09 10

17 June 2019


Early this month, I saw a post on Facebook from a lady that was doing something to track wildfires in her nature journal; I wasn't real clear on what it is that she was doing: wildfires are not a thing in our neck of the woods. But she had it in a circle, and it was colored different shades of red, and it was really quite striking.

I thought, what if I did that with the daily temperatures?

So I built a chart.
In a circle, because I loved how that looked.

And, because it was already the fourth, and because I don't actually have an outdoor thermometer to look at, I grabbed some data from the Weather Underground. Which is pretty cool, actually, because that means that I've got the actual high and low for the day, rather than just whatever it is whenever I remember to look at the thermometer. This also meant that I have a range of colors to represent each day, which turns out to be quite striking, even after only a couple of days of data. I got the kids into the project; it totally counts as math!

Each day, I look up the minimum and maximum temperatures for the day (or two) before, and pull out the colors that I've assigned to that range, and blend them into that day's wedge of the pie: low temps are at the center, and I make a gradient to the day's high. It's kind of fun how that's ended up making something of a gradient around the inside and outside of the circle, too. I thought by now we'd been into the reds, but it's been a very wet and cool June: I wore my jacket to church yesterday, which was odd! 

I shared my graph back to the Facebook group that I got the idea from, and to my surprise, one of the presenters at the upcoming John Muir Laws conference wanted permission to use my photo to show how data can be used in a nature journal. Cool! (Even more cool: the conference is supposed to be on his YouTube sometime after the fact.) And someone else wanted to share it to another group they're in. And I started thinking: "Wouldn't it be fun if this idea had a hashtag so that we could see each other's ideas, and be inspired some more!"

So, if you like it, and you post something similar, please tag your post, or come drop a comment: I'd love to come see what everybody comes up with!

12 June 2019

Claim Their Anointing

Scripture study is a funny thing. In the middle of following this question, I'll realize that it's related to that thing over there, and next thing you know I'm lost in the "rabbit hole" --but typically happy as a clam about it.

That's kind of how it went this time. I got to the adult session of Stake Conference early, and was thumbing through my Scripture Journal, and decided to fill in some of the things that I've found about lineage in the last little while as I waited for the meeting to start. There's this unexpected connection between lineage and priesthood that I've been noticing, though I haven't really explored it all very well. But I searched "lineage" in the scriptures, and one of the verses that came up was this one:

...by virtue of the decree concerning their right of the priesthood descending from father to son, they may claim their anointing if at any time they can prove their lineage, or do ascertain it by revelation from the Lord...
-Doctrine and Covenants 68:21

And I though, hold on here, bishops are anointed? It's not just a regular ordination?

So when the meeting was done, I went up front to see if I could ask the Stake President real quick (he's a friend of mine, and I couldn't see any of the bishops), and I ended up getting the attention of the visiting Seventy instead. Since I thought he might know, I went ahead and asked, not about regular Bishops, since I was 95% certain they just get regular ordinations, but about the Presiding Bishops. He said no. So I asked if he knew what the verse was talking about, and he didn't. Which was neither surprising nor distressing; it's not one that gets a lot of attention, and I was as much making sure that I hadn't missed something obvious as anything: I didn't really expect that either he or our good Stake President would know much about it; it just doesn't get discussed. But you don't know, really, until you ask.

So here I am, trying to learn more about anointings. Way back when, Elder Bednar shared a technique for scripture study that I think of as "Brother Bednar's Cut and Sort" technique: he looked up all the forms of his word, and then put them in a document, then cut them up, and sorted them into piles. I tried this with the word humility once. It completely transformed my understanding of the topic, and I never even really finished. It seems like a likely technique for learning more about this.

There's only 367 instances. ...  How hard can it be? ... right?

 Here I thought this would be simple: there's just a handful of references in the Topical Guide.


There's some useful things you can do: the search on the Church's website defaults to showing the most relevant results.

I set it to sort by book, so that it shows them in order. That makes it easier to keep track of where I'm at as I work. In this case, looking at "anoint", that means we'll start in Exodus.  The search already automatically brings me the word in its various endings and conjugations, so I don't have to search all that individually.

The next thing that I did was set up a document to hold all these 367 uses of the word anoint. Last time, I did it in strips. They were long and super skinny, which was annoying to work with. So this time, I'm doing columns. I need to be careful to keep things from crossing columns, because if I actually cut things apart that would get annoying; I may cut, but I don't want to tape! And I started to copy and paste. And learn.

Right off: anointing is a process that makes things holy.

It's interesting: here is a thing that apparently allows a lineal, familial claim to a process that makes us holy. (The previous verse makes clear that it's conditional, which is to be expected: he's got to be designated by the First Presidency(!), found worthy, anointed, and ordained -again by the First Presidency.) While most families, currently at least, don't have this lineal claim to the Aaronic Priesthood, it is customary for fathers to perform ordinations for their sons where possible which, maybe not so incidentally, gives the son the same priesthood lineage as his father.

Perhaps it's not surprising that, immediately after this verse that talks about these lineal blessings, we have a serious warning to parents:

And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.
-Doctrine and Covenants 68:25

So I'm reading in Exodus and Leviticus, and this verse is pretty typical of a lot of them:

And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil.
-Leviticus 2:4

And I started to wonder: why does oil make it holy? Then I remembered: this isn't just any oil.

And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.
-Exodus 27:20 (emphasis added)

Olive oil is a powerful symbol of the Savior:

It is poignantly symbolic that “blood [came] from every pore” as Jesus suffered in Gethsemane, the place of the olive press. To produce olive oil in the Savior’s time, olives were first crushed by rolling a large stone over them. The resulting “mash” was placed in soft, loosely woven baskets, which were piled one upon another. Their weight expressed the first and finest oil. Then added stress was applied by placing a large beam or log on top of the stacked baskets, producing more oil. Finally, to draw out the very last drops, the beam was weighted with stones on one end to create the maximum, crushing pressure. And yes, the oil is bloodred as it first flows out.
-D. Todd Christopherson, Abide in My Love

In the ancient temple, Aaron and his sons after him became priests as they were anointed, not only with olive oil, but also with the blood of the sacrifices, symbolism which points directly and viscerally to the sacrifice of our Lord: the sacrifice which makes us holy, redeeming us from our fallen state through His Grace. In the ancient temple the priests were anointed: specially prepared olive oil was put on them by one who had authority to do so. This set them apart and hallowed them, or made them holy, for His work. In much the same way, the Savior, being prepared and authorized by the Father, wants to put His blood on us, which cleanses us and is the process by which He makes us like Him: holy. He is our great High Priest.

It's still really just a beginning, and I have yet to discover the connection, really, the lineal nature of the priesthood, particularly as it applies in our day. There's also some interesting tie-ins to this week's Come Follow Me lesson, which is all about the Last Supper and Christ's sufferings in Gethsemane, and I'd like to explore that some more, too. But I am learning a lot about anointings, and about the temple, and the symbols that point us to Christ, and that is no small thing.

This post is part of a series.
Click the button below to go to the series index.

07 June 2019

Making it Safe to Not Know

I no longer remember precisely what it was that got me thinking about it, but:

It's really important that we create an environment where it is safe to not know something.

Not in a neglectful kind of way, where we're complacently not trying, but in a the sort of way where it's ok not to know yet, and it's so ok to ask questions, to try out incomplete ideas, to say the sentence half in your native language, half in the one you're studying, to take a stab at it, and try -even knowing that your effort is going to be half-baked and incomplete.

Because there is so much learning in the trying.

01 June 2019

Commonplace: May 2019

A sample from my commonplace book, and brief instructions for how to keep one.

A commonplace is a traditional self-education tool: as you read, grab a notebook. Write down things that embody Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Write down notable quotes, with or without your own thoughts about them. Write down the questions you have as a result of the text you are reading. You will find the book becomes a record of your own growth, and it becomes a touchstone for memory of things you have studied in the past. This is what Mother Culture is all about: self-directed, conscious self-education. 

True education is a form of repentance. It is a humble admission that we've not read all that we need to read, we don't know all that we need to know, and we're not yet all that we need to become. Education is that unique form of discipleship that brings us to the place of admitting our inadequacies.
-George Grant, "Repentance"

But one of the worst results of being a slave and being forced to do things is that when there is no one to force you any more you find you have almost lost the power of forcing yourself.
-The Horse and His Boy, p137


Blog Widget by LinkWithin