Thursday, August 28, 2014

Science and Religion: Asking Questions and Finding Answers

Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen, spoke at an event in Oxford last year. In his speech, Christensen, telling of his religious beliefs, explained that God has a warehouse of information He desires that we have, but the problem is we don't ask for it. Christensen's thought struck me whilst reading William Godwin's, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. In this book, Godwin writes:

Upon our decision in this case it depends, whether those persons act wisely who prescribe to themselves a certain discipline and are anxious to enrich their minds with science, or whether on the contrary it be better to trust every thing to the mercy of events (40).
This passage expresses two separate states ubiquitous in modern society. The first is science as the catalyst for enlightened mankind. The other, trusting every thing to the mercy of events, is indicative of determinism.

Monday, July 21, 2014

CLA Games - Blenheim Palace

The lovely Lindsay Lee and I went to the CLA games at the Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, with my cousins, the Hamn family. An incredible event with very fun people!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Kidlington, Oxfordshire

The lovely Lindsay Lee and I took a walk through our village, Kidlington, in Oxfordshire, and came upon a number of houses that would satisfy most ideas of a dream house. We swam in the nearby river as sheep fed and dogs played. A delightful time!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Cocoon Inside

By: Sean Watson

The room cradles me as a cocoon would.
It is like a treehouse
High above, looking down.
It is not clear to any below
If it is abandoned,
Or if I am secretly spying.
But there is no one below
It is just wild grass, hedges, and trees.
Sparrows and squirrels maintain company,
And foxes occasionally intrude.
It is simultaneously soothing,
Though buzzing in my ears.
Bustling streets surround the plot,
And rattle below the flesh.
Though silent, it is never quiet.

I leave this cocoon,
And with belongings in hand
Slip into a fussy street.
Fences and barriers occasionally fit room for nothing,
As nothing gradually refuses fences and barriers.
The strawberries have already been picked,
And the raspberries will soon ripen.
They drape freely to be pulled as easily.
The first brood of ducklings has taken to the water,
And mother duck nests once more.
They are suspicious of me,
And I know very well why.

The buzz has desisted,
And the pace has lost motivation.
The soothing will be delayed though.
It is far too vast to be a cocoon,
But the sky places me into eternal context.
Inside me a cocoon begins to grow.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Paul Oliver Vernacular Architecture Library (POVAL)

I took my camera to work today to document some of what we've been doing. We've digitized massive amounts of slides, detailed where Paul has gone, and found patterns to his collections.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lean On Me - The Role of Mormon Sociality

It is not a pivotal time for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, nor is it a direction changing time. For many members of the Church, it is a trying time that will come and go either affirming or discouraging beliefs. It is heartbreaking to see Church disciplinary actions affect not only individuals, but their families and friends as well. That story is not over though. My friend Flavio in Sao Paulo, Brazil, faced similar Church disciplinary councils, and was excommunicated also. He said a weight had been lifted from him, which could be physically observed, and that he had begun to recognize his mistakes. He sought from then onwards to regain church membership. The ward (local congregation) was encouraging, demonstrating their best by rallying support around him.  It is this final aspect that I’d like to write briefly about, the role of sociality in the Church.

The local congregations that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints go to weekly, wards, are support groups to individuals in various stages in life and at different lengths along the path of faith. Wards provide multiple functions for members. They encourage people, they console people, they provide opportunities for people to give meaningful service, and they provide the settings whereby essential promises made at baptism are reinforced weekly.  

When a member partakes of the sacrament, eating the bread and water (symbolic of the body and blood of Christ), they are individually communing with Christ. That relationship is reinforced by activities like daily prayer and scripture study, family home evening (time set aside on Monday nights to commune with the family), Church responsibilities, temple worship, and other meaningful service. They come to recognize how the Holy Ghost works, and learn to be instructed by him. That person has learned how to receive personal revelation, and this revelation is always within the bounds of their stewardship (i.e. personal life, family life, and Church responsibilities).

But for as much as Church sociality performs the functions of encouragement, consolation, service opportunities, and reinforcement of baptismal promises, it is not the final means of worship. It is beautiful how personally empowering the Gospel is.  Children will lean on parents until they have established their own faith, but at some point they will need to stand on their own. Similarly, Church members will rely on others as moments of doubt arise, and as they experiment with faith. But at some point, they will also have to stand on their own, and worship as individuals and not by association.

So with this frame, it becomes apparent that those on whom one leans must demonstrate correct and true practices and doctrine. Those who were excommunicated did not serve as proper individuals to lean on as their concepts do not strengthen their followers’ relationships with God.  They could very well strengthen relationships with themselves and their groups. This utilizes preexisting Church sociality, but neglects the individual communion for which the Church is established.

I recognize this is a sensitive issue, and still at a sensitive time. I would hope and pray that each ward will be like mine and Flavio’s ward in Sao Paulo, rallying around members with love and support. Each one of us has had to gain, or will have to gain a testimony for ourselves. To have doubt is part of the process, and to lean on others whose faith will draw you to God, or to be available for others to lean on, is the purpose of Church sociality.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Blenheim Palace Flower Show

The Blenheim Palace - photo: Lindsay Watson

Friday, June 13, 2014

Walk through Oxford neighborhood

We took a walk through our neighborhood in Oxford to note out details.

Monday, June 2, 2014

My Lady is Back from California

Lesson learned today, it's unbelievably hard to capture peoples' likenesses drawing. I've acquired much more respect for artists. Nevertheless, so good to have my wonderful wife home!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Leeds Castle + Canterbury

Mohammed was gracious enough to provide me a coach tour ticket to the Leeds Castle and the historic city, Canterbury. What a great adventure we had. I was absent the lovely Lindsay Lee, but Mohammed and I had a great time. I don't feel too bad with the lovely Lindsay Lee being in California.

Disneylandification? Leeds Castle