Sunday, February 16, 2014

A wise man once built…

Here’s a thought from a recent lesson I taught to the young men at church.

There’s a well-known parable the Savior taught about the wise man who built his house on a rock, and the foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came and washed away the house on the sand. This emphasizes the importance of building your life on the gospel.

The commonly-used version of this is in Matthew 7. When I first heard this story (and the children’s song based on it), I pictured the foolish man building his house on the beach, and the wise man building his on a cliff overlooking the beach.

WFM1 

This works, I guess, but it kind of evokes the sentiment of “you guys down there are morons; I’m staying up here.” That, of course, may be taking the metaphor too far, but there’s an alternate telling of the parable in Luke 3, which has some interesting differences:

Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:

He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.

But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

The words “and digged deep” change the whole picture. In this version, I see the two houses as being right next to each other. The area has a layer of dirt over bedrock down below. The foolish man just builds the house, and the wise man takes the time to dig down to the bedrock, where he builds a foundation.

WFM2

In this version, the two finished houses would look identical from the outside, with the only observable difference being that the wise man’s house would have taken much longer to build. It’s only when the flood comes that the structural difference becomes clear.

I like this interpretation for a couple of reasons. First, it emphasizes the importance of not only building your personal “foundation” on Christ, but also of doing the work that it takes to build that foundation. You can’t just decide to build on the rock; you have to “dig deep” and “lay a foundation” first. I think that refers to what are often called the “seminary answers” – daily prayer and scripture study, weekly church attendance, and consistently living the gospel. When trials come, if you’ve been doing those things, you will already be close enough to the Holy Spirit to receive the guidance and help you need. If not, it isn’t too late to start, but it’s never easy to build something in the rain.

The other thing I like is that it also emphasizes that you don’t necessarily get to pick the location of your metaphorical house. We all live in the same world, and that’s a good thing. There are people around us who need our help; running and hiding from the world isn’t the same as living the gospel. What’s important isn’t where you live; it’s how.

I guess this shows one other thing: no matter how much you’ve read the scriptures, there’s always something else in there to learn. Hence the importance of consistent study, I guess.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cupcakes

I have mixed feelings about cupcakes. I’m not that much of a cake fan generally, and the best cakes have layers of frosting so that you don’t ever have to get too much unfrosted cake in a single bite. Cupcakes go against that, with no frosting on the sides, and a disproportionate amount on top. Here’s my workaround for this problem: rip off the bottom half and stick it on the top.

Cupcake

If the frosting is really tall, it’s also valid to just scrape some off onto the bottom half and eat each half as a short but individual cupcake.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Plasma Storm: Drat

I’ve been working semi-frantically in my sparse free time to finish The Plasma Storm. You know, the sequel to my e-book. I’m very happy with how it starts, and I’ve gotten hung up a bit at what I was hoping was something very close to the end. But what I have so far is already much longer than I expected, and I keep feeling like I need to rush through the rest to get to the end, which doesn’t sound like a very good idea. I’m afraid that the solution may be to split it into two books and make a proper trilogy. Which means that instead of approaching the end I may have to actually add content to deepen the stuff remaining. None of this is necessarily a bad thing, but it means I might not finish as soon as I had hoped. Alas, willy-wally, and all that.

I’m still shooting for the end of this year to publish.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Question Marks

Question marks do not belong at the end of statements. I can live with it if there's an implied question and you'd naturally do the voice inflection, like "I assume you're coming tonight?" - even though that's technically wrong. But it's totally inexcusable to throw a question mark into a statement just because it's somewhere near a question.

  • "Any feedback would be appreciated?"
  • "I can't figure out how to do this?"
  • "Seems like this should work?"
No.

Failed Junk Food

I have been forced to accept the realization that I do not like plain M&Ms. Or Krispy Kreme donuts.

I do not make this statement lightly. I have fond memories of consuming significant amounts of M&Ms, enjoying the perpetual "chonk" that comes from biting down on each one. And peanut M&Ms seemed inferior, since the peanut just pushed aside the chocolate, which was ostensibly the whole point. But lately, my taste seems to have reversed. When I eat plain M&Ms, I seem to taste the shell at least as much as the chocolate. It's an empty feeling, a waste of calories. This might not even be such a huge deal, but M&Ms are everywhere. Blizzards. Bowls outside of people's offices. Halloween candy. There are so many situations that invite me to enjoy them, and I have repeatedly tried to put aside past disappointments and take them up on the offer. But I have been disappointed consistently enough and often enough that I think I need to just put plain M&Ms behind me forever.

Except maybe in cookies, if there's no better alternative. (The peanut kind seem to avoid the issue, I guess due to the balance of the extra flavor and texture.)

Krispy Kremes are a similar problem. I like donuts. Non-sticky glazed donuts are among the best. But Krispy Kreme donuts (which, again, show up all the time) leave this coating of shortening on my tongue. (Thanks to my wife for showing me how to articulate this.) And the favor is almost lemony. Again, a consistent disappointment and a waste of calories. And if it's got frosting on top of the glaze, it's even worse, because the glaze acts as a barrier that makes the frosting seem like a totally different experience.

So there, I've said it. Hopefully having done so will help me stay strong and resist these evil traps in the future so I can save my calorie quota for more deserving forms of junk food.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Equal Opportunity Dinosaur Status

Paleontologists are picky about what they call a “dinosaur.” To an extent, I get it. I don’t really care if Dimetrodon’s hips pointed out or down, but if it was cold-blooded, then it’s a different thing. Fine. But excluding pterosaurs and swimming non-fish, egg-laying vertebrates seems unreasonable. From the old-style books I read back in the day, I gathered that at least one reason for the distinction was that they figured that those things would have to be warm-blooded, while the consensus was that dinosaurs were cold-blooded. You know, reptiles. But even then I was skeptical of that. I mean, brachiosaurus having to stay in a lake just to keep themselves up?

So now that we know that dinosaurs were warm blooded, and keeping in mind that we’re okay saying that bats and whales are mammals, I think it’s time to include flying and swimming creatures in the definition of “dinosaurs.” It’s fair, it’s intuitive, and it’s probably how most people use the word anyway.

Let’s all agree to just do the right thing.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The WHAT Apocalypse?!?

In the last while, the theme of “zombies” has become a ubiquitous cultural phenomenon, and it drives me crazy. It goes beyond the matter of yuckiness, too. The whole premise feels immoral for several reasons. Mind you, this is just a personal rant, and I’m not trying to pass judgment on anyone. But seriously, this stuff is messed up.

Reason #1: It’s a mockery of the human body, which is created in the image of God. When this kind of thing pops up (internet image search, movie listings, etc.) it’s immediately revolting. I can only imagine that it’s intended that way, although presumably people become desensitized to it after a while. But this kind of imagery is not just unpleasant; it’s irreverent and drives away the Holy Ghost very quickly. The image of the human face is sacred, and disfiguring it to trigger disgust is sacrilege.

Reason #2: It glorifies murder. Mind you, zombies are generally portrayed as bad guys, but people become fascinated with them, the way you’d have a favorite Mario enemy or Decepticon – the theme is meant to entertain. But murdering and mutilating people should not be an entertaining theme.

Reason #3: It glorifies a loss of agency. I’m not sure whether zombies are supposed to be evil spirits in people’s bodies or the people themselves turned evil. Either way it is a demonic concept, and the second option (which I gather is the most common) is an outright denial of the divine gift of being able to choose good and evil, and a suggestion that everyone will or could end up as a murderer no matter how they live. Could the gospel be distorted any further than that?

So there you have it. I find zombie-related fiction offensive, whether they’re attacking humanity at large or garden vegetables on your phone. Just the latest in a long list of reasons the world is going downhill, I guess.

Have a nice day! :)