Every night (whenever I can) I tell bedtime stories to the kids. They’re largely improvised, from a blend of mythology, literature, movies, and whatever else I’ve thought about lately. They’re usually serialized (“And tomorrow we’ll find out how they fought that giant. . .”). In any given night, our intrepid adventurers are likely to come across giants, dragons, witches, balrogs, castles, jedis, hydras, medusa (a favorite), robots, spaceships, invisibility, magic potions, magic wands, lightsabers, and lasers. I enjoy telling the stories, and the kids enjoy hearing them. This leads to some fun conversations with Sullivan, our oldest (almost seven), about the nature of God. He’s been told that Heavenly Father is eternal, and that that means that Heavenly Father can’t die. This morning our discussion went along these lines:
Having ventured into the realm of high generalization about cultural systems, in my second entry I wish to raise my game to a still higher level. We have heard many warnings recently from Church leaders about American and world culture spiraling downwards. While this diagnosis can be debated (it is always the best of times and the worst of times), a pessimistic mood has prevailed at Church headquarters. Some relief was granted in this last conference when a few talks struck the theme of “Don’t Despair.” I believe there are grounds for adopting the pessimistic stand because morally and religiously our culture has been hollowed out. Neither our theological beliefs nor our moral standards are supported in the cultural systems that dominate our society: capitalism, democracy, and science.
The Chicago Sun Times has a piece on the State of Illinois’s apology to the Church for the expulsion from Nauvoo. Is there a kind of analogy between such an apology and baptism for the dead, doing for another what he cannot do for himself? Does our welcome of that apology say anything to us about how we ought to think about other, similar apologies, such as to Native Americans or slaves?
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to spend more time with my wife, and since she didn’t object, this is one resolution that I have kept. My motivation is partly short term — my wife is my best friend, and I enjoy our times together. But I also am motivated by the idea of eternal companionship. Indeed, I like all of the doctrines of unity: marriage, Zion, exaltation. These concepts inspire me. With regard to marriage, we are told that “man [shall] leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:24. Also, “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” 1 Cor. 11:11. I understand these scriptures to mean that I must become one with my wife in the same way as Jesus become one with the Father. I can think of no better way of doing this than reading…
So, tonight our Family Home Evening was a review of our Family Laws, which were composed when the kids were 6 months, 2, and 4 years old, and which need review and minor adjustments pretty often. We thought that our 7-year-old, and maybe our 5-year-old were ready for the notion that actions can have both natural consequences and consequences imposed by an authority of some sort. We chose what seemed like a simple example–driving through a red light (natural consequence: accident, imposed consequence: ticket). The following discussion ensued:
This week I discovered that I had a retinal tear. Within a couple of hours I also discovered that it was relatively easy to fix. Moderately painful for a few minutes, but a few zaps of the laser and I was “as good as new.” (I’m sure that Janice, my wife, often wonders just how good “new” was that it should be the standard for what I am now.) I am grateful for the knowledge and technology that could turn what not-so-long-ago could have been a disaster into a minor, momentary irritation.
In Sunday School today, while talking about what it means to be chosen, I used an example that I thought was straightforward. I said, “The bishop has been chosen, but not because he is more righteous or smarter than everyone else in the ward.” No one disagreed with me straight out, but I was surprised how many people wanted to qualify what I said with “Yes, but . . . .”
Our mission Christmases were mostly lonely times, but God gave us a gift on the second one. We had made little scrolls that we tied in red ribbon. On the scrolls we had printed a short message that said: “Silver and Gold have we none, but that which we have we give unto you. Two thousand years ago the Savior said, ‘Peace I leave with you, Peace I give unto you.’ We give you our love, and our wish that the Savior’s peace be with you.” We went caroling to the members and the neighbors and left them with a scroll.
Here is a scripture that concerns me: And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning, yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches. Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God. And thus there became a great inequality in all the land, insomuch that the church began to be broken up…. (3 Nephi 6:12-14) A few years back, the Church announced that it would not be building another Church university (at least at the time) and that BYU for the first time would begin rejecting applicants who had met minimum educational achievement requirements. I believe that this development has unleased an important change in Church…
I have sometimes heard of a couple, married for many years, who suddenly divorces, and I’ve wondered how that could happen. But each late November or early December reminds me: it was probably the Christmas tree. I confess that I think they look pretty. I like having one in the house at Christmas. But they are so difficult to set up and decorate–and doing so involves so much tension–that I have yet to understand why anyone has a Christmas tree.
Both of my parents (now divorced) have been deeply involved in Mormon studies for my entire life. Thus, I grew up in a Mormon studies family. My father is a senior curator at the Museum of Church History and Art and was hired by the Church Historical Department a few months before I was born. My mother was one of the early editors of Sunstone Magazine and worked as an editor and then board member of Signature Books while I was growing up. The result is that I think of most of the big names in Mormon studies – Richard Bushman, Michael Quinn, Ron Walker, etc. – as people that my parents know. My earliest memories of Mormon publications are of looking through old issues of Sunstone. It made for an interesting childhood.