Wealthfree svithery


The Bible (et al) has a lot to say about the transience of wealth --- thieves, moths, rust --- riches becoming slippery that they can't be held --- that sort of thing.

Now, I don't want to be misinterpreted and have people thinking I'm judging others, but current events demonstrate just how slippery wealth can be. Viz:

    ...the fortunes of the 1,000 wealthiest people in the UK have fallen more than 50% from £412.8 billion in the list for 2008 to about £200 billion. The value of some assets, including hedge funds and property firms, has been shattered by as much as 90%. *

To say nothing of the schmucks with ridiculous mortgages. Or the poor folks who've had jobs evaporate.

Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.

This other stuff has a definite shelf life.

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Merry Christmas Svithery


It's a shame that the name of Scrooge has become synonymous not with rebirth or the Christmas spirit or with a broad love for all, but with stinginess and greed and heartlessness. Isn't the whole point of the story that he left those things behind? That he became a new man?
    He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old City knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and, knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
So for Christmas this year, I say let's look through our memories for names that have been unfairly Scrooged and say, like the man whose -mas this is, "I will be merciful . . . and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."

I think He would like that as a birthday present.

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Svithing my way out of a funk


I am in a funk. Not a deep, inescapable funk --- more like a sandy hill that, when a silent moment passes, you find yourself at the bottom of again.

This weekend I watched American Me. A student brought it for me to watch, saying I had to because it's just so great. I expected some "fun" violence* but all I really saw there were some brutally simple shankings.

I'm not going to argue that American Me is not a good movie. It was. But it is depressing me to no end. And it looks like the Mexican Mafia wasn't too pleased with it either, which suggests to me that they saw it more in the way I did. (Allegedly, La eMe killed two of the film's consultants. But I haven't found a decent source for that, just a lot of repetition.)

There's nothing glorious or beautiful about this film. And there's nothing here that feels like exaggeration or lies. The horror of this film lies is how damn real it feels.

American Me spends most of its time in Fulsom Prison with the leader on the Inside of the Mexican Mafia. On the assumption that if you haven't seen the film you aren't going to, let me talk about the final sequence:

A family sadly watches the next generation getting sucked in to gang life, but as they watch the kid getting tattooed on the hand by his friends, they look at their own hands and see the identical tattoo.

A brother, on instructions from gang leadership, kills his beloved younger brother.

The films protagonist gets stabbed more times than Julius Caesar, by his 'friends.'

The newly tatted boy does some inhalants in the front seat of the car, then leans out the window and starts shooting into the random pedestrians on the street.

More and more.

It just gets uglier the more I remember it.

The main character gets out of prison and the first time he's with a woman he flips her over and anally rapes her because that's the only way he knows.

What kind of humanity is this?

I don't agree with people who say our world is as wicked as it ever was or ever will be. Look around --- the world is filled with charity and kindness. We're not sleeping on our swords.

But there are segments of our population that are sleeping on their swords, their shivs. There is evil in the world and it sucks in younger brothers and makes them stab someone in the throat while their watching Woody Woodpecker.

Lady Steed and I are reading through the closing chapters of the Book of Mormon. The glorious visit of Christ is past and basically all that's left is the examples of humanity descending into American Me-like depravity. These chapters don't just give us the horror of our capacity for evil, however; they also share with us the Lord's desire to bless us when we return to him. All is never lost with Jesus.
    O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!
I pray that this powerful depiction of evil will serve to return me to that Jesus who stands with open arms to receive me. I pray that each of us will recognize his willingness to accept us and gather us in. It's not too late.

It's not too late.

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Svithe equals.....

Mentions of Christ over total word count.

Someone asked me recently how I, as a Christian, can accept extrabiblical scripture. I have many answers to this question, but here's one in Nephi's words:
    And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

As a Christian, I like that attitude and I want to know more.

Here's a fascinating stat: the Book of Mormon (according to the formula above) mentions Christ more frequently than even the New Testament. Hard to believe, isn't it? I mean---the whole New Testament is about Jesus Christ.

But then, so is the Book of Mormon. That's its whole job, to convince us that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.

(Incidentally, I have to believe that were this only the Gospels v. the Book of Mormon, the Gospels would win. But I don't have numbers for that.)

Anyway, that's why the Book of Mormon --- and I why I think any Christian would do well to check it out, even if it seems unbelievable. I, a Mormon, enjoy the occasional Lutheran prayer book or Presbyterian hymnal. I grant you I've never read one cover to cover (usually because I've mostly perused them while visiting their services; I love visiting other religions' services), but I do find beauty and worth in them.

Jesus would never tell us to shun others who strive to follow him --- Didn't he say that "he that is not against us is for us"? --- even if their path is called Baptist or Catholic or something other than what we call our own. And I think the Book of Mormon offers most of his sweet truths to us.

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