into catastrophe. (Eucatastrophe is a joyful antithesis of catastrophe, the term was coined by J.R.R. Tolkien, see this page for more details.)

I think Ebenezer is dead on. We often forget that God has a different perspective than our own, "my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord" (Isaiah 55:8). A couple of years ago, I had an experience that became a parable in our family (we collect a lot of these, I don't know why.)

As a family, we were staying in a hotel on a Sunday. As we were trying to get ready for church, my daughter couldn't find her dress shoes. She and I were standing on opposite ends of a largish closet. We had both partially opened the sliding door from our end (creating an open space, then the overlapping doors, then another open space) and were looking into the closet when she asked if I knew where her shoes were. I glanced down at the floor of the closet and saw them sitting there.

When I told her where they were, she said she couldn't see them. I told her just to trust me and reach into the closet. I had a perspective that let me see the shoes that she couldn't. As we drove to church, we talked about what had happened and realized that it was a nice little illustration of how we sometimes need to let go of our point of view and trust the Lord to achieve the end He has in mind.


A walk through the Bloggernacle

I'm reading some additional blogs these days, and thought they would be worth sharing with those of you who haven't seen them yet.

Ebenezer Orthodoxy

a bird's eye view

To Speak of Many Things

Nine Moons

I hope you enjoy them as much as I have been.


A new stake presidency, part 0 -- the prelude

We're supposed to have a general authority at our Stake conference next month. Because our stake presidency has been serving in their positions for quite a while, this led to the recurring rumour that the stake presidency would be reorgainized. It got bad enough that people were approaching members of the presidency to ask them to confirm the rumours. It seems that they've decided to clarify things. We've been asked to tell all of the families we're assigned to Home Teach that the presidency will be reorganized, and to ask them all to come to conference to be part of the occasion.

I'll be sorry to see the current presidency disbanded. They're all great men, and have done a wonderful job in their callings. I have faith that the new presidency will be every bit as inspired (and inspiring). Succession happens, I can deal with that.

I'm saddened that we (as a stake, as a people ...) are so prone to speculating over who will fill new positions that the rumour mill kicked into high enough gear that the current presidency felt a need to counteract it by announcing the upcoming change.

But the kicker, at least to me, is that we care so little about stake conference (or general conference for that matter) that we need to tell people that there's a special occasion so that they'll come. It almost seems that some people feel conference is a week off from church.


Lehi's Dream and the Parable of the Sower

Over on Meg's Book of Mormon Thoughts, she talks about Lehi's Dream in her Aug 22nd post. In it, she talks about the four groups of people from that vision.

I enjoy the resonance between this vision and the Savior's Parable of the Sower. Both discuss the same four kinds of people:

1) Those that hear the message, but don't do anything about it. In the parable, they are desribed as falling by the wayside and being eaten by fowls. In Lehi's dream, he says that multitudes felt their way toward the great and spacious building (apparently ignoring the rod and the path to the tree altogether.)

2) Those that hear the message and start to obey, but fall away quickly. The Savior says that these fell into stony places and sprung up, but having no root withered in the sun. In the dream, these would be those that started along the path to the tree but lost their way in the mist.

3) Those that hear and accept the message, but are lost to the world. The parable describes these as falling among thorns which choked them. In Lehi's dream, these are the multitude who make it to the tree and partake of the fruit only to hear the scoffing of those in the great and spacious building and become ashamed, falling away.

4) The last group are those that hear and accept the message and then endure to the end. The Savior describes them as falling into good soil and bringing forth good fruit. Lehi says that "other multitudes" pressed forward, holding to the rod, and partook of the fruit of the tree.

A timeline for Alma(1) and Alma(2)

The following is a rough timeline for the lives of Alma the Elder and Alma the Younger. Some of the dates are approximations based on other events, some are guesses from clues in the Book of Mormon. I'd love to hear what people think.

Without further ado, the timeline:

173 BCAlma(1) born in Nephi-Lehi
151 BCMosiah(2) born in Zarahemla
150-148 BCAbinadi teaches in Lehi-Nephi, and is martyred
145-120 BCAlma(1) leads people in Helam
147 BCAlma(1) teaches at the Waters of Mormon
c. 130 BCAlma(2) born in Helam (see Alma 5:5)
124 BCMosiah(2) begins to reign
120 BCMosiah(2) authorizes Alma(1) to organize the church
100 - 92 BCconversion of Alma(2)
91 BCAlma(1) dies at 82 years old, Alma(2) becomes the High Priest
Mosiah(2) dies at 63 years old, Alma(2) becomes Chief Judge
87 BCAlma(2) wounded in battle
86-85 BCAlma(2) baptizes thousands
83 BCAlma(2) gives up judgement seat
Alma(2) preaches in Zarahemla and Gideon
82 BCAlma(2) preaches in Melek and Ammoniha (with Amulek)
81 BCPrison in Amonihah cast down
Alma(2) and Amulek preach in Sidon and return to Zarahemla
81-77 BCAlma(2) reunited with Sons of Mosiah
74 BCAlma(2) gives "Oh that I were an Angel" sermon
Dispute with Korihor
Alma(2) leads mission to Antionum (Zoramites) with sons Shiblon and Corianton
73 BCAlma(2) instructs Helaman(1), Shiblon, and Corianton
Alma(2) teaches Helaman(1) again
Alma(2) is translated
Helaman(1) becomes High Priest


A nice post in a nice series from meridian magazine

I've noticed that Meridian Magazine seems to have a bad reputation among some of the bloggernacle as being too "molly-mormon". While I don't like everything they've published, I do enjoy some of their articles.

I've enjoyed Daniel Peterson and William Hamblin's articles in Ideas & Society for quite a while. Their recent piece on Najaf is a good example. It provides a brief, "tour stop"-like introduction to why Najaf is important in Shi'ite (and Sunni) Islam. There was enough meat to make it fun for me to read, but approachable enough for me to point it out to my teenager. The only thing I'd like to see is a pointer to further information.

Thanks for the work Brothers Peterson and Hamblin.


Modern Patrilogia

Hall described 4 key characteristics of the Fathers; 1) their antiquity, 2) the holiness (or zealousness) of their life, 3) their orthodoxy, and 4) ecclesiastical approval of their teachings. With the exception of the first point, I think these also apply quite well to our latter-day prophets and apostles.

In fact, their proximity to us even brings an added benefit. While they might not provide the same kind of insights into the scriptures that the early fathers do, their modern focus can apply more directly to our own light. Our shared context can also make their exigesis more approachable to us.

Over the next couple of weeks I'll try to post some entries about conference talks from the past.