Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Living in a robot suit – a thought experiment…

December 31st, 2017 by Bruce Charlton

As a thought experiment, consider life in a remote-controlled robot suit: an ‘exoskeleton’ or ‘mech suit’ – so we dwell inside a metal shell that is being compelled to do things by a remote control mechanism.

Imagine being inside this shell – thinking freely about the world, understanding in some ways, and wanting to act in some ways – yet our actions, our limb movements – what we do – is being compelled by the robot suit (and whoever controls it). So, we are constantly observing our bodies doing things we do not want to do, under compulsion of the robot suit.

Inside this shell we can think freely – but our limbs are (mostly) being forced, by the superior strength of the robot suit, into doing things that are not chosen by us – but are compelled on us. However, to be more accurate, we should regard the power of the robot suit to be greater than our own muscular strength – but only quantitatively greater – because it is sometimes possible for us to resist and even overcome the robot suit for some period of time – by exerting all our muscular strength against it. However, this overcoming the suit is exhausting, and therefore sooner or later we will tire and the robot suit will again take-over…

Thus our situation is that on the one hand we are compelled to act in specific ways by the external control of the suit; yet on the other hand we can sometimes force the suit to act in ways that our free-thinking desires.

This combination of freedom and constraint may then be used-against-us; if our thoughts are judged by our actions – from the correct fact that actions are visible while thoughts are not; plus the false assertion that, because we can sometimes act as we think, then we could (in principle) always act as we think… So people whose thoughts are detached from their actions, but not wholly detached, are treated as if their actions are of first importance, and their ‘real’ thoughts can be inferred from their observed actions.

This is deadly: because instead of thought being free and knowingly-experienced as free – thought becomes regarded as constrained by action.

And if/ when a society can (mostly) compel action (like a robot suit compels action), then society can claim to control thoughts – because thoughts are (in practice) being assumed by inference from actions; thoughts are being regarded as secondary, to the point of irrelevance…

Society puts us in a robot suit, which externally-forces us to do this-and-that – then society tells us that we chose to do this-and-that! That we wanted to do this-and-that. That what we did and continue to do is the real us

Read the whole thing at my Bruce Charlton’s Notions blog…

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December 31st, 2017 02:55:10

The War at Christmas

December 28th, 2017 by G.

Our world is at war. Every year the forces of dark grind away. Every year the Lord of the Armies of Light, Santa Claus by name, sallies forth and reverses much or all of their inroads.

The deadliest weapon in the arsenal of Light is their mirth. Their laughter slays. They are fiercely, immensely jolly.

The Castles of Christmas are their unbreachable redoubt. They return there every year to regroup and rest where they cannot be touched.

It is said that the castles have one weakness. If ever the merry laughter ceases, the walls will be breached.

But it hasn’t happened yet. Because Santa Claus and the other men of Christmas have a secret.

They know that at the heart of the Castles, there is a land where a Child is in a manger under a starry sky. And that land can never be breached. There is no weakness, no trick, no eventuality, that can take that refuge away.

When the reverses are piling up and the War of Christmas is going grim, Santa and his men begin to think about the great surprise that the dark will have when they breach the Castles, and the hilarious anticipation of that surprise makes them break out in great ringing laughter.

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December 28th, 2017 17:52:10

What is repentance?

December 27th, 2017 by Bruce Charlton

Excerpts from my most recent understanding of what I regard as the core of Christ’s gift to us…

I assume that mortal life is about learning, spiritual learning – that is, we have experiences, and therefore, if we make the right choices, opportunities to make spiritual progression towards divinity (i.e. theosis or sanctification). I shall call this primary purpose of mortality divine-learning…

But what does this ‘divine-learning’ mean? Well, what this learning is Not is learning in the everyday or scientific sense of observable ‘behavioural-change’ in mortal life. Because behavioural-change can’t be what learning is about; because we humans are not designed that way, and neither is the world.

Divine-learning – that learning from Life that you and I are living for – is about something much more than mere behavioural change; it is about a real, permanent… indeed eternal and spiritual change. The learning of our mortal life is designed to benefit our eternal life. Divine-learning = Positive spiritually-progressing change that affects that which is eternal in us, lasting forever, beyond our mortal death.

Thus, when we (mortal incarnate Men) learn in this divine sense; it entails a change in reality. It is repentance (a gift made possible by Jesus) that makes this learning possible.

(Before Jesus – repentance was not possible; without Jesus, repentance would not be possible – thanks to Jesus, repentance became always possible for everybody and anybody – including those who lived before Jesus.)

But what is repentance? – in this ultimate sense of divine-learning which goes far beyond observable mortal behavioural change?…

Repentance was a gift of Jesus – his incarnation, death and resurrection. By repentance, Jesus brought-in the change that from-now-on Men would not only learn passively and unconsciously (like young children)… but in the new dispensation that Christ initiated, our learning would be self-active, conscious, explicit to our-selves. And this is repentance; repentance is actively learning from our mortal experiences, and knowing that we are learning, and knowing what we have learned. And this is what is permanent – going beyond the contingencies of the behaviours of our mortal lives.

Repentance = explicit and permanent learning from the experiences of mortal life.

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December 27th, 2017 04:56:24

Good King Wensas

December 26th, 2017 by G.

The boy is father to the man. In honor of the feast of St. Stephen’s, here is Bruce C. at his drollest. I laughed, and not just because a few weeks ago in choir I was bellowing out “Good people all, this ChristmasTIDE” because damn the wrecker who published our choral music with it spelled “time.” Or because I remembered last year the same choir director, bless her longsuffering heart, trying to hide her grin while I gave a harangue on where the comma should be in “God rest ye merry, gentlemen.” Or the year before that . . .

Anyway, read the whole thing. If you don’t laugh, a pox on you and no wassail.

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December 26th, 2017 10:30:27

More Priestly

December 26th, 2017 by The Junior Ganymede

I have been thinking a lot about the Church’s recent announcement about expanding the youth’s responsibilities in the temples.

[Editor’s note: Priests in the Aaronic Priesthood will now perform baptisms for the dead and act as witnesses for the baptisms.  Young women who have limited-use (non-endowed) temple recommends can perform the matronly roles in assisting with temple baptisms.]

Of course, my first thought was about my three teenagers. They have been very involved in temple and family history work since our temple was dedicated this year. But with this change, all of the sudden my 17-year-old son seemed more priestly. And the two others seemed to straighten up a little when they heard it. I read this gem in Ether yesterday, and I am sure it is connected somehow: “We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men.” I think our youngsters are finding great power in small-looking things.


-from FoJG JRL-in-AZ

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December 26th, 2017 09:52:48

Jesus, Lord at his Birth

December 23rd, 2017 by G.

Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? or naked, and clothed thee?

Joseph and Mary would not have asked this question.  They knew when they had done this for Jesus.  They did it in Bethlehem.

Jesus’ helplessness as a little baby made their care for him meaningful.

And because what is done to any is as if done to Christ–“inasmuch as ye have done it to the least of these my brethren,” he says, and he experiences all of our woes and, I believe, our joys alongside us–our care for our own little children is meaningful to Him also.

People who act need things and people to be acted upon in order for their actions to be meaningful.  These can be the helpless, like infants.  At the other end of the scale, the fully adult and fully divine risen Jesus, full of power, is also someone to be acted upon.  All our actions act upon him, therefore all our acts our meaningful.

It is interesting that our lives seem to go full circle.  The most helpless and the most powerful both occupy something of a similar role in our lives.

“Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom.”

“Jesus, Lord at his birth.”

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December 23rd, 2017 09:59:34

Christmas Goodies

December 23rd, 2017 by G.

Wise men


For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”


Enjoy these goodies. (more…)

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December 23rd, 2017 07:36:29

The Christmas King

December 22nd, 2017 by G.

Once upon a time there was a kingdom so orderly that its laws and institutions had all sorts of branchings and variations, like a healthy, growing tree.

One of those odd little variations was the Christmas King. (more…)

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December 22nd, 2017 09:48:25

Someone Needs to Hear your Testimony.

December 20th, 2017 by Bookslinger

For the past two months I’ve been “buffetted” a bit, haunted by a testimony/story I was supposed to share during the testimony meeting after October General Conference.  It, the telling of the story/testimony, replays in my head and sometimes I act/speak it out loud.  Maybe it’s like an amateur musician/composer who has to “get the music out of him.” I have OCD and PTSD, so there might be some of that in it, too.

 I think I finally figured out why, and I think the principle is general enough to share with the JrG audience.  It might have been for my benefit too, but I already know what happened. So I think the Lord wants others to know what He’s doing — Isaiah 12:4 and Psalms 105:1.  Somehow, someone else needs to hear what happened, perhaps as inspiration to do likewise, or to do something similar.  And perhaps the telling of the story would change my relationship with one or more ward members. (more…)

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December 20th, 2017 12:43:38

Always Hire a Reputable Electrician

December 19th, 2017 by G.

I’m laying on the couch when my toddler asks if she can lay down by me.

“Sure.”  Pause.  “Do you want a story?”


I start in on Aladdin’s Lamp.  I am at the part where the evil uncle magician has taken Aladdin out into the wilderness, where they find a crack opening in the ground.  “And at the bottom of the crack they saw a gate . . .”

“No, a penguin!”

“What!  Why?”

“Because the crack!  The crack!  And they’re hunting the penguin and she has a mommy penguin and the mommy penguin gives her crackers!”

. . . .

Then my young school age son asks me if I know about the Chief Judge Holiday.  I don’t.  It’s Christmas, he tells me.

Again, “what!  Why?”

“Santa Claus, Dad! I thought you knew that!”

Next time I get my kids’ brains wired, I’m not just hiring just some guy.

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December 19th, 2017 20:17:58


December 19th, 2017 by The Junior Ganymede

This week in Sunday School we talked about the life of Christ. It was a remarkable lesson, as any discussion of His life should be. In the course of our discussion, we read two of my favorite passages of scripture: Alma 7:10-13 and Mosiah 3:5-8. As we talked about everything that the Savior did for us during His life, a thought occurred to me that has come to me before but is worth repeating. We often talk of Jesus’ sacrifice at Gethsemane and Golgotha – He voluntarily suffered and died for us. But His sacrifice was and is far greater than His death. He faced choices every day, just like we do – how to spend His time, how to react to individuals (some hostile, some curious, some penitent, etc.), what to say, how to respond to temptation and disappointment and pain. The list goes on forever. All the choices that we make, and more, were presented to Him. And He chose to exercise His agency in each of those choices to live a stainless, perfect life. Now THAT is a sacrifice. Far greater than dying for something – living for it first.


-Guest post from Friend of the JG JRL-in-AZ

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December 19th, 2017 14:25:14

The temptations of Jesus and God’s knowledge of our minds and hearts

December 15th, 2017 by Bruce Charlton

The temptations of Jesus by Satan in the wilderness seems to have the implication that God did not fully know the mind of Jesus, and needed to test him before Jesus’s ministry could begin.

If so, this would seem to confirm what I think is implied by the (specifically) Mormon theology of the nature of God and of Men.

Because, by ‘mainstream’ Christian theology, God created everything (from nothing) and therefore knows everything – so (by this argument) our minds and hearts must be wholly-transparent to God; because there is nothing of us which is not made and sustained by God. Also, for mainstream theology Jesus is the same person as The Father, so from that perspective as well, there would be no need for testing.

But, according to Mormon theology, we are coexistent with God from eternity, there is something in us which is not of God, not made by God. This is (as I understand it) the basis of our genuine free agency.

All this perhaps entails that there is in-us that which is not accessible to God; which God can only infer and test by observation. My assumption is that there is always this hidden element about every personage (including Satan) such that God cannot and we cannot know-directly the innermost individual-eternal-being of any person.

Which is why tests, although fallible, are necessary.

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December 15th, 2017 12:24:01

Things Today

December 14th, 2017 by G.

  • A partial-birth abortion Democrat got elected in deep red Alabama.  “Deep red.”  Demography matters, and every state now is on the left of the spectrum 20 years ago.  Progress  mindlessly churns on.
    • The GOP candidate was a bad candidate for all sorts of reasons.  But that’s populism for you.  No one is in charge, its not organized, its not thinking long term.  If it were, it wouldn’t be populism.
    • Whatever you want to call the vague malcontent right movement that has coalesced behind Donald Trump, it is feeling like taking risks and is therefore is prone to overreach.  The establishment and the establishment media still have considerable power and can exercise it when given an opening.  They did in Charlottesville and they did here.
    • A really good insight was in a couple of places at Instapundit.com.  The insight was that if the GOP establishment accomplished anything and ever did what they said, the voters wouldn’t have to keep picking crazier and crazier people on the hopes of getting someone crazy enough to actually follow through.  The voters are populists because the elite is incompetent at best and probably disloyal.
    • The Republican establishment is like the Bourbons.  They learn nothing, they forget nothing.


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December 14th, 2017 07:06:50

His Majesty on democracy

December 13th, 2017 by Vader

None of us is as dumb as all of us.

I realize this is not original with His Majesty, but he’s been repeating it a lot lately.

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December 13th, 2017 20:51:34

It Kind of Makes Sense

December 13th, 2017 by John Mansfield

This morning on the radio they were talking about the year’s most frequent Google searches. It was said that the most searched person was Matt Lauer, which prompted my internal question “Who’s Matt Lauer?” And though quick use of an internet search engine would indeed educate me, I have a hunch that I would prefer remaining ignorant.

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December 13th, 2017 13:34:05