Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What I Like About the Earth: Part 11, Dirt Roads

Yes I like dirt roads. They have character, and they keep the faint of heart away from the really interesting places. I remember going for a ride once with a few friends and as we left the pavement and started bumping over rocks one girl in the car said to the driver, "Oh! This is a very rough road! I hope the rocks don't break your car! Aren't you worried that your car will break?" He was driving a Jeep Cherokee (old body style). The funny thing is at the exact moment she said that I had been thinking, "Wow! This is a nice dirt road. They just graded it." I asked her if she had ever been on a dirt road before and she said that she had never even seen a dirt road in her life (though I later told her brother that story and he said that was not true. There was a dirt road close to their house growing up, but they were from Florida and dirt roads in Florida are not the same as dirt roads in the mountainous West).

This one I call Caravan.

But beware the sharp rocks.
I call this one Dust Trails.
This one has the not so interesting name The Straight Road. It's cropped from a larger picture, to emphasize the road more. The original had much more sky in it (over half). Notice the tire off to the side of the road. We weren't the only ones to lose a tire.

Monday, June 29, 2009

What I Like About the Earth: Part 10, Desolate Places

I know it may be strange to like desolate places but there is just something about them that invites contemplation and thought. I remember an experience I had with a friend of mine who had grown up in New Hampshire but went to college in the West. We were standing outside a house near the edge of a city and a light but silent breeze was blowing. He made the comment that everything felt weird, the breeze, the grass, the air itself, just felt weird and that it was something he had never felt before in his life. I told him that it was the feeling of desolation, and it can be very common in the West. It tends to happen more at high altitudes but this may be because there are less plants, and also when there is a very light almost imperceptible breeze. Anyone who has experienced the feeling knows what I am talking about.

These are pictures of desolate places. The pictures cannot fully convey the feeling, but those who have felt it will know.

This one I call Desolation.
This one I call And I Was Alone.
I was playing around with Photoshop and this one turned out nicely:
This one I call A Desert Place.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What I Like About the Earth: Part 9, Wild Flowers

These tend to speak for themselves. You will have to look closely at the first picture, I count seven different types of wildflowers.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What I Like About the Earth: Part 8, Boulder Fields

I know this may seem like an unusual thing to enjoy, but I find it particularly enjoying to play in a field of boulders. They can be very interesting with a lot of places to explore and many places to hide.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Religious Origins of Our Democratic Society

One contemporary issue that confronts us today is the role of religion in public life. Unfortunately the issue is whether or not traditional religious values or morals can or should be used to determine political and governmental questions. While this issue warrants an extensive review, for now I will only touch briefly on one topic, the origins of a democratic society. In mentioning this I will draw on an unusual source, Friedrich Nietzsche.

In several of his books, most notably in the first section of On the Genealogy of Morals and in Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche deals with the rise of Christian morality, or as he calls it, slave-morality. I will not attempt to give any type of analysis of his Master-Slave morality beyond a simple explanation to give context to his comments.

Simply put, according to Nietzsche the "strong" people of the world have the ability to create morality. They are the "masters" and they determine what is "good". After determining what is good the masters then consider everything else to be bad, or at least everything that impedes the good. The masters then impose their morality on the "weak" forcing them to accept it. In Nietzsche's interpretation the strong make up the minority, but they have the ability and the right to impose their morality (or value system) on the weak because they are strong and they can do it, and the weak must humbly or meekly accept their judgments of value (i.e. what is good and what is bad).

Nietzsche continues and explains that the rise of Christian morality was merely a reaction by the slaves to the master morality. The slaves in seeking to dominate the strong could not do so through force (as the masters dominate the slaves) thus they must do so through other means such as creating a morality where the strong must "voluntarily" abdicate their power for the "good of the community". Through this means the weak gain power over the strong and all people are "made equal", which according to Nietzsche means that the strong cannot exercise that which is their "right". It is this point that I wish to make, and it is also one of the points made by Nietzsche in his Master-Slave morality, that the concept of equality, of legal, political and social equality is derived from Judeo-Christian morality. As Nietzsche puts it in Section 202 of his book Beyond Good and Evil, "the Democratic movement is the inheritance of the Christian movement."

In effect, as Nietzsche argues, the whole concept of a democratic system, a system based on personal equality, is an attempt to deprive the privileged and strong of their right to govern and to create "morality", which is to say good and evil, right and wrong. Because the strong try to (and sometimes do) impose their judgments of value on everyone else, this inherently creates a social order of inequality. Some are privileged due to their "strength" while others are "forced" to meekly follow due to their weakness. On the other hand, under Judeo-Christian morality, or slave morality as Nietzsche calls it, everyone must be afforded the same ability and no one has claim to any special rights or privileges above anyone else, which is the foundation of a democratic society.

Thus in the question of what place does religion have in a free and democratic society, I would agree with Nietzsche in that religion, and the Judeo-Christian tradition in particular, is the foundation of a free, equal and democratic society. And if we as a society reject our Judeo-Christian heritage, we will reject the very thing that gives us our democratic society. We will lose the very foundation for our claim that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and that no one should be afforded rights and privileges above, over and apart from all others.

I find it interesting that the portions of our society that most strongly call for the eradication of Christianity from public life are those that apparently have abandoned "slave morality" as they would call it, and have wholly given themselves over to Nietzsche's master morality. They do not live by principles of equality, but rather by the arbitrary and admittedly self-serving morality so strongly and clearly advocated by Nietzsche. But in a fit of irony they do so by claiming it is their "democratic" right and that they should be afforded the "inalienable" right to impose their morality (or lack thereof) on all others.

I find it sad that a price we pay to live in our free society is that we must tolerate the preaching of the false priests and Anti-Christs who are so intent on destroying the very thing that allows them to do so. We must tolerate the Nehors who endeavor to give the "masters" their "privileged" status, and then attempt to enforce it by the sword (despite it being the means to their own destruction). We must also tolerate the words of the Korihors, or Anti-Christs, who want nothing more than to eradicate the very system that gave them the freedom to act, and replace it with a system of masters and slaves, where a privileged few are afforded the "right" to determine what is good and what is evil.

I choose to keep our Judeo-Christian heritage a prominent part of our government and our society, because it is what gave us our freedom in the first place, and I want to keep it that way.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Personal Parenting Philosophy

As the time is now approaching when I will have to face the reality of being a father, I have thought about the proper approach to being a father and parenting in general. The question is how to best approach it so that I can say that I have done all that I could possibly do. There is one verse in the scriptures that has to do with being a father that when it was first pointed out to me I thought, "That is how I should act as a father." The verse can be found in Genesis 18:19.

"For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him."

I think that many people in Christianity forget how great a man Abraham was, and how much he influenced the world. Despite his example and influence I rarely hear people say, "Try to be more like Abraham, he was a good man." There were great promises made to Abraham and part of the restored gospel includes an understanding that the promises made to Abraham are available to us. What made Abraham worthy to receive these blessings is that he commanded "his children and his household after him", that "they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment".

That is something I want to emulate.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Friend's Defense of Marriage

Recently I received a note from a friend where he shared with me something he had written in response to a question about same-sex marriage. I found his response very interesting and decided to share it here (I hope he doesn't mind). The reason why I decided to share his opinion was because he is not a professional or even a casual blogger. This is an opinion that should be shared.

"Marriage has been defined as between a man and a woman since this country started. The big issue is that homosexuals are trying to redefine marriage to include homosexual couples. No one is blocking their right to marry someone of the opposite sex as marriage dictates, but their effort to confuse what marriage really is. If the definition of marriage is changed to include same sex couples, this form of marriage will be preached in our public schools and by our government as equal to heterosexual marriage. Adoption agencies will be forced to allow homosexual couples to adopt children, ministers of all religions would be forced to marry gay couples even though it is against their beliefs, and many other huge legal ramifications will come as a result.

Legalizing gay unions is also the same thing as gay marriage, except the term marriage is not used. Traditional marriages performed by the justice of the peace were and are still called civil unions. The only difference between a union and marriage is that in unions the court marries you and for marriages a minister marries you. Legislators try to sell the union idea because people are less shocked by the label then when marriage is used. They also try to sell the idea that if homosexual unions take place, without the marriage title, that It will insulates schools from preaching homosexual marriage, and preachers from having to marry homosexual couples by force of law. This may be true for now, but can you see how the line between unions and marriage almost doesn't exist? How long do you think it would be before that fussy line doesn't exist and unions turn into fully legally recognized marriage? True, it’s anyone’s guess, but do you want to take the chance that your kids or grandkids will be confused about what marriage they should have? Please let’s not let it get that far."

Monday, June 8, 2009

What I Like About the Earth: Part 7, Water on Flowers

Flowers are pretty enough but after a light rain it is always special to go look at not just the flowers but the water droplets on them as well.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What I Like About the Earth: Part 6, Light Snowfall

There is just something about the mixture of white snow with the green of plants that makes a light snowfall in the spring so beautiful. When I saw this I just had to take a picture.Here is another shot from a different angle:

I have used both of these as backgrounds for my computer at various times.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What I Like About the Earth: Part 5, Trees

I am still amazed that something like a tree would, or even could, grow. I like it when the grow tall. I like it when they fall down. I like their shade, the colors, their leaves or needles. I like their bark and trunk and roots. Their branches are exceptionally interesting. Sometimes they make flowers and I like that too.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What I Like About the Earth: Part 4, Lakes

There are many different types of lakes, but for this post I am appreciating the still, mountain lakes. There is just something so peaceful about these lakes. When I see them, or even just a picture of them, I stop and look. Sometimes for a very long time. There is just so much beauty there to see.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Every Once in a While...

Every once in a while I run across a statement that is truly, well...um...unique. I came across the following comment on YouTube actually. It was in response to a video that you can find here.

"Why is liberalism evil and conservatism good? There is no good or evil. That gives your arguments a religous tone that has no place being there. It is about freedom.

That is what this nation, and all of its greatness, is about at it's core.

It is not about good vs evil. Right vs Wrong. It is about free or slave.

Anyone can say that their own view is right and someone elses view is wrong, but to date..no one has proved it."

As in cases like this I really can't think of a good response to this comment. I think the comment itself does an adequate job of disproving itself. Despite that I would like to take a moment to point out that this comment does a perfect job at demonstrating the prevalence and pervasiveness of moral (and ethical relativism) in our current society. If this quote makes no sense to you it may be because you recognize that there is good and evil and that there is right and wrong. It is already hard enough to teach people what is right and what is wrong, but when they begin to deny that there is even right and wrong, then things become truly difficult.

Even in attempting to deny there is right and wrong, good and evil, the person making the comment gives a standard for good and evil, right and wrong. Thus we see the underlying problem of moral relativism, even by rejecting clear morals or any moral foundation they must put in its place some other moral standard, in this case freedom. Thus by rejecting all moral and ethical axioms they create a new one, that there should be no axioms. This logical inconsistency leads, or can lead to many problems. Anything that is inconsistent with reality can only bring trouble and heartache.

What I Like About the Earth: Part 3, Waterfalls

Whenever I see a waterfall I seem to always have to stop and look at it. There is just something about falling water that gives me a feeling of peace and overwhelming appreciation for the things of the Earth. I think I have more pictures of waterfalls that just about anything else.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What I Like About the Earth: Part 2, Mountains

I always remember growing up that where ever I looked I could see mountains. Nearly everywhere I went I could see mountains. They have always been such an amazing sight to see. There is so much to learn about mountains. How the form, how the come down, how they support life, how they affect the weather and how they stay up. It is truly wonderful to see the layers of rock, to find fossils or to just find a rock in the mountains. I hope that someday I can live in a place where I can see the mountains, because they are truly beautiful.
Our Mountain Home So Dear

Our mountain home so dear,
Where crystal waters clear
Flow ever free,
Flow ever free,
While thru the valleys wide
The flow’rs on ev’ry side,
Blooming in stately pride,
Are fair to see.

We’ll roam the verdant hills
And by the sparkling rills
Pluck the wildflow’rs,
Pluck the wildflow’rs;
The fragrance on the air,
The landscape bright and fair,
And sunshine ev’rywhere
Make pleasant hours.

In sylvan depth and shade,
In forest and in glade,
Where-e’er we pass,
Where-e’er we pass,
The hand of God we see
In leaf and bud and tree,
Or bird or humming bee,
Or blade of grass.

The streamlet, flow’r, and sod
Bespeak the works of God;
And all combine,
And all combine,
With most transporting grace,
His handiwork to trace,
Thru nature’s smiling face,
In art divine.

--Emmeline B. Wells