sola scriptura

I believe that what separates my Church (cult?) from the rest of the Churches out there is revelation.

9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

Sola scriptura is an idea of that faith and ideas for Church related practices must come from the revealed word of God. The phrase is latin for by scripture alone. The connotation is that tradition isn't fit to interpret scripture, but that the individual must read the Bible and decide for his/herself what the interpretation is. Many early protestant reformers felt that the Catholic Church was straying from the word of God in their edicts, laws, and regulations, and no longer accepted Church authority as being based on tradition as well as scripture. Martin Luther especially was a tad annoyed with the practice of indulgences. Many of his 95 theses deal with the selling/using of indulgences.

I first came across sola scriptura while taking History of Christianity, my history general course. I thoroughly enjoyed the class. When we began talking about this, and the whole dispute over what scripture meant what, it hit me just how thankful I was for revelation.

Although I'm sure that many religions feel that they are inspired by God, I believe that Joseph Smith is the only guy who ever said that he sought God and got answer. He didn't just read the Bible and say "OK, doing it this way makes sense according to what I know and what I've read, so this is how I'm going to do it." No, he first sought, then saw God. I believe that the Mormons are the only group that says "Don't take my word for it, pray and ask God."


Marrying your best friend.

We didn't start out as friends. Nosiree.

Once upon a time I moved up to Utah from Texas. A friend of mine came up a year later and we lived in my parents' basement for about a year after high school. We worked at a computer store in town, and got along pretty dang dandy.

Before long he met a young lady, they courted, and were married. During their courtship, my good friend didn't want to leave me behind as a friend. I was preparing to serve a mission, and being naturally socially backward didn't help. But he tried. At one time, I went a date with then Miss Sixline. We didn't get along at all. I thought she was snooty and she thought I was a jerk. (Well, she said I was a jerk. And... well, she was right.) We showed very little interest in each other for the remainder of my time before leaving for France. When I did finally leave, I never once thought she'd be such a huge part of my life when I got back.

Fast forward 2 years. Miss Sixline matured a little, and Mr. Sixline matured a lot, and still has far to go to catch Mrs. Sixline. My good friend, his wife, and their daughter came to see me at the airport and they coax Miss Sixline to show up. Put my ego, her looks, and her presence at the airport, and you have a guy who thinks Miss Sixline came to see Mr. Sixline. In reality, Miss Sixline just came to satisfy the demands of her sister and brother-in-law.

They say that missionaries either run from or to the ladies when they get back. I ran to them.

I began to ask Miss Sixline to dinner, and we began to date. The hardest part was when I came up to Utah State in order to pursue my studies. Miss Sixline came to visit quite a bit. One night, a Friday night, we were yakking away on the phone and I mentioned in passing how I really like blueberry muffins in the morning.

So the next morning, when Miss Sixline comes to visit, what did she bring? That's right. Blueberry muffins. Utah State is a good hour away from where she was living at the time, and yet she got up early enough to make me muffins and bring them to me. That was the most loving thing anyone had ever done for me.

As we dated, we grew to like each other more and more, and after a year of courtship and engagement, we were married. I haven't regretted any of it for a moment. Here we are, 3 years later, and I can't imagine myself ever being better friends with anyone else, and all other good friendships seem to pale in comparison. I love being married to my best friend.

I love you, Mrs. Sixline.


I belong to a cult.

Someone: "You're a Mormon?"

Me: "Yeah, I am. Heard of us?"

Someone: "Yeah, you guys are a cult."

Me: "..."

I've never known what to say to that. To me it's a mark that any more conversation is futile, but I always want to prove that we're not a cult. It never works. Much like wrestling with a pig, arguing with a fool only makes you dirty and the fool happy. No matter how much I say I won't argue, I always end up saying something. I always want that last word. And, as you would expect, I say something stupid and hot-headed. I end up dirty. Despite my stupid behavior, I maintain that my Church isn't a cult.

Now obviously, the definition of a cult can vary. According to Merriam-Websters dictionary:

Etymology: French & Latin; French culte, from Latin cultus care, adoration, from colere to cultivate
1 : formal religious veneration : WORSHIP
2 : a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
3 : a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
4 : a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator (health cults)
5 a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

More than one of those apply to my Church, so we're a cult. I guess I should stop being mad at people who rightfully say that I belong to a body of people who comprise a formal religious veneration system of beliefs and ritual. As far as being orthodox is concerned, I think that really just depends on which side of the coin you're on.

I suppose I can console myself with the fact that I'm a Freemason. At least they're not a fringe group that is often mis-understood and mis-labeled like the Mormons are.


So they hate us.

Just read this article.

So Europeans hate us. Granted, this is one article, and one perspective. However, I can say it's substantiated, as I saw firsthand some of the anti-Americanism while in France and Switzerland.

So what do we do? While I recognize and support the need to have a president who is aware of global politics, and who attempts to play nice with our neighbors, I can't condone letting fear of reprisal and disapproval from other nations to influence my decision on whom to elect to run my country. A fine line, yes, but there is a separation between making sure the new commander-in-chief appreciates the global role of American interests and attempts to harmonize them with world interests as best as possible.

As an example, I was lectured one day in a parking lot by a gentleman who told me that Americans should know better than to let the nation support Israel, and until we change our stance on supporting Israel, he'll never like or support any administration that comes to power.

I don't like being intimidated. You don't approve of Bush? Great. Has anyone taken a look at Lukashenko in Belarus? Does anyone see what's going on in Russia with Putin and consolidation and takeovers of oil businesses? What about how Air Force servicemen can't take their Bibles and crosses into Saudi Arabia during temporary tours of duty? What about the Sudan? What about corruption all over Africa? Iran enriching uranium? Radical Muslims demanding that sharia law be observed worldwide (Remember those Danish cartoons? Many people called for the EU to pass blasphemy laws.)

I don't approve of everything President Bush does. I don't have the answers. I just get a little agitated when people accuse the U.S. of being the #1 threat to global security.

Side note: I'm a bit reluctant to share this post, and I know there's a lot of issues and perspectives I've either overlooked or simplified. Perhaps I'm afraid of being guilty of the accusations that Europe levels against me as an American. Maybe my nationalistic pride is going to get hurt.


atheists part trois

After reading a few comments, I think I'll clarify on how I feel about atheists.

I believe there is a God because of personal revelation from Him to me. All that I know about Him springs from communication with the Almighty. It is not meant to be proven, nor can it be proven. It is my choice.

That's what I'm getting at. I choose to believe in God. I choose to have faith in Him. I believe-- I know He lives the same way I know I love my wife. I feel it so deeply that it's hypocritical to deny it.

Within the realm of faith, religious experimentation can be practiced. (Alma 32 being an excellent treatise on that.) Outside the realm of faith, I don't see any conclusive way to say that I know God does not exist just like I know I'm typing on a keyboard.

We can argue perception and existentialism (is the keyboard real?) but I feel that's fruitless. If we're talking about proving the existence of God unequivocally, I don't think it can be done. I think that for God, choice is paramount. We must choose to be humble enough to believe in Him.

Let me be clear: I don't think that God will provide a way to prove that He exists in such a way that now everyone has to change their belief in God to match what has been proven. If we prove that God is Christ, then those who don't believe in Christ have no choice but to believe in Christ.

If you don't believe in God, and I prove to you He's real, then you have no choice but to believe in Him. That's not fair.

emotional multitasking ii

I have lots of these moments, where I'm feeling several things at once. It seems a lot easier to write them down and sort them out, but the benefit's all mine. Normally I come away thinking "ah, I feel better." when usually the entry is very jumbled.

The thing about today is that I spent some mental energy already trying to organize my thoughts to leave a comment on Paul Allen's blog. It was an entry on how negatively Americans/American culture is viewed abroad because our chief cultural export is trash. (I couldn't agree more, though I take serious issue with why this is so.) He wishes to begin a blog where bloggers would take on the name of famous American historical figure, not pop culture, and blog under their name where the taint of the blog is of the nature of the namesake. For example, were I George Washington, I'd blog as him about the war in Iraq using, to the best of my ability, all the information about Washington I could find. If I drew the conclusion that Washington felt the war should cease immediately, I'd blog that-- even if I personally felt otherwise. Seems like a great idea. Were I a bit better at this writing thing, I'd like to give it a try myself.


Monday morning

I think everyone who has a blog posts on Monday mornings. It's always slow.

I saw Cars over the weekend, and highly reccommend it. I watched my niece and nephew as it was my brother-in-law's wedding anniversary. 6 years and counting, guys. Keep it up.

I have no other thoughts to offer right now.


too many lady bloggers

I'm married. My personal view is that I don't need to go making female friends. That doesn't mean I need to be mean to them, or avoid making female friends, I just don't see the need. I have all the female companionship I can handle with my wife and family.

So I go surfing the LDS blog ring, and they're most of the lady persuasion. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I suppose I'll have to rely on Ben for blogger friendship.

atheists part deux

So... I said I'd post more on atheists. I have a Matlab script running which takes time, so I think I need to squeeze this post in to the 10 or so minutes that I have.

I guess it just deep down unnerves me. I don't particularly think of myself as the most honest guy I've ever met, but I do try to give myself psychological check ups every now and again. I ask myself if what I believe is the right thing, if I'm going in the right direction. I include God in all of these evaluations. I don't want to continue to do something just because it's what I've always done.

I could see myself becoming an agnostic. If certain experiences in my life never happened, then I could disassociate myself with the Church and say that God is not talking to me, if He's there. Certain experiences have happened, though, so I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for that one. :)

But let's just say that they didn't, and I did end up an agnostic by now. I don't think I could let myself take the jump and say that there is NO god, or that God exists nowhere. Korihor might tell me that that's the effect of a frenzied mind, and that I've been conditioned my whole life to think that there is a god, so it's too traumatic for me to let go and I'm too afraid to do so even if I could.

I just don't see it that way. I couldn't verify that God exists nowhere, so why would I draw that conclusion?

OK, here's one more thing that kinda gets to me. If I am atheist, and I have drawn the conclusion that God does not exist anywhere, then what does that do for ethics or morality? How does one define it? Things get a bit ego-centric. I think it's wrong to steal, but if Johnny Dobad thinks that everything belongs to him, then who am I to say that it's wrong and that Johnny can't take my things? Or who is Johnny to say that he can take my things?

Without God, I see a breakdown of morality, ethics, and authority.

Do atheists decide that they're advanced enough that they just don't need someone telling them what's right and wrong? Does every single atheist agree on what is right and wrong? Aren't they the rational ones, who think things through? How do you think things through and decide that even though it's impossible to prove that there's no God, but you require evidence to draw a conclusion, draw the conclusion that there's no god anyway?


hesitation, reserevation, and secret evasion

I'm a bit reluctant to post about what's been on my mind the past few days, mainly because the subject has been hashed and re-hashed since the first guy ever came up with the question.

Recently, I've been wondering about atheists.

To give you some background, I was reading the Wikipedia entry on Douglas Adams. Douglas Adams is famous for writing the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books, a slightly mirthful experience at worst, and a side-splitting read at best. I have a penchant for British humor; it just strikes me as particularly funny. Douglas Adams is a 'radical atheist.'

Atheists have always intrigued me. I've never met an atheist who didn't have an agenda to convert people. Not that converting people to your own viewpoint is bad. Mormon missionaries (at least this one) spend the entire two years of Church service in full proselyting activity. This meant talking to anyone who didn't tell me to bugger off, all day. Many of the French are, by cultural heritage, secular and atheistic. Put two and two together, and you can safely say I've spoken with many atheists.

Some atheists, Douglas Adams for example, say that they are convinced there is no God, because there is no evidence for His existence. Any rational person should agree, right?

But there's something I just don't get. Rationally speaking, why would you accept a lack of proof of existence as proof for non-existence? Don't you need corroborative evidence that He doesn't exist to draw the conclusion that He indeed does not exist?

More on atheists later.


USA vs. Czech Republic

World Cup soccer is definitely a sight to behold. I was watching the Mexico - Iran match Sunday morning instead of preparing my primary lesson. It's pretty cool to see that many rabid fans get that loud. I'll be skipping work to watch the USA - Czech Republic game. I hope we stand a chance.

Aaaaand we didn't. That was ugly.


Always behind the fad.

When I returned from my mission (France/Switzerland) in the summer of 2002, several entertainment blockbusters had hit America and I had no idea. As a missionary, you have the rule of not watching movies or reading books for the span of your time in service of the Lord. I chose to follow those rules. I was faintly aware of the Lord of the Rings and had not heard of Harry Potter before. Then I saw everyone reading the Da Vinci Code. Then awhile later, after I married, the Chronicles of Narnia movie came out.

My family loves Harry Potter. My good friend and brother in law grew up with the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia for bedtime stories. My in laws really digged the Da Vinci Code.

But I didn't give a rip. My threshold voltage was below .7 volts, shall we say. :)

For me, I didn't really have an interest in Harry Potter, for whatever reason. I tried reading the Hobbit several times as a kid, and just couldn't follow it. The Da Vinci Code sounded a bit far-fetched for me as far as its plotline went. So I was just fine without those books, thank you very much. I had no desire to read them at all.

Since then, I've read the Hobbit half a dozen times. It seems easier now that I'm older. I've read all three Lord of the Rings books, as well as the Silmarillion. I enjoyed all of these hobbit/dwarves/elves/men stories immensely. I've read the Harry Potter series to date (6 books, right?) at least 3 times each and even-- you're going to laugh at me-- participated in online debates as to whether or not certain characters are alive/dead, good/bad, or what have you. The fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire I first read in French because the dumb library didn't have anymore copies left when I had finished the third. I was that excited to read. Last night house sitting for Kermit (hey, they have air conditioning, a hot tub, and a washing machine. I have none of the three at my present living quarters.) I picked up their storybook edition of the Chronicles of Narnia. It's a beautiful book, with original illustrations as well as beautiful thick paper and binding. So I'm reading those. When I had my fill of the Pevensie children for one night I picked up the Da Vinci Code from their bookshelf and began reading that. The opening prologue was pretty interesting, and I'll probably finish before I see-a the movie.

It takes me awhile to like something. My brother in law is the one who got me into aquariums, althought it took him a good year or so of having me over at his house before the desire really sunk in.

Am I just really that prone to peer pressure? I really hope not.


Happy Anniversary

3 years. 6/6/06. Woulda been cooler if we had a 6 year anniversary on 6/6/06. I had a wonderful time at a cottage hotel in Salt Lake City with my wife on Tuesday. I didn't post the day of our anniversary because I was too busy having fun with you. I love you very much, and I'm glad you've put up with me for so long. It's sometimes hard to show you just how much I love you in the ways that you need-- like shopping with you when I hate shopping. :) Truth is, I do love spending time with you. It's fun seeing what you like to do, it's fun seeing what makes you tick.

I love you so much, and it's only getting stronger each day.


Matlab scripts take time.

At work I like to be productive. It's hard to be productive when you feel like you don't really get what's going on. I'd like to take some more time (at a later time) and explain why I feel so lost at work, but for now I don't have the energy. To give you the quick version, it has to do with the fact that the big picture is atmospheric physics. I don't know anything about atmospheric physics, so I easily panic and say "I don't know how to do this." Doesn't that happen to everyone? When someone sees a problem for the first time, doesn't he or she normally panic for a minute until a way is figured out, solve the problem and then say "That wasn't so bad." Yeah, well, it happens to me.

But I'm not the kind of guy who points the finger at someone else. For example, I don't feel like I'm the kind of guy that holds grudges. For me, it's presumptious to think myself 100% free of guilt. If someone's mad at me, my thinking goes, I must've done something to upset them. At work, that same parallel exists. I don't want to say that I'm lost because there's been no training, I instead say that I don't understand atmospheric physics. There's quite a bit that I could do (like not blog at work) to make sure I'm a better team player. I suppose I'm just lazy.

So during these moments, when I click "run," and I have a good 15 minutes of time until the script completes, that feeling that I don't do anything around here just sinks in. It's a nasty feeling.


emotional multitasking

The heart and the head truly are two different entities. I can only think one thought at a time, yet I can feel several different things all at once. It usually results in confusion.

Today, for example, I can't concentrate on work. I need to produce a diagram for a poster that shows the position of our lidar as it ran some scans. I can't help but think about things that have nagged me for quite sometime. Let me explain.

When feelings don't go away, they deserve further investigation. I was reading some blogs on a website for those who may or may not be Mormon. I can't make heads or tails of the mission of the website, and until I do won't link to it. (As a side note, I consider linking to a website supporting it. As another sidenote, it seems to me that many of those who would seek to destroy the Church do so in subtle manner, so I'm always very cautious when I see/read something non-canon.) At any rate, there was a blog from a guy who is not homosexual who listened to a story about a man who gave up his life as he knew it, and left his family to live out his desires as a homosexual. The blogger particularly felt the man's pain as talked about when he literally shut the door to his wife and children as he exited his house for the last time. I can sense that pain too. I couldn't bear to leave my beloved wife.

I can't make heads or tails of homosexuality and religion, either. The Scriptures are clear. Latter-day revelation is clear. Samuel the Lamanite teaches that you can't seek for happiness in doing iniquity, for that is contrary to the plan of happiness that the Lord laid out for us. (Reference: Helaman 13:38)

And yet, a responder to the blog said that since he has stopped fighting his temptations of homosexuality, he has felt happier and freer than he has since he can remember. The responder, like the man in the story, has left his wife and children to pursue this life.

How long will his feelings of emancipation last? I don't know. Will they last? I don't know. Will he one day regret what he did and repent for it? I don't know.

More importantly to me, why can't there be direct answers on this? Are you born with homosexual tendencies or not? Is it as easy to 'give it up' as it is to quit smoking, or is a homosexual just as likely to 'switch sides' as I am? If the shoe was on the other foot, I can guarantee you I would fail miserably. I have no desire to be with men. I just don't.

It's hard for me to understand how I should feel about the situation. I know that wickedness never was happiness. I just feel bad telling someone that what makes them feel loved and fulfilled, a homosexual relationship, is a sin.


What's a sixline?

That's a six line wrasse.

Throughout the years I've had several websites. They've always been blogs, but not in the format that we see here. And they were never pre-cooked templates. I always had do it myself. Anyway, I always had to have a short url. For awhile there, my website www.zyx.net/~mars -- short and sweet.

What does this have to do with a six line wrasse? It's short and sweet.

I like fish. Marine tropical fish are my favorite. I have a 15 gallon reef tank, and I will soon upgrade to a 125 gallon reef tank. A reef tank emulates a coral reef along with the fish who dwell there. The six line wrasse is a great fish to have. That picture you see there is pretty much life size. They have a pecular sleeping pattern. First, they hide under a rock cavity. Then they make a thin membrane of their own mucus that attracts dust and other particles in the water. This bubble protects their scent from leaving the rock cavity and giving away their position to passing predators who rely on their own sense of smell to detect prey at night.

I like that parallel-- the bubble. Since I want this blog to be a process of letting myself outside that bubble, develop thicker skin and accept criticism, I chose the six line wrasse.

Captain's log, stardate 060106

I'm jealous of the blogs that other people have. I'm jealous of the fact that they can so openly discuss what they think without fear of reprisal-- or more interestingly, without fear of lack of praise. It's in my nature to want people to pat me on the back and tell me I'm a good person. I'd like to change that nature. Normally I pride myself on not missing a point of view and forming an opinion after all choice alternatives have been evaluated. So obviously, when someone disagrees with what I say because they have a different way of looking at a specific idea, I get a bit upset. I can't do that anymore. I, Jean-Luc Picard*, will henceforth not be upset if you disagree with me. Please, I welcome it.

* - Names have been changed.