I share with Snoopy my opinion on intellectual and spiritual humility (a svithe)


Aug 9 1976

    The example one of my fellow teachers uses is dinosaurs. Not long ago, we all "knew" dinosaurs were giant plodding cold-blooded behemoths whose tails dragged on the ground. And today? They're birds. The second I meet someone utterly convinced of anything, is the moment my skepticism in their claims triples.

    Sometimes we Mormons give off the impression that we agree with Joseph Smith when he says "We believe all that God has revealed, [and] all that He does now reveal," but that we've forgotten the end of the sentence, viz, that we also believe "He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." And to me, that last third is every bit as vital to my spiritual self-identity. And so, once again, any mortal convinced he knows all there is to know--even if by virtue of being part of the One True Church--instantly makes me wary. It's good to have faith and it's good to know what we know. I just need to remember that I'm not the source of the knowledge. And the view I have is awfully myopic.

We can't form communities without these humilities.

this svithe on thmusings
last week's svithe


Svithe: my testimony of human fallibility


Yesterday as part of a planned and structured activity I went to the temple with about twenty other men. Our children had a children's activity on the temple grounds and the women had a temple activity identical to the men's (initiatories, if you were wondering). When the men showed up, the temple was expecting us and yet understaffed and we spent our allotted time waiting. we sat around and talked, and then left to get our kids. We did not do what we had expected to do at all. We had an enjoyable time, but others' errors prevented us from performing the spiritual service expected.

I've heard many stories in my day of people who get horribly offended by mistakes and errors and foolishness of other people, and all such offense to determine their own spiritual fate.

At the risk of offending, let me say this: That's stupid.

Anyone who expects that any human will treat any other human always and without exception as if carrying a cushion is a lunatic. Use your own mother as an example. I'll bet she's made you mad before. How much more likely then someone whom you know and love less well?

The temple teaches that all truth may be circumscribed into one great whole and here's something that's true: Human beings are fallible. And that truth, as will all others, belongs to Mormonism. So the challenge for me is how to incorporate this truth into my understanding of life and love and faith and progress.

And while that's an interesting question with many a possible answer, here's one: I'm fallible too and God loves me. So how much more should I love my fellow fallibles?

Which is a good takeaway for me, today, now, the moments before the school year rears its, ah, head, and I'm back to work,

Go forth in love.

this svithe on thutopia
last week's svithe


The Ditching-Church Svithe


I'm at home in my pajamas. Lady and Little Lord Steed are asleep in the other room. The Big O and the Large S are to Church with my parents. I'm supposed to be conducting a meeting today but that's not going to happen.

When I was younger I was much more rigid about visible letter-of-the-law stuff like Going to Church. Now, here, in the twilight of my life, my conception of What's Important has changed.

This is to be expected, I suppose. Life is a process of sorting, after all. But what are the criteria by which we make these alterations? Because clearly we do not all reach the same decisions, even when we come from the same tradition.

So, question: What criteria do/should we use as we alter our views of What Matters Most?

I'm curious. And I'm sure you've thought about it. So do dish.

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SvitheCon! (the whole world's invited)


Speaking of Cons, I was just reading on LDSPublisher about the recent LDS Booksellers Convention. Disregarding my depression that less than 20% of the companies involved have anything to do with books and that fewer and fewer publishers even bother to attend each year (o say nothing of the companies that are going under), I want to talk about a disturbing trend that's well summed up on one product: Mormon-themed wrapping paper.

The Mormon Rap

What bothers me about this? Well, it's not the attempt to enforce a Mormon culture. I'm fine with Mormonism having it's own culture. I'm all for it.

What bothers me is that items like this are emblematic of an utter unwillingness to engage the world in any way. We are not separated from the world, we should not be afraid of the world. We should be venturing forth into the world with healthful regularity.

As I wrote for AMV, it's my opinion that this is a time in Church history wherein we are called to be very much in the world --- engaging it and working with it and bringing it close. Building walls between ourselves and the world around us is, in fact, a sin if you want me to be blunt about it. If we are called to engage the world (and we are), then failing to do so is such immoral naughtiness.

Here's my feeling:

Mormon culture is good as long as it is inclusive. But when we start wrapping ourselves up in it in order to hide the rest of our planet's population from view, then we are falling short of our calling.

Mormons are called to engage. To be friends with our neighbors. To be involved in our communities. To love as He loved.

So let's open up and listen. Let's be part of this daily convention we call the world, and try to listen as well as preach. No more la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you.

Go forth.

this svithe on thmusings

last week's svithe


svithe: Work_Service_Priesthood_Love (an experiment)


I teach Elders Quorum once every four months, and today was my turn. And I decided to do something different. This is a choice I often make. Sometimes it works.

You know how sometimes in class, the teacher will hand out a few little slips of paper and then, at the appropriate moment, call for them to be read? That was the template. The difference was that, this time, I made somewhere around 150 slips of paper (yes, for a half-hour lesson).

Here's a pdf of the slips: http://thmazing.com/templates/theric/pdfs/Work_Service_Priesthood_Love.pdf. (I may not leave this up forever, so if you decided it's useful for you, download it now.)

Most of the slips are taken from Teachings of Presidents of the Church, although there were other things as well including Robert Frost, Lao Tzu, Mother Teresa, Kurt Vonneget, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Charles Schulz, etc etc etc (oh: and the scriptures).

The idea was to create a wide variety of voices to pick and choose from; anyone could read any slip at any time as it seemed appropriate to them. And it worked out all right, but it was a little difficult, I think, for anyone to feel fully sure of that the heck was going on at any given moment.

(I was talking metalesson with Miguel Sanchez and he had a clever idea I'll have to try sometime, viz. take the randomization to a pure lever. Give each slip of paper a number and bring a couple ten-sided dice and completely through my lesson into the maw of chaos. This is awesome. I will also be thinking about how I will bring this into the classroom. I'm really regretting not buying a scoop of dice at Comic Con now....)

a previous EQ lesson
previous svithe

this svithe on thmusings

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.