Ah, a good study

This morning the kids slept in and I got to study scripture for a lot longer than I have in weeks. I told Joe, “I got to study this morning! I feel like a human being again!” :) I did feel much happier this morning.

I laughed at myself though, since I usually say “I feel like a human being again!” after a much-needed shower or a much-needed good night’s sleep. So, maybe scripture study is a shower for my brain? :) Or rest?

It’s always was nice when I make myself use my mind for something independent of kid-life and so rewarding. I put off those things (like reading books!) or think “I can’t! I don’t have time!” but when I do it, I realize it’s definitely something I ought to do much more often!

New BYU religion and Institute classes

Whenever there is a change there is potential for good and bad. I’m always a bit more optimistic about changes some are, but then again sometimes others have a broader view than I do. So I suppose I see just as much potential for individual growth from a teacher who’s thoughtful and has the Spirit in these classes as in any other class. So that makes me optimistic. Others see the collection of teachers and their tendencies, have sat in on classes, have talked with students, and have a general sense of the direction this will take the average class over the next 10 years. And that’s not something I can have a sense for at all! :)
Some are concerned that this will lead to less knowledge about the scriptures themselves, because the scriptures will be used in a hit-and-miss way, finding scriptures that explain or support the topic but not working through the scriptures and letting those guide what is learned. Rather than reading the scriptures to find out what they are teaching, classes like these start out with a doctrine and then find where in scripture that is talked about. But the side-effect is that students feel like they don’t need to figure out what the scriptures are teaching them, we already know that! We started out with that information before we opened the scriptures!
So it has longer-term effects on the relationship with the scriptures, which leads to less incentive to have personal scripture study, and other things. So on the one hand, I could be worried about the long-term effects, whereas I tend at first to look at something and say, “Well, I don’t see any roadblocks to an uplifting class that could be taught by the Spirit. Sounds good to me!” :)
But, I do admit that Joe and I are already noticing negative consequences as he teaches seminary. The new youth Sunday School classes don’t go through the scriptures sequentially anymore because their lessons are on topics now. And Seminary has changed. There is a list of principles (9, I think) that are given to them at the beginning of the year. So they are told, from day 1, what the scriptures are going to teach them. Then their job throughout the year is to notice scriptures each day that sound like they are talking about those principles. But they aren’t getting context, working through the section or chapter to see the message that prophet is trying to get across, or seeing how something is developed (I always find it helpful to see how a prophet explains something like faith so I can explain it to others).
I guess it’s hard for me to see this change in Seminary because the very reason I homeschool is teach my kids that they don’t have to be told in advance what they are supposed to learn from something. We help them develop a good reading comprehension level, and then we help them see that they can learn and learn and learn forever. And I see the new seminary style doing the opposite of that.
They even have a test on those 9 principles so now there is a “teach to the test” problem going on in Seminary too, though the test is so simple it really shouldn’t have to affect classes at all.
So the new classes at BYU don’t sound like the necessarily have this same problem as seminary. And since it’s something new, my first reaction is to watch for any roadblocks to the Spirit and if there are none, not worry yet. But, the same people who developed the new seminary style and test requirement are the same people who developed the changes at BYU and Institutes, so I can see the concern that the same problems we’re noticing in Seminary will be repeated at the college level.
I think it’s unfortunate that we are so worried that kids won’t learn the right things that we are developing courses that will make sure that they at least learn 9 principles. But it just feels like the problems with “common core” in public education. It’s good that those in charge of CES (who are trained in education) are willing to look at new ways to educate based on current trends. I like that they are open to change. I just don’t think that the current trends in education are the right ones to apply in a gospel setting.

An interpretation of Abraham 1:4

I was reviewing Abraham 1 and verse 4 changed for me:

I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.

Now who knows if this is right, but I read it in a new way this morning. Something like: “I sought for my turn to be ordained to the priesthood, because of the promise of God unto the fathers that their seed would hold the priesthood to bless all the earth.” His immediate fathers had all gone astray worshiping idols, so Abraham even had to seek it. Otherwise it would have been given to him naturally, in the natural course of things. But in his case, he had to learn about it, study it, decide, and seek it. But what he was seeking was something already promised to him, but his immediate family wasn’t going to give to him.

He was supposed to be the next link in the chain, but his father thought that Egypt had the right priesthood authority instead. Remember that the Egyptians fain claimed it from Noah, and Abraham’s father believed him. I wonder when the first weak link happened. Who was the first in Abraham’s family to believe the Egyptians had it? Was it Abraham’s father, grand father, great grand father, or who? Did Melchizedek live a very, very long time since he was king of a Zion city that was translated at some point? Was Melchizedek far back in Abraham’s genealogy?

And why were people so excited to find a priesthood genealogy that went back through Ham? Was it just that the Egyptians had built a giant society so it appeared that they had power and must have the right priesthood? Was it the case that those who didn’t want to live in a Zion way didn’t join Melchizedek, and over time their descendants sought for what looked like the priesthood but without consecration? That’s a harsh thing to say perhaps but it might be human nature?

Anyway, I think it’s worth hanging on to this possible reading from verse 4. What was sought was not just that he could have the promise of God concerning the seed (which is how I had read it before), but what was sought was the priesthood, because he of the promise given to his ancestors concerning their seed.

Quotation from Elder Cook on choosing wisely; that is, on consecration


My intent is not to discourage participation in sports or the use of the Internet or other worthwhile activities young people enjoy. They are the kind of activities that require moderation, balance, and wisdom. When used wisely, they enrich our lives.

However, I encourage everyone, young and old, to review goals and objectives and strive to exercise greater discipline. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and distractions. It is especially important to make choices consistent with our covenants to serve Jesus Christ in righteousness. We must not take our eyes off or drop that ball for any reason.

This life is the time to prepare to meet God. We are a happy, joyous people. We appreciate a good sense of humor and treasure unstructured time with friends and family. But we need to recognize that there is a seriousness of purpose that must undergird our approach to life and all our choices. Distractions and rationalizations that limit progress are harmful enough, but when they diminish faith in Jesus Christ and His Church, they are tragic.

My prayer is that as a body of priesthood holders, we will make our conduct consistent with the noble purposes required of those who are in the service of the Master. In all things we should remember that being “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” is the great dividing test between the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms. We want to be found on the celestial side of that divide. As one of His Apostles, I bear fervent testimony of the reality of the Atonement and the divinity of Jesus Christ, our Savior. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Question on 84:17

The question I have comes from verse 17. It says that the Melchizedek Priesthood “continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.” What do you make of the two phrases “in the church” and “in all generations”?

1) Does the priesthood continue in all generations (is always on the earth) and there is always a Church with men to hold it? That doesn’t seem to be the right reading, given our understanding of “the Apostasy.” On the other hand, the idea that the men from Esaias to Jethro kept the priesthood on the earth and that it was then given to Moses has me wondering! Are there always people somewhere, lost to the knowledge of the world, who have the priesthood? But, on the other hand, Peter, James, and John returned to give the Melchizedek Priesthood to Joseph Smith. So that would seem to suggest that there weren’t other people living on the earth who held that priesthood. But who knows! Maybe there were but God did it that way for some purpose He had. I’m open to about anything right now!

2) Does the priesthood continue in all generations if and when there is a Church organized on the earth? This is the more standard reading of course. This could be why the rest of the verse points out that the priesthood is without beginning or end; it is important to remember that while it is only manifest when a Church is organized, it exists all the time.

“Any human work of art is the practice of the same intellectual potential”

“It’s not about opposing manual knowledge, the knowledge of the people, the intelligence of the tool and of the worker, to the science of schools or the rhetoric of the elite. It is not about asking who built seven-gated Thebes as a way to vindicate the place of constructors and makers in the social order. On the contrary, it is about recognizing that there are not two levels of intelligence, that any human work of art is the practice of the same intellectual potential. In all cases, it is a question of observing, comparing, and combining, of making and noticing how one has done it. What is possible is reflection: that return to oneself that is not pure contemplation but rather an unconditional attention to one’s intellectual acts, to the route they follow and to the possibility of always moving forward by bringing to bear the same intelligence on the conquest of new territories. He who makes a distinction between the manual work of the worker or the common man and the clouds of rhetoric remains stultified. The fabrication of clouds is a human work of art that demands as much — neither more nor less — labor and intellectual attention as the fabrication of shoes or locks.”

Ranciere, in The Ignorant Schoolmaster, pages 36-37.

Quick quotation from Joseph Smith on the equal enjoyment of all when we work with the Spirit

From this: http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/discourse-6-april-1837

“From a view of the requirements of the servants of God to preach the gospel, he  remarked that few were qualified even to be priests, and if a priest understood  his duty, his calling and ministry and  preached by the Holy Ghost, his enjoyment is as great as if he were one of the presidency”


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