Daily GUIDE-ance:

Monday, July 7, 2008

Two Providences

Going back to Huck Finn:

WELL, I got a good going-over in the morning, from old Miss Watson, on account of my clothes ; but the widow she didn't scold, but only cleaned off the grease and clay and looked so sorry that I thought I would be- have a while if I could. Then Miss Watson she took me in the closet and prayed, but nothing come of it. She told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I would get it. But it warn't so. I tried it. Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks. It warn't any good to me without hooks. I tried for the hooks three or four times, but somehow I couldn't make it work. By-and-by, one day, I asked Miss Watson to try for me, but she said I was a fool. She never told me why, and I couldn't make it out no way.


I set down, one time, back in the woods, and had a long think about it. I says to myself, if a body can get anything they pray for, why don't Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on pork ? Why can't the widow get back her silver snuff-box that was stole ? Why can't Miss Watson fat up ? No, says I to myself, there ain't nothing in it. I went and told the widow about it, and she said the thing a body could get by praying for it was "spiritual gifts." This was too many for me, but she told me what she meant I must help other people, and do everything I could for other people, and look out for them all the time, and never think about myself. This was including Miss Watson, as I took it. I went out in the woods and turned it over in my mind a long time, but I couldn't see no advantage about it except for the other people so at last I reckoned I wouldn't worry about it any more, but just let it go. Sometimes the widow would take me one side and talk about Providence in a way to make a body's mouth water ; but maybe next day Miss Watson would take hold and knock it all down again. I judged I could see that there was two Providences, and a poor chap would stand considerable show with the widow's Providence, but if Miss Watson's got him there warn't no help for him any more. I thought it all out, and reckoned I would belong to the widow's, if he wanted me, though I couldn't make out how he was agoing to be any better off then than what he was before, seeing I was so ignorant and so kind of low-down and ornery.

yeah... Twain nails it about a million times better than I ever could have. I am a somewhat religious fellow- although it doesn't come entirely naturally to me- and I will right away admit that it is the secret of my success in so many ways- religion that is- but there are certain types of religious people who I just can't stand: The dumb ones, you know. By dumb I don't mean the less educated folks with a very simple faith- I mean the ones who seem to chose to be deliberately brainless and mean.


Ok... So maybe mean isn't quite the word I am after.

Here is what really digs me: The ones who think they have somehow managed to boil all the mysteries of the Universe (and all other universi) down into one simple, digestible ball of cheese.

Once during my short stint at BYU, I was taking a Book of Mormon class and I had to write a paper on some area of the BOM where it quoted Isiah. I wrote a very good paper (got a 100% on it) that assaulted a view exposited in the class textbook. It centered around the meaning of the phrase "familiar spirit" which any slightly decent student of the Old testament or of Dungeons and Dragons (I was both) could tell you means "a demonic power in partnership with a witch". There is no other intelligent interpretation. Well, the textbook tried to claim that it meant something else entirely-- (that the Book of Mormon would have a familiar feel to it if you had read the Bible, actually.)

I didn't have an alternative interpretation ready to hand yet, I could only tell that the textbook's interpretation was flat out lazy scholarship and nonsense.

I was kind of into this paper and started telling some of my friends about it. I immediately ran into resistance. The problem was that nobody could handle just Not Knowing the Answer. After I came up with an alternative interpretation, everybody I talked to was like : "Oh yeah- cool- the textbook is obviously wrong" but almost no one could handle the straight, unspun words fresh from the book.

But the fact is, life is all about not Knowing. The sphere of stuff we don't know is always a bazillion times bigger than the sphere of stuff we do know.

22 comments:

Brad Carter said...

"God, please protect me from your followers."

I miss my old bumper sticker.

timpani76 said...

"The dumb ones, you know. By dumb I don't mean the less educated folks with a very simple faith- I mean the ones who seem to chose to be deliberately brainless and mean."

Are there not dumb people in all walks of life? Why pick on just the religious ones?

Everyone Admires Mary said...

Did you get that particular insult this weekend? Is that what your rant is about?

BTW, I've been thinking of this insult for your insult of the day, and since there's no sense in emailing to myself, I want to tell it to you: "On the night you were conceived, your parents should have gone to the movies instead."

Eyepoke said...

No, that insult came from a guy I used to play chess with. He was an ... unique character. He used to say stuff to me like: "Hey you wanna see a proof?" and I be like: "yeah sure" and then he'd whip out some chalk and go to his chalk board and demonstrate the algebraic basis for calculus. Seriously he did this once. It was an interesting proof that I had forgotten from calc 1, and I think he just worked it out on his own for the heck of it.

Anyhow, once he asked me to explain why I took Mormonism seriously-- he had been raised LDS himself, but was not particularly practicing it anymore. I checked to make sure he was genuinely interested, and he was, so I explained some stuff for a while.

I said in essence that ... well I can't sum up what I said right now, but the end of the story is that after I finished he said: "I think you are a liar and your beliefs are stupid." I laughed outloud. He was joking.

Eyepoke said...

I like that bumper sticker Brad. I once saw one that said:

"Sorry I wasn't at church today, but I was busy practicing witchcraft and becoming a lesbian"

Bruce said...

i saw a bumper sticker once that said "porn star in training". i would say that i don't just hate the dumb religious people, but dumb people in general. it is realy annoying when people just fall in lock step with what they are told they are supposed to think. for example aprox 93% of black people plan on voteing for Obbama(this was still the case when they had another dem cannidate). if 65% of people agree an something political its usually considered a deciceve victory. we all need to ask questions. find some simblance of answers, and then talk to others about our theories. its how we grow intalectually. people dont often realize how stupid the things they tink are untill they say them out loud.

Anonymous said...

Dumb people can be found everywhere, (a bit like cute girls), but religious people have their own special brand of retard distinct from all others.

J

Everyone Admires Mary said...

Did you guys hear on the radio yesterday the guy saying that Christians ripped off the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus from much older religions like those of the ancient Egyptians and Indians? Apparently in their mythology Horace and some other deities were dead for 3 days before being being resurrected. While I have my own theories, what do y'all think? Unfortunately, Daniel was in the room, acting like he wasn't listening, until he started asking questions...now I have to undo the damage that was done. Why does my 5 year old have to be so sharp?! (He is very interested of the things of the Lord which I love, but MAN is it a big responsibility for Jeremy and me.)

Bruce - good point about people not realizing how dumb some of their ideas are until they say them out loud. I have personal experience with this one! ;)

Anonymous said...

Interesting!
Horace? What a wierd name for a diety! Was his wife's name Lucy?

So... did the dude on the radio have his Eygptology right?

It's a good thing that you have a sharp kid. And being as he is sharp, you won't be able to get him to not ask questions, hopefully ever. Questions are a good thing, sometimes even better than answers. If you try to get a kid to quit asking questions all you will succeed in doing, if you have a sharp kid, is keeping them from ever sharing thier questions with you. With a less sharp kid you might succeed in killing off their curiosity permanently. (that is a very bad thing.) I think it is important to let a kid wonder and ask questions, and I think it is also important for adults to admit when they don't know the answers.

So what are your thoeries about the commonalities between Christian and Pre-christian cosmologies?

J

Everyone Admires Mary said...

I am not really a big fan of Glover's show on 97.1, but I DO like Paranormal Tuesday. It was that conspiracy theory guy they always have on, so who knows how much truth there was to what he was saying. Here's my take, and maybe it's not well thought-out, but here's kind of what I'm thinking. The Bible says that God's laws are written on our hearts. It is also true that pretty much any religion has SOME grain of truth to it, otherwise people wouldn't follow it. I believe that the reason these religions had this same dead-for-3-days thing is that I think the story of God's redemption of man is universal. I think it may have been a foreshadowing of the truth of what was to come. I believe that the majority of religions weren't just made up by some guy. I think that religions are generally inspired by something - be it God or Satan. I think these stories had a basis of truth, which I think most spiritual beings would have had some knowledge of. Maybe I'm trying too hard to explain it away, but I've only had a couple of days to think about this, and I think you all know, I'm not a philosophy major or a spiritual guru of any kind. Just a regular, intellectually unstimulated house-wife.

As far as Daniel's being a sharp kid, I'm not trying to stop it, I just really feel my inadequacies as a parent when he asks deep questions. I worry about my ability to help him come to reasonable conclusions. As his parent, I am responsible to a certain extent for his spiritual growth. I don't want to be the reason that he turns away from Christ if (God forbid) that should ever happen. I'm gonna need to keep that kid soaked in prayer, if for no other reason than to save him from me!

So now I've given you my thoughts on the topic, let's hear yours.

(BTW - Horace was the jackal-headed god in ancient Egypt - I think his wife's name was actually Edna.)

Everyone Admires Mary said...

Oops! Horace was the Falcon-headed god. And his wife's name was really Hathor, and - you're gonna laugh - she was the divine cow.

Here's the reference link:

http://www.aldokkan.com/religion/horus.htm

Bruce said...

i think there is the ring of truth in most religions because we all started at the same sorce. had the same info, and as people started to spread out and pervert the story they had for what ever reason we end up with the diverging pathes.

Dana Cheryl said...

I agree Bruce. In the beginning there was Adam & Eve. They walked and talked with God. Their children also has close relationships with God. They knew a lot of things and I'm sure that the foreknowledge of the coming Messiah was mentioned more than once. While on the Ark I'm sure Noah & Mrs. Noah did a good deal of talking to their kids. So the knowledge went forth in varying forms as people spread out across the earth.

Anonymous said...

If I was going to hazar a guess I would probably go along with the general concencus here.

But for me the biggest point for me (and thanks MC for bringing in this interesting example) is that IT'S JUST A GUESS!

The question of why there is some shared imagry is not a religious question, its an intellectual and historical question. Long and short of it is that it's really not going to have any bearing on how I live my life.

Remember Puddleglum in The Silver Chair when the witch is trying to enchant him and the prince and the kids into believing that her underground world is the only world- that the sun and sky are just fantasies? Puddeglum's final response is an awesome summation of faith as a principle of Action (and power). Even if the witch is right and there is no Narnia, he is still going to try to live like a Narnian. He is on Aslan's side even if there is no Aslan.

The technicalities of history and science really are just technicalities, and should have very little bearong on how we live and how we treat each other.

J

Anonymous said...

DUH! I forgot all about the oral traditions of the older generations. That explanation makes tons of sense.

MC

timpani76 said...

"The technicalities of history and science really are just technicalities, and should have very little bearong on how we live and how we treat each other."

If you had not mispelled "bearing" this sentence would have been a lot more profound :)

That being said, I kind of forgot to point out that I liked your post overall, and that if I had not been so tired it would have been re-charging. I like the Narnia reference better than the Huck Finn reference, though. Sorry if I come off as grumpy, but we have no AC and our refrigerator is good and broken. And on my back porch.

Anonymous said...

Actualy "bearong" is the more correct Hebrew derivation of the...
uh- I'm retarded.

Thanks T-dog.Sorry about the AC and the fridge. "Dobby I deed a fidge"

Did everyone notice that I expanded the original post a day or two after I put it up?

J

Everyone Admires Mary said...

You know what? I thought it was longer, but stupid me, I didn't think that maybe you CHANGED it! I thought I was going a little loopy! So I didn't re-read.

timpani76 said...

Ha ha ha ha, I re-read it to catch any points I missed, but I thought it just seemed longer because I was dazed from the heat or something! I wondered why it seemed so much easier to understand your point the second time :)

Eyepoke said...

I caught part of that Dave Glover thing just now.(they replayed it Sat. night)(I love Dave Glover BTW) What I caught was a religious woman spazzing out majorly on Dave's guest. OI. All spazz, no actual thought. Was the whole show like that?

Everyone Admires Mary said...

I actually heard that too, and I almost called to tell you to listen. No, the whole show wasn't like that. I don't even know if they took any other calls. I heard that too (for the first time tonight), and thought the same thing. The guy that was saying this stuff also says he has a relationship with Jesus, but I wonder how he reconciles this in his mind if he believes it's all a bunch of stuff stolen by the Jews and later the Christians. Either he believes it or he doesn't. That's what I am more interested in. Glover even asked him how he could be a Christian and believe that. (It is quite central to the gospel - if it isn't true, then Jesus was a liar.) He didn't give a very satisfactory answer. Did you hear anything after the spazzy lady? I actually got to hear more of the show tonight than I did that night, b/c I didn't want my 5yo to have a crisis of faith, and he wasn't around tonight.

Eyepoke said...

No, I only caught a smallish part of Glove last night while I was running errands.