Ben Crowder

Category: ReligionPage 1 of 40 (399 posts)

Redeemer

This one requires a bit of an explanation. The three panels represent, respectively:

  1. Christ’s birth
  2. His ascension
  3. His future return, clad in red robes; also represents the marks in his hands and feet

redeemer.jpg

Painted in Photoshop.

Mormon Audiobooks Project

I don’t know how many of you remember my Mormon Texts Project, but it’s coming along well and is in good hands.

Today I’ve got a new (but similar) project to propose: the Mormon Audiobooks Project, making old public domain Mormon books available for free in audiobook format.

It makes the most sense to do this through LibriVox, an already-established platform for free audiobooks (the equivalent of Project Gutenberg). They have a good process in place that includes book coordination and quality control. Volunteers would sign up through their system and record however many chapters they feel like doing.

It also makes sense to use the Mormon Texts Project catalog as a base. That way the source books are available to all volunteers.

These obviously would not be professionally produced audiobooks, but a free audiobook is almost always better than no audiobook. (For some of the books there are already commercial audiobooks by professional voiceover artists, of course.)

The hitch with all of this: I…don’t really listen to audiobooks. Usually they put me to sleep, and if they don’t, I get distracted after about sixty seconds and miss big chunks of the text. (The same things happen when anyone reads to me in person.)

So, I’m probably not the best person to run this. I think it’s important, and I’m willing to help with process and moving things along, but it really needs someone who loves audiobooks at the head of it. If you think you could be that person, let me know.

Also, if any of you are interested in the project, either as listeners or volunteers, leave a comment or let me know.

Update: I’ve put up a page for the project with volunteering instructions.

I am not dead

Oh, right, I have a blog. Ha. I have a barrel full of excuses for why I haven’t been posting anything, but I won’t bore you with them. Consider this a “yes, I’m still alive” post.

I just finished reading The Crucible of Doubt, by Terryl and Fiona Givens, and it is excellent. I highly recommend it. It’s largely about unwarranted assumptions about the Church leading to unnecessary angst. Lots of good stuff. I wish I’d taken notes while I was reading it so I had a quote for you, but the whole thing is enlightening.

I’ve thought about posting about the Hugos controversy (Sad/Rabid Puppies), but I’m not sure I want to open that can of worms. And I’m not sure I actually have anything to contribute to the conversation anyway.

I think I posted a while back about reading only two books at a time. Well, things got out of control, and…now I’m reading nineteen. I’ve got a better system in place for making sure I actually finish books, though.

As for my reading goals, I’ve been doing fairly well at expanding my horizons and reading more nonfiction. I need to do better at reading sf&f classics, though, and my progress on War and Peace is still pretty slow.

Anyway, I’m back, I hope.

On mental frames and faith

I’ve been thinking a lot the past few weeks about mental frames, ever since reading Greg Hamblin’s post about John Dehlin. The more I study about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, the more clearly I see that there’s persuasive evidence on both sides, each convincing enough that evidential analysis alone results in a draw. It thus becomes a matter of faith: I must make a decision, entering a mental frame of either belief or doubt.

If I choose doubt, I decide that the positive evidences must be wrong or misinterpreted; if I choose belief, I decide that the negative evidences must be likewise wrong or misinterpreted.

I hope it’s obvious that I’ve chosen belief. There are many things I don’t understand about church history or the gospel, but I’ve chosen to believe, and so the positive evidences — the goodness I see in the doctrines of the Church and the lives of its members, the brilliant testimony of Christ in the Book of Mormon, the way I feel when I try to follow the Mormon path to discipleship — now outweigh and overwhelm the negative evidences. When I occasionally come across those negative evidences, I remind myself that I’ve made the choice to believe, and the confusing darkness then fades away and I can see clearly again.

I know that it’s not this way for everyone, and that choosing belief often comes hard. Life is messy. But while there are many grey areas and complicating factors, some things do in fact have simple yes/no answers. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, or he was not. He may or may not have acted the way we expect a prophet of God to act, but that doesn’t change the truth that it has to be one or the other. Joseph cannot be a prophet of God while not being a prophet of God at the same time.

Same with the Book of Mormon — either it’s of God and is what it says it is, or it’s not. Historical/literary/anthropological/etc. evidence on either side can’t change that.

And so I continue to believe, partly because I’ve felt the Spirit tell me in my bones that this is real and good and true, partly because I can easily see the good fruits of the gospel, and partly because belief is the path I’ve chosen to commit to.

Home teaching slips

I’m currently serving as elders quorum president in my ward, which means home teaching changes every couple months or so. I’ve been bad about printing out slips because it took too long to make them (I don’t really like the default MLS style, so I was doing it by hand in Excel), but I finally buckled down and wrote a PlotDevice script that takes the assignments in easy-to-write YAML and outputs PDFs, one page per file (because I haven’t been able to get it to output to just a single PDF).

Here’s what it looks like, with dummy data:

home-teaching-slips.png

The code is on GitHub. The code is somewhat messy right now, but it works.