Yet another world music-listening / Criterion Collection film-watching / Hudson River School art fan / camping / genre fiction-loving libertarian Mormon English teacher. And the father of 7. "The rebel of the 21st century will be old fashioned."
Last Friday I jotted down some notes after work, to help make the best of my weekend. They’re worth recording. The idea was to reflect on what activities are most fulfilling to me in the long run–what makes me feel best in the hours and days afterwards, and provides the best memories–and which ones end up being a waste of time.
Making a list like this is highly recommended.
TIME WELL SPENT
reading books and magazines
playing outside the house with my kids
writing (journaling, sometimes blogging)
exercise (jogging and yoga are longtime favorites)
talking to my wife about our day/week / whatever
cleaning / organizing the house
scripture / gospel study
taking a bath
alas, grading papers
NOT SO MUCH
idle online surfing (including Facebook)
some blogging, especially @ politics
anything that doesn’t measure up to standards endorsed by my church
Increasingly, the “bloggernacle” looks like a place that says, “Of course the church is true! It’s just that it will be even more true when those awful old white men finally let women use the priesthood to seal gay couples directly to Heavenly Mother in the temple. Then God’s work will really get started!”
If Mormon liberals actually believe in separation of church and state, then why do they often seem so eager to remake the church into the same mold they love for civil government, i.e. capitulating to the whims of trendy special interests, existing in a state of perpetually rootless apology, and using its authority to promote fiscally socialistic policies for everybody else?
Why should any private institution, much less one that they say is already divinely guided by inspiration, conform to any progressive zeitgeist, much less one that only amounts to a current party platform?
A few weeks ago, I read this great post from Eric D. Snider, and was inspired. I knew exactly how he felt. This blog has often been cluttered by comments that typically say little more than, “I disagree with you! Hooray for me!” Though not usually so polite or so succinct.
For the first year or two I wrote this blog, I blocked a lot of people, but they still found ways to post, and deleting them all was too much of a chore. Besides, I did get lots of great comments that I enjoyed, including form people who disagreed with me.
But most of them have stopped posting, and I wonder if it’s because of the trolls.
And I really hate getting the same kinds of critical comments in a thread after those same thoughts have been thoroughly discussed in earlier comments. Don’t post a comment if you’re not going to read the ones before it first!
So, ultimately, comments have become more of a pain than a blessing. Since ending them, I’ve started to enjoy this hobby a bit more again. I feel more comfortable writing in my own online journal.
As the world continues to scrutinize the LDS Church during this election season, there are plenty of would-be experts ready to share some weird and scary nuggets of what Mormons “really” believe. Besides almost always being bizarre, disingenuous distortions, these “shocking secrets” never seem to be considered by those who “reveal” them—or by those who reads them—with the only important question in mind: are they true or not?
Secular America prides itself on being scientific, a bastion of the reason bestowed by the Enlightenment; only an extreme irony can account for this myopia. Yes, a lot of the supposed facts out there about Mormons are, as Christopher Hitchens put it, “weird and sinister.”
But why stop at pointing that out? Plenty of things that are weird and sinister are also true (any number of strange historical occurrences and scientific findings). If those who would criticize the LDS Church have any real intellectual honesty, why not definitively expose the errors in its claims? Or, more objectively, investigate those claims to see if they’re true or not?
For believers or skeptics, atheists or theists of all stripes, might this function as a call to arms that everybody could support?
Discern the nature of reality as accurately as possible and, as far as any facts have practical applications, bring ourselves into alignment with them and exercise them habitually.
Sure, that’s just a draft, but I think it gets at the point clearly: we all just want to learn things that are true, and act on them accordingly, to the benefit of ourselves and the larger world, whether those things are secular or spiritual, artistic or scientific, or all of the above.
It’s the driving force behind Thoreau’s Walden, one of my favorite books, and Yeats’s “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” which I was just shown in an English teacher training meeting a couple of weeks ago, and which is now one of my favorite poems:
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made: Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, And live alone in the bee-loud glade.And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet’s wings.I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
The poem also reminds me of Loreena McKennitt’s “Bonny Portmore,” another story of yearning for a pastoral restoration. Is it a coincidence that both “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” and “Bonny Portmore” are Irish? Here’s a video for the song, with an appropriate scenery and landscape montage:
Although I didn’t like this quite as much as The General and The Cameraman, I did think this movie had some of his best physical comedy. The athleticism evident here is just astounding–some of those pratfalls rise to the level of elegant acrobatics! And his stunt of quickly descending four stories of a ship–and then scrambling back up!–is simply breathtaking (starts at around 1:09 in the second video). It’s easy to see why Jackie Chan said his career was inspired by Keaton.