Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Power or Dependence?

So, as y'all know, I'm a Sociology major and one of the classes that I am in right now is Contemporary Sociological Theory. In class, we learned about Richard Emerson who set forth a theory describing his view of what social interactions were made of. He believed that in every exchange between 2 people, the forces of power and dependency fluctuate. The power of Person A over B is the same as the dependency of Person B to A. It is in the sense that person A has something that B really, really wants but can't have except through A. So, he/she is dependent on A for that good (whether it is love or money, or anything in-between).  Because B is dependent on A, he/she gives up some of their rights to A in order to get the good.

Anyways, I don't want to go through the whole theory because even I probably have some points wrong.  But for class we are supposed to write portfolio pieces where we expand on one of the theories (just because) and I chose to relate this theory to the Gospel and our relationship with God and Satan. Here is what I wrote:

I generally don’t put sociological theory up against the Gospel, because it would be unfair to Sociology, but I felt it might be fun to look at Power-Dependency and Satan’s role in our lives. Quick review of the two aspects of Emerson’s theory of Power-Dependent relations: motivation (reward seeking) and source (access to). Unbalanced relations occur when people’s motivation for a reward is great and another person has a greater hold/access to that source.
            In the Gospel, we commonly refer to our experience here as a battle between the two powers of Good and Evil. If we use the definition that Emerson uses for ‘power’, it makes one wonder how Satan has any power at all. If Satan’s power over man is equal to man’s dependency on Satan, that means we are affording him that power because we are dependent on him. We must be seeking for something that he can give us in order for us to let him have influence over us.
            What are the rewards that Satan can offer mankind? We often talk about the ‘temporary pleasures’ that sin afford us, but it is only instantaneous gratification and never endures.  While we are searching for happiness, those who do not understand the plan of the Gospel (or even those who do) may mistake gratification or pleasure for happiness. Humans, according to the scriptures, are in a constant search for this joy, so with the skewed perception of it, we may find ourselves giving power to Satan so that he can ‘reward’ us with the temporary pleasures.
            The best way to avoid giving Satan such power would obviously be to keep in mind what we are really searching for. Remember that it is not in the one-time pleasures that we accumulate our happiness and gain eternal rewards. Instead, it is through the Gospel, of the continual progression towards our eternal possibilities. If we focus on that goal and seek for that reward, we instead give the power over to God rather than Satan. What could be better than giving God the power that He deserves?
            Let’s say, however, that we do find ourselves in a power-dependent relation with Satan. How do we leave it? Emerson gave four ways to balance relations: withdrawal, network expansion, status giving, coalition formation. Withdrawal includes a change of motivation, or of the rewards that you are seeking. It would require, to decrease Satan’s grasp, to have a yearning for those rewards which are righteous and worthy of our attention. Network expansion would require finding other potential sources of happiness, but we know that this is only possible through the Gospel as provided by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Status giving could be one of the worst ideas to balance the relations with Satan, because it would involve the continual investment in his false rewards. Status giving is rewarding the person with power with a title or a feeling of power. For example, in families, the man is seen to have more power and so he is given the spot at the head of the table or leads family discussions. Our professors, with more knowledge that we are hoping to gain, are referenced in respectful tone and we submit to their authority of the subject we are learning. In Satan's case, I would assume that it would involve a form of Satanic worship, in the hopes that he starts to “need your worship” as much as you need his disgraceful pleasures. Lastly, you could form a coalition. Hoorah for religion! Through religion we have banded together to keep him out of our lives and have created a moral (and many times physical) support system.
            Could it be, however, that we have power over Satan? I would argue that we do, in that he needs us to sin. The more stalwart we are and the more we resist to temptation, the more power we have over his tactics and attempts to bring us down. The fact that we are the source of his greed (our sin), and the less we are willing to allocate (to sin), the more dependent he is on us. In order to truly have power over Satan, we grow from the natural man into a child of God and begin our quest to undertake righteous actions and follow the path of God. It is interesting to see that we give other people power based on what we choose to seek. Are we choosing to give Satan power over us, or are we choosing to grant God the power to direct and bless our lives.

Obviously, the thoughts are not completely developed, as I was writing that in about 10 minutes. But I think it is something interesting to think about. Where is the power really coming from? Us. We can either give the power to God to save us or give the power to Satan based on our decisions and desires.  I think it is obvious which one we need to be looking for.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Glory sounds like such a sweet title. Anyways, I have Portuguese homework to do, so I'm going to blog! I just woke up from a little nap that lasted a bit longer than I wanted it to, but whatevs.  I'm waiting for one of my roommates to make dinner, but I have been the only one home since 2! It's been 4 hours alone!  And it was mostly productive, with a good hour break with Carlin killing zombies.  It was a necessary Monday release.

Anyways, the real reason I named this Glory was because of what we talked about in the D&C class I TA for. I'm pretty sure that I have one of the sweetest jobs on campus.  I get paid to listen to an awesome professor talk about the Doctrine and Covenants.  It's pretty legit. And I don't have to take any of the tests or do the homework...I just grade it all.

Anyways, today we were looking at D&C 76. This is probably one of the sweetest chapters ever and I couldn't help but share some of the things that we talked about in class.  Just to show how important this revelation is, the early Saints knew about this vision of Joseph Smith before they knew about his "First Vision." They referred to his experience in receiving D&C 76 as The Vision and this is why.

In v. 20 of the section, Joseph and Sidney see "the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father" and they bear witness of him saying "we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father".  Dr. Knapp (the professor) asked the class what Glory meant. Too often, he told us, glory is referred to as something that is attached to the person. He suggested that glory actually referred to the relationship between two people. When Joseph and Sidney saw the glory of the Son, they saw the relationship between Christ and the Father.

To further the idea of glory, think of the three kingdoms of glory spoken of in section 76. Instead of thinking of glory as a status, think of it as the strength of your relationship with the people around you and with God. Glory: the summation of all experiences shared that make up a relationship. Our Glory will be determined on our relationship with the Father and with others.  Our life's experiences will add up to how have we developed our connection with our eternal family? Have we worked on getting to know our Father? Have we worked on getting to know those around us? Think of the great 2 commandments: to love God and to love one another. That love is a development of our relationship with those people, increasing in our glory.

Continuing on, think of Lucifer's fall from glory. He fell from his relationship with the Father and with us. Sin is the degradation of glory because it chips away at the link that we hold with Christ and our Father. Lucifer's was complete and terrible.  In verse 76 it says that we were all weeping in verses 26-27: "And [he] was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him - he was Lucifer, a son of the morning. And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning!" We watched our own brother fall and loose his glory because o the choices he made. We weeped as we watched him leave our presence. The same happens with those who sin today. They make the choice to break down the relationships that we hold so dear, causing our glory to diminish in a way.

But, section 76, despite giving us a new look into the glory of God and His relationship with us, also is one of the most hopeful chapters of the scriptures.
"And now after many testimonies which have been given of him [Jesus Christ], this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! ... And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us -- That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him; Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands...wherefore, he saves all..."

God put us, those who chose to come to this earth, into Christ's hands as He is our Savior. In essence, we put ourselves in Christ's hands by accepting to follow His and God's plan.  This scripture says that anyone who was put in Christ's hands are saved. Christ did it! We will all be redeemed. By coming to this earth we assured ourselves of the ability to reach a glory (a relationship with God). Obviously, that relationship can be strengthened to the point that we are close enough to Him that He permits us to live in His presence, but we put a strong backbone on that relationship when we accepted His plan and put faith in our Savior.

It says that Jesus will bear the sins of the world and cleanse the world from all unrighteousness. Christ paid for all the sins, even if they are not repented for. We will also bear the consequences, yes, but ultimately, we can see that Christ did it! The plan of redemption worked! The sins have been paid for and now we live under the law of Christ. Through His atonement, we can continue to grow closer to God and one another. Thanks to His sacrifice and God's sacrifice, we will once again return to God.  Isn't that cool? Joseph Smith saw it and bore testimony. The 'testimony last of all' meaning that it is the greatest. He saw first hand the glory of God (the relationship between God and His children) and the importance of His work in bringing to pass our immortality. He saw the atonement's effect on the Father and on us. Now it is our job to keep that relationship going strong.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's been a while since my last rant...

Ok, so I've been mulling over 2 main things recently about "pet-peeves" that I have. I probably will offend some people in this post, especially since the subject is about a 'social minority' that the news media tends to portray as the victims of society recently.

So here it is: Inappropriate use of homosexuals for shock affect

I read that line to myself as if I was someone reading the blog, and I thoroughly enjoyed the "What the...?" reaction I got from myself.

I'm reading a book called The Discovery of Witches. It is quite a good book with an interesting plot line. She (the author) does well at hiding the majority of the plot so you can't really figure out what is going to happen. Sure, I know what is going to happen, because the good guys always win and find their true love, and all that jazz, but the journey is hidden. I enjoy that because who in life really knows their 'journey'. I hate books that you can predict what is going to happen and where they are going to go without taking much time to think about it.

Anyways, while the writing and plot development is relatively good, she is improperly using homosexuals for "spicing up" her book and possibly making it more politically correct by having a lesbian couple and a gay man randomly placed in the book. Let me explain, I am not anti-gay. I am ok with you being gay as long as you respect me being straight. I'm even open to talking about a compromise on the whole marriage issue, but this author's planting of homosexuals was inappropriate. Let me tell you why:

There was no reason for it and it took away from the flow. I'm sitting there reading about the main character's parents who just died, and how she had a tragic childhood and had to go live with her aunt who tried to help raise her.  Oh, by the way, her aunt is a lesbian.  Her aunt was a wonderful woman who did such and such...

Wait, did you just say that she was a lesbian?

Say what?
Why didn't you insert a paragraph explaining that her best friend was straight, her high school crush is a transvestite, and that her uncle has a gerbil fetish? I missed that part.  The author had no reason to include that she was a lesbian because it did not aid the story in any way other than to make it politically correct. Problem: it was unnecessary. It's not being politically incorrect not to have gay people in your story. Sometimes, people live without knowing them.

When I read that part about the lesbian aunt, I was a little weirded out, but it wasn't bad (as it was only a paragraph), but then there came along another section. Another minor character was being described as how he found out that he was a daemon (in the book their are 4 intelligent species: humans, witches, vampires, and daemons). After the narration talked about him telling his parents that he was not human (daemons are born to human parents, not to daemon parents), it gave a random paragraph that explained his attraction with not his female neighbor who was infatuated with him, but her 15 year old football star brother.

Again, why was that necessary? None of the other character's teenage crushes are outlined. The main character's life is summarized many times, but never does it talk about the guys that she thought were cute in high school. The problem isn't about homosexuality, but inconsistency and inappropriate usage of minorities to shock people or create a connection to the book.  If the book had a break-off theme that talked about how the deamon's or witch's previous loves would save them in the end, then maybe it would be acceptable.  But the mere flinging of homosexuality in a book to impress others is ridiculous and inappropriate.

In fact, I would almost be enraged if, as a minority, someone was using my difference so lightly and ridiculously.

Anyways, that was my rant for the day. Don't use homosexuals inappropriately (in an artistic, or any other sense).

I just want to reiterate (in case there were any misconceptions) that I am NOT  anti-gay. Just wanted to put that quick disclaimer in there

Peace y'all

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 - Another Year

I know I'm not that old, but I started out the year with a mix of feelings of "Oooh! Another one!" and "Do I really have to do this again?" But, I think in all I am excited for another round of challenges and successes like I had this year.

2011 was very ... scholastic. You are probably thinking that "scholastic" was the worst adjective that I could have used for a year, but if you realize that in total, I have had about 4 weeks of not being in school and an otherwise straight shot of it, it makes sense. I, for some reason I have yet to understand within myself, have an addiction to school. Don't worry, I'm never going to do it like this again, but I went through Winter Semester, Spring and Summer Terms, and a Fall semester. On average, you go through 28-30 credits during a year. I went through 45. I was a senior before I finished my sophomore year. Not only that, but I was told that because of the amount of credits, I wasn't able to change my major. Ever again.

But that is ok, because I love it! So I was reviewing my goals, and I was actually quite proud that I did finally find my major and that it was something I LOVE. I did get straight A's Winter, and in fact, all year I did. 10 points to Gryffindor!

I did make it to be 22 years old.

I did not get in better shape, but I did run a 5k and got 40th out of over 750. I'm happy with that.

My year was also full of:

  • Freshman Mentoring - one of the most fun jobs EVER! I loved it.
  • Rooming with Cy, Michael, Charlie. We were way too cool for that apartment.
  • Finishing my last ballroom class - slightly sad
  • Interesting dating experiences
  • READING! Lots and lots of reading
  • Fun soccer intramurals, and we are doing it again! Go Team Cy!
  • Was hired as a TA for Soc! That's always exciting
  • An epic Winter Vacation which will be blogged about later.
Duck Race with Jill at the Duck Pond - Awesome
So, for the next year:
  • Again, I find it an appropriate goal to turn 23. If I don't make it that far, then whoopdeedoo.
  • Finish a half-marathon. My brother got me into the Moab half marathon, so this goal also includes getting into shape so that I will be physically prepared to run for 2 hours straight. I'm a little worried about this one.
  • I'm looking to becoming a little less sarcastic and a little less crass (a little). We'll see how this goes, but yes, I'm committed.
  • I need to decide (within a month) what I'm doing for summer. 
  • Practically the best dance partner ever!
    • summer job?
    • Italian internship?
    • go home for the summer?
    • sleep? <- um, no.
  • Learn Portuguese, with all my other goals, I'm looking to go to Brazil in 2013 (if the world hasn't ended) and do an internship there. So, I need to start learning Portuguese, for which I'm very, very excited. Go 101/102!
That's about it. Now, I hope you are all really glad you read this and that you are going to enjoy looking at me 'round June thinking: now, is he doing this? or that? You are right: it is a little weird to put this up for the world to see, but whatevs.