The Last Sunday of the Month (a svithe)


This morning we woke to a dead fridge and so before church we threw everything into a couple boxes and I drove to my sister's apartment and dumped all our food into her fridge. Where it remains now. I guess we'll be going over there for dinner.

Buying a new fridge is not something we're terribly excited to do. We're hoping to move soon and if things work out as preferred, there should be no fridge buying or fridge transporting as part of that future.

On the other hand, just choosing to live without a fridge is somewhat of a strange idea. Sure, our ancestors did it, but our ancestors didn't have ice cream.

This being a svithe, it is now time for me to turn all this into a godly metaphor, and here that metaphor comes:

Life often provides surprising and unpleasant turns, and sometimes, when we're being crushed by Fortuna's wheel, we're left without terrific options for extricating ourselves. But we must keep proceeding through this life, we must move forward, otherwise we remain crushed. Now I don't know what solution we'll arrive at for our fridge problem, but we have been given the power to overcome that loss. God hasn't asked us to give up ice cream; he just lets us figure out the hows on our own.

This is a pretty good assessment of my view on faith. Faith isn't a highly detailed roadmap; faith is more of an attitude--an attitude that lets us follow a detail-free roadmap and be happy at the same time.

Can I have an amen?

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Svithing Aaron

.We be manly men.

We came to Tehachapi last night because I had to go to Bakersfield this morning to finish up my CSET. Coincidentally, our ward was, that night, having its father/son campout in Tehachapi. So I took the Big O and my father and we went up the mountains to spend the evening celebrating the joys of fire and graham crackers.

The bishop asked if I would bless the food so I did and I guess I did an alright job, because after I prayed he asked if I wouldn't mind giving a talk that evening on the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood.

A bit of history for my readers yet unsteeped in the LDS mythos:

In May 1929, Joseph Smith was in the midst of translating the Book of Mormon with the help of scribe Oliver Cowdery. They ran across some passages describing the importance of baptism to salvation. I don't know which passage it was, but I usually imagine it was this one (feel free to skim):
    I would that ye should remember that I have spoken unto you concerning that prophet which the Lord showed unto me, that should baptize the Lamb of God, which should take away the sins of the world.

    And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!

    . . . . But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments. . . .

    And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?

    And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.

    And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.

    Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism -- yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
Having received such a clear message that baptism is important, they decided to go out to the forest and pray about it, this technique having worked for Joseph before.

It worked again. No less a luminary than John the Baptist (of, if my history is correct, that sweet hippie band Honey & Locusts) appeared to them, put his hands on their heads and said, "Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness."

And thus Joseph and Oliver had the authority to wade into the Susquehanna River and baptize each other.

I didn't know precisely what the bishop wanted me to talk about but now we're all sitting around the fire and night has shown that it's absolutely serious about this getting dark stuff and someone says Theric's going to say something about the Aaronic Priesthood restoration (this being our official yearly excuse to leave the women and be mountain men after all) and so I do and say roughly what I just typed. More or less.

Then someone says they guess that's it and will someone say the prayer.

Which I guess means I did a good enough job.

But svithes aren't about me.

And the priesthood isn't about me either. It's not about me and it's not about my bishop and it's not about the prophet. Or, in other words, it's every bit about us.

See, like most things in this world, the priesthood is an evidence of God's love. God, after all, didn't have to make beautiful mountains--the world could be a plain ball of nutritious mud--but he did because he loves us. God didn't have to make thing taste good--vitamin-supplemented bark-flavored gelcaps could sustain life--but he did because he loves us. God didn't have to make me thmazing either but---

Well, nevermind. You get the point. Nothing beautiful or wonderful is a requirement of his plan, but he gave us these things anyway.

Now priesthood is more of a requirement, I suppose, but when you consider that its sole purpose is to bring us back to him, it too becomes no more than evidence of God's love.

But then....what isn't?

Good old Minerva. Always with the perfect image for me.

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A deceptive svithe, one in which I will seem to be endeavoring to trick you into thinking I am a humble person, which I am not


Everyone who knows both me and this old song will tell me it must be my theme song. I don't know why.

You're all familiar with these new Chuck Norris jokes, yes? Are you as familiar with the even hipper Thmazing jokes?

  • There are no unknown particles. Only ones Thmazing hasn't told us about yet.
  • To say Thmazing knows everything is to be redundant.
  • If Thmazing opens a door for you, it's not so much to be polite as it is an opportunity to show off that he can manipulate matter with his hands as well as his mind.

    You know---Thmazing jokes. But, as mentioned in the title, today I am endeavoring to be humble, so I'll wait till tomorrow to post all the Thmazing jokes I've collected. Today, the ego is to be reigned in.

    Anyway, goodness knows (or, more specifically, Lady Steed knows) that I have plenty to be humble about. And Friday night I had something of a humilitifying epiphany. But before I get there, let's talk about Shakespeare.

    You see, it's not just my fellow Fobs I can be envious of--I'm also jealous of Shakespeare. And rightly so, as no less a luminary than Daltongirl has stated she isn't sure whether or not I, Thmazing, am a better writer than Shakespeare. And if Daltongirl can't decide, then, at the very least, I'm not better enough to make a difference.

    I remember my junior or senior year of high school when late one night I sat up alone and watched Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet. It about ruined my life. Never had I been so moved! Never had I experienced sure rapturously good writing! Shakespeare, I was forced to admit, was not only the greatest writer yet, he was the greatest writer possible.

    I sat down in a funk at the kitchen table. I pulled out my journal and used the few remaining pages to praise Shakes and debase myself. I could see no reason to ever write again. With that entry, there was no room left in my journal--and no room left in my life--for another word from me.

    Nowadays I think of R&J as a silly thing, while Hamlet's where the real money's at, but never mind all that. Let me tell you the primary reason Shakespeare's greatness bothered me:

    I may have always been a religious kid, but I have also always felt that if I wanted to be immortal, it was up to me.

    Not immortality, the gift of God. Immortality, freshman English forced reading.

    Immortality, Shakespeare-style.

    The only method open to Theric to avoid being forgotten.

    And Shakespeare was (and is) taking more than his share of the pages.

    Anyway, on to my epiphany:

    Intellectually, I have always known that this literature-based quest for immortality is irreligious. Or, more accurately, faithless.

    But it's hard for me to keep this in mind. There is something in my hardware that makes me think that artistic creation is of greater value than other pursuits. I try very hard to control this notion because it is necessarily false. God doesn't love the media mogul more.

    But the idea of all our telestial art falling into disregard in the eternities turns my stomach. All this beautiful stuff! Forgotten?!?! Forget the plumber, but not me!!!

    I wonder though if The Grapes of Wrath will be as meaningful in 60,000 years as the play I wrote in fifth grade is now? Interesting, but childish, and ultimately of only polite interest.

    Anyway, the epiphany:

    My priorities are bad. The immortality offered by our Father is much more important than the immortality offered by the literati. It shouldn't matter to me if my words are forgotten over the aeons. What should matter is whether I and my loved ones are remembered.

    This is an appropriate day for me to reconsider which relationships in my life are of the greatest importance. Which gift, given the choice of only one, would I prefer God give me: My family? or My words?

    I hope, as time goes on, I grow wiser. I hope, as time goes on, I consistently make the correct choice.

    This post is dedicated to
    w i t h o u t w h o m
    I would not be nearly so awesome.

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  • 2006-05-07

    Svithe 12: The Gifts of God


    The Mad Svither lives in a land of plenty. He has never gone so long without a meal that he knows desperation. He has never had to go with his glasses taped up. He has never suffered want in any meaningful way.

    He has a sense that the world owes him wealth and comfort and satisfaction, and that anything less than American opulence is an insult.

    In other words, the Mad Svither recognizes the gifts of God not as something to be grateful for, but as something of a divine right.

    For shame.

    One of the Mad Svither's great problems is his sense of entitlement, an overwhelming sense of I Deserve that colors his world in shades of ego and expectation. Instead of looking to bless and serve, he finds it too easy to look down on the unfortunate and to treat his own misfortune as an incomprehensible anomaly, rather than, perhaps, the necessary results of his poorly planned actions.

    This world was created to function according to the principles of cause and effect, with a guiding principle: Choice.

    "Behold," says Christ, "here is wisdom, and let every man choose for himself...."

    I don't think it's unfair to generalize that scripture to all aspects of our lives. It is given unto us to choose--and we are expected to choose the good, to choose the gifts of God.

    We are expected to choose the gifts of God.

    God expects us to choose his gifts.

    We should not expect any gifts save we choose them first. And choice requires action.


    I'm not lecturing you.

    I'm lecturing me.

    The only problem is, the Mad Svither never listens.

    And that's a poor choice indeed.

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