Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sword of Laban

Ok, so earlier I promised a post about the sword of Laban. Its a fascinating concept to wrap one's mind around and gives some context to the form of theocracy that is practiced in the Book of Mormon.

The obvious interpretation of the sword is that the political/religious leader should use force to ensure access to scripture. Given that the sword was preserved and handed down through time to land in the hands of an important military leader at the end, it seems safe to presume that it was held as something of an important symbol and that its cultural presence influenced the behavior of various leaders. For a history of see this post. Quick summary: religious freedom had a rocky road resulting from structural problems. Many incidents occurred that would not be tolerated in any free country.

So, back to how the sword influenced events. Since the sword ensured access to religious ideas but did not enforce the ideas themselves, it probably contributed to the early somewhat ok record of religious freedom as exampled by Sharem. From Nehor on, however, the examples become worse. There is a creep towards enforcing opinions instead of protecting access to opinion. Given how strange it was for the Book of Mormon to espouse religious freedom in he first place, one has to wonder how much effect this social symbol had on their society.

In any case, nothing really profound here, I just thought it was nifty. The original post on Book of Mormon religious liberty I made earlier is much more interesting. Read that instead if this bored you. :)

There is a problem with this symbolic presentation. If force is used against a religion, the counter force used to prevent access from being denied can just as easily deny access to a different religion. This is nothing really specific to the Book of Mormon, but the symbol of Laban's sword produces an interesting

Diderot and Nephi

So, while reading 1 Nephi 22:23 recently it occurred to me that the enlightenment could be a significant partial fulfillment of that scripture. For those who don't feel like looking it up at the moment:

For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.

Then it occurred to me to wonder what Diderot would think of my suggesting that to his face.

Review for any who can't recall, Diderot was the head of the French Encyclopedists and something of a brazen atheist for his time. In general, he was one of the most prominent contributors to the enlightenment movement.

I think he would be either very proud or very angry with me. I'm not completely sure which. I think he might punch me. And given the social context against which he might interpret the passage contrasted to the social context in which I might interpret it, I would have to say good for him.

Employee of the Month

So apparently I became employee of the month for last month. Kind of fun. Always leaves me with a feeling of irony, me being me and all and doing so well at such a communication centric job.

Other news, I found out that my current manager has known all along about me having AS. Apparently my last manager told her when I was transferred between teams. Fortunately, that unsolicited disclosure brought no ill consequences but has probably contributed to my being well understood by the new team leader. I did express to my manager my thoughts about the dangers of uncontrolled disclosure and how especially at a job like mine unintentional bias could lead to workplace discrimination, so hopefully that kind of surprise won't happen again. But, overall, things have gone very well with me and my current manager.

Unfortunately one of the main benefits of being the Employee of the month, parking right next to the building, is being shared with two other Employees of the month (they didn't get around to deciding for the last two months until this month was practically over, and they run two at a time for the two separate projects in our building). Top it off that I bike to work, and I can be glad I don't think I'll be parking there very much.

Oh, and apparently I'm the first person from the commitment team to become Employee of the month, so that is fun that my team is honored through me in a way as well.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Family Home Emergency Room

I've spent the last two Monday's in the emergency room with a different kid. I joked with the nurse if we kept this up we'd be bringing in the baby next week. She told me I'd better not. Had the same doctor each time. Its fun doing this stuff when the power of attorney hasn't arrived yet. Doable, just more interesting.

Really, one of these days I'm going to get around to blogging about the sword of laban and its possible interpretations as a cultural symbol and how that relates to the concept of religious freedom as practiced in the Book of Mormon. But lately I've been a bit busy.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Smarter than Einstein

So, the other night I was teaching my niece and nephew from 1st Nephi chapter 4 and trying to discuss the meaning of the chapter a little more. Ulysses (code name) asked if scriptures were important because God is smarter than we are. I answered that God is smarter than everyone. The kids then asked what I meant by everyone. Bonnie Jean and I explained that everyone meant everyone. The next question was if God was smarter than Einstein. I answered yes. That idea seemed to blow Ulysses's mind. And this was on a night he hadn't been seeming to pay attention. For all the work we've put in the last few days, there are very precious moments scattered around.

In other matters I was noticing for the first time how unique a document the brass plates would have been. First, keep in mind that it is pre printing press days. Then keep in mind that before Ezra copies of the law were something only priests had. Then keep in mind the brass plates held an account up to the commencement of the reign of King Zedekiah, who only rules for 11 years so this history has to be up to date within the decade. Next the brass plates kept genealogical records sufficient that a random resident of the city could look himself up in them. That may not seem to be so odd given the listings of genealogy in the bible. But please to note those genealogies tended to be only of important families or lineages and such. Nothing that you could typically use to find yourself on a family group sheet. So the brass plates wwere a lot more rare of an item than we would presume.

When I have more time and am less tired I might blog on more of these subjects, but I can't even keep my eyes open right now.