Svithe: Acceptable sacrifice


My brother Braj came home from his mission on the fifteenth, and watching him adjust to America has helped me remember my own homecoming nine years ago. After arrival, I immediately became horribly ill and so most of the details of those first few back-in-America months are lost to me. But I love seeing him--how he is the same person (often in surprising ways), yet he is also more.

One thing I do remember was sitting on the plane in Cheju, having just said goodbye to all my Cheju friends and my now former companion and knowing it was all over. There is nothing like Too Late to make one wonder how close to 100% one's efforts were--to analyze what more could have been done. I was sitting on the plane, praying, worrying over the worth of my two years of service when a song came into my head. It wasn't a hymn. It wasn't approved listening at all. It was a song off a tape one of my Korean friends had on endless repeat in his car to learn English. The tape consisted of American standards and classics of soft rock sung by celebrity fakes. The song in question was "My Way" as sung by a phony Frank Sinatra--a song I had never heard before my mission. And as strange it may seem, that anthem to individuality was the Lord's expression to me that he accepted my service--and that it was given in my way made it acceptable. That what he had wanted to me to do: to be a missionary my way. The Lord didn't want some guy to do some stuff, he wanted me to do stuff and to do it my way. That meant a lot to me. That means a lot to me.


At age 78, Mary Alice Hansen
    found herself serving as a host in the Church Office Building, as well as a worker in the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center.

    She served in both capacities many times during the week for several decades until one day, when she was 99 years old, she fell and broke her hip and wrist. . . .

    Sister Hansen returned less than three months later--walking without a cane. Sister Hansen continued to serve until she was released May 18 at age 102.

Well, Theric? What have you done lately?

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A mildly cheesy acrostic svithe


Sabbath comes once a week and is the occasion in which I attempt to honor God in some bizarre, thericular way by svithing, The.

Vernacular scripture came about a few hundred years ago and opened up religion to schmucks like me--without this innovation, svithing wouldn't exist.

Internet allows us to communicate with people quickly and easily and svithily, The.

Today--there is always a today--and today's today is beautiful (if I look hard enough) and wonderful (in some way)--as is every today--like today, for instance.

Hardiness is a trait I admire, but since physical labor for God would likely kill me, instead I am a hardy, weekly svither.

Everything in this world testifies of God's goodness to us--therefore everything is worthy svithe material--therefore I still have a long way to go--therefore I'll see you again next week--on the flipsvithe.....

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Svithe and svithe alike

.My close personal friend, Lao Tzu

Alma taught that
    the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have....
Alma, of course, meant that the Lord gives everybody all the truth they can handle. A jerk might go nyaa-nyaa and say he has all the truth and everyone else sucks. But, in fact, even we Mormons who claim to have "the fulness of the gospel," do not claim to have all the truth. See, while we believe all that God has revealed, we also believe all that He does now reveal--and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things.

Truth is like a Venn Diagram, except it includes one, great, all-encompassing, infinite circle, with little circles inside it. I believe that God gives different circles of truth to different individuals and groups all the time. Any group or individual that forgets they can learn from another will fail at many of life's most important pursuits. Without the humility to learn from others, we cannot love, we cannot grow, we cannot become. Whether that learning comes from a friend, a stranger, a rival, or God, we must be willing to admit we do not know; we must want to learn; we must listen and believe.

Yes, yes, yes, we must also be able to discern between truth and deception, but if we don't assume the possibility of truth, we will never find it. We must assume that true and false are both possible.

Being a good Mormon, this is the point where I show you where to get a free Book of Mormon. But most of my readership is Mormon already, and to you, my friends, I suggest listening. I'm going to work on developing the humility to listen, myself. I'ld like to learn some more stuff. And besides,

Lady Steed insists on it.

Further reading: 1 2 3 4 5

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Svithe: An open letter to my missionary brothers


I have two brothers currently serving as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I will usually mail them my svithes. This week, however, I am svithing you their mail.


Hey, Elders---

The family had me present the scholarship and I did so in full bowtie regalia. I now own three bow ties. I haven't decided how I feel about them. It takes a certain sort of person to pull off a bowtie with aplomb and I've never been sure I am such a person. We're finding out.

We talked about Ruth in Sunday School today. Now I totally want to go gleaning. And you guys should keep in mind, too. For when you get home. It looks like a great way to meet chicks.

I guess Canary'll be moving to Flagstaff in a few months, after her sojourn in Nauvoo. My, that girl gets around!

So I read a fascinating article on Slate about meat. The guy who wrote it is a meat-eater himself, and he's not suggesting we give up meat tomorrow, but ---

So as time goes on, we're learning more and more about the intelligence and capabilities of animals. And the more we learn, the less appropriate it seems to be chopping them up and sticking them in our mouths. I think that is true. But we were built to eat meat and although it is possible to be healthy without any meat whatsoever in your diet, it's tricky and certainly not what our genes expected when they were building us in the womb.

Anyway, science is a wonderful thing. You have heard, of course, of them growing human ears on the backs of rats and human organs inside pigs and other marvelous things for science. You have also heard of the marvelous things genetically tricked-up bacteria can poop out of their genetically-tricked up bacterial bottoms. Well. Let's put two and two together. Or, in our case, medicine and meat.

Scientists abroad are already working on getting stem cells to produce material for chicken nuggets (which shouldn't be that hard, given that chicken nuggets are just processed bird fat anyway). Now, a wonderful steak straight from the test tube is still, oh, decades off, but I think this is a good thing.

First, cows. Cows! Cows are terrible for the environment, spewing forth their methane fumes day and night and trampling acres and acres and eating all that grain (and on and on). Cows are messy things.

Second, killing. God, yes, gave us animals to eat, but when lions lie down with lambs, those lions are still going to need the occasional lamb chop—even if Sean is his buddy now. Same goes for Jimmy Dean. He still'll need his sausage. So let's grow them in a petri dish, shall we?

I think God is perfectly okay with us killing cows and so forth. However, I think he is also okay with us finding a way to get those proteins without killing anything. In fact, I think he would approve of it as a good thing.

And now, since I'm already rambling and considering changing this into a svithe as well as a letter to my brothers, I think I'll just go on a few more tangents before wrapping up.

Tangent One: Frankenfoods.

First, we gotta be careful with genetically modifying things. And we must be sure to preserve the planets genetic diversity. But if we can make a rice that will save lives, people who protest the rice as evil are shortsighted, charity-free jerks. And you can tell them I said so. Anything can be turned to evil. The internet, for example, has my blog on it. (That was a joke. Please pause here to laugh.) But to suppose that something so powerful can only be evil is to be astonishingly cynical and to never invent a better toaster.

Tangent Two: Killing animals.

We were given animals to eat. Eating the living is awkward. Eating things that have died of ebola is unsafe. Therefore killing animals is fine.

But killing Laban was good too, because there was no other way. The Israelites were essentially ordered to commit genocide, because that was the ways things were. Lots of screwy things are right in certain situations. I think massive slaughter of animals is pretty much in that club. I think we're being provided a way to move past it.

In the meantime, though, can I have that drumstick?



(ps: i wasn't kidding -- are you gonna eat that?)

(pps: work hard, have fun, rock the suburbs, do good; love you)


Dear Elders---

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