Monthly Archives: August 2010

a division among the people

I am really saddened by the politics lately, considering the community center building in New York.  Though I don’t follow the debates closely, from the outset, I’m saddened by the whole thing, mostly for the intolerance of our own neighbors.

Particularly, I read a comment that said, “therefore another location could be chosen for the mega-mosque. The aim should be to unite people and not to divide them.”  Another one providing the idea  that those of differing opinions should “build it some miles away.”  Reading that, I thought of the words of the Lord, who taught us to love our neighbors.

I think it’s worth sharing a small parable from the Master, found in Luke 10.

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

And Jesus answering said, a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

And he said, He that shewed mercy on him.

Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

There are some great things to learn from this scripture, but one that I wanted to point out was the racial division among the people.  If the traveler originated from Jerusalem, then it may be safe to assume that he was a Jew — a native to the country.  Those that passed him by would have been kinsmen — a priest, and a Levite.

It was a Samaritan that helped him, though.  That the Lord mentioned him by origin is telling.  The Samaritans were a mixed breed of race.  In recent history, the kingdom of Israel had been conquered, and a few Israelites left.  The land was later colonized by the Assyrians and the Babylonians, and the people were mixed in religion as well — both heathen and believer.

They were most hated by the Jews, for their perceived impure backgrounds and practices, yet, geographically speaking, they were neighbors.  And it was those, among whom the world expects the least, that comes salvation.

In the parable, Christ was speaking of Himself.  He was also of mixed breed, born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father, and He was despised of all men, for not conforming to their beliefs and culture.  And yet, He is the one who will bring salvation and life to the wounded.

Who, then, today are our neighbors?  Can we pick them any more than we can pick our own family?  If we disagree culturally or politically, should we demand that they go elsewhere?

I believe that the Lord intended the principle of loving our neighbors to be both figurative and literal.  There are differences between races and cultures, for sure, but as a species we are far more alike than different.

Who are our neighbors?  Those who take residence next to us.  In the sense of loving them, the parable illustrated the commandment by showing service, to lift them up and carry them upon our own beasts and to give of our own resources when none other — even those who were called to that work — would be so willing.  May we do the same.

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planet larry needs a new home

Alright, so in my quest to move forward with my life, I’m going to be discarding certain projects that I really haven’t been making a priority.  Planet Larry is one of those.  I’ve always thought that the idea of a planet feed for a Linux distribution’s user base is a good one, but it’s just never become a priority for me and so it’s suffered where it could have really taken off and done well.  I’m hoping the next owner will be a better steward.

So, if you are sincerely interested in running it, shoot me an email at beandog at gentoo dot org and I’ll let you know everything that’s involved (hint: not much).

Edit: I should add, this doesn’t require being a Gentoo developer.  The Planet was never an officially sanctioned Gentoo project, and it was never intended to be.  Anyone with the ganas can run it. :)

Edit: Thanks to all the people who have offered to help.  I’ll say the same thing I said to all of them: I’m going to wait a few more days to see who else steps up and has ideas for the site.  Also, no, I haven’t decided what to do with Znurt for now.  I don’t have any plans of giving up ownership yet.

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back to school

So, I decided to stop whining about how I never like any of my jobs, and actually do something about it.  I’m going back to school!  Woo hoo!

The short version of the story is that I never wanted to get into IT as a job market, it just kinda happened, and I stayed here longer than I should have.  My real passion in life is doing service, working with people, helping them out, actually making a change in the world.  I don’t really feel like I’m getting that right now.

I’m going back to school this fall semester, to my old college now turned univeristy, Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah.  Wootsie. :)  I love their mascot, too. I  just think it looks cool.

I’m going to be studying psychology, and maybe sociology as well.  I haven’t decided yet.  For now, I’m only certain about a few things: I am tired of working in IT, I love psychology, and I want to do something else.

What’s been happening over a number of years, though, is I have been pretty much indifferent to the fact that I am unhappy in my career.  I enjoy working with computers, to a degree .. I find them interesting all the things you can do with them, and I get excited about some projects (mostly mine).  But the stamina is just not there all the time, and it’s frequently hard for me to get through a day’s work.  I’m just not that into it.

For years I’ve been telling myself I want to do something different, and as a result, I’ve jumped from job to job which allows me to pick up another different skill set, and make things interesting … kind of rekindle the passion again.  What I was really excited about though, was the chance to learn new technologies and ways of doing stuff in a different job.  And I’ve been really lucky in that regard.  Each one of my jobs has been very different from the past one, and so I’ve gotten a good mix of exposure to lots of different stuff.  I am definitely a jack of all trades.

What got me started thinking about school again, though, was that I finally realized the other week that I spend all my free time learning about two things: theology and psychology.  And I spend almost all my free time doing community service as well.  I believe that the field you should follow is probably indicated by the areas of study your mind drifts to when you have nothing else to focus on.  So, that’s pretty much exactly what I’m doing.

Career-wise, I have no idea what I want to do … and I’m not bothered by that in the least, nor am I interested in finding out.  Again, there’s a few things I’m certain about, and one is that I want to get back into school.  I’ve always been fascinated by psychology, and every class I’ve taken in it so far, I’ve aced with very little effort.  For me, in college, that actually means something.  Comparatively, I think I’ve flunked Math 090 five times.

I am really excited to start school.  I’m going to go slowly, so I can adapt to the transition.  If I create too heavy a load, it will tax my enthusiasm and make me wanna quit (there’s a lot more to that, suffice it to say, I know myself pretty well).  Next semester, I dunno what I’m gonna do.  What I would love to do is work part-time and go to school and take more credits, but with my financial situation, that probably ain’t gonna happen.  That’s okay though, I’m happy to make any progress at the moment.

The other thing I’m excited about is that I’ve signed up for an LDS Institute class as well, at the University of Utah.  I live in Salt Lake, so that’s about a ten-minute drive from where I live, if that.  I signed up for an early morning class that covers just the Book of Isaiah.  I’m stoked.

As far as my computer-related hobbies go, I’ve decided I’m going to start cutting a lot of them out of my life, very quickly.  I’ve already decided to not pursue any new projects, and I’m going to cut off some I’m already maintaining and hand them over to other people … I’ll be writing more about some of that soon.  If I’m gonna be studying and putting myself back on the right path, I don’t want too much stuff holding me back anymore.  A lot of the stuff has been projects that I’ve been wanting to get to for a long time anyway, but lost interest in, so they won’t really come as a big loss for me.

Anyway, that’s it.  I actually registered for school weeks ago, but I didn’t wanna say anything about it until I new it was a sure thing.  That is the case now. :)  I can’t wait.  I’ve gone down to campus a few times already, and everytime I go there, I get so recharged about life in general .. at the possibility of turning things around and heading in a new direction, one that I’ve wanted to pursue for years.  Good times, I tell ya. :)

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isaiah's writing styles

I’m still studying Isaiah in my spare time, when I can find it, and I’ve just had some really cool discoveries lately. I realize that these great findings of mine could easily be found by reading a commentary on the Book of Isaiah, but I prefer to locate them for myself — they have far greater meaning, and I won’t quickly forget them (or the experience of enlightment).

Just the other day, I think it was Monday, I was itching for some reason to sit down again and just read a little bit, and see if I could pick something up. It was a long day full of work and other crazy stuff, and by the time I had a second to do anything, it was midnight and I was ready to go to bed. But I flipped open my Bible casually, and just started at Isaiah 1. I won’t go into much detail of what I found, but while I was reading it, the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me for a bit, and something just clicked in my brain. I recognized Isaiah’s writing style a little bit.

The chapter is written using a lot of groups of similar sayings. Nearly the entire chapter can be broken down using them. It’s really cool, and quite poetic, as I’m guessing that was the prophet’s intent. For a quick example, see verse 4, how he describes the people in four parts, then lists their actions in three parts following that:

  1. Ah sinful nation
  2. a people laden with iniquity
  3. a seed of evildoers
  4. children that are corrupters /
  5. they have forsaken the Lord
  6. they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger
  7. they are gone away backward

There’s examples like that all over.  Really cool.  For a quick recap of some of the important parts of the gospel, see v16-17, grouped in similar pairs:

  • cease to do evil / learn to do well
  • seek judgment / relieve the oppressed
  • judge the fatherless / plead for the widow

Anyway … none of that is what I wanted to write about right now, but it does give the background a bit to his writing style that I recognized while reading this morning, in Isaiah 2.

Again, the experience was nearly similar … I was just reading along, mostly for just interest and comfort, and I noticed all of a sudden that he uses pairs a lot, or repetition to say the same thing, but with different words.  It’s actually really helpful, because his writings can be really confusing sometimes, but if you notice that he’s saying the same thing twice, then you have a greater pool of comparison to draw from.

It starts in verse 3, and goes from there.  I only copied a few examples, because once you understand the principle, its really easy to see.

  • the mountain of the Lord / the house of the God of Jacob (v3)
  • he will teach us of his ways / we will walk in his paths (v3)
  • he shall judge among the nations / shall rebuke many people (v4)
  • they shall beat their swords into plowshares / their spears into pruninghooks (v4)

Another thing I picked up on is, often times after prophecies, he will give either his own testimony or an admonition or invitation to follow the Lord.  In that example, verse 5 does that: “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

I know it’s easy to read the Bible and it can sound like the Lord is just itching to blow us all to smithereens because we are wicked and going to hell.  The way I see it is that God is trying to tell us the natural consequences of our lives if we do not refrain from sin.

For example, if you are trying to teach your children not to run out in front of cars in the middle of the street, what kind of language do you use to stress the importance of the lesson to them?  You might do something like raise your voice, or use colorful descriptions to get the point across — if you get hit by a car, your brains will be splattered all over their dashboard, and your spleen will be on the curb … for example :).

Just the same way, the Lord is trying to warn us of the bad things, in a stressed tone, that will happen.  It’s not meant to scare or frighten us, just to communicate the seriousness of the consequences.

That was the spiritual lesson I was getting from reading Isaiah, chapter two.  I still think there’s something I’m mising from it overall, as I can feel it just out of reach, so I came here to write in my blog in an attempt to see if I maybe I could find it.  We’ll see, I suppose.

I did want to recount what I summarized the chapter’s lesson as, though.  Rather than try to describe it all over again, I’ll just copy verbatim what I put in my notes this morning:

Reading Isaiah 2, he warns against the proud quite a lot (v6-22), warning them what will happen at the time of the Second Coming.  I think Alma 12:14 summarizes it nicely: “we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.” [Note: read the whole chapter for clarity, I imagine my snippet probably doesn't make much sense out of context to a visitor.  It's part of a bigger sermon ... he is discussing the wicked there, not all people everywhere.]

The message seems to be that, while they are rich in their worldly accounts (v7) and they have sought after a life of worldliness (v8), that when the the Lord comes, they will not be forgiven (v9), and they will in agony seek to separate them (the works of their hands) from themselves (v20-21).  The Lord will bring them all low, and He alone will be exalted, and destroy their riches, and their wicked works (the idols [represent] the results of their hands) (v17-18).

When we stand before the Lord, everything that we have sought [for] with worldly desires will mean nothing.

See also 2 Nephi 9:28-30Isaiah 2 is also the first chapter quoted by Nephi [in the Book of Mormon] (2 Nephi 12).

Okay, so a quick explanation about that last part — when Nephi, the first prophet-author of the Book of Mormon (an entire civilization is named after him, the Nephites) was writing, he included a lot of writings of Isaiah, since they had taken a contemporary copy of their scriptures with them when they left Jerusalem (600 B.C.).  So, they are a more ancient source of Isaiahs writings that we have, compared to the Bible.  The chapters are nearly exact, except that you can see very small snippets that were removed from the Bible text.  In every instance, the phrases shed a little light on the verses.  I’ll include some here, with the additions — or mormon sauce as my friend Josh calls it :) — in bold so you can see the differences.  They are small, but helpful.

  • 5. O house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord; yea, come, for ye have all gone astray, every one to his wicked ways.
  • 6. Therefore, O Lord, thou hast forsaken thy people, the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and hearken unto soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.
  • 10. O ye wicked ones, enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for the fear of the Lord and the glory of his majesty shall smite thee.
  • 12. For the day of the Lord of Hosts soon cometh upon all nations, yea, upon every one; yea, upon the proud and lofty, and upon every one who is lifted up, and he shall be brought low.
  • 13. Yea, and the day of the Lord shall come upon all the cedars of Lebanon, for they are high and lifted up; and upon all the oaks of Bashan;
  • 14. And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills, and upon all the nations which are lifted up, and upon every people;
  • 16. And upon all the ships of the sea, and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures.
  • 19. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for the fear of the Lord shall come upon them and the glory of his majesty shall smite them, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
  • 21. To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for the fear of the Lord shall come upon them and the majesty of his glory shall smite them, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.

Well, it looks like the stuff there unintentionally, for my part, focused on how the Lord is going to smite everyone.  Whoops. :)  More accurately, though, those that are really wicked and evil.

I think it’s interesting that the scriptures that were trimmed are ones that absolve the wicked of the fruits of their works, and downplay the coming of the Lord.  I hate saying something like that, because it sounds snotty, when really I’m just trying to document an intellectual curiosity.  But I also know from experience, that when I do something wrong, usually one of my first inclinations is to rationalize it away, so that my guilt will not be intense.  I don’t like holier-than-thou attitudes any more than the next person.  I need the help of Christ as much as the next man, if not more, because I know more, and am therefore more responsible.

Ah, anyway, good stuff.  I’m loving my good ole scripture study time.  It’s one of the few luxuries I have these days, with the little time I have available to me.  I know the Lord is trying to teach us important stuff in the scriptures, not just doomday prophecies.  You have to really dig to find the lessons, sometimes, but when you do, you appreciate them all the more.  It’s fascinating stuff, methinks. :)  Good times.

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back to school, mebbe

Every once in a while, I get this general feeling of dissatisfaction, that I’m in the wrong industry for employment, and I really wanna get out and change things around. Usually, I kinda shrug it off and indifferently will just try to distract myself more in an attempt to placate the boredom. Recently, though, over the past few months, the feeling has been building a bit, and becoming not just harder to ignore, but is making a lot more sense.

The truth is, I never wanted to go into computers as a job. It just kind of happened, because at the time I needed a job, it was one of the skills I had. I’ve actually done a lot of other jobs growing up, most of them low-paying “dead-end” jobs which I actually enjoyed a lot. If I could afford the lifestyle, I’d go back to them in a heartbeat. But getting into computer programming as a full-time career was definitely never the plan of mine. However, at the same time, I never really knew what I wanted to do either.

Well, I’m sure about one thing now … after doing this for almost ten years, I don’t wanna do this.

That doesn’t come as any real surprise … I knew that all along. What I find interesting though, is how, when I was thinking about it recently I came to some interesting realizations. It helps to describe for me in terms of contrast to what I really wanna study, which is psychology (and / or sociology).

Computer technology for me, is interesting, but it never really gets past the stage of curiosity or novelty. I really enjoy reading stuff on a huge variety of subjects — from high level stuff like device sales to low level stuff like assembly programming. It’s all interesting, but in the end, not really life-changing or fascinating enough to get me to do something about it. It’s just a distraction. Psychology, though, I can’t get enough of it when I read about it. Everything about it — covering lots of subjects, my favorites being personality and development psychology — not only fascinates me, but gets me thinking about it all the time. I love turning over the ideas in my head and considering it more and more.

The other major thing I noticed is that when I have free time, it’s rarely spent doing stuff with computers, in the sense of learning more. However, I do a lot of light reading, and it’s almost always about theological stuff, but even then, my interests drift towards the practical applications (the sciences, if you will) of how religious influences can affect someone’s life. The causes and effects of moral living on attributes, habits, personality, traits, lifestyle, etc. Those totally fascinate me.

So, I’m gonna try and go back to school again this fall. I’m hoping to get on track a bit, and shake things up. I’d love to get out of computers, and do something I feel much more passionate about. :)

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