Rich Alger

Personal Online Journal

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Understandable Physics

For one night only, Professor Brian Cox goes unplugged in a specially recorded programme from the lecture theatre of the Royal Institution of Great Britain. In his own inimitable style, Brian takes an audience of famous faces, scientists and members of the public on a journey through some of the most challenging concepts in physics. 
With the help of Jonathan Ross, Simon Pegg, Sarah Millican and James May, Brian shows how diamonds - the hardest material in nature - are made up of nothingness; how things can be in an infinite number of places at once; why everything we see or touch in the universe exists; and how a diamond in the heart of London is in communication with the largest diamond in the cosmos

Monday, April 07, 2014

How to make stress your friend

A great ted talk How to make stress your friend, by Kelly McGonigal. Some quotes:
This is my body helping me rise to the challenge
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When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resiliance.
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Chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort... Go after what creates meaning in your life. And then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Poison of the Mind

My wife recently finished Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell. I am currently reading it. There is a part in the book that has stood out to me. The first third of the book so far has been mostly about weeding out those who really did not want to be a seal.

They want only the men who want it so bad that they would rather die than give up. And then, out of those, there are men that just don't have the talent and ability to get the job done. Just before their hell week started, their commanding officer Captain Joe Maguire said,
Don't let your thoughts run away with you, don't start planning  to bail out because you are worried about the future and how much you can take. Don't look ahead to the pain. Just get through the day, and there's a wonderful career ahead of you. (p 124)
Marcus kept being surprised at his SEAL candidates dropped out. He recognized that they had not taken in the advice of their commanding officer. They had let future pain poison their minds. They did not stay in the here and now. They did not take it one moment at a time.
I later learned that when a man quits and is given another chance and takes it, he never makes it through. All the instructors know that. If the thought of DOR [drop on request] enters a man's head, he is not a navy SEAL. 
I guess that element of doubt forever pollutes his mind. And puffing, sweating, and steaming down there on that beach on the first night of Hell week, I understood it.  
I understood it, because that thought could have never have occurred to me. Not while the sun still rises in the east. All the pain in Coronado could not have inserted that poison in to my mind. I might have passed out, had a heart attack or been shot before a firing squad. But I never would have quit. (p 136)
As I was talking to my wife tonight, she brought up what Brad Wilcox mentioned in one of his books. When we are confirmed a member of the church, we are asked to "receive the Holy Ghost". Sometimes in the same place in the scriptures, we are also told to endure to the end. It may be that in order to receive the Holy Ghost we must endure to what our end is meant to be. To become as God is. To live the kind of live he lives. We must not give up because we have allowed our minds to be poisoned by future pain.

Each day at a time. Do the right thing. Condition myself for when I will be called upon for great sacrifice. Grow my strength over time. Strength gained too fast does not always last. Go in for the long haul.

I think we must "cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." D&C 123:17 The key is to decide what I want and to keep working until I get it. Press on. Find the joy in my service.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Exaltation or Theosis

I have a good friend investigating the LDS church.  She had a concern about our teachings about becoming like God.  Here are a few thoughts that I am bringing together for her.

Some references in the Bible to becoming like God.

"Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together." (Isa 41:23)

"I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High." (Ps 82:6)

Jesus used this very scripture when accused of blasphemy, "Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?" (John 10:34)

Here are a few resources that I trust to give an accurate representation of LDS beliefs on exaltation.

LDS topic, "Becoming Like God"
"The Divine Potential of Human Beings: The Latter-day Saint Perspective" by Jeff Lindsay
"Mormonism and the nature of God/Deification of man" at FairMormon.org

A quote from C.S. Lewis about becoming "gods"
The command “Be ye perfect” is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creatures, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to Him perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what he said. (Macmillan, 1952, p. 174)
 One of the main objections I have heard to this teaching is that we are elevating ourselves to be like God. In April 1989 our prophet Ezra Taft Benson taught us to "Beware of Pride. This talk has been taught and re-taught many dozens of time since then.  We are taught that to gain our lives, we are to lose them in the service of our God by ministering to our neighbors.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. ("Citizenship In A Republic" Delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910)
I love this quote. I love Brene Brown. She is my vulnerability hero.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Two Trees

An interesting view on the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life.  And how it relates to the relationship between men and women, wives and husbands, mothers and fathers.
I think we know this part of the Great Plan of Happiness very well. We believe that Adam will give the gift of the fruit of the Second Tree to the children of God, those who are worthy to receive it, just as Eve and her daughters give the fruit of the First Tree in the Garden of Eden to all who are worthy to partake of it. And that fruit of the Second Tree, as we know, are the ordinances of salvation and exaltation. Just as the veil into this life is guarded by the women, the daughters of God, so the veil that brings us home, is administered and guarded over by the sons of God. And those that have accepted the gift of the Second Tree form the hands of the sons of God will pass through that veil and back to that celestial place where they can be with their Parents once more.
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That means that gender equality is not some “politically correct” ideal to the Latter-day Saints; it is not some maraschino cherry placed last atop a Zion sundae. No, relationships of gender equality are the bricks of Zion, without which you cannot build Zion, because gender equality is how Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father live.
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Where in the world can be found a group of men dedicated to a single standard of chastity and marital fidelity? Where can we find a group of men dedicated to marriage—getting married and staying married? Where can we find a group of men dedicated to upholding the safety, flourishing, and equality of women? Men who want to have children, and take part in raising them? Men who value their daughters as much as they value their sons? Men who abhor abuse, pornography, and neglect? Men who embrace burden-sharing with their wives, including the burden of housework? Where we can find a group of men who covenant these things as part of their duty to God? They are right here in this room. You are a special covenant brotherhood unlike any other on this planet. Thank God for the restoration of the priesthood, that restores a vision of how God wanted his daughters treated by his sons!
That means that priesthood is not some extra given to men and denied women. Priesthood is a man’s apprenticeship to become a heavenly father, and I believe that women have their own apprenticeship to become like their heavenly mother. The ordinance—and they are ordinances—of body and of agency—pregnancy, childbirth, lactation—the spiritual ordinances of the First Tree are not less powerful or spiritual than the ordinances of the Second Tree. Women have their own godly power. And a truism that holds fairly across the board is that those religions that despise the body tend to be those religions that devalue women. ("The Two Trees", Valerie Hudson Cassler, Fair Conference, Aug 2010)

A Simple Set of Rules

The opening scene of  Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey (2014) starts with this beginning of this quote.
The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us -- there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries. (Carl Sagan, "Cosmos (1980)")
Neil deGrasse Tyson tells us that Carl Sagan started us on a great adventure.
This adventure is made possible by generations of searchers strictly adhering to a simple set of rules 
- Test ideas by experimentation and observation
- Build on those ideas that pass the test
- Reject the ones that fail
- Follow the evidence wherever is leads.
- Question everything 
Accept these terms and the cosmos is yours.
These rules fit perfectly well into the rules of spiritual exploration too. As I experimented on Alma's word I observed the Good Word of God swelling in me.

I have come to see that not all of my childhood suppositions seem to actually be real and I am OK with that.

I love the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5. The tree is dunged and pruned to remove the most bitter branches, according to the strength of the roots.

Line upon line we learn, live and become the Good we receive from God.

And science has been a gift of God to us. And is part of the great whole of good and truth.

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