16 July 2006

Reflections on Introductions

So, I picked up Jesus the Christ at the library yesterday. I've never read this book before, but I decided it's high time that I started picking up some of the church classics. (No, From First Date to Chosen Mate does NOT count--though it is hillariously good reading, right Marisa?)

I've only just finished the introductions to the book (there are about three or four in my copy) describing how it came about, and I've already had several amazing realizations as a result.

The origins of the book have reinspired my desire to learn more about the history and mythology of BYU, or more generally the Church's role in higher education. Apparently, the inspiration for Jesus the Christ was a series of lectures given at what was called in the preface the Latter-day Saint University or alternately the University Sunday School. Very interesting.

Also, reading about this series of lectures reminds me of why I love being at BYU, or in Utah in general. Sure, as most people point out, you end up with some very inbred (ideologically speaking) church members. But I just love feeling like I am at the heart of the action in the church. Being at the place where it all happened, and is happening, and will happen. It just send chills down my spine to think of the steps we are making in the pursuit of truth and Zion. I don't think I could ever leave Utah for very long, for all my complaints about the heat. Not to mention that all my family is here; it's hard enough being an hour away from my grandparents and aunts and uncles--being in another state for very long might be impossible. I mean, maybe I could move out for a few years, but I definitely plan to raise my children in Utah, preferably Salt Lake.

The idea of University Sunday School brings me to another point, related to my previous complaints about Sunday School and the BYU Religion Department. Apparently this book was once used as a text for the "advanced Sunday School" class in the church. Why do they not have this anymore? I mean, you've got your Gospel Essentials, for new converts, etc. And then you have the specialized classes--family history, marriage and family, temple prep, mission prep. And then we just throw everyone else in Gospel Doctrine, which usually ends up being a pretty general review of the stories in the scriptures (with some questionable historical facts thrown in) and applications of the principles in them. But I can just see how much cooler Advanced Sunday School would be--kind of like CS Lewis Society, only maybe a little more doctrinal.

Then again, maybe this kind of distinction was done away with because of the possibility for pride and contention: who gets to go to advanced SS? And if it's by choice, how do you handle the difference between those who chose to go and those who don't, without saying one group is more spiritual, or mainstream, or intellectual . . . . Possibly also done away with because of the expansion of the church--not every ward would have someone qualified enough to teach it, if anyone can consider themselves to be. Maybe I should just trust the Church's organization more. It's all done for a reason, I assume.

Finally, James E. Talmage is definitely going on my list of writing heroes, which is good, since the current list is very short: Orson Scott Card and CS Lewis. I mean, what better place to write a book than in the temple? I've got to remember that for when I finally get around to writing these books that keep poking into my mind. Also, he sets a good example in that books never get written when you have your hands in too many other projects. I mean, Jesus the Christ would probably have never been finished had the First Presidency not almost ordered him to work on it exclusively. This says something about the productivity of taking on too many projects at once (Ben, this means you).


Marisa VanSkiver said...

Hey, "First Date to Chosen Mate" is like inspired! You should recognize its genius! ;)

Ben Crowder said...

~squirm~ :)

Good point. And yet it's so hard not to.

Advantages of serialization, or doing things one after the other: you can focus solely on each project, you can finish each one sooner, and you don't get spread too thin.

Advantages of parallelization: you make progress on many different fronts at the same time, and if you run out of steam on one, you can work on another until you recover.

I'm pretty deep into parallelization at the moment, so it'd be hard to go cold turkey (look at me, talking like an addict ;)). And yet perhaps I ought to try it sometime... But I've got five or six projects I'd have to finish first. :P