Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Two Thoughts About Progression

Anyone who knows me too well knows that I am a huge advocate for the idea that you (and I mean you, literally) can make and choose your own destiny.  The following thoughts are related to this and were spawned by the accompanying scripture verses.

Exodus 20:3
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

I think one example of  an "other god" that does not seem to come up that often is our self, or our nature.  Many people may believe that they are trapped by that which makes them them.  They may say, "that is just the way I am" or "I am just that type of person".  The core of this belief is that our tendencies define who we are, and we are subject to them.  I disagree.

Yes, each of us may be apt to feel or act a certain way in a given situation.  When oppressed, for example, some people may be quicker to anger or others less likely to stand up for themselves.  In the short run, it may be difficult to overcome these natural tendencies.  Nevertheless, I believe that our natural self is malleable.  In the long run, our habits and tendencies are subject to our own choices.  This applies not only to our ability to overcome undesirable habits, but also to our ability to become whatever type of person we want to be (outgoing, reserved, honest, deceitful, etc).  I repeat, our habits and tendencies are subject to our own choices.

To me, this is the crux of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the associated commandments.  When we subject our will to Christ's will, His Atonement becomes efficacious in our lives.  The Atonement of Christ gives us added power to influence change in ourselves, to evolve, and to adapt.

John 15:8
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

Several verses speak about bearing fruit in different contexts.  As is the case with most scripture, this can mean different things to different people at different times.  That is the power of symbolism, which I may discuss at a later time.

When I think about what it means to bear fruit--especially when I think about what it would mean if I were a branch of the vine that is Jesus--I think of the verse in Moses, which declares that God's purpose is to save mankind.  If bearing fruit means to follow Christ and to contribute to our Father's ultimate goal, then I think it means to be actively involved in the salvation of God's children.  This can be done in many ways and though I believe that this is the core function of the church organization, no church can carry the main responsibility.

In fact, when the prophets speak of those branches that do not bear fruit, they often teach that these branches serve no purpose and are to be cast off and burned.  When are we branches that do not bear fruit?  I suggest that we neglect to bear fruit when we, at best, just go through the motions of living the Gospel.  We may go to church meetings regularly and say our prayers, but we are just living.  If we are not constantly seeking out ways to improve ourselves, then we stagnate. We are likely missing the purpose of this life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Now to work

Here I am once again.  It is now 10:00pm on the night before I have a 5-page analysis due, and I am about to start.  Soon.

But on the bright side, Kira has now seen all but the most recently made Star Wars movie.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Some Pictures from a Year Ago

Perhaps it is needless to say, but I am ready for summer again.
 This is some image in the sky that we saw one day outside of our front door in the Oxford Apartments.  It was a peaceful day.
 I don't know if this was an accident or not, but the leaf that fell on this sidewalk will be forever remembered.
 Tree Leaves
 These might be from last autumn, but who can tell?
One of the larger zucchinis from our garden--we had a garden!!
I love hiking. This was a bridge we crossed on a hike in Oregon last summer.

Literature and Ramblings

I am approaching the end of my first year of graduate school.  This year I have probably read more books for pleasure than during my entire time as an undergraduate, and probably during high school as well.  I am still coming across new words faster than I can define and share them, but I want to make sure that more of my mind ends up preserved here than just massive word lists (though those will continue, don't worry).

When I first try to think about the experiences I have had and the things that I have learned this year since September, my mind immediately reverts to the things I have read in Patrick O'Brian's sailing novels or Frank Herbert's (or Brian Herbert's) Dune works.  Nevertheless, the most important things that I have experienced are actually in the real world.

If you haven't already heard, I have decided without a doubt that I am PhD bound.  A year from April I will graduate from BYU (again) and will shortly thereafter being my PhD program in economics at some yet-to-be-determined university.  Two years and a thesis after that, I will begin what will hopefully be a successful and adventurous career as a professor of economics.

In preparation for this, I have taken several math classes (which I haven't done since high school) and learned that Calculus is only a beginning.  I am also taking graduate-level economics courses that I could not fit into my undergraduate schedule after I finally decided on the major.  And I started working as a research assistant for two different professors in the economics department.  In only two semesters I have gained a lot of valuable experience and knowledge about my chosen field, and I am excited for the future.

Since I am in a public policy program, I have also learned much about the inner-workings of politics and policy formation, which exist too closely together all too often.  After devoting so much time to studying many of the biggest policy issues today (which have mostly been the biggest policy issues in any day), I am baffled by the many people around me that seem to have such entrenched opinions.  The more I learn, the less able I am to fully agree with anyone.  In part, this is why I tend to dislike politics.

We also have a dog living with us now, as you most likely know.  Seconds is doing great and appears to have survived the winter with much vigor.

The greatest advance in my life this year has been the gestation of my first child, a son.  Kira and I have been preparing all year for the big changes that are almost here.  Kira has been doing great; she's healthy and happy and the best-looking pregnant woman I've ever seen.  We've been reading as much as we can about (and spending a lot of money on) baby things.  Kira even quit her job last week and she's excited to be able to get the boy's room ready, etc.  We have been extremely blessed by the benevolence of family and friends and we are grateful for their help.

I cannot help but exclaim that life is good!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

10 more

  1. profligate- one who is recklessly wasteful; prodigal; extravagant
    (profligacy)
  2. contumelious- rudely or arrogantly contemptuous or insolent.
    (contumeliously; contumeliousness)
  3. florid- excessively ornate or decorated; flowery
    (floridity; floridly)
  4. vestry- a storage room in a church; a committee assigned to manage the temporal affairs of a church.  
  5. burgoo- (in the South): a stew made of whatever is lying around; (at sea): a thick porridge.
  6. august- befitting a Lord; noble; revered, honored.
  7. inveterate- chronic, continual; over a long period of time. (possibly the same root as 'veteran')
    (inveterated; inveteracy)
  8. phlegmatic- sluggish, without enthusiasm; showing little or no emotion.
  9. petulant- cranky; easily irritated or annoyed.
  10. to pule- to whine or wail weakly; to whimper.