December 2008 Archives

Why Discussions About God Often Aren't Very Rewarding

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Yesterday morning I sat down to write a blog entry about why I liked first grade, which was something I mentioned in another recent entry. But I decided that before I did that, I'd check a few of my favorite blogs--and I got sucked into a conversation that made my original blog plans go away.

One of my very favorite Mormon-themed blogs is Main Street Plaza. There's always something interesting going on there.

Right now, for instance, there's a conversation about "god," begun when profxm posted an email he sent to his devout Mormon sister-in-law when she asked him for help with arguments for why God doesn't exist, since she had to provide some for a school assignment and couldn't think of any. (Seriously. She couldn't think of ANY. Talk about a failure of the imagination.)

The arguments profxm offers are great--if you're talking about a quasi-anthropomorphic god with volition and shit. They aren't so great if you're talking about the concept of god that interests me most--one alluded to in this post discussing Karen Armstrong's work, for instance.

I've posted a bunch of comments but a few have been profoundly misunderstood--I was accused of believing in the god of the deists, first of all, when I absolutely don't--actually, I've been accused of "believing" in "god" even though I keep saying I DON'T. I write,

As I said, the “god” I am interested in (I won’t even say I “believe” in it, because I don’t know if I do) doesn’t create anything.

and someone responds

You believe in an undefinable, unknownable, un-understandable (is that a word?) force that influences something (it must influence something, else why call it a force?).

No. I don't "believe" in it, which is why I said I didn't.

Mostly the conversation underscores for me how thoughtless we are about vocabulary. We don't interrogate or reconsider terms. I keep saying I don't "believe" in "god" and I DON'T believe in "god" in the way that I believe on faith a great many things I can't know firsthand (since I don't have the background or means to conduct experiments and observations myself): that black holes exist, that the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, that birds are the descendants of dinosaurs, or that Bush & Cheney lied about the rationale for going to war in Iraq.

But I'm interested in "god." I don't believe Elizabeth Bennet was a "real person" but I'm interested in her because she has become a real force; she is a real fiction with a real presence in the real world. I have found something beneficial in talking about her effects on the world and on myself. I'm interested in the process by which she was created. I'm interested in what we learn about ourselves when we take her seriously.

Anyway. If you are interested in "god" please read the conversation and tell me what you think, either here or there.

In a recent comment, Parker asked me if I'd read a story entitle "Calling and Election" currently posted on a Mormon website known as the Red Brick Store. He asked for my response, so I offered one.

And then I kept thinking about the story.

I called the story "craven," and while I knew that was the right term, I had a hard time pinpointing why. But I think I've got it now.

A couple of commenters call attention to the fact that the story is based on the story of Job. It's pretty obvious: this Lucifer character, the way the protagonist's life is thrown into chaos, the three false friends who think they're comforting him.

Stuff, and Weather, Happens

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Sorry I haven't blogged for a while.... Stuff has happened. I was sorta sick and felt crappy for a while. Then my blog got sorta sick and felt crappy for a while: some of you might have noticed that a few days ago there was an entry entitled "Testing" that consisted of the word "testing." That was because things weren't working properly and had to be tested.... But everything seems to be healthy now. (Thanks, Jim.)

Then there was this point where I wasn't really interested in my blog; I was more interested in other people's. So I did a lot of catching up and reading and a little commenting. (If I haven't gotten around to yours yet, well, give me time. I was lazy for a good, long while, and I have plenty of catching up to do.) I think plenty of us feel like that from time to time, which is good, or most of us wouldn't get many comments.

And then there was this other thing that happened, which is that I was fairly happy and busy enjoying my life and appreciating weather that was fabulous in the concrete, but sort of freaked me out in the abstract, because it belonged to another time and place, and is a fairly good indication that global warming ain't going away--and will probably be worse than previously predicted.

In other words, I was totally loving Salt Lake City because its fall weather was almost identical to the weather of my childhood in southern Arizona, 1,000 miles away and 40 years ago. And I was experiencing that weather in more than one visceral way, because the building I live in now is about the same age (80-90 years old) as the building I went to first grade in, and has the same heating system: those old steam radiators that can't be set to a specific temperature, merely turned on and off. They put out LOTS of heat. And in the process, they give off a faint but noticeable and neither pleasant nor unpleasant smell, one that reminds me of being five years old and going to first grade (yes, I went to first grade a year early) and of how much I actually liked first grade, back when I first experienced it in 1969.

Prop 8: The Musical

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All the cool blogs are embedding this video, so I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon too.

I heard that the South Park dudes are planning a Broadway musical on gay Mormons and marriage, but until that comes out next spring, this can whet your appetite

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Earth Tone Chili

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I got this recipe from my sister, who positively raved about it--said it was one of the most delicious things she'd discovered in her stake's Relief Society cookbook. I was pretty excited to try it, both because she was so enthusiastic and because I could tell from reading the recipe that it was economical, nutritious, easy and different.

I've made it twice, and I'm a bit disappointed. Not that it's bad; it's yummy enough; it's just not yummy. Still, I'm sharing it here, because it's economical, nutritious, easy and different. Also, it's relevant at this time of year, because it's a decent way to use up some leftover turkey.

I've changed the name, however, and a few details. The name in the RS cookbook was "White Chili," to distinguish it from red or green chili, I assume. But those names refer to the color of the chili used in making the stew, not the color of the final dish. This chili uses green chili, and it isn't white; it's beigish. But "Beige Chili" doesn't sound at all appealing, and "Earth Tone Chili" has, at least to me, a certain charm. So here it is.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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