Sunday, May 29, 2016

On, Wildfire, On!

One week ago, I was released as the ward Gospel Doctrine teacher. I admit I cried a few tears over that. I love, love, love teaching that class, and I felt very sad that I hadn't made it through all the standard works. I started when we were partly through the Old Testament, taught all the way through the New Testament, and only made it up to Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. Two years total just isn't long enough. Is it greedy to want at least two more years? Maybe three? It's not that I feel I am the best teacher in the world or anything, but I have learned so much as I've studied and pondered the scriptures in order to share the joys contained in them with the class and hear their comments and insights in turn. When I teach something, it sticks in my head better. I learn more as I study and prepare in order to try and teach it coherently, and I have learned amazing things.

So my new adventure will be in the new ward Relief Society presidency as first counselor--I've now come full circle, as that was the calling I received when we first moved here in 2009. The new president came up to me last week and told me that she knew how much I loved being the Gospel Doctrine teacher, but my name came to her at three in the morning one night and wouldn't leave no matter how much she prayed. Having been a former Gospel Doctrine teacher herself, she knew how hard it would be for me to leave it, but she knew I was supposed to be one of her counselors.

That's the way things work, and I'm fine with that. Besides, I get to work with three absolutely wonderful women as we serve and love the women of our ward.

Plus, Husband found me a brand new aluminum-frame street cruiser at the thrift store yesterday for $20. It's the little things that really give me a kick.

I'm naming this bike Wildfire II. I rode the original Wildfire (a purple Diamondback) on my mission in England over 20 years ago. And yes, that's a tribute to Rex O'Herlihan's grand steed in Rustler's Rhapsody, the 1985 cowboy parody starring Tom Berenger.

On, Wildfire, on!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

In Which I Dream up an Entire Architectural Neighborhood!

I frequently have what I call Architectural Dreams, where I dream up some fantastical building and spend my time running through it for reasons that make perfect sense when I'm asleep and do not make much sense at all when I'm awake. It's the building my subconscious creates and not the storyline that I treasure when I wake up.

Last night, I dreamt a whole neighborhood. Lots of crazy stuff happened on my way to this neighborhood (including a massive traffic jam comprised of millions of people pushing shopping carts full of empty plastic containers down a highway), but suddenly I am there, walking up a hill on a sidewalk, looking around me at the beautiful homes and perfectly manicured gardens along both sides of the street. Some of the trees, for instance, were amazing--shaped somewhat like vast weeping willows, whose branches defied gravity and were covered in flowers so white they hurt my eyes to look at.

As I walked up the hill, I came to a fairly unremarkable but very neatly kept blonde brick house, and an old man in a wheelchair sat outside in his driveway. He greeted me, and I said hello back. I noticed he had a short brick column standing alongside the entrance to his driveway, and as I looked at it, the front face became transparent and I could see into the hollow interior of the column. The interior was swathed in white muslin, and I saw a mother mouse and several tiny mouse babies playing on the floor.

"We have mice," said the man, and I thought I'd be funny and respond, "And do the neighbors have mice, too?" Somewhere in my dream recollection, I drummed up a dim vision of once having a mouse infestation in my house (true). I felt alarmed.

The man said, "I didn't want them in the house, so I made them a little house outside. And they have a way to get in and out if they want."

I looked again at the transparent face of the column and noticed that there was a hole near the bottom right corner. It was like a soft membrane, with a tube of the membrane material extending into the interior of the mouse house.

As I watched, several rats suddenly appeared inside the mouse house. They were huge--as big as cats. They wriggled their way through the membrane and out to the sidewalk. The mouse family followed them, and I watched them all waddle up the sidewalk in a line: three massive rats followed by four tiny mice.

I had an alarming thought about how these rats and mice were going to infest this entire beautiful neighborhood, and I started to say something about it to the man in the wheelchair, but then I noticed that several of his neighbors across the street were gathered outside on a very green lawn and were happily socializing. They all glanced over at the line of rats and mice wandering up the sidewalk, but they continued smiling and talking as if it were perfectly normal. I was completely baffled. Then I woke up.

Perhaps there is some deep symbological meaning to that dream, though I noticed that elements of the dream were lifted from things I had seen or thought about the previous day. I was far more disappointed that I woke up before I could explore more of that neighborhood. I rarely visit the same place twice in my dreams, so I'll just have to memorialize it now so I can remember and mull it over it later.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

What I Know for Sure

Question: how angry does a person get when their world view is challenged by credible evidence?

Answer: angry like The Hulk.

"Hulk SMASH!"

I went through a bit of rage not too long ago for this very reason. I was seriously angry. And I was angry for several reasons:

1. If this new evidence is correct, why have I been taught a lie for so very long?
2. Was it purposeful or accidental that I was fed a lie?
3. If this new evidence is correct and it looks like I was fed a lie purposely, who is behind the lie, and what do they gain by perpetuating the lie?
4. Now what?

I am always in search of truth. I don't care if it's painful truth or not: if it's truth, I believe it will set me free. Being free is worth all the psychological pain I might go through in being forced to change my worldview. Therefore, bring it on. But it doesn't mean I'm not still human, so I do still go through the perfectly normal psychological distress of wanting to mock and reject things that shake up my understanding of the world. If things make too much sense to ignore, I get pretty furious until I can accept it. I have been learning how to leave my ego out of it, which does help to reduce the anger.

When I was younger, I knew lots of things for sure. Now I know two things for sure.

What I know for sure:
1. God exists.
2. God cannot lie.

There are corollaries to those two things I know, and those things I also believe. If God says it, and He doesn't lie, then I can believe those things, as well. This covers the reasons why I go to church and have faith in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ and try to live those beliefs on a daily basis.

It's the stuff that humans state are absolute facts that I question. If the "science is settled," I'm not on board, especially if it contradicts what God says. If a human theory is taught as a gospel truth--no matter how diligently and no matter how widely--I'm going to ask questions. I've asked the questions about God, and I've received my answers, answers that I cannot ignore or deny. But humans have this fantastic habit of getting things wrong because we are infants in our understanding of reality. Worse, some humans purposely mess with the facts for power, money, or ego.

We are human. And we're not even that smart. How can we know anything for dead certain when we only experience such a narrow spectrum of reality? Much of what we call Science these days has become as much of a religion as a belief in a Supreme Being, and it has also become corrupted by human desire and ego. We don't even know what we don't know. How can we dismiss God and then worship ourselves as gods when what we know for certain changes so frequently? That way lies madness.

When you start jumping down the rabbit hole of wanting to know truth no matter the psychological toll, it's tempting to become so cynical that you end up believing nothing. But you have to put your faith in something or you'll go crazy, so I put my faith in the one thing that has consistently proven itself to be: God. I have no scientific instruments to measure God, and I have no evidence that is not a personal anecdote in order to prove His existence to anyone else, but it's evidence enough to me. I have far less trust in humans with all their scientific tools, no matter how well-meaning. I do believe we know stuff as humans, but when we humans start worshiping ourselves and our vast and glorious knowledge of Everything, it makes me want to laugh and laugh. Or cry and cry.

Thanks for listening. Just had to get that off my chest.