I haven’t been blogging much for quite a while. First I had depression and couldn’t. Then that ended and I got a shoulder injury (repetitive strain injury, I think) that made it near impossible for me to blog without significant pain. That’s been going on for a year. It sucks getting older and — at least on the inside — I seem to be aging particularly fast. I haven’t had consistent good health for a couple of years now. If its not one thing its another. Did I mention the eye surgery I have to have in a couple of weeks?
J Max, ever my counselor on blogging, actually encouraged me to stop blogging until I fully recovered. And when I do get over this shoulder problem, I’ve decided I’m going to “go back to school” and do an online master degree from Georgia Tech in computer science. For the most part I hate computers, I’m an technology laggard, and I was never a good programmer. But I love artificial intelligence, computational theory, computer graphics, and quantum computing. So I guess that means I like computer science more than I like computers. So my life is a bit strange. (Didn’t Geoff call me the blogger that reads books no one else will? Guess he’s right.) So I don’t see a return to my mammoth blog posts with lots of references any time soon.
So I’ve wondered about how I might contribute to Mormon blogging given my limitations. I had an idea a while back that I’ve never done and I think now might be the time. Continue reading
Newspaper photo graph of the Hopewell Temple site on the Clinch River East Tennessee see: https://www.facebook.com/189002950786/photos/a.245201745786.136786.189002950786/10151201763965787/ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ancient-American-Magazine-Archeology-of-the-Americas-Before-Columbus/189002950786?fref=photo
In 1934, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), was constructing a dam which would flood a portion of the Clinch River in East Tennessee. Because the area to be flooded included a Hopewell Native American mound, a group of archeologists were called in to excavate the site. The archeologists came upon an amazing discovery when they uncovered the ruins of a large stone and wood structure. So unlike any other find found at a Hopewell site, British Egyptologist, James Rendel Harris from the London Museum, was consulted. At the site, Harris identified the structure as an “Egyptian Temple”. A single newspaper article documents this account.
I know! Amazing! An Egyptian temple in East Tennessee of all places, AND why is this fact not widely known??!! I’ll tell you why, Dear Reader, our ignorance of the Egyptian temple ruins in East Tennessee is the consequence of Manifest Destiny.
The modern theory of marriage is that two people who are in love should join as a union. Nothing else matters and is subjected to this quality. Interesting enough, the reason to get married is less about love and more financial or legal advantages. There are tax incentives and social contractual obligations for both the couple and State. According to the law, the two become essentially one with some caveats. It also seeks to publically legitimize the relationship, opening up an acceptance of the bonding. These social, financial, and political fortunes have always been the glue that holds the concept of marriage together. Love is actually the least important issue, and history has until relatively recently recognized that fact.
Pointing out that historically there have been many reasons for marriage beyond love is not to say it wasn’t a factor until the modern era. Instead, it is a recognition that marriage is a social construct for contractual and not emotional connections. Kings and Queens married to continue ruling an Empire. The rich conspired to marry off sons and daughters to create fortunes. Religious people married as an obligation to God for the perpetuation of the next generation. Love and attraction was necessary, but secondary or less. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising at a time when “love” trumps all, that less than half the marriageable population actually ties the knot. Who needs commitment when one can (as easy divorces indicate) fall in and out of love? The rich apparently, as a NYT article (see side link) explains according to a study. Its just become expensive for especially the poor.
For Mormonism, marriage is more old fashioned than the “new” old fashion. It reaches farther back than gender roles, white picket fences, and 3 or more kids. Like the traditional religious purpose, the main factor of marriage is an obligation to God for raising up the next righteous generation. Romantic love is not discouraged, but its not required. Above all, this marriage between a man and woman to form a family is far more than a suggestion; it is a commandment of God. For this reason, anyone who is capable must get married as a religious practice. More than this, it is necessary for full Exaltation in the Eternities. Those who claim to be attracted to the opposite sex can be as equally obligated to form a proper family unit as a heterosexual, so long as they are honest about their weakness. Continue reading
I have seen some members of the Church express concern over the fact that Islam — as a religious faith — is not being recognized for the violence that it leads people to commit. There is a sentiment that Islam, as a religious system, should be treated with suspicion as a catalyst for violence. I just wanted to address this briefly.
On the Numbers
I don’t have numbers, and I don’t really know where to find them. But I do know that there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. I also know that there are around 15,000 or so known members of Al Qaeda, perhaps 60,000-100,000 members of ISIS (exact numbers are in dispute). That’s just two groups, sure — so let’s be super generous, and assume that there’s about a million known members of violent groups who use their religion as the primary pretext for terrorist violence (the real number could be a lot more, and my analysis here would be largely unaffected, so exact values are not at issue). If that’s the case, perhaps .06% of the Muslim population is part of these groups — or, in other words, 1 in 10,000. Now, my numbers could be WAY off. But even if we doubled the numbers, or tripled it, I don’t feel like my analysis here is completely off-base.
However, the daily behaviors of the 10,000 never make the nightly news. Only the behaviors of the 1 do. And so it’s easy, without realizing it, to get a lopsided impression of Islam as a faith. Many, many people say that driving is safer than flying, because every plane crash is plastered on the news for weeks at a time. But in reality, when the statistics are done, mile for mile, flying is far, far safer than driving. But our impressions, our perceptions, are sometimes skewed by the media reporting. Similarly, our perceptions of Islam have been twisted by this lopsided representation of Islam in the media. Stories of violence get more viewers and sell more advertising spaces. And so we begin to associate Islam and violence in our minds, forgetting the fact that we live and work among Muslims every day and often don’t even know it, because they are — by and large — a peaceful people who condemn violence just as much as we do.
Yesterday, the new House of Representatives were sworn into office. On today’s docket, the largest Republican majority in almost a century began discussing three key programs to increase jobs. Continue reading