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    “The prison of himself”

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    Did you know that C.S. Lewis once weighed in on the subject of masturbation? In a personal letter to someone named Keith Masson he illuminates the core problem with such a practice with his insightful candor. He approaches the topic in such a way that boils it down to some core principles. With the way things are in the world today, this wisdom could be useful so feel free to share.

    “For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back: sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no real woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover: no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself… And it is not only the faculty of love which is thus sterilized, forced back on itself, but also the faculty of imagination.

    The true exercise of imagination, in my view, is (a) To help us to understand other people (b) To respond to, and, some of us, to produce, art. But it has also a bad use: to provide for us, in shadowy form, a substitute for virtues, successes, distinctions etc. which ought to be sought outside in the real world—e.g. picturing all I’d do if I were rich instead of earning and saving. Masturbation involves this abuse of imagination in erotic matters (which I think bad in itself) and thereby encourages a similar abuse of it in all spheres. After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of our selves, out of the little, dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided as all things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison.” – Letter C. S. Lewis sent in 1956 to Keith Masson

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    “Church is boring.”

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    “Church is boring.”

    That’s what I’ll often hear people say, in person, on podcasts, blogs, and forums out there.

    If you compare church to an action movie, video games or a sporting event then, yes, it is very boring. Even if you compare it to the celebratory atmosphere of a praise-filled Protestant church service then yes, it is boring.

    It wasn’t until perhaps the 1840’s [1] that we get the word ‘boring’ as a description of something wearying. In the modern sense, the word ‘boring’ means: “not interesting; tedious.”

    On the other hand, any of these previously mentioned events like action movies, video games, sporting events or even a fiery Baptist sermon can be ‘boring’ if you are not interested or invested in what is going on.

    At most events, we expect to simply show up without much preparation and be entertained, informed or involved in some pre-planned activity.

    I’m not arguing that LDS worship services are perfect in every way and that there is no room for improvement because there are many things we could do better. What I am suggesting, however, is that what we get out of our worship services is primarily our responsibility. I will go further to suggest that what we get out of life as a whole is ultimately our responsibility. Bear with me as I try to explain.

    The sacrament, our most sacred ordinance outside of the temple, Keep Reading

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    We’re Here to Develop Patience

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    Because of the weakness and imperfections of human nature, and the great frailties of man; for such is the weakness of man, an such his frailties, that he is liable to sin continually, and if God were not long suffering, and full of compassion, gracious and merciful and of a forgiving disposition, man would be cut off from before him in consequence of which he would be in continual doubt and could not exercise faith: for where doubt is, there faith has no power, but by man’s believing that God is full of compassion and forgiveness, long suffering and slow to anger, he can exercise faith in him and overcome doubt, so as to be exceedingly strong. (Lecture 3, Question 18)

    One of the six characteristics of God mentioned in Lecture 3 of Lectures on Faith is mercy. In describing mercy, we see terms like long suffering, compassion, graciousness, forgiving and slow to anger. I think much of mercy can be expressed in the word patience. Noah Webster defined patience as:

    PATIENCE, noun pa’shens. [Latin patientia, from patior, to suffer.]
    1. The suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from christian submission to the divine will.
    2. A calm temper which bears evils without murmuring or discontent.
    3. The act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent.
    4. Perseverance; constancy in labor or exertion.
    5. The quality of bearing offenses and injuries without anger or revenge.

    As a disposition of God, it is clear that this is something that we must develop on our own. It seems that patience is impossible to develop without situations that require it. Patience is, in fact, a response to afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or evil. Patience must be developed, and it seems that it cannot exist without there being situations that require it.

    In other words, you are not going to sit and tolerate something difficult unless Keep Reading

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    Faith, Fiction and Going Beyond First Impressions

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    “I had the same good feeling while reading scriptures and while watching a fictional movie, how is that possible?”

    I have heard this question or something like it asked time and time again. I’ve heard this example used to illustrate how ’emotions should not be trusted,’ which, I actually agree with. This question makes a valid observation if you are working under some kind of assumption that the Holy Spirit only confirms specific spiritual things as ‘true’ and shouldn’t ever be showing up during something like a movie (only if it’s a church movie though, right?)

    Without proper context, people can be led to conclusions that are incorrect because the foundational assumptions are problematic to begin with. I’m not blaming the person who has the question, I’m not sure we do a very good job at really teaching how the Spirit works and what the relationship is between the truth we have and the truth possessed by everyone else.

    Emotions themselves are a tricky because they are simply reactions to things we are exposed to. If someone punches you, it hurts and you feel mad, if someone scares you, you feel terror for something that isn’t really terrifying once you realize it. If someone says sweet things to you, you feel good, even though they may really want to take advantage of you. Reading something inspiring, it can also make you feel good.

    There’s nothing wrong with all that, but where we do go wrong is in mak Keep Reading

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    Free Writing oneClimbs

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    Just as an aside, I think it might be helpful for oneClimbs visitors to know that most of the posts here at oneClimbs are produced by free writing. I didn’t use that technique intentionally, it just what sort of happens. Most of these posts are simply a reaction to an initial thought. I’ll start writing about that thought and whatever else unfolds.

    Truthfully, I have no idea how good, bad or horrifying my grammar, prose or ideas are; I don’t consider myself very capable in those areas, but honestly, I don’t really care. The blog is called “one climbs” for a reason, it’s basically just one guy sharing observations and thoughts along the way.

    I care deeply about what I write, but I’m not too concerned about delivery. This isn’t a scholarly journal, it’s more of a public notebook.

     

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    O That I Could Just Fix Everything in the Whole World

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    I was reading Alma chapter 29 recently and I thought I’d share some observations that I think are particularly relevant to today’s world.

    I love how you can keep coming back to scripture to find new things. As we age, mirrors reveal changes, but the mirror does not change, we do.

    The Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed that one cannot step twice into the same river [1], so perhaps one cannot read the same scripture twice. Additional knowledge, insights and understanding gained through time and experience cause previously bland verses to come to life in new and exciting ways.

    Alma 29 begins with a ponderous Alma wishing that he could change the world in a dramatic way.

    1 O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!

    2 Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.

    Remember that this is the Alma who was called to repentance by an angel who spoke with a voice that shook the earth [2]. Alma had this incredible experience and feels that perhaps others would respond in the same way if they experienced the same thing. In a way, we do the same thing when we Keep Reading

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    “Nature is a divine revelation for which we only have a corrupted text.”

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    Men are disturbed, not by things…

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    “Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible,…But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles. An uninstructed person will lay the fault of his own bad condition upon others. Someone just starting instruction will lay the fault on himself. Some who is perfectly instructed will place blame neither on others nor on himself.” – Epictetus, Enchiridion, 135 A.D.

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    That Great Book Written in Symbols

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    “Philosophy [nature] is written in that great book which ever is before our eyes – I mean the universe – but we cannot understand it if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols in which it is written. The book is written in mathematical language, and the symbols are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without whose help it is impossible to comprehend a single word of it; without which one wanders in vain through a dark labyrinth.” – Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

    If you cannot understand nature and the universe without understanding the language of symbols, how can you hope to understand something much simpler like temples, scripture, or gospel teachings? How many feel like they wander in vain through a dark labyrinth?

    The study of symbols is unfortunately ignored by many; consequently much thought and meditation, much observation and appreciation, and much enlightenment never happens. Symbols echo the underlying structure of matter and reality. I believe that the foundational principles of all existence, and how the whole functions can be explained in the numbers 1 through 9. I know that may sound like a bold statement but it is actually pretty simple to explain. I’ll have to write about that sometime.

    My own personal understanding has been immensely impacted by devoting time to the study of symbols and archetypes. I see everything through a new lens, a lens where everything is important and has meaning and purpose. This in and of itself doesn’t change you, knowledge is essential, but putting it into practical use beyond self-serving intellectual stimulation is the challenge of life.

    Here are a few of my favorite resources for those interested in learning more:

    ldsSymbols.com

    A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe by Michael S. Schneider

    The Day Star: Reading Sacred Architecture by Val Brinkerhoff

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    John the Baptist: Locusts and Honey, Chaos and Blessing

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    A friend of mine was interested in the symbolism of the beehive and bees so I sent him this article.

    We were talking about John the Baptist and how he ate locusts and honey and what that might have meant. Then some lights started going on and I thought of something I hadn’t considered before. I haven’t thought this whole thing through yet, but here are some of my initial ideas.

    Throughout the scriptures, we see teaching through contrast and complimentary opposition. Themes of chaos/disorder/cursings are juxtaposed with themes of creation/order/blessings. For an example, look up the word “otherwise” as it is used in the Book of Mormon. That’s a great keyword to see where these contrasting themes are presented, here are a few examples: Keep Reading

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