About Jared C

I am a criminal appeals attorney, father of four, raised in Kansas, live in San Diego.

God and the Word (Part 1)

“All things come into being according to the Logos.”

“The Logos is one only. It is unwilling and willing to be called by the name of Zeus.”

(Heraclitus, 600 B.C.)

“In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God and the God was the Logos.”

(Saint John, 90 A.D.)

Twenty-five centuries ago a small group of thinkers called sophists attempted to use a certain kind of intuitive thinking to re-define the way they talked about the world. Their intellectual heirs and disciples — the scientists and philosophers — continue to produced the most sophisticated views of the world.  Heraclitus’ is — arguably — the most influential of these these post-pagan thinkers.  In many ways, all of western civilization– both Christian and atheist — are deeply Heraclitian in the way they explain the world.

Heraclitus saw a unity of all of the patterns of energy that make up the comos.  This unity he termed the Logos, i.e. the Word. The term Logos pointed to the unseen order that shapes the energy (fire) that is the substance of all things. He correctly proclaimed proclaimed that the Logos — not the gods —was the reason for all things.

Heraclitus’ view of the Logos mirrors how science sees the truth today. His philosophy, like science that evolved from it, is a form of scientific monotheism that both encompasses the pagan ways of viewing god and transcends them. He saw that the gods of the pantheon, like nations, are the products of human war and storytelling rather than either the existence or divinity of their personality.  The gods were all accidents that happened according to the laws of the way things work, i.e. the nomos.

Heraclitus believed it was necessary to submit to the government’s law as a matter of intellectual conscience. The law of the Logos was that we must always act according to the logic common to all — the light that illuminates every person — rather than our own private logic. Heraclitus counseled everyone to be subject to the governing authorities, because — ultimately– there was no authority except that which the Logos had established.  Anybody who rebelled against the legal authority was rebelling against what the Logos had instituted and rightfully suffered the terror of the punishments of the government.  This was also — in essence at least — the political faith of Pharisees like Paul and the Christian theologians that followed. 

Heraclitus’ logic also told him that some things weren’t true, regardless of what the prophets, oracles, and sophist lawyers said, and some things we should do, regardless of what the prophets, oracles, and lawyers said. This is still the faith of America and American law.

The sophistry of Heraclitus was so influential that Christianity adopted it nearly whole cloth merely because the religion was forged in the Greek language. 150 years after Jesus, church father Justin Martyr acknowledged that Christianity was part and parcel with the reasonable monotheism of the Logos.  He wrote in First Apology, chapter 26:

“We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that He is the Logos of whom every race of men were partakers; and those who lived according to the logos are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists; as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them. . .”

Augustine had a similar opinion. He wrote in his Retractions: 

For what is now called the Christian religion existed even among the Ancients and was not lacking from the beginning of the human race until “Christ came in the flesh” (cf. 1 John 4:2; 2 John 1:7). From that time, true religion which already existed, began to be called Christian.

Heraclitus, like the Christian theologians that followed him, saw that men naturally lack experience with the Logos, they were born in the darkness and often cannot see the light of the Logos even when it was obviously in front of them. Most were too busy playing the complicated games that the gods made them play rather than to sit quietly and logically contemplate the way things were. They could not hear or see the Logos because they were preoccupied with the various brands of nomos that each of the gods stood for.  In a more familiar vernacular: he recognized that cannot not hear the Word because they have become obsessed with the Law.

Heraclitus himself did not seem to have access to Christian joy. After recognizing that the gods did not rule, he refused to play any of their games, and — according to legend — after writing his philosophy, he spent the rest of his days in isolation in the wilderness, weeping for the world, and consuming only herbs and grass.  Twenty-five centuries later, his is the faith of the sophisticated classes who have abandoned ancient faiths and claim to live by the same logic that guided Heraclitus. This is still the faith of the upper-middle-class, who also seems to share Heraclitus’ path to disaffected despair, and organic food.

John’s first verse reads like a conscious answer to Heraclitus, as an answer to the dense philosophical riddles that made the Greek thinker famous.  It immediately tells the reader that the Gospel does not ignore the most profound thinking that came before it. It begins the story where Heraclitus left off by making the astounding claim that there was a man that revealed the Word itself.

— More later. . .

The difference between the Mormon and the traditional Christian worldviews. 

By the “world”, I mean absolutely everything. (By “worldview” I mean any consistent way of talking about absolutely everything.)

The traditional Christian contends that there are quite many things that can be said about absolutely everything.

Joseph Smith’s view entails that there is no single way of talking about absolutely everything.

The Gospel to a five-year-old – Part 2

I tried this once before, but — as was obvious in the long, rambling –– I overshot the intended obvious by quite a few years.   Here is another attempt at translating the Gospel into language a contemporary young deist — like a kindergartner — could understand:

God is the mysterious source of all things.  God is the source of the orderliness of the universe, including the law of right and wrong.  We cannot say anything coherent about the nature of God, because it is necessarily incomprehensible, but we posit that there is a source that injected order into the chaos of simple matter that is the universe.  We can prove this source “exists” because there is order and not chaos.

This law is “written in our hearts” — i.e., we understand the law in our bodies and brains through our intuition, conscience, and culture.   When we violate the law we are guilty.  Guilt exists when facts of our choices do not fit the pattern of the law.

Logic dictates that guilt is a state that does not go away on its own because: (1) the facts do not change, (2) the law does not change, and (3) guilt is a simple relationship between the facts and the law.   Guilt persists even when an punishment is inflicted. Some of us feel guilt when we violate the law, others don’t . But guilt is independent of the feeling.

When people are conscious that their choices are not in compliance with the law in their hearts they either (1) deny guilt, (2) deny the importance of the law in their hearts, or (3) admit guilt. The first two options lead to injustice, cultural disintegration of the law, and dishonesty.  The third option can lead to a state of self hatred and sorrow in most people, described as “hell”.  Christians recognize that some people are conscious that they are in hell now, but some are not conscious of hell in this life.  But logic dictates that if existence of an individual actor is eternal, guilt and the resulting hell are also eternal.

Experiencing “salvation” is the consciousness that comes from self honesty, admitting guilt, and — in doing so — recognizing that the source of the law has erased this guilt through the mysterious fact of Christ. This consciousness precipitates a state of joy often called “grace”.

The fact of Christ has a redeeming relationship with all guilt.  Christ is available to all persons —  the wicked and the righteous — just like the sun and the rain.  Because the fact of Christ is an infinite fact that exists outside of experience, sort of like a numerical constant, the fact of redemption does not depend on any particular behavior, compliance with the law, or state of mind.

The fact of Christ is the meaning of the phrase “the love of God”.

Following Christ is acting in grace — i.e. admitting guilt, experiencing redemption, and letting our will bend to the law —  and having faith that this will lead to an abundance of life that is worth living.

J.K. Rowling Has Apologized For Another ‘Harry Potter’ Death, And Rightly So

Jared C:

This phenomena fascinates me endlessly. The magic of stories can’t help but spill over into real life.  Rowling feels guilty for making up the stories, because she empathizes with the characters as much or more than the fans.

Originally posted on UPROXX:

Fred_george_weasley

Harry Potter death spoilers abound in this one, in case you still haven’t seen the movies or read the books and were planning to.

At some point, J.K. Rowling started to realize that the creative decisions she made in Harry Potter as far as “conflict” goes actually broke some hearts, perhaps even physically. She’s even started issuing some public apologies for the grief she’s caused, most recently concerning the death of Florean Fortescue. But she’s now apologizing for one character death that she says was the “worst” for her to deal with herself, that of Fred Weasley. If you ask me, that’s an apology that was a long time coming. Here is what Rowling said on Twitter:

When asked about other…

View original 179 more words

The challenge of keeping the Gospel simple

In the last discussion, Slowcowboy questioned whether we can over-think the Gospel.  It seems like those that struggle with understanding what Christians are trying to say overly complicate the questions and often seem to confuse themselves.  I agree completely. However I find that the way most people explain the Gospel involves extremely complicated concepts and relationships of facts.  This is especially true when they try to put the Gospel into a simple formula.  Putting the Gospel into simple words is not the same thing as thinking in the simple way that opens up the mind and heart to the salvation that Jesus was talking about.

Some attempt to convey the Gospel by teaching children to sing and believe that “Yes, Jesus loves me!” But the phrase “Jesus loves me” is as indecipherable to most as the equation E=mc^2.  I trust that the relationship between energy and mass that Einstein discovered is trustworthy, but I couldn’t coherently explain it to a trained physicist.  Similarly I could not explain “Jesus loves me” in a way that would make the phrase coherent and relevant to many non-Christians (I still don’t think the phrase is coherent).  My lack of a satisfying explanation does not make “E=mc^2” any less “true”. Likewise the fact that I cannot explain “Jesus loves me” in a coherent way doesn’t make the Gospel any less true. But if a person does not get a satisfying explanation the words will have no effect on the way they see the world.

My guess is that if I asked the average Christian what “Jesus loves me” means I would never be satisfied with the answers given because the words they would choose to describe what they meant are muddled and packed with assumptions that I cannot honestly make. This does not mean the words are not true, but just that they will always sound like irrelevant nonsense if they do not have a satisfying conceptual foundation.

Practically nobody has any idea what E = mc^2 actually means in relation to their experience. Only very few humans have ever really experienced the truth of the E = mc^2, even though it is universally recognized as the “truth”. This is probably why it took so long to discover it.  I think the experience of redemption can be as elusive and difficult for some to grasp, this is probably why it took so long for humans to discover.

At some point in my life I understood “Jesus loves me” and “God loves me”, my guess is I understood them in much the same way that most Evangelicals and Mormons do. But experience, education, and reflection changed the way I think about things so much that these phrases became nonsensical. To make matters worse, I had lost touch with the actual experience of the “love of God”. It was all completely hidden. The Gospel or the Good News is the pattern of thought that wakes me up to the experience of the love of God in the way that Jesus was attempting. Before my conversion, I heard and understood the ramifications of the Good News, and I understood the complex symbology used to convey it. I understood E=mc^2, but did not see the light of salvation.

The good news for me was that salvation was more clearly and forcefully conveyed with something as simple as 1+1=2. I had to forget the complexities of E=mc^2 and think more simply (child-like) for the words of the Gospel to satisfy my mind and open up my eyes.

Gospel Analogies

I have been trying to come up with good metaphors and analogies to help my kids get the Gospel better. I find that it seems to work a helluva lot better than using philosophy:

The Good News is that salvation is the sun in the sky, not a distant star found by following the map of the law.

The Good News is that life is not a test, it is a art show. The choice we have as artists is between letting the image of God inside us shape our works of art or rejecting all order for our own style and inspiration. Our works will be interesting to many, but Christianity teaches us that only God’s works will be glorious in the end.

The Good News is salvation is 1+1=2 not E=mc^2.

The Good News is that salvation is an easy answer, not a tricky question.

The Good news is that salvation is pure joy, not mere contentment.

The Good News is that we don’t have to know anything to see salvation, we simply have to open our eyes and look.

I would love to hear any critiques of any of these analogies, and — especially — any analogies that have helped you understand or explain the Gospel.

Rethinking the “skin of blackness”

BYU scientists have discovered how to remove the actual “Skin of Blackness” spoken of in the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 5:21):

Skin texture glow distinguishes Mormons from others

It’s hard to believe it is not satire.  This article reports a study conducted by non-Mormon researcher attempting to understand how those who knew Mormons could distinguish them from non-Mormons based on a photo alone. The study  found that “skin texture was the key indicator and determinant in distinguishing a Mormon from a non-Mormon”.

Because, apparently, this is now hard science, I suggest LDS immediately adopt a new interpretation of 2 Nephi 5:21 where the “skin of blackness” mention merely represents the lack of glow found on non-Mormon skin.