Friday, July 18, 2003

While I'm on about Lileks, I have to say that to a Mormon, all of Star Trek, and science fiction as well, has always related to religion for me. It's only recently that I've started to understand the profound difference between the LDS doctrine concerning God and those of just about every other religion. We're probably the only religion that teaches that God is a person with a body and that when the Bible says we were created in his image, it means exactly what it says. When it says that Moses spoke with the Lord face to face, it means that. How can this be? Well, for one thing, Joseph Smith also saw and spoke to God the Father and Jesus Christ, the latter on more than one occasion.

Do I realize how crazy that sounds? Well, yes. So does the current prophet and president of the church which was restored to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith, the Church of Jesus Christ. You'd think that if people really believed the Bible, they wouldn't be so upset at the claims of a man who, like Samuel, was called as a boy to be a prophet of God and who, like Moses, Jeremiah and Isaiah, was called by God directly and personally. The claims seem so strange, but the fact that this church is growing incredibly rapidly at a time when other Christian churches are losing members, despite the extraordinary changes it calls for in the lives of its members, suggests that there may be more to it than peeping and muttering.

As Hugh Nibley, Professor Emeritus of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University, who is the most pure scholar I ever met has pointed out, much of Mormon doctrine reads like science fiction. In the 1830s, the revelations received by Joseph Smith spoke of "worlds without number" created by God, about a hundred years before Edwin Hubble discovered that there are billions of galaxies like the Milky Way, each with billions of stars of its own. He also taught that spirit is matter but of a kind that our senses can't detect. Today we read about Dark Matter. There are other examples, as well.

So when Star Trek came along, I loved it, and Star Wars even more. They seemed a comfirmation, not in specifics but in the confirmation of the nature of the human mind. We are not adapted merely for survival, but for endless exploration and searching for answers. Despite the constant assurances from the level-headed that we are no more immortal fhan mayflies, our minds reach out to understand more than we can ever hope to benefit from.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

One of the best things about Lileks' Bleats is how gracefully he describes the delight of watching a child grow and her personality and mind unfold. My kids are grown and out more or less on their own, but sharing James' observations is like the whiff of perfume that brings back memories of your first girlfriend. I'll never forget the astonishment of seeing my six-month-old firstborn whistling. I can't whistle worth a lick, because I have a small jaw and a large overbite, but he had heard me whistling softly and watched my mouth, and a day or two later I heard a little piping sound and there he was, crawling along with his lips pursed and blowing. James has his own little tiger by the tail, and he's providing a free national service to all of us who known exactly what he must be feeling.

As for Hugh Hewitt's stunt, I wrote James a while back that Hugh does that sort of thing to people he really likes, and that I was kind of glad he doesn't know me. To anyone out there who thinks he wants to drop in for a luncheon at the Lileks', you might want to peruse his book The Gallery of Regrettable Food.

Here's a mug of root beer to Tony Blair. Today he told Congress the same old thing. Like:
But you, like me, know who the real heroes are: those brave servicemen and women, yours and ours, who fought the war and risk their lives still. And our tribute to them should be measured in this way: by showing them and their families that they did not strive or die in vain, but that through their sacrifice, future generations can live in greater peace, prosperity and hope.
We've heard it all before, but we need to hear it more, as often as possible. These sentiments are a litmus test for our souls. If they don't bring tears to your eyes and a lump to your through, you've been spending too much time watching network news. This is what all those flags are about, and the sparklers on the Fourth. It's what the National Anthem is for; why we put our hands over our hearts and recite the pledge. This is what prayer should be in school for--not to divide us, but to express the awareness that none of us has really earned the blessings we enjoy, and that we are all united as human beings with good will toward each other, despite all the differences that make us unique. It should tell us that the creed of this nation is equality and basic rights, and that we owe reverence to those principles just as most of us revere what is holy.

There must be a time when we quit thinking of reasons and ways to attack our political opponents and making a man an offender for a word, and just remember what this nation has accomplished, in spite of all its flaws: a society where equality is assumed, where respect is expected, and kindness is still given even to some who will only return contempt and hatred, such as illegal combatants held in a detention camp, but gain weight, and wounded enemies are given medical care. There must be a time where we drop the sniping and whinging and think more about what we all can do to spread these values, which we were given by generations who never had it this good, throughout the world.

Monday, July 14, 2003

I thought I'd check out the website, but then I decided, "Naah--Move on!" I have to wonder why they don't change their name, since it proclaims their hypocrisy to the world when they are trying to manufacture a cause for impeachment out of an innocuous statement that the Brits had learned something that we should worry about.