Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Photo Contest

There is a photo contest over at the Waterton Scrambling page. If anyone is interested, head over and vote, or head over and grab some nice images for your desktop.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Favorite Posts - April

Potential Russia Nuclear Counter Strike in 1983

Cognitive Disonance Why do we view prophets as if from an ivory tower?

A simple post from powerline on the radical un-chic

Can the spirit lead you out of the church I don't think the comments were willing to really tackle the question. It is a really good one. It was followed up by this one

Some great comments on how some church pratices that apparently seem quite differnt, turn out quite similar when you look at the again

A good post on the importance of intent, Actually it was about how important just being a good person is, but I thought I would generalize it for my self.

Ways of Knowing II I tend to agree with how lazy we treat revelation. The story of Gideon and the wool in the old testamanet was one of my favorites on my mission. I think we are too afraid to ask God to repeat something. Obviously part of that may be similar to what happened when Joseph Smith lent out the 112 pages. I think the is a fundamental difference between asking the same question repeatedly, and asking a question from slightly different perspectives each time. The former seems like you are trying to get a different answer, the latter seems similar to looking for a range of values. Or perphaps it is an exercise in learning how to be precise.

Here is a great series of posts on the problems of pinning down mormon doctrineNew Cool Thang Blake on T&S, Jim F on T&S and Jim F again on T&S

Bureaucracy vs. Business

Perhpas it is just me, but having attended a number of meeting over the last few months I am surprised how unique life is in a bureacratic institution. Education is a perfect example of this. The truth is, education has very few specific goals. Rarely do we want to accomplish specifc goals that are not intimately tied to the educational structure itself. From an interdivisional (province wide) perpsective the goal of education seems to be about facillitating individual progress. This means that specific learner objectives are replaced by more holistic goals. (ex standardized tests bad, empowerment good) While many from the business world scoff at this obviously inefficient method, the diversity of those involved may mean it can end up being more efficient that an objective oriented business model. (the loss of efficiency in the former is offset by the net individual losses in the latter).

I think churches are rather like this. There are very few specific objective that can be pushed. The ones that can, usually end up being more about the overall design of the structure than anything else. This means that churhces have to provide supportive holding patterns. Directions and training are more about developing the whole than they are about accomplishing specific objectives. Now this is very frustrating to some. However, like education, moving in any spefic direction ends up disenfranching people. Sure it helps some develop, but only at the expense of others. In education what usually happens is oscillation between a diverse, but repetitive range of philsophies and programs. Sure it is always changing, but it is never really changing into anything. It is an amorphous institute that requires large amounts of effort in the cyclic pattern required to meet everyone's needs.

Are religions like this? To some extent, yes. We like to think we have specific objectives. The temple seems like a great focal point. However, rarely are any single ideas run with the way they are in business. There is not pressure to get a project into production. Instead effort seems to be spent ensuring there is a venue for empowerment. Should it be any different? As frustrated as bureaucracy would be for me, I would say no.

Hiding behind beliefs

Comments some time ago had me wondering if sometimes we don't use religion as a dogmatic refuge. For instance, perhaps some spirutal experiences are used as testimony in areas where they may not have origianlly applied. This is not to say that they may still apply in certain ways, only that there may not be a 100% cross over. Perhaps much of what is considered traditional religion has arisen this way. Certain beliefs are applied consistently enough to create a framework. Others who later join in then assume that a single portion that framwork can imply the whole (with varying levels of success). For instance, some may believe that faith in Christ as our saviour implies biblical belief which implies a host of protestant doctrine. Others may believe that a witness of the Book of Mormon implies belief in the entirety of mormon theology. What is missing is the degree to which each step applies to the next. In physics terms, the cross sectional area.

Now, I don't think there is anything wrong per se with religion serving as this type of refuge. It seems to butress some foundational entry concerns. Indeed, it seems very catholic. Perhaps this type of approach is necessary to enable large scale belief in society. After all, it seems quite universal within human institutions of all sort. I guess I just don't know if the critiques that assume religion is limited to this type of suppositional framework are correct.

It seems to suppose that spiritual experiences are used only to enter into one of these institutionalized frameworks. In effect they are limited to a single paradigm shift. If this is the case, the critiques that attack faith based beliefs as circular are quite correct. If single spiritual experiences are used as evidence for a complete foundation, they would seem to be quite weak. After all, the relationships in a complex foundation are numerous and complex. If the degree of applicability of any single experience to another is not a 100%, one quickly loses any sense of correlation. Thus the tendency to apply testimonies into areas where they are not justified may mean one is just hiding behind a foundation. While this is certainly not a bad thing for everyone, I am sure it does have some asociated limitations.