Just_A_Guy

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Everything posted by Just_A_Guy

  1. Just_A_Guy

    What is charity?

    Consider the first 3 verses of 1 Corinthians 13.
  2. Just_A_Guy

    Views on Stimulus

    You probably know this, but one of the traps in evaluating any government expenditure is that we can clearly see the “good” that is done by money government spends. It’s a lot harder to see and quantify the “good” that those same dollars would have done in the hands of their original owners, the taxpayers. No one counts the investments that aren’t made, the new businesses that don’t open, the meals and hotel rooms and travel tickets that aren’t purchased, the gifts that aren’t given, the home renovations that aren’t undertaken, and so on. And what’s even more sinister is that these opportunity costs are, to a very great degree, being borne by a generation that is still children. Millennials are fond of pointing out how the Boomers screwed then over economically—but they’re turning around and demanding we do the same thing to the next generation so that they, the millennials, can get theirs. Take a look at the second link I put in my previous post, and bear in mind that the link is nine years old and the national (“household”) debt has doubled since then.
  3. Just_A_Guy

    Views on Stimulus

    Hmm. I wonder. I don’t hear the congresscritters (or their constituents) saying “it’s OK, by the time the debt comes due it won’t really be that much money”. And really, if they openly said that, no one would ever lend the government another cent. I don’t think we are really thinking of how to pay our debt back at all; we’re just thinking of what we want now and why we are entitled to have it. Even more problematic than the debt itself, I think, are the social and political mentalities and realities that allow it to continue to build. Since WW2 we’ve had a party that at least paid lip service to the idea of fiscal restraint; but I think the newly emergent populist wing of the GOP and their support for massive COVID relief packages—and the abject failure of classical conservatives to say “wait a minute, we’re freakin’ broke, how are we going to pay for this?”—is a potent indicator of just how entranced even the Republicans have become with the notion of voting themselves funds out of the public purse.
  4. Just_A_Guy

    Views on Stimulus

    People will have to look at their own tax records to figure out how the stimulus compares to what they’ve paid in the past, I suppose. I can say that for 2020, our family paid (after tax refunds) about $680 in federal taxes and got in the ballpark of $10K as stimulus. The stimulus, in conjunction with some other developments, have been spectacular for our family—we’ve paid off nearly $30K in debt since January of 2020. The proposed $1400/head stimulus that Biden has been taking about would be even better. But I also know that this is going to have to be paid for someday; and that scares the bejeebies out of me. But frankly, I’ve evolved to the position that the USA as we knew it is pretty much done; fiscal default (if not worse) is inevitable in our children’s lifetimes if not in our own; so we may as well take what we can, get while the getting’s good, and bunker up for what’s coming next. If this government of the damned wants to keep handing out play money, I’m happy to use it to buy real-life goods for as long as there are vendors willing to accept it.
  5. Just_A_Guy

    Views on Stimulus

    Issue 4: the federal government didn’t order the economy to shut down; (some of) the state governments did. Why should Utah, which has basically been open for business for the last year and whose economy is humming along, be subsidizing the coastal states’ draconian measures? If California or New Jersey feel their citizens deserve restitution, they are free to pass their own relief packages for their own residents.
  6. Just_A_Guy

    Snow!Snow!Snow!

    Hope you guys stay well and safe, Carbs. My understanding was that wind/solar is more like 4-5% of the Texas grid and that most of the current issues are due to natural gas infrastructure freezing. Is that not correct?
  7. Just_A_Guy

    Charity: Feeling jaded on charity

    So, this may be terribly condescending on my end, but . . . There is a staggering number of people out there whose brains just don’t work right. It may be due to chemical addiction, or trauma in the early phases of childhood development, or bad culture, or bad genetics, or a bunch of other things. But this is just how their brains (don’t) function, and they go through life from one train wreck to the next because certain things just don’t “click”; and the ability of therapeutic/chemical/surgical interventions to correct those kinds of cognitive errors is limited. I was at a seminar a couple years ago that made this point in a much more delicate way, with something called The Brain Architecture Game. At the time I was defending indigent parents whose children were in DCFS custody, and my takeaway (which maybe wasn’t what its creators intended) was: your ability to fix these people is somewhat limited; so don’t knock yourself out trying. If you can show kindness, and find a meaningful way to help the next generation be a little less dysfunctional than the last one, you’re doing the Lord’s work. There’s more wisdom in the saying that “the poor you have with you always” than most of us are willing to admit.
  8. Just_A_Guy

    Future taking away from the earth

    Oliver Cowdery remembered it differently, and his account is also canonized as part of the lengthy footnote in Joseph Smith-History:
  9. Just_A_Guy

    Conclusions from D&C 132: 16 - 17?

    1. Certainly more kids—and plural marriage, if it enables you to have more kids—would be an “advantage”, if there were some sort of competition between exalted beings. But of course, there isn’t. They exist in perfect harmony and righteousness; and whatever state of progression any exalted being is currently at, all the others are sure to get there—eventually, at their own pace, but they’ll get there. And yeah, I definitely see the Celestial Kingdom as a place of advancing in knowledge and personal qualities. But at some point one is just plain perfect and omniscient; and I think at that point the primary opportunity for progression is through human relationships—both qualitatively and quantitatively. 2. Yes, and that’s the thing I love about the patriarchal order: it runs both ways, backwards and forwards through time and eternity. Kingship isn’t just a function of the power and authority you wield, but of the venerable legacies to which you are a lawful heir. As a son and grandson and so on, I rejoice in the legacies and goodness and accomplishments of my parents, and their parents before them, and on back through eternity as I get to know that line more perfectly. As a father and grandfather and so on, I glory as I have opportunities to mentor and see the accomplishments of those who come after me and reflect upon my own role in maintaining and continuing that chain of righteousness and watch the sheer number of my posterity increase on into infinity.
  10. Just_A_Guy

    Conclusions from D&C 132: 16 - 17?

    I don’t know that this passage was intended as something from which we should be able to extrapolate something about the relationship between law and obedience and salvation. What separates the exalted from the others in the Celestial Kingdom, is eternal increase. That’s not a punishment, it’s just a difference in status—like the difference in a ward between the parents and the nonparents. The nonparents’ childlessness is not a form of punishment; it’s just (usually) the natural result of their not having done the things it would take to become parents. There are, of course, statements by GAs with regard to the opportunities in the hereafter for people who sought a celestial marriage in this life and through no fault of their own, couldn’t have one. But for those those who opted out of marriage and child-rearing and then sashay into the eternities expecting to be honored as a king and a priest: where, exactly, do they think their thrones and kingdoms and principalities and powers and dominions are going to come from? Brigham Young has the answer: We understand that we are to be made Kings and Priests unto God; now if I be made the king and lawgiver to my family, and if I have many sons, I shall become the father of many fathers, for they will have sons, and their sons will have sons, and so on, from generation to generation, and, in this way, I may become the father of many fathers, or the king of many kings. This will constitute every man a prince, king, lord, or whatever the Father sees fit to confer upon us. In this way we can become King of kings, and Lord of lords, or Father of fathers, or Prince of princes, and this is the only course, for another man is not going to raise up a kingdom for you. If I did not feel disposed, in my poverty, to enlarge my family and to build up the kingdom, I could not be acquainted with the difficulties thereof, neither should I be counted worthy to enjoy the blessings conferred upon those who are faithful. Being “celestialized but not exalted” is not really a matter of being affirmatively punished for some sort of wickedness; it’s simply a result of having chosen not to make the covenants and do the things it would have taken to establish the sort of dominions that characterize an exalted being’s glory. Christ can atone for our sins and change our hearts and save us from destruction, but He can’t (or, perhaps, won’t) create posterity for us to rule ex nihilo.
  11. Just_A_Guy

    Conclusions from D&C 132: 16 - 17?

    You seem to be interpreting “angel” as (for lack of a better word) a “rank” or a “degree” or a “state of being”. That definition doesn’t really work in Mormonism. “Angel”, in our theology, is just a generic term for a being that happens to be engaged in a certain sort of work. I work in a law office. There are attorneys and paralegals and legal secretaries. Every now and then we have to run documents or evidence over to other law offices. Whoever happens to be doing that job is a “messenger”, regardless of our professional certification or pay grade or hierarchal status Similarly, “angel” is just a generic term for a being who is doing an errand on God’s behalf (and especially, in scripture, the sort of errand that entails leaving an unseen realm in order to commune with mortal humans). From scripture and/or uncanonized experiences of Church leaders (notably Joseph Smith) we can infer that sometimes they are resurrected, celestialized beings; and sometimes they are beings who have not yet been resurrected. I’m not aware of any hard-and-fast statement in LDS discourse that says resurrected terrestrial or telestial beings can’t function as “angels”; we simply don’t know of any precedent for their doing so.
  12. Just_A_Guy

    Doctrine and Covenants 7: 5 - 6

    See D&C 137:1-7. Joseph Smith sees a vision of the Celestial Kingdom and notes his brother Alvin there.* Alvin Smith had died unbaptized, and the Protestant teachers of the day had insisted to the Smith family that Alvin’s soul was irretrievably lost. In response to Joseph’s surprise during the vision, he is told that “All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God” (v 7). *It’s important to note that at the time of the vision Joseph also sees his own parents in the Celestial Kingdom—even though they were still alive at the time of the vision. Thus the vision represents the future (or at least, a potential future), not the 1836 status quo. The vision should not be interpreted as suggesting that Alvin received his exaltation before/without receiving the covenant rituals that are associated with salvation.
  13. Just_A_Guy

    Isaiah 13: 19 - 20 and wikipedia

    It has been said of a recent high-profile politician (who shall remain nameless due to forum rules!) that his followers take him seriously but not literally, while his critics take him literally but not seriously. I take Isaiah very seriously. But I also view it as a work of literature that deploys a variety of techniques—including hyperbole, at times—to make a larger point. Isaiah was condemning wicked peoples and cultures, not arbitrarily cursing particular geographical locations. Even assuming that Hillah indeed corresponds with the location on of ancient Babylon, I’m not particularly worried that its modern habitation constitutes a violation of prophecy.
  14. Just_A_Guy

    What the Heck Just Happened?

    He and his car were un-translated* in that very moment. *(Like being translated, except you go to hell instead of heaven. If there’s a just God, this is A Thing—especially for obnoxious drivers.)
  15. Just_A_Guy

    Are we losing our rising generation?

    I am in SS presidency, so I sit in on every youth class (I have to start the meeting) and have had to pinch-hit teaching a couple times. And I agree—the challenge with Zoom teaching is to make it a *discussion*, not a *lecture*, even though the format really lends itself to the latter and not the former. I look at teaching in church as comparable to surfing—you can’t precisely follow a pre-charted course; rather, you look for (and sometimes, make) waves and then try to ride them wherever they take you, making course corrections as the wave evolves. I care less about imparting an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject matter, and more about leaving the students *wanting to know more* about the day’s key concept, knowing where to find more, and having had an enjoyable and spiritually edifying experience during the day’s class. A few things I’ve seen and/or tried via Zoom that, taken together, have given some moderate success: —one teacher makes it a point to log in before any of the kids. As each one logs in he greets them in turn, by name, and builds a little rapport; with I find is reciprocated later in the lesson. —I expressly ask the kids at the beginning of the session to turn on their video if possible. —The really great teachers I’ve seen a) are careful to ask well-thought out, engaging lessons that don’t always have clear or easy answers (in other words—they don’t just ask whatever questions are in the manual); and b) are willing to offer their own insights in answer to those questions. At least for me—I’m an introvert, and I consider it somewhat invasive for someone to ask me to share an opinion about a gospel topic. I won’t usually open up and give a personal perspective unless I see the teacher willing to do the same thing. —I’m still looking at new ways for students to interact. Zoom has some polling features that we’ve had some fun with. I’ve sometimes shown a Gospel-related piece of art (preferably a semi-obscure one that the students aren’t likely to have seen before) and invited the students to offer reactions to it; soliciting special input from students who I know are into art/drawing about the composition, lighting, and so on. Sometimes I’ll announce that we’re going to show a video—and before starting the video I’ll call on 5-10 students and let each of them know that after we watch the video I’ll ask them to answer a specific question about a part of the video. (I find people are more willing to speak out in class if they’ve had some time to think about their answers.). Zoom has a whiteboard feature that I need to explore more. —I am finding that PowerPoint, during Zoom lessons, is generally overrated. Too often it locks the teacher into a structure and the teacher doesn’t feel free to spontaneously explore topics that students may raise during the class; and it also pre-programs classes into trying to offer a “right” answer instead of speaking from the heart. Plus, visually, it reduces me to a tiny little window and removes the human aspect of the lesson. I want my students to see ME and talk to ME, not some disembodied voice-over while they stare at pre-programmed blocks of text. —Also: I’m not a great video producer by any means, but I try to make sure that the video of my headshot is as appealing as possible—decent lighting, proper camera position, nice but not overpowering/distracting background, good posture, etc.
  16. Just_A_Guy

    Fox News and social values

    “Conservatism”, at least during my lifetime, has been a not-always-comfortable fusion of (forgive the inevitable caricaturing here) restrained, cerebral, ideological, morally upright (uptight?) “Christian coalition” types; in tension with boisterous, earthy, practical, libertarian-blue-collar types who like their alcohol strong and their women (to quote the Confederate Railroad song) “a little on the trashy side”. Much of the angst in the current Republican Party reflects this tension. FoxNews knows where their bread is buttered.
  17. Just_A_Guy

    Stock Market Explodes Over Stock Surges

    A lot of the justifications I’ve seen for this are that a) Melvin was one of the entities that caused the 2008 meltdown (objectively untrue), and b) that it’s somehow wrong to “bet against America” by positioning yourself to make money if the market tanks. In those respects, I wonder if some of the anger at Melvin is misdirected. That said: boo hoo. The market is risky, options trading riskier still, and shorting . . . explosively so. And if it’s true that Melvin or other hedge funds have deliberately dumped/bought shares en masse to manipulate prices, then I guess they’re reaping what they’ve sown. It sounds like most of the Reddit folks understand that at some point they are going to take a bath financially, but they shrug it off as the price of revenge or revolution or what-have-you. I admire their pluck, and wish them well.
  18. I think generally speaking, the default should be for liberty and governmental non-intervention unless there is a clear national consensus for action. There are exceptions, naturally, where nonintervention leads to the continuation of a morally repugnant status quo. Slavery is one example on which I think we’d universally agree. But the trouble is, there are other status quos that one party (but not the other) seems sufficiently “morally repugnant” to override the presumption of liberty. The pre-2010 American health care system was an example of this for Dems; abortion is an example of this for those of us on the right. And I think (speaking of what the calculus at that point is, not what it should be) the question becomes how much the majority thinks they can get away with before they a) lose power, or b) start getting shot at.
  19. Just_A_Guy

    The kingdom of heaven

    Problems with this post include, but are not limited to: 1). The logical fallacy of “affirming the conseqeuent”; 2). Diving headlong into the dubious assumption that “the church” operates in the hereafter as it does in the here-and-now; 3). Trying to treat the Doctrine and Covenants as a legal code whose words are always used in the same way, in order to make hyper-linguistic arguments that lead to bizarre conclusions.
  20. Just_A_Guy

    Wokeness in schools

    In fairness, National Review is a basically an opinion site and doesn’t really pretend to be anything else; whereas Breitbart holds itself out as “news”—and often does so badly. The graph puts “opinion” and “variable-reliability news” at the same place on the vertical axis, thus putting Breitbart and NR nearly at the same location—which I think is problematic. I trust and respect National Review; I have little of either for Breitbart (at least, since Andrew Breitbart’s death).
  21. Just_A_Guy

    Were we ever united?

    Just a friendly reminder to try to keep this as apolitical as humanly possible.
  22. Just_A_Guy

    Temple Lot

    The Wikipedia page on the Independence temple isn’t terrible. Apparently survey markers were laid, and discovered by the Temple Lot church in the mid-20th century. But talking about the “original layout” of Independence as a whole, may be overly optimistic. As I understand it there were only a few dozen households there when the Mormons arrived; there may not have been much of a formal city plan at that point—it was a frontier town, and the Mormons weren’t there very long . . .
  23. Just_A_Guy

    Temple Lot

    Agreed. The Church of Christ, Temple Lot owns the parcel where the footprint of the original building was to have stood. I rather wonder what we would do with such a temple, when we got one. The construction plans revealed to Joseph Smith wouldn’t make a building that was suitable for what we traditionally know as “temple work”; and we have larger and better facilities for gatherings. IIRC the original platte for the city of Zion called for twenty-four “temples” all on that plot, for a variety of purposes. It strikes me that what Joseph Smith had in mind was probably a headquarters campus with a variety of office/administrative/assembly/liturgical structures, all genetically called “temples”.
  24. Just_A_Guy

    Youth Fireside - Sinking Titanic

    So, a minor correction from your resident Titanic nerd: The crew (with very few exceptions, mostly coming from Captain Smith himself to men he deemed to be of the non-panicking sort), did *not* tell most of the passengers that the ship was actually sinking, because they wanted to avoid a panic. At least as far as the female first- and second-class passengers were concerned: Those who trusted that there was good and sufficient reason underlying the captain’s orders and made it a priority to obey, made it off fine.* *Third-class women were another story because there were no lifeboats in the designated third-class open decks; and men of all classes risked being excluded from the boats depending on which of the senior officers happened to be supervising the loading of any particular boat—Lightoller and Lowe took harsh “no men” rules, even if there were no women around, and had to be persuaded even to admit teenaged boys; the other officers were more willing to admit men once all the women nearby had been loaded into the boats.
  25. Just_A_Guy

    The Shame of Elder Renlund

    You’re not supposed to talk about good and evil. In certain circles of the Church, there is no right and wrong—only the church’s money, and GAs who aren’t woke enough to use it the way it should be used.