31 March 2016

Adams Morgan Trail

This was a thoroughly interesting and lovely walk.  It's not really close to Metro, but you can take the bus or walk a bit, as we did.  We went now because the Knickerbocker Theater (1920s) was along this trail, but it could also be done later.

This trail also includes a few extra signs that embassies have put up about their buildings' histories.  The Lithuanian Embassy is especially worth stopping at.

Also, since we had time and we ended near the zoo, we went there afterward.

30 March 2016

Blah

So I haven't written about politics in a bit but I'm still thinking about it. Since I'm not in the group of people who thinks there are no good candidates, I'm not worried about who I'm going to vote for.  All of my energy is going into wanting Trump to be kept as far from the White House as possible. Here's the latest example of why I don't what him there that actually has to do with policy rather than how Trump treats people.*

I was very bothered by the way Trump answered many of his town hall questions last night.  I think this was the first time I've seen him in a town hall (he's usually on after I go to bed to keep people watching) so I hadn't seen how differently he interacts with the audience than the other candidates do.  He's obviously nothing like Kasich in his personal interaction, or Hillary who is also very good, or even Bernie or Cruz, but I thought that he handled the questions from the audience very poorly.  He completely misunderstood one very basic question which meant his answer was worthless (and laughable); he honestly couldn't think of anything he has ever apologized for or even something specific he'd learned from- until he finally came up with the obvious answer of apologizing to family members; but I thought his response to one question in particular was insulting to the questioner and dangerous to anyone who isn't a white American Christian and I don't think Trump would even recognize that.

The man who asked the question was a law enforcement officer, Brian Murphy, who was shot 15 times while responding to the 2012 shooting of a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin.  It wasn't mentioned explicitly that the shooting was by a white supremacist against people wearing turbans, but presumably Trump knew that (I hope I am not giving him too much credit, although there was absolutely nothing in what he said that indicated that he did know that).  Murphy asked "How would you suggest we help educate the public and not alienate these groups and, at the same time, how do we protect the constitutional rights of minority groups like the Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, and Jews, while still addressing radical Islamization?"

To me, Trump's obvious first response should have been to thank Murphy for the sacrifice he made because that context matters greatly in this question.  This is not a man who is unfamiliar with the dangers of marginalizing these groups because he himself was shot 15 times because of it.  Not only did Trump not thank him, he didn't ever acknowledge the shooting in his answer, nor did he respond to the question about protecting constitutional rights of minorities in any way.  Instead he talked about Obama's using different terms than Trump does when describing some terrorist attacks, how saying that he would ban Muslims helped him in the polls, defending second amendment rights, banning Muslims again, wiping out ISIS while saying he was against the war in Iraq and Obama's pullout from there, and finally adding some inaccurate things about refugees. I feel like Kasich and Hillary do a good job of connecting with people who ask questions, but Trump used Murphy as a platform to spew hate. It was awful.

Anderson Cooper finally was able to elbow in and ask about protecting rights again and Trump finally said, "I want to do that also, and I do want to do that, but I at the same time we have to recognize we have a serious problem" which is no answer at all to the question of *how* he would protect those rights.  Cooper went on to ask about Cruz's proposal to "patrol Muslim neighborhoods" which has serious constitutional implications and Trump cheered on that idea.  It was appalling.

*As for the campaign manager incident, I am also appalled that Trump not only is denying that anything happened, but also trying to say the reporter was the real perpetrator.  No wonder women often don't report violence.  Everyone agrees this incident was relatively minor, but even after the charge Trump is trying to dismiss her by saying she didn't yell, that she made up the story, that there is no proof that the bruises weren't already there.  That she touched him first, that she might have been carrying a knife.  That she caused the problem by reporting what happened.

29 March 2016

Holy Saturday, the Harrowing of Hades, and Susa Gates Young

I think this is going to be my new Holy Saturday post.

A few months ago I asked some online friends, many of whom are Christian from all different denominations, about the harrowing of Hades (or Christ's descent into hell) between His death and resurrection.  It's a major theological point for Mormons- basically, the entire reason why we do temple work for the dead with a short summary of what Jesus did in Doctrine and Covenants 138- but I didn't know what other Christians thought about it.  Most said that they either had never heard of it or rarely talked about it, but a few (especially Orthodox) explained how important a doctrine it is for them.

In particular, Holy Saturday is a very significant day for Orthodox Christians because of Jesus' victory over death and hell. During the 40-day Paschal season, Orthodox Christians sing several times a day, "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tomb, bestowing life!"

Ezekiel 37:1-14, Hosea 13:14, Isaiah 25:8 and 26:19, and Ephesians 4:7-10 were all used to help explain the doctrine.  One Anglican women said, "The idea is that what is needful isn't someone to declare us not-guilty as in a court of law, but rather someone to bring healing to our wounded and dying souls (as in a hospital). The harrowing of Hades conquered death, thereby providing communion with God, which brings healing."  This is a rather different different and much older atonement model than the substitutionary/satisfaction model many western Christians use (including, to a large extent, Mormons) because Jesus' conquering of death is the point, not His redeeming us from or paying for sin. She went on to say, "They [these two models] suggest a God of a somewhat different character.  Not one who demands what is due to him, but one who pays a ransom demanded by another for the good of others, or one who enters into a battle on behalf of the weak."

I really do need to do a better job of observing Holy Saturday and doing temple work or family history seems like the best way to do that, but I also want to remember what Orthodox and Anglican Christians have told me about this day.

And now for the Susa Gates Young part of this discussion. The article I just linked is from lds.org and talks about her commitment to family history and temple work:

She [Susa Gates Young] wrote countless newspaper and magazine articles, taught class after class, and took the message on the road to many stakes and wards. She visited genealogical libraries in the eastern United States and England and corresponded with genealogists from many other countries, seeking greater knowledge and expertise. She served on the general board of the Relief Society, where she succeeded in having lessons on genealogy (most of which she also wrote) incorporated into the [Relief Society] curriculum. She published a 600-page reference book on surnames and contributed frequently to a new magazine devoted to genealogical research.
Susa and [Joseph F.] Smith spoke together at genealogical meetings—she provided practical instruction in methodology, and he laid out the theological foundations of the work.

The article goes on to describe the general indifference of many church members to the topic- the lessons she'd written were almost scrapped by the Relief Society General Board from the curriculum, partly because doing genealogy was so difficult (and it was a lot harder to do in the 1910s than the 2010s). But she said, “All the desired inspiration in the world will not save our dead. We must also have information in order to consummate that noble work.”

So, with that background, Susa visited her friend Joseph F. Smith just after he had written what would become D&C 138.  After she read it she wrote in her journal, "In it he tells of his view of Eternity; the Savior when He visited the spirits in prison—how His servants minister to them; he saw the Prophet and all his associate Brethren laboring in the Prison Houses; Mother Eve & her noble daughters engaged in the same holy cause!"  Susa was a women's rights supporter and was glad "to have Eve and her daughters remembered" and wrote later, "This is unusual—the mention of women’s labors on the Other Side...the direct view of [women] associated with the ancient and modern prophets and elders confirms the noble standard of equality between the sexes which has always been a feature of this Church”  She also wrote, "Above all to have this given at a time when our Temple work and workers & our genealogy need such encouragement. No words of mine can express my joy and gratitude."

So think a little about Susa Gates Young when you think about Doctrine and Covenants 138.  Her enthusiasm for the cause made a difference.

Early Spring Food

I keep adding new things to eat during early spring after living in different places.  We've had laghman on Nooruz for years.  Hamantaschen is always good and I found the perfect filling this year (not that this is really a spring food- and most years it's really early spring).  And I made empanadas this year for Holy Week because Mexico.

Hamantaschen:

This calls for a lot of poppy seeds- more than a whole grocery store jar- so it's worth getting it in bulk somewhere.  Or just buy the jar and do your best.

Coconut poppyseed filling

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons sugar (the original calls for 6, but I think you could do less than 3)
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup poppy seeds

Melt the butter in a small pot and whisk in the coconut milk, honey, and sugar.  Simmer over lowish heat till the sugar dissolves.  Slowly add half of the hot mixture to the egg, whisking constantly.  Pour the egg into the pot, still whisking constantly.  Simmer a bit longer till the mixture thickens.  Whisk in the poppy seeds, let cool, and refrigerate a bit. I made the filling a few hours in advance, but I think an hour should be enough, or even less if you're in a rush.

Dough:

1/4 cup softened butter (or oil)
1/4 cup sugar (the original calls for 1/2 if you want more sugar)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350/175. Cream the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Add the flour and baking powder to make a soft dough.  You can add a little more flour if you need to.  I used whole wheat flour and didn't need to add more.  Roll the dough out, cut into circles (a large glass was just right for this), put 1 tsp of filling in the middle and pinch the edges closed to make a triangle.  You can make neat triangles or have little wings on the points (wings are easier in my opinion).  Pinch them tightly so they don't flop open.

Bake for about 12 minutes. This should make around 20, depending on how thin you roll the cookies.  If you overfill the first ones and run out of filling, you can use jam if you like.

Semana Santa Empanadas:

These are really easy.  Use either store-bought or homemade puff pastry (it's not hard to make, although easy puff pastry isn't all that puffy, especially whole wheat, but it is tender) and whatever filling floats your boat.  I used slightly sweetened coconut milk because I loved the coconut empanadas in Mexico.  Roll out the pastry, cut into circles or squares, plop on some filling, pinch closed, and bake till golden.  Easy as can be.

Filling ideas: Any kind of jam, any kind of fruit (you can cook it and sweeten it if you like), sweetened crema/creme fraiche, sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, tuna fish, and so much more.  Really, you can put just about anything in these and they're really easy.

27 March 2016

The Choir

I woke up early today thinking about the choir that sang last night at the LDS women's session and what an amazing and unique thing it was. Many of the women singing were not native English speakers (some don't speak much English at all) and it would have been much more difficult than usual to teach the songs to such a large and diverse group of women. The women must have worked hard to learn the songs. Since many of the women are converts with a wide variety of family support for their conversions and with a wide variety of socioeconomic challenges, I imagine that it would have been difficult for many of them to even go to the practices, much less to go often enough that they were able to learn the songs well.

Also, when choirs like these are organized (this was 350 women from 7 stakes), it's usually easy for each ward to find 5-7 women who are willing and able to participate and who have western musical experience.  But in this case, there would have been a much smaller pool of women to select from and everyone would have been needed, no matter her language ability or musical background.  A lot of support would have been necessary.

I am thinking that there was a great deal of sacrifice involved in that choir singing last night and I am so grateful that the women singing felt that creating such a diverse choir was worth what must have been significant hurdles.

ETA: Here's an article talking about some of the challenges.

Easter Sunday

I usually don't have much to write about on Easter because I go to church rather than going anywhere else.

Old Easter posts:
2005
2007

And I wanted to make sure this Easter story was posted again:

That very day two of them [I like to think they were Mary and her husband Cleopas] were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

26 March 2016

Holy Saturday

I don't post much about this day, mostly because it's a Saturday with things happening.  But here's an old post about it.

Good Friday

We watched the Good Friday procession from Our Lady Queen of the Americas through Dupont Circle to the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.  I'd guess there were about 200 people, mostly Latino, and it felt very much like processions we'd see in Mexico.  It was lovely to watch. I'm calling it Good Friday today because that's what it is here.

Also, 200 people walking through Dupont Circle on a Friday afternoon is going to cause some serious traffic delays.  There was a police escort who cleared the roads for the procession and made sure they arrived safely.  I know it's common for people to think that religious freedom is under attack or whatever, but religious accommodation is alive and well in the US and I'd rather focus on what I saw today instead of worrying about cashiers than say Happy Holidays.

We walked alongside the procession some of the time and were ahead of it sometimes.  It was interesting to see people's reactions and the expressions on their faces when they found out what it was.  It was a good afternoon.

Other Good Friday posts:
2015
2014
2006
2005
Stations of the Cross at the Templo Expiatorio in Guadalajara 

24 March 2016

Maundy Thursday

I went into DC today to go to seven churches like I did in Mexico, but I wasn't able to stay as long as I'd hoped so it didn't go very well.  But we did visit the Basilica of the National Shrine so that was nice.  Next year we'll have to be someplace other than Saudi Arabia during Holy Week.  Jerusalem? Rome?

Here are some old Maundy Thursday posts:
2005
2006
Women on the roof
Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Also, here's a link to the background of Reverently and Meekly Now with some interesting things to say.

The Anointing Woman

I meant to post this on Saturday but didn't get a chance to then and I still don't have time to write a decent post.  But fortunately, Julie Smith has written a lot so I'll just direct you there.

The anointing woman's story is especially good to read on Lazarus Saturday or Holy Wednesday.

ETA later that both President Burton and President Eyring talked about this women in their talks at the women's meeting on March 26th.

20 March 2016

Palm Sunday

This morning my husband and I drove into DC to go to the early Palm Sunday service at the National Cathedral.  They had palm fronds for everyone (which were, I'm sure, harder to get than in Mexico where there were palm branches everyone) and we very much enjoyed the service.  It was so good to be there. We also drove around the tidal basin after to see the almost-out cherry blossoms.

I searched all over lds.org to see if I could find something good to link to about Palm Sunday.  There are certainly some mentions of it and some brief activities in the Friend, but little that is very in depth. So I'll stick with reading the different accounts from the gospels about this day and listening All Glory, Laud and Honor since we didn't sing it or any other praise song at church.  Also, check out what Eric Huntsman has online

I did find a couple of things I liked about Holy Week in general though. There's a 44-year-old article from Daniel Ludlow about Holy Week, but the best thing I found was this quilt that represents Holy Week. Please click through to see it.

Here are some of my past posts about Palm Sunday:

17 March 2016

Huldah

Huldah is a very interesting person from 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34. Her basic story centers around her prophecy about the destruction of the wicked if they do not repent.  She is a woman who is called a prophet and she is consulted by religious and political leaders after a copy of the book of the law (probably Deuteronomy or what would become Deuteronomy) was found while the temple was being restored.  We know almost nothing about her but she is well worth talking about.

First, I want to talk about the problems with the way LDS manuals deal with Huldah, either now or in the past.  For the record, it isn't generally my intention to pick on the manuals with these posts, but instead to highlight positive things or omissions in what we teach.  But in this case, the way we've taught about Huldah is problematic and not only do we need to talk about her differently, we need to realize that what we've been doing isn't right.

The current Institute manual says this about Huldah:

Nothing further is known of the prophetess Huldah than what is mentioned here. All that we can infer from the fact that the king sent to her is, that she was highly distinguished on account of her prophetical gifts, and that none of the prophets of renown, such as Jeremiah and Zephaniah, were at that time in Jerusalem. Her [husband] Shallum was keeper of the clothes, i.e. superintendent over either the priests’ dresses that were kept in the temple … or the king’s wardrobe. 
This is from Karl Keil and Franz Delitzsch's 1866 Commentary.  Besides the obvious concern of using a reference from a Bible commentary that is 150 (!) years old, the assumptions made in this statement are insulting to Huldah and not supported by the text.  There is no reason to assume that Jeremiah and Zephaniah were unavailable, leaving the religious and political leaders with no other option than to consult a woman.  Their going to her is mentioned without comment, excuse, or explanation.  Since we might expect an explanation, its absence highlights the fact that it didn't need to be explained.  The Bible gives us no reason to assume that was astonishing. This paragraph of Huldah is harmful. That is the only mention of Huldah in that manual.

I can't quote from the old seminary manual that was replaced 2 years ago because it makes no mention at all of Huldah.  That manual details Josiah's actions but the verses about Huldah are quite blatantly skipped.  Unless a seminary teacher chose to teach about Huldah, seminary students didn't hear anything about her.

The current seminary manual says this:

Summarize 2 Kings 22:14–20 by explaining that a prophetess named Huldah recounted the scriptural prophecy of judgment against the wicked. She also prophesied that Josiah would be blessed because of his faithfulness to the Lord. Huldah was a prophetess in the sense that she had the gift of prophecy. This gift is available to all members of the Lord’s Church.
This is an improvement over the other two manuals and I hope seminary teachers now take the time to talk about Huldah. However, that isn't necessarily going to happen because there is also a 12-minute church video about Josiah which makes no mention of Huldah.  Of course any video will leave things out, but when women are so often ignored, including the women we do read about in the Old Testament, it is concerning to me that she is entirely left out in favor of a character who was created for the video.

The Old Testament gospel doctrine lesson makes no comment on Huldah's gender or the fact that she was consulted and there are questions that refer to her prophecies. That's obviously an improvement over the other three options.

Second, as with so many people in the Old Testament, there really isn't any way to be sure Huldah was a historical figure or not.  Usually I don't worry too much about that (unless someone insists that, say, Job's being a historical figure makes a huge difference today), but there are some interesting issues that come up if Huldah wasn't historical precisely because she is a woman.  It is possible that she was created to help justify the suppression of the worship of Asherah (more on that soon). Her being a woman and a prophet who promoted the book of Deuteronomy would have been significant because Asherah's worship was popular among women. I don't have strong feelings on this theory one way or the other and it's not something I'd bring up in a class about Josiah- it's hard enough just getting people to acknowledge Huldah's existence in the chapter and that gets into too much relatively obscure Biblical history. But it's interesting.

So, why should we talk about Huldah and how?  First, I think it's important to talk about nearly any woman in the scriptures because we ignore so many or assume they aren't there.  If we consistently talk about them in lessons, maybe we could at least stop saying there aren't any women (something that has been stated almost weekly in a women's OT scripture class I've been going to while we skip over all the women except Esther and Deborah).

Huldah is especially important to talk about because she is a prophet (and I prefer the translation prophet rather than prophetess- it's already been stated that she is a woman).  There are only a few women in the scriptures described as prophets and we should talk about them. Also, as I mentioned above, the leading religious and political figures of the came to her for prophecy, not just for advice.  We need to talk about that too.

I assume that one reason why some manuals dismiss Huldah or completely ignore her is that we don't really acknowledge that women can be prophets and we don't know how to deal with the ensuing questions that might be asked.  We shouldn't worry that talking about Huldah's role as a prophet will diminish anyone else who is a prophet, whether male or female.  In fact, it could be empowering for teenagers and adults to learn about Huldah and her prophecies.  This isn't "dangerous" in any way, especially if we understand how prophets and prophesying differed in the OT.  It's always good to talk about how different women have effected change and Huldah is an excellent example of this.  We can tell the stories from the Old Testament and talk about them and learn from them.

So let's read the verses about Huldah, talk about her role and her prophecies, discuss why she is important, and make sure that teenagers in particular hear that women in the Old Testament were influential leaders.

15 March 2016

National Cathedral

After an ill-fated morning (which included sending my son to his rescheduled-at-an-inconvenient-time Spanish class only to learn that most of the class was gone so they watched Finding Nemo) we finally made it to DC last week to visit the National Cathedral.  It's not free anymore, which is not unreasonable in my mind since it receives no public support but does receive hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. We skipped the guided tour and did our own exploring after paying to enter.  I'd downloaded a few tours so it worked nicely.

If you'd rather not pay to go in, there's always no charge on Sundays or if you're going for a service.  You can always walk around outside too, if you like.

The building was started in 1907, the first services were held in 1912, and it was finished in 1990.  There's plenty of US history here and it really is more a national building rather than a DC one, but I love visiting and wanted to make sure my son went too.

14 March 2016

First Amendment

Trump still seems awfully confused, especially for someone running for POTUS, about the first amendment.  After announcing that he wants to restrict the press, he's now saying that his free speech rights were violated when he canceled a rally on Friday night.

The first amendment protects you from having your speech restricted by the government, not from people protesting against it. Trump's free speech was never in peril since the government didn't shut down the rally, nor was it aiding the protesters in doing so.  In fact, if the police had removed all of the protesters from that public space (and an arena in a public university certainly is a public space) in order to allow the rally to go on, the protesters' constitutionally-protected free speech rights would have been violated which is not acceptable.

However, there are other concerns here. No one should use violence or its threat to stop people from speaking.  Ever.  Not the protesters, not Trump. I will never, ever be proud of violent protests. No matter what Trump has said, no one should be violent toward him or his supporters and no matter what the protesters say, no one should be violent toward them.

Unfortunately, Trump has been documented a number of times espousing violence to shut down protesters.  Not only has he encouraged violence against protesters, he has offered to pay legal fees for his supporters if they are arrested for being violent (including, apparently, a man who punched a protester with no visible provocation and who later threatened more violence against the protester). His speaking out against violence directed towards his own supporters is not enough.

Trump has the right to stand up and say what he wants to without government inference.  He has taken full advantage of that and is effectively using hate, fear, anger, greed, and pride to stir people up.  However, constitutionally-protected free speech doesn't also come with freedom from protest and disagreement, even noisy and disruptive disagreement. If hate- and fear-inducing speech comes back to inconvenience him (and the canceled rally was an inconvenience, not a violation of free speech), then that's a consequence of the words he chooses to use.

Trump has made it clear that he doesn't think he's the problem and I don't think that will change.  Mostly, I just want no one to get seriously hurt.

10 March 2016

Dutch Potato Project

This story isn't necessarily unknown like Olivas Vila Aoy, but it's still worth highlighting and worth learning more than this short video will tell you.

Here is the link to the video.

Keepapitchinin has, of course, lots more information about this that is well worth reading.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

In some ways this is just another story about people in difficult circumstances helping someone else, but I think that's an oversimplification. Listen to the voices of people who were asked to give the food they were so hungry for, and that they had worked so hard for, to people they felt had taken everything from them. Listen to the words of the people who had been starving because of terrible political decisions dictators over their country had made and their desperate need for help that they knew no one wanted to give them.

I am concerned about the rise of nationalism, protectionism, and xenophobia in the United States, including among members of the Church, and this story is one way to counteract that.

07 March 2016

Mumbai New York Scranton

I browsed into this one in the New York City section at the library and thought it looked interesting. And I ended up really liking it, even though I can't really figure out why it was Dewey decimaled into that section since, even though it's set partly in New York, it's not a New York book, at least to someone who isn't from New York.  Maybe a New Yorker thinks it is.  Anyway.  It has quirky illustrations and a direct writing style that could be a little much at times but really worked most of the time.  The foreshadowing was just right too.

06 March 2016

The Samaritan Woman at the Well

This story is in John 4:4-30, 39-42.

The NT Gospel Doctrine manual does a good job of teaching this story and has some interesting questions for discussion (I think you could easily spend the entire lesson on this story, talking about the background of the Samaritans, the role of women in that time and place, the assumptions people make about this woman (both then and now), the kinds of questions she asks, how Jesus teaches her and the different levels of meaning in what he is saying, her reaction to his words, connections to other Biblical scenes at wells, the surprise of the disciples that Jesus was speaking to a woman, and so much more), but there is something else I think should be emphasized here in verse 42:  

"They [Samaritans who listened to Jesus] said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.'"

We have a few standard missionary examples from the scriptures like Ammon and crew, but we need to tell other stories too.  This is an excellent scripture to describe true conversion and what the goal of a missionary should be. It's not about the missionary and the gimmick or interesting tidbit they told you at the beginning; it's about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  People came to Lamoni's court because Abish told them something amazing had happened, but that's not why they would have been converted. Lamoni listened to Ammon because of the arms, but that's not why he was converted.  The Samaritans obviously had the advantage of being able to go directly to Jesus to hear what he had to say, but people today can still learn for themselves that Jesus truly is the Savior of the world and a missionary's job really isn't to convince people, but it's to show people where they can hear for themselves. John 4:42 is probably my favorite missionary scripture.

Also, Matthew describes a person who would have been viewed negatively (female, Samaritan, and married many times) but she is the person he uses to show us a good way to be a missionary.

05 March 2016

Okay, so back to my second point from my post about why Trump is a bad idea.  Here are some more unworkable ideas he's promoting.  These are based on stuff he's said, which is notoriously unreliable and hard to pin down, not on detailed policy proposals posted on his websites where they ought to be:

-Killing the family members of terrorists.  Besides using fake examples of terrorists' families that he would target (9/11 terrorists didn't send their wives out of the US on September 9th), it is clearly against international law to do this, but that didn't stop him from saying he would do this in Thursday's debate.  He toned it back a bit on Friday by saying that he wouldn't ask the military to break the law, claiming he was surprised that the media took his words literally (?), but that isn't anywhere near enough.  You don't go after innocent people with nasty relatives just because international law says you can't.  You don't go after innocent people because the POTUS shouldn't want to do that at all.  Ever.

-Torture. People, this is not acceptable.  He has clearly stated more than once that he wants to bring back waterboarding and worse.  Again, he's said that he doesn't mean that he would ask people to break the law, but torture is not something we should do in the US, not to anyone.  Ever.

-Banning Muslims.  I know I mentioned this before, but I'm really concerned by the exit polls in many different states indicating that a significant majority of Republicans voting in these primaries support a ban on allowing non-US-citizen Muslims into the US.  I still have no idea how this would actually be implemented because there is no reasonable way to determine that anyone isn't a Muslim. You can't prove a negative.  And Cruz agrees with Trump here.

-Deporting undocumented people.  Truly, there is no way to do this.  This is so far from being possible that it shouldn't even be discussed, not that that stops people like Trump and Cruz.  Finding and deporting 11 million people is estimated to take 20 years and cost half a trillion dollars.  Removing that many workers is projected to cost the economy $1.6 trillion by 2035 which is a problem for his economy ideas.

-The economy will grow when he cuts taxes and the deficit won't grow because he'll cut spending. I've never had a reason to say this before, but Fox News handled this one perfectly at the debate.  The numbers don't add up and his plan for the economy isn't workable.

-Creating a database of Muslims and/or refugees in the US.  Unfortunately, there's this pesky thing called The Bill of Rights that gets in the way here.

-Seizing oil fields in Syria and giving the profits to military veterans.  What world does Trump live in to think this is even remotely possible?

Pioneer Girl

I was interested in reading this new annotated memoir by Laura Ingalls Wilder when it first came out, but it's a large book and not on Kindle so I waited till I could check it out of the library.  I really enjoyed it- except that it was hard to read in bed.  I'd forgotten what I hassle it can be to read in bed without an ereader.  Anyway, if you like history, you should read this.

04 March 2016

Logan Circle Walk

This walk is all we did for this field trip, mostly because it was chilly and one of us was busy that day.  This one really could have been done any time in the 1900s even though the neighborhood was started around the turn of the century.

The house at 1341 Vermont Avenue is from an earlier time period- probably the 1830s and it's worth walking by.

02 March 2016

New York City Books

Eat the City- This one talks about all the different people living in New York City who, in a wide variety of ways, produce food for the city.  I thought it was most interesting at the beginning and I skimmed toward the end but it was a fun read.

Archaeology of Home- I had to skim some of this one too, but it picked up as it went along (and it was easy to tell when the author was going to start philosophizing).  It's about a building in the East Village that's condemned and the trials of the people who lived there, but it's also about the history of the building (that was the good part) and the part of the city its in.

A History of New York in 101 Objects- This one was my favorite of all the NYC books I checked.  Lots of little fascinating tidbits and lots of history.


01 March 2016

GWU Textile Museum

I've been meaning to go to this museum ever since just after moved here (and tried once, except I'd misread the website and arrived too early and couldn't wait) but we finally made it there to see their exhibit on socialist realism in Central Asia. The exhibit was small but so wonderful to go to.  I love the artwork and the textiles and it was perfect.

Upstairs they had two more exhibits about DC which were really good too, and I'm glad I didn't go at the beginning of our stay since I've learned a lot about the city in the last 6 months. One had a bit about the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana collection and the other had a lot of artwork from Lily Spandorf who worked in DC for years.

There's a suggested donation which I happily paid, but you can easily go in without feeling guilty about not donating.  They also have Monday lectures on all kinds of interesting topics (I was trying to go to one on the boundary stones earlier) and other events.

Olivas Vila Aoy

A lot of what is available on lds.org is your fairly typical and expected LDS-related stuff like church lessons, stories about people helping each other, etc.  It's also common to find fairly conservative resources there (not necessarily politically, but culturally and socially).  But not everything is typical or conservative so I want to try to highlight some of those stories here so people can use these more progressive examples in lessons and talks since anything on lds.org is automatically approved (also, I want to do stories about women in the scriptures since the scriptures are also automatically approved).

One of those items is this video and article about Olivas Vila Aoy, a Spanish man with a fascinating life history in Spain, Mexico, Cuba, and the US in the 1800s.  He did a wide variety of things including joining the LDS church in around 1880 and working on the Spanish translation of the Book of Mormon, but more importantly (and this is what the video focuses on), he made a huge difference in increasing Spanish-speaking children's access to public education in El Paso in the late 1800s.

Despite what is presented in the video, there is disagreement over Aoy's membership in the LDS Church after he left Utah and his reasons for leaving Utah.  The video implies that he never left the church, but there isn't clear evidence for that since there were no branches of the church in El Paso at the time.  This article gives a balanced interpretation (as opposed to sources that definitively state that Aoy left the church and this video that states that he didn't).

If you're looking for a typical story about someone who had a significant connection to the LDS Church or whose actions were clearly inspired by their membership in the LDS Church, then this is not your story because Aoy may only have been a member for a few years and may have had a rather tenuous connection to the church.  Instead, it's a very worthwhile story about a man, whether he was LDS at the time or not, who was committed to finding way to educate as many people as possible, especially those who didn't have access to standard educational institutions because of language and/or financial difficulties.

This story could be used in lessons or talks about the important of education, serving others, working hard despite significant difficulties and no support, consecrating your time and talents to good causes, non-native-English speaking people, positive ways to change local government policies, helping refugees and/or undocumented residents, and many more things (feel free to leave other suggestions in the comments).

Washington: A History of Our National City

This book may have a boring title, but it's the one that both my son and I read for the DC history class this year.  We tried a couple of other books but this one was perfect- a history of the city itself that covered everything up till now with most of the emphasis before WWII.  Since there's so much written about Washington after WWII, it worked nicely for us.