Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Is our specific situation in life (time, place, class, race, family etc.) a random allocation?

December 09th, 2017 by Bruce Charlton

(Note, this is cross-posted from my ‘Notions’ blog – it is aimed mainly at non-Mormon Christians; but it may also be of interest here… As you probably already know; I am continually astonished and fascinated by the way in which Mormon Christianity is based on such a radically different set of metaphysical assumptions concerning the basic nature of reality.)


We are incarnated into this mortal life – and each person finds himself or herself in a different situation: different times in history; different places on the planet; different sex, class, race; different parents…

There seems to be only two basic possibilities:

1. That the allocation of souls to bodies is a random process. We are equally likely to end up anywhere.

2. God ‘places’ us into some specific situation.

The first ‘random’ possibility implies that our situation and sex is a matter of indifference to God and to our-selves – one situation is as good as another. This choice is pretty much entailed by the mainstream Christian belief that each soul is created some time between conception and birth – each soul starts out identical, so there is no point or purpose in placing a specific soul in one place rather than other.

The second ‘placing’ idea implies that we have different needs in mortal life – and this implies that souls are different at the point of incarnation, which also implies that we have a pre-incarnation existence. This doctrine of pre-existence has been non-mainstream for Christians since about the time of Augustine of Hippo – but is held by Mormons among others.

This is a good example of the way that metaphysical assumptions affect theology. Mainstream Christians are pretty-much compelled to assume that our situation in life is random, and meaningless – in now way is our actual life-situation ‘tailored’ to our spiritual needs.

Whereas Mormons, and others who believe in pre-existence, are compelled to assume that God must have placed us into our specific life-situation with at least some regard for what situation will benefit us; and potentially this placing would be highly-exact (although human free will or agency will surely make it impossible for the placing to be fully-exact – since any niche would be changed by the choices of the people around it).

Aside: the question of sexual identity – man or woman – is another point of disagreement between mainstream and Mormon. The mainstream view sees the human soul as newly-created from-nothing – and sexual identity therefore as secondary, and in principle it might be male, female of something-else, or nothing. This links with God being neither man nor women, but containing both.

But for Mormons it is doctrine that every person is either man or woman – nothing else is possible in a deep and ultimate sense (whatever the effects of disease or environment), and this identity goes all the way down and back to eternity. Furthermore God is a dyad of Man and Woman: Heavenly Father and Mother; Jesus was a man; angels are either men or women etc…

It can be seen that Mainstream and Mormon Christianity, while both being genuinely Christian, are based upon distinct metaphysical assumptions.

And these basic assumptions lead to big differences in how we personally regard our specific situation in life: for Mormons our situation is meaningful because designed for our needs; whereas for mainstream Christians our situation (and indeed our sex) is random.

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December 09th, 2017 04:30:28

Saving for Catastrophe

December 01st, 2017 by Patrick Henry

I read that rich people are having fun playing survivalist.

And why not?  No harm in it, and just like our years’ supplies, they may do some good during those horrible catastrophes that history tells us are inevitable but that our daily experience conditions us to believe can never be.  There are black swans–course changing events that we could not have predicted–and there are white swans–course changing events that we could have predicted but sure didn’t.

All the same, most plans for real catastrophe are silly.

Like Taleb’s black swan investment strategy they mostly assume the continuity of the government and current Overton windows.

Or else they are fundamentally nihilistic.  Live in a luxury-stocked bunker somewhere eating down your luxuries waiting or hoping that someone else puts civilization back together, comforting yourself until you die.  There is no future in that vision.

The rich guys who buy farm land are at least thinking a little, though not very much at all.

Here is what a rich guy who thought it through would do. (more…)

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December 01st, 2017 05:23:03

Morning Stars

November 17th, 2017 by John Mansfield

Anyone else watch Venus and Jupiter in the dawning sky today? It was a good sight as my son drove with me to seminary.

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November 17th, 2017 09:16:07

The Rotten Lot of Them

November 17th, 2017 by Bertie

“Jeeves,” I said, “run a gimlet eye over this spot of composition.  I’ve had a dash at the old ink and pen–”

“You have handed me what appears to be an Ipad, sir,” Jeeves interjected.

I drew myself up. “Not actually ink and pen, Jeeves.  One speaks metaphorically, Jeeves,” I replied.  “As I was saying, run your eye over the old ink and pen, or if you prefer it, the old electron and screen, and suggest a few touch-ups.  You know the sort of thing.  The apt phrase, the sockdologer word, the mot juste.”  I decided to apply a bit of the old oil.  “You are a deft hand at this sort of thing, what, what?”

He perused my authorial swottings.

“Have you committed some transgression against the female sex, sir?” (more…)

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November 17th, 2017 07:03:28

Mansfields in the Fall

November 16th, 2017 by John Mansfield

In case you ever wondered what that looks like . . . (more…)

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November 16th, 2017 05:42:40

Change in Latitude

November 12th, 2017 by John Mansfield

Eleven years ago, we had arranged to spend Labor Day weekend at the beach, an end-of-summer recreation. A tropical storm arrived before we did and summer ended for us a little earlier than we had desired. Six years before that, we finished up three years living in Los Angeles just four miles from beaches that we enjoyed frequently year round. The muting of seasonal cues became stranger to my perception the longer I was there. I would strain to recollect milestones by which I could reckon the current month, much as I usually do to figure out the date of the month when a calendar is not at hand. A neighbor cut down a Norfolk pine, and I obtained a couple feet of the trunk to show the cub scouts its rings. It turned out that it didn’t have any distinct rings. Not even the trees of LA know what season it is. (more…)

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November 12th, 2017 05:48:28

Two Grooms

November 09th, 2017 by G.

Sides heaving, a spent horse staggered into a stable with two grooms.  One groom sprang to the horse’s side to care for it.  He dried and brushed and watered the horse before going to turn it back out to graze.  Meanwhile the other groom was nowhere to be seen.  Suddenly a shot rang out.

The other groom had killed the wolf which had chased the horse to the stable.

Moral: Help with the real needs.

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November 09th, 2017 06:30:19

Atheist massacres Christians (again).

November 07th, 2017 by Bookslinger

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November 07th, 2017 09:54:35

Freehold is a Fact that Political Theory Ought to Recognize

November 02nd, 2017 by Patrick Henry

The intellectual ferment on the dissident right has mostly settled on absolutism as a political theory. Absolutism is simple, theoretically compelling, and wrong. Like many reductionist simple theories, absolutism simplifies away key elements of human reality. Garbage in, garbage out. (more…)

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November 02nd, 2017 08:12:36

The Singing Wasn’t the Same

October 27th, 2017 by John Mansfield

Four years ago when internet streaming of the general priesthood meeting was announced, I wrote a short post with the title “The Singing Won’t be the Same.” It looks like it wasn’t. The latest turn for that meeting leaves me feeling defeated. Reduce and simplify the demands on members and leaders, because we just aren’t up to gathering twice a year anymore. It’s too much for us and of too little value.

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October 27th, 2017 21:32:07

Nephi Plays Chicken and Throws away the Wheel

October 27th, 2017 by G.

Based on his own account, Nephi starts off pretty bullheaded and maybe even arrogant.  (I will look to see if his character changes as the history goes on).  That may just have been the way he was.  I do not believe he realizes it.

Nephi’s first entrance into salvation history is the trip he and his brothers took to get the brass plates.  His older brother properly  made the first attempt but it went bad.  Laban turned out to be murderous (why? the plates were probably a prestige item, but in a region where land ownership was hereditary in family lines based on documentation in the scriptures, a reliable copy of the scriptures may have given its owner lots of opportunities for real estate plays).  Laman and Lemuel decide to give up.

Nephi tries to talk them out of it.


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October 27th, 2017 06:26:35

What is virtue? Jesus versus Lucifer

October 24th, 2017 by Bruce Charlton

Following on from a previous post by G and Vader’s discussions of freedom, and from the passage in Moses on God’s choice between Jesus and Lucifer (in The Pearl of Great Price); it strikes me that this event may be about the nature of virtue – that is, about the definition of what it is to be Good.

When Lucifer asked to become The Christ, he promised to ‘redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost’. Since agency (free will) is intrinsic to Men, and could not be removed by Lucifer – this amounts to a redefinition of what it is to be Good and what is necessary to be saved. Only by such a redefinition of what is needed for salvation could Lucifer deliver on his promise.

In short, I think Lucifer is proposing that a Man’s virtue should (in future) be judged by actions, and not by motivation. Because actions can, in principle, be controlled (by a sufficiently effective totalitarian regime) then Life could be engineered such that all Men are (by this definition) Good, hence all Men could be saved.

By contrast, my understanding of the Gospels is that Jesus emphasises motivations as being primary; indeed repentance is based upon this. While actions are also important, ultimately motivations carry-the-day – and Jesus’s repeated fulminations against Pharisees and the like make clear that actions regarded as intrinsically-good without proper motivations are abhorrent.

Perhaps this, then, was the beginning and basis of the spiritual warfare which still continues?

Because, in this world, and since Jesus – there has been dispute between the party of Jesus who regard motivation as primary and stress repentance as the essence of Christianity; and the party of Lucifer (quite often active within Christian Churches, but absolutely dominant in mainstream modern secularism) who measure goodness essetially in terms of ‘good’-actions; and are happy to use ‘whatever means necessary’ to ensure that people always do what is defined as good (and only do what is defined as good).

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October 24th, 2017 05:15:58

The Smells of Poverty.

October 21st, 2017 by Bookslinger

Cigarette smoke, (more…)

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October 21st, 2017 13:34:33

Consent is not “Consent”

October 20th, 2017 by Patrick Henry

The Sexual Revolution relies on “consent.”

Not ordinary consent, the kind where someone agrees to something.  The Sexual Revolution needs consent to be a black box. In our current ideology consent is not just a legal element that must be checked off. Consent is something mysterious and inexplicable that cannot really be queried–no one can explain it– and it is what made various heretofore illicit modes and methods of sex licit without a need for explaining *why* they should be licit. Consent is not just a precondition for licit sex, it is the thing that makes sex licit. “Consent,” in other words, is an aspect of authenticity, and the purpose of authenticity is to be opaque so it can justify a whole bunch of things while being illegible. (more…)

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October 20th, 2017 07:17:37

The sacrifice of the angels: the prodigal son as a parable of mortal incarnation

October 17th, 2017 by Bruce Charlton

God’s garden by William Arkle


I have edited the following italicised section from William Arkle’s A Geography of Consciousness pp. 123-4:


Mortal Man’s right to, and experience of, autonomy is a very destructive and dangerous process in that it is paved with ugly and inharmonious desires and ideas. If the Angelic stage of evolution was also open to this reactive phase, the result would be total destruction and collapse of the necessary field of earthly experience.

So, while we Humans make the great sacrifice of suffering and pain to achieve an autonomous and individual divine nature, so the Angels make the great sacrifice which is to create and maintain the necessary ground for our Human experience; and they clean up the mess we make in the course of this experience. This work requires them to remain always in harmony with the divine purpose and aspiration, and consequently does not properly allow them the experience of objective valuation which ultimate understanding requires.

Such is the interpretation given to the parable of the Prodigal Son. The Prodigal is the Human who is bound to sin for a reason he does not understand, but which – in the end – gives him knowledge of very great value.

But his Brother, who does not sin and who does not venture off into the wilds of poverty and hunger, does not experience the pain and misery of this hunger; and therefore does not value that which is hungered-for in quite the same way. The Brother [like the Angels] is never lost and never has cause to be rejoiced-over; for he never returns of his own accord with this priceless treasure, and his Father in Heaven never has anxiety about him.


I understand the above from the Mormon perspective that these Angels are pre-mortal spirit Children of God – whose ‘job’ includes creating and maintaining the earth and creation for incarnate mortal Men to inhabit; and where we may experience the consequences of our agency and sin; such that we may ultimately repent, return, and bring-home the precious treasures won from our suffering, and our death.

That is the sacrifice of mortals.

The premortal Men/ Angels vital role is to help mortal Men, and to ‘clean-up the mess’ created by mortal Men so that mortal life does not rapidly self-destroy and collapse. Such a job entails absolute concordance with the divine will and purpose; therefore the Angels must have limited agency and, consequently, delayed spiritual progression. They must patiently wait their turn for incarnation.

And that is the sacrifice of the Angels.

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October 17th, 2017 04:48:38