Saturday, August 12, 2017

Every Argument is an Apology


As soon as I finished reading Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics, I was prepared to write an unapologetic apology for apologetics in response.  However, I decided to browse the internet first, just in case someone had already written such an article.  As luck would have it, Daniel Peterson wrote "An Unapologetic Apology for Apologetics" about seven years ago.  This serendipitous discovery reminded me of Abraham Lincoln's astute observation: "I feel the need of reading.  It is a loss to a man not to have grown up among books... books [or in this case articles] serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new, after all."

I suppose that I could write an unapologetic apology for Peterson's unapologetic apology for apologetics, but there are at least a few chapters in Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics that merit an apology as well.  These chapters include Daniel Peterson's "A Brief Defense of Apologetics," Neal Rappleye's "Boundary Maintenance that Pushes the Boundaries: Scriptural and Theological Insights from Apologetics," Michael R. Ash's "I Think, Therefore I Defend," and Ralph C. Hancock's "Mormon Apologetics and Mormon Studies: Truth, History, and Love."  Juliann Reynolds' "The Role of Women in Apologetics" and Fiona Givens' "'The Perfect Union of Man and Woman': Reclamation and Collaboration in Joseph Smith's Theology Making" are also praiseworthy.

Aside from the six chapters mentioned above, each of the other nine chapters contains material that is in one way or another antagonistic toward, or critical of, old fashioned Mormon apologetics.  (For those who might be interested, Mr. So-and-So's review of Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics presents a viewpoint that is somewhat more sympathetic to the arguments advanced in these chapters).  However, in order to understand the reasoning behind the arguments for and against FARMS style Mormon apologetics, it is necessary to grasp what is meant by "Mormon apologetics." Furthermore, in order to understand the meaning of "Mormon apologetics," it behooves us to appreciate what is meant by the word "apologetics."

In the introduction to his unapologetic apology for apologetics, Peterson traces the etymology of the word "apologetics" to its roots, namely the Greek word απολογία, meaning"speaking in defense." Throughout his apology, Peterson employs the word "apologetics" in relation to attempts to prove or defend religious claims, but he is careful to note that "every argument defending any position, even a criticism of Latter-day Saint apologetics, is an apology."  This last assertion bears repeating: "every argument defending any position... is an apology."

Much of the confusion surrounding Mormon apologetics appears to be directly attributable to a muddled understanding of the apologetic tradition and a hazy comprehension of the definition of the word "apologetics." Perhaps some ancient Greeks were incensed by Plato's Apology, or defense, of Socrates, but at least they would have understood that arguments against Socrates or his apologists would also require a defense, or an apology.  It is not a coincidence that students today study Plato's Apology and Xenophon's Apology and not the apologies of those who condemned Socrates.  With the exception of Aristophanes's The Cloudsapologies contra Socrates are rather hard to come by. Mormon apologetics, like Christian apologetics, has also withstood the test of time.  In 1954, Hugh Nibley delivered a series of weekly lectures called "Time Vindicates the Prophets."  Were he alive today, I suspect that Nibley would agree that time vindicates Mormon apologetics as well.  Simply put, Mormon apologetics withstands the test of time because the truth claims that Mormon apologists defend are true.

In both of his articles, Peterson highlights several of major philosophers and writers in the venerable tradition of apologetics, including a few notable Mormon apologists.  Objections to the writings of any one of the major figures in the history of apologetics would require a sturdy apologetics of its own.  Even a rebuttal to C.S. Lewis's oft quoted apology for apologetics would require a thorough defense, or an apology:

"To be ignorant and simple now - not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground - would be to throw down our weapons, and betray our uneducated brethren who have no defense but us against intellectual attacks of the heathen.

"Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered. The cool intellect must work not only against cool intellect on the other side, but against muddy heathen mysticisms which deny intellect altogether.  Most of all, perhaps, we need intimate knowledge of the past. The learned life is then, for some, a duty.'"

Like good philosophy, good apologetics, including Lewis's apology and Peterson's more recent apology, is anchored in a sound understanding of the past.  It is rooted in good scholarship, properly understood.  Unfortunately, much of what passes for scholarship today is merely bad philosophy. Such scholarship flaunts its own perceived originality, but when set against the backdrop of intellectual history or the revealed word of God, such "scholarship" appears as so much nonsense.  C.S. Lewis explains:

"A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age."

Most of the articles in Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics are interesting and thought provoking, but many of them reflect the "local errors" of the "native village" of the modern academy. Although there are certainly many excellent scholars who do excellent work for excellent colleges and universities, it is not unheard of for institutions of higher learning to generate cataracts of nonsense or to stir up muddy heathen mysticism.  These defects in modern academia are sometimes the result of inordinate pressure to publish and to produce something new, when academics ought to invest more time and effort in rediscovering the wisdom of Lincoln's maxim: "Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new, after all."

Besides, as C.S. Lewis's demonstrates in his reflections on Christianity and literature, originality is overrated:

"The basis of all critical theory [is] the maxim that an author should never conceive himself as bringing into existence beauty or wisdom which did not exist before, but simply and solely as trying to embody in terms of his own art some reflection of eternal Beauty and Wisdom."

G.K Chesterton describes a similar matter succinctly:

"Dickens showed himself to be an original man by always accepting old and established topics. There is no clearer sign of the absence of originality among modern poets than their disposition to find new themes."

Apologetics is an old topic, as old as philosophy itself.  It is almost as old as Mormonism, which is as old as God Himself.  One might even date Mormon apologetics back to Adam, the Ancient of Days, and his wife Eve, both of whom blessed the name of God and made all things known to their sons and daughters.  (Moses 5:12)  As Lewis and Chesterton show, eternal things, or old and established topics, are always fresh and new, especially when juxtaposed against intellectual fads and academic fashions.  "Homer is new this morning," writes Charles Peguy, "and perhaps nothing is as old as today's newspaper."

As Peterson also notes in both of his articles, the English theologian and philosopher Austin Farrer clearly understood the value of apologetics:

"Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned.  Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish."

Peterson contends that Christians share an obligation to apologize, or "to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." (1 Peter 3:15) Does this mean that every Mormon must engage in scholarly apologetics?  No.  Peterson explains:

"Not everybody has the capacity to do it, frankly, and most are not interested. But I think that every believer is obliged to use what he or she knows in order to defend the Church against its critics when the occasion arises, or to help struggling Saints - and that believers should be steadily improving their knowledge of Church doctrine, Mormon history, and the standard works so as to (among other things) meet obligations more effectively.  (If we are to do something, it seems to me obvious that we should try to do it well.)  Is every believer obligated to seek out opportunities to engage critics?  Again, no. Some may feel so inclined.  Most do not, will not, and should not." (p. 37)

In response to those who contend that Mormon apologetics is counterproductive or harmful to faith, Peterson points out that "even someone arguing that we ought not to do apologetics is, ironically, offering an apologetic for that position." (p. 39)  They are "arguing for their own vision of what discipleship ought to be." (p. 41)

In addition to the confusion caused by muddled understanding of the apologetic tradition and hazy comprehension of the word "apologetics," another source of the confusion surrounding Mormon apologetics is a misunderstanding of the relationship between faith and reason.  The age old debate
regarding reason and revelation is more relevant to Mormon apologetics than any contemporary progressivist, positivist, historicist, relativist, feminist, psychological or anthropological ideology. In Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics, those who defend Mormon apologetics demonstrate a solid grasp of the philosophical and scriptural foundations for understanding and articulating the relationship between reason and revelation.  In fact, it is likely that much of the the newfangled recalcitrance against Mormon apologetics arises from a misguided faith in unreflective, modern, academic affectation in the guise of rationalism.

In his chapter "Boundary Maintenance that Pushes the Boundaries: Scriptural and Theological Insights from Apologetics," Neal Rappleye correctly argues that "in many cases LDS apologetic approaches are actually pushing the boundaries of scriptural interpretation and theological understanding." (p. 62)  He provides several interesting examples in support of his thesis, and successfully demonstrates that "efforts to defend certain points of Latter-day Saint belief have often led to fresh perspectives on LDS scripture and theology." (p. 43)

In his chapter "I Think, Therefore I Defend," Michael Ash argues that Mormon apologists are not anti-intellectual, and that in fact the opposite is true.  He exposes the pretense of those who claim to operate on a plane of pure objectivity: "While it is certainly commendable and worthwhile to pursue assumption-free scholarship, unfortunately it's not something we humans are capable of doing very well." (p. 69)  "Study after study demonstrates," Ash writes, "that we are all apologists for our personal worldviews and that holding worldviews doesn't vitiate scholarly discourse." (p. 81) "Ironically," Ash concludes, "the very act of demarcating apologetics outside the scholarly arena is based on assumptions about the perceived boundaries between apologetics and scholarship and is, in itself, an exercise in apologetics." (p. 81)

In his chapter "Mormon Apologetics and Mormon Studies: Truth, History, and Love," Ralph C. Hancock reiterates what Peterson, Rappeleye, and Ash articulate so clearly: "So no one - or at least no one involved in the business of reasoning - can avoid being an apologist for something." (p. 91) With Socratic precision, Hancock sifts through a variety of specious arguments against Mormon apologetics.  He brings to light the problems inherent in the alternative frameworks of the academic disciplines, namely, that these disciplines "tend to hide their distinctive frames of reference behind a façade of neutral 'methodology.'" (p. 93) (see also, here)  One such façade is the false dichotomy of "Fact vs. Faith," which feeds into illusory claims of objectivity, or as Hancock explains: "It is impossible to approach the study of religion or of any fundamental dimension of human existence (politics, the family, literature, history) from a simply objective standpoint, since the object of research (humanity) cannot be divorced from the very being of the human researcher." (p. 95)  "Any pretense," Hancock observes, "of some inhuman, scientific objectivity can be nothing but a mask serving to evade Socrates's imperative to 'know thyself,' a device for hiding the scholar's point of view (even from herself) and to intimidate readers who might be tempted to contest this point of view." (p. 95)

Hancock also addresses the question of "tone," a complaint that some critics of Mormon apologetics attempt to levy against those with whom they disagree.  In essence, Hancock argues that objections to "tone" or exhortations to humility are distractions from clear reasoning and civil debate: "There is considerable risk of brandishing one's supposed humility in order to gain advantage over another in argument. 'More humble than thou' is not a promising posture in an intellectual discussion.  The classic warning about motes and beams ought to be kept in mind when the sublime virtue of humility becomes a stake in a debate." (p. 98)  In rigorous intellectual debates there is a place for bold correction or lively critique.  In short, Hancock concludes, "Some virtues are better taught by silent practice than by public brandishing." (p. 100)

Hancock's premise is "the fruitful complementarity, in principle, between the deepening of understanding and defense of Mormon beliefs with the exploration of ideas from other intellectual sources." (p. 100)  In other words, his premise is the age old fruitful complementarity between revelation and reason.  With this premise in mind, he continues his Socratic engagement with other interlocutors.  In the process he questions the cogency of his interlocutors' appeals to history or the viability of their adherence to contemporary conceptions of diversity, sexuality and love.

Juliann Reynolds and Fiona Givens present persuasive arguments on behalf of female Mormon apologists.  These excellent chapters reminded me of Elder D. Todd Christofferson's recent General Conference address "The Moral Force of Women."

Of the nine chapters in Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics that argue against traditional Mormon apologetics, Joseph Spencer's "Toward a New Vision of Apologetics" is the most coherent. He laments the "acrimony" between "conservatives" and "liberals" in debates concerning Mormon apologetics: "The latter accuse the former of a kind of intellectual backwardness, of using shoddy intellectual tools to protect the borders around an ill-defined orthodoxy in an unnecessarily reactionary way.  The former accuse the latter of a kind of intellectual shallowness, of following flighty but fashionable intellectual movements to erase the tried and true boundaries established by divinely called prophets." (p. 235)  Spencer correctly discerns that the primary question to consider is "What is apologetics?"  However, Spencer isn't just interested in what apologetics is, but in what apologetics ought to be.  In other words, his chapter is an apology for his idea of what Mormon apologetics ought to be.  To make his case, Spencer hones in on the relationship between reason and revelation, but he also falls prey to the false dichotomy that separates heart from mind.

Mormon apologetics, like the truth claims it defends, will outlast its critics.  Nevertheless, LDS scholars would do well to remember Elder Maxwell's counsel: "The LDS scholar has his citizenship in the Kingdom, but carries his passport into the professional world—not the other way around."  

Sunday, July 30, 2017

If

Rudyard Kipling

If


by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Which Loved Best?


“I love you, Mother,” said little [John];
Then, forgetting his work, his cap went on,
And he was off to the garden swing,
Leaving her the water and wood to bring.

“I love you, Mother,” said rosy Nell—
“I love you better than tongue can tell”;
Then she teased and pouted full half the day,
Till her mother rejoiced when she went to play.

“I love you, Mother,” said little Fan;
“Today I’ll help you all I can;
How glad I am that school doesn’t keep!”
So she rocked the babe till it fell asleep.

Then, stepping softly, she fetched the broom,
And swept the floor and tidied the room;
Busy and happy all day was she,
Helpful and happy as child could be.

“I love you, Mother,” again they said,
Three little children going to bed;
How do you think that Mother guessed
Which of them really loved her best?

- Joy Allison (a cute video)

A Bell Is No Bell Till You Ring It




A bell is no bell till you ring it
A song is no song till you sing it
And love in your heart wasn't put there to stay
Love isn't love til you give it away


(song)

Seize Upon Truth

Isaac Watts

Seize upon truth where'er 'tis found, 
Among your friends, among your foes, 
On Christian or on heathen ground — The flower's divine where'er it grows.
Neglect the prickle and assume the rose. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

My Only Hope and Confidence

The Prophet Joseph Smith
"My only hope and confidence is in that God who gave me being, in whom there is all power, who now is present before me, and my heart is naked before his eyes continually.  He is my comforter, and he forsaketh me not.

I know in whom I trust; I stand upon the rock; the floods cannot, no, they shall not, overthrow me."

- The Prophet Joseph Smith

Sunday, May 14, 2017

If I Only Was the Fellow

If I Only Was the Fellow

While walking down a crowded
City street the other day,
I heard a little urchin
To a comrade turn and say,
‘Say, Chimmey, lemme tell youse,
I’d be happy as a clam
If only I was de feller dat
Me mudder t’inks I am.’

‘She t’inks I am a wonder,
An’ she knows her little lad
Could never mix wit’ nuttin’
Dat was ugly, mean or bad.
Oh, lot o’ times I sit and t’ink
How nice, ’twould be, gee whiz!
If a feller was de feller
Dat his mudder t’inks he is.’

My friends, be yours a life of toil
Or undiluted joy,
You can learn a wholesome lesson
From that small, untutored boy.
Don’t aim to be an earthly saint
With eyes fixed on a star:
Just try to be the fellow that
Your mother thinks you are.


(credit to Elreda Hughes for sharing this poem)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Common Source

Alexis de Tocqueville
"There is almost no human action, however particular one supposes it, that does not arise from a very general idea that men have conceived of God, of his relations with the human race, of the nature of their souls, and of their duties toward those like them. One cannot keep these ideas from being the common source from which all the rest flow." —Alexis de Tocqueville

Monday, April 10, 2017

Until I Find the Holy Grail

Sir Galahad

My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.
The shattering trumpet shrilleth high,
The hard brands shiver on the steel,
The splinter'd spear-shafts crack and fly,
The horse and rider reel:
They reel, they roll in clanging lists,
And when the tide of combat stands,
Perfume and flowers fall in showers,
That lightly rain from ladies' hands.

How sweet are looks that ladies bend
On whom their favours fall!
From them I battle till the end,
To save from shame and thrall:
But all my heart is drawn above,
My knees are bow'd in crypt and shrine:
I never felt the kiss of love,
Nor maiden's hand in mine.
More bounteous aspects on me beam,
Me mightier transports move and thrill;
So keep I fair thro' faith and prayer
A virgin heart in work and will.

When down the stormy crescent goes,
A light before me swims,
Between dark stems the forest glows,
I hear a noise of hymns:
Then by some secret shrine I ride;
I hear a voice but none are there;
The stalls are void, the doors are wide,
The tapers burning fair.
Fair gleams the snowy altar-cloth,
The silver vessels sparkle clean,
The shrill bell rings, the censer swings,
And solemn chaunts resound between.

Sometime on lonely mountain-meres
I find a magic bark;
I leap on board: no helmsman steers:
I float till all is dark.
A gentle sound, an awful light!
Three angels bear the holy Grail:
With folded feet, in stoles of white,
On sleeping wings they sail.
Ah, blessed vision! blood of God!
My spirit beats her mortal bars,
As down dark tides the glory slides,
And star-like mingles with the stars.

When on my goodly charger borne
Thro' dreaming towns I go,
The cock crows ere the Christmas morn,
The streets are dumb with snow.
The tempest crackles on the leads,
And, ringing, springs from brand and mail;
But o'er the dark a glory spreads,
And gilds the driving hail.
I leave the plain, I climb the height;
No branchy thicket shelter yields;
But blessed forms in whistling storms
Fly o'er waste fens and windy fields.

A maiden knight--to me is given
Such hope, I know not fear;
I yearn to breathe the airs of heaven
That often meet me here.
I muse on joy that will not cease,
Pure spaces clothed in living beams,
Pure lilies of eternal peace,
Whose odours haunt my dreams;
And, stricken by an angel's hand,
This mortal armour that I wear,
This weight and size, this heart and eyes,
Are touch'd, are turn'd to finest air.

The clouds are broken in the sky,
And thro' the mountain-walls
A rolling organ-harmony
Swells up, and shakes and falls.
Then move the trees, the copses nod,
Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
"O just and faithful knight of God!
Ride on! the prize is near."
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange;
By bridge and ford, by park and pale,
All-arm'd I ride, whate'er betide,
Until I find the holy Grail.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Illuminate

"Recall the new star that announced the birth at Bethlehem? It was in its precise orbit long before it so shone. We are likewise placed in human orbits to illuminate." - Elder Neal A. Maxwell


Monday, March 20, 2017

Face to Face

Lorenzo Snow
An experience of President Lorenzo Snow (1814–1901), as related by his granddaughter Alice Pond, “‘In the large corridor leading into the celestial room, I was walking several steps ahead of grand-pa when he stopped me and said: “Wait a moment, Allie, I want to tell you something. It was right here that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff. He instructed me to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents, and that I was to succeed President Woodruff.” “‘Then grand-pa came a step nearer and held out his left hand and said: “He stood right here, about three feet above the floor. It looked as though He stood on a plate of solid gold.” “‘Grand-pa told me what a glorious personage the Savior is and described His hands, feet, countenance and beautiful white robes, all of which were of such a glory of whiteness and brightness that he could hardly gaze upon Him. “‘Then [grand-pa] came another step nearer and put his right hand on my head and said: “Now, grand-daughter, I want you to remember that this is the testimony of your grand-father, that he told you with his own lips that he actually saw the Savior, here in the Temple, and talked with Him face to face”’ [Alice Pond, in LeRoi C. Snow, “An Experience of My Father’s,” Improvement Era, Sept. 1933, 677]” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow [2012], 238–39).

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Eternal Man



There is a delightful little book by Truman G. Madsen that beautifully frames questions that have for centuries perplexed great thinkers, philosophers, and theologians.  Madsen's Eternal Man is a masterpiece of philosophical erudition, but more importantly, it is a chef d'oeuvre of spiritual insight. 

It would be a gross understatement to suggest that Truman was a gifted scholar and teacher, or even that he was a prolific author and a profound thinker.  If you take the time to read Madsen's Eternal Man (also here, and here is a link to the pdf), you will begin to get a sense of just how remarkably gifted and spiritually insightful he was.  But what I appreciate most about this elegant and slender volume is the way in which it points to Jesus Christ, the author of all truth.  Enjoy.  






Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Mormon Christianity


What do you know about Mormon metaphysics?  Maybe you know a lot about it.  But if you are like most people, then it is probably safe to say that you know nothing about it.  No problem.  The best way to fill this lacuna in your education is to study the Book of Mormon.  The second best way is to read Stephen H. Webb's book Mormon Christianity: What other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints.  As a convert to Catholicism from evangelical protestantism, and as a prolific author and professor of religion and philosophy, Webb shares a uniquely penetrating perspective on Christianity from which Christians of all varieties may benefit.  Tragically, Webb shot himself last year after battling with depression, or, as I suspect, though I cannot confirm, after battling with "antidepressants." 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Few Great Passages from Shakespeare's Henry V










We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us;
His present and your pains we thank you for:
When we have march'd our rackets to these balls,
We will, in France, by God's grace, play a set
Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard.
Tell him he hath made a match with such a wrangler
That all the courts of France will be disturb'd
With chaces. And we understand him well,
How he comes o'er us with our wilder days,
Not measuring what use we made of them.
We never valued this poor seat of England;
And therefore, living hence, did give ourself
To barbarous licence; as 'tis ever common
That men are merriest when they are from home.
But tell the Dauphin I will keep my state,
Be like a king and show my sail of greatness
When I do rouse me in my throne of France:
For that I have laid by my majesty
And plodded like a man for working-days,
But I will rise there with so full a glory
That I will dazzle all the eyes of France,
Yea, strike the Dauphin blind to look on us.
And tell the pleasant prince this mock of his
Hath turn'd his balls to gun-stones; and his soul
Shall stand sore charged for the wasteful vengeance
That shall fly with them: for many a thousand widows
Shall this his mock mock out of their dear husbands;
Mock mothers from their sons, mock castles down;
And some are yet ungotten and unborn
That shall have cause to curse the Dauphin's scorn.
But this lies all within the will of God,
To whom I do appeal; and in whose name
Tell you the Dauphin I am coming on,
To venge me as I may and to put forth
My rightful hand in a well-hallow'd cause.
So get you hence in peace; and tell the Dauphin
His jest will savour but of shallow wit,
When thousands weep more than did laugh at it.
Convey them with safe conduct. Fare you well. (Act I, Scene II)

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We are in God's hand, brother, not in theirs.
March to the bridge; it now draws toward night:
Beyond the river we'll encamp ourselves,
And on to-morrow, bid them march away. (Act II, Scene VI)

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What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day. (Act IV, Scene III)

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Praised be God, and not our strength, for it! (Act IV, Scene VII)

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KING HENRY V

This note doth tell me of ten thousand French
That in the field lie slain: of princes, in this number,
And nobles bearing banners, there lie dead
One hundred twenty six: added to these,
Of knights, esquires, and gallant gentlemen,
Eight thousand and four hundred; of the which,
Five hundred were but yesterday dubb'd knights:
So that, in these ten thousand they have lost,
There are but sixteen hundred mercenaries;
The rest are princes, barons, lords, knights, squires,
And gentlemen of blood and quality.
The names of those their nobles that lie dead:
Charles Delabreth, high constable of France;
Jaques of Chatillon, admiral of France;
The master of the cross-bows, Lord Rambures;
Great Master of France, the brave Sir Guichard Dolphin,
John Duke of Alencon, Anthony Duke of Brabant,
The brother of the Duke of Burgundy,
And Edward Duke of Bar: of lusty earls,
Grandpre and Roussi, Fauconberg and Foix,
Beaumont and Marle, Vaudemont and Lestrale.
Here was a royal fellowship of death!
Where is the number of our English dead?

Herald shews him another paper

Edward the Duke of York, the Earl of Suffolk,
Sir Richard Ketly, Davy Gam, esquire:
None else of name; and of all other men
But five and twenty. O God, thy arm was here;
And not to us, but to thy arm alone,
Ascribe we all! When, without stratagem,
But in plain shock and even play of battle,
Was ever known so great and little loss
On one part and on the other? Take it, God,
For it is none but thine!

EXETER

'Tis wonderful!

KING HENRY V

Come, go we in procession to the village.
And be it death proclaimed through our host
To boast of this or take the praise from God
Which is his only.

FLUELLEN

Is it not lawful, an please your majesty, to tell
how many is killed?

KING HENRY V

Yes, captain; but with this acknowledgement,
That God fought for us.

FLUELLEN

Yes, my conscience, he did us great good.

KING HENRY V

Do we all holy rites;
Let there be sung 'Non nobis' and 'Te Deum;'
The dead with charity enclosed in clay:
And then to Calais; and to England then:
Where ne'er from France arrived more happy men.

Exeunt (Act IV, Scene VIII)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now, fie upon my false French! By mine honour, in
true English, I love thee, Kate: by which honour I
dare not swear thou lovest me; yet my blood begins to
flatter me that thou dost, notwithstanding the poor
and untempering effect of my visage. Now, beshrew
my father's ambition! he was thinking of civil wars
when he got me: therefore was I created with a
stubborn outside, with an aspect of iron, that, when
I come to woo ladies, I fright them. But, in faith,
Kate, the elder I wax, the better I shall appear:
my comfort is, that old age, that ill layer up of
beauty, can do no more, spoil upon my face: thou
hast me, if thou hast me, at the worst; and thou
shalt wear me, if thou wear me, better and better:
and therefore tell me, most fair Katharine, will you
have me? Put off your maiden blushes; avouch the
thoughts of your heart with the looks of an empress;
take me by the hand, and say 'Harry of England I am
thine:' which word thou shalt no sooner bless mine
ear withal, but I will tell thee aloud 'England is
thine, Ireland is thine, France is thine, and Harry
Plantagenet is thine;' who though I speak it before
his face, if he be not fellow with the best king,
thou shalt find the best king of good fellows.
Come, your answer in broken music; for thy voice is
music and thy English broken; therefore, queen of
all, Katharine, break thy mind to me in broken
English; wilt thou have me? (Act V, Scene II)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

God, the best maker of all marriages,
Combine your hearts in one, your realms in one!
As man and wife, being two, are one in love,
So be there 'twixt your kingdoms such a spousal,
That never may ill office, or fell jealousy,
Which troubles oft the bed of blessed marriage,
Thrust in between the paction of these kingdoms,
To make divorce of their incorporate league;
That English may as French, French Englishmen,
Receive each other. God speak this Amen! (Act V, Scene II)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Monday, January 2, 2017

Keeping Faith in Provo


What is education?  What is the purpose of education?  Brigham Young taught that education is "the power to think clearly, the power to act well in the world's work, and the power to appreciate life."  

Is there such a thing as Christian education?  A Christian university?  What is the purpose of a Christian university?

The University that bears the name of Brigham Young (wiki) is the academic descendent of the school of the prophets.  What were the schools of the prophets?  What was the school of the prophets that Brigham Young's predecessor, Joseph Smith, organized?  



More recently, in his article Keeping Faith in Provo, Ralph Hancock, professor of political science, inquired whether or not the concerns of Spencer W. Kimball and Jeffrey R. Holland, are still relevant to the mission of Brigham Young University.  The answer to this question is ostensibly "yes."  But is Brigham Young University immune from mission drift?  If not, what is to be done?  These are good questions.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Object and Design of Our Existence

The Prophet Joseph Smith
"Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 255–56)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Music for Christmas

Merry Christmas!
There are so many great Christmas hymns and songs that change our hearts and turn our hearts to Jesus Christ.  Some are familiar.  Some are new.  I am grateful for good Christmas music that helps us to remember our Savior Jesus Christ and to become more like Him. Here are a few beautiful, inspiring Christmas hymns and songs:


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus of Nazareth, directed by Franco Zeffirelli
If you want to see a great film, and you have six plus hours to spare, you could really do worse than Franco Zeffirelli's epic Jesus of Nazareth. (See also here).  Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet is also well worth watching, even if you've already seen it.   


How to Delete Your Facebook Account



I don't know whether or not I should be concerned that Facebook would not allow me to share a link that teaches you how to delete your Facebook account.  I tried to post the link in this blog post, but Facebook rejects that as well.

When I tried to share this content, I received the following message:

"Our security systems have detected that a lot of people are posting the same content, which could mean that it's spam. Please try a different post.  If you think you're seeing this by mistake, please let us know."

Um.  No.  This is simply an article about how to delete your Facebook account.

It is an interesting article.  Just Google Robert Isenberg and How to delete your Facebook account.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Only Christ Can Be Our Ideal

The Savior Jesus Christ
"The world is full of people who are willing to tell us, 'Do as I say.' Surely we have no lack of advice givers on about every subject. But we have so few who are prepared to say, 'Do as I do.' And, of course, only One in human history could rightfully and properly make that declaration. History provides many examples of good men and women, but even the best of mortals are flawed in some way or another. None could serve as a perfect model nor as an infallible pattern to follow, however well-intentioned they might be.

Only Christ can be our ideal, our 'bright and morning star' (Rev. 22:16). Only he can say without any reservation, 'Follow me, learn of me, [and] do the things you have seen me do. Drink of my water and eat of my bread. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the law and the light. Look unto me and ye shall live. Love one another as I have loved you.' (see Matt. 11:29; 16:24; John 4:13–14; 6:35, 51; 7:37; 13:34; 14:6; 3 Ne. 15:9; 27:21).

Monday, December 5, 2016

Truth Will Cut its Own Way

The Prophet Joseph Smith
"If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way."

- The Prophet Joseph Smith

Friday, December 2, 2016

Like Placid Galilee

The Sea of Galilee
While reading, click here to listen to Audrey Assad's beautiful song "Help My Unbelief."

"The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me (Ps. 138:8)."

"There is a Divine mystery in suffering, a strange and supernatural power in it, which has never been fathomed by the human reason. There never has been known great saintliness of soul which did not pass through great suffering. When the suffering soul reaches a calm sweet carelessness, when it can inwardly smile at its own suffering, and does not even ask God to deliver it from suffering, then it has wrought its blessed ministry; then patience has its perfect work; then the crucifixion begins to weave itself into a crown.

It is in this state of the perfection of suffering that the Holy Spirit works many marvelous things in our souls. In such a condition, our whole being lies perfectly still under the hand of God; every faculty of the mind and will and heart are at last subdued; a quietness of eternity settles down into the whole being; the tongue grows still, and has but few words to say; it stops asking God questions; it stops crying, "Why hast thou forsaken me?

The imagination stops building air castles, or running off on foolish lines; the reason is tame and gentle; the choices are annihilated; it has no choice in anything but the purpose of God. The affections are weaned from all creatures and all things; it is so dead that nothing can hurt it, nothing can offend it, nothing can hinder it, nothing can get in its way; for, let the circumstances be what they may, it seeks only for God and His will, and it feels assured that God is making everything in the universe, good or bad, past or present, work together for its good.

Oh, the blessedness of being absolutely conquered! of losing our own strength, and wisdom, and plans, and desires, and being where every atom of our nature is like placid Galilee under the omnipotent feet of our Jesus."

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Excellency of God

The Prophet Joseph Smith
"Those who know their weakness and liability to sin would be in constant doubt of salvation if it were not for the idea which they have of the excellency of God, that he is slow to anger and long-suffering, and of a forgiving disposition, and does forgive iniquity, transgression, and sin. An idea of these facts does away doubt, and makes faith exceedingly strong."
 
- The Prophet Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Whole Outfit

C.S. Lewis
"Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self---in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart."

Sunday, November 13, 2016

If You Want to Build a Ship

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Credit to Nathaniel Hancock for finding this quotation. For the origins of this quotation, click here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

How Can I Keep from Singing?




"My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth's lamentation,
I hear the sweet, though far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?
I know my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

I lift my eyes, the cloud grows thin
I see the blue above it
And day by day this pathway smooths,
Since first I learned to love it,

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart
A fountain ever springing!
For all things are mine since I am his!
How can I keep from singing?

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?"

- Original song written by Robert Wadsworth Lowry, sung by Audrey Assad

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Truth Reflects upon Our Senses

Eliza R. Snow

1. Truth reflects upon our senses;
Gospel light reveals to some.
If there still should be offenses,
Woe to them by whom they come!
Judge not, that ye be not judged,
Was the counsel Jesus gave;
Measure given, large or grudged,
Just the same you must receive.

(Chorus)
Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,
Till we reach that blissful shore
Where the angels wait to join us
In thy praise forevermore.

2. Jesus said, “Be meek and lowly,”
For ’tis high to be a judge;
If I would be pure and holy,
I must love without a grudge.
It requires a constant labor
All his precepts to obey.
If I truly love my neighbor,
I am in the narrow way.

3. Once I said unto another,
“In thine eye there is a mote;
If thou art a friend, a brother,
Hold, and let me pull it out.”
But I could not see it fairly,
For my sight was very dim.
When I came to search more clearly,
In mine eye there was a beam.

4. If I love my brother dearer,
And his mote I would erase,
Then the light should shine the clearer,
For the eye’s a tender place.
Others I have oft reproved
For an object like a mote;
Now I wish this beam removed;
Oh, that tears would wash it out!

5. Charity and love are healing;
These will give the clearest sight;
When I saw my brother’s failing,
I was not exactly right.
Now I’ll take no further trouble;
Jesus’ love is all my theme;
Little motes are but a bubble
When I think upon the beam.



Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The White Light of Truth

Harold B. Lee
"We are sending you out as artists, scientists, teachers, and philosophers. Will you never forget the theme of the lesson we are talking about, that you are but branches of a divine tree and that you of yourself, you can do nothing? All truths whether called science or religion, or philosophy, come from a divine source.

You, then, I plead with you, do not in your search for truth, allow yourselves to become severed from the 'vine'. In all your learning, measure it and test it by the white light of truth revealed to the prophet of God and you will never be led astray.

- Harold B. Lee

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

One Silent Student

Leo Strauss
"Almost every year I meet once with the older students of my department in order to discuss with them how to teach political theory in college. Once on such an occasion a student asked me whether I could not give him a general rule regarding teaching. I replied: 'Always assume that there is one silent student in your class who is by far superior to you in head and in heart.' I meant by this: do not have too high an opinion of your importance, and have the highest opinion of your duty, your responsibility."

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Choruses from the Rock

Thomas Stearns Eliot


The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,
The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.
O perpetual revolution of configured stars,
O perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,
O world of spring and autumn, birth and dying!
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of heaven in twenty centuries
Brings us farther from God and nearer to the Dust. 

The lot of man is ceaseless labor,
Or ceaseless idleness, which is still harder,
Or irregular labour, which is not pleasant.
I have trodden the winepress alone, and I know
That it is hard to be really useful, resigning
The things that men count for happiness, seeking
The good deeds that lead to obscurity, accepting
With equal face those that bring ignominy,
The applause of all or the love of none.
All men are ready to invest their money
But most expect dividends.
I say to you: Make perfect your will.
I say: take no thought of the harvest,
But only of proper sowing. 

The world turns and the world changes,
But one thing does not change.
In all of my years, one thing does not change,
However you disguise it, this thing does not change:
The perpetual struggle of Good and Evil. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Religion: "Bound by Loving Ties"

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Even "sublime" is an inadequate word to describe this message by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland for the 2016 BYU Education Week devotional. (see here for a brief news article)

A New Form of Paganism

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
"We are now entering a period of incredible ironies. Let us cite but one of these ironies which is yet in its subtle stages: we shall see in our time a maximum if indirect effort made to establish irreligion as the state religion. It is actually a new form of paganism that uses the carefully preserved and cultivated freedoms of Western civilization to shrink freedom even as it rejects the value essence of our rich Judeo-Christian heritage."

Maximum Choice and Minimum Meaning

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
"What the secularists forgot is that Homo sapiens is the meaning-seeking animal. If there is one thing the great institutions of the modern world do not do, it is to provide meaning. Science tells us how but not why. Technology gives us power but cannot guide us as to how to use that power. The market gives us choices but leaves us uninstructed as to how to make those choices. The liberal democratic state gives us freedom to live as we choose but refuses, on principle, to guide us as to how to choose.

Science, technology, the free market and the liberal democratic state have enabled us to reach unprecedented achievements in knowledge, freedom, life expectancy and affluence. They are among the greatest achievements of human civilization and are to be defended and cherished.

But they do not answer the three questions that every reflective individual will ask at some time in his or her life: Who am I? Why am I here? How then shall I live? The result is that the 21st century has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning."