What can I say? I believe the Bible and the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. I believe in modern prophets and apostles that speak the word of GodWhat can I say? I believe the Bible and the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. I believe in modern prophets and apostles that speak the word of God today. As a Latter-day Saint I believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal and will yet reveal. This is knowledge I have acquired not through empiricism, but through spiritual confirmation. Notwithstanding my having considered the arguments of atheists, agnostics and even anti-Mormons, I conclude that that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God called to the work of translating it, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Kingdom of God on the earth today. All these additional beliefs are logical conclusions derived from my having gained an independent testimony of the Book of Mormon.
All aside, this book by Neal Maxwell demonstrates just how helpful the Book of Mormon and modern scripture can be when combined with the lessons of the Bible. Those who feel that Mormonism is a threat to Christianity or a perversion thereof strike me as unserious in their examination of the content of the Book of Mormon's origin, to say nothing of its content. There is a great deal of saving truths in the scriptures, and I am grateful for this book Plain and Precious Things for reminding me of them....more
I loved Charles Wheelan's "Naked Economics." I still think about specific passages that echo through my mind a decade later. I don't anticipate such aI loved Charles Wheelan's "Naked Economics." I still think about specific passages that echo through my mind a decade later. I don't anticipate such a residual benefit with Naked Statistics. Granted, I read NE while still becoming introduced to economics as a field of study, whereas NS is following several semesters of graduate-level statistics courses. Is it good? It's certainly not bad. If you don't know anything about statistics this won't replace an actual textbook (to be fair, it shouldn't be asked to). But its anecdotes are not nearly as compelling as, say, Moneyball.
Make no mistake, you need to know the principles taught in this book. But this book will only help you get acquainted with statistics. Far better to actually understand it. ...more
I come to Harry Potter leery of all the hype surrounding it. But I confess I laughed, I was engaged, I wanted to know what came next. The villains havI come to Harry Potter leery of all the hype surrounding it. But I confess I laughed, I was engaged, I wanted to know what came next. The villains have a nasty habit of monologuing ad nauseum, but so what?...more
Jeffrey R. Holland introduced this book as the best book about the Church ever written by a person who wasn't a member of it. This is not the same hisJeffrey R. Holland introduced this book as the best book about the Church ever written by a person who wasn't a member of it. This is not the same history that gets shared in Sunday School. Here we see the Mormon pioneers in all their mortal glory. There was great strength and faith, but there was also bickering, mismanagement, petulance and greed. I like to quote Professor Stegner's book whenever I have a talk about motherhood (it happens more often than you might think), he said the Mormon men were strong, but the Mormon women "were incredible." ...more
David Brooks is my favorite journalist of all time, coming out just ahead of Roger Ebert and Dave Barry. So it's difficult to do a critical reading ofDavid Brooks is my favorite journalist of all time, coming out just ahead of Roger Ebert and Dave Barry. So it's difficult to do a critical reading of his books. As one of the token conservative columnists at the New York Times, Mr. Brooks has the unique challenge of writing to an audience that is largely dismissive of him. I admire the man's intellectual honesty but more importantly his attitude of epistemological modesty (the idea that we can't really know much). Too many people are just too sure that they're right and anyone in disagreement with them is not only wrong but fatally deficient in reasoning. Mr. Brooks is not so impressed with those who have replaced the morality/theology/philosophy of old times with their self-contradicting law of subsidized individualism. I'm of the belief that there are laws that are external and independent to man that, while not necessarily enforceable, are disobeyed at our peril. They are the unchanging morals and laws that shape us into characters capable of having a meaningful life. It's not a perfect book, but it's one of the best I have read in a long time. It joins the elite class of books that I want to order a case of so that I may send a copy to all my friends and family.
Those who do not share his political views or who do not agree with his overarching premise will likely find the entire book maddening. The book is unlikely to persuade anyone to change their minds on moral relativism versus absolutism, but those who do fall in his camp will find their understanding enriched....more
I'm developing a taste for Russian literature. There seems to be such rampant despair that the contrasting prospect of redemption shines all the moreI'm developing a taste for Russian literature. There seems to be such rampant despair that the contrasting prospect of redemption shines all the more brightly. I love the story of Father Zossima, Ivan's imagined conversation with the devil, and Ivan's poem depicting an imagined conversation between Christ and the leader of the Inquisition.
We see exploration of nihilism and postmodernism through Ivan, who often argues "if God is dead, then everything is legal." Dostoevsky does not offer a satisfying response to this through Ivan's religious counterpart Alyosha. Still, I'm not convinced that Dostoevsky held the same beliefs as his most articulate character. That is what makes this so compelling. We see a great deal of intelligence in the writing that poses interesting questions without foolhardily purporting to have the answer. Instead he shows the consequences of taking Ivan's philosophy to its logical end.
I read some commentary from various people regarding this book acclaimed by the likes of Freud and Einstein. My favorite is this note by Truman G. Madsen:
"It was Dostoyevsky’s character Ivan Karamazov who believed that if God is dead, then everything is allowed. Well, both the premise and the conclusion are misleading. Neither God nor law tell you what you must do. That is a fiction. They tell you what the inevitable consequences will be of what you do do. So here is an absolute that is not obsolete. It is more reliable than the second law of thermodynamics. Put negatively, if you seek your own immediate gratification and ignore, neglect, or, worse, exploit others, you will not find joy. You will find a chimera. And if you persist, you will find misery. You cannot find joy that way any more than you can jump off your own shadow."...more
I was frequently distracted by my mind's wanderings to that episode of The Office when Ben Franklin serves as the entertainment for a bachelorette parI was frequently distracted by my mind's wanderings to that episode of The Office when Ben Franklin serves as the entertainment for a bachelorette party. ...more
"A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" I like to imagine this play being acted out by the cast of House of Cards. Richard III's rise to power mus"A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" I like to imagine this play being acted out by the cast of House of Cards. Richard III's rise to power must have been at least somewhat influential on the mind that begat Frank Underwood. ...more
Oh my. I have seen so many derivative works of this in film and television I was caught completely by surprise at the depth and tragedy of the sourceOh my. I have seen so many derivative works of this in film and television I was caught completely by surprise at the depth and tragedy of the source material. The full title of the book is Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus, referring to the title character's overreaching ambition to bring knowledge to the world during the same period as the industrial revolution. In this case it is to create life itself. The story may be named after the creator Dr. Victor Frankenstein, but the true subject is his creation, the monster, who lives a tortured existence in a world where every other living organism has love and companionship with its own kind except for the monster alone. Such a shame that so much Hollywood talent has been used to depict the horror of the story while neglecting its poetry.
I won't attempt to draw any kind of deep symbolism because 1. I'm not a serious literary critic, and 2. You could find serious critical analysis on Wikipedia. I will say, however, that I couldn't help feeling like the monster was not unlike my cell phone, social media or other technologies that seem to demand so much of my time. Especially when the monster himself says to Dr. Frankenstein, "You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!"...more
I don't read books on dogs, so I can't really compare this to any other books about dogs. I imagine dog lovers would dig it. The comparison that comesI don't read books on dogs, so I can't really compare this to any other books about dogs. I imagine dog lovers would dig it. The comparison that comes most readily is to American Psycho. In both stories the protagonists are seen acting on their most primitive urges, often resulting in violence and death. While we are disgusted with a human acting on his unbridled desires, there is something inspiring, maybe even ennobling, about seeing a domesticated animal return to relying on its appetites and instincts to survive. We despise the natural man, but we revere the natural animal. We respect life feeding upon life while we abhor the unjustified destruction of it. There is nothing repugnant about an animal killing weaker beings to survive. There is nothing immoral about a dog not recognizing man's laws. The protagonist dog Buck only knows of "the law of the club and fang." The brutality of such existence is not regretted here. While such a world for humans makes for a Hobbesian existence where life is "poore, nasty, brutish and short", it's liberating when seen through the eyes of the dog here. I get it. It's a great little dog book. ...more