Ben Crowder

Archive: July 2008

Apple telephonic goodness

I got my iPhone today. It’s not perfect, but it blows my old phone out of the water. I am a happy camper. :) More later once I spend more time with it, but of the apps I’ve tried out so far, I rather like Twitterrific, BoxOffice, Enigmo, Labyrinth LE, and Pandora/Shazam/midomi. I also tried Super Monkey Ball and it seems pretty darn cool, but I haven’t yet figured out the correlation between how I move the phone and how my character moves. (It’s not random, but it sure as heck doesn’t make sense to me yet.)

The only significant downside I’m seeing with the phone right now is the battery life. Not sure what to do about that… Anyway, I’m sure that’ll get better, somehow. And in the meantime I’m laboriously transferring my contact list over to Address Book so I can sync it with the phone. (I could do it automatically, yes, but by doing it manually I get to do some spring cleaning as well, getting rid of contacts I really don’t need anymore. It feels good to chloroform the inner packrat.)

Twitter in plain English

From Evan Williams’ blog I came across Twitter in Plain English by Common Craft. It’s only two and a half minutes and gives a great explanation of what Twitter is:

As you can see from the comments on that page, Twitter’s not just about what you ate for breakfast. (And thank heavens, because yes, that would be excruciatingly boring after a day or two. Unless you’re one heck of a food writer. And can do it in 140 characters.)

No, Twitter’s a way to create communities and share ideas. I’ve been on for two months now and it’s got me hooked. It’s proven to be a really good way to stay abreast of what’s going on and what’s interesting. For me, it’s an easy way to share things I don’t want to write a full blog post on. (I’m also using Google Reader’s “Note in Reader” bookmarklet extensively for the same sort of thing — sharing interesting stuff I come across. I use del.icio.us as well, but more for things I want to come back to later and don’t want to forget about.)

And you know, because you only have 140 characters per message, it doesn’t take up much of your time, either in reading or in posting. Seriously, coming up with a tweet takes less than a minute, sometimes a mere matter of seconds. Blog posts are way more work. :) (Yeah, I realize the irony here.)

Anyway, if you’re not on Twitter yet, give it a whirl for a few weeks and see if you like it. There’s a lot of downtime but that doesn’t seem to matter, strangely enough. (I think that may be because the messages are so short, but I’m not sure.) My Twitter username is bencrowder.

Also: be sure to check out Common Craft’s other videos on Web 2.0 stuff in plain English. Good stuff.

Reflections of Christ

There’s a really cool photography exhibit I heard about today called Reflections of Christ (thanks to Nic for the heads-up). It chronicles the life of the Savior through a series of photographs set to music, and wow, it’s neat — not least because photography is a rare medium for portraying Christ. Paintings, definitely. Film, fairly often. But photography? Hardly ever. Every time I look at the photos, my brain tries to tell me they’re paintings. And when I realize that they’re not, it’s like a jolt of reality goes through my system. Yes, Christ was real. The New Testament stories really happened. And with these photos we get another glimpse at the life of our Lord. Kudos to the people who put this together — it’s good.

The girl effect

Just discovered The Girl Effect via NorthTemple (which seems to be down at the moment, otherwise I’d link to it):

The Girl Effect, n. The powerful social and economic change brought about when girls have the opportunity to participate in their society.

Cool. It’s basically microfinancing, focused specifically on adolescent girls because, to quote their site, “girls are the most likely agents of change.” A nice focus on an ordinarily invisible segment of society in the developing world.

Make sure you check out the video, by the way. Simple yet effective:

I deradioed a girl

I don’t often join Facebook groups anymore (let alone invite people to them), but my friend Jon’s group I Deradioed a Girl: Get Katy Perry Off the Air is an exception. The song promotes infidelity and a lack of accountability, not to mention its flirtations with homosexuality. And it’s on public radio.

One of the quotes from the Facebook page pretty much sums it up for me: “The face of sin today often wears the mask of tolerance.” (President Thomas S. Monson) Sometimes things don’t matter, and we get ourselves worked up over nothing. But sometimes they do matter. Sometimes their effects and influence stretch far into the future, diving deep into thousands if not millions of lives. Sometimes you have to stand up for what you know is right.

Whether or not people join the group and call the radio stations remains to be seen, but at the very least we need to be aware of the evils knocking at our door. And no, I don’t think this is crying wolf. :)

Walking literary labyrinths

It’s been a while since I blogged about what I’ve been reading, so it’s time for an update.

From that list, Brothers Karamazov has sort of fallen by the wayside, and I need to pick it up again. (Especially because I’m right at the beginning of the Grand Inquisitor bit. And I’ve heard that part is good. :)) I really liked The Kite Runner and found that it moved me more than I was expecting it to. It’s…excruciatingly good. And The Arm of the Starfish was great — and didn’t have the stiff dialogue problems I remembered A Wrinkle in Time having. (But it’s been forever since I’ve read Wrinkle, so I need to go back and try it again.)

I’m reading and enjoying Aaron Lansky’s Outwitting History, Chris Bigelow’s Conversations with Mormon Authors, Nancy Malone’s Walking a Literary Labyrinth, Emma Thompson’s screenplay and diaries for Sense & Sensibility, and some biographies of Leonardo Da Vinci. And I’m about to start my first Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea. (I don’t quite know how I made it through 25 years without reading any of him. Funny how that happens.)

Shifting into the fantasy realm, ten minutes ago I finished the second book in Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus trilogy (The Golem’s Eye) and I really liked it, along with the first. Amazing writing, and (for me) just the right kind of magic. Can’t wait to read the third one, Ptolemy’s Gate. On my reading list: Diana Wynne Jones’ The Pinhoe Egg, Angie Sage’s Magyk (first book in the Septimus Heap series), Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Robin McKinley’s Beauty, and Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief. And The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Since signing up on Goodreads, I haven’t really used it much. I also signed up on Shelfari last week but haven’t touched it since. I love the idea of each site, and while far more people I know are on Goodreads, and while Shelfari looks way better than Goodreads, I still rarely log in. I do use LibraryThing regularly, but only to update the catalog of my books, and occasionally to check out reviews and get recommendations.

The hardest thing is making time to read. Or rather finding the balance between time spent reading and time spent writing and designing and doing my own creative work. Both have to happen, but things generally get more weighted on the production side and not so much on the regeneration side. Sad. Especially with that 80-book goal of mine. ;) I do try to read at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and that helps. But what I really want to do is just make an hour or two sacrosanct each day and set apart solely for reading. Inviolable time, that’s what I need. But I don’t know if I can do it. In the meantime, I’ve got forty minutes left before the next item on my calendar, so I’m totally going to start The Old Man and the Sea. Even though I’ve got a million other things clamoring for my attention. So there! Every so often you just have to stop and take some time to recharge your batteries. And there’s no use feeling guilty about it. (I don’t, in case you were wondering. :)) It’s amazing how good I feel after a couple hours of reading.

And mmm, I love posts about books. :)

Intravenous immorality

I’ve previewed a few popular television shows over the last handful of months and I’ve noticed something troublesome: they’re not as clean as they used to be. It’s not just that, though; the culture of what’s accepted in society and on TV (and what’s not) has radically altered over the past couple of decades.

Take sex, for example. It’s on TV to a degree and certainly in movies far more than that. Now, actual depiction of sex is overt and obviously dangerous; the less visible and more insidious danger is the Babylon worldview that latches on and burrows its way into our souls, into our spiritual bloodstreams. It’s okay to have sex with whoever you want, says that philosophy. Everyone’s doing it. Now, I don’t think this means that when we watch movies with this kind of perspective, we’ll go out and start mating willy-nilly. Luckily most of us have more inhibitions than that. But I’ll be darned if we don’t end up feeling like there’s nothing really wrong with extramarital sex, like it’s just something people do. It loses its sin value and becomes as commonplace as breathing or eating.

As followers of Jesus Christ, however, we don’t have the “luxury” of thinking that way. We’re not carnal animals. We can be, if we forget who we are, but we’ve got a greater destiny than that. We worship God — not Aphrodite. And God has commanded us to be chaste, to save sex for marriage and marriage alone — marriage between a man and a woman. Pretty much the complete opposite of what the world thinks.

It’s not just sex, of course, though that’s perhaps the most obviously anti-gospel philosophy. Take action-adventure movies as well. Lots of people die, and most of those deaths are casual; nobody cares unless it’s one of the main characters. I’ve found that when I come out from watching an action-adventure movie, deaths roll off me like water off a duck’s back. And that bothers me. Death should mean something to me. Sure, we believe in a life after death, but the casual-death philosophy of these movies has nothing to do with a post-mortal belief but rather has everything to do with a cheapening of the value of a life. The message I get from these movies is that a life is only worth something if it belongs to somebody important. That’s messed up.

Does this mean that we have to rear back and abstain 100% from anything with a worldly perspective? I don’t know the answer to that. Ideally, yes, complete avoidance would be best. In reality, though, I don’t think you really can avoid it completely, since it’s everywhere. Utterly pervasive. Which is why we have to constantly inject ourselves with the antidote: the gospel. We have to remind ourselves of the standards and bounds the Lord has set so that we don’t get brainwashed into joining the Parade of the Natural Man. It’s easy to let go and get sucked into the march along the broad and wide path that leads to spiritual death. It’s not so easy to hold tight to the iron rod. But we can’t let go.

I think this is why we read our scriptures every day. This is why we go to church every week. This is why we pray daily. This is why we go to the temple regularly. I mean, we do those things for other reasons, too, but we do them on a regular basis because we keep forgetting.

It’s like there are shadows everywhere, climbing the walls around us, seeping in through the floorboards, wafting in with the breeze. They’re relentless, always trying to get close, and they’ll never give up — not in this life, at least. We have to keep bathing ourselves in light to keep the darkness at bay. A one-time fire isn’t going to cut it, because tomorrow they’ll be back, in greater numbers. We keep the fire lit day-in and day-out because that’s the only way to stay safe.

Luckily, it’s easier to read our scriptures than it would be to keep a literal fire going every day of our lives. Or is it?

One last thought. The world doesn’t take kindly to people who disagree with it. You don’t like what the world has to offer? Sorry, that’s not PC — you need to be a little more tolerant. Open your mind and stop living a sheltered life.

Blech. At the cost of what? Our souls? We can’t judge other people — that’s not our prerogative — but we can judge ourselves. We know when we’re toeing the line. It’s way too risky to flirt with Babylon. If we really believe in Christ and his gospel, we have to stand up for what we believe in. We can still be kind and allow other people to believe what they want to believe, but we can’t sway with every worldly wind that comes around. We have to stand strong.

Baby New Year’s midlife checkup

Since it’s just over halfway through the year, I figured I’d check in on my New Year’s resolutions for 2008 and see how I’m doing:

  1. I’ve read 19 books so far this year. Yeah, Houston, I’m in trouble. Considering how things are going I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it to 80, so I’m going to revise the goal to 50. (I guess I could always read thirty Berenstain Bears books, but that feels like cheating. ;))

  2. The only C.S. Lewis book I’ve read that I hadn’t already read is Letters to Malcolm.

  3. Nada on Jane Austen. But it’s not too late, since luckily she didn’t write that much. (Wait, what am I saying?!? I wish she’d written forty more books. Oh well. I wonder if she’s still writing… Do they publish books in the next life?)

  4. I’ve decided to ditch Out of Time for now and focus on new novels instead. We’ll see if NaNoWriMo happens this year. (I have another project that takes precedence. More on that in a few weeks.)

  5. I’ve already written five short plays this year so far, had two performed with two others in production, and directed two (not my own), so we’re good. Finally, a resolution I’ve managed to keep! Oh, wait, one full-length play. Um, haven’t done that yet. Uncheck. Drat.

  6. No screenplay yet.

  7. No songs yet, either.

  8. And not a single Riverglen Press title yet either. Why am I even bothering to look at these resolutions? It’s just depressing. :P

  9. I did redesign Top of the Mountains and am still satisfied with the look, which is good. I ended up nixing BenjaminCrowder.com. (I haven’t yet reached equilibrium with any of my sites other than Top of the Mountains, though. There’ll be a new site in the next little bit which will reincarnate the original BenjaminCrowder.com but with a new name. And I haven’t figured out all the other details, but nobody cares about those but me, so I’ll just do it when I do it and leave it at that. :))

  10. No 3D film yet.

  11. The daily drawing thing only lasted a week or so. It wasn’t as feasible (given my schedule and other projects) as I thought.

  12. On and off on the one-day reply thing. Right now I’m just trying to keep my inbox below 25 emails so it all fits on one screen, because I know that as soon as something slips to the next page, it’s off the radar and I completely forget about it.

  13. Um…still working on it, I guess?

When I think about all the time I waste and how I could be so much more productive, I want to stop sleeping. But I’ve already learned that that’s a bad idea. :)

Breaking a leg

We had full company runthrough for the show tonight. (The show is Long Ago & Far Away, the New Play Project one I mentioned a few weeks ago.) While of course there were things that still need work, it went quite well, all things considered. And we open next week. Goodness! The opening of the show always comes so quickly.

Oh, during the runthrough this evening, a guy from KBYUFM (the BYU radio station) interviewed me down in the green room. We talked about how I got involved with New Play Project, what it’s like, etc. The three-minute segment (he interviewed some of the other NPP people) will air sometime on Tuesday — I’ll post details once I know them. Hopefully I don’t sound stupid. :P (I do have to say that it was interesting being on the other side of the interview. But that has to do with a new project which I’m not going to reveal quite yet; you’ll have to wait a couple more weeks to hear about it. :))

Theatre’s so much fun. It’s a crazy amount of work, but it’s worth it. Especially when the show is well-received. If you’re in the area and want to come see it, Long Ago & Far Away (which is a set of seven short plays, including one I wrote and one I directed) runs on these dates:

  • Friday, July 25 @ 7:30pm
  • Saturday, July 26 @ 2:30pm
  • Saturday, July 26 @ 7:30pm
  • Monday, July 28 @ 7:30pm
  • Friday, August 1 @ 7:30pm
  • Saturday, August 2 @ 2:30pm
  • Saturday, August 2 @ 7:30pm
  • Monday, August 4 @ 7:30pm

Tickets cost $5 and you can buy them in person at the box office (the theater’s at 105 E. 100 N. in Provo), or you can purchase them online from the New Play Project website (which I’m in the middle of redesigning, by the way).

Fascist America, in ten easy steps

I just read a bone-chilling article by Naomi Wolf (which I found linked on Political Irony) called Fascist America, in 10 easy steps. And she’s spot on. Every American needs to read this article, because the country we know and love is being shattered behind us while we’re watching TV. If Wolf is right, and I believe she is, and if things don’t change in a big way, America will cease to be a democracy. Goodbye to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

On the face of it, yes, it sounds crazy. But just read the article. It’s real. We’re on the verge of the death of American democracy — and hardly anybody’s noticing. Whoever’s masterminding this is pretty darn brilliant, I have to say. And apparently pretty evil as well.

Now, the real question is how to push back the tide before it’s too late…

Skull and hammer

Four things. First, I need to spend more time reading. Seriously.

Second, I hit up the bargain book sale today outside the bookstore and now have exactly 1,000 books. Finally! (They’re all in my apartment except for maybe twenty on my desk at work. I, um, have lots of shelves. :))

Third, the book I got today that I’m most excited about is the first volume of Scull & Hammond’s The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide (the chronology). It’s absolutely beautiful and delicious and I’m ecstatic that they had it at a decent price. Oh, man, it’s great. I get goosebumps just skimming through it.

Fourth, the book I got today that I’m almost as excited about is The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary. I checked it out not too long ago but now I’ve got my very own copy. Mmm. (Just for the record, I also got six other books — including a nice three-volume boxed set of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.)

Books! O bliss! O joy! ;)

Getting older

You know, being twenty-five isn’t all that different from being twenty-four when you look at life as a continuum, especially one that could be eighty or ninety years long (not to mention infinitely long :)). And yet in spite of that it feels like I’m substantially older than I was yesterday. A quarter of a century. I can even rent a car now. :P

You know, I’m really, really glad to be older. Not that there was anything wrong with twenty-four or twenty-three or any of the other years I’ve left behind, but I just like being old. I seriously can’t wait till I’m forty or forty-five. Or even fifty or sixty. (Yes, I know your body starts to deteriorate then, but I’m willing to deal with that.) I don’t know why I yearn to be older — maybe it’s because I’m an oldest child? Whatever the cause, it’s real. I’ll be delighted when I finally start going grey. (Not gray.) (I’m a wannabe British, what can I say? :)) (Hey, that rhymed. And it wasn’t even on purpose.)

Anyway, thanks to everyone who’s wished me a happy birthday — I’ve really appreciated it. :)

Just keep scratching…

My brother-in-law told me about The Itch today at dinner, and holy smokes, that’s fascinating. In a morbid sort of way. (Just wait till you get to the second page of the story.) I mean, seriously, wow. This is practically a horror movie in the making, folks. Gives me the creeps.

Education in the city beautiful

Back in the 1840s, the Saints established the University of Nauvoo. Joseph Smith said that it was to “enable us to teach our children wisdom — to instruct them in all knowledge, and learning, in the Arts, Sciences and Learned Professions. We hope to make this institution one of the great lights of the world, and by and through it, to diffuse that kind of knowledge which will be of practical utility, and for the public good, and also for private and individual happiness.” It lasted only six years before closing its doors in 1846.

Turns out it wasn’t actually dead, though — it was just hibernating. It’s reopening in fall 2009 as the newly reorganized Nauvoo University. (Thanks to Donna for the heads up.) It’ll be small at first, of course, but hopefully it’ll really take off.

Pres. Eyring talked a little about the university back in a 2001 CES fireside, Education for Real Life:

“In 1840, Joseph Smith sought the incorporation of the City of Nauvoo, Illinois, and along with it authority to establish a university. The Nauvoo charter included authority to ‘establish and organize an institution of learning within the limits of the city, for the teaching of the arts, sciences and learned professions, to be called the “University of the City of Nauvoo”’ (quoted in Salisbury, p. 269). “The first academic year in Nauvoo was that of 1841–42. The university probably was among the first municipal universities in the United States (Rich, p. 10)…. The curriculum included languages (German, French, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew), mathematics, chemistry and geology, literature, and history…. ‘The faculty represented considerable scholarship [compared with what you would expect to find in a frontier city in those early days]’ (Bennion, p. 25). “… The charter of the University of the City of Nauvoo served as the foundation for the University of Deseret (now the University of Utah), established by Brigham Young in Salt Lake City in 1850. ‘Education,’ he once told that school’s Board of Regents, ‘is the power to think clearly, the power to act well in the world’s work, and the power to appreciate life’ (Bennion, p. 115). He advised: ‘A good school teacher is one of the most essential members in society’ (JD 10:225)” (in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. [1992], 2:442–43). When the Saints in Utah were still struggling to produce enough food to live, they started schools. They felt driven to lift their children toward light and to greater usefulness by education. That drive is more than a cultural tradition passed on through the generations. It is the natural fruit of living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love that — growing towards light through education is the natural fruit of the gospel. Mmm.

Four-letter personality

At work a few weeks ago we took the MBTI, which is the Myers-Briggs test (except it’s not really a “test,” mind you :P). We turned the bubble sheets back in and then today got our scores back, along with a really good presentation on what it all meant. I was expecting to be an INFP, but ended up scoring as an ENFJ.

As a really quick runthrough, the I stands for introvert and the E for extravert. I knew I was a mixture of both, but it seemed to me like I was more an introvert — my idea of a perfect vacation is having oodles of hours to read in peace, for example, not partying and such. I’m quite fine spending time alone, and that seems to be my default. But I also love people and depending on the situation can be rather outgoing and even boisterous. (I don’t know if that’s actually true; I just wanted to say “boisterous.” :P) So, I guess I can understand the E. But I’m both.

The N is for intuitives, as opposed to S for sensors, people who just want the facts, ma’am. I used to be more of a sensor, I think, but as I’ve gravitated towards the arts and humanities, I’ve become much more of an intuitive. And I feel more at home there.

Similarly, F is for feelers, contrasted with T thinkers, and I think — er, I feel :P — that I used to be a thinker but have morphed into a feeler over the years. (And it was “extra clear” that I was a feeler, by the way.) When I was younger I wanted to be Spock. Seriously. The idea of such efficiency and clear-cut straight-to-the-pointedness was somehow appealing to my young mind, and if I remember correctly, it sort of messed up my smile for several years. After trying to do the Spock face for so long, it took a while of conscious reminders before I was back to normal aqgain.

Finally, J is for judgers, with the opposite being P perceivers. Perceivers are open and flexible, whereas judgers are scheduled. In retrospect I understand why I’m more of a J than a P, of course, but I think I’m a mixture of both.

Oh, they also have temperaments based on which letters combine together. So, for example, I’m an NF, which they say is the people person temperament — NFs care about how things affect people. SJs are good at gathering facts, NTs plan how to get things done, and SPs actually get the things done.

I hesitate to believe that a multiple-choice test can accurately nail a personality — it seems too…I don’t know, too much a simplification of what in reality is incredibly intricate and complex for even the simplest of people. But it’s fun and it does help with expanding your perspective, realizing that other people think in different ways — and that it’s okay that we’re different. And that’s the single most important thing about the MBTI.

The July update

Over the past month, I’ve been revising Tree of Blood a lot. (Ten or eleven times, to be exact.) After several revisions I realized that I’d written myself into several plot knots, primarily because I’d been adding in all sorts of backstory without stepping out to make sure it still made sense as a whole. And so I stopped myself. I wrote an outline for the whole play, then went back and rewrote it from scratch, and after a few tweaks here and there, it’s noticeably better. Still creepy, but without all the confusing holes in the plot. :) We’re in the middle of rehearsals at the moment and will be performing in a mere two weeks. Egads!

And I’m not assistant directing anymore, by the way. I’m directing. Yup, I don’t have all that much experience under my belt (assistant directing a single forty-five minute play and writing four of my own plays, plus watching lots of plays and movies over the course of my life :P), but I’m now the director of James Goldberg’s play Repeating History. It’s a good training-wheel play, since it’s only three pages long. But it’s got its own challenges, too — the bulk of the play is effectively a Powerpoint presentation, for example. There’s only one character (well, there’s sort of a second character, but she only has two lines and she’s not onstage). And the play has a lot of historical allusions that most people probably aren’t going to get, because we’ve all forgotten almost everything we learned in U.S. History.

In other news, I’ve got a few new projects lining up. First, I really want to get back into writing novels, so I’ve decided to aim at 1,000 words a day (which, as I learned from my NaNoWriMo experience, should be a piece of cake) and I’ve started outlining the one I’ll focus on for the next few months.

Second, almost every time I watch a movie I want to start writing screenplays, so I’ve decided to finally start doing it. I’ll probably start out with short films because, well, they’re shorter. :) And they’re similar to short plays, which I’ve got a decent amount of experience with.

Third, I’m writing some TV scripts for a demo for this new television channel that’ll be starting up soon. I don’t know how much I can talk about it yet — probably more than this, but I’ll play it safe for now — but it’ll be fun. And regardless of the fate of the channel, it’ll be a really good learning experience. Besides, who ever thought I’d be writing for TV? Not me. :)

And last but not least, I need to start blogging on here more often. Monthly isn’t going to cut it. I’m also itching to redesign the site, but that’ll have to wait for a bit. (I’m currently redesigning the New Play Project site. And have been for a while; hopefully I’ll get it done this weekend.)

Unbindery’s on hold for now.

Wordle

Wordle is the new tag cloud. You can feed it any text — paste it in or give it an RSS feed (like I’ve done below) — and it’ll turn your text into a piece of art:

Wordle

There are all sorts of options — change the colors, the horizonticality/verticality of the text, etc. Loads of fun.

Man overboard

Life is fragile.

As some of you may have seen on the local Utah news, Craig Decker went missing yesterday. He was in a boat on Utah Lake with his parents; an oar went overboard and he jumped in after it, and he hasn’t been seen since. Search and rescue teams still haven’t found the body, oddly enough.

He was my roommate.

My former roommate, I should say — from May 2007 to May 2008. Most of his YouTube videos (he lost his hand in a fireworks accident eighteen months ago, and so he started putting together videos on how to do stuff with only one hand) were shot in the front room of my apartment.

And now he’s gone. Granted, there’s still a small chance that he’s just pulled off an amazing Houdini and he’s actually alive and well on the other shore — and in movies the hero always shows up just after you think he’s gone for good…but this isn’t a movie. It’s horrible, that’s what it is. One moment he was there, the next he was swallowed up forever.

Yes, there is hope in the plan of salvation. Yes, Christ is a master healer. Yes, someday we’ll see Craig again. But it still feels weird. It still stings. It’s not till later that death loses its sting and its victory. (But it does lose its sting. Make no mistake about that.)

Seeing through new eyes

I’ve finally upgraded my camera. I decided to go with a relatively cheap body (Canon EOS Rebel XT) and instead put my money into lenses. (The camera came with an EFS 18–55mm lens, and this morning I ordered a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens as well. In a month or so I’ll get a telephoto lens, I think.) Here’s one of the first pictures I took with the new camera:

Photo taken with a Rebel XT

(I go gaga over bokeh. Need I say more?)

The camera feels great and I love love love the feel of the shutter. Why did I wait so long to move to an SLR? I don’t know, but I do know that I’ll be taking a lot more pictures in the future. :)

And to answer Diane’s question:

RSS feed

(If you rotate it to the left a bit, you also get a wireless signal icon, and if you rotate it to the right, you get the speaker sound waves icon.) (Yes, I’m geeky. :))

Drawn back to the fold

I was reading in 2 Nephi 4 this morning, and Lehi’s statement to the children of Laman intrigued me:

If ye are brought up in the way ye should go ye will not depart from it.

Now, I don’t know if there’s another way to describe it, but it seems pretty clear that Laman and Lemuel did depart from the way. So why does Lehi say this?

Maybe it’s just a general rule and has exceptions. “For the most part, if you teach your children to love God, they’ll love him.”

Or perhaps Laman was listening in on Lehi’s blessing — it’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t be there — and Lehi was trying to give him a hint. “Laman, I taught you well. Why are you doing this? Stop rebelling already, okay?” And he figured that telling this to Laman’s children was a good way to give Laman some accountability to his family, perchance.

Or maybe we’re focusing on too short of a timescale. Since life does go on after death, perhaps it means that in the end — and “the end” would mean eternity here, not the moment when you shed this mortal coil — the child will return to the path…somehow. Here’s Orson F. Whitney quoting Joseph Smith:

The Prophet Joseph Smith declared — and he never taught more comforting doctrine — that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God. (Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110.)

I don’t entirely understand how that’ll work, but I’m fine with that. (After all, I don’t understand how women work, and yet I know they’re real. :P) I’m not a father yet but this is a beautiful promise — and one that doesn’t take away the child’s agency in the least. It’s more of a turning of the hearts of the children to their fathers; God can turn their heart, but it’s them who has to do the walking.

Thoughts?

(Incidentally, one of my readers has started a daily Book of Mormon blog, where they’ll be posting about their reading.)