So long, farewell

This is my last post, out with a whimper.

I’ve been much busier than I’d anticipated when I signed up for these two weeks (and a little, at the mercy of the T&S masters)- I have several papers I’m trying to get in for possible publication before I leave Utah, and writing/correcting finals- hence the one-note theme in my two posts.

I had some other ideas that I’ll toss out only half-baked.

1) Is God consumer-friendly? From my understanding of business, you have to sell something the customer wants or they won’t buy it. If your product is undesirable, you throw it out or tweak it until it is desireable.

How much of “the Gospel” or “the Church (two separate things) is negotiable? How much can be adapted to meet consumer demand? Will we ever (heaven forbid) see worship bands in the chapel? Are we, on the other hand, doomed to perpetual slow organ music? Clearly, God is willing to negotiate with people, as He did with Abraham. God has also clearly “tolerated” less-than-perfect

2) Orson Scott Card, in Speaker for the Deads and Xenocide utilizes a classification system borrowed from N. Europe.

“The Nordic language recognizes four orders of foreignness. The first is the otherlander, or utlanning, the stranger that we recognize as being a human of our world, but of another city or country. The second is the framling– Demosthenes merely drops the accent from the Nordic frimling. This is the stranger that we recognize as human, but of another world. The third is the ramen, the stranger that we recognize as human, but of another species. The fourth is the true alien, the varelse, which includes all the animals, for with them no conversation is possible. They live, but we cannot guess what purposes or causes make them act. They might be intelligent, they might be self-aware, but we cannot know it.”

There are several discussions of this concept and how it applies to the varies alien species that they encounter. From elsewhere in the series, varelse are intelligent beings that we simply can’t communicate with. Because of that limitation, no negotiation or mutual understanding is possible. (It makes complete sense in the series, really.)

I’ve been mentally applying this to religious affiliation. Are Islamic fundamentalists varelse? Are Evangelical Christians ramen or framling? OR are some of them varelse also?

3) What effect will technology have on the Church and its culture?
a) I use about 10 different electronic programs (Bibleworks with imported LDS works, Logos, the LDS databases,
the New Mormon Studies CD, Endnote, the Church’s cd, and a few others to do my scripture study lesson prep, email students, organize class, etc. These grant easy access to all kinds of documents, facilitating learning. They’re all on a laptop.

b) “democratization of information.” You can now find out anything (true or not) about the Church, it’s history, doctrine, etc., online. There is much more of a contest for readers, since they no longer have only one source.

c)Creation of communities- This site is a prime example. Few of the regulars on this site (with the exception of the east-coasters) would know or affiliate with each other if this site had not brought them together. Same thing with FAIR and a hundred other message boards that exist. We are no longer intellectually isolated, since teh internet allows us to find and communicate with people who share our assumptions, beliefs, or disbeliefs about the gospel. This both strengthens and weakens the church.

d) Are there other effects? Since more is available on the Church website in English, will there be a digital divide between English and non-English speaking LDS? Between electronic haves and have-nots?

I’ll be mostly incommunicado for the next week or so, hiking in Montana with my in-laws, so I probably won’t be able to respond to questions or criticisms.
I’ve enjoyed my brief time here. Thanks for the soapbox. If you’re looking for references on the Book of Mormon or the Temple, check out my two pages.

4 comments for “So long, farewell

  1. Fix
    August 14, 2004 at 11:48 pm


  2. Kristine
    August 15, 2004 at 6:22 pm

    Hey, Ben, these are good ideas–I intend to steal at least a couple of them for posts in the future!

    btw, I just heard from a little birdie that you were the most dedicated, creative, and generally amazing Primary teacher ever. This makes me think you are even smarter and cooler than I already thought you were!

    Thanks for your contributions here.

  3. August 16, 2004 at 1:45 pm

    Actually I’ve long wondered about a tangent to the consumer question. When is advertising Zion-based? Now I can see advertising say carrots. Eating more would make most of us healthier and there are few side effects to raising or eating lots of carrots. But what about ice cream? Eating it is small amounts is fine. But does advertising it lead people to over-indulge? Should there be advertizing in a Zion city? Since often the point of advertising is to get people to purchase what they normally wouldn’t, I’ve always had this confusion and unease about advertising in a Zion city.

  4. Ben's little brother
    February 14, 2005 at 5:06 pm

    Having studied Islam and Islamist movements for the past year, i have decided that many, if not all Islamic Fundamentalists are very far from Varelse. Especially if you group all islamic “fundamentalist” movements and think all are equal and share the same ideologies/methods/cultural support. Actually, most of the Islamic Fundamentalist Movements use only Islamic Language and sources to frame social, political, and economical issues, and often merely desire reform in those areas.

    example: Hizbullah in Southern Iran

    religion: shiite

    Hizbullah maintains hospitals, orphanages, and road maintenance in Southern Lebanon. It has fielded women candidates for local elections in 9 different provinces of Lebanon and for the first time this year will nominate at least one woman for a chair in the National Parliament. Hizbullah recognizes, readily accepts, and works with Druze, Marowite, and Sunni factions of the government. Hizbullah is a stubborn organization but certainly not incapable of intelligent and meaningful dialogue with the US and the rest of “the West.”

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