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Kevin Christensen

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About Kevin Christensen

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    Brings Forth Plants
  • Birthday 04/28/1954

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    Canonsburg, PA

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  1. The root of spiritual masochism is pride, so, humility, and the tentativeness and openness that humility engenders helps. And there is the concern for being seen facing problems as end in itself, rather than no big deal, just part of the process, something that goes with all learning. Kuhn talks about the "essential tension" in science, working on the parts of knowledge that don't fit the current paradigm. Nibley talked about how one of his intellectual heroes (Scalliger) would go to the ghettos to let Jewish children there correct his language, being willing to be taught by children, to be as a child himself, rather than always wanting to be seen as the One Who Knows. I think about a moment when Margaret Barker came to BYU the first time in 2003, teaching a room full of BYU professors and me and Alyson Von Feldt. One day there was a slide up, showing the famous Sistine Chapel scene of God reaching out to Adam. Someone commented (John Gee?) that the cloud in which God appears was the shape of an anatomically correct human brain. Margaret turned and looked, and smiled and beamed with delight and said "I never thought of that!" She demonstrated a child like wonder in that moment, and was not at all self conscious about it. And this despite providing lecture material such that Alyson told me she heard Wilfred Griggs say "She puts our scholarship to shame." But she learned what she did by not assuming that she knew everything, and not really caring what other people thought. She is all about trying to approach God, and that leads to consideration best shown in Moses 1, "Now I know that man is nothing." But despite that also being able to say, "I also am a son of God and have further thing to inquire of him." And that reminds me of James Comey''s book on Leadership, contrasting the best leaders, who embody a combination of humility and confidence, as opposed to those who demonstrate a combination of pride and insecurity (e.g., "I have all the best words"). Alma 32 has a passage where Alma talks about how you do the experiment, see the growth, experience the expansion of the mind, the enlargement of the soul that goes with genuine learning, and asks, "If you knowledge perfect?" And the answer, "Nay," but you have to continue the process. Best, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  2. I had heard something about Hutchinson going that way. One of the things I eventually got from Hutchinson's essay was an understanding of what I call spiritual masochism, that is, a determination to prove one's intellectual integrity by publicly facing unsolvable problems. The hitch in that approach is that since the point is to prove you can face problems without flinching, solutions become unproductive, and there is a consequent paralysis of imagination. It's not an uncommon problem. Here is an online version of England's thoughtful essay. https://www.eugeneengland.org/why-the-church-is-as-true-as-the-gospel And thanks. I always enjoy your well-informed contributions. Best, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  3. I would start by defining what the "church" is to me. It's a covenant assembly, a bunch of people bound by covenants and stories and history, rather than a hierarchy, an office building with bureaucrats and official policies, and a Big Book of What to Think. The assembly has many things like that, but the things the assembly has and makes use of is not what the assembly is. It's important to distinguish between what the assembly has and what the assembly is. In that context, my own experiences growing up were helpful and uplifting, in the main. I could cite some negatives, but the danger in generalizing from negative experiences is that they are not generally representative. It provided a wholesome, helpful, uplifting, noble environment. On top of that, I am personally convinced that the central points of the restoration represent reality. There is a God, Jesus is divine, and Joseph Smith was a real prophet, receiving real inspiration, most profoundly and impressively embodied in the Book of Mormon and the witnesses around it. I have sought out of the best books, inside and out, and tested the central claims in a variety of ways, including looking at the research and productions of people who have explored in ways that I could never have done, if left to myself, and in coming up with some tests that no had done before me. I never worried about being spoon fed via institutional means, because I have been personally seeking and finding exciting resources both inside and outside formal institutional means. Seek and ye shall find. I've found incredible talent and resources eager to share on everything. I love the plan of salvation. And I have been particularly impressed in how it measures up against the great philosophical questions, as poised by non-LDS thinkers. Truman Madsen's Eternal Man was a key doorway, and I've enjoyed what I have found as I have traveled further through that doorway. I have been particularly impressed in reading about Process Theology, and finding that Joseph Smith got there first. I was impressed in reading NDE accounts, and finding Joseph Smith got there first. I have been impressed in reading in comparative religion, and temples, and mythology, and finding the deeper I go, the more profound the resonance with what Joseph Smith provided. He was definitely on to something. I was impressed in reading Emerson, and finding that in much Joseph, with far fewer economic and social resources, got there first, and went farther. I have enjoyed the experience of wrestling with counter-claims and narratives, whether from Campbell, or the Roberts Study, or Brodie, or the Tanners, or the Godmakers, or Sagan, or Coe, or Vogel and Metcalfe and George D. Smith, or Wright, or Riskas, or Runnells or Taves, or Freud, or Bertrand Russell, or many others from a range of perspectives. I've read and heard many arguments against the existence of God and/or the reality of the restoration. But it has always been clear to me that the God I believe in is quite different than the God various critics disbelieve in. The arguments do not apply. I find that the case for the Book of Mormon keeps getting better and better. It's far better than what I started with, far better than what the institutional side provided, and far better than what I get from the critics. I have had a wide variety of impressive spiritual experiences that add up over sixty five years so far. I have studied the notion of spiritual experiences from a comparative religious perspective, and find that what I have experienced in Mormonism matches what is offered and reported elsewhere. And I find that Mormonism does not insist that nothing good or true ought to be found elsewhere, but rather, emphatically insists that this is the case. So I don't need to take an all or nothing view. My belief in God does not depend on Joseph Smith. Rather, it is enhanced through what I have found in the restoration. For instance, here: https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/sophic-box-and-mantic-vista-a-review-of-deconstructing-mormonism/ Some of the most mind expanding and soul enlarging experiences of my life have come through testing my LDS and Christian faith in ways that Joseph Smith could not have imagined. Reading Thomas Kuhn remains enlightening, but I had discovered most of the same notions by reading the Bible. It was explaining my discoveries to a convert who had read Kuhn that led me there. And then I saw the same epistomology in Alma 32. Again, Joseph Smith had a knack for getting there first, which raises the question, how and why did he manage so often? I've found that all I need to do is keep my eyes open, give things time, and re-examine my own assumptions now and then. Rather than not searching, insisting on final answers now, and never checking my own assumptions. For example, I kept the evolution/creation controversy on simmer for many years, reading this and that, till in 1980 I ran across Hugh Nibley's Before Adam, which changed everything. Later, I was troubled for a few days by Anthony Hutchinson's Dialogue essay on the four LDS creation accounts. While pondering his diagram of the Hebrew Cosmos, I remembered having seen something very similar in a different context. In Hamlet's Mill, a book Nibley had quoted fairly often. And that led to my first contribution to LDS letters in Dialogue, "New Wine and New Bottles: Scriptural Scholarship as Sacrament." At this remove, almost 30 years later, I consider everything that I would have missed, without even knowing what I was missing, had I caved at that point, had I let Hutchinson control my narrative, set my path, guide my steps. I think about spotting a copy of Margaret Barker's The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God in a visit to a Dallas Half-Price Books in 1999, and all that has happened since. It's not just the learning, but becoming part of something much larger than myself. And at the same time seeing that it would have happened without me. Noel Reynolds told me that if I hadn't just written Paradigms Regained, he would have done so. On Oct 12, I'll be at BYU for their conference for the New Testament Commentary on Hebrews, giving 25 minute talk at 10:30 am. Not something I would have imagined 30 years ago, or even a few months ago. So cool stuff comes along, just by hanging around. I think about reading Patrick Carnes and my own personal recovery work, and preserving my marriage (celebrating 41 years last Sunday), and seeing my daughter marry, and being there in the temple with her, and blessing my granddaughters, and then seeing many other lives affected by my own recovery and work with LDS ARP. I like listening to testimonies on Fast Sunday, a range of people whose lives and choices and talents have many differences from mine, but who report, with joy, how Christ has touched their lives, lifted them, in many instances through appallingly dreadful trials and events. I see that Christ has many ways of working with individuals of different temperaments and talents and backgrounds. And that too is soul enlarging, something that I would not wish to miss, had I decided that I could manage everything better by going my own way, and abandoning the complications, obligations, and frustrations of community, and just surrounding myself with people who only told me what I wanted to hear, and who only behaved in ways that I always agreed with. Eugene England wrote a lovely essay on that, "Why the Church is as True as the Gospel". FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  4. Yes. Tvedtnes and others have discussed this before. Matthew Bowen's recent research shows that in this case, as in many others, there is more much happening in the text with that name than just the appearance of a random name. It is not only authentic to time and place, but the word play shows that the authors knew what it meant. https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/august-2019/laman-and-nephi-as-key-words FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  5. This sounds interesting. What It’s About: Stumbling on Happiness is like the red-headed stepchild of happiness books. It doesn’t fit in with the rest because it basically tries to convince you that you don’t even know what the hell makes you happy in the first place, so why stress out about it? Reminds me of a comment Nibley made somewhere that the real tragedy is not what happens to people, but what they become. And that, and Professor Birinbaum at SJSU, unlocked King Lear, as being Shakespeare's inverting of "What profiteth a man if he gain the whole world, but loose his own soul?" by showing Lear loosing everything, but at the very end, gaining his own soul. You can see it in the moment, when he asks a commoner to loosen his cloak, and then thanks him for it, despite his desperate grief over loosing Cordelia, the Christ figure of the play. At the start of the play, it was all about flattering Lear. At the end, he could even make space in his personal grief to ask for help, and give sincere thanks. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  6. You are welcome. The question about Bible language in the Book of Mormon is certainly legitimate, but perspective is key. Don't assume everything in the New Testament is original and completely unlike and/or not dependent on any older material. Don't assume when Joseph Smith translates the Book of Mormon according to his language and learning that the New and Old Testaments should not have any influence in an authentic translation. Don't assume that if Joseph Smith uses New or Old Testament language in his translations that there must be something wrong with that. It is a translation from the written language of the plates to the that of the translator, and the point of a translation is to communicate, to make something understandable in a different language. If someone says, "He's a chip of the old block," and someone else says, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree", both could also be explained as as saying, "The boy is like his father." Translation across language, culture, and thought is about communicating with what works, not about being completely unlike anything anyone ever said. Trying to keep too much fidelity to the original language just might prevent any communication, which would defeat the purpose of translation. A translated phrase does not have to be completely original to work as a translation. Remember that parallels are very common in literature. That is why Joseph Campbell can write a famous book called Hero with a Thousand Faces. Humans are born, raised, eat, drink, learn, war, court, marry, parent, migrate, play, fight, die, etc. Parallels are very common because people are people and do people things. Even in the way people think generates parallels. Nibley's essays on the Sophic and Mantic in The Ancient State show an amazing set of corresponding thoughts across time, space, and culture. Ben offers some simple guidelines in considering narratives and the two column format: https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/finding-parallels-some-cautions-and-criticisms-part-two/ Best, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  7. This sort of thing (that is, attempts to explain the Book of Mormon as little more than plagiarism from the Bible) has been discussed at length and in detail many times. John Tvedtnes, Matt Roper, and Ben McGuire have all put together notable responses at various times. One of the things they did well in responding to the Tanners was to show how often critics looking for New Testament parallels to Book of Mormon passages neglect the Old Testament and Pseudepigraphal and DDS precedents for the New Testament. At the old Maxwell site, it would be easy to link to them. They dealt with similar charges from the Tanner's and others. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/msr/vol8/iss2/14/ Ben McGuire has shown how the parallel hunting is often severally flawed. http://scripturalmormonism.blogspot.com/2017/02/ben-mcguire-refutes-alleged.html I've dabbled myself several times. For instance, my essay on NDE accounts and the Book of Mormon shows that there is far more to Alma's conversion than cribbing from Paul. The linked essay begins with a summary from Kirster Stendahl's essay in Truman Madsen's volume of essays from the 70s, Reflections on Mormonism: Judeo-Christian Parallels. I've got the book at home, have read Stendahl, and also Richard L. Anderson's response, "Imitation Gospels and Christ's Book of Mormon Ministry." https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/apocryphal-writings-and-latter-day-saints/4-imitation-gospels-and-christ-s-book-mormon And there are John W. Welch's increasingly impressive explorations of 3 Nephi compared to Matthew. Welch's book on Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount has an entire chapter on just how much of the Sermon on the Mount is like older Jewish material. https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/illuminating-sermon-temple-sermon-mount This stuff is not mentioned in the linked tract. It is permissible to ask "Why not?" So one notable thing about the linked document is that it has no interest whatsoever in balancing the scales, to understand or explore the Book of Mormon, but rather, is an attempt to overawe the naive. I've read a lot, so, I am not overawed. Just away from my books, and missing the old Maxwell Institute website. And even if Joseph was just cribbing from the New Testament (and it was obviously and unavoidably part of his environment, part of what the Lord refers to his language and understanding), a tract like this does not even mention the existence of things like Mormon's Codex, or In the Footsteps of Lehi, or Glimpse's of Lehi's Jerusalem. Keeping perspective is the key thing. Best, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  8. Regarding our Book of Abraham, one of Nibley's last articles has this: https://judaicaworld.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/abrahams-temple-drama/ FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  9. Parley P. Pratt has a famous Hymn that says: Once a meek and lowly lamb Now the Lord, the Great I AM And another that says: Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah Jesus anointed that prophet and seer. Margaret Barker's The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God makes the case, at length, in detail, using a wide range of sources that Jehovah was originally seen as the Son of El Elyon, God Most High. Her book is far better than anything we had before. In Paradigms Regained, I was able to show at length that this is exactly what the Book of Mormon teaches. For instance, when Jesus declares that he is the one who gave the law. And when the angel tells Nephi, "Blessed art thou Nephi for thou believest in the son of the Most High." If it took the LDS a little while to sort that out, culturally speaking, they came from diverse backgrounds with a range of preconceptions, and as Jesus explains in 3 Nephi, about people being weak, and unable to take in all his words, but they needed to go home and study and prepare their minds. But notion is clear in the Book of Mormon and the Book of Mormon is consistent with ancient Israel. Alas, the Maxwell site no longer has Paradigms Regained online. You can get a copy from Eborn books for $99. A preview of the Great Angel: https://www.theway.org.uk/back/431Barker.pdf Brant Gardner on the topic: https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/august-2003/monotheism-messiah-and-mormons-book Me on The Deuteronomist Dechristianizing of the Old Testament. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/msr/vol16/iss2/5/ Regarding the premortal Jesus, consider this early Christian document, which has much to compare with our Moses and Book of Abraham. http://www.bhporter.com/Abbaton.htm FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  10. The story of the mothers of the stripling warriors is a lot more interesting if you stop and consider how it is that the Anti-Lehi-Nephite mothers could make the promise to their sons. It was not a promise that Nephites made generally. The Nephite leadership, including the prophets, were as surprised as anyone at the survival of the young men. If you consider their background, their personal experience includes watching the slaughter of 1000 of their husbands and sons and brothers, who, through their obedience, refused to defend themselves, and were not saved from death. The key phrase from the story is "We did not doubt our mothers knew it." So, how did they know? Not from experience, and not from wishful thinking, and not from something that priesthood leaders told them. Who could have both made and kept such a promise? There is really only one source that explains it. They received revelation. Not their leaders, not the prophets. The mothers. I had an essay on this years ago in the Meridian, and another earlier in RBBM v10/2, "Nephite Feminism Revisited." Something I also had in the Meridian essay was a similar story about a pioneer mother being comforted through a personal answer to a prayer about how she should feel about letting a son join the Mormon battalion. I think the only reasonable way that the Mothers could have made a viable promise to their sons is because they had prayed about it, and received answers. So the story should not be taken as a general case about obeying with exactness whatever leaders say, but an example of exceptional women doing something exceptional and receiving in consequence, something extraordinary. I see a connection with the stories of Elijah and the Widow of Zarapeth, as well as of Lehi and Sariah while the sons were gone to Jerusalem, and possibly not going to return. In all of these cases, these were women who had already offered up everything. And in their prayers, they could and would likely say that. "I have offered everything. Are you going to take my sons?" The widow of Zarapeth had literally given the last of her food to Elijah because the Lord personally directed her to do so. Remember that most of Lamanite mothers had likely been on the ground during the slaughter of a thousand of their number. They knew that the most obedient and faithful could die. And Sariah had left everything she had in Jerusalem to follow Lehi. And the mother on the Mormon Trek facing the prospect of a son going to war had also left everything for her faith. The thing to notice about Sariah is that Nephi tells that particular story, making deliberate allusions to the story of the widow and Elijah as a way of saying, "My mother is like this exceptional, proverbial woman of faith from the scriptures." If you don't see the allusions, you don't see the point he is making. I've been pushing this reading for years. For the lamanite mothers, it was actually an insight from my older brother, that he got while I was working on Nephite Feminism Revisited. There are institutional reasons why the "exact obedience" message gets passed around by people who would love to have more exact obedience, but the scriptures have a better message about seeking personal revelation, and the circumstances under which it may come. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  11. Always thoughtful posts. He has been a distinctively well informed voice on the bloggernacle for many years. But too young for such news. He will be missed. Kevin C.
  12. If you really are seeking understanding, then you ought to demonstrate more seeking, more extensive, comprehensive, and open-ended seeking. Less enthno-centric, presentist, knee-jerk obstructive reading. Reading the Book of Mormon as though no one else was around when they arrived is an ideological reading, not determined by the text, not "straight-forward" and unquestionable, and not consistent with archeology. On the topic of Nephi's neighbors, essential reading at this point is Matt Roper's "Nephi's Neighbors" which was not the first essay on this topic, but his is the best and most comprehensive and remains the gold standard. Ignore it at your peril. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/msr/vol15/iss2/8/ Among many other things, Roper discusses just why Nephi has Jacob lecture his people on the relevance of "I will lift up my hand to the Gentiles, and set my hand up to the standard of my people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried on their shoulders" and that "the promises of the Lord are great unto the Gentiles" and "the Gentiles shall be blessed and numbered among the house of Israel" (2 Nephi 10:18" and "I will consecrate this land unto thy seed and them who shall be numbered among thy seed" 2 Nephi 20:19. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  13. A verse typically neglected in considering the story of Abraham and Isaac. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ***; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship and come again to you. Gen. 22:5. Nibley pointed out in Improvement Era series that stories of substitute sacrifice run like a red thread throughout Abraham's life, not all of which are included in Genesis. Abraham's father intended to sacrifice him. A substitute was provided. Both the Pseudo Philo and our Book of Abraham tell of Abraham on the altar, and the sacrificing priests themselves becoming the substitute. Sarah was on the lion couch twice, both times, the King and Pharoh being smitten. So given what Abraham had experienced, and given that he said that he and the lad would go and worship and come again, the reason that Abraham had faith is that Abraham's life experience had uniquely prepared him for what was about to happen. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  14. Rather than fret about changing doctrines, and giving examples that suggest that one has built their house on sand, I look at 3 Nephi 11:31-40, talking about faith, repentance, baptism, receipt of the Holy Ghost, concluding: "And who shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock: but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell shall stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them." Rather than assume that it's obvious what a prophet is or should be, I troubled to gather 28 Biblical Tests for True and False Prophets. https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Biblical_Keys_for_Discerning_True_and_False_Prophets Part of the study involved looking at the reasons Biblical peoples gave for rejecting true prophets. It turned out that these boiled down to people saying, "It's not what I think," or "It's not what I desire." What a person thinks should be so, their orthodoxy, is what they fear, the mental framework that shapes their thinking. So there is a correspondence with the sacrifice of a broken heart (desires) and a contrite spirit (what they think). It also turns out that the Biblical recommendations for what a person should do to see truth amount to a process that puts their fears and desires on the altar. That is, to follow what the Bible recommends we do to see truth quite literally involves the sacrifice of what we think and what we desire. When I put this together, I saw that anyone could have done it but no one had. Why? The answer is that if I decide to measure a prophet against what I personally think and what I personally desire, it's easier to control the answer. If he does not measure up to what I think and what I want, how can he possibly be a prophet? And that leads to "with what judgement ye judge, ye shall also be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (3 Nephi 14:2). The admonition that "By their fruits shall ye know them" refers not to a subjective assessment of what I assume is good, but rather, our knowledge of the defining characteristics, as distinctive as figs compared to thistles, or grapes to thorns. A beautiful thistle is not better here than even a bruised or wormy fig. A perfect thorn is not better here than a grape that has been pecked by a bird. I notice that the guarantee on prophets in the D&C involves the word "expedience." And it turns out that will do. The kind of thinking that produced the 14 Fundamentals is a human strategy for dealing with complexity. In a human society, we will have such people. They correspond to Position 2 of the Perry Scheme of Cognitive and Ethical Growth. Their existence is one reason why I find it useful to look up the word "sustain" in a good dictionary. Meanings include, suffer, endure, allow, permit. But rather then dwell on them, I look to the example of Joseph Smith who by precept and example urges me on to Position 9. Eventually, here: FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  15. I clearly see the reasons for faith crisis for so many. I have been exploring the experience and narratives for 45 years. But rather than step aside and let the destructive process play out without comment or effort, or just deciding that what Othello needs most is sympathy and understanding rather than to challenge his views, I am offering exactly what Jesus calls New wine and New bottles. A different approach to the same kinds of experience that can be mind expanding and soul enlarging rather than shattering. Patrick Carnes draws on Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces to observe that "Heroes face their fears; villains nurture their resentments." That is the difference between Harry Potter and Voldemort, between Thor and Loki, between Luke and Darth Vader. Othello is not being heroic when he strangles his innocent wife. Rather, he has embraced his resentments, and given in to his fear of looking bad in public. That is the difference between the George Bailey whose personal frustrations make his life a living hell and and the George Bailey whose appreciation of the significance of his personal relationships allows him to let go his resentments and embrace "A Wonderful Life," saying, "Isn't it wonderful? I'm going to jail." A George Bailey who focused on just how personally frustrated he was, how much disappointment he had to endure, how much he had to sacrifice, how much bad advice he was given, how much pain the people who claim to love him inflict on him, then, would quite understandably have a miserable life. But he has options, a different path, different wine offered, if he will put it in the new wine bottle. The choice can be his. A wonderful life, or, he can choose to be a victim, and wallow in his very understandable pain. For instance, rather than resent changes in church history, I consider what happens to all histories. In Playing to an Audience, I quote Kuhn at greater length than this: I've never seen anyone make the same complaints about changes to scientific histories, deciding, "How can I trust science anymore!" My understanding of everything changes when I take a closer look. Not just LDS history, but everything. What happens to LDS histories in a natural process, part of the growth of knowledge in every field. Should I resent that, or accept it? Should I shatter, or expand? https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/playing-to-an-audience-a-review-of-revelatory-events/ I very much like what J. K. Rowling illuminates with Harry's journey. She has established all sorts of reasons for Harry to admire and idolize his father and Dumbledore. He comes to hate Sirius Black, but learns better. He has countless reasons, abundant reasons, ample justification to resent Snape and Malfoy. But there is the Pensive and Rita Skeeter's books, and King's Cross. So what happens when he obtains a bit of pure knowledge? Does that permanently shatter Harry's faith in his family and leaders? Or does he learn to make allowances for human weakness in his father, Dumbledore, and Sirius? Is that a mistake on his part, or human growth, the choice of a hero or a villain? Harry chooses to let his soul expand, at first understandably troubled by things he learns about those he admired, but he adjusts his expectations for their humanity, allowing their imperfection to exist along with their virtues. And of course, the Pensive also provides pure knowledge of Snape and eventually, Harry has to realize that all of the justifiable and abundant reasons he had to hate him, to even want to kill him for what seems the most insistently plain, eye-witness, irrefutable facts, were not the most important things to know, that the same facts that had seemed so damning when he first encountered them could have a completely different significance given further light and knowledge. Pure knowledge, D&C 121 says, enlarges the soul. Harry even gets pure knowledge of Malfoy. And even Voldemort, and he pities him, rather than hates him. Voldemort holds on to fear of death and personal resentments to the end. Harry faces his fears, including death, and lets go all of his resentments. One a villain, one a hero. If pure knowledge enlarges the soul, what of impure knowledge? That is all fiction, but like the best fictions, like Othello, it points to reality, and therefore, is not just fiction. If, as a child, I ran out into the street to follow a ball, I might not be thinking carefully of all potential consequences. I was taught, I learned, I grew. I sometimes made mistakes of various kinds, and had to learn from negative experiences. Whether I knew better or not, the same principles apply, cause and effect. I once turned my bike too sharply on gravel, and broke a leg. Well, it hurt and took time to heal. Should I blame someone else? It was my fault, my mistake. What good would resentment and scapegoating do? A scripture I was taught when a youth was, "There is a law irrevocably decreed before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated. And when we obtain any blessing from God it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." This is true whether I act in ignorance or awareness. Jesus encourages me to remove the beam from my own eye first. Self criticism, self reflection, self examination. "Then shall ye see clearly." I see clearly a way to navigate the same information and circumstances that cause other people crisis. At the very least, I want them to know they have a choice. I can do no more than that. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
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