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…

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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.

Fearing the Enemy vs. Fearing Ourselves

This quote is from one of my favorite pieces from William James. He seems to deeply get the superiority of Tolstoy’s (and later Ghandi’s) militant pacifism. He also recognizes that it is better to marshal our forces to fight the patent enemies outside of us, than to be controlled by our fear of our own weaknesses:

“[M]ankind was nursed in pain and fear, and that the transition to a “pleasure economy” may be fatal to a being wielding no powers of defence against its degenerative influences. If we speak of the fear of emancipation from the fear-regime, we put the whole situation into a single phrase; fear regarding ourselves now taking the place of the ancient fear of the enemy.

Turn the fear over as I will in my mind, it all seems to lead back to two unwillingnesses of the imagination, one aesthetic, and the other moral; unwillingness, first, to envisage a future in which army-life, with its many elements of charm, shall be forever impossible, and in which the destinies of peoples shall nevermore be decided quickly, thrillingly, and tragically by force, but only gradually and insipidly by “evolution,” and, secondly, unwillingness to see the supreme theatre of human strenuousness closed, and the splendid military aptitudes of men doomed to keep always in a state of latency and never show themselves in action. These insistent unwillingnesses, no less than other aesthetic and ethical insistencies, have, it seems to me, to be listened to and respected. One cannot meet them effectively by mere counter-insistency on war’s expensiveness and horror. The horror makes the thrill; and when the question is of getting the extremest and supremest out of human nature, talk of expense sounds ignominious. The weakness of so much merely negative criticism is evident — pacifism makes no converts from the military party. The military party denies neither the bestiality nor the horror, nor the expense; it only says that these things tell but half the story. It only says that war is worth them; that, taking human nature as a whole, its wars are its best protection against its weaker and more cowardly self, and that mankind cannot afford to adopt a peace economy.

Pacifists ought to enter more deeply into the aesthetical and ethical point of view of their opponents. Do that first in any controversy. . .  then move the point, and your opponent will follow. So long as antimilitarists propose no substitute for war’s disciplinary function, no moral equivalent of war, analogous, as one might say, to the mechanical equivalent of heat, so long they fail to realize the full inwardness of the situation. And as a rule they do fail. The duties, penalties, and sanctions pictured in the utopias they paint are all too weak and tame to touch the military-minded. Tolstoi’s pacifism is the only exception to this rule, for it is profoundly pessimistic as regards all this world’s values, and makes the fear of the Lord furnish the moral spur provided elsewhere by the fear of the enemy. But our socialistic peace-advocates all believe absolutely in this world’s values; and instead of the fear of the Lord and the fear of the enemy, the only fear they reckon with is the fear of poverty if one be lazy. This weakness pervades all the socialistic literature with which I am acquainted. Even in Lowes Dickinson’s exquisite dialogue, high wages and short hours are the only forces invoked for overcoming man’s distaste for repulsive kinds of labor. Meanwhile men at large still live as they always have lived, under a pain-and-fear economy — for those of us who live in an ease-economy are but an island in the stormy ocean — and the whole atmosphere of present-day utopian literature tastes mawkish and dishwatery to people who still keep a sense for life’s more bitter flavors. It suggests, in truth, ubiquitous inferiority.”