This morning I went running with my dog.
Happy Moonlanding Day! When I was a youth, I read a science fiction book in which dates in the future were figured from the day that Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, apparently because the date had such significance in the history of man.
If the gravitational constant were just a little bit different than what it is, you would not be here. Nor, for that matter, would anything else. So we’ve got that going for us.
With the past two months, I have read — for various reasons — four different novels laying out apocalyptic events within the United States. Here are the novels, in the order I read (or re-read) them, and with the reasons why I read them: — Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (1977): a comet fragments and strikes the Earth in numerous places, collapsing much of world civilization, including the United States. I’ve read this several times before; I saw it cited on a blog (Samizdata) in a discussion on “the best end-of-the-world novels” and decided to dig it out and read it again.
Genesis and Geology
I am a total NPR dork. I would LOVE to have Carl Kasell’s voice on my answering machine; when I was in middle school, I felt betrayed when I learned that Lake Woebegone wasn’t a real place; and I admit that I joined Ira Flatow’s Science Friday Facebook group (“for those who love Science Friday. Or Ira Flatow.”). In fact, all my scientific knowledge pretty much comes from either Science Friday or the SciFi channel. That’s essentially my disclaimer before I jump into a discussion of quantum mechanics: my knowledge of quantum entanglement is limited to how much Ira Flatow could fit into a 22 minute segment. In other words, nowhere near enough knowledge to respond to the inevitable cries of exasperation by the all the quantum physicists who regularly read T&S…
I often find walking in nature a spiritual experience, for want of a better term. Growing up, I think that I found my testimony in part by tramping through the Wasatch Mountains and watching thunder storms roll across the Great Salt Lake. Today, I am likely to have real moments of reverence and gratitude to the divine while watching mist play across the still waters of the James River in the early morning or enjoying the power of a big Atlantic storm slamming into my bit of the world. I realize that there are some real dangers with identifying God too closely with anything as randomly and — at times — wantonly destructive as weather and nature, but as an aesthetic matter such experiences are an important part of my religious life. Oddly, I have never had a similar reaction to a city.
We begin with a quiz.
Some of the thoughts of a commenter on my last post, got me thinking about Mormons, politics, and morality. My observation is that the issues that set off moral alarm bells for most Mormons are those that deal with issues relating to what I would consider â€œfreedom to sinâ€ or â€œprohibitions of obvious sins.â€
The Mormon conception of Zion has changed dramatically over the past century. Today’s members of the church are likely to define “Zion” as wherever the members of the church are: LDS homes, congregations, and stakes. While the conception of Zion in the 19th century may have included these elements, these Saints were determined to literally be Zion communities
I recently read Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion Year History of the Human Body (Pantheon Books, 2008) by Neil Shubin, a paleotologist and professor of anatomy at the University of Chicago. By coincidence, Jared at LDS Science Review had posted the same book in his “Currently Reading” list. Here is our conversation about this interesting book.
Joseph Smith went to the woods because he wished to know the truth of his existence.
I hope some of you grabbed your moon glasses and stepped outside to have a look at how that full moon lights up the world. Thirty thousand miles closer than usual and thirty percent brighter, tonight this lesser light has a chance to really shine.
â€¦ grow tomatoes in their home garden, and lots of them. Men who know grow them, too.
See Part Two posted 9/27. On September 22nd, I rose early and hiked into Crossfire. Afterward, I stopped at the local market and ran into a women I’d seen at the BLM’s open house, one of the most vocal SPEAR members present that night. We greeted each other and she demanded to know who I was and what my interest in the canyon was. “Are you one of those tree-huggers or something else?” she asked.
See Part One here. On September 18th, the BLM held an open house explaining the closure to local residents. The BLM’s acting field manager opened the presentation, telling everyone that the purpose of the closure was to stop traffic through cultural sites. It wasn’t intended to be permanent, he said.
Crossfire Canyon is not the canyon’s real name. Following the trend in nature writing, I have refrained from providing any obvious identifying names or details. Otherwise, this three-part series describes actual events and conversations. Mormons in Utah, especially in southern Utah, often find their concepts of stewardship put to the test when predominantly non-Mormon environmental groups act to preserve resources they perceive Mormons (or any others) are abusing under their stewardship ethic or are allowing to be abused.
In the Preface to New Genesis: A Mormon Reader on Land and Community, the editors cite an unidentified 1991 report that places each of the thirty largest Christian denominations in one of five categories based on their environmental stances.
The day before the cliff swallows return to traditional nesting sites in canyons near where I live in southern Utah, the sky hangs quiet, with only a few ravens, hawks, and eagles spiraling through. The next day, whoosh! Swallows arrive reeling in their folklorico like revelers at an unseen party spilling onto a quiet street.
It is the destiny of mint to be crushed. â€“Waverley Lewis Root June 12, 2007 Rained most of the night. Morningâ€™s cool and sweet. Good day to venture into a canyon. Because the storm has left behind puffy white seeds that could blossom suddenly into rain, I replace my extra water bottle with a rain poncho. In honor of the sky, scrubbed to a deep, shining blue, I wear my turquoise tee shirt. Usually I wear a white one with sleeves, but I like to wear this color when I hike. Weather permitting, I do.