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13 October 2015

The Plan of Salvation: What is Hell?

Recently, I've been asked what the Mormon theology about hell is. This post is an outgrowth of that conversation, which took place on Facebook. The question is this: Do we believe that hell is just a temporary state, or unending torment for the sinner who has rejected God and is consigned to be apart from Him for eternity?

There are two points in what we term the plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness that could be thought to correspond to the Protestant/Catholic Hell as it has been explained to me. I am a lifelong Mormon, and no expert in the theology of other Christian denominations, though I have tried to educate myself. I have made a serious study of Mormon theology on these points, but have only passing familiarity with the specifics of other Christian beliefs. Since I do not know your level of familiarity with our doctrine, I will first sketch the whole plan, and the address the question about hell more specifically.

The Plan of Salvation
We believe that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16, Ps. 82:6). That we lived with Him prior to our birth in mortal life (Job 38:7; Jer. 1:5). This is variously called the pre-earth life or the premortal existence in our vocabulary. 

It is our Father's Plan that we should become like Him (Matt. 5:48; Romans 8:17). As a part of this process we have been sent to earth, became mortal (Gen. 2:17), gain physical bodies (Gen. 2:7), and be tested as to our obedience and faithfulness (Romans 6:16).

Knowing beforehand that we would, even the best of us, fall short of perfection (Rom.3:23), our merciful Father arranged for mercy to temper Justice, through the intercession and sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son (John 3:16). Thus, this life becomes a probationary state, and allowing men a space in which to repent (Ps. 38:18; Mark 1:15). 

Upon our death, our body returns to the dust (Gen. 3:19), but the immortal soul continues (Luke 23:46; 1 Kings 17:21). 

Prior to resurrection, the spirits of the righteous and the wicked await judgement (Matt. 7:21-23; Romans 14:10). The righteous wait in paradise, which is a state of rest and peace (Luke 23:43; Rev. 14:13). The wicked wait in what we typically call spirit prison, though it can also be called  hell (1 Peter 3:19; Ps. 16:10), indeed, in the Book of Mormon it sometimes is called hell. The gospel is preached to those in spirit prison (1 Peter 4:6). Baptism being an absolute requirement (John 3:5); those who did not have the opportunity in life may accept proxy baptism for the dead (1 Cor. 15:29).

Then comes the day of judgement (Rev. 20:12). 

We believe that that which is typically called heaven in Protestant/Catholic theology can actually be thought of as three heavens, or degrees of glory, as we usually call them (1 Cor. 15:40-42; 2 Cor. 12:2). Additionally, there is outer darkness, a place of torment with no glory at all (Matt. 8:12) reserved for those who blaspheme against the Holy Ghost and for whom there is no forgiveness (Matt. 12:31).

For clarity, we will sometimes sketch an outline of the plan, like this. Though this is a traditional sketch familiar throughout the Church, it is not without its flaws. It does not show Christ's indispensable role; this sketch is concerned only with our journey. But it is useful to kind of map out where we were, where we are, and where we hope to go.

What is Hell?
There are two places that are, in Mormon theology, both sometimes referred to as hell. These are spirit prison and outer darkness.

We believe that spirit prison is a temporary place. I'm not super familiar with purgatory, but I believe that spirit paradise and spirit prison, together, would be somewhat analogous. However, rather than lumping everyone into a single place, we believe there is a distinction made between those who have done their best to live righteously and those who have not. As we understand it, the ordinance of baptism (I know that some denominations use the word sacrament, rather than ordinance) also plays a role in the separation, with those who have not received baptism being barred from spirit paradise; hence the importance we place on baptisms for the dead. Peter talks about the gospel being preached among the dead in one of his epistles:

For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
1 Peter 4:6

God's requirement for baptism is absolute (John 3:5), so the justice of God requires that each and every soul must have a meaningful opportunity to hear and accept or reject Christ. Hence, God, in His mercy, has provided a space for those who did not have the opportunity in life to have that opportunity prior to final judgement.

On the other hand, outer darkness we believe to be permanent. That punishment the Book of Mormon describes as being "as eternal as the life of the soul", endless punishment "affixed opposite the plan of happiness". In my opinion, outer darkness is analogous to what Protestant/Catholic Christians refer to as hell, much more so than spirit prison, though both can be, and sometimes are, called hell. This is one reason why most Mormons don't use the term "hell" very often, preferring instead the more specific terms of prison and outer darkness. There is no Mormon belief in "dodging" Judgement; on the contrary, we believe that it will be universal: every single person must account for their choices, including the choice to accept (or not) Christ's mercy.

12 October 2015

Voluntary Reading!

I think one of the most exciting milestones in learning to read is voluntary reading. That's the part when you can tell that they are gaining enough skill to begin to see what all the hard work of phonics is about, and it just might be my favorite part of teaching the kids to read.

Dragon is reading today, without being asked. He asked for a box of Bob Books, and started out reading to the Daddy, but when Daddy had to go do other things, Dragon kept going. There are several books from that set that are lost now, but what was there, he read. 

Then he came looking for another box. 

But I think the best part was when he commented that practicing the Bob Books will make it easier to read the scriptures. 

Yes. Yes, it will. And that is a worthy goal for a little boy.

11 October 2015

The 7th Psalm: Justice Begets Trust

Psalm 7

The difference between "I do trust" and "I will trust" is important: it's the difference between a current, active choice to trust God RIGHT NOW, and a more flimsy, unspecified future trust.

When I posted the quote art for the first verse on Facebook, I made a typo - if you look, it's edited, because I typed "In Thee will I put my trust". But that's not what the first verse says.

"O Lord my God, in thee DO I put my trust"

I'm glad I made the mistake, because it made me really see that little word. The difference between "I do trust" and "I will trust" is important: it's the difference between a current, active choice to trust God RIGHT NOW, and a more flimsy, unspecified future trust. RIGHT NOW is when things are hard. But I choose to trust anyway. RIGHT NOW things don't make sense. But I trust the Lord to make it right. RIGHT NOW I choose to act on that trust. Do means an active use of agency in the present tense. Do means that the peace of mind the Lord offers us is available to us -- RIGHT NOW.

Trust Scripture Chain
Psalms 7:1
Proverbs 3:5-6
Psalms 125:1
2 Nephi 22:2
D&C 84:116

I had to work a lot harder at understanding the rest of the chapter. Initially, it just struck me as so... harsh. I had to really work at seeing anything but that, at first.

O Lord my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands; If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:)Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. -Psalm 7:3-5

Persecute me; kill me; trash my good name. This is serious stuff!

But, look: "If there be iniquity in my hands..." and, "If I have rewarded evil to him that was at peace with me..." This isn't random harshness, this is a recognition and acceptance of the unyielding demands of Justice. It's saying, "If I do evil, let evil be done to me."

This is a Psalm about Justice. And the Psalmist understands the different faces of Justice better than I do. Our culture enthrones Corianton's misunderstanding of Justice, and tries to depict it as virtue.

"...for ye do try to suppose that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a state of misery." -Alma 42:1

If I'm honest with myself, the essence of my issue comes from discomfort with the just demand that penalties earned be carried out. The Law of the Harvest can be uncomfortable because it means that when we don't "plant", or we neglect our "garden", we have no right to expect to reap the rewards - whatever they might have been. It's not an at all comfortable principle, when you get right down to it. I've been aware for quite some time now that personal responsibility is, culturally, quite unpopular, but it's still disconcerting to discover myself having such a difficult time with scripture because of the unyielding nature of Justice. So I started pondering Justice. I think there is a tendency to consider Justice as only an obstacle to be overcome by the Lord's Grace, but if that's all the further we look, we miss an essential aspect of the character of God. I've come to think there's more to it than just penalties, though penalties are definitely part of the equation. But consider:

...he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you...
-Mosiah 2:24

God has promised to bless us when we do right. It is, therefore, Just that He should keep His word. This is, at least in part, the source of the trust the Psalmist opened with: the unflinching, unerring Justice of God requires that both penalties and rewards be given as deserved, each and every time. Knowing that God is perfectly just enables us to trust Him in a number of ways: we can trust that we we do well, He will bless us. We can trust that if we rebel, the consequences will come. If we are lazy, industrious, kind, cruel, and so on, we will reap the rewards.

It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity. -Proverbs 21:15

Like day following night, so come the consequences for our actions. For better or worse, we get what we choose. Even Christ's mercy is applied under principles of Justice: we choose whether or not to permit the Lord to assist us - and reap the consequences of that choice, too.

The Lord shall judge the people: judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.
Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.

Justice Scripture Chain
Psalm 7: 8-9
Alma 42:1
Mosiah 2:24
Proverbs 21:15
Alma 13:3-4


01 October 2015

Commonplace Sampler: September

Little, in fact, had either the Vatican or Galileo comprehended just how serious a rival Jupiter and its moons are to Earth and Luna. They are more fairly compared to the entire solar system. We now know that Jupiter comprises two-thirds the mass of all nine planets and it is the biggest of the so-called gas giant planets, a class that also includes Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Unlike the inner terrestrial planets - Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars - these planets lack solid surfaces. Instead, they are made from the same stuff as stars: hot gas. ...

So, too, many of the Jovian satellites are more like planets than moons. The terrestrial planets only have three moons among them - Luna and Mars' satellites, Phobos and Demos. But the gas giants are surrounded by swarms of smaller bodies. Jupiter has the largest entourage, with eight regular moons and more than 60 so-called irregular moons. These moons are categorically different from teh terrestrial variety: Luna is probably a chip off Earth's block and the Martian moons may be captured asteroids. In contrast, the regular Jovian moons likely condensed from spare material around a proto-Jupiter, much in the same way as the planets coalesced from leftovers swirling near our newborn Sun.
-The Moons of Jupiter, p11

The Asters are the second largest family of flowering plants, surpassed only by the mostly tropical Orchid family. Worldwide, there are about 920 genera and 19,000 species, including 346 genera and 2,687 species in North America. Aside from lettuce (Lactuca), artichoke (Cynara), and endive (Cichorium), surprisingly few genera are cultivated for food.
-Botany in a Day, p 163

You can employ the same techniques. When a student asks a question, be careful lest you answer it! Or more emphatically, be careful lest the teacher answer it. How easy it is for a teacher to respond quickly to simple questions, to close a conversation that might have ignited a sparkling and lively discussion. The wise teacher deftly and pleasantly responds, "That's an interesting question. What does the class think of this?"
-Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently, p 68

God left the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity in the cloud, the oil in the Earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, ... not the east of pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved... That man might know the joys and glories of creation.
-Thomas S. Monson, quoted on Facebook

O Lord, rebuke me not in Thine anger, neither chasten me in Thy hot displeasure. Have mercy on me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but Thou, O Lord, how long? Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
-Psalm 6:1-4

You cannot exercise faith in God until we acknowledge that He exists and we have a correct understanding of His character, nature, and attributes. So the beginning of faith starts in the understanding of Christ.
-David A. Bednar, quoted on Facebook

The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart, this you will build your life by, and this you will become.
-James Allen, quoted by Shiloah Baker in "Training Mother Helpers"

Here [Helaman 6:7-9] we find one of the (extremely) few times peace existed between these two groups [the Nephites and the Lamanites], and the narrator lists for us a few resulting and related benefits. The first product of peace mentioned is open migration between the inhabitants of each distinct civilization. Free intercourse and commerce have special mention, and are corollaries to the unrestricted ability to travel and reside where one pleases. Second, the record notes that this exchange between the individuals of each group yielded increased prosperity for all involved. They became “exceedingly rich” and had “an exceeding plenty”. As with other scripture, this one can and should be likened unto us.
-Conner Boyack, Immigration, Individual Rights, and the Constitution

You’re not self-governing if you can’t rule yourself. Classical education is the means to freedom, the sine qua non of a free people, because it trains people in self-governance, in perceiving and living with the truth.
-Andrew Kern, quoted in "In The Common Core Era, Families Flock To Its Opposite"

More than once I have scolded members of a class just a little when they seemed to ridicule in one way or another a question asked by one of the group. And I have repeated with some emphasis the statement that there is only one stupid question: the one that isn't asked. Every student should have an open invitation to ask questions all of the time.
-Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently, page 74

We make it a consistent practice in our family to respond to the questions of our children, an in doing so, we find that they ask many questions. If parents are not careful, they can dam up the quest for knowledge.
-Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently, page 74

"All those antagonistic questions he asked you; it was just marvelous the way you handled them.  He was so antagonistic and bitter and yet the interview itself was successful."

I have never forgotten his answer. He said, "I never pay any attention to the questions - that is, if the interviewer is antagonistic. If he doesn't ask the right questions, I give answers to the questions he should have asked."
-Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently, p77

There is another important matter we should discuss. A teacher naturally wants everyone to be satisfied and in agreement with him. That is not always to be. Often in the best teaching someone is left unsatisfied, perhaps even upset. Particularly this is true if we have an encounter with someone who is antagonistic. A mature teacher will know from the beginning that when the conversation is over someone will be unsettled and upset. Let it not be the teacher.
-Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently, p83

In many churches of the world a doctrine is taught that holds that men are basically evil; that they are earthy and carnal and devilish, conceived in sin and possessed of a tendency to be wicked. This doctrine holds that the corrupt and evil nature of man must be conqured. It holds out the meager hope that by an extension of grace man may, on occasion, be lifted from his evil, carnal,and groveling state. In simple terms it avers that man is, by his very nature, inclined to be bad.

That is false doctrine. ... The doctrine is not only false, it is very destructive. ...

How glorious it is to have the revealed word of God, to know that we have a child-parent relationship with Him. If we are of His family, we have inherited the tendency to be good; not evil. ... God is our Father. We therefore are inherently good.
-Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently, p88

I am fully aware that in the world there are individuals whose basic motivation seems to be contrary and disruptive and evil. I know this exists, but it is against their nature.
-Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently, p89

For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
-Patrick Henry, Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death speech before the Virginia Convention, 1775.

If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.
-Attributed to Roald Dahl on Facebook

The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.
-Haldir, Elven guard of Lothlorien, Fellowship of the Ring, p 452

Man's greatest happiness comes from loosing himself for the good of others.
-Attributed to David O. McKay on Facebook.

He understands. He can give pardon and bring peace. THE SPECIALTY OF THE SAVIOR IS MERCY. And He requires that we be specialists in mercy.
-Marion D. Hanks, "My Specialty is Mercy" October Conference 1981


30 September 2015

Writing ひらがな

I've been able to write hiragana for years, now. Since college, when I first started learning Japanese in 1996. But there's always been something slightly "off" about the way I do it. I discovered a while back that the cool square paper they use in Japan really helps, but still, something isn't right.

These days, there are so many cool resources on Facebook. There's a grammar discussion group that's really friendly and helpful. And earlier this week, I found Japanese Language for Mama. Which, if it lives up to the name, is right up my alley. This evening, she posted this:

It has been so very long since I watched someone who knows what they are doing! And, watching, I was able to identify what it is that I'm messing up on a couple of mine. It's late, tonight, but tomorrow, as we're doing school, I definitely want to get my pens and square paper out and practice writing some more. I'm excited.


26 September 2015

On Classical Education: Character is the True Aim

"Character is not the result of chance work but of continuous right thinking and right acting." -David O. McKay. Art by Peter Paul Rubens - "St. Simon"

We've been attempting to do a Classical Education for several years, now, but in all that time, I've struggled to put it into words what it is, or why it's desirable. With the reading I've been doing recently, and the podcasts that I've been listening to, this is starting to change. I've come across a number of articles dealing what the purposes of education are, and what is it that makes Classical education distinct from progressive (public) education, and what makes the former a more desirable type of education than the latter. This reading is helping me develop a better vision of where we are going. Classical education is less about covering topics, (though obviously topics are covered), but more about learning to prize Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. It's less using the mind, and more feeding the mind, with an eye toward the growth of the soul. Classical education helps the child move from wonder - it's inborn in us all - to worship, and from there to wisdom. All the standardized testing of the typical progressive education is obsessed with the facts that the student can rehash on demand, but classically, education is more than that: education is about formation of character.

A man may possess a profound knowledge of history and mathematics; he may be an authority in psychology, biology, or astronomy; he may know all the discovered truths pertaining to geology and natural science; but if he has not with this knowledge that nobility of soul which prompts him to deal justly with his fellow men, to practice virtue and holiness in personal life, he is not a truly educated man. Character is the aim of true education; and science, history, and literature are but means used to accomplish the desired end. Character is not the result of chance work but of continuous right thinking and right acting. True education seeks, then, to make men and women not only good mathematicians, proficient linguists, profound scientists, or brilliant literary lights, but also honest men, combined with virtue, temperance, and brotherly love-men and women who prize truth, justice, wisdom, benevolence, and self-control as the choicest acquisitions of a successful life."
-David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, pp. 440-441, emphasis added

Character is the true aim. The aim of this type of education is not mere accumulation of knowledge, however useful. It's not a checklist of facts that ought to be learned at certain ages or stages. True education prepares our children, not just for profitable employment, or other knowledge-based activities, but to become their best selves, and to practice at being that best self in the quiet times, so that in the times of stress they will be able to act with integrity and according to virtues that have become a part of them. 

Such character is not developed in moments of great challenge or temptation. That is when it is used. Character is woven quietly from the threads of hundreds of correct decisions (like practice sessions). When strengthened by obedience and worthy acts, correct decisions form a fabric of character that brings victory in time of great need. ... Righteous character is what you are. It is more important than what you own, what you have learned, or what you have accomplished. It allows you to be trusted. It opens the door to help from the Lord in moments of great challenge or temptation.
-Elder Richard G. Scott, Trust in the Lord, April 1989 Conference

Education isn't really about careers, making a comfortable living, or even being a productive member of society, though those things will typically be among the effects. True education is more than just bringing our children to light and truth, even: it is teaching them to prize light and truth to such an extent that they will continue to actively seek them out, not only while "in school," but throughout their entire lives.

Knowledge of truth, combined with proper regard for it, and its faithful observance, constitutes true education. The mere stuffing of the mind with a knowledge of facts is not education. The mind must not only possess a knowledge of truth, but the soul must revere it, cherish it, love it as a priceless gem. 
-Joseph F. Smith

This reverence for truth doesn't happen by chance or by accident, any more than a beautiful painting creates itself. And it doesn't happen in an atmosphere that is "tolerant" of all "truth". The Holy Ghost is our guide to all truth, and we need him involved in our educational efforts! His job is to testify of all truth - not just the critical, but narrow, slice of truth we typically encounter in Sunday School. We need his assistance in learning the mulitplication tables and history, just as much as we need it in learning the Gospel.

The Holy Ghost is a revelator. He is the Comforter, who teaches us “the truth of all things; [who] knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.” The Holy Ghost is a certain and safe guide to assist all mortals who seek God as they navigate the often troubling waters of confusion and contradiction.
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "What is Truth?"

Not so incidentally, it is character that enables us to have and to keep the companionship of the Holy Ghost. The more we practice making correct choices, the more it becomes part of our nature, our character, to do so -- and the more we qualify for the Lord's assistance in finding the additional truth and knowledge that are the more visible results of our educational efforts.

Dr. Christopher A Perrin of Classical Academic Press outlines nine principles of Classical Education in a series of videos they have shared. He suggests that there are many ways to look at Classical Education, including looking through the lens of the Trivium, composed of the Grammar Stage, the Logic Stage, and the Rhetoric Stage, such as is suggested by Susan Wise Bauer in The Well-Trained Mind. This book was my introduction to Classical Education, but I've come to the conclusion that the vision that I came away with, though it has served us well so far, is more narrow than it ought to be. Bauer suggested that the Trivium is a way of understanding how kids learn - little ones learn the basics in the Grammar Stage of education, middle school kids learn to see connections, patterns, and themes in their studies particularly history as they progress through the Logic Stage of their education, and in high school they bring it all together in the Rhetoric Stage, order to be able to speak and write persuasively about the areas of study that most interest them. But the reading that I've been doing recently makes me think that, while that is good (I am definitely still going to be referencing The Well-Trained Mind as I plan our studies!), there is more that Classical education has to offer.

Rather than grammar being a piece within every subject area, as it is usually expressed in the Dorothy Sayers model, Clark & Jain showed how the grammar school taught what a student must know to read The Aeneid: Quite a lot of basic understanding about not only reading, but also the world, geography, and society. To read The Aeneid with understanding requires not only Latin in a technical sense, but simply all those experiences and relations that children develop over years of learning about the world and people.
-Simply Convivial: What is the Point of Learning Latin

This type of education is bigger - more human - than I had realized at the outset. Another way that Dr. Perrin suggests is you could focus on how this type of education is designed to teach an appreciate Beauty, Truth, and Goodness. In his introductory video, he talks about how well these ideas dovetail with the Christian Ideal, and I found myself drawn back to the Thirteenth Article of Faith - but applied to education, an application I had never before considered.

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Over the next few weeks - months? I don't know how long it will take to work through these ideas - I want to look at Dr. Perrin's suggestions, and ponder them in light of revealed teachings about education and the gospel.

Dr. Perrins's suggested pedagogy principles are:

1. Make Haste Slowly

2. Much Not Many

3. Repetition is the Mother of Memory

4. Embodied Learning

5. Songs, Chants and Jingles

6. Wonder and Curiosity

7. Educational Virtues

8. Contemplation

9. By Teaching We Learn

19 September 2015

Psalm 6: Mercy

Mercy is "the compassionate treatment of a person, greater than what is deserved, and it is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. ... Every blessing we receive is an act of mercy, more than we could ever merit on our own. (Source)"

Mercy is a necessity.

O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. Have mercy on me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me...
-Psalm 6:1-2

 I struggled for several weeks to understand this chapter, reading and re-reading it. Then, one afternoon I re-read it after my five year old and I had spent an afternoon in conflict. It started with him not feeling 100%, escalated when he was asked to do his chore, and gradually engulfed our whole afternoon. I did not always keep my cool like I should have. That night after bedtime, I read these verses: 

O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in they hot displeasure. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak: heal me, O Lord, how long? Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
~Psalms 6:1-3

Then, I was able to liken it unto myself, and I finally understood.

O Mom, rebuke me not in thine anger... have mercy on me, for I am weak...

David is pleading for mercy. His sin, and the effects of his sin, are vexing him and he is crying out for relief. He needs healing, and he craves mercy.

Mercy is "the compassionate treatment of a person, greater than what is deserved, and it is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. ... more than we could ever merit on our own."

Mercy is a necessity - and our Savior specializes in mercy.


17 September 2015

Art Copywork: Norman Rockwell

We've been doing Norman Rockwell for artist study, and it's going pretty well, in spite of the kids' protests that he's not interesting. I think they're just not quite old enough to appreciate some of the stories he's telling, because Rockwell is hilarious.  One of the things that I've seen people talk about loving, as they're studying various artists, is copying the artist's work or style, so we're trying that. By calling it "art copywork" the kids knew right away what we were after: we were going to copy someone else's work in order to learn from it. I promised them that, once the copywork was finished, they could use additional papers to draw pictures from their own heads, which Dragon(5) was particularly excited to do.

First, we visited a Norman Rockwell exhibit here in town yesterday. Next, Hero(8) and I read a bit about Rockwell's techniques. My big takeaway was that he took his time and paid attention to details. Hero was introduced to the idea of planning your work before you put pen to paper, which he said he had never really thought about before.

Then, we all picked one of Rockwell's pieces off the internet, I printed out a little picture for referencing, and we all got to work.

It was about this time that I figured out why it is that people are spending time and money getting nice copies of works from their artist in binders: the little picture I'm working from is small. There is so much detail, but it's so hard to see - and worse after I put in a few lines to help me with the proportions, an aspect of art where I am notoriously weak. I looked at the internet, but it wasn't tons better there: things are still difficult to see, and I find myself wishing that I was at the museum again, where they had larger prints, so I could really see what I'm looking at. I don't know if I'll be able to do tons with printing things out right away, but going forward, it's definitely going to be something that's in the back of my mind.

Dragon and Tigress(2) painted with us, but they are still doing process oriented art: the painting is fun, but the product isn't so important, though it's fun to give it away as gifts. "Here, Mom! This is for you!" Dragon knows that I like it when they do art, and his work will go on our art wall when it's dried out.

But Hero and I had a good time with some more product oriented art: we were working toward a specific final goal. One way that our work is different from Rockwell's is that we're using our watercolors, and he worked in oils, which we don't have. And I don't know that we'll try those for a good while yet: I don't want to mess with all the thinners and cleaners and so on while I've got little kids. In the mean time, this is a nice opportunity to try to develop our skills working with watercolors.


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