Miscellaneous

April 30, 2011

Yesterday I’d thought of three or four things I should blog about; we’ll see how many I can still remember.

So, Chris now has his own apartment. He moved out yesterday. Only five kids left at home!

So, so right: Save the Planet: Stop the Greens. From the conclusion:

Unless, of course, I’m right in that what we should do about this problem has been hijacked by those who don’t in fact want to solve this single, particular, problem of requiring low carbon energy generation but who want to use this agreed upon problem as a means of imposing their vision of the desirable lifestyle upon the rest of us. And so we go with solutions which won’t in fact work because they desire that the problem not be solved, but that we should accord with their instructions upon how society should be.

OK, so I remembered two things.

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Ceremonies

April 20, 2011

So last night we were reading Mosiah for family scripture reading, and I read Mosiah 19:24:

And it came to pass that after they had ended the ceremony, that they returned to the land of Nephi, rejoicing, because their wives and their children were not slain; and they told Gideon what they had done to the king.

“Wait a minute,” Julia interrupted, “read that again.” So I did.

“What ceremony?” she asked. ”What is that about?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “I’ve often wondered about that.”

Apparently Mormon assumed we would all know what he was talking about. I think this is actually evidence of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon—if it had been made up by Joseph Smith (or Sidney Rigdon or any other 19th century American) he wouldn’t have been likely to come up with the idea of a ”ceremony” here, and if he had he probably would have elaborated a big description of the ceremony. Instead, we find an offhand remark that’s totally opaque for our culture, just the sort of thing you’d expect in a real ancient document.

(I also find the whole story of Abinadi and King Noah’s priests unlikely as a modern fabrication. The bit about the wicked priests quoting Isaiah 52:7–10 out of context to make it look like Abinadi was wrong to prophesy destruction—note that the text never explicitly says that’s what they were doing—and then Abinadi using it as a springboard for showing how their denial of Christ was evidence of their wickedness, well, I can’t imagine Joseph Smith et al. coming up with that on their own.)

Change

April 19, 2011

Instapundit linked to this a few days ago, and I thought it deserved a link from me, too: He Plants His Footsteps On The Sea: Faith Matters.

God hates the quiet life, I think. He wants us to break a sweat on our passage through this vale of tears.

It’s not just world history that comes at us too fast. In our personal lives it is the same thing. We’ve barely learned how to manage the childhood thing (either as children or the second time around as parents) when puberty hits and adolescence is upon us. Adulthood, midlife and old age all crowd in on us before we are quite ready. Personal crises and decision points don’t come when they are convenient or when we have scheduled some down time to be able to take them calmly and in order.

We’d like to manage life elegantly and smoothly. We’d like the time to consider every challenge and decision carefully, weigh the odds, and then act calmly and deliberately. God doesn’t seem to want that to happen. He keeps throwing us into the deep end of the pool when we still aren’t sure we can swim without water wings; he wants us out in the Tour de France when we still miss our training wheels.

God seems to believe in keeping it real. He wants us to face challenges that are bigger than anything we know, more complicated than we can figure out, and so dangerous and all encompassing that we are forced to develop our gifts and our characters to the highest possible degree. He wants us to ‘be all that we can be’, and he won’t take anything less.

Also:

And finally, says the Holy Week story, God shares. He rides Hell’s roller coaster of personal, political and economic uncertainty with us. He knows the failure and the pain that comes with real life in a real world. He does not answer our questions about evil and suffering with a series of propositions. He answers us with a presence, his, in the middle of it all.

How many unnecessary problems have been caused by people trying to prevent change?

You should definitely read the whole thing.

A somewhat related essay (well, it provoked a similar response in me): Be Ye Perfect.

If you want to be “perfect” – not in the abstract, not as some shiny, stainless steel composite of John Keats, Brad Pitt, Albert Einstein, and Gordon B. Hinckley, but as the Father is perfect – then you must be complete in the same way that the Father is complete.

The Father is “complete” because he is not “partial.”

To be like him, you must love completely. You must love not just your friends but even (especially) your enemies. You must love not just the just but the unjust. You must make your sun shine on all. You must make your skies rain on everyone.

War

April 16, 2011

I’ve been meaning to post some thoughts about what’s been going on with Libya. I finally decided to get around to it today after reading Orson Scott Card’s essay This Tricky Business of War. First, a quote:

Before Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush went to Congress and made his case for war. In both cases he got resolutions authorizing the use of force, and however much Democrats might have pretended afterward that they opposed the war “all along,” the support was bipartisan. Each such resolution was in fact, if not in wording, the declaration of war that the Constitution says that only Congress has the power to issue.

I actually think this is one thing Bush should have done differently: he should have asked Congress to pass formal declarations of war. Our country hasn’t done that since World War II, and that’s been a problem.

After hearing about Korea and growing up during the Viet Nam war and watching as an adult the war in Afghanistan and the two wars in Iraq, not to mention smaller affairs like Lebanon and Somalia and Grenada, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a practical mistake and a moral error to get involved in a war unless you’re committed to fighting it to the end. Unless you have a clear goal that won’t be accomplished until your enemy surrenders unconditionally or ceases to exist as a political entity, and you’re willing to put all necessary resources into achieving that goal, you have no business using military force.

I didn’t always think that way. At the end of the first war against Iraq I thought Bush 41 made the correct decision to stop once Kuwait had been liberated. Also, like many people, I expected his defeat would lead to the end of Saddam’s regime, but as the years went on and he still continued in power and the people of Iraq suffered more and more, I concluded that that had been a mistake.

Choosing to command the military to begin hostilities has to be one of the most difficult decisions any president may be called on to make. While no president is above criticism, any disagreement should be humble and respectful. However, once the decision has been made, it should be pursued firmly and aggressively and not in half measures.

The case in Libya does not provide easy answers. On the one hand, Qaddafi is a sociopathic  thug and the world would be a better place without him in power. On the other hand, he’s hardly unique in that regard, and we shouldn’t try to solve all the world’s problems through force. But if we are going to do something about it, we should have done it quickly and thoroughly, with “boots on the ground” and not just bombs from the skies.

So I’ve probably rambled on enough about this. I highly recommend that you read Card’s entire essay.