Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Temple Sacrifice and Cancer Survivors

That might not be the best title for this post. The Google authorities are probably wondering, "Is he suggesting we build a religious structure to offer sacrifices to cancer survivors? Or perhaps that we sacrifice cancer survivors?" Well kind of. I say we make it a religion that requires human sacrifice, but not of cancer survivors but of politicians. I would hope that we would be successful enough in eliminating all politicians that this faith would die out like the Shakers did. Seriously who thinks celibacy is a formula for long term religious expansion? I can imagine proselyting for them:
Missionary: "And so you see Mother Anne Lee is the second coming of our Lord?"
Proselyte: "Wow. Well that makes sense. That plus the rounded barns and the really cool furniture I'm in. I can't wait for my wife and I how we'll have and raise our future family Shaker."
Missionary: "Oh oops I might have forgot one teeny, weeny point.
In case I ever do seek public office let me put a disclaimer on the previous post. "What the future congressman (senator, president, world overlord) meant to say was that all politicians are obviously chosen by God (in the case of Republicans) and have an undying loyalty to the principles of equity and justice (in the case of Democrats (gotta cover both my bases if I run)). He was in no way imputing that they are sleazy opportunistic self-aggrandaizers, who seek to further their own interests regardless of the good of the common man." Not much of an apology is it? Oh well they're not much in the way of human beings so I guess we're fair.

Now let me get to the main point of this post. No it's not about Wife jumping out of an airplane or about our recent travels. Those will all come in a December post. I like to let things cool for a few months before I write about them. Instead it's time for me to tell you what to think about the books that I've been reading.

(Here's where I wait for your cheering to end. You guys really are the best.)

Now the last two books I read were quite different. One appealed to my heretical, or at least heterodox, side. The other made me scared about getting old. Let's start with the boring one, that way those of you who are impatient can just skip the next few paragraphs and move on to the better of the two, or the photo links at the end.

Hamblin and Seeley, the authors, provide an excellent overview of the centrality of the Solomonic temple through history. Starting with the evolution of Israelite temple cult through the consolidation and centralization of worship in Solomon and much more profoundly in Josiah, the authors describe the importance of the First and subsequent temples as the contact point between divinity and humanity. They then go down through the centuries and examine the role this temple took in defining the places and systems of worship of the three great monotheistic faith families, along with its effect on the esoteric traditions.

Along the way Hamblin and Seeley provided wonderful iconic evidence of the temple through the many thoughtfully selected plates included in the book. These were largely images unknown to me. They provided excellent support for the arguments being made.

All that said I felt that the book would have benefited from a discussion of the broader array of drama worship native to the region in the pre-temple era and how it affected temple worship. By ignoring this aspect of worship, the authors started the story in middle. Furthermore while the authors were in their element in describing ancient Christian, Judaic, and Islamic usage of the temple, their arguments were somewhat lacking dealing with modern incarnations of temple worship. Given that both authors are Mormon, their section on Mormon temples was woefully inadequate and came off as more of an advertisement for the virtues of Mormonism than as a true evaluation of the status of Solomon's temple in Mormon temple worship. Likewise, other contemporary movements were passed off as simple millenarianism or pop culture fads, without a true sincere evaluation of the place of Solomonic worship in said movements.

As with many books trying to cover such a vast historical swath, Solomon's Temple tends to fade toward the end. Instead of simply discussing the differing views of various Christian, Islamic, and Judaic traditions about the destiny of the temple and Temple Mount, the authors conclude with a moralization about how the unifying theology of the temple is incongruous when opposing the eschatological currents in the three monotheistic faiths in question. This leads them simply to conclude that only a true understanding of the temple will lead to peace on the Temple Mount. True though this might be, the editorializing of this conclusion is out of place given the rest of the works and detracts from its overall strength.
Told you that would be boring. Good job slogging through it though. The funny part is that I get criticized at work sometimes for writing emails that are too technical...can you see that at all in the review you just pulled your hair out to get through? Academia ruined my writing style, but I digress (and still don't know how to use commas).

The author and I are roughly the same age and worked together as missionaries in France. Through the years we've emailed periodically but cannot be accused of being exceptionally close. That said you can imagine my surprise when I got an email with the title of her soon to be printed first book. It appears that somewhere in the periodic emails I missed the one that said "HEY I'VE GOT CANCER". I suppose she had other things on her mind, although this is a big blow to my narcissism as you can imagine.

All that said it was booth fascinating and terrifying to read the story of her struggle with cancer and its aftermaths. Fascinating because of Steph's personality, I don't think I've ever seen her sad or down and her own account reflects this resilience of character. Frightening because she's my age and if my gray hairs weren't making me feel my mortality, reading the account of a friend who actually walk up to the ledge of mortality and spit over the side (if it had been a male friend going through the same thing I would have said pee over the side) is truly frightening.

In the book Steph didn't hold much of anything back, in fact I now know more about Steph than I ever really wanted. Still it was an amazing account. The only complaint I had was the quality of the printing. There were a few typos but I'll blame that all on PublishAmerica. Still it was heartfelt and touching to read about her experience.
Okay no more book reviews for awhile. I think I've bored you enough for the time being. By popular demand here's the skydiving photo album and the post sky diving celebratory s'mores party.
Collins trip CD

Please note that there's a ton of photos in the skydiving album, watch them in slideshow format with a minimal time delay and they'll look like a flip book. I promise.

No videos today you guys have already dealt with way too much of me.

Now playing: The Roots - The Seed (2.0) Ft Cody Chesnut
via FoxyTunes


Coops said...

That is sad to hear about Stephanie, never really knew her, just at zone conferences etc - How's she doing now? I wish I could be a more happy less angry person in the face of lifes challenges, they just seem to make me bitter and twisted!

dastew said...

Yeah but we love you bitter and twisted. Um she seems to be doing well. The cancer is in remission now for four or five years I think.

Coops said...

Good to know (about the cancer, and the fact that someone likes me!) What kind of cancer did she have? I guess that fact that 1 in 3 people get some sort of cancer in their lives means that we will continue to see those we know have to go through it.

dastew said...

Breast cancer. I think she said she was 27 when they found it.

Alissa said...

you people are crazy... (well not you, stu, but carolyn)... i promise to never jump out of airplanes... i'll stick to relatively safe things like... childbirth... good hell, that's scary.

Jon & Chelle said...

Sooo, basically now everyone who has access to your blog knows that Siss is crazy! But I'm guessing that if they have access to your blog they already knew that...=) And yes please make us waffles with REAL syrup for Christmas! That would be the best Christmas present ever!

Coops said...

About the whole jumping out of planes thing, I have now posted the videos of everyone, so Chelle, Alissa & anyone else who feels like popping over to my blog can now see them too ... Feel free to embed or link to them however you like on your own blog Stew ;) Next time your coming!
or just click coops!