Dave's Mormon Inquiry Weblog
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  Wednesday, January 28, 2004

That's a headline you won't see every day in the Daily Universe, but here it is on BYU NewsNet.  It's really quite interesting.  For example, there's this quote from the current General Handbook of Instructions:  The decision as to how many children to have and when to have them is extremely intimate and private and should be left between the couple and the Lord. Church members should not judge one another in this matter.  That's a roundabout way of telling overinquisitive Bishops to stay out of the bedroom, but I think it's too circumspect to get the job done.

Of course, there are about five quotes from BYU family profs reminding everyone how important families are, even though we're not supposed to compete for the largest family on the block award anymore.  Then there are the interesting student quotes at the end of the article, such as one young man who said, When I was younger, I assumed methods of birth control were only for promiscuous people.  It wasn't until I was in college that I realized that people use birth control to plan for their families.  I learned that many people use it proactively instead of as a defense against illegitimate pregnancies. 11:18:00 PM      

A lot, according to this New York Times story (republished on LDS Newsline, a Deseret News online service).   This excellent article discusses the pros and cons of the arrangement whereby the LDS Church leases the Martin Cove land (in Wyoming) from the federal government, then puts LDS missionaries at the site to share their stories of faith and the Mormon pioneer heritage with all comers.

On the positive side, the article notes it is refreshing to see someone buy or lease land for storytelling rather than resource extraction, and some of the local Wyomans are quite happy for the economic boost this is giving their neighborhood.  One local (who is planning to build an 8-unit motel nearby) said, "I'm happy to have them."  On the negative side, the article questions the propriety of the Mormons "owning" the story of this public site, which they recount with the usual angelic flourishes. 10:58:09 PM      

An Albert Mohler editorial on Homosexual Marriage is posted over at Crosswalk.com.  No scripture quotes, no Proclamations, just a reasoned, conservative critique by a Christian thinker.  I recommend it to my Mormon friends who struggle to formulate their public policy arguments in a form other than "I'm right, I know I'm right, and you're wrong because I'm right."  You know, for an uninspired Gentile, Mohler certainly expresses himself well.  Maybe training for the ministry (as opposed to a career in corporate management) isn't such a bad idea for a church leader. 10:37:11 PM      

  A traveller from an antique land views a ruin

Christopher Woodward, an Englishman and Director of the Holburne Museum of Art in Bath, England, has written a beguiling little book entitled In Ruins (Pantheon Books, 2001), complementing an exhibition of the same name and theme at his museum.  Go find it at your local library and you will be well rewarded.  Rather than a book praising ancient structures and their remains, Woodward gives us instead a visit with those who have seen ruins, a celebration of the ruin as archetype, a portrait of the artist as a Jung man, compassed 'round by mossy slabs now earthbound.

Woodward peeks over the shoulders of those whose path he retraces amongst the ruins of Italy, Greece, and the Near East, artists, poets, and travelers who painted, versed, and lettered their way through the visible remains of the ancient world.  Ruins, it seems, are a creative force.  Thus Charles Dickens, surveying the sleeping remnants of Roman greatness near the Appian Way at gloomy dusk, wrote (p. 39):

       I almost felt as if the sun would never rise again,
       but look its last, that night, upon a ruined world.

Thus Shelley, among the Baths of Caracella, found inspiration for Prometheus Unbound (p. 67):

       To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
       From its own wreck the thing it contemplates.

Thus Woodward himself, viewing the Coliseum in Rome, now tended by keepers who kill weeds, polish rocks, and lock the gates at 6 pm, muses (p. 31):

       At nightfall one day in the 1820s Stendahl watched an Englishman ride his horse
       through the deserted arena.  I wish that could be me.

Why blog this book here, you ask?  You know, it wasn't until halfway through In Ruins that it hit me how pervasive is the ruin motif in the Book of Mormon.  And, while almost entirely forgotten today, fanciful tales of the former inhabitants of the woodlands of eastern North America, the Moundbuilders, flourished in the 19th century.  A creative force, indeed.  But I will save further investigation of that interesting theme for another blog.  Instead I will give a list of some striking photos of ruins in North America (a theme not covered in Woodward's book), some ancient and some more recent, to illustrate how ruins do, in fact, have more impact on us than we may initially recognize.  See what you think.

Great Serpent Mound, Ohio
The Alamo, Texas
Cahokia and Monks Mound, Illinois
Totem Poles, Pacific Northwest and Canada
Petroglyphs and Rock Art, Southwest
Old North Church, Boston ("One if by land, two if by sea")
Appomatox Courthouse, Virginia
Pueblo Ruins, Southwest
USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Horseshoe Canyon, Utah (Anasazi rock art--you gotta see this!)
Chaco Canyon, New Mexico (Pueblo site)
Statute of Liberty, in Paris, in America, in the Future? 12:56:24 AM      

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