Thursday, March 26, 2020

110. God's Servants

"Don't imagine I've been selected to go ... because I'm anyone in particular. One never can see, or not till long afterwards, why any one was selected for any job. And when one does, it is usually some reason that leaves no room for vanity. Certainly, it is never for what the man himself would have regarded as his chief qualifications."
Elwin Ransom speaking to C.S. Lewis in Perelandra by C.S. Lewis

“I have become a bridge,” said Ransom.
“Sir,” said Merlin,“what will come of this? If they [the Gods] put forth their power, they will unmake all Middle Earth.”
“Their naked power, yes,” said Ransom. “That is why they will work only through a man.”
The magician drew one large hand across his forehead.
“Through a man whose mind is opened to be so invaded,” said Ransom, “one who by his own will once opened it. I take Our Fair Lord to witness that if it were my task, I would not refuse it. But He will not suffer a mind that still has its virginity to be so violated. And through a black magician’s mind Their purity neither can nor will operate. One who has the days when dabbling had not begun to be evil, or was only just beginning...and also a Christian man and a penitent. A tool (I must speak plainly) good enough to be so used and not too good."
That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis

Thursday, February 6, 2020

109. Learn of Christ

A website designed to broadly share the message of the restoration with fellow Christians has recently been updated. As a resource for missionary work, includes all the information from the website that commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Christian Reformation, yet in a format that makes that information easier to find, share, and discuss with others. It's hoped that will assist fellow Christians in recognizing and understanding the larger work of God amid the confusion, corruption, and error woven into the historical and modern tapestry of Christianity. There is an accompanying Instagram page to help facilitate the sharing of this information.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

108. The Carrington Event

On Sept 1-2, 1859, a solar coronal mass ejection hit Earth's magnetosphere and caused one of the largest geomagnetic storms on record. Just prior to this event, astronomer Richard C. Carrington (1826–1875) observed a cluster of enormous dark spots on the sun's surface from his observatory from which “two patches of intensely bright and white light” erupted. Five minutes later the fireballs vanished, but within 17 hours their impact were felt across the earth. Telegraph communications around the world began to fail. There were reports of sparks showering from telegraph machines, shocking operators and setting papers ablaze. All over the planet, colorful auroras illuminated the nighttime skies, glowing so brightly that birds began to chirp in the middle of the night and laborers started their daily work, believing the sun had begun rising. Newspapers from France to Australia featured descriptions of brilliant auroras that had turned night into day. One eyewitness account from a woman on Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina was recored in the Charleston Mercury: “The Eastern sky appeared of a blood red color. It seemed brightest exactly in the east, as though the full moon, or rather the sun, were about to rise. It extended almost to the zenith. The whole island was illuminated. The sea reflected the phenomenon, and no one could look at it without thinking of the passage in the Bible which says, ‘the sea was turned to blood.’ The shells on the beach, reflecting light, resembled coals of fire.”

SDO captured this image of an M7.3 class solar flare on Oct. 2, 2014.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of a solar flare on Oct. 2, 2014. The solar flare is the bright flash of light on the right limb of the sun. A burst of solar material erupting out into space can be seen just below it. 
Image Credit: 
As compared to the relatively crude technology of 160 years ago, today's technology is extremely sophisticated, delicate, and much more ubiquitous. Almost all aspects of modern life are now dependent on electronic-based technology and are highly vulnerable to such an event if it were to be repeated in our day. Such storms can release huge amounts of energy. The likely consequences of a similar solar storm hitting earth today would be much more damaging than a few paper fires and a disruption in coarse telegraph wires for a few hours. The chair of Harvard’s Astronomy Department, Professor Abraham Loeb, recently went on record to state that "A Carrington-type event would cost roughly $2-3 trillion in terms of infrastructure damage. This includes damage to global supply chains, communication satellites, electric power grids and so forth." (20x greater than hurricane Katrina).

In a paper published in July of this year, speaking of the effect of a large, sun-caused geomagnetic storm on earth, US Geological Survey scientist Jeffrey Love stated: "Today, it is recognized that numerous technological systems are potentially vulnerable to the impacts of intense magnetic storms. They are associated with damage to satellite electronics and increased orbital drag, disruption to over‐the‐horizon radio communication, degradation in the accuracy and reliability of global‐positioning and timing systems, interference with geophysical surveys, increased radiation exposure to astronauts and high‐altitude pilots, and the induction of currents in electric‐power grids that sometimes cause blackouts.

Scientists from every major agency have stated that another solar storm comparable or greater to the Carrington event is inevitable in the future. Although the volatility of the maximum period within a given sun cycle is extremely difficult to predict, a major solar storm has occurred every 100-500 years. There was a near miss (by just 9 days) in 2012 in which a massive solar eruption was sent out into space instead of impacting earth (ReutersNASA). What actually happened in 2012 was that multiple coronal mass ejections were launched into space within a relatively short period of time. This is what is thought to have also occurred during the Carrington Event of 1859. The Sun has an 11-12 year cycle, oscillating from solar minimum to solar maximum. In our current cycle, the solar maximum will be reached in 2025, in which there is typically the highest frequency of flares on the sun's surface.

Physicist Pete Riley of Predictive Science Inc. analyzed records of solar storms going back 50+ years and published a paper in Space Weather in 2012 in which he calculated the probability of a Carrington-class storm hitting the Earth in the next ten years at 12%. This may seem like a small probability, but that is more than a 1 in 10 chance.

Think about the implications of what might be impacted by such an event. The voltage produced by such a storm would likely be sufficient to overcome the insulation resistance in most wiring, including transformers, power plants, substations, and telephone wires, causing fuses to fail and frying the delicate circuitry (chips, transistors, etc) in most electronics if they are plugged into the electrical system. Even those not plugged in to the system could be effected given the permeation of the electromagnetic disruption. This could also result in fire. Means of transportation could be rendered useless for undetermined lengths of time until repairs could be made (cars, trains, airplanes, delivery trucks, boats). People might not be able to commute to work. Food might not be able to be transported from far away regions so we can have tomatoes all year long. Means of communication could be rendered inoperable (telephone wires, cell towers, cell phones). GPS systems could cease to function. Anything relying on electricity could be inoperable (household appliances, water systems including sewer [which relies on pumps to maintain pressure], gas stations, banks, credit card readers). Farm equipment could cease to function properly. And perhaps most significant in our day, the internet, our main source of information, commerce, communication, and employment, could go down (during a recent internet-outage at my place of work, which only lasted a few hours, work completely ceased). Such an event can happen at any time, even in the dead of winter. Such an event could create quite a change in our way of living.

Friday, October 4, 2019

107. Man or Rabbit?

One of CS Lewis' most inspiring essays is entitled "Man or Rabbit?" in which he addresses the question: "Can’t you lead a good life without believing in Christianity?' A video was made to illustrate the talk, which is worth a watch...

"Morality is indispensable: 
but the Divine Life, which gives itself to us and which calls us to be Gods, 
intends for us something in which morality will be swallowed up. 
We are to be re-made. 
All the rabbit in us is to disappear - the worried, conscientious, ethical rabbit as well as the cowardly and sensual rabbit. 
We shall bleed and squeal as the handfuls of fur come out; and then, surprisingly, we shall find underneath it all a thing we have never yet imagined: 
a real Man, an ageless God, a son of God, strong, radiant, wise, beautiful, and drenched in joy."

Here is a link to the full text.

Friday, September 20, 2019

106. "Be Sober"

The word 'sober' today is almost universally applied when referring to abstinence or temperance in the use of alcohol or liquor. A person who is not sober is considered drunk or in a state of drunkenness, which can be characterized by a variety of physiological and behavioral changes or symptoms such as accentuated emotion, lack of inhibition, reduced motor control, sensation of warmth or euphoria, confusion, sickness, sleepiness, loss of consciousness, etc. An average person who only consumes small amounts of alcohol can remain in a state of sobriety.

Soberness in the Scriptures

In the scriptures, the word sober is used to denote a desirable personal characteristic possessed by those who would call themselves disciples of Christ. In this sense, taken from the modern Webster dictionary, to be sober means to be marked by temperance, moderation, or seriousness, or someone who is of an earnestly thoughtful character or demeanor, unhurried, calm, and showing no excessive or extreme qualities of fancy, emotion, or prejudice. Webster's 1828 dictionary renders the word sober, in this same sense, to mean:
3. Not mad or insane; not wild, visionary, or heated with passion; having the regular exercise of cool dispassionate reason.
4. Regular; calm; not under the influence of passion.
Often, this sense of being sober in the scriptures is directly connected to the conduct of one's mind or thoughts, which precipitates in being sober-minded. The Book of Mormon also uses the term firm-minded in a synonymous way with the concept of being sober-minded.
"Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, as obedient children — not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance." (1st Epistle of Peter 1:3)
"Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself a pattern of good works, in doctrine showing incorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be condemned — that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you." (The Epistle to Titus 1:3)
"O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads, and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love, for ye may, if your minds are firm for ever." (Jacob 2:11) 
"They are young and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually." (Alma 26:19) 
"For behold, they [angels] are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, shewing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness." (Moroni 7:6)
The scriptures also link the characteristic of soberness with being temperate and patient in all things:
"Be patient, be sober, be temperate; have patience, faith, hope, and charity." (Teachings & Commandments, Joseph Smith History 13:9)
"But speak the things which become sound doctrine — that the aged men be sobergrave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience; the aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holinessnot false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things, that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." (The Epistle to Titus 1:3)
...or soberness as the state of being vigilant and watchful for things that are either of or not of God:
"Gird up your loins, and be watchful, and be sober, looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man, for he comes in an hour you think not." (Teachings & Commandments, Section 48:9) 
"Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the Devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour — whom resist, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." (1st Epistle of Peter 1:20)
"We are not of the night, nor of darkness; therefore, let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober. ... But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet, the hope of salvation." (1st Epistle to the Thessalonians 1:13)
'Being Sober'

As Alma concluded his instructions to his son Shiblon, he encouraged him to continue on the path of righteousness and gave him the injunction to "be sober". So, how does one "be sober"? Joseph Smith had this to say of the condition and soberness of one's mind in seeking out the things of God: 
"A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 137; 25 March 1839)
Joseph drew a distinction in the operation of one's mind in approaching the things of God. On one hand, he warned us to beware of having a fanciful (Webster's 1828: Guided by imagination, rather than by reason and experience; subject to the influence of fancy; whimsical. A fanciful man forms visionary projects. Chimerical; A fanciful scheme; a fanciful theory) or a flowery (Webster's 1828: Richly embellished with figurative language) or a heated (Webster's 1828: meaning inflamed or exasperated [i.e., highly angered or irritated; provoked; enraged; embittered; increased in violence]) imagination. Such a mind is easily intoxicated by the various distractions, imposters, and unimportant goose-chases of this world, and, as a result, that person is led or persuaded away from salvation and deceived. Such a mind is not sober, but is instead in a state of drunkenness. On the other hand, Joseph instructs us that the mind of man is capable of leading one's "soul unto salvation"...through careful, ponderous thoughts...stretching and searching the broad spectrum of light and dark, mortality and a sober-minded, sincere, and dedicated fashion.

In a spiritual sense, can one "be sober" by simply refraining from partaking of what might make one drunk? In other words, can we be or become sober and sober-minded merely by refraining from being "tossed to and fro" and "carried about" by "every wind of doctrine", "the sleight of men", or the "cunning craftiness" whereby men "lie in wait to deceive"? (Eph 1:13). Is soberness simply ours to lose when we fritter away our time, resources, and efforts in chasing down the latest get-rich-quick scheme, obsessing over the newest alternative health care craze or snake oil remedy, falling apart over the latest bit of gossip, getting sucked into the next easy 1-2-3 step program to receive exaltation or calling and election without even being righteous, hearkening to someone preaching "another Jesus", or receiving "another spirit" or even "another gospel" that differs, even subtly, from that which we received at a prior time when it was manifested to us by the Spirit of Truth (Corinthians 1:35)? Do we become spiritually intoxicated and disoriented when our spiritual system is overloaded by impassioned and wild gospel speculations, and heated arguments about conspiracy theories and fear-based doomsday scenarios? Do we seek for signs to confirm our suppositions and positions, our wills and desires, and take them to be manifestations from God? Do we ingest such things because of the euphoric effect that they might have upon us, but are they in reality only counterfeits and distractions to the fruits we might reap in our searching out the mysteries of Godliness through careful and diligent study of the scriptures and the words of God's servants? Do we spiritually pass out and lose consciousness when these sorts of non-firm-minded topics and fixations become our walk and talk, fire-hosing others with all the evangelism of the reformed sinner, instead of focusing on the plain and precious truths of the gospel and doing the things we have covenanted to do?

As an illustration, consider the following dialogue between the Adam (called Ransom) and the serpent (called Weston) archetypes portrayed in CS Lewis' early work Perelandra (1943):
“God is a spirit. Ransom. Get hold of that. You’re familiar with that already. Stick to it. God is a spirit.” [said Weston]
“Well, of course. But what then?” [said Ransom]
“What then? Why, spirit-mind-freedom-spontaneity — that’s what I’m talking about. That is the goal towards which the whole cosmic process is moving. The final disengagement of that freedom, that spirituality, is the work — to which I dedicate my own life and the life of humanity. The goal. Ransom, the goal: think of it! Pure spirit: the final vortex of self-thinking, self-originating activity.”...
“By the way,” said Ransom, “is it in any sense at all personal — is it alive?”...
“Yes,” said Weston, “I couldn’t have believed myself till recently. Not a person, of course. Anthropomorphism is one of the childish diseases of popular religion, but the opposite extreme of excessive abstraction has perhaps in the aggregate proved more disastrous. Call it a ForceA great, inscrutable Force, pouring up into us from the dark bases of being. A Force that can choose its instruments. It is only lately, Ransom, that I’ve learned from actual experience something which you have believed all your life as part of your religion.” Here he suddenly subsided again into a whisper—a croaking whisper unlike his usual voice. “Guided,” he said. “Chosen. Guided. I’ve become conscious that I’m a man set apart. Why did I do physics? Why did I discover the Weston rays? Why did I go to Malacandra? It-the Force-has pushed me on all the time. I’m being guided. I know now that I am the greatest scientist the world has yet produced. I’ve been made so for a purpose. It is through me that Spirit itself is at this moment pushing on to its goal.”
“Look here,” said Ransom, “one wants to be careful about this sort of thing. There are spirits and spirits, you know.
“Eh?” said Weston. “What are you talking about?”
“I mean a thing might be a spirit and not good for you,” said Ransom.
“But I thought you agreed that Spirit was the good — the end of the whole process? I thought you religious people were all out for spirituality? What is the point of asceticism — fasts and celibacy and all that? Didn’t we agree that God is a spirit? Don’t you worship Him because He is pure spirit?” said Weston.
“Good heavens, no! We worship Him because He is wise and good. There’s nothing specially fine about simply being a spirit. The Devil is a spirit.”...“What proof,” said Ransom, “what proof have you that you are being guided or supported by anything except your own individual mind and other people’s books?”
“You didn’t notice, dear Ransom,” said Weston, “that I’d improved a bit since we last met in my knowledge of extraterrestrial language. You are a philologist, they tell me.” 
Ransom started, “How did you do it?”
“Guidance, you know, guidance,” croaked Weston. He was squatting at the roots of his tree with his knees drawn up, and his face, now the colour of putty, wore a fixed and even slightly twisted grin. “Guidance. Guidance,” he went on. “Things coming into my head. I’m being prepared all the time. Being made a fit receptacle for it.”
“That ought to be fairly easy,” said Ransom impatiently. “If this Life Force is something so ambiguous that God and the Devil are equally good portraits of it, I suppose any receptacle is equally fit, and anything you can do is equally an expression of it.”
“There’s such a thing as the main current,” said Weston. “It’s a question of surrendering yourself to that — making yourself the conductor of the live, fiery, central purpose — becoming the very finger with which it reaches forward,” said Weston...
“How far does it go? Would you still obey the Life-Force if you found it prompting you to murder me?” asked Ransom.
“Or to sell England to the Germans?”
“Or to print lies as serious research in a scientific periodical?”
“God help you.” said Ransom.
There is certainly insight and revelation that can come from the wrong source(s), leading us astray. It is not always easy to discern. It is not always easy to obtain the mind of God on issues of importance to us. We are often so very eager to receive an answer that we may accept the wrong answer just to have "an answer". Denver Snuffer wrote "What does 'whatsoever ye shall ask' include? If you think Christ is inviting you to turn the Father into a short-order cook, jumping to your will, you do not understand this process" (3 Nephi 18:19-20 blogpost, 11/13/2010). He has similarly stated "God’s most important inspiration for the most challenging subjects is often not hasty, quick and without effort at our end. Consider the advice to Oliver Cowdery that he must 'study it out in his own mind first' before asking God to tell him the answer. Many people want a quick, perfunctory response from God with no forethought. What they receive in turn is a quick, perfunctory answer. God is almost always, for the most difficult challenges, not a 'short order cook' although there are certainly false spirits who are willing to be just that" (Discernment part 2 podcast, 1/13/2019). Even when inspiration is received from the right source, none of us are completely pure vessels capable of always following that inspiration with 100% integrity or accuracy. I do think in general people are doing their best to follow the light they receive in the best way they can. It is important, however, to be sober-minded and careful with the light that is received or the light that one thinks they have received, and study it out and carefully ponder how to go about acting upon it.

The primary Buddhist scripture, the Dhammapada, makes frequent reference to the general concept of being sober-minded as a critical step in obtaining enlightenment or connection with one's "higher-self". For example, consider the following selections and think of the contrast between one who is drunk and one who is sober:
  • As a solid rock is not shaken by the wind, even so the wise remain unshaken amidst blame and praise.
  • As a deep lake is limpid and calm, so do wise men become calm on hearing the Dhamma, the teaching.
  • Few among men are they who cross to the further shore. The other folk only run up and down the bank on this side.
  • For him, whose journey is over, who is sorrowless, fully free from everything, and has put an end to all bonds, there is no burning (of the passions).
  • He whose senses are controlled like horses well under the control of the charioteer, he who is cleansed of pride, and rid of passions, such a steadfast one even the gods envy.
  • His mind is calm, calm is his word and deed who is liberated through perfect knowledge, who is pacified and steadfast.
  • Delightful are the forests where worldlings find no pleasure. There the passionless rejoice; for they are no seekers of sense pleasures.
  • Better than a thousand utterances, better than a mere jumble of meaningless words, is one sensible phrase on hearing which one is pacified.
  • Though one conquers in battle thousand times thousand men, yet he is the greatest conqueror who conquers himself.
  • Better is it to conquer oneself than to conquer others. Neither a god, nor a Gandhabba (demigod) nor Māra (devil) nor Brahma (priest) can undo the victory of a person who is self-mastered and ever conducts himself with restraint.
  • A single day’s life of a person who is virtuous and meditative is better than a life of one hundred years of a person who is immoral and uncontrolled.
  • A single day’s life of a person who strives with firm endeavour is better than a life of one hundred years of a person who is lazy and indolent.
In closing, consider the wise council of a true reformed sinner, as Alma the senior encourages his son Shiblon in the ways of righteousness: 
"I would that ye would be diligent and temperate in all things.
See that ye are not lifted up unto pride.
Yea, see that ye do not boast in your own wisdom nor of your much strength.
Use boldness, but not overbearance;
and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love.
See that ye refrain from idleness.
Do not pray as the Zoramites do, for ye have seen that they pray to be heard of men and to be praised for their wisdom.
Do not say, O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren,
but rather say, O Lord, forgive my unworthiness and remember my brethren in mercy;
yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times.
And may the Lord bless your soul and receive you at the last day into his kingdom to sit down in peace.
Now go, my son, and teach the word unto this people. Be sober. My son, farewell." (Alma 18:4)
There is such a thing as boldness, but it must be exercised in soberness and meekness. Again, the promise from the Book of Mormon to those whose minds are firm in every form of Godliness is that angels can appear and minister to them (Moroni 7:6). Be sober.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

105. What is soft is strong...

“Those who know, speak not.
Those who speak, know not.”

“The truth is not always beautiful,
nor beautiful words the truth.”

“When I let go of what I am,
I become what I might be.”

“Care about what other people think
and you will always be their prisoner.”

“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”

“Silence is a source of Great Strength.”

“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. 
But water will wear away rock, 
which is rigid and cannot yield. 
As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding
will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. 
This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”

“To lead people, walk beside them ...
As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.
The next best, the people honor and praise.
The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate ...
When the best leader's work is done the people say,
We did it ourselves!”

― Lao Tsu, founder of Taoism

Sunday, July 7, 2019

104. The Mother Hawk: A Symbol of Charity

This Spring, a mother hawk constructed a nest on top of one of the Blue Spruce trees in our neighborhood, by far the tallest vantage point in the vicinity. The entire time she occupied her nest, this mother hawk was relentlessly dive-bombed and assailed by a group of resident crows. The crows would accompany the mother hawk on her every outing as she scouted for food, mercilessly assaulting her, chasing her, squawking at her. What’s more, other crows would squawk and dive-bomb the nest that held the defenseless hawkling as the mother was off on her errands. You could hear the hawkling cry out to its mother, probably both because of hunger, but also from fear as it was being attacked. It seemed like a very precarious and delicate situation.

However, I noticed the mother hawk was quite unphased at the attempts the crows made to drive her away. In fact, she seemed to resolutely pursue her course in her flight and other activities, almost as if the crows and their behavior were not even part of the mother hawk’s reality. It appeared that the crows could do no more than threaten, intimidate, instill fear, make a lot of noise, and bully. From what I could tell, the crows never actually touched the hawk nor its offspring. I was amazed at what I would call her patience or her endurance or her restraint, because it seemed to me that this mother hawk, with a gorgeously white underbelly, could easily latch on to the neck or wing of any or all of her assailants and tear them to pieces. For the mother hawk actually possessed the power to do exactly what her attackers were trying to do but could not do: she could have easily rampaged through all the trees in the area and killed every single crow and their offspring. Instead, she ignored them and lived her life and focused on her duty, which was to bring forth life, teach her young hawkling, and move forward in her cycle of creation. And so, if the crows made life exceedingly unpleasant for this hawk family, you would never know by how the hawks themselves behaved and responded. 

In a fellowship meeting today the topic of charity was studied and a friend later helped me draw the connection to this episode with the mother hawk. The following was read from the glossary of the scriptures: “ …it doesn’t appear, from the example of Christ, that His willingness to die on behalf of others meant that He had to feel emotionally connected with them in order to do so. He forgave the Romans that were nailing Him to the cross — this was not the traditional definition of love. Instead, it was a commitment — a determination — to do good despite the opposition or hindrance of anyone else. The very people He went into the temple and provoked with His Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 10) discourse (deliberately controlling the timing of their outrage so that He would be sacrificed at the appropriate time during the Passover), were the same people on whose behalf He also died. He was committed to giving His life to others as an act of charity, as an act of service, and as an act of kindness in a way that demonstrates what charity really is. Charity is a fixed determination to do something on the behalf of others. Whether they appreciate it, whether they love you in return or not, charity is simply doing what needs to be done. …  Living the kind of life that has charity, the pure love of Christ — in it is a determination; a vigor; a resolution; a firm, fixed determination to abide a certain standard, being committed to the wellbeing of one’s fellow man— even if one’s fellow man is not committed at all in a reciprocal way.”

This mother hawk pursued her course despite what the opposition consisted of. She was self-sacrificing. At some point the crows gave up and the squawking and dive-bombing ceased. The crows had failed in their efforts to drive off and thwart the mother hawk. The hawkling was now big enough to flap its wings, stand up in the nest, and use its beak to defend itself. One day, I could hear the call of the mother hawk not too far away in some trees behind our property. And then the return call from the young hawkling who was perched in the large tree in our yard. After some calling back and forth, the mother hawk swooped in and landed briefly on the branch above the hawkling, and then, to my surprise, she jumped from her branch directly on to the young hawkling, bumping it off its branch and forcing it into flight. The hawkling flew into another set of trees, called out to its mother, and she pursued. I observed the mother and her hawkling engaged in this type of behavior for several days as the mother seemed to be now chasing her hawkling from tree to tree. One might observe such isolated behavior and conclude that this was just a big hawk attacking a smaller hawk, but if the whole scenario had been observed it would be concluded that the mother hawk had a fixed determination to teach her offspring how to fly, land, and take flight again in order to grow and survive. The mother hawk was focused on her objective and did not show any interest in stopping until the hawkling had reached some level of ability.

Sometimes in our lives, just after we have landed on a new branch or vista, and are taking in the view, satisfied with our accomplishment, we get pushed off, plunged into the air, and have to find another place to land. And then again it happens, and again. This experience with the hawk reminded me of the subtle presence of the Lion Aslan, or a lion figure, in many of CS Lewis’ fantasy books, who is sometimes heard purring in the background at moments when the lead protagonists are in need of comfort, sometimes appearing to teach certain characters, and at other times is seen only as a fierce silhouette, roaring, clawing, and chasing after other characters in an effort to drive them forward from dangers from which they were unaware or to teach them something about themselves, when to them it seems as if the Lion is intent on killing them. As the Lion spoke in “The Horse & His Boy”: 

The Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you as you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”
“It was I.”
“But what for?”
“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
“Who are you?” asked Shasta.
“Myself,” said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again “Myself,” loud and clear and gay: and then the third time “Myself,” whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all around you as if the leaves rustled with it.

This whole time I did not see the father Hawk. I had seen him in the Fall, together with his companion during their time of preparation. 

Monday, December 31, 2018

103. Truth Diffusion

It is interesting that when light and truth is imparted into this world in one place, bits and fragments of that light and truth often seem to leak out or diffuse into other places as well. For instance, compare and contrast some of the content of this revelation/talk from last Spring on Our Divine Parents, particularly concerning the role of Mary as Mother in Heaven, with recent Catholic scholarship by Dr. Brant Pitre, author of "Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary." Below is an interview with Dr. Pitre explaining some of his views, which describes Mary as the New Eve, Queen of Heaven, and counterpart to Heavenly Father, and that a true understanding of Mary requires a hearkening back to Genesis and the roles of Adam, Eve, the early Patriarchs, and through the lens of ancient Jewish eyes.

Interesting times.

Also, if you haven't read the Book of Wisdom or the Wisdom of Solomon from the Apocrypha lately, it's worth a read, particularly chapters 7-10. Of the Apocrypha, the Lord said (D&C 91:1,4,5): "Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you concerning the Apocrypha—There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly; Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth; And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom;" The Book Of Wisdom is canonized in the bibles of the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches. The Book of Wisdom is a book about wisdom—its benefits, nature, and role in ancient Israel’s history. It is more a call to pursue wisdom as opposed to a collection of wise teachings. Although the author is implied to be King Solomon, its author seems to have been a Greek-speaking Jew with some knowledge of Greek rhetoric and philosophy. The book is thought to have been written in Alexandria (Egypt), in the late 1st century BC to early 1st century AD.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

102. The Divine Nature - Till We Have Faces

Michaelangelo was responsible for creating some of the most beautiful artwork and sculpture ever produced by man. Not only was he a masterful artist, but the layers of meaning and symbolism that he embedded within his works are nothing short of genius, demonstrating an understanding of deep and concealed mysteries. As one writer explained, "Michelangelo believed the sculptor was a tool of God, not creating but simply revealing the powerful figures already contained in the marble. Michelangelo’s task was only to chip away the excess, to reveal. He worked often for days on end without sleep... One can clearly recognize the grooves from mallet and pointed chisel on the marble surface used in this initial stage. Unlike most sculptors, who prepared a plaster cast model and then marked up their block of marble to know where to chip, Michelangelo mostly worked free hand, starting from the front and working back."

Atlas Prisoner, by Michaelangelo

One series of four sculptures by Michaelangelo is known as the "Slaves" or the "Prisoners", which are half-finished sculptures of male figures. They are examples of Michaelangelo's practice of "non-finito" (or incomplete). Symbolically, these sculptures portray the eternal struggle of man, developing into his true self, or of the spirit, becoming unfettered from the material bonds that hold it imprisoned.

One of these sculptures is known as the “Atlas Slave” or "Atlas Prisoner". The head and most of the face of this male figure have not yet emerged from the marble, nor his feet. He appears to be carrying a huge load or weight on his head and right shoulder. It seems as though the weight of the stone could easily crush him if he were to give up the struggle. In fact, the sculpture seems to convey a battle of both internal and external forces pushing and pulling the figure, both holding him back and pushing him forward simultaneously. As a result there is no sense of balance, stasis, or equilibrium in the figure, only change, transformation, metamorphosis, and emergence. There is a fierce struggle to remove from the figure that which is extraneous and of the physical world in which it is encased, fighting to break free in order to become a complete, whole, or perfect figure, or for it to fall back into the stone entirely and remain without form and void.

How similar are we, our spirits of great potential and eternal worth, yet now encased in the physical matter of this world? In our current (e)state, perhaps only a portion of our Divine Nature is manifest, the rest hidden or trapped, imprisoned or a slave in some way or another. Invisible to all except for the Master Artisan, who sees beyond the physical appearance and knows the potential within. He uses no mold to guide His work as each figure is unique and requires individual attention. He hammers and chisels, sometimes flaking off little bits delicately, almost dust, and at other times He sloughs off huge chunks of un-needed stone and lets them smash into pieces on the floor. Sometimes these blows are indeed surprising, "I thought that piece was to be my hand," and the figure turns out to be quite different than what was imagined. Ultimately, the figure cannot release himself from the stone as he is forever trapped and limited by the prison in which he finds himself. "You are from a lower estate. I am from the heavens. You are stuck in this world, and I am not of this world. Because of this I said to you that you will die burdened with sins. If you do not believe that I am sent by the Most High God, bringing light and life with me, you will die burdened with sins" (Testimony of St. John, p.14).

Full freedom and perfection require the Master Artisan to perform his labor, to reveal what lies within. Only a Master Artisan can work so perfectly so as to bring about the perfection or perfecting of His subjects, and thus reveal their Divine Nature. And what are these hammerstrokes? He respects and honors our agency and will not interfere, we are not forced. However, this world allows for the manifestation of illness, pain, loss, relationships, consequences, trials, tests, conundrums, deceit, and temptation. How we respond to these manifestations determines what is revealed about us. We respond in love, faith, charity, kindness, humility, submission...our Divine nature is manifest....we respond in fear, despair, cowardice, pride, anger, resentment, blame, rebellion...our raw and fallen nature is made more manifest and we remain encased in the stone which binds us.  

There are no two figures alike, and the labor He performs is thus different for each of His masterpieces (which you are becoming). However, this work of the Master Artisan can at times seem unfair, bizarre, and even cruel. It can hurt and there can be great loss. It can lead to anger, pain, resentment, and even fear of the Master Himself. Orual, the veiled Queen of Glome and lead protagonist of CS Lewis' book, Till We Have Faces, had for most of her life turned against the gods because of her self-perceived ugliness, the horrible experiences she had endured at the hands of her family and caretakers, and the punishment and cruelty she believed the gods continued to heap upon her, which included the loss of her beautiful sister, who was Orual's whole world. Orual recorded in the book she kept, which documented her grievances against the gods: "Now mark yet again the cruelty of the gods. There is no escape from them into sleep or madness, for they can pursue you into them with dreams. Indeed you are then most at their mercy. The nearest thing we have to a defence against them (but there is no real defence) is to be very wide awake and sober and hard at work, to hear no music, never to look at earth or sky, and (above all) to love no one." And at another time lashing out at the gods "But to hint and hover, to draw near us in dream and oracles, or in a waking vision that vanishes as soon as seen, to be dead silent when we question them and then glide back and whisper (words we cannot understand) in our ears when we most wish them to be free of them, and to show to one what they hide from another; what is all this but cat-and-mouse play, blindman's bluff, and mere jugglery? Why must holy places be dark places?

However, after a series of visions depicting key moments in her life, rather than being punishments and abandonment, she learns to see the divine purpose in those experiences, as designed by the gods to bring about change, understanding, new perspective, love, and even true beauty (quotations re-arranged by me, with some commentary): "The Divine Nature wounds and perhaps destroys us merely by being what it is. We call it the wrath of the gods... And mother and wife and child and friend will all be in league to keep a soul from being united with the Divine Nature...(me: He comes to divide) This age of ours will one day be the distant past. And the Divine Nature can change the past (me: new perspective). Nothing is yet in its true form... When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you'll not talk about joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face-to-face, until we have faces?" Until we, like Atlas the Prisoner, have been transformed and reshaped by the Master Artisan, our true face revealed, then we can see face to face. He is working to bring us to that point. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

101. Peaks and Troughs

I have many friends and loved ones who have and are going through incredibly difficult challenges. It can be perplexing to understand the nature and purpose of such difficulties, especially when prolonged or when the outcome is unhappy. It can be disorienting and discouraging. The darkness and despair can last a long time without relief.

Yesterday was CS Lewis' birthday, he would have been 120 years old. In 1941 he published the Screwtape Letters, which are a series of letters written by a senior devil to his nephew, a junior devil in training. Screwtape seeks to educate his nephew concerning the designs of "the Enemy" so that he can learn how to successfully entrap the souls of men. This book was dedicated to J. R. R. Tolkien. In one of the "letters", Screwtape gives some insight into the peaks and troughs that mankind experiences and their purposes:
So you “have great hopes that the patient’s religious phase is dying away”, have you? I always thought the Training College had gone to pieces since they put old Slubgob at the head of it, and now I am sure. Has no one ever told you about the law of Undulation?
Humans are amphibians — half spirit and half animal. (The Enemy’s determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that determined Our Father to withdraw his support from Him.) As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation — the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life — his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dulness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it. 
To decide what the best use of it is, you must ask what use the Enemy wants to make of it, and then do the opposite. Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else. The reason is this. To us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself — creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.
And that is where the troughs come in. You must have often wondered why the Enemy does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to over-ride a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve. He is prepared to do a little over-riding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. But He never allows this state of affairs to last long. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs — to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with the better. He cannot “tempt” to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

100. The Great Sin

The following is an excerpt from Mere Christianity (1952) by CS Lewis:

There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now, we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.

Does this seem to you exaggerated? If so, think it over. I pointed out a moment ago that the more pride one had, the more one disliked pride in others. In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, "How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?" The point is that each person's pride is in competition with every one else's pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive — is competitive by its very nature — while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident, Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If every one else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not...

...Pride always means enmity — it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God. In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that — and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison — you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you...

...It is a terrible thing that the worst of all the vices can smuggle itself into the very centre of our religious life. But you can see why. The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature. But this does not come through our animal nature at all. It comes direct from Hell. It is purely spiritual; consequently, it is far more subtle and deadly. For the same reason, Pride can often be used to beat down the simpler vices. Teachers, in fact, often appeal to a boy's Pride, or, as they call it, his self-respect, to make him behave decently: many a man has overcome cowardice, or lust, or ill-temper by learning to think that they are beneath his dignity — that is, by Pride. The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride — just as he would be quite content to see your chilblains (ie, skin sores or bumps) cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer. For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.

Friday, October 26, 2018

099. Obedience

"Whatever you do. He will make good of it. 
But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed Him. 
That is lost for ever. 
The first King and first Mother of our world did the forbidden thing, and He brought good of it in the end. 
But what they did was not good, and what they lost we have not seen."

CS Lewis (1943) Perelandra, p. 98

Saturday, August 18, 2018

098. Online Merchant Sabbath Observance

I returned to the website of a small farm supply company that I frequent to find the notification below. I was impressed that these people are taking their personal commitment to keeping the sabbath day holy to such an extent that their website is suspended every Saturday (when they keep the Sabbath). I was touched by the authentic way in which they are honoring the God they claim to follow.

Monday, May 7, 2018

097. God's Love

"By the goodness of God we mean nowadays almost exclusively His lovingness; and in this we may be right. And by Love, in this context, most of us mean kindness — the desire to see others than the self happy; not happy in this way or in that, but just happy. What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, “What does it matter so long as they are contented?” We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven — a senile benevolence who, as they say, “liked to see young people enjoying themselves” and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, “a good time was had by all”. Not many people, I admit, would formulate a theology in precisely those terms: but a conception not very different lurks at the back of many minds. I do not claim to be an exception: I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don’t, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless; that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction."
"The relation between Creator and creature is, of course, unique, and cannot be paralleled by any relations between one creature and another. God is both further from us, and nearer to us, than any other being. He is further from us because the sheer difference between that which has Its principle of being in Itself and that to which being is communicated, is one compared with which the difference between an archangel and a worm is quite insignificant. He makes, we are made: He is original, we derivative. But at the same time, and for the same reason, the intimacy between God and even the meanest creature is closer than any that creatures can attain with one another. Our life is, at every moment, supplied by Him: our tiny, miraculous power of free will only operates on bodies which His continual energy keeps in existence — our very power to think is His power communicated to us. Such a unique relation can be apprehended only by analogies: from the various types of love known among creatures we reach an inadequate, but useful, conception of God’s love for man."

From C.S. Lewis (1940) The Problem of Pain, Chapter III - Divine Goodness.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

096. Sun Halo

A huge circular rainbow appeared around the sun over the skies of Northern Utah this afternoon for about 30 minutes. A pair of soaring turkey vultures or hawks passed through the center from our vantage point. 

The cirrus clouds that veiled this phenomenon were like a semi-transparent curtain in the sky. 

This phenomenon is known as a Sun-bowSun Halo or, more formerly, a 22-degree Halo. As sunlight passes through ice crystals in the clouds, light is projected into different directions, and a halo or rainbow around the sun can be seen at 22-degrees.

Some Native American tribes refer to this phenomenon as the whirling rainbow, which is a good omen indicating moisture in the air and abundance on the Earth.

The dot inside of a circle is also an ancient sacred symbol used in many religions, known as the circumpunct. It can represent God, the monad/unity/oneness, the Egyptian sun god Ra, the atomic structure of hydrogen (which makes up most of the sun's mass), the alchemists' symbol for gold, the point of the beginning of creation and eternity, or the universe (universe translates to uni verses or one-turn). It is the mark left by the compass after stepping out a certain distance from the centerpoint and making a circle. From the circle, all geometric shapes and polygons can be derived by further use of a compass/divider and the additional application of a rule or square. The circle is a feminine symbol, representing eternity or creation, wholeness, original perfection, the infinite, and all cyclic movement.   

I was grateful to have witnessed such a beautiful event in the sky as this Sun Halo today and to contemplate the meaning of this symbol.

Monday, March 26, 2018

095. Holy Week

A timeline with scriptures of the week before Christ's resurrection :

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

094. Unto Others

One of the best aspects of my professional career is the opportunity to work with others collaboratively on various projects. I enjoy working on a diversity of projects with a diversity of people because I am enriched by the process. There is always something to learn from every interaction or from the way someone else does, thinks, or says about something. Good things can be gained from even the most boring of situations if you're on the lookout. 

This doesn’t mean it’s always easy to work with others. It can be extremely challenging and frustrating to collaborate with other people or work on a group project. Every person is different, with different backgrounds, experiences, viewpoints, knowledge, levels of motivation, etc. My work would probably be a lot simpler and more effective if I just went off alone and did my own thing by myself. I’ve done that and have found that my life is much less interesting and boring without others being involved; and I think in the long run, my creative potential is less fulfilled without the input of others. 

More to the point, I think my own work is much, much better as I’ve listened to and incorporated the influences of others. I’ve noticed that when I pay special attention to those who are also willing to listen to others, I often gain the most from them as they have spent considerable time gleaning the “best of” from those around them in terms of whatever it is they do. Of course, you need to sift through whatever someone is sharing or preaching, and determine if it’s worth keeping. But even going through that process has helped me become better in my work and more informed. I’ve tried some things others have shared with me that sounded like great ideas, but turned out to be disasters. I’ve learned from these experiences too. I’m grateful for those who have made sacrifices to share the work that they have done with others, and to share their perspectives, instead of just keeping it to themselves and ignoring the rest of the world. I am better for it.

Friday, March 9, 2018

092. satan, the great orator: Part IV - "There is No Other Way"

...continuing the conversation between Weston and the Green Lady. This is long, but well worth the read, especially if you have or are facing something that is causing you confusion. Weston continues to degrade into a non-human entity during the conversation. Ransom cannot contain himself any longer...
“Do not listen to him,” broke in Ransom; “send him away. Do not hear what he says, do not think of it."
[Ransom has the right idea. Do not listen to satan, or his emissaries. Send them away. They have no power over you save what you give them. How do you know that someone is a true messenger? Be careful who you listen to and obey.]
“I do not want you to hear him at all,” said Ransom. “He is—” and then he hesitated. ‘Bad’, ‘liar’, ‘enemy’, none of these words would, as yet, have any meaning for her. Racking his brains he thought of their previous conversation about the great eldil who had held on to the old good and refused the new one. Yes; that would be her only approach to the idea of badness. He was just about to speak but it was too late. Weston’s voice anticipated him. 
[Interesting insight into satan's (the "great eldil's" or great angel's) fall..."he held on to the old good and refused the new one"] 
“This Piebald [Ransom],” it [Weston] said, “does not want you to hear me, because he wants to keep you young. He does not want you to go on to the new fruits that you have never tasted before.”
[satan continually uses the concept that God wants us to progress to infer that we need to become independent from Him even if that means breaking a commandment. he lies that that God's commandments are meant to be broken as we ascend, that "lower" commandments no longer apply to us as "higher" commandments and concepts come to the fore. he lies to us that the scriptures are dead and no longer apply, that there are 'higher ways' to access God-like knowledge that require behavior that is contrary to God's laws. It is all a lie.]
“He is what in my world we call Bad,” said Weston’s body. “One who rejects the fruit he is given for the sake of the fruit he expected or the fruit he found last time.”
[satan is able to turn things around, calling good, evil, and evil, good.] 
“And will you teach us Death?” said the Lady to Weston’s shape, where it stood above her. 
“Yes,” it said, “it is for this that I came here, that you may have Death in abundance. But you must be very courageous.”
[satan brings death, in abundance. he ultimately inspires murder and destruction among those that hearken to him.]
“Courageous. What is that?”
“It is what makes you to swim on a day when the waves are so great and swift that something inside you bids you to stay on land.”
“I know. And those are the best days of all for swimming.”
“Yes. But to find Death, and with Death the real oldness and the strong beauty and the uttermost branching out, you must plunge into things greater than waves.”
“Go on. Your words are like no other words that I have ever heard. They are like the bubble breaking on the tree. They make me think of — of — I do not know what they make me think of.”
[Have you ever experienced this? Deep wisdom from a source you thought was of God, but was not? Words that fill you with awe and delight, but also lack light? That bring confusion? "I do not know what they make me think of" -- exactly, because they are spiritually novel, cut-off from God, and appeal to a baser-self. They often foment desire and vainglory.]
“I will speak greater words than these; but I must wait till you are older.”
“Make me older.”
[She is drawn in, hooked. The Lady has tasted something new. She has hearkened and is seduced by his vast knowledge and wisdom. he is now teaching her things she had never before contemplated and it is becoming "delicious to the taste and very desirable." She is under his spell and fading into trance.] 
“Lady, Lady,” broke in Ransom, “will not Maleldil make you older in His own time and His own way, and will not that be far better?”
[In the knick of time. Many believe that Adam and Eve were destined to partake of the fruit, thus believing in satan's ruse that "there was no other way". The current President of the LDS church teaches such a false thing..."the fortunate Fall" as he calls it, which is paramount to teaching that satan's lie in the Garden was true. It is not. The post-2014 temple films depict Eve as understanding she must engage in sin in order to realize God's will. It is false doctrine depicted as truth. If Adam and Eve had not partaken of the fruit the outcome for this world would have differed considerably. They could have continued to learn from God directly, from His own voice, rather than being cast out of His presence. More on this later.]
Weston’s face did not turn in his direction either at this point or at any other time during the conversation, but his voice, addressed wholly to the Lady, answered Ransom’s interruption.
[The adversary is focused on his prey, locked in, studying its every move for any sign of weakness or vulnerability.]
“You see?” it said. “He himself, though he did not mean nor wish to do so, made you see a few days ago that Maleldil is beginning to teach you to walk by yourself, without holding you by the hand. That was the first branching out. When you came to know that, you were becoming really old. And since then Maleldil has let you learn much — not from His own voice, but from mine. You arc becoming your own. That is what Maleldil wants you to do. That is why He has let you be separated from the King and even, in a way, from Himself. His way of making you older is to make you make yourself older. And yet this Piebald would have you sit still and wait for Maleldil to do it all.” 
[satan deceives those that listen to him that God wants us to be separate from Him so that we grow and advance to be like Him. he lies and portrays himself as God's instrument, doing God's bidding.] 
“Go on,” said the Lady.
“Then listen,” said Weston’s body. “Have you understood that to wait for Maleldil’s voice when Maleldil wishes you to walk on your own is a kind of disobedience?”
[satan uses twisted logic to try to separate us from God. he lies and tells us that waiting for God's voice instead of acting on our own is disobedience to God.]
“I think I have.”
“The wrong kind of obeying itself can be a disobeying.”
The Lady thought for a few moments and then clapped her hands. “I see,” she said, “I see! Oh, how old you make me. Before now I have chased a beast for mirth. And it has understood and run away from me. If it had stood still and let me catch it, that would have been a sort of obeying — but not the best sort.”
“You understand very well. When you are fully grown you will be even wiser and more beautiful than the women of my own world. And you see that it might be so with Maleldil’s biddings.”
“I think I do not see quite clearly.”
“Are you certain that He really wishes to be always obeyed?”
“How can we not obey what we love?”
“The beast that ran away loved you.”
“I wonder,” said the Lady, “if that is the same. The beast knows very well when I mean it to run away and when I want it to come to me. But Maleldil has never said to us that any word or work of His was a jest. How could our Beloved need to jest or frolic as we do? He is all a burning joy and a strength. It is like thinking that He needed sleep or food.”
“No, it would not be a jest. That is only a thing like it, not the thing itself. But could the taking away of your hand from His — the full growing up — the walking in your own way — could that ever be perfect unless you had, if only once, seemed to disobey Him?”
[satan still driving at the importance of independence from God to be like Him or to fully love Him] 
“How could one seem to disobey?”
“By doing what He only seemed to forbid. There might be a commanding which He wished you to break.”
["Seem". satan tries to diminish the ramifications of disobeying God. You cannot "seemingly" break a commandment. Breaking a commandment is breaking a commandment. No matter how you justify it or twist it to seem like a noble act. It is not. It is sin.] 
“But if He told us we were to break it, then it would be no command. And if He did not, how should we know?”
“How wise you are growing, beautiful one,” said Weston’s mouth.
“No. If He told you to break what He commanded, it would be no true command, as you have seen. For you are right. He makes no jests. A real disobeying, a real branching out, this is what He secretly longs for: secretly, because to tell you would spoil all.”
[satan and his followers pretend what they teach is part of some deeper secret, underlying the truth of God's plan.]
“I begin to wonder,” said the Lady after a pause, “whether you are so much older than I. Surely what you are saying is like fruit with no taste! How can I step out of His will save into something that cannot be wished? Shall I start trying not to love Him — or the King — or the beasts? It would be like trying to walk on water or swim through islands. Shall I try not to sleep or to drink or to laugh? I thought your words had a meaning. But now it seems they have none. To walk out of His will is to walk into nowhere.”
[The Lady correctly equates obedience to God's commandments with love of God. It is obedience to God's commandments that brings peace, joy, understanding, knowledge, and wisdom....not breaking them.] 
“That is true of all His commands except one.”
[satan does not relent. Like gradually increasing the gas on the stove to slowly raise the heat, the web he weaves begins to expand in complexity. The more we listen and try to argue with him, the more he twists and draws us in. He has vast knowledge of this and other worlds, the arguments and discussions of high and holy councils, the plan of God, etc. He uses all of that knowledge against us.]
“But can that one be different?”
“Nay, you see of yourself that it is different. These other commands of His — to love, to sleep, to fill this world with your children — you see for yourself that they are good. And they are the same in all worlds. But the command against living on the Fixed Island is not so. You have already learned that He gave no such command to my world. And you cannot see where the goodness of it is. No wonder. If it were really good, must He not have commanded it to all worlds alike? For how could Maleldil not command what was good? There is no good in it. Maleldil Himself is showing you that, this moment, through your own reason. It is mere command. It is forbidding for the mere sake of forbidding.”
“But why…?”
“In order that you may break it. What other reason can there be? It is not good. It is not the same for other worlds. It stands between you and all settled life, all command of your own days. Is not Maleldil showing you as plainly as He can that it was set up as a test — as a great wave you have to go over, that you may become really old, really separate from Him.”
[satan uses the true concepts of sacrifice and Abrahamic tests to deceive us into disobeying God's commandments. When we do so, we are really obeying satan and not God.] 
“But if this concerns me so deeply, why does He put none of this into my mind? It is all coming from you. Stranger. There is no whisper, even, of the Voice saying Yes to your words.”
[She holds to the truth and true ways of discerning truth. But satan always, always has a greater counter argument.]
“But do you not see that there cannot be? He longs — oh, how greatly He longs to see His creature become fully itself, to stand up in its own reason and its own courage even against Him. But how can He tell it to do this? That would spoil all. Whatever it did after that would only be one more step taken with Him. This is the one thing of all the things He desires in which He must have no finger. Do you think He is not weary of seeing nothing but Himself in all that He has made? If that contented Him, why should He create at all? To find the Other — the thing whose will is no longer His — that is Maleldil’s desire.”
[satan deceives by saying that others must be sent to teach us that we often must break God's commandments in order to grow and ascend, because God cannot ask us to break them, but that this is what God longs for in order for us to be like Him.]
“If I could but know this—”
“He must not tell you. He cannot tell you. The nearest He can come to telling you is to let some other creature tell it for Him. And behold. He has done so. Is it for nothing, or without His will, that I have journeyed through Deep Heaven to teach you what He would have you know but must not teach you Himself?” 
[satan and his servants, even unwitting ones, claim or pretend that they are true messengers, teaching something on God's errand in a way that is unique to his/satan's relationship to you - that only he alone can convey because of his position. This is a lie.]
Lady,” said Ransom, “if I speak, will you hear me?”
“Gladly, Piebald.”
“This man has said that the law against living on the Fixed Island is different from the other Laws, because it is not the same for all worlds and because we cannot see the goodness in it. And so far he says well. But then he says that it is thus different in order that you may disobey it. But there might be another reason.”
“Say it. Piebald.”
“I think He made one law of that kind in order that there might be obedience. In all these other matters what you call obeying Him is but doing what seems good in your own eyes also. Is love content with that? You do them, indeed, because they are His will, but not only because they are His will. Where can you taste the joy of obeying unless He bids you do something for which His bidding is the only reason? When we spoke last you said that if you told the beasts to walk on their heads, they would delight to do so. So I know that you understand well what I am saying.”
“Oh, brave Piebald,” said the Green Lady, “this is the best you have said yet. This makes me older far: yet it does not feel like the oldness this other is giving me. Oh, how well I see it! We cannot walk out of Maleldil’s will: but He has given us a way to walk out of our will. And there could be no such way except a command like this. Out of our own will. It is like passing out through the world’s roof into Deep Heaven. All beyond is Love Himself. I knew there was joy in looking upon the Fixed Island and laying down all thought of ever living there, but I did not till now understand.”
[She returns to peace from of confusion. For now, she is holding on to the understanding that only by operating within God's will, keeping His commandments, will we have joy and peace.]  
Her face was radiant as she spoke, but then a shade of bewilderment crossed it. “Piebald,” she said, “if you are so young, as this other says, how do you know these things?”
“He says I am young, but I say not.”
The voice of Weston’s face spoke suddenly, and it was louder and deeper than before and less like Weston’s voice. “I am older than he,” it said, “and he dare not deny it. Before the mothers of the mothers of his mother were conceived, I was already older than he could reckon. I have been with Maleldil in Deep Heaven where he never came and heard the eternal councils. And in the order of creation I am greater than he, and before me he is of no account. Is it not so?”
[satan shows his hand a bit.] 
The corpse-like face did not even now turn towards him, but the speaker and the Lady both seemed to wait for Ransom to reply. The falsehood which sprang to his mind died on his lips. In that air, even when truth seemed fatal,
only truth would serve. Licking his lips and choking down a feeling of nausea, he answered: “In our world to be older is not always to be wiser.”
“Look on him,” said Weston’s body to the Lady; “consider how white his cheeks have turned and how his forehead is wet. You have not seen such things before: you will see them more often hereafter. It is what happens — it is the beginning of what happens — to little creatures when they set themselves against great ones.”
[satan points to his greatness, his status, and his "rights", which have been denied due to his rebellion.] 
An exquisite thrill of fear travelled along Ransom’s spine. What saved him was the face of the Lady. Untouched by the evil so close to her, removed as it were ten years’ journey deep within the region of her own innocence, and by that innocence at once so protected and so endangered, she looked up at the standing Death above her, puzzled indeed, but not beyond the bounds of cheerful curiosity, and said: “But he was right. Stranger, about this forbidding. It is you who need to be made older. Can you not see?”
“I have always seen the whole whereof he sees but the half. It is most true that Maleldil has given you a way of walking out of your own will — but out of your deepest will.” 
“And what is that?”
“Your deepest will, at present, is to obey Him — to be always as you are now, only His beast or His very young child. The way out of that is hard. It was made hard that only the very great, the very wise, the very courageous should dare to walk in it, to go on — on out of this smallness in which you now live through the dark wave of His forbidding, into the real life. Deep Life, with all its joy and splendour and hardness.”
[He turns things around, trying now to raise within the Lady that some injustice has occurred by virtue of God's position relative to our own -- that we are only a beast, a child, acting "small", etc. That we need to overcome the position we find ourselves in to become like Him. It is false. Ransom tries to counter with the truth...]
“Listen, Lady,” said Ransom. “There is something he is not telling you. All this that we are now talking has been talked before. The thing he wants you to try has been tried before. Long ago, when our world began, there was only one man and one woman in it, as you and the King are in this. And there once before he stood, as he stands now, talking to the woman. He had found her alone as he has found you alone. And she listened, and did the thing Maleldil had forbidden her to do. But no joy and splendour came of it. What came of it I
cannot tell you because you have no image of it in your mind. But all love was troubled and made cold, and Maleldil’s voice became hard to hear so that wisdom grew little among them; and the woman was against the man and the mother against the child; and when they looked to eat there was no fruit on their trees, and hunting for food took all their time, so that their life became narrower, not wider.”
“He has hidden the half of what happened,” said Weston’s corpselike mouth. “Hardness came out of it but also splendour. They made with their own hands mountains higher than your Fixed Island. They made for themselves Floating Islands greater than yours which they could move at will through the ocean faster than any bird can fly. Because there was not always food enough, a woman could give the only fruit to her child or her husband and eat death instead — could give them all, as you in your little narrow life of playing and kissing and riding fishes have never done, nor shall do till you break the commandment. Because knowledge was harder to find, those few who found it became beautiful and excelled their fellows as you excel the beasts; and thousands were striving for their love…”
[satan twists the state of our fallen world, its supposed "greatness", as an exemplar to be emulated....making tall mountains (buildings), floating islands (ships)...equating starvation with sacrifice...there is nothing in Babylon to be emulated.]  
“I think I will go to sleep now,” said the Lady quite suddenly. Up to this point she had been listening to Weston’s body with open mouth and wide eyes, but as he spoke of the women with the thousands of lovers she yawned, with the unconcealed and unpremeditated yawn of a young cat.
“Not yet,” said the other. “There is more… He has not told you that it was this breaking of the commandment which brought Maleldil to our world and because of which He was made man. He dare not deny it.”
[he has saved one of the greatest twists for last: that breaking the commandment will bring something better.]
“Do you say this. Piebald?” asked the Lady.
Ransom was sitting with his fingers locked so tightly that his knuckles were white. The unfairness of it all was wounding him like barbed wire. Unfair … . unfair. How could Maleldil expect him to fight against this, to fight with every weapon taken from him, forbidden to lie and yet brought to places where truth seemed fatal? It was unfair! A sudden impulse of hot rebellion arose in him. A second later, doubt, like a huge wave, came breaking over him. How if the enemy were right after all? Felix peccatum Adae. [meaning: "O happy sin of Adam"] Even the Church would tell him that good came of disobedience in the end. Yes, and it was true too that he, Ransom, was a timid creature, a man who shrank back from new and hard things. On which side, after all, did the temptation lie? Progress passed before his eyes in a great momentary vision: cities, armies, tall ships, and libraries and fame, and the grandeur of poetry spurting like a fountain out of the labours and ambitions of men. Who could be certain that Creative Evolution was not the deepest truth? From all sorts of secret crannies in his own mind whose very existence he had never before suspected, something wild and heady and delicious began to rise, to pour itself towards the shape of Weston. ‘It is a spirit, it is a spirit,’ said this inner voice, ‘and you are only a man. It goes on from century to century. You are only a man…
[The battle against satan can seem unfair. That is why I am posting these conversations. So you can understand what you are up against. he has gone on "from century to century"...remember, "it is [only] a spirit", animating whatever host has acquiesced to his possession. Do not surrender one inch to his logic or twisting truths.] 
“Do you say this. Piebald?” asked the Lady a second time. The spell was broken.
“I will tell you what I say,” answered Ransom, jumping to his feet. “Of course good came of it. Is Maleldil a beast that we can stop His path, or a leaf that we can twist His shape? Whatever you do. He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed Him. That is lost for ever. The first King and first Mother of our world did the forbidden thing, and He brought good of it in the end. But what they did was not good, and what they lost we have not seen. And there were some to whom no good came nor ever will come.”
[And therein lies the rub, "Whatever you do. He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed Him. That is lost for ever." We will never know what good might have come had we always remained in obedience. There is loss. But thanks be to God that He can make good of our evil IF we turn to Him and seek His presence.]
He turned to the body of Weston. “You,” he said, “tell her all. What good came to you? Do you rejoice that Maleldil became a man? Tell her of your joys, and of what profit you had when you made Maleldil and death acquainted.”
[Ransom, in an inspired counter to all of "Weston's" twisted logic, skewers his opponent with the most damning truth of all -- that satan was defeated because Christ succeeded in His mortal mission to overcome sin and death.]
In the moment that followed this speech two things happened that were utterly unlike terrestrial experience. The body that had been Weston’s threw up its head and opened its mouth and gave a long melancholy howl like a dog; and the Lady lay down, wholly unconcerned, and closed her eyes and was instantly asleep. be continued...