Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

The Truth of Nostalgia

May 22nd, 2017 by G.

I have nostalgia for lives I’ve never lived.

I was just driving through a tiny foothills Spanish colonial landgrant.  There are a few small adobes, willows and cottonwoods by the streams, a twisted apple tree, a few cattle, stacks of firewood, everyone related.  And I felt a strong sense of the distinctness and value of their life.  And an attraction, like nostalgia.

That’s what the best tourism usually is.  Nostalgia for unlived lives.  Imaginative communion with them. (more…)

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May 22nd, 2017 10:20:35

Notes towards a definition of freedom, part 2

May 08th, 2017 by Vader

The first part of this series of posts proposed a definition of freedom: Freedom is the ability to make meaningful and consequential choices. There I suggested that ability implied a free will, understood as a first cause capable of initiating new causal chains. Meaningful choices are ones which can be made rationally between distinguishable alternatives. Consequential choices are ones that have lasting significance. I further proposed that, in the divine scheme of things, lasting significance implies an eternal Judgment of those choices. Reconciling these attributes of freedom with the omniscience, omnipotence, and benevolence of God requires that the causal chains generated by choices exist in a sphere significant to God, but in which He chooses not to exercise His full omnipotence, and which is bounded by His taking the causal chains arising from evil choices into Himself, in the person of the Son, via the Atonement.

In this post, I summarize my understanding of why freedom is a gift from an benevolent God, why it is precious, and  how this understanding informs our approach to liberty, here defined as the social and legal constructs that arise from our understanding of freedom and its worth.

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May 08th, 2017 05:15:20

Notes towards a definition of freedom

May 02nd, 2017 by Vader

A summary of my understanding of freedom and its problems, based in part on things I have long understood and in part on recent insights gained at this blog.

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May 02nd, 2017 13:19:13

Why babies cry

March 20th, 2017 by Vader

My soul comes from better worlds and I have an incurable homesickness for the stars.

–Thus Nikos Kazantzakis

h/t Dan Peterson and “drballard

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March 20th, 2017 14:25:45

Thy will be done

November 17th, 2016 by Vader

[We] sense that there is a will that is behind all things, and we’re also aware of our own will, and it’s the distance between those two wills that creates the mystery that we call religion.

–Leonard Cohen

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November 17th, 2016 14:50:02

Memory is not Enough

November 09th, 2016 by G.

A beautiful woman, ice cream, little kids — the experience always exceeds your memory.

But if you have the experience often enough for your memory to be equal to it, the quality of the memory itself declines.

There is a way out of the dilemma. It is time and eternity.

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November 09th, 2016 10:01:47

Lone and Dreary, Glorious and Beautiful

September 27th, 2016 by Vader

Ours is a lone and dreary world.

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September 27th, 2016 07:51:55

Happy Birthday, Betsey Pearl

May 04th, 2016 by G.

Bonny Baby Betsey

11 years ago my first daughter died of cancer. This is what I wrote on her birthday that year, with slight updates since. Today would be Betsey’s 15th birthday. Happy Birthday, sweetheart, it’s been a long time and always getting longer.
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May 04th, 2016 07:56:11

The Creation of Adam

April 27th, 2016 by Vader

I have been regarding Michelangelo’s great work.

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April 27th, 2016 11:44:43

Possibly the best Easter sermon you will hear this year

March 25th, 2016 by Vader

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March 25th, 2016 16:13:02

The First Feel of the Water

March 24th, 2016 by G.

Overheard from a missionary:

Our families are worth the world to us.
We are worth the world to God.

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March 24th, 2016 08:11:42

Some theological speculations regarding the Heavenly Mother

February 07th, 2016 by Vader

Keeping in mind that these ruminations are purely speculative.

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February 07th, 2016 04:56:30

Once Again, as in Olden Days

December 22nd, 2015 by G.

Each holiday has its own character and its own image.  Our American 4th of July is about sun, noise, grilling, healthy flesh.  The image of Thanksgiving is a good appetite and the stuffed extended family lolling about afterwards, desultorily playing at games.  Christmas is unusual–it has two main images

The first theme is the happy, domestic one.  It’s the family gathered around the  tree.  Lights are dim.  There’s probably a fire and a fireplace.  People are happy and smiling.

The other image is the spiritual feeling of the clear, cold night sky with the remote and beautiful stars.  Christmas spirituality is the spirituality of looking up at the night sky when everything is still.

Our normal image of the birth of Jesus combines the two.  We see the cozy stable, warmly and dimly lit by a lamp, with the small family gathered in around, and the animals gathered in, and the shepherds and such.  Then around them the night and the stars, especially the one bright star.

 

Easter is a morning holiday.  Christmas is perhaps more about Christmas Eve than Christmas morning. Certainly there are more rituals associated with Christmas Eve then there are our Christmas morning. Christmas Eve is when the candles are lit, when the children act out the nativity, when we dig dirt to fill our paper bags for luminarias, when we set up the stockings and put out milk for Santa.

The other night holiday is spooky.  Christmas Eve isn’t.   But the night, the clear, cold night, still takes the holiday out of the ordinary.

Sunrise and sunset are great for casual glancing enjoyment in passing. But if you really look at them they seem to demand something more. You see that there is a glory about them that approaches the transcendent.  You want to have an appreciation that is worthy of the site. You want to commune. And you can’t.  If you try–when I try–frustration results.

For many people, Christmas is a pretty frustrating holiday.  I love Christmas, personally, but I understand the frustration.  Christmas isn’t only a time to have a shindy.  There is a spiritual element there, a grandeur, and it demands that you reach out for it, and your reaching always never quite succeeds.  You never fully commune.

Today I told my family that I had had a dream.  When they were grown, I said, and I and their mother were gone, I dreamed that on Christmas Eve when all was quiet and still, when the only light was from the tree and the dying fire, I would be permitted to return.  I would be permitted to sit by the tree and remember when they were young.  Perhaps, I told them, if they briefly awoke they might hear the sound of rocking, and know that the old ties were still there.

The truth is that I already spend part of Christmas Eve night that way.  After the children are all gone to bed and I’ve finished wrapping and bustling, I usually sit by the dying fire for awhile.  I contemplate the lights, and think of Christmases that have gone, and the Christmases to come when my children will be grown.  My wife says I puzzle her.  For someone who loves Christmas so much, she says, I can get remarkably melancholic about it.

Remembering old days, my childhood days and my children’s, that will not come again, is part of the melancholy.  Another part is my inability to fully penetrate into the heart of Christmas.  I have never fully gone inside.

But I keep trying.  Because there is a voice that whispers.  It promises that someday I will be at the very manger, and all the old Christmases will be one.

 

 

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December 22nd, 2015 07:37:58

When the inconsequential becomes consequential

October 11th, 2015 by Vader

It was Fast and Testimony Meeting in my ward today. I normally sit towards the back, where all the Class C medical devices I’m wrapped in are a bit less of a distraction for my fellow Saints.

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October 11th, 2015 15:08:10

Hope in Marriage and in the Church

September 02nd, 2015 by G.

The most powerful image of covenant in the scriptures for me is the image of marriage. Israel, we are told, is like the (often faithless) spouse of God.

A marriage is a relationship that is defined by reciprocal promises, but it isn’t just defined by reciprocal promises. It is also defined by love, passion, and what I think of as habits of affection. We often think of love as a kind of Dionysian force that assaults us, but married love is more than simply Dionysian. It is also agricultural, something that one treasures, cultivates, and seeks to protect. I think it suggestive that in English “husband” can denote both a spouse and a farmer.

-thus Nate Oman.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not coincidentally, my poppets, I was thinking on the same subject this morning.  (more…)

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September 02nd, 2015 08:49:20