Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hollow People

I don't want this to be another movie review, but I just finished watching a very thought provoking film. I rented Knowing for the evening. The film combined elements of the rapture, prophecy, aliens, and end of the world apocalyptic views. I have to admit that it was probably one of the best films I have seen that put events into a modern realistic view. What really caught my attention though is the last seen in the movie. The director uses a symbol that I feel caries extraordinary significance especially in the context of revelation. He inserts a fantastic tree of light. The imagery was striking, especially its location in a large and spacious field of wheat. Wheat is a symbol of life. It is also a symbol of the bread of life, the lord of the harvest, The Christ.

The tree is a symbol that is familiar to many cultures. It is often a heavenly symbol and also depicts life. What is significant to the Latter-day saint faith is that this symbol goes much further than the typically tree of life found in the book of Genesis. The tree is found in the Book of Mormon as another symbol of The Christ, the master of life, and the fruit of the tree as the gospel of Christ. Partaking of the fruit represents a oneness with Christ and an acceptance of him. I thought it a powerful note to end the film on and turned to the directors commentary and special features to try and determine the real intent of the director. I was disappointed in that the director made no reference to the symbolism of the tree. He did, however, express his intent in making the film. He was expressing the inevitable end of mankind and the need to be reconciled with death. He spoke of the need for each of us to leave something behind as a kind of a memorial or legacy to our life. Looking back on the film I can see how he used many symbols throughout culture, and took special care to lead the audience with these symbols from a sense of anxiety on to a sense of peace and fulfillment even after the total destruction of the entire world!

I then proceeded to view a special commentary on apocalyptic views prepared to accompany the film. The commentaries included many professors, psychologists, and authors, all expressing their views on “man's infatuation with the end of the world”. They all spoke authoritatively. However, as I listened to them speak, on this particularly delicate subject, I noticed something. There words, though they sounded informed, were very hollow. They spent a lot of time trying to analyze mankind as a species, and failed to express any kind of meaningful insight. It wasn't just what they were saying, it was also how they were saying it. All of the optimism expressed was that mankind will eventually progress so far that he will be able to save himself. It sounds great but as they spoke all feeling seemed to leave them. It was as though they where grasping for something, some tangible insight that just wasn't there. I felt that they were looking for their own assurance but for their total lack of faith in a power greater than themselves there was no assurance. They could speak authoritatively about the age of the earth and sun, as though they had actually been around to time it, but when it comes to matters of spirituality they act as though no gods exist. Any reference to deities is strictly the invention of man. Yet, I wonder if these philosophers of men have taken time to truly think about why it is these symbols stir so much emotion in men and have managed to be perpetuated through nearly every generation.
The big what if- What if there is a God?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Where are we headed?

My heart is truly torn. I honestly wonder sometimes if there are any decent people left in the world, or at least in this nation. I know of course that there are decent people, but they seem to have become so complacent that they don't have a voice. The running gag used by professional journalists referring to protesters attending tea parties as "tea baggers" was outrageous. In most professions comments like that would get you fired, but instead I see the gag branching out into different areas in the media. I see people condoning the use of the term and laughing at it. It is a vial, perverse reference that has no business on prime time news.

Another case and point, I was on a date with my lovely bride and the hostess seated us near the bar. A small group near by were talking in loud voices and cursing in some very vulgar and crude language. A few people looked bothered by it but no one was saying anything. The waitresses didn't bother to say anything either. Finally, I took it upon myself to say something. The young man was absolutely puzzled that anyone would be offended at his language. I think I can understand why. I do hear vulgar language at work, at school, and often out in public. Movies before the 90s never used the F-word accept in rated R movies, and now it is common for it to find its way into a PG-13 movie. Where is the outrage? Where are the letters? Why are we not standing up against this?

I have heard that the first sign of a decaying civilization is the language, and I believe it. Our parents that lived 100 years ago had a far superior command of the language in comparison with what is available to us today. I wonder that we can think at all. Does an individual that speaks with the gutter tong actually have cognitive thought processes or is it more like the audible grunts and growls that come out of their mouths. I am at a loss. Oh, if only I had a voice, but I will post this here and who will read it? We are handing our future over to children that know no bounds. They are not required to exercise any constraint. They have tested their will against societies bounds and found that society is weak. A world without constraint is a world without order. A world without order is a world that cries out for tyranny. A world were individuals exercise self constraint will all ways throw off despotism because, they have no use for its strict and oppressive rules. In other words rule yourself or be prepared to be ruled by someone else. Remember this quote, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I think that most of what we consider to be social issues can be tied to behavior. What makes us do the things we do? I think that behavior is something we begin to learn as a child and it stays with us through constant repetition. Very few dogs learn a trick after just one lesson. The military drills its soldiers many times so that when they have cause to act they do not even think. Athletes practice techniques over and over again so that when they are asked to perform it is natural to them. These athletes don't just wake up and decide to break new records. It takes time, patience, and careful training. Many of us today have been taught to feel certain ways about specific issues. These feelings invoke a trained response, but people can change their minds. We might learn many new behaviors throughout our lives.

Many people today struggle with behavioral problems. They say that they are powerless to change and that they have no control. They blame parents, genetics, and society as a whole. I am convinced that most people act out of a need for control. Whether it is the need to control others or ourselves. Those who feel out of control often times feel powerless to act in a manner contrary to their negative behavior. I say that control is an illusion. No one is in control. There is simply the law of motion. We can either act or be acted upon and we are limited in the extent to which we can act. Bad behavior cannot just be stopped. It requires a different type of behavior to replace it. The new behavior must be acted out again and again in order for it to take the place of an old behavior. In order for this to be effective the individual struggling with the behavior must recognize what circumstances trigger the behavior and use those same circumstances to trigger a new behavior. If they could also avoid the circumstances all together they might be able to avoid the behavior, but I feel it is simply better to have the behavior replaced.

When I say that no one is in control I do not want to be misunderstood. Certainly God is in control, but he does not control you or me. He is not a God of compulsion. He allows us our choice, and we have the ability to make our presence known in this world. However, he exerts a much greater force in the world and ultimately all things succumb to his influence. Thus, God is in control.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Thoughts on Zion

Zion has always been seen as a place. Some people use it in reference to the Jewish people or the people of Israel. This comes from the reference that the city of Jerusalem was once called Zion or Sion. Joseph Smith defined it as a type of society.

In the LDS cannon it reads "And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them." Moses 7:18. It is a lofty goal for a society to be of "one heart and one mind". I don't feel that this scripture suggests that everyone is supposed to think and act alike. Instead, I feel that it gives a very clear description of what is required for a prosperous society. To be of one heart and one mind means to be united in purpose and intent. In order for a society to move forward it needs to be united with common goals that lead it in a common direction. I am going to suggest a few goals that I think would be worth while for any society to pursue.

1st: Build a relationship with God.

2nd: Become self sufficient as far as it is in their power.

3rd: Uphold law and order
This is a tricky one because not all laws are just. Laws are set to govern communities and give direction on how to live. Laws must provide protection but must also allow freedom of choice, for without certain freedoms a society will not progress. There must be laws but the laws must govern correctly.

4th: Be positive! Lift and encourage those who struggle in the community
Help them to help themselves as far as they are capable, and then make up the difference. What could be greater than a community that looked after its own people? It would be a place of great security and comfort.

5th: Be productive and industrious through learning and hard work.

6th: Work to instill these principles in future generations.

I feel that all of these principles are necessary, but think what a difference it would make if we all had just one of these as our common goal. With the way things are today, the American Society is becoming more and more polarized. We have in past years had famine (The Dust Bowl) and a bad economy to unite us(The Great Depression). We had wars to fight together(WWI & WWII). We had the dreaded fear of nuclear war(The Cold War). Now what do we have to unite us? Terrorists? I hardly think that is enough as the nation becomes more polarized over different social issues. The Socialists have it backwards. People are not so irresponsible that the government needs to take control, rather people need to be empowered to meet their own needs. They need a sense of purpose and importance. Individuality is just as important as community. We all want to belong but we also want to feel that belonging somehow makes a difference.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Work of Glory

"For behold, this is my work and my glory- to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." These words taken from the Book of Moses in the LDS cannon are a central part of the Latter-day Saint belief. If I didn't believe the words came from God I might view them as a very arrogant outlook on the origin and eventual destiny of man. From the perspective of God speaking this is simply a statement of fact. God has a purpose in the creation of man and that purpose is central to everything he does. From my own interpretation it is a marvelous statement about the stewardship of man. If all things God created (his works) are for the general progression of man, then men have a great responsibility to use these resources to learn and grow from. This goes far beyond our own world though. I think that God has had a hand in inspiring and encouraging men to reach for the stars. All things are for the use of man, including the heavens. It is as though God where dangling the stars in front of our eyes daring man to reach. I also feel that as good as mans intentions might be, he will never succeed outside of this sphere without God's help.