Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Seeing the Hand of the Lord: Perspective and Timing

On Friday and Saturday, we went to Chicago primarily motivated by the desire to help one of my sons and his wife go to the Chicago Temple while my wife and I took care of the kids. The breakfast at the nearby Best Western Hotel where we stayed was a load of fun for the kids and made it easy for us to entertain them.  Afterwards, we went to the stunning Chicago Botanical Garden (one of my favorite places in the Midwest).

After photographing a few water lilies, I noticed one that protruded a few inches above the water and cast a distinct shadow. But with the sun reflecting so brightly off the calm surface of the water, it didn't seem that a shot would work. Then I realized that if I could lean over it far enough enough, perhaps the shadow of the flower could block the excessive brightness of the sun and make a more balanced photo possible.

With the benefit of my long arms and legs and a solid iron railing (nope, this post isn't about Lehi's Dream and the iron rod!), I was able to find an angle that worked and get some shots I really liked, like this one:


I took a few more shots, then something strange happened: a bubble rose up from the bottom of the pond, disturbing the tranquil surface of the water as it made sudden waves around the flower. I captured the moment and found it beautiful. A second later the waves were gone, but a remnant of the bubble was still there as a reminder of what happened. Then it, too, vanished.


When I looked at these photos later, it occurred to me that some of the most precious viewpoints in life come from looking at things both from the right perspective and at the right time. Scenes that we might walk away from and ignore can offer great beauty, even miraculous beauty, when we strive to see them from a new perspective. There are small miracles waiting to be revealed in our life if we'll let the Lord guide us, both how look and things and when we take action.

A related analogy, for example, could be made for the Book of Mormon. Some people have given up on it and the Church because they are offended by the translation process and the silly notion of Joseph Smith dictating from a seerstone as he stares at it with his head in a hat to block out light that would otherwise be too bright to let him easily see whatever his mind perceived during the translation process. Dictating from a hat, how silly! But without too much stretching, there's a much more interesting perspective: he was dictating non-stop without a manuscript to read from, without notes, without rewriting, and in so doing gave us a text with layer after layer of beauty, rich in ancient elements, abounding in Semitic wordplays, revealing details from the Arabian Peninsula and the ancient world that were beyond the knowledge he could have accessed in that day. It is a miraculous text, and dictating it from a hat makes it all the more obvious that something miraculous is before us. As for timing, this is the day for Book of Mormon studies. The bubbles of knowledge aare rising after decades of waiting, and the view is more beautiful than ever.

I'd welcome your analogies on other topics from my little lily moment, if you care to share any.

36 comments:

Linda Strickland said...

No comment other than this writing has been a blessing to me today and one that I will ponder on for quite a while. Thank you for sharing.

James Anglin said...

Amid all the noise of sensory stimulus through which we constantly move, humans are good at perceiving a few meaningful patterns. That's good, because often the patterns really are there. So we can see the tiger before it springs, or hear another person talking. Human brains have such hair-trigger sensitivity to patterns, however, that we can get trigger happy. And the sense of a pattern emerging from noise is not a neutral perception. It tends to feel convincing, even when the dots which our brains connect so clearly aren't really connected at all.

Pattern recognition is good, and it would be stupid to call it all an illusion. I think it's also dangerous, however, not to bear in mind how much of pattern recognition is really a complex process that goes on inside our heads, and not just a direct experience of facts in the world. It can happen that we read things into our experience that are not really there. Patterns aren't just illusions, but they can be illusions. Pattern recognition is a good thing, and humans are good at it; but there are lots of other things like that, too. Eating and drinking, for instance; or sex. If we don't recognize that sometimes good things go wrong, we're likely heading for trouble.

Anonymous said...

It's actually more likely for someone like James Anglin to deny a real pattern's existence in the Book of Mormon than for an apologist to see an illusory pattern. There are many patterns in the Book of Mormon whose presence is not something the apologist desperately wants to find, but whose presence the denier desperately wants not to be there. The apologist simply notes its presence, how it's interesting and beautiful, and follows it to the logical conclusion that it wasn't very likely for Joseph Smith to have produced it in a steady dictation.

One recent study I just saw is about something concrete but rather dry. It has to do with how the King James Bible uses the preposition "of" to mean "by" quite frequently. This study estimates that the KJB does so 72 percent of the time (129 out of 178 instances checked). It turns out that the BofM does so about 54 percent of the time (87 out of 160 instances checked). An example of this is Matthew 10:22, Mark 13:13, Luke 21:17: "and ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake." The BofM has one of each with the verb "hate" at Jacob 7:26 and 3 Nephi 16:9.

Where this study becomes interesting is in the fact that pseudo-biblical writings are less than 10%, and usually less than 5% in their usage of the preposition "of" to mean "by". These authors knew the Bible as well or better than Joseph Smith did in the late 1820s, were better educated in their time than he was in the late 1820s, but missed matching this rather simple and clear feature of the KJB. By the year 1800 the language had changed, and "of" was used infrequently to mean "by", and these authors reflect that tendency. We would not read the wide array of agentive "of" usage in the BofM had JSJr been its author, and even if he had been presented with ideas. Ten percent or less is what would have been the likely result.

According to this study, there are other rather dry but concrete linguistic features sprinkled throughout the BofM that present the same type of evidence. Such linguistic patterns overturn the pseudo-biblical deception made by non-linguists. They rely on brute-force n-gram analyses that can only make weak claims to influence. Solid linguistic analysis shows otherwise. This includes agentive "of" and relative-pronoun usage and other things.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Anon, the linguistic issue you mention is interesting. Has that study been published somewhere that we can access easily? I would definitely be interested in learning more.

Everything Before Us said...

Anon,

You are saying that the "of/by" usage in the Book of Mormon closely matches the "of/by" usage in the KJV, therefore, Joseph Smith most likely didn't write the BoM because pseudo-biblical authors can't pull off such a feat.

However, the eModE crowd is telling us that the frequency of eModE in the Book of Mormon does not match the frequency found in the KJV, and therefore Joseph Smith couldn't have written the BoM because if he did, we'd expect it to more closely match the KJV.

I can't keep up with this stuff...

It doesn't matter what conclusion is drawn...a close match to the KJV or not a close match to the KJV. Either way, it all works out to prove that Joseph Smith didn't write it!

suord said...

I don't see that Anon 1248 said this closely matches the KJV. Anon just gave some figures. I think s/he'd say it's a pretty good match, and much better than that done by people like Snowden and Hunt.

Since this topic is on patterns, there are patterns in the Book of Mormon that closely match the KJV, that are a pretty good match with the KJV, and that are pretty different from the KJV. For instance, past-tense expression is pretty different, but the BofM is still closer to the KJV than pseudo-biblicals are (see Carmack's article).

Just because there is complexity in the linguistic reality doesn't mean one can discard the implications. And just because you don't like the implications doesn't mean that it's reasonable to dismiss them. Language is complex. And as in other disciplines, it requires training over a period of years to obtain some expertise and understanding. I wouldn't presume to lecture Mr Lindsay about chemical engr or innovation fatigue. I would try to learn from him. And I wouldn't presume to dismiss the work of Skousen and Carmack without studying it carefully and obtaining some understanding of linguistic analysis.

James Anglin said...

@Anonymous 12:48 —

Let me see if I follow this argument. I'll attempt to paraphrase it, and you can tell me whether I've gotten it right.

To write the Book of Mormon himself, Joseph Smith would have had to imitate one specific feature of King James English more closely than a half-dozen other authors managed to imitate that particular feature. So therefore, the angel Moroni.

Is that it?

If it's not, I'm sorry for misunderstanding. Could you please explain it again?

If it is basically what you're trying to say, though, then I think I see why you find more miraculous patterns in the Book of Mormon than I do.

Anonymous said...

Let's clarify this for others, James, lest they be led astray by your willful disregard of the bigger picture, which you know well at this point. The Book of Mormon has dozens of specific features and patterns that show its language to be archaic and well-formed, sometimes matching biblical usage, sometimes not. Agentive "of" is just one more bit. I know that you know all of this. Yet you intractably and disingenuously act as though that is not the case. A transparent move on your part.

A reasonable person would not expect a text authored by JSJr to match earlier English so extensively, but it does. It is not a pseudo-biblical text in its form, since those writings match earlier usage superficially in certain respects and have many markings of modern English. Again, the BofM is not simply biblical in its matching of Early Modern English. It matches a wide array of earlier usage which is either not found in modern English or is rare. It also has a large amount of archaic meaning, which is either not found in modern Engish or is rare. So, all of this makes it extremely likely that it is a revealed text, as JSJr said it was, and which agrees with the witnesses of the dictation.

Everything Before Us said...

"So all of this makes it extremely likely that it is a revealed text..."

Is there some accepted, standard criteria we can refer to determine if a text is "revealed" or not? How can we tell if a text is revealed? Is it possible with to confidently apply this criteria to other texts to ascertain if they are revealed or not?

James Anglin said...

So I was basically right in my interpretation of the "of-as-by" argument? You rely on the fact that you have many other arguments like it, because they should be more convincing in total than they are individually?

The language of the Book of Mormon is, on the evidence supplied by apologists, a hodgepodge. In some ways, and in some parts, it matches the King James Bible. It overuses some archaic constructions. It uses some old-fashioned words. In some passages, though, it sounds a lot more modern. That sounds a lot like a fake, to me.

Comparing the Book of Mormon to "pseudo-Biblical literature" in general is hooey. The Wikipedia entry for "books in the style of the King James Bible" includes only eight other publications besides the Book of Mormon. All of them seem to be much shorter works, and none was written with serious pretense that the language was authentic. They were published over a span of 100 years, some in Britain and some in the US, and they address a wide range of subjects. So they obviously differ a lot from each other. This small and disparate comparison set is nowhere near enough material to provide any kind of evidence on what a fake KJV-like text would have to be like.

You keep sneering at me for willful blindness because I'm not impressed by any of this quantitative data. What you're doing with all this data, though, is a well-known rhetorical device. It's a snow job. You throw up technical-sounding data like blinding blizzard squalls, to try to intimidate critics.

First of all your data, at least as far as you've mentioned it here, doesn't actually seem to be very good. Good data would include a lot more detail, including the lengths in words of the various texts being compared. There would be some breakdown of the longer texts into smaller units, to see for instance whether the Book of Mormon is consistently using "of" for "by", or whether instead those usages are concentrated within a few books or chapters. And good quantitative analysis would make an effort to be comprehensive in the set of "features" that it examined. You say there are dozens of features that make the Book of Mormon look good; but are these merely the cherry-picked best thirty-six features out of three hundred possible things that could be examined?

Secondly, even if the data you dealt with were really solid, the way you present it would be like a loose pile of bricks without mortar. You don't address interpretation. You don't take alternative explanations seriously; you don't even provide a single coherent explanation of your own. Even really solid data never just speaks for itself. To find dozens of anomalous things that don't make sense together is not evidence of miracle. It's what you expect to see when you look at noise.

Of course, a blog comment isn't a research article. I don't expect an exhaustive treatise here. You refer to your various percentage scores, though, as if they were substantial points that did speak for themselves. You don't seem aware of how far short the things you mention fall from being convincing, and of how common it is to find snow-job arguments on the internet. If you did appreciate what it really takes to make a quantitative argument, you wouldn't be sneering at me all the time for being unimpressed, because you'd know very well that I shouldn't be impressed by anything that has been presented so far. Instead you'd be doing more to convince me that what you have isn't merely a snow job.

Perhaps the person you're really trying to snow is yourself.

Everything Before Us said...

I botched this the first time around typing too fast. Try again.

Is there an accepted, standard of criteria that scientists, linguists, etc use in order to determine if a text is revealed or not? If there is, can we apply this criteria to other texts consistently and successfully?

Can you show me this criteria, and show me how the Book of Mormon fares against it?

If you cannot, then it is ridiculous to say, ""So all of this makes it extremely likely that it is a revealed text..."

You are talking as if there is such a criteria, and you are making the claim that the BoM is clearly a revealed text as determined by this criteria.

We all know there is no such criteria. Just because the BoM does all the amazing things you think it does, that in no way forces the conclusion that it is a revealed text.

Anonymous said...

The match between the BofM and the KJB is extensive, impressive, and complex. There is a large amount of expertly interwoven biblical language in the BofM text, something one would not expect possible from what is known of its production. Nick Frederick has studied this. The BofM matches biblical language better than pseudo-biblical writings.

The match between the BofM and eModE is extensive, impressive, and complex. There is a large amount of systematic older usage that is not found in the KJB but which is primarily or exclusively attested in the period before the year 1700, something one would not expect possible from what is known of its production. Pseudo-biblical writings represent a control, and have been used by various researchers to declare that the BofM was possible for Joseph Smith. But it turns out that the BofM exceeds them in many types of archaic usage.

Jeff, the study I saw hasn't been published yet but it probably will appear next year.

Anonymous said...

ebu, I think you know you've placed yourself in a precarious position. So be it.

Anglin, you're not very convincing, and I question your judgment, and I find it rather unfortunate.

Nevertheless, best wishes to both of you.

Everything Before Us said...

I made some typos, which is why I reposted....if that is a precarious situation in your opinion, you are delusional. The content of my two contributions are the same. The fact that you fail to address the content is sad.

What is the criteria by which we can consistently and effectively determine if a book is a "revealed text?"

Declaring that a text is a "revealed text" may sound perfectly rational in discussions with other Mormons. But in discussions with just about anyone else, it sounds really juvenile.

But if you believe in such things, surely you have some sort of criteria by which you can determine which texts are revealed and which are not. So what is it?

Anonymous said...

One thing that consistently seems to be overlooked in these linguistic studies is the "fact" that the Book of Mormon is a compilation of writings by many different authors over hundreds of years. This distinction is muddled by it being an abridgment by Mormon and then a translation by Joseph Smith. If these narratives were written by different authors however, there should be linguistic and stylistc differences captured in the translation. Therefore, any study that considers the entire book without taking this into account hasn't done its due dilligence.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:28

I'd be curious to know specifics. It's pretty weak to follow up James' detaled and reasoned argument with "I question your judgement." It causes one to question your position and your ability to judge.

Anonymous said...

OK, Anon 1246a, here you go.

Anglin: "It uses some old-fashioned words." Anglin knows Skousen has discussed a subset of archaic vocabulary from the BofM in at least two places. He also knows Carmack has presented a longish list of possible obsolete vocabulary items. He should know from these writings that this is not all of the archaisms found in the BofM.

Anglin: "It overuses some archaic constructions." This is a clear lie, since he knows that the BofM systematically uses archaic constructions on a massive scale appropriately and sophisticatedly. Anglin has read at least one article on point, and probably more. These show with many examples and much analysis that systematic archaic syntax in the BofM is widespread. Agentive "of" is just one more piece of evidence that BofM language is genuinely archaic, beyond what a 19c author could have accomplished.

Anglin: "In some passages, though, it sounds a lot more modern." This goes against recent articles on the earliest text. Also, I have gathered that Anglin hasn't studied the earliest text of the BofM (the 2009 Yale edition) and early and late Modern English carefully. If that is so, as seems almost certain to me, then he has no way of knowing that what he wrote is true. Yet he presumes to pass judgment: "That sounds a lot like a fake, to me." He lacks knowledge to make this conclusion, but acts as though he does. He simply makes an assertion against reality because it agrees with a preconceived belief.

Anglin is ideologically driven and lies. He usually does so in reasonable language, but if you know the subject matter, it is possible to see through the veneer of fair sounding criticisms. He has studied some, but he ignores a large part of what he has read (including what he has read here) in order to make lying assertions. At this point his musings aren't terribly interesting. He's interested in the BofM and Mormonism for some reason. But he's ideologically dug in, so new insights into the BofM, even though some of them are substantive and groundbreaking, do not change his mind. He makes assertions against what Joseph Smith and many scribes and witnesses said. He makes assertions against recent evidence he has recently read. But when confronted with counter-assertions, he reveals himself to be a firm anti-Mormon.

Jeff Lindsay said...

I object to saying that Anglin lies. Not assimilating or accepting arguments made in an article he may have seen does not make a person a liar. Repeating one's old arguments even when we LDS defenders think we have exposed their foolishness does not make a person a liar. They may be biased, obstinate, contentious, etc., but I think there is no basis for such a harsh label.

Anonymous said...

This is just too rich. Anon 12:24, in an argument about grammar creates the word "sophisticatedly."

so·phis·ti·cat·ed
səˈfistəˌkādəd/
adjective

My smile for the day--thank you :^)

Orbiting Kolob said...

FWIW, there's nothing wrong with the use of the adverb "sophisticatedly" by Anon 12:24. The word is not Anon 12:24's invention, either. (See this Merriam-Webster entry.)

Also: am I the only one who thinks "Anon" sounds like a Book of Mormon character?

And it came to pass that after Anon had smitten off the head of Ibid, he did address the elders of Passim....

;-)

Anonymous said...

Just because you add an -ly at the end of something doesn't make it an adverb.

Check a real dictionary or try looking up the word in an online dictionary (even the Merriam-Webster version) and see where it gets you. I don't have access to the OED--maybe there is evidence of EmodE usage and he was channeling Joseph Smith.

Orbiting Kolob said...

I have a real dictionary, thank you very much. Several, in fact. The one here at my desk is a 1981 Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, and yes, it lists sophisticatedly as an adverb.

Did you follow the Merriam-Webster link I provided? Sophisticatedly is right there. You'll find it at Dictionary.com as well.

Know where else you'll find it? In the Oxford Dictionary of American English.

Just because something sounds wrong to a grammar snob doesn't mean it really is wrong.

Anonymous said...

My apologies to you and anon. . .

Orbiting Kolob said...

And my apologies for my harsh tone....

Jude said...

I think your characterization of the critical reaction to Joseph Smith's translation process using a peep stone and a hat is unfair. It isn't just that it's "silly." The problem is that the process for translating the Book of Mormon is indistinguishable from folk magic. We know that folk magic doesn't work, so reasoning by analogy, why should the process work any better when it comes to translating ancient records? To make this point clearer, suppose that Joseph Smith had translated the Book of Mormon using Tarot cards. Wouldn't this raise suspicion about the results? To simply characterize the critical viewpoint as labeling the translation process as "silly" misses the best parts of the criticism. It's much worse than silly.

bearyb said...

Is there some accepted, standard criteria we can refer to determine if a text is "revealed" or not? How can we tell if a text is revealed? Is it possible with to confidently apply this criteria to other texts to ascertain if they are revealed or not?

If by "revealed" you mean "from God" then yes. The biblical criteria is to "do His will" to know the source. The Book of Mormon criteria would include that, but specifically mentions asking God with real intent, among other things.

Do you believe the Bible is the revealed word of God? If so, how did you figure that out?

bearyb said...

The problem is that the process for translating the Book of Mormon is indistinguishable from folk magic.

The problem with that being a problem is that we really don't know much about the translation process. Joseph Smith did not leave many details concerning it.

But it exists, and is not easily dismissed by serious inquirers.

Go ahead and disprove its claims if you can. In the process you can take down a whole religious movement that seems to be growing. But please hurry, before it fills the earth.

James Anglin said...

Thank you, Jeff. I also object to saying that I lie.

And I don't think I'm ideologically driven to attack the Book of Mormon, either. I definitely do have my own ideology, but it's one that is comfortable with the existence of legitimate religious texts besides the ones in which I myself find inspiration. I don't believe that the Koran is really the word of God, for instance, but I accept the Muslim claim that Mohammed regularly went into short trances in which he would pronounce these verses, and that his utterances were preserved with reasonable accuracy by followers who were waiting to do just that. I don't speak Arabic, so I'm prepared to accept the statements of people who do speak it, that the Koran is such amazing Arabic poetry that no normal person could have produced it. My theory is that Mohammed was a historically gifted poet, perhaps subconsciously.

As far as my ideology is concerned, the Book of Mormon could absolutely have a similar status to the Koran. If I criticize Mormon arguments about the Book of Mormon, it's because I really see problems with the arguments.

James Anglin said...

In particular these linguistic arguments just are not very good — as apologetic arguments. That is, they are inherently unable to prove that the text could not have been made up by Joseph Smith and/or associates. I certainly don't mean by that, however, that studying the Book of Mormon language, or making blog posts about such studies, are stupid or pointless things to do.

For Mormons who already believe in the Book of Mormon for other reasons, it may be very interesting to learn that its language is a curious hybrid that includes features which might have been more typical in pre-KJV dialects. I myself have even suggested reasons, which might make sense from a Mormon viewpoint, why a divinely translated text should have such an exotic quasi-dialect as its target language.

It's only as apologetic arguments, to try to prove the Book's authenticity to non-Mormons, that the linguistic studies fall so far short.

James Anglin said...

The basic reason they fall short is simply that the text of the Book of Mormon, whatever else it may be, is perfectly possible to read and pronounce. Nobody even noticed all these weird linguistic features until quite recently. The text passed for King James English, more or less, for more than one hundred years. That means that there's nothing literally impossible about producing the text of the Book of Mormon. And so the only possible argument against a faked text is that producing the particular kind of language of the Book of Mormon would somehow have been psycholinguistically impossible for anyone like Joseph Smith.

But psycholinguistics doesn't deal in impossibilities. People can and do speak and write in all kinds of crazy ways — and not even the most doctrinaire Chomskyan imagines otherwise. Chomskyan innate grammar is about recognizing correct forms in a given dialect. People can freely choose to speak in ways that they know are incorrect in their normal dialects. They can adopt new grammatical rules, and follow them. It's difficult for adults to adopt the precise new rules of a foreign language, but the problem that adult second-language learners face is that they clumsily adopt the wrong new rules, not that they are stuck forever with only the same old rules they learned when they were young.

Precisely what kinds of limits so people face when they try to adopt new ways of speaking? That's an active research topic. Most of the basic questions are still open, even for the ordinary case of people trying honestly to learn a living foreign language. There has been very little study, if any, of what psychological barriers there might be for archaic dialects deliberately imitated or invented, for literary reasons or for fraud.

If we don't count the Book of Mormon itself, then statistical analysis of the handful of other pseudo-Biblical texts from the 18th and 19th centuries is a decent effort at beginning that kind of study. But it's only the tiniest beginning step, and it can't go much further. There just isn't enough of a corpus to say anything definite. The control group is much too small.

Even that baby-step kind of study might conceivably hurt the Book of Mormon, by showing too close a resemblance between the Book's text and one or more confirmed fake texts. But even if all eight of the other pseudo-Biblical documents had proven to be exactly similar to each other (which in fact they aren't), but very different from the Book of Mormon (when in fact they're only all that different in some respects), all that this would have shown would be that Joseph Smith could not have been quite like those other eight guys. By no means would it have proven that he couldn't have written the Book of Mormon. The control group is simply too small to support such strong statements.

(I'm not a linguist, but my wife is a full professor of linguistics. She was a post-doc for five years at the same Max Planck Institute that Royal Skousen visited at one point on sabbatical. I've met a lot of her colleagues, some of whom are big names in their fields, and after twenty-odd years of conversations with professional linguists, I think I have some take on how linguists think. So if I make a linguistic claim of my own, you can be skeptical, but if I tell you that your linguistic claim sounds dubious, you might want to re-check it. And by re-checking, I don't just mean re-reading assertions made by a couple of Mormon scholars that haven't even passed linguistics peer review.)

James Anglin said...

@ Anonymous 12:06 —

Whether or not you are the same Anonymous with whom I'm at loggerheads now, the point about the Book of Mormon (supposedly) being an edited collection from many authors is a good one. Unless its translation for some reason aimed at producing a single voice, one would expect the language of such a compiled collection to be varied. If a really good translator actually wanted to convey some of the flavor of these diverse styles, one might expect some quite quirky variations in language.

One might also expect quirky variation if several conspirators combined to concoct a fake text, or even if just one faker did it in a hurry, with a style that lurched around with the mood of the day. Stylistic variation won't prove authenticity.

But if won't disprove it, either. It would be consistent with authenticity, for a compiled text that was expertly translated.

Jude said...

The problem with that being a problem is that we really don't know much about the translation process. Joseph Smith did not leave many details concerning it.

Others did leave details, enough that the church's own website says he used a peep stone in a hat, as this blog post also admitted. That's enough to show the similarity with scrying and other forms of folk magic. The means matters as much as the end.

Anonymous said...

James, what is it that compels you to repeatedly state opinions on things you know little about?

bearyb said...

The means are important, I suppose, but probably not in the way I think you mean.

There are many instances in the scriptures of those who incorrectly based their judgments of the validity of an end on the means. That is one reason why so many rejected Jesus' claims of being the Christ, for example. They looked at his birthplace, background, upbringing, and appearance and judged otherwise.

It is expressly stated that "by small and simple means" shall great things be brought to pass.

Maybe we shouldn't be so focused on the means sometimes...

bearyb said...

James, because of the analytical way with which you seem to approach most subjects here I was intrigued by your statement:

I definitely do have my own ideology, but it's one that is comfortable with the existence of legitimate religious texts besides the ones in which I myself find inspiration.

Assuming that at least some of the texts in which you find inspiration are religious in nature, are you comfortable sharing what those might be, and why you accept them?

bearyb said...

In response to your (Jeff's) suggestion at the end of this post about other analogies one might think of pertaining to your lily photos, I sat contemplating the final picture you posted. It occurred to me that it could be likened to each of us, that as we face the light (and heat) of the day, we show a side of ourselves that is much more beautiful and meaningful to others than what we might keep hidden in the dark profile of our shadows. It is important that we understand that the Lord comprehends our entire selves, but it is not necessary or appropriate to be completely open to everyone about all aspects of our lives.

Also, it might appear that the shadow in the water is the part actually facing the light (since it seems to be blocking it), when in fact it is the real flower doing so. That could remind us to carefully consider the source of our inspiration and enlightened ideas to be sure they are based in truth and real light, and not the illusions of them.